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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

No cartoons, No comics: Urdu newspapers, magazines neglecting children

Khilauna published foreign comic strips
Despite fears about survival of Urdu in the decades after independence, the language continues to thrive in India, 64 years after independence.

But it's surprising how Urdu newspapers and even magazines continue to neglect children. Surprisingly, even the kids' magazines have few cartoons.

It is this segment--the kids--that will grow up to read the papers and if circulations fall in future, the reason would be lack of any effort to draw the young generation towards the language.

In fact, most of the Urdu papers have no concept of cartoons or comic strips (except political cartoons in a few papers). None of the Urdu newspapers published from Delhi, Hyderabad or Lucknow have a single cartoon for kids. Though there is no dearth of cartoonists in the country, they have neither any cartoon nor any translated comic strip.

Foreign cartoon strips--Dennis the Menace, Phantom, Archies or Richie Rich are translated and published in other vernacular papers. One could understand that many papers don't have resources to pay for the strips as they are expensive but the reality is that there is no serious effort to get indigenous cartoon strips either.

Children in the age group 4-10 get attracted towards papers if they see a cartoon, a sketch which they are asked to colour or similar activity. If they find such stuff, then they evince interest and without anybody's effort start reading over a period of time.

But despite umpteen conferences regarding future of Urdu, this aspect remains neglected. Only recently Urdu editors' conference was held in Hyderabad. Though Vice-President Hamid Ansari advised the papers to draw youngsters, I wonder if anyone of the seasoned editors could understand the essence of his speech.
Comic strip by Shakil Anwaar Siddiqui

Excessive focus on politics is harming Urdu press. Till 80s, Shama publications' Khilauna [do you call it Khilona?] published Richie Rich, even Archies and other international comics. Apart from these translated strips, there were Indian authors' who drew awesome comics. 

A case in point is 'Shuja'at', the thrilling strip by Shakil Anwaar Siddiqui that continued for a long time and had kids hooked.

There is ample official patronage and money for Urdu in India. Apart from over a dozen Urdu academies, there are big institutions like NCPUL.

But Urdu media remains obsessed with politics. If those who love the language want Urdu to survive and thrive, they must focus on getting children interested in reading Urdu magazines and papers. This is the need of the hour. 

6 comments:

taemeer.com said...

yeah. I know this already. so I have been planning to start a website in urdu for kidz cartoons. I am trying to scanned those old cartoons of Khilona, Hilal and Noor. recently I have purchased a domain for this website. Inshaallah the website for kidz-cartoons in URDU will be launch by this year Republic Day. I need your cooperation also in this regard plz. I will email you.
Regards : Mukarram Niyaz.
C.E.O, www.taemeer.com

Random Thoughts said...

Congratulions to Shams Adnan for publishing this blog. It is the first time that I see this blog and am very impressed with your talents. Your article about 'No cartoons for children' is very timely and thought provoking. We do need lot of books and magazines in Urdu so that not only children in Urdu speaking countries could read and enjoy but also encourage children of immigrants in the West, like my own grand children, could be interested to learn and read Urdu and appreciate the great cultural heritage they are missing.
Farhat Abbasi, Montreal, Canada

Masood Khan said...

Dear Adnan, It must be a very good and constructive idea to start start a new website in urdu for the kids of this generation, URDU has a wonderful magnetic power to attrect the kids and generate interest for Urdu, congrats for this constructive idea, hope you'll succeed Insha-Allah.
Masood

history_lover said...

The children's Urdu monthly magazine Umang (published by Urdu Academy Delhi ) has one story in comic format in each issue.

indscribe said...

@ Taemeer sahab: I am always ready as far as any project related to Urdu is concerned.

@ Farhat chacha: I guess it's you and hope I have recognised you correctly. Great to see your comment.

@ Janab Masood sahab: Thanks for your comment.

@ History_lover: Yeah, Umang publishes it. So do some other kids' magazines (like Gul Bootey) published from Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Besides, these cartoons are not as attractive as compared to strips in other language kids' magazines. Newspapers mostly have no interest in publishing the cartoons.

Anser Azim said...

Good post Adnan Miyan. That reminds me my long wait for Qaumi Awaaz that used to publish Modesty and Willie cartoons series in the seventies...and at the same time I started the habit of reading news paper along with sports news and gradually I was oriented to the editors column...reading in any form is constructive and positive...