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Published in the 16-29 Feb 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition


‘Islamisation of Urdu has caused it a big loss’

Dr H Majid Husain (59), chief editor of daily Urdu Action, published from Bhopal since 1983 (with a new edition from Burhanpur since September 9, 2003) and secretary general of Small Press Association of India (SPAI) has been associated with Urdu journalism for three decades. Secretary of All India Urdu Editors Conference, Dr Majid also holds membership of Indian Newspaper Society (INS) and Urdu Press Promotion Committee, HRD Department, Government of India. 

Manzar Imam of The Milli Gazette talked to him on his Urdu media and other experiences. Excerpts of the interview:

Tahir MahoodBeing editor of an Urdu daily what do you think about future of Urdu journalism?
Urdu is a progressive language. Though we cannot compare today’s Urdu with that of pre-partition times, it has still been progressing. Those who say that Urdu has few takers are wrong. There are only two Urdu dailies published from Bhopal. If each of them has 5000 buyers, it simply makes 10,000. And as a matter of fact a single copy of Urdu newspaper is read by an average of 5 people. Thus we have 50000 readership. So there is nothing surprising if Hindi newspapers have 2 lakh or more readers because there are 25 Hindi dailies published from Bhopal. Moreover, the success of ETV’s Urdu channel is another proof that Urdu has a bright future. It’s the way how we utilise it. 

What happened to Urdu after partition?
Since the blue blood of Muslims migrated to Pakistan, naturally Urdu had to face problem. 

You have been associated with All India Urdu Editors Conference. What are the difficulties of Urdu writers?
Urdu newspapers have low pay-scales. They do not get sufficient advertisements from DAVP and other sources. Urdu employees should be encouraged. As they work on low salaries, it is their love for Urdu which binds them with Urdu media.

Since Urdu is read mostly by Muslims now, what role can Urdu media play in their uplift? And how can Urdu be made popular?
Islamisation of Urdu should be done away with. Earlier, many non-Muslims used to read Urdu newspapers and magazines because there was no Islamisation of it. Today our Urdu newspapers carry only Muslim news. There is very little or almost no coverage given to other communities. How then do you expect them to read Urdu newspapers, Dr Majid asks.

In the post-partition scenario of Indian politics, which party should Muslims go for BJP or Congress?
Ever since independence Congress stand has been that other parties are communal. This did not apply to CPI (M), though it did apply to other parties to some extent. It was a question of perception. Now Muslims themselves should see as to how many cadres of RSS were given top posts during the last 15 to 20 years of Congress regime. BJP of course has done it on communal lines. But their policies are transparent and Muslims can perceive their negative and positive aspects.

Muslims constitute about 15 percent of India’s population but their representation in politics is very low. What is the reason?
Leadership. Muslim leaders submit resignations on small issues. They don’t want to face challenges. Urdu newspapers are equally responsible for it. They do not raise their voice. In the recently held Assembly elections, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh gave ticket to a non-Muslim candidate from Burhanpur constituency which has 70 percent Muslim population. But no Muslim leader or Urdu newspaper or Muslims themselves raised their voice against it. 
Earlier, many non-Muslims used to read Urdu newspapers and magazines because there was no Islamisation of it. Today our Urdu newspapers carry only Muslim news. There is very little or almost no coverage given to other communities. How then do you expect them to read Urdu newspapers, Dr Majid asks.

Should ulama issue fatwas in favour of certain political parties?
Muslim leadership ended with partition. Ulama found a vacant field and they started taking part in politics instead of religious affairs. This made the picture cloudy as every bearded man cannot be an alim. How many ulama say that jihad is for Islam and not for politics? Ulama should work for social reforms.

Many small and regional Muslim political parties are being formed and some Muslim organisations are willing to launch a major political party at all India level. How do you see it?
There cannot be a Muslim party in India. Muslims cannot stay together. They are not bad but they are affected by circumstances and cannot come on a single platform.

Muslims throughout India are divided on sectarian lines. How can they be brought together?
Muslim intellectuals are not working towards socialising Muslims. They seek their own interest. We are left to ourselves. Muslims need scholars like Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani and Ali Miyan Nadwi for bringing about unity and social reform.

Any message for MG readers?
In the absence of good Muslim newspapers Muslims are compelled to read other newspapers. The Milli Gazette has been maintaining a good standard. Muslims should read and support it.

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