Media, its influence on Urdu and society -
Pakistan Press Foundation

Media, its influence on Urdu and society

Pakistan Press Foundation

Rauf Parekh

The manipulation of media and its ever-increasing influence on society has been a subject of many research studies.

However, the scholarship in the Urdu language has remained limited to literary, historical and religious studies and areas such as media studies got very little attention of it.

That is why a book in Urdu discussing issues related to the media and especially India’s contemporary Urdu media, is a boon for both general readers and students of mass communications.

Suhail Anjum is a well-known India journalist and scholar of Urdu. He has been studying media for many years now and his analysis of the subject is usually objective and detached.

His books Media: roop behroop (Media: guise and disguise) and Maghribi media aur Islam (Western media and Islam) are testimony to the statement.

His third book Media, Urdu aur jadeed rujhaanaat (Media, Urdu and modern trends) is yet another attempt at understanding Indian media vis-a-vis Urdu, Islam and modern trends. Although the book had appeared a couple of years ago, I could get it only a couple of weeks ago and I feel that students of mass communication at our universities should at least know about it, even if they cannot read it, because availability of Indian books in Pakistan is becoming harder day by day despite all the feel-good statements of both the governments.

Had it not been for some booksellers from Lahore, reading new Indian books would have remained a dream.

The book is divided into three sections. The first section discusses different aspects of the media and the range is quite wide. Articles in this section deal with covering terrorism, information technology revolution, electronic media and obscenity in reality shows.

The second section covers topics related to the media and Urdu. It surveys and reviews some burning issues India’s Urdu journalism facing today. The first article in this section discusses some trends with reference to the standard of the language used on TV channels. For instance, Mr Anjum writes about a discussion in a TV programme on the future of Urdu and Hindi languages telecast a few years ago. Ashok Vajpai, a leading Hindi writer, addressing the writers of Urdu said that it was a misconception that Hindi was doing well in India. He said that the situation for Hindi was no better for Hindi than it was for Urdu as the language used by Hindi language channels was not ‘pure’ Hindi.

On the other hand, according to Mr Anjum, journalists and writers of Urdu complained that Hindi-language channels were damaging Urdu by using Urdu words incorrectly. He carried out a sample survey to find out the percentage of Urdu words used on Hindi channels. It showed that the use of Urdu words on Hindi channels ranged between 15 to 25 per cent. Another article in this section based on empirical research is titled the journalism of the religious schools (madressahs or seminaries). There are some more invaluable articles, too. In a nutshell, this section provides the reader with a vivid picture of contemporary Indian Urdu journalism and issues related to it. The third section discusses the media and affairs of Muslims. An article in this section elaborates on the image of Muslims as presented by the Indian media.

Aside from the distorted image of Muslims portrayed in print and electronic media, the article also includes a reference to Bollywood films. According to Mr Anjum, Muslim characters in Indian films are too far away from reality. They are shown wearing ankle-length pyjamas, beard and brimless caps. They would be either ‘jihadist’, ‘terrorists’ or some criminal.

They would not have anything humane about them and their favourite pastime would be smuggling, crime, bloodshed and inhumane acts.

They would be gangsters or dons. Rarely would you find in these films a Muslim character that is educated or a professional.

Suhail Anjum has tried to be unemotional and rational in his analyses and most of his arguments are based on observation and research. Prof Shafe Qidvai of Aligarh Muslim University, mass communication department in his introduction to the book has rightly mentioned that Suhail Anjum has taken full care of research methodology for this empirical study.

Rizwanullah in the other introduction to the book has written that the purpose of this book of Suhail Anjum’s is to understand the relation between Indian Muslims and the contemporary media.

The book has been published by Delhi’s Educational Publishing House.


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