I grew up in the city of Kanpur, in northern India. a city that has seen relative decline in recent decades. During the British Raj it was a thriving textile town. Manufacturers of televisions, tractor parts, motor scooter rose and then declined. Today the city is known for leather and hide exports and for the production of “pan masala” an after-meal condiment. In 1961, the United States spent $14 million to help start the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur in a ten year collaboration that created an island of excellence in that city (and one I where was fortunate enough to spend five year of my life and earn a degree in Mechanical Engineering.).
But down the street from where I grew up is the home of the owners of Kanpur Hindi language newspaper, the “Dainik Jagran” or the Daily Awakening. It now sells 17 million copies a day. Compare with 2.1 million for USA Today as of March 2009, 14.1 million for Yomiuri Shimbun of Japan, and 2.5 million for the People’s Daily of China. The New York Times is under 2 million. Rising literacy and rising incomes are driving increased circulation in India.
The newspaper has grown in circulation over the decades and has started publishing from multiple cities. It took a a minority investment from a German media outfit some time ago. I was struck by the news that it is not the world’s largest circulating paper, see the story from Financial Times. The reporter mis-translates the name of the paper but otherwise the story is worth a read