Special Reports

AMU symposium on Media

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Aligarh: The importance of media is continuously being recognized by all sectors of society. In the era of globalization and IT boom, no one can survive without media. It was in this perspective that the hub of the cultural activities in the Aligarh Muslim University, General Education Centre (GEC) took the initiative to hold a discussion on “Media and its impact on secularism”. The two-day literary festival “Clava Fiesta” was held by the Literary Club of GEC where on the first day known activist, Uzma Nahid, a senior member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said that some destructive forces are engaged in spreading religious hatred in our society and the media has gigantic responsibility to frustrate these forces. She pointed out that media has entered every walk of life and it can play a positive role in bringing about social reforms and changes. She warned that misuse of media will cause the society’s downfall. Nahid said that when media covers Muslim events and issues, negativity is the norm. Therefore it becomes necessary for all of us to put forward the right perspective. On the marriage and the divorce issues, she said that cases of divorce are less in Muslim society compared to other religious groups but media habitually picks on Muslims and this is not a healthy trend.

Prof. Humayun Murad pointed out that no country or community can progress without education. Media has the responsibility to safeguard the secular character of the nation and strengthen it.

Dr. Obaid Iqbal Asim, Secretary U.P. Rabata Committee, said that Salman Rushdie is a creation of the media whereas more talented writers are there but they fail to get attention.

On the second day, editor of The Milli Gazette, Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan pointed out that journalism has become a business and is being run by corporate houses.  He said media is no longer a mission, still we have a section in the media which is engaged in bringing out truth and such journalists work on the voice of their inner soul and not for profit. He said that journalists can play a vital role in giving a new direction to media away from the current corporate control.

Addressing the students, Dr Khan urged them to enter media and take up the problems of the masses. He lamented that a major reason for our societal problems is that our elite has forsaken the masses today and is busy in its own future and career-building. He said that students can use new technologies to raise problems of the common people and masses. He cited the example of Mahatma Gandhi and said that Mahatma Gandhi had taken up issues related to masses. After leaving his established practice in law, he took up social service along with national service.

Dr Khan said that AMU can positively deal with the problems of the community and masses if the people have inclination and determination. He added that in this globalised world, media has become very important. Today only four American media companies monopolise 90 percent of all international media coverage which is selective and serves western interests. He said such a situation in this era of IT and instant news is not good for us.

Editor of Hamara Samaj Urdu daily,  Khalid Anwar pointed out that media has played a positive role in maintaining and sustaining secularism in our country. He said that if the media was not so effective, communal and destructive forces would have succeeded in tearing apart the secular fabric of the nation. He pointed out that people who disturb peace may be found everywhere but dedicated and secular people have saved this nation from chaos. Elaborating on Urdu journalism, he said that Urdu press has played a very important role during our freedom struggle. He urged the students to put forward their grievances and problems before the nation and world through the media.

Presiding over the program, GEC Coordinator, Dr. Shakeel Samdani said that media has overtaken our whole life and it is affecting our society in unprecedented ways. As almost whole media is under the grip of America and other western nations, it carries their culture and life style to other parts of the world. He said that the media in India can play a crucial role in strengthening secularism but due to commercial interests and TRP considerations they deviate from their duty. He said that the Urdu media has played a very positive role during the freedom struggle. Dr. Samdani pointed out that AMU is the living example of secularism. He elaborated on the life and mission of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, founder of AMU, and said that no student is Hindu or Muslim here; all are Aligarians and the whole world knows them with only that name. He said that the old boys scattered across the whole globe are carrying on the secular traditions of the university.

Discussing media, Dr. Samdani further said that the communities which do not control media remain defensive because all of their time is spent in answering allegations. Dr. Samdani said that usually Muslims are blamed for terrorist acts whereas the fact is that most of such ghastly acts like Samjhauta Express bomb blast were carried out by fascist and communal organizations. Dr Samdani congratulated Dr. Zafarul-Islam Khan for exposing communal forces through The Milli Gazette and urged the student to subscribe to it in large numbers. He said that the services rendered by The Milli Gazette to the nation and community are well-documented and in these days of high publishing cost, it is really surprising that Dr. Khan is continuously publishing it and taking up the concerns of the community and the nation. Dr. Samdani said that Dr. Khan is the symbol of functional journalism.

The programme encouraged students to take up social issues and social work. The programme was conducted by Miss Saima and Maryam Shahin with the help of the President of Literary Club Dr. Fatima Shujatullah. (Based on a report from Dr. Shakeel Samdani - drshakeelsamdani@gmail.com)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 March 2012 on page no. 13

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