After two years of editing India Currents, I am passing the mantle to you, my worthy successor, and leaving to pursue a Ph.D. in the interdisciplinary humanities. When readers receive this issue, the content of the next will already be taking shape in your mind, your fresh perspective marking each page of our shared magazine.
If that sounds like a romantic lament over inevitable change, I assure you that it is not. As much or more than any other reader, I anticipate with considerable excitement the next stage in India Currents’ growth. Change, after all, is what it’s about. Life, meaning, being. If not for the promise of the new—of something greater, of difference, of development—why do we strive?
Transitions are times for reflection. Or rather, transitional periods enable us to consider the past and future with deeper self-awareness than the present usually demands. I started this editorship with aspirations for our publication and questions about my potential contributions: Would readers engage? Respond? Would we be able to think critically, together, about the diasporic condition, the problematic of hyphenated identities, cultural difference, and the politics of everyday life? Would it feel like community?
Somewhere between writing my first editorial and seeing that first magazine in print, I realized that the answers to my questions were “yes,” “no,” “of course,” and “maybe,” all bound up together. The negotiations and discussions that happen in office—between editors and writers and staff—have a distinct life from the considerations of subscribers and readers. Readers may or may not engage with every article, may or may not write a letter of feedback. Readers may love a column, hate a column, read an issue, or use it to prop up a shaky table.
How do we know? Once published, each magazine takes on a life of its own—as it should. As poet laureate Kay Ryan has written of her poems, it has to “fend for [itself] … Fight and fight again. No networking, no friends in high places, no internships.”
If it is good, it is good, and it will be good whether or not it generates a particular response.
If that line of thinking sounds strange to you, it’s because it is exactly the opposite of how we’ve been trained to think by social media and new internet phenomena. A blog entry seems deficient if not accompanied by numerous comments. “Status updates” have no meaning if not broadcast to followers. Online photo albums, confessional posts, publicized guest lists … You’re not a very good exhibitionist if nobody’s watching.
Of course, our readers have afforded me some of the most rewarding moments of my editorship. And yes, we produce a magazine to be read, to be debated, to inform, to inspire, to be used, to be shared. But we have other imperatives as well.
Editing India Currents has taught me that there are limits to what any publication can expect of readers, but there are no limits to what we can demand of ourselves. To return to Ryan, “You really shouldn’t be living for a reaction all the time.” But that doesn’t mean you don’t act to do the best work you can, to produce a magazine every month that is better than the last.
I know that India Currents will continue to produce the thoughtful, critical, substantive, and provocative content that it has for 22 years, and that I, and now you, have had the privilege of editing. In spite of the erosion of print media—despite the widespread compulsion to be quicker, shorter, faster, and easier on the eye—our work goes on.
I’ll be reading.
[Editor’s Note: Vidya Pradhan takes over as Managing Editor of India Currents with the July issue.]
|Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan was Editor of India Currents from July 2007-June 2009.|