Anti-Arrack Movement, Prohibition and After:
Eenadu's Strategic Support and Silence
D lima Maheswari
Eenadu, the largest circulating Telugu daily in Andhra Pradesh, played an unprecedented and sensational role in the anti-arrack movement that shook the state a few years ago. When some inspired neo-literate women in Dubagunta village in Nellore district attacked the excise jeep bringing arrack into their village, thus sparking off the anti-arrack movement in the state, Eenadu was the first newspaper to report the incidents in its Nellore district tabloid.
This paper is an attempt to (a) examine Eenadu's history as a regional language newspaper and (b) to document the role that it played in the anti-arrack movement and subsequently in the struggle for prohibition. I have also tried to reflect upon the effects that the paper's coverage had upon the struggle.
EENADU AND THE TELUGU LANGUAGE PRESS
Eenadu's rise to the number one position in the Telugu newspaper industry makes a remarkable success story. Within five years of its launching Eenadu became the largest circulating daily in the state, a position which it continues to enjoy to the present day. However, the factors behind its success are not difficult to trace: one, local news and issues seen as newsworthy for the first time; two, skilful business and marketing strategies; and, three, the introduction of district tabloids. Besides these, improved printing technology and page make-up coupled with that right amount of sensationalism in reporting helped Eenadu to rise to the top of the Telugu newspaper business.
Eenadu was first launched in August 1974 by Ramoji Rao, who was by then the owner of the immensely successful chit fund enterprise, Margadarsi Chitfunds. In fact the launching of Eenadu was in itself a clever business move. The paper was launched not in Hyderabad or in Vijayawada from where existing Telugu dailies were published, but in Visakhapatnam, a major city in one of the coastal districts named after this city. Readers in Visakhapatnam until then were forced to rely upon the Madras editions of Andhra Patrika and Andhra Prabha