Publishing for the community

The Nainars’ long bond with paper and ink, from the days when they were merchants selling ‘olai’ or palm leaves processed to serve as writing material, entered the 20th century with the founding of The Nuri Press, Limited in the Madras Presidency on May 2, 1946.

Among the key objectives of the press, as mentioned in its Memorandum of Association was, “To carry on business as proprietors and printers of newspapers, journals, magazines, and other periodicals, books and other literary works and undertakings, in all languages useful to Muslims and others and to the development of Islamic culture and religion.”

The press started out with five directors: M.R.P. Syed Mohamed, S.A.N. Mohamed Rowther, G.H. Sibghatullah, Abdul Hameed Khan and S.M. Hussain Nainar.

Dr. Nainar had an abiding interest in printing and publishing, as can be seen by the many manuscripts that were sent to him for proofing and approval. The Tamil newspaper Sudandira Naadu (Independent Nation) was among the first major projects of The Nuri Press.

Certificate of Incorporation of Nuri Press, 1946
Extract from the Memorandum of Association, 1946.

Sudandira Naadu was published for about two years. Dr.Nainar’s main purpose in establishing Nuri Press was to bring out this daily as a voice for Muslim causes in those turbulent days when the country was witnessing the aftermath of Partition. He travelled to the Far East and mobilised support for establishing the press as a shareholding company.

Sadly, the newspaper was also among its biggest loss makers, and publication had to be closed down due to mounting debts by the 1950s.

In 1952, Dr. Hussain stepped down as honorary managing director. His elder brother S. Kadir Mohamed Nainar took over the team, and to recoup losses caused by the defunct newspaper, Nuri Press began taking up more commercial work.

The press soon started printing exam question papers (in Arabic, Urdu and Persian) for major universities in north India, and by the 1960s, with Dr. Hussain’s son-in-law Mohamed Abdullah in charge, The Nuri Press was publishing Thaqafatul Hind, the Arabic language magazine of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

The Nainar brothers roped in their sons and (unusually for the time), their daughters, to help out with the press work in various capacities. After Dr. Hussain Nainar’s demise in 1963, ownership of the press was transferred to Mrs. Sultana and her husband Mr. Abdullah.

The family’s tryst with printing continues to this day.