(B. Someswar Rao)
Public memory is said to be phenomenally short. Conveniently some politicians’ memory is shorter. Many great persons in the country are forgotten just to suit the political bosses.
While the centenaries of lesser men and women are celebrated, a journalist who laid down his life for unifying the country at a very young age is being ignored.
October 27, 2020 is the centenary of a great journalist, Shoebullah Khan, editor of an Urdu daily, Imroze in the (then) Hyderabad State of the Nizam, at the age of 20. He courageously opposed the plans of the Nizam and the Razakar militia of Owaisi (now MIM party, an ally of Telangana ruling party) to make his state (now Telangana, parts of Marathwada and Hyderabad Karnataka) join Pakistan. For this, the Razakars killed him brutally and cut his hands, as ordered by the Razakar leader Kasim Rizhwi.
‘A TOWN CALLED PENURY – the Changing Culture of Indian Journalism’ (my book) mentions how Congress, just to placate Owaisi and his party (which was used for Congress vote bank politics), ignored Shoeb. He is unheard of and unknown in Hyderabad. However tributes were paid to him by Bharatiya Janata Party’s elder leader L K Advani in 2003.
A gate of PM Narendra Modi’s election rally at Nizam College grounds in Hyderabad in 2014 (remembered for being the first such rally with an entrance ticket) was also named after Shoebullah Khan.
I appealed to all journalists, nationalists and Chief Ministers of Telangana and Andhra to observe the centenary of Shoeb. A Shoebullah Khan Centenary Committee can be formed to plan a national programme to promote excellence in journalism, instill social responsibility and improve and regulate masscom education in India which is in bad shape.
Fake news may turn out to be a major problem of this century. The profession has not been able to think out a way to curb this. An initiative for it can be taken during that celebration.
The media, especially the print media to which Shoeb (and I) belonged is going through a crisis of existence. It may be taking its last breath and an initiative to save or reform it can be taken now. Or never
The electronic medium is badly entangled in the TRP rat race, leading to sensationalism and lack of social responsibility. The role of some TV channels in helping the Kasab-led terrorists in the 26/11 Mumbai attack is a case in point as also the frivolity dominating all media at the cost of significant news. Change of Taimur Khan’s diapers and their coments make major news for them, but not the work of Kailash Satyarthi our Nobel laureate.
As I had pointed out in my book, journalism, supposed to inform, educate, entertain, has reversed the order, replacing entertainment with titillation.
Journalism (communication) departments have mushroomed all over the country since my alma mater, Hislop College in Nagpur, started the first department in 1952 in collaboration with Syracuse University, New York. Earlier Punjab University’s journalism department shifted from Lahore in undivided India to Punjab’s Chandigarh.
Most of these departments are now headed by people without any experience in the media, teach outdated syllabi and are ill equipped. Their syllabi are photo copies of those of folder ones Most produce workers for rhe advertisement or public relations setups. And even for that they are not equipped
An ‘Al India Council of Technical Education’ (AICTE) regulates engineering education in the country (clubbing with it, for no reason, management studies or MBA courses). But there is none for mas communications.
Why not have a similar body for journalism education? This can be done by the Centre alone.