Aakar Patel likes “south” India better than “north” and I (and many people) agree. It is cleaner (relative), people are more literate, the weather is better. Personally speaking South is the home of my favorite cricketers (Dravid- Maharashtrian actually, Srinath and Kumble), favorite vacation spot (Munnar), favorite river (Netravati). My wife is a transplanted Malayali. Only in literature and fine arts can other regions dare to compare.
Now the South has taken the lead again. A daily English language broadsheet – Deccan Age- of and by (but hopefully not exclusively for) Muslims will be kicked off soon. Outlook has the details:
Explaining why they decided to take the risk, Sheikh Abdur Rahman, a freelance journalist who is promoting Deccan Age, says there is no Muslim mouthpiece even now to express the community’s concerns. “We hope to be the professionals who will voice the problems of Muslims and other backward sections to the government and to the people,” he says. While the paper will have non-Muslim employees and cover issues related to other marginalized groups, what is controversial is that the management will be completely Muslim. “We want our control, otherwise it is going to be just like any other paper,” he adds.
The goal is to be a “major player nationally with 15 editions, correspondents in neighboring countries and a targeted circulation of 20 lakh copies.”
Funding is being provided by NRIs (non resident indian), which explains the great expectations. The pitfalls are clear. Zafar Khan, editor of the bi-weekly Milli Gazette comments:
With few ads and a limited circulation, the fortnightly has even failed to attract Muslim financiers. “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.”
It is a brave step in the right direction. An exclusive English language paper is a sign of community pride and the fact that they have “arrived.” I know that Zachary feels that Urdu is being downgraded (true), but English holds the key to success. Even the poorest auto-wallah knows this truth. And the best way to learn English is to read the paper on a daily basis. My only hope is that the paper will find a way to target female (especially young) readers.