Is Indian Muslim media serving its purpose?

By Kaleem Kawaja (,

After 1947 whatever remained of the Muslim community media (newspapers, magazines) in India was mostly in Urdu language. Gradually this Urdu media which only few Indians could read, also limited the reporting of events from the entire country to the affairs of the Muslim community. Even in reporting about the Muslim community the focus shrank to the sufferings, poverty, backwardness and injustice to Muslims from the government and the majority community.

While it is true that in the decades following independence the Muslim community as a whole suffered much deprivations, injustices and anti-Muslim violence, yet a small number of them, say about 4%, managed to acquire good education, good jobs, good business opportunities. This is well below their population proportion of about 15%, yet it is there. Also in the field of sports a few Muslims did well at the national level. However, the Muslim community media which was mostly Urdu based, gave very little coverage to any success stories from the Muslim community.


Despite many Muslims being conversant in English language, and at least 4% of them being financially and intellectually well off, in 65 years the 170 million strong Indian Muslim community, did not establish a single credible English language newspaper or electronic news service, whereas a lot of people from other Indian communities established newspapers that have thrived as India’s economy has grown significantly. Thus the entire Muslim community has had no media-means to convey their concerns and issues to the vast number of Indians, Muslims and non-Muslims, who did not read Urdu.

Since Muslims at large felt that the mainstream Indian media was not giving adequate coverage to the issues of their community, a handful of Muslims started a few biweekly newspapers and online news services in the English language in the last about five to ten years. The intent was to reach the Indian mainstream and non-Muslim population across the country, through English that is spoken throughout the country, to report on mainstream events and issues while giving adequate coverage to the events and issues of the Muslims. That was good news.

However, as things have developed over the last about five years, these English language Muslim news services and newspapers have followed the pattern set by their Urdu media friends in earlier decades. The readability of these news services is again getting confined to the Muslim community, as their coverage is getting confined to the Muslim community and most reports are about the deprivations of the community as victims. Only rarely one finds introspection of the community’s internal problems, corruption, lack of effort to progress, lack of self-help programs.

For instance, if you look at the performance of the Muslim English media in the last one year, you find that they rarely reported on major movements or events in the country that were not Muslim-specific. Some examples are: Massive upsurge of corruption including among India’s cabinet ministers, senior government officials etal; Anna Hazare’s massive nationwide anti-corruption movement; substantial inflation and increase in prices of consumer goods at all levels; significant slowdown of India’s economy; massive power shutdown in July 2012 that affected about half of the country; widespread political turmoil in the Indian parliament on the performance of PM Manmohan Singh and the literal shutdown of the parliament for about half of its monsoon session; the high performance of Sania Mirza – India’s star international tennis player; the high performance of Azim Premji’s WIPRO – an international information technology company; the high performance of many large Indian corporations that grew substantially; the growth of high quality educational institutions.



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