Saturday, January 1, 2011

Na-ay Logo !! (O! My New People !) . . . A modern Urdu poem by Majeed Amjad, Pakistan's leading modern Urdu poet

There is a need for all stakeholders in Urdu Literature to unite and strive to resolve the serious issues facing Urdu Literature.  By stakeholders I mean Urdu poets, Urdu novelists, Urdu short story writers, Urdu playwrights and Urdu screenplay writers, Urdu non-fiction writers, Urdu critics, Urdu journalists, Urdu publishers, Urdu cable TV channel executives, the Chairmen of Urdu Departments in Pakistan’s Degree Colleges and Pakistani Universities as well as the readers of Urdu Literature (both young and old).  

There are many big issues facing Urdu  … the biggest being the lack of a credible, non-governmental organization which could lead and guide Urdu Literature to flourish in the 21st Century.  Perhaps it will take another decade or so (I am typing this on the eve of 2010 viz. December 31st , 2010 )  for such an organization to emerge… but the foundation for such an organization is already being laid by today’s Urdu web sites, today’s Urdu Literature blogs and web forums and a synthesis that everyone can relate to and TRUST will surely emerge if we don’t give up.  I propose that this new Urdu Literature organization should be led by the best and the brightest from Urdu’s creative cadre such as Fehmeeda Riyaz, Sarmad Sehbai, Zahid Dar, Ahmad Shameem, Shabnum Shakeel, Abdullah Husain, Intezaar Husain, Farkhanda Lodhi, Jameela Hashmi, Zahida Hina, Mansha Yaad, A. Hameed and all the many others who are too numerous to mention.

Next, there is no defined path for new and emerging Urdu writers and poets.  The young Urdu readers (high school students, college and university students) are not being exposed to the best of Urdu Literature at an early stage.  There are no Writing Workshops for new and emerging Urdu writers run by the likes of Fehmeeda Riyaz, Sarmad Sehbai, Abullah Husain, Mansha Yaad etc. (at least none that I am aware of).  Publishers are not going out into the cities and towns of Pakistan to look for the next Majeed Amjad toiling away in anonymity in some place like Jhang or Sahiwal.  The Urdu departments of colleges and universities are not encouraging and getting involved in setting up Book Clubs locally where Urdu lovers can get together for Readings from Urdu Literature at least once a month.  Neither Urdu publishers nor the Urdu departments of colleges and universities nor private entrepreneurs like Internet Café owners are offering training courses for young writers which would include keyboarding skills (typing skills), Urdu word processer software tutorials, a guide to Urdu dictionaries (hard copy as well as online Urdu dictionaries), desktop publishing tutorials, rudimentary training in setting up one’s own web site and blog on the internet.

Also, if there were a single, trusted non-governmental organization spearheading Urdu Literature, one could hope that an Annual Literature Prize or Award like the Adam Jee Prize of the 1960’s would be set up to encourage upcoming Urdu poets and prose writers.

Finally, we should start transitioning all Urdu books published so far (and new ones just being published)  into the electronic book or e-book format.  In my humble opinion, the Kindle format e-book introduced by (one of the largest e-book and printed book vendors on the internet) is the world leader right now.  Any e-book created in the Kindle format can be read by Apple’s  iPad, Sony’s e-Book Reader as well as Amazon’s Kindle reader not to mention any type of Apple or PC computer (desktops, laptops, netbooks).  The Kindle reader can store 3,500 e-books at one time, e-books stored on it can be read without requiring access to the internet and it costs only US$139 at this time. With time, this price will come down even further so that it will become even more affordable for Urdu readers.

What is needed is a dialogue to start between Urdu writers and Urdu publishers with other stakeholders jumping in once the conversation begins.  I urge Urdu writers and publishers to begin the discussion on a transparent web forum and spread the word so that others can begin to take part in the conversation and some concrete projects start trickling out of this initiative.
Marhaba !!  Urdu awaits you !!