By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 19 Dec: On Sunday, the concluding day of the Valley of Words Literature & Arts Festival, a discussion was held on the book, ‘The Journey of Hindi Language Journalism in India’, authored by noted journalist Mrinal Pande. She was in conversation with senior journalist from Amar Ujala, Sanjay Abhigyan, and former Chief Secretary Indu Pande.
During the session, Mrinal Pande shared her insights regarding the history of Hindi language journalism and even regarding the development of modern Hindi language in the Devanagari script. It was a full house at the VoW discussion.
Mrinal Pande recalled that the first Hindi newspaper, Udant Martand, was first published from Kolkata on 30 May, 1826, by Pandit Jugal Kishore Shukla as a weekly newspaper. Contrary to public perception, Udant Martand did not last long because it was published from a rented property and the editor-publisher of the newspaper, Pandit Jugal Kishore Sharma had developed serious differences with the landlord and had ultimately to close down. She also shared varied facets of Indian journalism regarding its ever-changing genres. She commented on how Hindi like the Himalayas, has become hollow without its local nuances and that Bollywood film music is useful in perpetuating it as the language of the common people.
Pande discussed in detail her book and answered the queries of not only Sanjay Abhigyan but also of many others present. She added that even though the age of Hindi language is young, very much like the Himalayas, this language irrigates a large area like the Himalayas, its coverage spans 11 states, far greater than any other regional language in India. In response to another question, she added that any language or literature emerges from the society around it.
Tracing the early history of Hindi newspapers, Pande noted that readership was another problem. The literacy rate at the time of India’s independence in 1947 was low. However, increased literacy changed the scenario and, in the past few decades, the market for Hindi newspapers has grown tremendously. However, the current newspaper industry runs on the principles driven by the market, she reminded.
Meanwhile, senior journalist Sanjay Abhigyan observed that he had read the book from cover to cover and this is a very good encyclopaedia of the journey of Hindi journalism. He also wanted to know why Mrinal Pande had chosen to write this book in English about Hindi journalism to which Mrinal Pande shared the story behind the book. She stated that she was approached by a journalism institute in South India to write it for use as a text book at their institute as no such book existed and the publishers were also ready. Hence, this book was written in English so that it could be used in South India where not everyone understood Hindi well. She also stated that a Hindi translation of this book is also under print and will be available soon.
Abhigyan urged everyone present at the function to read the book irrespective of the fact whether they had any connection to journalism or not, as he felt that many facts have been shared for the first time in the book which few people were aware of earlier. He added that this book describes the condition and direction of Hindi journalism.
Festival Director and former IAS office Dr Sanjeev Chopra said it is very important to connect the youth with literature and writing. Only when the youth read literature and books, will they be able to understand the works of historians mentioned in Hindi literature. He also noted that, in the last few years, the interest of youth towards literature and writing has increased. The session was chaired by former Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand, Indu Pande.
It may be recalled that this book has been conferred the Best Book Award in English non-fiction category for this year at Valley of Words.