Birth of Urdu Journalism in the Indian Subcontinent

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 852
  • Published: December 1, 2011
Read full document
Text Preview
Discussing the difficulties in tracing the developments in the language press, J. Natarajan, in his pioneering and famous History of Indian Journalism, said that “an important impediment” was that no “coherent connected” record of progress and growth of the Press was available in each of the languages. The case of Urdu Press, which is the second oldest language press of the Sub-continent after Bengali (the mother tongue of Bengal), and the first in the rest of India, is no exception. Its observers and researchers have resorted to premises, hypotheses and even oversight wherever they could not lay their hands on some definitive record. But the field is not without omissions. Jam-I-Jahan Numa, the first printed Urdu newspaper of the Subcontinent, is an outstanding example of oversight. Those who had written about it had dismissed it as an attendant of East India Company’s Administration merely because it carried the insignia of the British Government in its masthead for the first six years of its long existence. This assumption has been effectively defused by Mr. Gurbachan Chandan, a former head of the Urdu Desk in G.O.I’s, Press Information Bureau, in his 248-page Urdu book Jam-i-Jahan Numa,Urdu Sahafat ki Ibtida. He spent over two years in researching the particulars of the book whose original record lay buried in the National Archives of India, New Delhi and the Oriental Section of the former British Library, London. On the basis of his findings, Mr. Chandan says, “the very first brick of the edifice of Urdu Journalism was laid amiss by its historians who dismissed this firster as of no consequence.” He has traced and vastly quoted from an official “review” of the paper, prepared by the then Chief Secretary of the Government, Mr. William Butterworth” Bayley who found “Jam-i-Jahan Numa” to be capable of turning into “an engine of serious mischief”. A product of deep research, the book, published by Maktaba-i-Jamia Ltd., New Delhi, brings out, for the first time, the facts about the birth of printed Urdu journalism in the sub-continent. Incidentally, it is the only full-length publication available on the subject in any language. India’s Urdu Press is the successor of the oldest manuscript journalism which appeared in Persian in the sub-continent under the Mughal Administration and earlier. With the advent of the printing press and western journalism a little after the establishment of the British government in Bengal, a brainy entrepreneur of Calcutta, Hari Har Dutt by name, floated the first Urdu newspaper under the title of “Jam-i-Jahan Muma” (a Persian term meaning Mirror of the World) in March 1822, just six years after the first short-lived Bengali journal, “Bengal Gazette” was published. Jam-i-Jahan Numa, the first-ever attempt to inscribe Urdu prose for the new faculty of print journalism, set the format, column arrangement, the front page make-up and the editing pattern. This pattern was followed by almost all the Urdu papers which appeared in the first half of the 19th century in other parts of the country. The language at that time was called Hindostani and the publisher of “Jam-i-Jahan Numa” gave the same name in his application for license (declaration) for publication of the paper. He simultaneously got it for Persian also which was at that time the language of the nobility, the intelligentsia and the literate society, for the last nearly 300 years. Hari Har Dutt, however, chose to launch his paper in Hindostani which was the medium of conversation of the common people, whom he was keen to serve. The paper consequently suffered an initial setback because there was no readership in Hindostani proper. So about two months after the launching of his Urdu paper, the founder switched over to Persian but his love for Urdu did not wane. A year later, he added an independent and regular 4-page supplement to his Persian edition and continued it for about five years. The Persian version, however, survived for over 60...
tracking img