The shrinking ambit of Urdu language

Prof  Javed Mughal
The recent scenario of Urdu language across the country in general and the state of Jammu and Kashmir in particular has not come in the wash as yet but the plight of this Queen of languages is clearly perceptible to all its lovers and admirers. Today Urdu can be well listened while reciting the line,
Urdu Hai Mera Naam Main Khusru Ki Pehli
Main Meer Ki Humraaz Hoon, Ghalib Ki Saheli
Urdu Hai Mera Naam Main Khusru Ki Pehli
“Kyun Mujhko Banate Ho Taassub Ka Nishaana
Maine To Kabhi Khud Ko Musalmaan Nahi Maana
Dekha Tha Kabhi Maine Bhi Khushiyo Ka Zamaana
Apne Hi Vatan Main Huin Magar Aaj Akeeli
Urdu Hai Mera Naam Main Khusru Ki Pehli
So far as the state of Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, this language has, in theory, been given the official status but so far as the practical reality about it is concerned, it losing its ground very fast. We have subordinated Urdu language to the un-acquaintance of the IAS/IPS or other central officers deficient at Urdu language. Despite this language being an official language of our state, most of the official routine works excepting a few files in revenue department, are executed in English language. Our state government has never been serious about its due promotion and has always acted in relation to the progress of this language on the style and fashion of the central Government. Another reason behind the recession of this language is the indifferent attitude of the Urdu teachers and those holding doctoral degree or working as lecturers, professors. It has been seen that most of the people drawing huge salary for working for teaching and preaching or otherwise promoting this language are not serious about it at all. The professors of Urdu, a majority of them, don’t lift up the pen to drop even a single line in addition to teaching the allotted chapters of syllabi to their students. Professors of Urdu surviving by the dint of this language but promoting other languages like Dogri, Gojri, Pahari or Kashmiri. It is not bad to work for other languages but to work for other languages at the cost of the one for which you have been appointed and are being paid handsomely, is not acceptable to me. One who is sustaining his family and maintaining his social status on the coat tails of this language is bound to work for it. Most of the teachers of Urdu, to my extreme surprise, can neither spell down even single meaningful paragraph in Urdu or a letter nor can speak it correctly. Wherever one goes, one comes across every sign board in English while it should be in Urdu since Urdu is an official language of Jammu and Kashmir. It is disgusting to attribute this language to the Muslim community only. It is a language equally of Hindus and the Muslim and even Sikhs and Christians. The contribution to the preservation of this language by most of the Hindu writers in India can’t be relegated to the background. If this language still breathes in India, it is mainly due to the religious scholars who render the religious literature into Urdu and make it reach out to the people in every nook and corner of the country. Our Urdu knowing sections of the society must come out of the shackles of the stipulated and customary content-courses and ply on the royal road of creative writing in Urdu-like fiction, poetry, prose, drama and many other genres of literature. This was what the loving custodians of Urdu did to it. Let’s focus our concentration on the step-motherly treatment done to this historically rich and royal language by none else this country only. Let me go a step further to say that a deliberate clandestine policy has been baked to demoralize Urdu on the soil of India. Urdu was declared as their mother tongue by nearly 52 million people, over 5 percent of national population. Urdu ranked 6 in the list of national languages. Nevertheless it has been designated as the second official language in several states like UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh (some districts only) apart from several smaller states. However, this status is largely a formality as far as official and educational use of Urdu is concerned. The highest judiciaries like the Supreme Court or High Court do not officially recognize Urdu. The electoral rolls are available in Urdu for polling centers with 20 percent Urdu electors. The electronic media, including the national channels Doordarshan (DD) and Akashwani (AIR), have occasional programs in Urdu, though daily news bulletin are regularly issued while every other national language has a 24 hours program on the national channel and in the home state.
The persistent demand of the Urdu speaking population to allot broadcasting time in AIR and DD in proportion to its population in the listening area has never been accepted.  However, Urdu survives because some devotees of Urdu continue not only to express themselves in their mother tongue but wage struggle for securing its due place under the Constitution. In order to appease the Urdu speaking population, particularly to secure their votes at election time, central and state governments have taken various steps to promote Urdu. Urdu academies have been founded in several states. Increasing number of colleges and universities have Urdu departments. Urdu receives official grants for mushairas, seminars and publications of books, but all this can hardly compensate for massive exile of Urdu from schools. But films and electronic media, mushairas and Qawwalies are turning Urdu into a language of culture. But the younger generation is losing touch with its mother tongue primarily because the constitutional provisions of providing primary instruction through the medium of mother tongue have been largely ignored even in UP which has practically no government school teaching Urdu. But Urdu is taught in private schools and madrasas. Secondly, the central order introducing the three-language formula, which provided for mother tongue as the first language, has been deliberately undermined.  The mass popularity of spoken Urdu should not therefore deceive the Urdu lovers nor should speeches by public figures praising Urdu for sweetness and beauty and contribution to freedom movement nor mushairas and seminars nor the output of half baked PhDs which all critics agree have poor standard meant primarily for jobs in schools and colleges or in government offices as translators and clerks. In a nutshell, Urdu is gaining ground as a spoken language but losing it as medium of creative expression. Urdu community should not live in the world of illusions. India is not likely to produce great poet like Mir, Ghalib, Iqbal and Faiz.
On independence Urdu migrated to Pakistan and crossed the seven seas to find bases in the Gulf, UK and the US where some universities are offering courses for their diplomats. It may be said that Urdu has spread horizontally but lost in its land of birth. We all the people transcending all barriers of parochial considerations must come forward to join our hands to lay pressure on the State Government to give a practical shape the provision granting official status to this language. It must be binding on one and all in our state to learn Urdu before getting into any governmental job or contesting election.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here