Aag is the latest broadsheet Urdu daily to hit stands in Lucknow. Priced at just Re 1, the 12 page newspaper has taken the Urdu-speaking populace by storm.
With Urdu press already witnessing a renaissance in Uttar Pradesh, after the Rashtriya Sahara established itself as the leading paper, and many other quality papers, Aag has only intensified the fight.
Aag was a small newspaper but was recently bought by a Shia society that has put crores in the paper. Now it is an attractive and complete newspaper. Compared to Sahara that has 8 pages, Aag is a 12-page paper that brings out colourful supplements. The earlier owner Ahmed Ibrahim Alvi is the editor.
Just six-seven years ago Urdu journalism was gasping for breath in Lucknow after Qaumi Awaz ceased publication. Only Sahafat and In Dinon were the two newspapers left. One was a six page paper and the other a four page daily. But now the City has at least ten Urdu daily newspapers including:
Rashtriya Sahara, Aag, Qaumi Khabrein, Sahafat, Waris-e-Awadh, In Dinon, Eqdaam, Jadeed Amal and a few other small ones. Also Siasat (Kanpur) has a visibility in the City. This has suddenly turned Lucknow into a vibrant city for Urdu readers.
The impact of so many papers and the competition is that the circulation and readership has increased dramatically. The newspapers are not shying away from writing hard stories like the series by Aman Abbas against the local clergy that has only kept Muslims divided on sectarian lines.
After Sahara group put money in Urdu journalism and succeeded, other groups have realised that a newspaper is more about power and influence in public than a money-making instrument.