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Urdu flourishes on World Wide Web 

At a time when computer revolutionised the whole communication system the world over, the lovers of Urdu were sceptic over the landmark. They believed it would hardly serve any purpose to their exquisite language. Their fear was wrong – Urdu made its place in cyber space- and that too in a grand way. Today the language is less to none on Internet. From news to literature, religion to entertainment all are available in Urdu at a mere a click of mouse. 

Urdu lovers in the U.S., India and Pakistan have hosted most of these Web sites with an aim of popularising the language across the globe. In fact Ghalib, Mir, Iqbal and Faiz are now much more accessible to the world than ever before. And it is not only for those who know the script but for all those who love the language. All types of poems, novels and essays of many leading Urdu scholars across the world are easily available on web sites that also have English translations. 

Today you can use the Internet without using much of English. And researches are being conducted on how Urdu-knowing people can benefit. You can even download Urdu font from many Urdu web sites including Langoo.com without paying money. You can even e-mail in Urdu and post your own poems and write-ups. 

All the major Urdu newspapers of world are available on web site with a lot of stuff. While the Pakistani newspapers Jang and Nawa-e- Waqat and the US daily Urdu Times are doing well on net, Indian Urdu dailies Inquilab, Siyast and Munsif have considerable readership. Many other Urdu newspapers are also available on the web. Apart from news portal many Web sites in Urdu have focussed on famous poets like Ghalib, Iqbal and Faiz, whose works have been translated into many languages and are known the world over. 

Urdu a purely Indian language has now lovers the world over. Though it has faced some discrimination in its mother's lap its chastity has charmed people across the religious and national boundary.

Urdu became popular as a language during Mughal emperor Aurangzeb’s reign in the 17th century. At its peak, Urdu was read and spoken widely across northern India. But it fell from grace in the 19th century during British rule. After India's independence in 1947, Hindi became the national language, sidelining Urdu further. In 1947, millions of Urdu-speaking Muslims migrated to Pakistan, which made Urdu the new country's official language. In India, according to official statistics, only 44 million of the country's one billion people speak Urdu. In the last decade, Urdu has slowly been expanding its base to southern Indian states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. People who migrated from the Indian subcontinent to other parts of the world have also tried to preserve the language. Many individuals and groups are doing so by finding space on the Internet.

Says Mohammad Wasimul Haque, editor of Urdu daily Akhbar-e Mashrique, "The Internet has given a new lease of life to Urdu journalism. Now we receive agencies’ copy on net. There is no need to type or retype the matter. Now we can edit copy on computer, " when he needs some background for the story, it is available at mere click of a mouse.

A regular surfer of Internet says the Urdu web sites are quite informative. "Look at the loveurdu.com. It has all things from religion to entertainment in a simple and attractive language," he says.

The web sites also invite articles, poems and other informative material from individuals as contribution. It also offers help to writers and free-lancers. Though most of the sites originate from Pakistan and the US. Indian talent remains unnoticed because of lack of funds. 

Mohammad Ehsan, a research scholar at Aligarh Muslim University, who worked for the urdustan.com that gives a brief introduction of Urdu to new learners, says the environment is not conducive in India as in US and Pakistan. "The web has debates on different topics and poems and articles of individuals who contribute to the site. But it is difficult to manage because we cannot find good writers due to lack of funds. There are not many visitors to our web site because we could not advertise it, " he says.

¯ Andalib Akhter

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