SINDHI MAGAZINES IN INDIA
Extracted from a paper presented by Shri A J Uttam at a Seminar on ‘Magazines in Indian Languages’ at Karnataka University in the year 1998.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Indian Independence, anybody can easily see and understand the position of Sindhis who are the worst sufferers of partition. Sacrificing their homeland, Sindh, they migrated to India but received no land nor were they rehabilitated in one place, while they were made to scatter all over India. Currently we are about 30 lakhs in India, forming a very microscopic minority amongst 99 crores of Indians. When we came here we were about 10 – 12 lakhs, our of a total population of 40 lakhs in Sindh at that time. Now, there the population of Sindhis is little more than one crore out of about 2 crores of people in Sindh province.
Before partition, the Sindhi language, one of the most ancient and of the rich Indo-Aryan origin, was the language of education as well as administration in every walk of life. But when we came here, Sindhi was not recognized as one of the modern Indian languages in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. Because of this we were discriminated here as being nonentities, by the Central Government as well as provincial and public bodies.
This created a great dissent and dissatisfaction among the writer, intellectuals, educationalists and artists, who rose as one, demanding the recognition of Sindhi language in the 8th schedule of the constitution along with other Indian languages. This peaceful agitation developed into an All-India movement that compelled even politicians like Congress leader and Central Minister, Jairamdas Doulatram and others to follow their writers. The then Prime Minister Late Shri Jawaharlal Nehru did not concede to the demand for inclusion of Sindhi in the constitution, but agreed to give all the facilities given to other languages and in 1957 recognized Sindhi for All India Radio programmes and Sahitya Academy Awards. But our agitation continued till 1967 when Prime Minister Late Indira Gandhi agreed to include Sindhi in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution, which inspired other communities like Manipuri, Konkani, Rajasthani etc. to raise similar demands.
In this whole movement for gaining recognition for the Sindhi language, Sindhi magazines played the most important and active role especially in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Rajasthan, which in itself constituted about 75% of Sindhis in India. In fact this movement had begun from Mumbai with the publishing of the first monthly magazine ‘Naeen Duniya’ in 1948 and later the formation of the writers organization ‘Sindhi Sahit Mandal’ in 1949, together inspired writers and intellectuals in other provinces too.
During those days the trend of progressive writing was dominant , which started during 1941-42 in Sindh. ‘Naeen Duniya’ called itself progressive magazine. The magazine has been edited by progressive writers such as Babani, Punjabi apart from the likes of Beharilal Chhabira, Lachman Rajpal who edited it in the initial first two years. Having initially started as a monthly magazine, its current editor made it into a quarterly publication since 1973.
The uniqueness of the magazine, ‘Naeen Duniya’ lies in the fact that it has not only produced good literature of 500 stories, 1000 poems, 200 essays and 50 plays, but has also been instrumental in producing about 50 new writers, some of whom are still writing since 30 – 40 years. The only other magazine of such a long life is ‘Sind Upkarak’ edited by Bhagwandas Talreja since 1952 from Ulhasnagar. He is now 87 years old. Although it is not a literary and cultural magazine like ‘Naeen Duniya’, but it is a distinctive magazine of Rationalism of Dev Samaj. It gives poems, literary reviews and articles.
The other literary magazines, which existed during the 50’s but subsequently had to shut shop, were Bharat Jivan, Kamal, Kahani, Sargam, Nargis, Suhini, Beena, Nai Raha, Rani, Phuleli, Vidharthi, Roohrihan, Veena, Saina (Maharashtra), Nai Zindagi and Sindhu. Individual writers ran them from their meager hard labour earnings without any substantial help from Governments, but with reader’s cooperation. This was all for the love of their language, literature and culture ‘Sindhyat’.
The trend in all these publications was “Art for life sake” which not only accelerated the progress of literary culture in the highly bizarre and scattered condition of Sindhi refugees but also laid a firm foundation of that trend in Sindhi Journalism in India for future generations. The monthly magazine ‘Saraswati’ established in Sindh in 1890, pioneered this trend under the editorship of the famous Sindhi writer and social reformer Sadhu Hiranand, was contemporary to other magazines in languages such as Kannada, Bengali, Marathi etc. This tradition of journalism was kept alive by other Sindhi monthlies in the beginning and middle of 20th century in Sindh till 1947, by the likes of Sindhi Sahitya Society of Lalchand Jagtiani (1914), Sunder Sahitya of Melaram Mangatram (1924), Ratan Sahitya Mandal of Chuhermal Hinduja (1930), Sindhu (1932) and Bharat Jiwan (1934), which ran till 1947.
A host of magazines made their appearances in the 60’s, namely Koonj, Priha Phuti, Heera (Maharashtra), Sahit-Dhara, Raabel, Akhani (Delhi), Gulistan (Children’s magazine), Marvi and Sangeeta (Gujarat). Apart from Koonj and Sangeeta, which were quarterlies, the rest had to close down by 1973. The editor of Koonj has also brought out some quarterly issues of 12 writers edited by others. The other magazines of the sixties like Priha-Phuti, Sahit Dhara, Raabel, Akhani, were edited by the likes of Lal Pushp, Anand Khemani, Param Abichandani and Harikant, although these were non-progressive and influenced by the modernist thread of Hindi writings and were critical in their outlook. Only Pirha-Phuti continued for a period of more than 10 years like ‘Khani’, ‘Nargis’ and ‘Rani’ magazines of the fifty’s decade. The Editor of Priha-Phuti Lal Pushp is a well-known writer and Sahitya Academy Award winner.
In the seventies there was a drastic decline in publishing magazines with only four new magazines Sojhro (Ulhasnagar), Sindhu Veer, Sindhu Mitra (Ahmedabad) and Suhini (Rajasthan). Except Aryaveer, which is released regularly every month because it is running on behalf of Arya Samaj and publishes content of Indian culture and history, specially by our topmost old historian and linguist Gangaram Samrat, all are closed.
During the eighties, the number of quarterly magazines increased to four due to the starting of ‘Rachna’, ‘Stage’, ‘Nazrano’ and ‘Beejal’. Stage, edited by Jetho Lalwani, is unique in the sense that it is devoted to only art and dramatics. Rachna is being financed by rich Sindhi donors from across the world and assisted by half a dozen literary and cultural workers employed by Sindhology. The decade of eighties also witnessed a good number of annual magazines of different Government Sindhi Sahitya Academies of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Delhi like ‘Rihaan’, ‘Sindhi Adabi Chaman’, ‘Sahitkar’ and ‘Sindhu Jote’ respectively. In addition, there are other annuals like ‘Sindhu’ by Sindhu Youth Society (Ulhasnagar) and ‘Alka’, ‘Jeejal’, ‘Punji’ by Sindhi Employees Association of different banks. These annual magazines published a lot of content written by old and new writers, thus proving to be of huge encouragement to them.
Surprisingly in the nineties, when the progress of magazines in Hindi, Urdu and other languages declined substantially, there were two new Sindhi magazines launched by individuals. Dr. Ghansham edited ‘Sindhyun jo Sansar’ a magazine published from Delhi, while ‘Kirno’ a quarterly magazine was published by the very well known Sindhi short story writer of Ulhasnagar, Lachman Kukreja. The other three are ‘Murk’, a bimonthly was published by our leading progressive novelist Gobind Malhi and ‘Sipoon’ edited by Thakur Chawla was a quarterly publication of the Ram Punjwani Trust. The third one is an annual magazine ‘Virso’ edited by lady writer Rita Shahani.
Thus we see the progress of Sindhi magazines had declined like its counterparts in Hindi and Urdu. There are hardly half a dozen magazines in Hindi and Urdu, run by private persons and there are half a dozen more magazines run by governments and institutions like Hindustan Times, Times of India etc. There are no such institutions in Sindhi language to bring out magazines regularly. It is because of writer’s hard labour and love for their literature and language that had produced so many magazines mentioned above. Now the main trend of existing magazines it to keep the torch of Sindhyat burning.
In the absence of our own province and good facilities for providing Sindhi education, the newer generation have taken to English language. Therefore three new Sindhi magazines have come out in English namely, ‘Sindhi International’ edited by famous writer Lal Pushp, ‘Aseen Sindhi’ edited by Jairam Rupani and the third is ‘Sahyog Times’ edited by Ram Jawhrani. Sindhi International and Aseen Sindhi also publish content in the ancient Sindhi Arabic script, primarily for developing a curiosity amongst the members of the younger generation.