Media Academy Seminar on Urdu Journalism
By A Staff Writer
Mr. Siraj pointed out that Urdu had lost its secular moorings due to phasing out of Non-Muslim writers by the end of 1980s and Urdu journalists were being recruited mainly from among madrassa graduates. He pointed out that Urdu newspapers columns on Islam still carried articles and columns by writers who have been dead since long.
Gulbarga: A one-day seminar on ‘Urdu Journalism: Challenges Ahead’ held here under the aegis of the Karnataka State Media Academy outlined the need for recognising their role in moulding the society and not to insist on circulation figures on par with newspapers published in the State’s official language or English dailies.
The seminar was the first of its kind by the Media Academy ever since it was set up 30 years ago.
Delivering the keynote address, former MLC Qazi Arshad Ali, editor, Bidar ki Awaz, said the State Government should not demand circulation on par with Kannada or English dailies for release of Government advertisements to Urdu dailies or for issuing accreditation to its journalists or subscription of these newspapers for Government libraries. Highlighting the character of the Urdu readership, Ali pointed out that readership surveys did not project the realistic figures about Urdu newspapers as a single copy of Urdu daily was read by several dozen people in a restaurant or tea house. He also pointed out that running an Urdu newspaper was no small feat as they were not part of any MNCs or corporate but were being run by ordinary individuals and represented the issues and problems of the most downtrodden sections of the people. He said Urdu newspapers faced difficulty in clearance of registration and entry into the media list.
Senior journalist Maqbool Ahmed Siraj who works for the BBC world service as well as writes for several English dailies in Bangalore, in his elaborate paper prepared for the seminar, said Urdu newspapers’ reader base was constantly shrinking as more well settled urban Urdu-speaking people were shifting to much better produced English or vernacular dailies. He said Urdu readers all across the country were basically bilingual or multilingual in matters of use of the language and tended to easily shift to other languages for quality stuff. He said Urdu was unique among the national languages of India as it was not the official language of any state, yet had a pan Indian presence in non-contiguous enclaves such as Hyderabad, Kashmir Valley, Bhopal, cities of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and larger cities of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. He said this demography posed problems as Urdu readers formed the critical mass for successful Urdu dailies at only in mega cities such as Mumbai, Patna, Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad.
Mr. Siraj pointed out that Urdu had lost its secular moorings due to phasing out of Non-Muslim writers by the end of 1980s and Urdu journalists were being recruited mainly from among madrassa graduates. He pointed out that Urdu newspapers columns on Islam still carried articles and columns by writers who have been dead since long. He said the Urdu newspapers had not introduced the modern Islamic writers such as Tariq Ramadan, Abdullahi Nayeem, Karen Armstrong, Jeffery Lang, Murad Hoffman, Nimat Hafez Barzangi, Amina Wadud, Fatima Mernissi etc among its readers and was beating the old line of writers who were totally out of sync with the urges of the modern society.
Mr. Siraj lamented that Urdu does not attract fresh and creative talent as jobs in Urdu newspapers were less remunerative and excessive plagiarism hindered fair returns on creative writings and works. He however recognized distinct improvement in looks and content due to adoption of new composing and printing technology, easy access to photographs on Internet, and translation services which transferred quality stuff from English and other languages to Urdu. He stressed the need for developing style sheet and editing tools for Urdu journalism. He castigated the Urdu newspapers for the tendency to promote the economic and political interests of their owners and lacking objectivity in reporting issues and events pertaining to the Muslim community.
The seminar was inaugurated by Minister for Municipal Administration, Qamarul Islam (who represents Gulbarga in the Karnataka Assembly). Mr. Islam urged the Urdu readers to forego a cup of tea to buy daily newspapers and asked the Muslim industrialists and entrepreneurs to strengthen the base of Urdu newspapers by patronizing them with their advertisements.
Media Academy Chairman Mr. Ponnappa welcomed the gathering. Journalist Mr. Vijay Grover acted as the moderator. MLA from Chincholi Dr. Umesh Yadav lauded the role of Urdu and asked the Muslim educational institutions to subscribe Urdu newspapers and dailies. Mr. Siddique Alduri from Daily Salar, Mr. Abdul Khaliq from Pasban, Azmathullah Sharief from Munsiff TV, and Hamid Akmal, writer from Gulbarga also spoke at the seminar. Several Urdu journalists were honoured for their services to Urdu journalism.
The seminar was a poor show as far as audience was concerned. There were merely 25 persons in a hall meant for 700 persons during the working session of the seminar.