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Why India Legal?

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January 15 , 2014




n March 15, 2015, our magazine will have completed its first year of publication as a revamped and relaunched fortnightly. But the New Year is as good a time as any to celebrate its anniversary. And there is plenty to commemorate and rejoice in.
At a time when the market wisdom is against launching new magazines and periodicals because of “commercial viability” problems, our promoters Rajshri and Pradeep Rai—journalists and lawyers—took a leap of faith. And their belief—as the growth and progress of the magazine has demonstrated—has been rewarded by success.

Unlike most conservative approaches, there were no pre-marketing surveys, no dummy runs, no readership response surveys, not even a hoopla launch. We went about our work quietly with a handful of carefully picked journalists with proven technical, language, production, editorial and reportorial skills, looking for special stories and venturing into unexplored territories. Our job was not to pander to fashionable market trends or infotainment but to persuade readers back into serious reading rather than just flipping through. The aim, in other words, was to create a world of flippership into a universe of readership.

I believe that one measure of our success lies in how quickly we began to attract some of the finest writers, reporters and editors in the country—many of them legendary in their own lifetimes—to write for us.
Our very first issue with the cover story “How Did She Die” raised serious questions about Sunanda Pushkar’s death along with the first exclusive photographs of her dead body showing bruise marks. The story later went viral and her death is still under investigation.

During the first event-packed, frenetic six weeks, during which our fortnightly magazine was on the stands, the one question I was repeatedly asked was why we call it “India Legal”. Not that people didn’t like the title. They found it authoritative. They found it catchy and different. But they remain mystified by our choice when they read the contents and discover that the magazine is not simply a handbook or digest for the legal profession.

Precisely. And yet, members of the legal community who read it find it fits their niche reading needs. Veteran high court lawyer TL Garg called me from his chambers the moment he received his copy to say it fills a void. Well-known corporate lawyer Ritesh Kumar whatsapped me: “The publication is really good. Intellectually stimulating.”

Among other prominent lawyers who commented is Ranjeev C Dubey, managing partner of N South, Advocates: “I am most pleasantly surprised. Congra-tulations! Clearly, in the legal business, calling a spade a spade is only a contempt of court so your candor is commendable. A big congratulations on the relaunch of India Legal.”

The comments have poured in not only from the legal profession but also from general readers like Hilario J de Souza who says: “Thank you for presenting legalese and making it available to us in a manner even I can grasp.” And this from Krishan Kant, a Kingfisher Airlines employee: “I am writing this letter to highlight the plight and agony of Kingfisher Airline employees after 19 months of battle…( I feel) that India is run by politicians who plunder, bureaucrats who carry out illegal orders, ministers who violate the constitution, businessmen without a social conscience, lawyers who sell out and judges who do not stick their necks out against executive skulduggery.”

That last sentence is a direct quote from my previous editorial. I quote these readers not to wallow in self-praise but rather to suggest that India Legal is probably the right choice of a name. It is obvious that the magazine has mined a rich vein of readers’ interest. It has placed a niche perspective of the law within the wider ambit of a general readership. It has become a marketplace for the discussion and telling of all breaking stories and investigations within the perspective of their legal parameters. It’s to the credit of the unspoken wisdom of our constitution that we are a nation of laws and not man-made whimsies.

Take any major political, social or economic issue facing the nation or the world, research and write on it within the legal framework and you’ve got an India Legal story! The cover story of our first issue with exclusive pictures of bruises on Sunanda Pushkar’s dead body raised legal issues about the investigation. Our second issue, with the legal conniptions over Osho’s will and plagiarism charges against Arvind Kejriwal, continues to make wave, as I am sure will this issue.

Another cover story by NV Subramanian was on “Political Liars”, (a pun on “lawyers”) who have let down our system of governance. Other stories included Girish Nikam’s trenchant analysis (written before the last general elections) on why India will change no matter who becomes the prime minister; Managing Editor Ramesh Menon’s evocative feature on voting rights for Tibetan refugees; former Executive Editor Alam Srinivas’ take on whether tougher laws could have prevented corporate scams like Sahara and Satyam; arms merchant Sudhir Choudhrie’s murky empire; IPL and the underworld connection; the legal limbo of abandoned mothers; and the misuse of anti-dowry laws. This is only a sampling.

Law impacts almost every story we read in daily newspapers or see on television. The events that shape politics, lifestyles, social interactions, personal destinies are inextricably intertwined with the law and its vagaries. India Legal is a well-heeled mixture of regulars and special features. The inside workings and news about the judicial system is part of the regular menu but the magazine covers all important political, economic, corporate, and social developments—within the context of legal relevance and parameters.

Finally, the reason why we call our magazine India Legal is that all of the magazine’s stories and articles revolve on a recurring spin: they are reported, written and presented within the legal framework that drives them. The magazine empowers and enlightens the citizens on a variety of issues that touch their lives. While it offers a unique inside look at the workings of the Indian legal system with journalistic panache and high production values, India Legal is by no means produced exclusively for lawyers and judges. Our magazine’s stories are designed to appeal to a wider and sophisticated general audience of decision-makers, corporates, politicians, and the common man.

Thus has India Legal carved out unique slot for itself. I am sure the bouquets and brickbats will fly fast and furious. Keep ‘em coming. You can email your comments to and we will pay Rs. 1000 for the letter we feature as “Letter of the Week”.

You can also access our magazine on our website


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