This is the most exciting day for me at Pragati since we relaunched the site over a year ago. Today we launch this group blog that you are now reading, called Pragati Express. It has an awesome team of writers, even if I say so myself. (Even if I wasn’t writing on it, and had nothing to do with it, I would want to read it every day.)
There are old-school bloggers like Nitin Pai, Yazad Jal and me. Pragati staff writers will also blog here, as will various policy experts from the Takshashila Institution. The list of writers that you see on the panel alongside will grow with time.
But first, let me address these question: Why a blog? Who reads blogs these days?
I was a prolific blogger with India Uncut back in the day, and wrote more than 8000 posts between 2004 and 2009, averaging five posts a day for quite a while. I slacked off after that, and now use it mainly to archive pieces of mine published elsewhere. I rationalised my laziness by arguing that the Age of Blogging was over: Social Media changed the way people navigate the web and consume content. Twitter and Facebook took over the filtering aspect. The personal posts went on FB and Instagram. Bloggers moved on; and so did blog readers.
So why Pragati Express?
Firstly, all the advantages that blogging held as a medium still hold true: I described some of them in this old essay. Blogging remains an easy and flexible way for anyone to get their thoughts down, unhindered by considerations of length or news cycles. They can go as broad or deep as they want, writing always in their own style, not the house style of someone else.
Secondly — and this is a reader’s point-of-view, not a writer’s — blogs don’t require writers to take hard positions on anything. When you write an opinion piece, for example, you usually plant a flag in the soil: this is my opinion, and I will stand by it. In a blog, on the other hand, you can express thoughts as they happen, and ask questions to others in public that you would usually ask yourself in private. I find that a fascinating process.
If journalism is the first draft of history, as the cliche goes, then a blog is the perfect place to take notes for that draft. And everyone can see those notes, and everyone can think aloud with you.
What kind of posts will you see here? Quick perspectives and insights on events as they happen. Questions that pop up in a writer’s head when they read something interesting in a book. An overheard soundbyte that sparks off a thought. And so on — there are few limits to this medium.
One aim we have for Pragati is that readers should feel smarter after they read an article there. Our aim for Pragati Express is that readers should feel stimulated by it.
It feels too meta to write any more about it right now. All I’ll say is, watch this space. We should have around four or five posts a day, starting today, from different writers with different interests and different voices. Do follow us on Twitter here, and like our Facebook page for updates. Happy reading!