Science, in Urdu
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A small portion of his house in Zakir Nagar functions as the editorial-cum-circulation office of a monthly journal that Dr M Aslam Parvaiz has been bringing out for the past 18 years. It's a one-man show mostly, with a helping hand available for packing and dispatching copies from the garage of the house. The spartan set-up is not the only thing that makes this journal unique — this is India's only monthly magazine on science and technology in Urdu, with students of language-medium schools and madrasas as its primary readers. In fact, in keeping with the target audience, the magazine, Science Urdu Mahnama, was launched by an Urdu-medium school student during the 1994 World Book Fair.
The first issue itself created quite a stir. It was devoted to AIDS, highlighting aspects that were not widely known then. The magazine was so well-received that it had to be reprinted. But the experience was not without brickbats. "A few hardliners from madrasas objected to the content, but the vast majority welcomed it," says Dr Parvaiz, who is the principal of city's oldest institution, Zakir Husain Delhi College. The second issue, 'Ladka Ladki', was about sex ratio and female foeticide.
From Bt crops to cloning to hygiene and health to Earth Day and atom — the magazine has touched upon a plethora of subjects in its cover stories. Besides, the 53-page journal has sections such as 'Tell me why', dictionary of scientific terms, mathematical quizzes, and even reviews of science fiction. For the last 10 years, the cover page is being printed in colour.
While lack of funds has been the main hurdle since the very beginning, Dr Parvaiz finds it satisfying that from the first till the latest 220th edition, there's never been a dearth of original write-ups on science in Urdu. In fact, a couple of the regular contributors, mostly teachers, have published compilations of their articles. "Our writers are spread across the country and even overseas, and till date, we have not published even a single translation," says Dr Parvaiz. A matter of pride, he says, is the fact that over the years a number of his young contributors have become doctors and teachers.
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