The Himalayan Beacon known until 2006 simply as BEACON is a monthly news-magazine published in Darjeeling by The Mandalay Books India (Pvt.) Ltd., and distributed throughout Darjeeling Hills and Sikkim. It is now owned by The Mandalay Books India (Pvt.) Ltd., which publishes other periodicals, including the weekly newspaper ‘This Week’ and ‘The Himalayan Traveller’. It is the largest and the first magazine to be published by and for the Darjeeling Hills. Nicknamed the “Fire Hose” for its colourful appearance and undiplomatic journalistic style, it is often regarded as a source of record, meaning that it is frequently relied upon as the official and authoritative reference for modern events. Founded in 1998 by Barun Roy the magazine is by far more popular among the youths of the region than the readers of other generations. The magazine’s name is often abbreviated to Beacon, due to its earlier popularity as Beacon. Its famous motto, always printed in the upper left-hand corner of the cover page, is “News and Views on All for All.”
Beacon was founded on October 18, 1997 by Barun Roy. The first issue of Beacon came out on the 15th of January 1998 and then the Founding Team included:
Chief Editor: Barun Roy
Sub-editors: Subash Sthapit (Subash Sthapit later on went to become the Finance Manager of Beacon Publications which published the Magazine)and Raju Biswas (Raju Biswas later went up to be the Advertisement Manager)
Advertisement Manager: Vikash Agarwal
Marketing Executives: Nishan Chettri and Amina Fareedi
Reporters: Prateeq Ojha, Asif Iqbal, Prashan Rai
The Editorial Head office then was situated at 8/A Toong Soong Road, Darjeeling.
The magazine was originally published every 15th of the Month until April 1998.
The paper’s growing influence was seen during its very initial publication when in Jan-August 1998 a series of Beacon exposés targeting Bengal and the Local Administration ended the Government apathy over the retired workers of the Sidrapong Hydel Power Station.
In the later years, Beacon transitioned from supporting populistic politics to becoming a politically independent periodical; In 2001, Beacon Publications went bankrupt and almost 90 per cent of the employees lost their jobs. Beacon Publications had to shut down its offices and Beacon went out of circulation for almost two years. In 2003, Beacon was acquired by “The Mandalay Books India Pvt. Ltd.”
The paper moved its headquarters to 118/A Dr. Zakir Hussain Road, Elysee Lane. It has remained there ever since.
Some of the most controversial Beacon articles
Beacon published numerous highly investigative and mostly controversial articles with international ramifications. While some of the articles like Problems Unsolved ultimately forced the West Bengal State Government to pay up all the payments that it had been holding for almost 25 years from the workers of the Historic Hydel Electric Project at Sidrapong, Darjeeling – articles like China’s claim on Indian Territory lead to major diplomatic scuffle between India and China which took years to heal. Ultimately, in 2003, China acknowledged Sikkim as an inalienable part of India. The “I am not seeking independence…”, from His Holiness The Dalai Lama in the June 1998 issue of Beacon lead to a major shift in the Foreign Policy of numerous Government all over the world including India’s.
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