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Urdu Journalism Completes 200 Years of Existence; Played Major Role in Freedom Movement

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New Delhi/ Aligarh: The Urdu press played a pivotal role in the freedom movement. It was the national press of the Indian subcontinent in those days, and it also fostered the Urdu language and literature. Experts and professors highlighted these points at a national seminar organized by the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) to mark the bicentennial of Urdu journalism as it completed 200 years of its existence in March 2022. They also expressed concern that Urdu journalism is losing its charm due to a lack of training for journalists and reporters and wrong translation.

The 2-day National Seminar on ‘Urdu Sahafat: Zaban kay Badaltay Pas-e-Manzar kay Hawaly Say’ was held on March 5-6. “Urdu newspapers used emotive language to inform people from 1857-1947. However, nowadays, the media is presenting fact-free information in a mixed language, even though people know what fact is and what media is presenting underlines Prof Shafey Kidwai.
Echoing his thoughts, Prof. Syed Mohammad Hashim also stated that the bicentennial celebrations of Urdu journalism are significant since the Urdu press played an essential part in the independence movement and promoted language and literature. He underlined that youngsters should be taught Urdu with proper pronunciation and script.

Prof M J Warsi mentioned Sir Syed, Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar, and others for their contributions to Urdu journalism and old Urdu newspapers like Jam-i-Jahan-Numa and others.
In his remarks Prof Mohd. Ali Jauhar said Urdu newspapers play a crucial role in developing language. Earlier, Urdu journalism was very informative, and words were selected carefully, particularly during the times of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Abdul Majid Daryabadi, etc. Urdu journalism is losing its charm due to various factors like lack of training for journalists and reporters and wrong translation.

For this, Prof Ehtesham A Khan, MANUU, Hyderabad, suggested that content and scriptwriting training with a linguistic focus should be part of the journalism curriculum. He pointed out that journalism and mass communication students learn the technical aspects of news and scriptwriting in universities and colleges. Still, there is little emphasis on improving their language skills.
There is no right and wrong use of language; however, in Urdu journalism, one may choose a better lexicon and better translation because sometimes there is meaning-loss in translation, said Prof Kidwai. He also discussed the regional variation of Urdu and how regional languages have impacted Urdu.

“The interplay of media and language is the key reference point for linguistic studies. Urdu journalistic language and idiom have evolved and undergone changes- a natural linguistic phenomenon,” underlined Prof Warsi.

In his presidential remarks, Prof Quamrul Hooda Faridi said “we become a little worried when non-standard language is used in newspapers. However, change in language is a natural phenomenon because if it does not change it will die with time”.

In his address, Prof Arif Nazir said, “language should be easy and informative in journalism. Language should be chosen very consciously in newspapers because it represents the culture and traditions of the society. The Urdu language is gaining worldwide popularity because it borrows many words from Persian, Arabic, Hindi, and English”. Illustrating with examples, he recited several couplets of renowned Urdu and Hindi poets.

According to Prof Warsi (Chairman, Department of Linguistics and Seminar Director), the seminar coincides with the bicentennial commemoration of Urdu print media. In the near future, he said, the department will strive to organize a workshop to teach Urdu journalists in partnership with the Department of Urdu, the Department of Mass Communication, and NCPUL, New Delhi.
“India has great linguistic diversity, and Urdu is the language of all communities, symbolizing our composite culture. There is a need to popularize Urdu, particularly in North India”, said Prof Tariq Mansoor, Vice-Chancellor AMU, inaugurated the seminar organized by AMU’s Department of Linguistics.

Prof Mansoor stated that “mother tongues have special relevance in the lives of communities” and that “Urdu-speakers must concentrate on disseminating their mother tongue, primarily by teaching the language and its script to their children.”

Scholars from universities around the country, including the University of Kashmir, Indira Gandhi National Open University, Madras University, Assam University, Punjabi University, Patiala, and many others, presented 30 papers.