Britain’s Big Issue magazine to be launched in India


London : Big Issue, Britain’s popular magazine for the homeless, will launch its India edition by the end of the year.

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According to magazine co-founder John Bird, it will initially be launched in Mumbai and Kolkata. A team of journalists is already in India, aiming to train slum dwellers as regular contributors and columnists.

Stories will at first be published in English, but local language translations may follow, The Guardian reports.

Bird says he hopes to produce a “super duper” publication packed with information on homelessness, local news and fun.

“I had always thought that India was not possible because so much is sold on the streets there. But having spent just a week there and having spoken to people in the slums, it appears there’s a real lack of quality out there. We can see the Big Issue being sold on the streets, especially at traffic lights,” he said.

The Big Issue burst on to the British scene in September 1991, providing access to a legitimate income for the homeless and an alternative to begging. The inspiration for the magazine came from Street News, a newspaper sold by homeless people in New York.

In Britain, vendors buy the magazine for 70 pence and sell it on for 1.50 pounds ($3), keeping the 80 pence difference for themselves. A similar scheme is envisaged in India.

In June 1993, The Big Issue went weekly and regional editions of the magazine were soon established in Scotland, Wales, the north of England and the south-west. Today, The Big Issue exists in Australia, Japan, South Africa, Namibia and Kenya.