Launching an English daily that specialises in covering Muslim affairs is an idea many have broached, even attempted. But it has remained illusory so far. While many attempts didn’t go beyond the drawing board, the few that made it to a print-run didn’t survive more than a few months, accentuating the challenges to launching a community-specific daily for India’s Muslims. However, this hasn’t deterred a group of Andhra Pradesh Muslims from reviving the idea with a new daily called Deccan Age, which they promise to launch on January 1, 2014.
While there are many Muslim-specific dailies in Indian languages like Urdu and Malayalam, it’s the lure of having one in English—the language of many decision-makers—that has proved elusive. There are English journals for Muslims, like the Radiance Viewsweekly, the fortnightly Milli Gazette and the monthly Islamic Voice. But there’s no daily. Hoping to break this jinx, the Hyderabad-based Deccan Age was registered in September 2010.
If all goes according to plan, the paper promises to be a major player nationally with 15 editions, correspondents in neighbouring countries and a targeted circulation of 20 lakh copies (which is comparable to some of the major English dailies). Asked where the money will come from, all Rahman is willing to disclose is that he is backed by some “nris”. He also refutes all accusations that his paper will have a communal tinge. “I think we should see it more as a voice of a community that is isolated, neglected and marginalised. Muslims too are paying their taxes but not getting their share,” he says.
However, having some knowledge about the people promoting Deccan Age, Zafar-Islam Khan, editor of the Delhi-based Milli Gazette, says he is sceptical about the paper’s success. “I don’t think they have the necessary skills or professionalism to deliver a good product. Any reader, Muslim or non-Muslim, would want to have a readable paper in their hands.” Even if Deccan Age proves him wrong, they will have to work out its finances. For, The Milli Gazette, widely read and now in print for 13 years, too is floundering on this count. “I may soon be shutting it down completely,” Khan adds. “We are producing a good paper and have many admirers but liking us alone is not sufficient.” With few ads and a limited circulation, the fortnightly has even failed to attract Muslim financers. “While there are not many big Muslim corporate groups, even the few that exist do not support us for they are afraid they will be labelled communal,” Khan says.
Meanwhile, a lot of what Rahman and his backers intend to do is already being done by websites that specialise in covering Muslim-related news, such as Two Circles, Ummeed and Indian Muslim Observer, and that too at far lower costs. Is it the wrong time then to come up with the idea of a separate “Muslim English newspaper”? Despite his own journal’s impending closure, Khan still argues otherwise. “It is needed, but it has to be done by professionals who have the necessary expertise to make it a success.” Wise counsel for the promoters of Deccan Age?
Apropos the article Green Colour Paper (Nov 19) on a daily for Muslims. Agreed, the idea seems to be a newspaper which addresses Muslim concerns, celebrates Muslim civilisation, prints feelgood stories related to the community, highlights injustices meted out to them by the government or administrative machinery, takes out the black sheep within the community—in general imparts a sense of confidence and belonging to the youth of the community. In which case, look no further than The Hindu. You get all this in that esteemed newspaper.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
OK the idea seems to be a daily which addresses muslim concerns: celebrating muslim civilisation, print feel-good stories related to muslims and muslim communities in india, highlighting injustices meted out by government and the administrative machinery, rat out the black sheep amongst the community and give confidence and a sense of belonging to the youth of the community...in tht case dont look further than THE HINDU...you get all of tht in ths esteemed newspaper.
India's interest should be the interest of the entire nation. Why make Muslims feel that they are a seperate community ? A homogeneous society does not bother who is who. This caste/religion divide is no good for democracy. Discorage this please.
“…says there is no Muslim mouthpiece even now to express the community’s concerns…”
So let’s have full-size platform to propagate permanent victimhood, inherent separateness and creative conspiracy theories of ‘Joo-RSS-Amreeka’.
If they are looking for a huge loan to kickstart the newspaper, I am sure Congress will readily oblige.
“(1) One can understand the need for an independent newspaper for the Muslim community. Even if the objective behind starting such a newspaper is laudable, there are certain doubts which remain. First of all it is a naïve assumption to think that one newspaper can represent the interests of the entire Muslim population in India, with wide regional differences. (2) Secondly the promoters of this newspaper must examine how they can interact better with majority community. Can they be liberal in their views? Would they be able to make a fine distinction between Islam as a religion and tenets of Islam as are interpreted by extreme Muslim elements today? (3) Many Indians are having problem with the interpretation of Islam as done by Taliban and other extreme groups in Pakistan and elsewhere. (4) Further, we notice that the extremists in Muslim communities all over the world are not ready to accommodate a view that is different from theirs and they (extremists) are often proclaiming that non-Muslims have no right to live in this world. What would be the position of promoters of the new newspaper with regard to the Taliban and similar groups? Unfortunately, the saner elements in Muslim communities in our country and elsewhere are being weakened day by day, and that is a very worrying sign of difficult days ahead. Can the promoters of the new newspaper change this scenario and ensure that Muslims with a liberal view become more acceptable in their own community first?
These thoughts came to my mind and I decided to share with readers of Outlook
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