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Ground reality of Urdu has changed
By Arif Iqbal

Though the effort to eliminate Urdu had started much before the partition of India, two methods were specially adopted in a planned effort for the elimination of Urdu in India after 1947. One method was negative and the other was positive. By means of the first method, Urdu was confined to a dark room where she was allowed to move but prohibited to come out of it. Hence it continued to suffocate and sob and was almost on the verge of extinction. The people responsible for implementing this methodology were the politicians and bureaucrats who had the weapons of law and power and who were operating in the forefront in their enmity towards Urdu. On the pretext of implementing and introducing the ‘national language Hindi’ in educational institutions, they continued to strike at the root of Urdu. This category of people included those also who had enmity towards Urdu from the very beginning.

The second attempt to eliminate it was by entrusting its fate to the so-called lovers and sympathisers of Urdu who, in fact, were the hypocrite sections of society and had occupied the seats of well-wishers of Urdu at the behest of their ‘benign’ masters. Hence first of all such institutions of Urdu were set up through these people from where ‘positive’ steps were taken at national level to destroy Urdu. People associated with these institutions took advantage of people’s innocence and adopted such tactics, which were in fact detrimental to Urdu. These hidden enemies of Urdu gradually started changing its sweetness into bitterness with the result that even Urdu sections started distrusting it and a substantial part of Urdu lovers became indifferent to its concept of utility and necessity. The effect of all this was that even in Urdu medium schools it became a stranger, so much so that the students of new generation refused to recognise it. Urdu teachers of schools with very little knowledge of Urdu also played an active and important role in promoting the efforts of these selfish and opportunist people.

Fifty-three years have elapsed ever since the country became free from English occupation. In this land of Urdu and Persian, Hindi is dominating everywhere. There will be hardly any department or field where dozens of Hindi books will not be found. But the ‘treasure’ of Urdu literature now mainly consists of poetic collections and unproductive and impractical literary creations.

University and Urdu teachers wrote, and made others to write, countless articles and these etc in the name of research and thousands of students were awarded Ph.D. degrees but a cursory view on these and research articles will lead one to the conclusion that none of them have any importance in practical life. Gradually, the wider progress of Urdu is being made synonymous with the progress of Urdu litterateurs only. Efforts are being made to accommodate and rehabilitate the so-called poets, writers and literatures. ‘Mushairas’ are being organised at various places where singing poets and poetesses are occupying the whole stage who, no doubt, charm the audience, but by their sweet and melodious voice, not by the real worth of poetry. Hence the scope for rising above these stereotypes and thinking in terms of something productive and practical has been blunted.

Escaping and ignoring the ground realities is not possible if Urdu be claimed on the basis of these poetic collection and abstract research articles and theses only? If one reviews with open mind the progress of work being done in Hindi for its promotion, it would not be difficult to guess that even 2 percent of the work being done for Hindi is not being done for the cause of Urdu of the present age, whereas the position of Hindi before 1947 was the same as that of Aramaic in Iran. It appears from this review that in India Urdu has completely changed. All India ‘mushairas’ and Urdu conferences can befool only those who are unaware of the ground realities about Urdu. The question is as to who is responsible for Urdu’s present position? Those enemies of Urdu who are quite obvious or those who are stuck to its body like leeches and sapping it? These selfish people are not interested in Urdu’s real progress but they are interested only in Urdu drama, symposium, seminar and prize distribution functions. 

Hence dramas of this type are being played form day one in the name of Urdu’s progress. It is a pity that people who are, and were, really sincere and well-wishers of Urdu also succumb to the charms of such illusory functions. But now it is nothing but folly to entertain any hopes from these ‘sincere’ people. As a matter of fact, the hypocrites are striking at the root of Urdu.

The political and social situation of the present India is extremely critical and better left unsaid. Every body can see and feel it. Very few people know that the government has already prepared a poisonous and destructive scheme of national syllabus for education which will soon be a source of great tension and torture for students, particularly Muslims, receiving education in educational institutions. Under the circumstances, it is the responsibility of every person of Urdu section to recognise the path of hypocrisy and arrange Urdu education along with English for their children, in such a way that they do not feel any difficulty in reading and understanding Urdu books on any topic and that they should learn deriving benefits from the valuable assets of Urdu. You should remember that Urdu education, together with English, will not lag your children behind in any field, rather their dormant capabilities and faculties will find outlet with Urdu education. Even today those people can stand witness to this fact who received their basic education thirty or forty years ago in madrasas and when their hidden faculties came out in the open as a result of their early education in Urdu, they continued moving forward in every field of life. Some one became a judge, some one a professor, scientist, ICS, IAS etc. The misfortune of Hindi wallas is that they do not know Urdu; but if persons associated with Urdu households or surroundings are deprived of Urdu, it is a misfortune that is beyond description.

Educate your children in Urdu: lest the language dies before you.
 

Arif Iqbal is editor, Urdu Book Review, Delhi
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