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Window Seat: Hindi Journalism

30/05/2021 at 7:53 AM

30 May is Hindi Journalism Day. On this day in 1826 PanditJugal Kishore Shukla started the first Hindi newspaper of India, a weekly titled UdantMartand, which means the rising sun from Kolkata. UdantMartand employed a mix of Khari Bolo and BrajBhasa andwas published in devnagari script. The first issue printed 500 copies,the newspaper was published every Tuesday.

Shukla hailed from Kanpur and settled in Kolkata. He was a lawyer by profession. On February 16, 1826, Shukla and his friend Munnu Thakur received a license to publish a newspaper in Hindi. 

There were not may Hindi readers in Kolkata and nearby places. The Hindi readership was more in North India. It was difficult for UdantMartand to reach north Indian towns because of the transportation cost involved. Shukla tried for postal concession and also for government funding for his newspaper but did not get it.

Soon due to higher postal rates as well as distant readership, the newspaper ran into financial difficulties and eventually closed on 4 December 1827.

Effectively it survived for less than one and a half years. But it showed the path. Hindi journalism has travelled a long way from that time. It has played a very important role in freedom struggle. Presently it occupies a major space in the media ecosphere of India. Half of the top ten largest circulated daily newspapers are in Hindi. The viewership of Hindi channels far outnumbers any other language in India. It has a significant presence in the digital media space.

However, it still has to catch up with the quality of content and influence on the society and policy makers that English or Malayalam or Marathi or Bengali journalism offer. It needs to invest more in quality human resource and news gathering.

Sundarlal Bahuguna, the green leader

Noted environmentalist and Padma VibhushanSunderlal Bahuguna succumbed to Covidon 21 May 2021. He was 94.

Born in the village Maroda, located in the PauriGarhwal district of UttarakhandSunderlalBahuguna was a life-long environmentalist and was credited for founding the Chipko movement – the grassroots movement that swept through the Garhwal region in the 1970s with villagers hugging trees to stop them from being axed. Later in 1990s, he spearheaded the Anti-Tehri Dam movement and even went to jail for it in 1995.

He always voiced his protest for the Himalayan Niti and the sustenance of the Himalayas. As ArwindBijalwan writes: During a lecture in our college, he used a Garhwali slogan: “Dharainchpanidhal par dalabijlibanawakhala-khala (Water needs to be recharged on hill tops, trees should be on the slopes, electricity should be generated from every small water source). 

SunderlalBahuguna was against large constructions in the ecologically fragile Himalayan areas. Though he created awareness about the importance of protecting the environment among the masses, his words fell into deaf ears of the policy makers.

Years later, we are facing the consequences now with frequent devastating floods in all the Himalayan states.

His words find resonance with the theme of this year’s environment day (5 May): Ecosystem Restoration. It denotes assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded by activities like pollution and deforestation. Ecosystem Restoration can also be promoted by conserving the ecosystems that are still intact. Let’s do whatever we can to conserve our eco-system.

Caricature by JayarajVellur, Kerala

Yass Effect

The severe cyclonic storm Yaas, which made landfall in Odisha’sBalasore district on the morning of May 26, 2021, is the latest of the 96 tropical cyclones to hit the state in 130 years. As many as 541 tropical cyclones formed in the Bay of Bengal during the period, according to a study made by Pratap Kumar Mohanty, professor, marine science, Berhampur University.

According to the study, There are two peaks of tropical cyclones in the Bay of Bengal — the primary peak (October-December) and secondary peak (April-June). There has been a significant reduction in the number of tropical cyclones in a year over the north Indian Ocean basin between 1951 and 2018. But the frequency of very severe cyclonic storms during the post-monsoon season has increased significantly in the last two decades.

Despite a decreasing trend, the region still remains prone to extremely severe cyclones.On an average, three to four out of five cyclones developing in the north Indian Ocean region make a landfall, causing loss of life and property. Low-lying coastal belts of West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are more prone to the impact of these systems. All these states, therefore, need to take appropriate steps to engage with the severe cyclones.

Tailpiece: Tale of two donkeys

Two old men one day declared that they have the solution of the problems of the country. Journalists gathered around them and asked, “What is the solution?

One old man said, “Put all the people of this country in jail…plus two donkeys.”

The journalists asked, “Why two donkeys?”

The two old men laughed loudly. One old man said to the other, “See what I told you… nobody is interested about the people of this country. Everybody is concerned about the donkeys.”

(Courtesy: Social Media)

About the Author:
Journalist turned media academician Mrinal Chatterjee lives in the central Odisha town Dhenkanal. mrinalchatterjeeiimc@gmail.com

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