Monday, May 30, 2022

200 Years Of Urdu Journalism: Is There A Reason To Celebrate?

From The Journalism for the Masses, It Has Been Reduced To the Journalism for a Section of Muslims Main Points: 1. Harihar Dutt and Lala Sadasukh had launched the first Urdu newspaper in 1822. 2. Kolkata is the birth place of Urdu journalism. 3. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad published Al Hilal and Al Balagh from Kolkata. 4. Urdu journalism played an important role in India's freedom movement. 5. After Independence, Urdu journalism in India lost its national identity. ----- By New Age Islam Staff Writer 30 May 2022 Urdu journalism has completed its 200 year journey. In March 1822, Harihar Dutt and Lala Sadasukh had launched the first Urdu newspaper Jam-e-Jahan Numa. It was a weekly newspaper that published news and poetry. After that Urdu journalism flourished and numerous newspapers and periodicals in Urdu were published. During that period, Persian was the official language of the East India Company but Urdu was the lingua franca. Seeing the growing popularity and reach of Urdu, the East India company made Urdu the official language in 1832. This paved the way for further growth and development of the language. Urdu gradually replaced Persian as the language of the elite and the language of creative expression of writers and poets. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: A Tribute to the First Martyr of Urdu Journalism Maulvi Mohammad Baqar ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Various Urdu newspapers and periodicals were published in later years which propagated and promoted nationalist ideas. The oppressive rule of the East India Company was gradually causing anger and resentment among the Indians. Urdu newspapers started giving vent to the pent up feelings of the masses and also published material that stoked rebellious thoughts among the Indians. Among the important newspapers of the period was Delhi Urdu Akhbar published by Maulvi Mohammad Baqar. The newspaper played an active role during the Revolt of 1857. It published news of the revolt and of the fighting between the British and the freedom fighters. The newspaper also published excerpts of the speeches of Indian leaders and fatwas of Ulema against the British. However, the revolt was crushed by the East India Company and Maulvi Mohammad Baqar was sentenced to death. Maulvi Mohammad Baqar was the first journalist of India who sacrificed his life for his motherland and Delhi Urdu Akhbar's name is itched in gold in the history of the freedom movement of India. Another journalist who became prominent during the freedom movement was Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. He published Al Hilal and Al Balagh during the second decade of the twentieth century. Both the newspapers published nationalistic material and were anti-British. Mohammad Ali Jauhar's Hamdard, Abdul Ghafoor Shahbaz's Darus Sultanat and a host of other Urdu newspapers promoted anti-British ideas and united the people of India against the foreign rulers. Ghazals and poems stoking the fire of revolt were also published in these newspapers. In short, before the independence, Urdu journalism played a very powerful and effective role in uniting the people of India against the British government and leading the nation to independence. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: 200 Years of Urdu Journalism: Urdu Journalism Needs To Come Out Of the Thrall of Religion ----------------------------------------------------------------------- After the Independence, Urdu lost its national character as Hindi was made the official language and Urdu was gradually reduced to the status of the language of the Muslims of India's northern and eastern states. Partition wielded a hard blow not only to the Muslims but also to the Urdu language in India. Majority of the Urdu speaking regions went into Pakistan and Urdu was limited to some pockets in West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana, Punjab and Maharashtra where it was the mother language of less than ten per cent of the total population. Therefore, Urdu journalism catered to a very small population and so its voice was not so strong and loud as to be heard by the powers that be. The low literacy rate of the Urdu speaking population which is mostly Muslim is also a problem for Urdu journalism. Urdu newspapers do not have a wide circulation. The maximum circulation of an Urdu newspaper in a state is around 5,000. Some newspapers are printed 100 or 200 hundred copies only. Some old newspapers even print only the file copies to claim government advertisements. Therefore, these newspapers cannot have any impact on the people or on the government. They do not play any role in shaping the opinion of their target readers and so the government does not care for them. Most of the newspapers are owned by individuals for commercial purposes and to gain political benefits. These editors do not have any missionary zeal or any social objective and so their newspapers do not serve as catalysts for change or development. Since the purpose of these newspapers is commercial, they resort to sensationalism and yellow journalism. They survive on raising emotional and religious issues of Muslims to sell their papers. Economic issues or news of scientific development are generally ignored and all sorts of conspiracy theories are given prominence. Another flaw of the Urdu newspapers is that they look like Islamic newspapers as news and articles published therein are predominantly Islamic. During Islamic festivals, the newspapers are full of Islamic content. During the Syrian civil war, many prominent Urdu newspapers glorified the ISIS and tried to make Muslims believe that the Caliphate of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi was an extension of the Caliphate of the four rightly guided caliphs of Islam. This glorification of the terrorist organisation encouraged Muslim youth of India to join the ISIS. Some youths from Kalyan in Maharashtra left home and went to Syria to join the ISIS. Urdu newspapers glorified the ISIS until the Indian government banned the terrorist organisation in India in February 2015. So much for the journalistic and religious wisdom of the Urdu journalists and editors. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: Maulana Azad And Abdul Ghafur Shahbaz Gave Constructive Shape To Urdu Literary Journalism ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This episode was a black spot on the golden fabric of Urdu journalism. Today Urdu journalism is financially and intellectually very poor. Most of the newspapers cannot employ qualified and experienced journalists. The result is that the newspapers are full of linguistic flaws. They cannot hire investigative journalists and researchers or experts because of financial weakness. In an age, when journalism of other languages has been corporatised and become technologically much developed, Urdu journalism has not developed much. On the contrary, Urdu journalism has become dependent on non-Muslims for survival. Today, some largely circulated Urdu newspapers and TV channels are owned by non-Muslims. These media houses are loyal to the government and so do not represent the problems and aspirations of the Muslim minority. Instead, they present a hunky dory picture of the government. Eminent TV journalist Ravish Kumar once lashed at this pathetic state of Urdu journalism saying that the Muslims could not establish their own media in the last 60 years. They depend on others to fight for them, to speak for them and complain that others are not doing enough for them. But the problem is that even if the Muslims someday establish their own media, it will be a religious or sectarian media like what happened in Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood came to power. Clerics dominated the TV channels and spread sectarian and communal hatred from the channels. The media in Pakistan is in our sight where religion and sectarianism dominate it or the media in Afghanistan where Taliban decide what a news presenter should wear or what should be shown. Therefore, Urdu journalism today has not much to celebrate. Urdu journalists and media house owners need to sit back and do introspection instead. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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