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An Appeal to Urdu-lovers and Urdu institutions
By Aal-e Ahmad Suroor

We achieved Independence about fifty years ago but the most tragic fact is that in states where Hindi is official or regional language, there is very little or no arrangement at all for primary education in Urdu. For example in UP, the most populated state of India and where according to 1991 census, the population of Urdu- speaking people is almost thirteen million, there is not a single government or government-aided Urdu medium primary school, though there are a few such schools in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi.

Since the government of Delhi has given Urdu and Punjabi the status of the second official languages, it is expected that due arrangements will be made for Urdu education. In Bihar, where Urdu has been made the second official language, fairly good arrangements have been made for primary and secondary education in Urdu. Facilities for primary education in Urdu do exist in West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In Maharashtra if Urdu is the medium of education in any school, Marathi is a compulsory subject there and if Marathi is the medium of education in a school, Urdu is taught as a compulsory subject there.

It is claimed that after Independence there has been great progress in Urdu and the increasing number of Urdu departments in universities are shown to substantiate this claim. It is also gathered from reports of Registrar of Newspapers that after Hindi, the largest number of newspapers are published in Urdu. But these are illusory statements. Unless primary and secondary education in Urdu is firmly established, it would not be correct to say that Urdu or Urdu literature is progressing. The fact is that in Hindi states there are no arrangements for Urdu education at all and even if it is there in some states, it is almost negligible.

The fact is that the primary education in mother tongue is so essential from educational, cultural and national point of view that all secondary and higher education has little or no meaning without it.

Urdu lovers have no reason to rejoice that there has been much progress in higher education in Urdu because higher education covers a very limited number of general public. It is true that it is government’s responsibility to provide education at primary and secondary level in mother tongue for minorities. Urdu lovers have brought this to the notice of government. But our responsibility does not cease here. If the government is not prepared to take the initiative, we will have to come forward to do it. We should start a mass movement for the provision of primary education in Urdu in the first instance and thereafter according to three language formula, promote Urdu and Urdu education at secondary level.

In short, the principle of education and training of a profession as compulsory subject in primary education should be introduced. One of the professions like spinning, knitting, embroidery, card board work, wood work etc should be introduced as compulsory subjects in primary education which should be taught in mother language. No classical language should be given priority over mother tongue. Three language formula should be followed at secondary education level. Urdu, which according to 1991 census is spoken by 45 million people, should be made medium of education at primary and secondary level. It is no use depending on the government for this. Instead, we should take upon ourselves this responsibility. As a first step, committees of Urdu lovers and activists should be set up in all state capitals. Care should be taken specially to see to it that Urdu lovers of all faiths and communities should be included in these committees. Five-year plans should be drawn up by each committee and every such committee should itself meet the expenses of its own. This work should be carried on with sincerity and devotion. Institutions concerned with Urdu language and its promotion should come forward and assist such committees. In addition, institutions like Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Jamia Hamdard, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language, state Urdu academies, Anjuman Tarqqi-e Urdu, Ghalib Institute etc should assist and encourage such committees.
(Translated from Urdu)
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