Newspapers are the oldest form of mass media and dates back to 1605. It is one of the prime means of communication. In addition, newspapers are also a great medium of knowledge and the most reliable source of information.
Many people begin their morning with a newspaper, especially people in their mid-30’s and 40’s. A newspaper isn’t just a source of information but also a habit that they’ve adopted over the years.
Reading newspapers also has many advantages. But despite that, the habit of reading newspapers is slowly dying. Besides, electronic gadgets are more convenient, so people do not bother to pick up a paper. As people are getting instant updates on their phones about the latest news, the sales of newspapers have gone down massively.
The owner of Citi News, Vivek Singh says, “The newspaper business is going down, if not then, it’s definitely not the same as before. Back in the days, when our shop was first opened in 1986, we would sell more than 8000 newspapers in a single day. But nowadays, we hardly sell a thousand copies. So, there’s a really vast difference and the lockdown specifically has been hard both for us and the hawkers.”
He believes that the reading culture is gradually vanishing from society.
Kamal Chettri, a newspaper hawker from Panitanki, Deorali says, “I’ve been distributing newspaper for eight to nine years. Prior to this, I was working in Sikkim cable during which I met with an accident. My elder brother and sister-in-law helped me during those trying times. I have a problem with my back because of which I was advised not to do heavy work. Since then my wife left me but I did not want to be a burden to my family or anyone. Hence, I started delivering newspapers.”
“Every day I visit around 70 to 80 houses, including government institutions to deliver the paper in and around Deorali. I’d say the income is not much but it is enough to meet my basic amenities. During the lockdown, it was quite difficult for us, but now slowly our work is catching up.”
Menuka Rai, another newspaper hawker says, “The biggest challenge for me is that I’m a mother and every morning I have to wake up early, arrange the newspaper and go for work. I deliver the newspaper to almost 200 houses every day and sometimes if I’m late, they refuse to keep the newspaper. In Gangtok, we’re altogether 18 to 19 hawkers and we have our own areas for delivering the papers.”
“The lockdown was a bit difficult for us. We couldn’t go out for work but we did receive ration that was given by the government and Sikkim Express also reached out to us to help. But whatever be it, I love my work.”
By Mahima Grace Rai