Saleem Iqbal Qadri

VOX POPLI: Urdu Journalism- The challenges ahead!

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Urdu- The language of Mir and Ghalib and revolutionary voices like Faiz Ahmad Faiz has enjoyed prominence for hundreds of years and has enjoyed the status of being the official language of the state of Jammu and Kashmir for a long period which continues till date. Many a great magazines, newspapers, tabloids were published in Urdu here in the state as well as in India and Pakistan- some of which have created political upheavals and social transformations as well.  But the trend seems changing and the young generation seems less interested in Urdu Journalism- a fact that can be demonstrated by the sheer number of declining newspapers, newsmagazines that are being published in Urdu Language here in the state!

Urdu, however, seems fading away slowly and gradually being replaced by English. Is it going to meet the same fate as that of the numerous regional languages which have totally vanished- one cannot say for sure! But the 1961 census records India as having 1,652 languages which was reduced to merely 808 by 1971 makes it clear that over 220 Indian languages have been lost in the last 50 years. 197 languages are categorised as endangered by the ‘People’s Linguistic Survey of India, 2013’. Can Urdu language survive- can Urdu journalism endure the global prominence of ‘English’?

In this regard, Kashmir Images reporter, Saleem Qadri spoke to a wide range of people and here are the excerpts:

Abdul Maalik Mir ( Advocate)

Today in 21 century, Urdu language and journalism is given step motherly treatment and no doubt people are speaking Urdu but choosing Urdu journalism as profession is deemed as taboo. Despite the fact what people think about Urdu journalism, my personal view is that it still enjoys prominence not only on the national level but international levels too. For example world’s two prominent Urdu Radio stations like BBC and Voice of America are working from decades for South Asian Urdu speaking countries especially India and Pakistan  and their impact is also visible on the national and international politics, and it is an encouraging fact for those who feel Urdu as a fading away language in comparison with English. There are millions of people who read only Urdu news papers in India and Pakistan and I feel Urdu is not only a language for them but their identity too which English language can never occupy.


Er, Idrees ul  Haq

Urdu is growing at a very prompt pace. But Urdu script is shrinking at a startling rate and it needs to be conserved. Urdu script is like a seed and the language can only be protected if the script is cosseted. The new generation’s relations with Urdu are reducing. Despite Urdu being the official language of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, its usage has been shelved to the constitutional books only. The echelon of discrimination is such that now we feel ashamed of even using Urdu road signs.

Over-enthusiasm adhered by some Urdu knowing persons mean nothing but an exercise in futility and closing of eyes to a very disturbing state of affairs with regards to a suppressed Urdu language. Our Urdu journals are irregular and with no marketing stratagem. Except a few, Urdu papers have shrunk to a titular circulation of few tens or hundreds copies only. It is disheartening to see the language used by reporters and journalists is not always up to the mark. Under these state of affairs, how can one imagine about the vivid future of Urdu readership or lingual ship in Kashmir?

Dr Sheikh Amina

Despite Urdu being Jammu and Kashmir’s official language, it is on decline, Urdu is dying a slow death in the State especially in the Journalism sector people affiliated with this profession – also referred to as the third pillar of democracy. In past decade people loved to read and write Urdu even I myself would write for many newspapers in early 90’s. But it has lost relevance now and seems on death track as young generation is showing less or no interest in Urdu journalism. It is the duty of every Kashmiri (specially intellectuals) to play a vital role in promoting Urdu and safeguard its dignity/identity. We should ensure that the language regains its glory and reaches its zenith, despite the fact that Urdu is an official language in Jammu and Kashmir, the declining number of Urdu newspapers seems to be quite unfortunate but there are some media houses that have begun to invest in Urdu media as well which is a very positive sign.

Mushtaq Rasool

Urdu suffered a drastic decline after India was partitioned and was threatened by the official support extended to Hindi by the government in free India. The Muslim leadership of post partition India campaigned for Muslims to declare Urdu as their mother tongue and to consider it as a symbol of their cultural identity. Today Urdu Journalism has assumed an All India character, coming next to English and Hindi in a number of states and Union territories. Delhi’s earliest Urdu newspapers stand as an example.

In our state of Jammu and Kashmir which has Urdu as its official language is witnessing a decline in Urdu journalism and I feel that we need intuitions which can infuse interest among people for opting for Urdu journalism.

 Hilal Ahmad Mir

During my school days, I would buy Urdu paper from the news vendors and try reading most part of it. But when I entered into college my interest towards Urdu declined and my focus shifted to English. One of the reasons is the social Social Media like Facebook, Twitter and other platforms that would accept only English those days.

But it is incorrect to say that Urdu language journalism has declined as there are a number of newspapers that are published in Urdu language and these papers are have good readership as well.


Abrar Hassan  

The origin of Urdu Journalism in the Indian subcontinent can be traced to the publication of Jame- Jahan- Numa by Harihar Dutta in 1822in Kolkata {Calcutta}. Urdu developed with a purpose to make communication easy among people having diverse linguistic origin and it succeeded until it took the present shape. Urdu Journalism gained-prominence after the decline of Mughal era when Persian lost its status as an official language.

Interestingly, Urdu Journalism was deeply influenced by the political scenario at that time. After the Mutiny of 1857, a number of new dailies shot to prominence with the advent of 20th century and many other dailies and periodicals like the Zamindar, the Al-Hilal, the Urdu-i-Mulla and the Hamden were introduced to awaken political consciousness and the spirit of nationalism among Indian masses. Unfortunately Urdu Journalism suffered heavily during and after partition. Although there was a considerable decline in the number of publications around the turn of century but resurgence was marked in Urdu Journalism with a number of Television channels and making their entry and big media houses making their presence on global level.

Urdu Journalism still holds its place but narrow mindedness and prejudice of politicians and ignorance of Urdu in new generations due to step motherly treatment of states at primary level has had a deep impact in its decreasing trend. Urdu still represents and highlights the problems and aspirations of Hindi-Urdu speaking people and plays an important role in promoting mutual relation amongst neighboring countries especially Pakistan and Bangladesh that comprises about 20% of the 1.3 billion souls. What needs to be done is to put into practice seriously and honestly the three language formula at basic level and make it an epitomic of our composed culture – the commonality of which gave birth to it .

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