शनिवार, 25 अगस्त 2012

Punjabi Media Overseas Role and Development





Dr. Harjinder Walia
Punjabis by nature are entrepreneurial. They are unparalleled in the world history as far as he ability to migrate and settle at unknown destinations is concerned. It is due to this very fact that they are settled in almost every country of the Globe. As per an estimate published in “World Almanac” Magazine, there are more than 8 crore and 70 lakhs people speaking Punjabi in the world which ranks 13th in the total languages being spoken in the whole world.
With hard work, determination and entrepreneurial abilities, the Punjabis have not only excelled in material well-being but also have been able to make a place for their socio-cultural identity all across. It is evident in history that due to famines between 1985 to 1902, many people from Punjab migrated to South-East Asian and American countries in search of employment. In order to organize these migrants, various newspapers in Punjabi, Urdu and English were started overseas since then. All those newspapers published news and views relating to the socio-political and party-politics of the Punjabi residing in the foreign lands.
                The first such paper “Swadesh Sewak” was started in 1909. In Nov. 1913 the Publications of “Gada” in America was and historic event. Initially Gadar was published in Urdu. However, it started getting published in Punjabi also in Jan. 1914. Later on ‘Gadar’ was published in eight different languages. While Gadar was edited by the general secretary of Gadar Party Lala Hardiyal, the Punjabi version of this newspaper was edited by Kartar Singh Sarbha. According to Sohan Singh Bhakna, Gadar got publication-inputs from all across the world.
                In these days, Gadar is not a paper for the Punjabis alone but it is a international newspaper for all Indians residing abroad. Gurcharan Singh Sahinsara writes in “Gadar Party Da Itihaas”-“this paper is circulated to France, Manila, Saghai, Honkong, Singapore, Rangoon, Iraq, USSR and China.” In 1961, weekly publication of Gadar crossed over 10,0000 copies.
                During the last 98 years, we have witnessed many rise and fall in the Punjabi journalism in various countries. Various newspapers were started but closed instantly in the want of readership. Never the less now there are more than one and half dozen newspapers being, successfully published from California, New York, Newjousey, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Millwaki, Michigan, Phoenix, Dalma and Houstin etc. The most famous, among them, are Sher-E-Punjab, Amritsar Times, Punjab Times, Ajit and Hamdard.
‘Amritsar Times’ was started by the former Chief-Sub Editor of Punjabi Tribune Sh. Daljit Singh from California on March 01, 2005. The newspaper claims over its policy of fearless & free Journalism and is distributed in California, New York, New Journey, Seattle, Porland, Chicago, Milwaki, Michigan, Phoenix, Dalma and Houstin. It is believed to be read by over one-lakh Punjabi residing there. The newspaper publishes news and views occurring in America, Canada, Dubai, Punjab relating to Literature, sports, films, music and special reports.
 Yet another newspaper “Punjabi Tribune” being published from California stakes the claim to be the first newspaper of California. Of the total 32 pages, four pages of this paper are published in English. The Editor of this paper is Dr. Satpal Multani. This newspaper is distributed free of cost from religious places and grocery shops. Similarly the former magazine editor of daily Ajit Sh. Baldev Singh Grewal published “Sher-e-Punjab” from New York. This paper is considered to be impartial and progressive in its outlook. Another paper started in April 2005 in California is “Punjab News weekly” and is edited by Sh. Satnam Singh Chehal and assisted by Sh. Ajit Singh Grewal and Sandeep Singh Chehal. This paper claims to have no-affiliations with any socio-political and religions body as such.
Most of the newspapers published overseas are either weekly or monthly.
“Punjab Pattar” has been started by Gurmeet Singh Sandhu. As per S. Subba Singh, Punjabi Journalism has been greatly influenced by Social, Religious and Political movements. The Khalistani wave in the eighties had an immense influence on the Punjabi Journalism both in terms of publications as also the number of readers. Under the influence of this movement, “The World Sikh News” from California and “Sikh Times” from Palo Alto have been started. Actually a great number of Punjabi Newspaper in America are published from Canada and distributed in the US. The main among them are Indo-Canadian. Times, Chardi Kala Hamdard and Ajit weekly.
Journalist Narpal Singh Shergill speaks that although the history of Punjabi Journalism in Canada is like that of America. But after Indian independence, the situation changed with the new trends in the living and immigration scenario. During the period, many educated Punjabi reached Canada via Britain which resulted into an increase in number of Punjabi newspapers. Though many of such n newspapers closed down in a short time due to their own reasons, but as of today, there are more than 30-35 newspapers being published from Toronto and Vancouver. The prominent among them are Ajit Weekly, Punjab Star, Nagara, Khabar Nama, Parvasi, Punjabi Post, Azad, Punjabi Times. Punjab Times is published weekly from Chicago and San Francisco under the editorship of Amolak Singh Jammu. This paper publishes write-ups on politics of Punjab and other issues related to the socio-culture and religious aspects of Punjabi society. Yet another paper “Door-Desh” has just been started by Sarabjit Guman and his friends from Bramptan. Ninety percent of newspapers published over seas are distributed free of cost.
Punjabi Post is the first Punjabi daily newspaper from Canada started about three years ago. This paper is being edited by Jagdish Singh Grewal, The editor of the newspaper has been able to keep this paper quite liberal in its write-ups and comments. Although there were two other papers which were published on daily-basis but they were not able to sustained themselves for long. “The Punjabi Daily”-another newspaper has been started by Dr. Baljinder Singh, Dr. Ranvir Singh and Sukhwinder Singh Hansra from Ontario, Canada. Dr. Balwinder Singh has been the editor of Toronto Tribune before “Punjabi Daily”. Among the weekly newspapers, the most influential are “Hamdard Weekly” of Amar Singh Bhullar of village Bhanbora near Malerkotla, “Ajit weekly” of Prof. Darshan Singh and “Parvasi” of Rajinder Singh and Paramjit Singh, “Hamdard Weekly” is published as “Parvashi Hamdard” in Toronto, British Clombia, New York, California and Chandigarh. “Ajit Weekly” is published from Toronto, New York and California U.K. one Edition of this newspaper is also published from London under the name of “Ranjit”, “Parvashi” started in 2002, is edited by Rajinder Saini in Toronto while by Paramjit Singh in Vancouver. Since 2005, onwards Calgary Edition of Parvashi is also being published and since Nov.2005, it is being published from Chandigarh by Sameel under the name “Mashik Parvashi”. This paper has good readership among the North American Punjabi population.
Another initiative by sports-journalist Principal Swaran Singh started in July 2004 as “Khed Sansar” is worth appreciation.
Another mile stone in the Punjabi Journalism in Canada is weekly newspaper “Indo-Canadian Times”. This paper was started in 1978 from Vancouver by late Tara Singh Hoyer. Withstanding all odds, this newspaper is not only regularly published since then, but is has been able to carve a niche in the Punjab fraternity in America and Canada. Another thing worth-mentioning about this newspaper is that it is one among those newspapers which are sold as a priced edition even when majority newspapers in Canada are distributed free of cost. Now-a-days “Indo-Canadian Times” is being edited by Ms. Rupinder Kaur who is the daughter of the founder editor late S. Tara Singh Heyer. Another newspaper which is a priced-edition is “Chardi Kala” being published from Sari since 1991. “vatano Door”, Lokata”, Ranjit” etc has been some of the monthly and weekly papers of Canada which earned a good reputation because of their literary write-ups. Like wise, other papers which made their presence frlt in the Punjabi Jornialism in Canada are Canadian Khalsa, Canadian Sikh, Sikh Samachar and Canada Darpan.
Journalism has always played a significant role in all social movements generated by the Punjabis. The readership dramatically swelled up due to various social movements like Gadar movement, Akali movement, Gurdwara Reforms, Babar Akali wave, Kirti wave, Naujwan Bharat Sabha and the militancy during 1980. The militancy resulted into publication of various newspapers from other countries particularly Canada.
Britain is yet another prominent destination of Punjabi newspaper after Canada. The foundation of Punjabi Journalism in UK was laid by Comrade Vishnu Datt Sharma in 1964 with the start of publication of weekly newspaper “Ekta”. However, Ekta could not sustained for long but in its death, it gave birth to “Desh-Pradesh”. What happened was that Sharma handed over all legal rights and claims to East-London resident Tarsem Singh Purewal who in turn closed-down “Ekta” and started a new paper under new name “Desh Pradesh” in Feb. 1965. In British Punjabi Journalism, “Desh-Pardesh” earns the same reputation as does the “Indo-Canadian Times” in Canadian Punjabi Journalism. Desh Pradesh which is 56 pages, is the largest selling newspaper among the Punjabis residing in the UK. This is the only newspaper in Punjabi which has got ABC category of the certificate of approval besides the approval from the British Government of publishing the advertisements and the classified columns.
With the collaboration of a group of friends, another paper “Punjabi” has been started in Britain in 1965 but this collaboration fell apart very soon due to which the paper got transformed to “Punjabi Times” with sole proprietorship of Sh. Gurnam Singh Mhli. Today the paper is being regularly published as “Punjab Times International” from Darabi, 100 miles away from London. The paper is being edited by Sh. Rajinder Singh Purewal.
Yet another newspaper which is struggling to make a place in Punjabi Journalism is “Manjit” which is being weekly published from West Midland. This independent newspaper is being edited by a Journalism graduate Tejpreet Singh Dulat while the chief Editor is Karam Singh. The first edition of “Manjit” came out about two years ago. “Pardesh Weekly” edited by Jaskaran Singh is another relatively new newspaper started in Sept. 2006 from South Hall.
“Awaz-e-Kaum” published from Birmingham since 1986 also has a good influence in the British Punjabi Journalism. “Sikh Times” is another newspaper published from Birmingham in two languages. Darshan Singh of Ajit weekly of Canada has also started the British edition but Barjinder Singh Hamdard editor of Ajit raised legal objections which is why the name has been now been changed as “Ranjit”. Besides the afore said newspapers being published from England, these are others as well like Punjabi Mail, Charcha, Sun, Punjabi Darpan & Sher-e-Punjab etc., there are some other newspapers also which have played significant and unique role in broadening the scope of Punjabi Jornalism in Britain, which deserves mention. Some of them are-Roopwati, Mamta, matwala, Pardesi Punjabi, Pardesan, Kirna, Aawaz, Sandesh international, Asian Post, Amrit, Basera, SikhPrivar, Majdoor, Dojana, Roostam, Rachna, Pardesi, Sooraj, Punjabi Darpan, Sikh Tribune, Sikh Parivar etc. These papers are published either weekly, fornightly or on monthly basis. On the whole, the British Punjabi Jornalism is not much different than the American Punjabi Journalism.
“Navyug” supposed to be the mouth piece of the Punjabis in Australia is published on every second Tuesday of the month from Sydney. This paper is distributed free of cost in all prominent Gurudwaras in that country. The Editor of Navyug-Mr.Rajwant Singh is a marketing graduate. Of the total 40 pages of this paper, a few are also published in English as well. Other than Navyug, there are Sikh Samachar, Indo-Canadian Times and Punjab Times being published from Australia.
“Khabaran” is another newspaper being published for the Punjabis of Pakistan origin. This for-page paper is published by the famous Urdr-Daily “Khabran”. Like wise, a monthly named “Shehdat” and a weekly named “Navjivan” published from Singapore also deserve mention in the overseas Punjabi Journalism. A weekly ‘kook’ from Newzealand is also published in Punjabi.
A self-stayed custodian of the Punjabi “Media Punjabi” is a newspaper published from Germany is the daily internet newspaper of Punjabi. This on-line newspaper publishes news, write-ups of the Punjabi literary figures besides other daily issues relating to socio-cultural aspects of the Punjabi society. The editor of “Media-Punjab” is Germany-Based Baldev Singh Bajwa.
From the foregong discussions, one thing is amply clear that these are mainly three centre of Punjabi Journalism over seas and they are Canada, America and England. During the last about 100 decades, Punjabi Journalism has witnessed various rise and falls. Many newspapers there started and stopped while many who were able to sustained themselves are being regularly published even today. There was time when Indo-Canadian Times and Chardi Kala sold in large numbers in North America but due to the lack of interest of the Punjabi in purchasing the newspapers Prof. Darshan Singh initiated to distribute his “Ajit Weekly” free of cost. Thereafter Amar Singh Bhullar also started distributing his “Hamdard Weekly” free. Now the situation is such that 90% Punjabi newspapers are distributed free at grocery shop, Gurudwaras and other religious places.
Now the basic question is why so many Punjabi newspapers are being publishing from various foreign soils. It is clear that newspaper like Gaddar were started only with a single mission and similarly a large number of such newspapers were started during the militancy and under the influence of the military. Apart form that, with the increase in the number of Punjabi overseas, it was needed so that the affiliations and intimacy between them remain intense and that could have been possible only through the print media specially the newspapers.
These newspapers also help the Punjabis to remain connected with their mother land as the papers not only provide information on political, religion and social issues but also help people remain linked to their villages and birth places.
Newspaper and print-media is also an important channel for the rich and famous Punjabis to be known among their brothers back home in Punjab. This way the newspapers satisfy their needs of affiliations and esteem among their follow beings.
Among other reasons for Punjabi Journalism overseas come up in a big way is the control and management over Guradwaras. In order to establish supremacy over others, the dominant groups used newspapers as a medium for criticism and propagating their own views. These newspapers carry each and every aspect of Sikh politics and are read with great interest by the Punjabi readers. These newspapers are very effective to religions groups to maintain and enhance their hegemony and dominance over their religious groups.
With the improvement in the printing technology during the last decade, newspaper printing and publishing has became very easy and cost-effective. As of today, majority of the newspapers being published overseas, are compiled and edited in Jallandhar, Chandigarh, Patiala and Barnala, and their online editions are printed at the respective destinations abroad. With the internet and off-set print technology the Punjabi media abroad has grown leaps and bounds all across the world. This way, Punjabi settled abroad get information about laws, matrimony and other socio-political happenings at their native places.
Another motivational aspect towards the growth and development of Punjabi journalism has been involvement and initiatives of the professionals in the field. For instance, the editor of “The Punjab Daily” Dr. Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal is a Ph.D. in Journalism. Similarly Amolak Singh of Punjab Times published from USA is a sub-editor of the Punjabi Tribune and he is a Postgraduate in Journalism from Punjabi University, Patiala. The Editor of “Manjit”, Sh. Daljit Singh of “Amritsar Times” is the former Sub-Chief of the “Punjabi Tribune”. Besides them, Sh. Baldev Singh Grewal is the magazine editor of Ajit Daily.
The Readership of Punjabi Newspapers mainly constitute readers who take interest in political issues and the Gurudawara Politics, Elderly, Truck and Taxi drivers and such readers who have affiliations with various socio-political groups and parties. The new generation, however, have not been able to be influenced by these newspapers. The future of these newspapers would be bright so long as the Punjabis keep migrating to the shores.
The subject-matter and contents of the Punjabi newspapers overseas is mainly, relating to Sikh politics, Group Politics, Sex, Religion, Murders and violence, family melodrama, local and Gurudwara Politics, news and special reports. These papers have classified their contents into categories like world, Europe, North America and Punjab. Astrology and Tantrik Viday also find place in may newspapers being published overseas. However, the source of the news are not cited anywhere in these papers. It is enlightening that some papers are publishing literary columns by renowned literary figures. In spite of all this, there lies a great scope of expansion and progress in the area of Punjabi Journalism so that it could have a constructive role. There is a need for these newspapers to desist from, Black-mailing and yellow-Journalism as such type of Journalism brings bad name to the entire Punjabi-community world-over. Nevertheless, the Punjabi newspapers being published overseas are no less than the others newspapers with respect to quality of publication and lay-out. Thus, Punjabis must appreciate the initiatives being under taken by them because only there initiatives would help create better bonds between the upcoming generations.

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