Status of Urdu in UP

Lucknow: What is going on at the proverbial Urdu front in Uttar Pradesh — the state where Urdu is spoken by the highest number of people? Urdu speakers in UP are 3 crore and 70 lakh (37 million) mostly Muslims besides millions of other Indians. But, the dead end of political maneuvering has always kept the Urdu pot boiling with reluctance.

Who can forget the day when Giani Zail Singh — the President of India had said in Lucknow on 10 Nov. 1983, at the All India Mushaira that all lacunas to make Urdu the second language of UP would be removed. Shripat Misra, the UP Chief Minister, according to his own confession “the worst enemy of Urdu” contradicted Zial Singh on 30 Dec. 1983 and said that there would be no two languages in UP, as such demands lead to partition,” informs Professor Atif Khan of Persian Department, Lucknow University.

In 1988, the UP CM Naraian Dutt Tiwari issued an ordinance making Urdu the second official language but with a rider that only government special programmes would be released in Urdu and that applications in Urdu would also be accepted provided if accompanied in Devnagri  as well. UP CM HN Bahuguna had once said that we (Indians) have gifted Urdu to Pakistan (therefore, Urdu need not be cared for),” Nevertheless, it ought to be mentioned that Bahuguna was also the first to make way for appointment of Urdu teachers in UP (about 500) and which to an extent was carried on by ND Tiwari too.

The Congress, owing to the ‘vote-necessity’, no doubt, had diluted its anti-Urdu diatribe and tried to make Urdu become a source of sustenance too. Whilst, it ought to be known that Congress, through its first UP Education Minister Sampoornanand had got it declared in UP Assembly that Urdu could not be recognised even as a regional language in 1958! Sampoornanand had not cared that Muslims had earlier, under Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Vice Chancellor Zakir Husain pleaded to President Rajendra Prasad in 1954, with a request under Article 347 of the Constitution of India, to recognise Urdu as a regional language in UP, Bihar, Punjab and Delhi. The Congress however lost power in UP since 1989. But, somewhat a token solace of appointment of Urdu teachers was later to be adopted by other political parties too.  

Come 1994 and UP CM Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party leader, announced an appointment of fifteen-thousand Urdu teachers and ten-thousand Urdu translators. This came through a Government Order (GO) on March 24 1994.  Something which has as yet proved to be nothing but a mirage. Despite his third term as CM (2003-07) confusion prevails. It is yet to be cleared whether 7000 Urdu teachers and 3000 Urdu translators were appointed, during his second tenure (1994-97), or much less, and also, if the remaining slot was finalised. Perhaps not.

Mulayam Singh Yadav’s effort for Urdu emancipation had further come through a Government Order (GO) on Sep 13, 1994 which made Muallim-e-Urdu ( a certificate awarded by Jamia Urdu, Aligarh, UP) to be equal to that of Bachelor of Teaching Certificate (BTC) Urdu, and hence, thousands were employed. Muallim-e-Urdu is technically a professional Urdu trained teacher. It is a special one-year course, after Adeeb-e-Kamil or graduation and which has now become a two-years affair. The minimum qualification for Urdu teachers, required then, was Intermediate with Urdu as a subject or Adeeb-e-Mahir. Aspirants  with BTC Urdu were given trained teachers grade.  Those with Urdu language in Intermediate or Adeeb-e-Mahir were considered as untrained. Untrained teachers, further, went for the one-year course, and accordingly, got the benefits.

In the same vein there were more than 5000 applicants who were not entertained! Courtesy National Council for Teachers for Training Act 1997 at the Center, and which, made the UP government, headed then by BSP CM Mayawati, pass a GO cancelling all degrees equivalent to BTC. Thus, setting all the applicants unemployed!  The grouse is that the government did not let the appointments be made despite BTC Urdu — obviously, falling outside the ambit of the concerned GO.  This is due to a striking dissimilarity that BTC is concerned with a teacher who can teach all subjects while BTC (Urdu) can teach only Urdu!

But Mulayam during his third stint (2003-07) did not revert the injustice of Mayawati. Mayawati, as a matter of fact, after assuming power, for the fourth time, since 2007, has also chosen to dump the issue.

So, obviously this has led to a mammoth growth of Berozgar (Unemployed) Muallim-e-Urdu who have been agitating in front of UP Assembly but with no visible initiative from the CM. The woes do not seem to end in UP alone as Muallim-e-Urdu were also given employment in the newly formed Uttranchal state too, then, a part of UP. They were made to run into a rough weather, as after the creation of Uttranchal in 2002, the Director of Basic Education did not recognise Muallim-e-Urdu, thus forcing the applicants to seek verdict from the High Court. HC gave them relief. This made the Uttranchal government go against the order to the Supreme Court. SC, sent the application back to HC ordering for a review. HC stood by its earlier order. Thus, there can be Muallim-e-Urdu employees in Uttranchal now. The appointments have been open since Feb 16, 2004 when fresh vacancies had appeared.  Even the state of Goa, it is leant, has recognised Muallim-e-Urdu.

 “The pertinent recourse now should be that the state government, under Mayawati, amend the rules and make it optional of either having a certificate of BTC or Muallim Urdu as the qualification criteria. This can be done very easily as Supreme Court and High Court cannot prescribe the qualification required for an appointment. But, would Mayawati do it is the biggest question. This is yet because of the fact that she had promised to withdraw her GO in the last general elections. Her blue eyed boy Naseem-ud-Din Siddiqui has not as yet cared to lend his ear,” said Muhammed Sulieman, the president of Indian National League while addressing a protest dharna in front of UP Assembly on 15 November.

The political dynamics are always for a change. When Congress could accommodate to a new strategy vis-à-vis Urdu then what makes Mayawati to play footsie to the politics of BJP, which no longer is a part of her government now. Her earlier three predilections (with BJP) might have concurred her into a submission but this term has found her with a full majority. Her latest win of 9 out of 11 assembly seats in the by-elections, has further made her to bask into glory but she should not overlook the grievances of thousands of unemployed Muallim-e-Urdu as woes of their ruined families might turn the tables for her. 2012 is not that far. Mayawati should instead start to read the writing on the wall.

Maulana Kalbe Jawad, Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangimahli, Shaista Amber and UP Congress President Rita Bahuguna had also spoken on the occasion.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-28 February 2010 on page no. 12

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