Community Torchbearers Reach Milestone

For 15 years, G’day India has engaged the entire community, near and worldwide, with its distinctive Australian Indian perspective storytelling.

The news magazine G’day India, known for its professional presentation of relevant content and eye-catching images, has reason to celebrate. G’day India’s relevancy to the Australian Indians is regarded highly by the community and mainstream Australia. The editor-in-chief of the monthly publication, Mr Tonee Sethi, is happy about its popularity and reach, admitting, “the proof is in the pudding” and “we have been blessed and busy ever since.” Mr Sethi, undeniably a forerunner in the industry and now fifteen years later wanted to share his story of “what made us what we are today.”

Mr Sethi has strong ties to India, his birthplace, and he has lived and worked there, as well as further afield in Bahrain, America, New Zealand and Australia. He is a well-reputed international businessman in various industries from hospitality to fashion, and understands how to read markets and trends. Mr Sethi knows how to conduct business and build a good rapport with people. “We don’t do business; we build relations,” he shares.

In 1997, Mr Sethi returned to the land down under, accompanied by his wife, Manjit “Vimi” Sethi, two daughters and son, Amandeep Sethi. In no time at all, they immersed themselves and structured their lifestyle and busy work schedules to get the most out of Melbourne as part of the community. Their business forte was hospitality, juggling two Indian cuisine restaurants renowned amongst patrons and industry professionals.

During this time, Mr Sethi’s love for storytelling only strengthened. It stemmed from his upbringing, surrounded by filmmakers and the entertainment industry. His father and uncle were filmmakers, and their influence helped him become passionate about films and storytelling.

In 2006, Mr Sethi took a sabbatical from his busy restaurants. He studied the market for avenues to conduct a new business venture alongside his desire for filmmaking. However, he soon realised that his life-long dream “to tell stories in the mode of films” was not an option due to the industry’s lack of reach. “There was no market for it at that time. There was YouTube, but there was no bandwidth. People used to use Motorola and Nokia, and there was no data for people to share videos,” he states.

Being one not to back down from his love for storytelling and his heart for capturing issues, Mr Sethi decided to meld the two. “There was an influx of Indian students. Then all of a sudden, there was a bit of a vibe about it that these students, these Indians, were nothing but workers, 7-Eleven, security, they do odd jobs, and that was very hurtful because Indians are professional. They are very educated, and they do a lot of things, not only in India but all over the world. The diaspora was getting bigger; we had so many issues. No media was addressing those issues, so we came up with the idea to have a newspaper. There were already a few newspapers at that time, but they were not from an Australian Indian perspective. They were talking about things that were totally irrelevant. Now we wanted to have a newspaper that gives them what is important to the community.”

In May 2007, Mr Sethi, Vimi and Amandeep embarked on the journey of storytelling through the media venture of G’day India from their home office. However, there was one major stipulation: the overriding tone and angle were to be clean, positive and inspiring, whether covering news and stories from Melbourne or afar. “We didn’t know if it was going to be liked by people and if the people would ask for the paper. Dedicating the entire newspaper to news and features that did not reflect anything negative was risky,” Mr Sethi shares.

At the time, Mr Sethi devoted his days and nights to the newspaper. His wife, Vimi, a food connoisseur, was responsible for the recipe section. Meanwhile, Amandeep was juggling a busy schedule between long shifts at Foxtel and working nights for G’day India. “The circulation just boomed in the first three to four months; we started getting a lot of advertisers. We started with a 36-pager and slowly started building to 60-pages, then 64. We reached a stage where we were doing over 100 pages. That’s the kind of response we got from the people,” Mr Sethi said.

G’day India’s success was escalating, and just after a year and a half, Amandeep quit his Foxtel job to work full time at the newspaper. “We do everything from sourcing, formatting, layout, editing and distribution, which is 20 days’ work each month,” Mr Sethi reveals. Also, around this time, Mr Sethi took on passionate contributors and helped them develop their writing skills. Getting their names published in a reputable newspaper and professional assistance from the team at G’day India was a rewarding experience for these aspiring writers. Mr Sethi proudly states, “Some of them have done very well for themselves, with one an editor-in-chief in Singapore.”

Within the 15 years, G’day India has expanded to incorporate two other workspaces in the Blackburn area. However, just before the Covid- 19 pandemic, they returned to working from one location, the purpose-built home office, due to the changing face of the industry and the online world. With the digital age reaching every household, it was time for G’day India to update themselves and stay abreast of the changing ways people engage. G’day India’s news and views were now accessible via a premium app compatible with many devices. The outcome accommodated a more flexible content delivery and engagement approach geared towards the digital subscriber.

Similarly, advertisers got more than their advert in the publication with the bonus of free marketing. “We understand that social media is here to stay; it goes on our website, and we also share the link on Facebook and other social media,” Mr Sethi expresses. “It’s just that people feel that once you’re in the newspaper and a credible newspaper, your business is credible. A lot of mainstream also pick up a lot of the stories we do because all the ethnic media has done their due diligence, and if they are talking about a business or person that has to be good, it gives them a bit of a kick-start.”

Although the continued success of G’day India is attributed to support for and of the entire community, there is no denying how the publication revolutionised news and feature engagement. From its bite-sized content, unique Australian Indian perspective and positive community-based information inside a colourful, glossy format. Mr Sethi elaborates, “The people love it because it’s one paper you get all the information from. In our case, we talked about the community, and we went and saw life through the eyes of the people, whether they have reached somewhere or struggling with issues.”

As G’day India’s Mr Sethi, Vimi and Amandeep celebrate this important milestone, they would like to thank everyone for their continued support and blessings over the last 15 years. Gratitude goes to their writers, contributors, dedicated readership, subscribers and the 270 plus distribution outlets.

Notably, special acknowledgement to all the advertisers who allow this influential newspaper to continue to inform, engage and connect.

By Agata Zema