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Taking Stock
Mission lost in wilderness III
By Rizwan Ullah

Rizwan UllahHowever you may try to sidetrack the distracting references so as to be able to pursue the object of the present writing you can not do so. After all, there might or might not have been, a press, the issues were there and they were debated more on the platform than in the press and the participants in that continuing debate were leaders who had become strident pushing the press behind and they were gathering followers. Had they been persistent and coherent in their policies and actions that too would have produced positive and useful results, but that was not to be. Let us have a cursory glance around before proceeding further with the subject matter. We find that there are various currents of thoughts running separately at times and intermingling at other times. The reason was that all of them were sympathetic and sincere to their people and were pained at heart over their growing degeneration and they were raking their brains to find a solution or hammer out a course of action. Thus they changed their courses at every turn of event and developing situation.

There were those who had visited Europe or had studied there. They were highly impressed by the enlightenment in Europe, it had broadened their vision and sharpened their sight. They were inspired by a sense of nationalism which inevitably led them to the idea of national freedom. But when they proceeded to define the nation for which they would seek freedom they got stuck into the composite milieu at home. They were involved into a heated debate among themselves over what should form the basis of the nation conceived by them - the religion or the land. Then there were those who were cultivating mental attachment with the Arab world. This feeling was rooted into the sincere loyalty to the faith. No pecuniary benefit was expected then from the Arabs. Indian Muslims were supporting them against the incursions of the Europeans in their lands but in this respect they could not take a firm stand. They had to jump from one position to another which depended upon the issues and their impacts on the Muslim world. These people included those who were nursing the wounds caused by the fall of Muslim empire in Delhi followed by the holocaust at the hands of the British rulers, repression and deprivations. In desperation they were turning the pages of the past history in the hope of finding a solution. They were nostalgic at times, depressed at another time and sometimes aggressive.

Here we find that some of them were trying to weave a composite pattern, that is, regaining the past glory through following and practicing the ways of the English. Some others agreed with the objective but differed in the methodology, that is, they sought a respectable place in the society which was evolving in slave India. In this they were forging a closer relationship with other sections of the countrymen. But these other sections of the countrymen too had their perceptions of the nation, its freedom and the strategy to attain that freedom. All these factors were amenable to changes under evolving situations. Moreover, it was not a single track walking. It was a two way traffic, at times traversing each other. There emerges a single minded thought process. It believes that only the faith, that is Islam, can offer a solution to all the problems, so an Islamic state must be established first of all. The idea is extremely charming and its comprehension is easy for the common man and it is surcharged with spiritual and emotional contents. The movement draws its strength from similar movements in some other Muslim countries as well as from spectacular events of the Muslim history. But while doing so the ground realities of the contemporary world were overlooked. It happens when emotions overtake reason and close shut the eyes towards the contexts of past achievements and ground realities of the present.

However, this much is certain that these people had a dream however farther it might have been from reality which invariably happens with most dreams. There were other streams of thought as well which were groping even for a dream. When they could not have one how could they have thought of its realization or a viable strategy for materializing it. Thus in one way or the other all of them were running after a mirage. As Iqbal said:
Shud pareshan khwab-i- man uz kasrat-i-tabeerha
(Multitude of interpretations shattered my dream)

As I have already mentioned, while the Indian Muslims were facing dilemma after dilemma a strong and coherent press was not in sight which could have analyzed the issues on day-to-day basis which is the first condition for building an informed public opinion. A strong press does the dual job in creating and running the current of public opinion as well as controlling it like an embankment lest it overflows, loses its force and submerges the crops it was supposed to irrigate. In the absence of this generating and controlling factor individual leaders had become strident and were gathering multitude of followers. Had they been persistent in their policies and practices it would have had positive and helpful results. But that was not to be.

This is not to suggest that the Urdu press was non-existent. It was there but it comprised mostly of periodicals. There were some dailies scattered far and wide, not collaborating in identifying issues and hammering out solutions. The papers were generally read for the views of particular writers on current problems and topics of running discussions. Thus individuals became more important than the papers as such. And individuals were more prone to the effects of changing situations which does not usually happen in the case of established papers with solid readership, for they build up a tradition of their own in respect of policy and presentation. However, it may suffice to say at present that the widely scattered Urdu speaking people could not provide a large readership and dailies did not have sufficient resources to hire faster means of carrying the paper to longer destinations where there was some concentration of Urdu readers.
(To be concluded)
q

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