The story must begin with a 58 year old reclusive man who
found 'everything' around him deteriorating. This showed up in his
cynicism, and a sense of futility that anything one can do is likely to be
lost without any impact and that this land was impossible.
Yet, despite having widely traveled, the
pull of India on him was difficult to shake off. Was she the 'continent of
Circe' as Nirad Choudhury had called her or was there more that lay beyond
Surely an indolent, selfish, un-enterprising society would
have been extinguished long ago. Or, are there enough people doing the
right things and the good work that have kept this land going for as
long as it has done as a civilisation.
The therapy for him therefore, was to discover those people and their
work and allow those stories to sink into him. That was easier said than
done. When the search began about 4 years ago  the media hardly
helped. The TV was given to song and dance sequences, newspapers had their
screaming headlines of disasters and failures, weeklies were pot-boilers
rehashing earlier news with 'scoops' that often had no basis.
Yet a collection of 'good news' was begun which yielded
little in the beginning. A 'national daily' published from the south was
the poorest source having become a vehicle for carrying glossy
advertisements, and another 'national chain' fallen amidst bad times, fared
slightly better as it used some good stories as fillers in its anaemic
Some weeklies and the TV news
occasionally covered a positive deed. Thus a collection began.
A little known tradition.
There seemed a
countless number of Indians and institutions that went about their quiet
work. Though they also contribute, the agitators and the protesters are
not counted among these. The collection focused on the people in the
tradition of Verghese Kurien, Anna Hazare, and Manibhai Desai. They go
by little known names like Saklani, Srinivasan, Kamala Jan, Rajendra
Singh, Anurupa Mukherjee, Gulabo Sapera , and so on. Their initiatives are building a new India.
To redistribute these stories in the hope that they will
fill the breasts of Indians with optimism, was a problem. Running a
dedicated magazine was justified neither by the quantity of material at
hand, nor by the cost that it would entail.
Then, two things happened at about the same time.
As India continued to open its doors, success stories
featuring Indians began to pop up more often. The economy, and the
nation's confidence began to improve. It is at such junctures that
societies turn their attention to poverty, environment, conservation,
learning and so on. So too India appeared to be doing . The private collection of
stories became sizable -- and growing!
The other thing that happened in India was the Internet.
power was quickly understood by Indians. Its costs were affordable and one man working
alone could begin a publishing enterprise that makes a swift debut, and
grows over time. On the world wide web, the size of the beginning or the pace of growth
are not dictated by anything that conventional hard-publishing industry is subject to.
Here was freedom. It seemed an invention made for India! And an invitation
In late 1999, goodnewsindia.com was conceived and its
domain name registered. On Jun 21, 2000 GoodNewsIndia went on-line
with 3 pages of content.
It is a one man venture now. It won't grow to anything
meaningful unless it attracts participation from a wide section of the
people. But that is in the future. This article is about the idea's
D V Sridharan, August,2000