Hindusthan Samachar (HS) is a news agency that has been a part of India’s media landscape for over six decades. Founded by journalist Shivram Shankar Apte, who had ties to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), HS has had a tumultuous history marked by government interference, mergers, and controversies.
The Early Years
HS was established in 1948 in Delhi, just months after India gained independence. Apte, who had worked as a journalist for various newspapers, saw the need for a news agency that would provide an alternative to the British-owned Press Trust of India (PTI). Apte was a nationalist and a supporter of Hindu causes, and HS reflected his views. The agency was known for its pro-Hindu and pro-India stance, and it catered to a readership that was largely right-wing.
Mergers and Controversies
In 1975, during the Emergency declared by then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the government merged HS with three other news agencies – United News of India (UNI), Samachar Bharati, and Hindustan Samachar – into a single entity, Samachar. The merger was seen as an attempt to bring the media under government control, and it was widely criticized. After the Emergency was lifted and a new government came to power, the Janata Party reversed the decision, and HS became an independent agency again.
Hindusthan Samachar: A News Agency with a Tumultuous History
HS was targeted by the government once again in 1983. The government accused HS of spreading communal tension and of being linked to extremist groups. HS was banned from the All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan, and its operations were severely curtailed. Apte died in 1985, and HS struggled to stay afloat. It was only in the 1990s that the agency began to regain its footing.
In 2021, HS was awarded a new contract to provide news content in 12 languages to Doordarshan and AIR for a period of 25-and-a-half months. The deal is reportedly worth Rs 7.70 crore, and it includes the supply of 12 national news stories and 40 “local stories” in regional languages every day. The contract was seen as a boost for HS, which has been trying to expand its reach in the face of stiff competition from other news agencies.
The award of the contract has not been without controversy, however. Some critics have accused the government of favoring HS because of its right-wing leanings. They argue that HS has been given the contract at the expense of other, more established news agencies, and that this is a sign of the government’s attempt to control the media.
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