Partition of India and Urdu
The greatest damage to Urdu was done by the Partition of India in 1947. Since then Urdu was branded in India as a foreign language, as a language of Muslims alone, so much so that even Muslims stopped studying Urdu to show their 'patriotism' and solidarity with their Hindu brethren.
After 1947 Persian words which were in common usage were systematically sought to be replaced by Sanskrit words which were not in common use. For example 'zila' was changed to 'janapad'. In a case which I was hearing in the Allahabad High Court an application entitled "Pratibhu Avedan Patra" was moved before me. I asked the learned counsel what is the meaning of this word "pratibhu". He said it meant a bail application. I told him he should have used the words 'bail' or 'zamanat' which all understand instead of the word 'pratibhu' which no one understands, not even Khariboli speakers.
On another occasion when I was on a morning walk I saw a board on which were written the words "Pravaran Kendra". I could not understand the meaning, and I looked further up where in English it was written 'Selection Centre'. In my opinion the words used in Hindi should have been 'Bharti Daftar' or 'Rozgar Daftar' instead of "Pravaran Kendra" which nobody understands.
This policy of hatefully removing Persian words which were in common use in Khariboli and replacing them by Sanskrit words which are not in common use resulted in creating an unnecessarily Sanskritised Hindi which the common man often finds it difficult to understand. In our courts of law it is often difficult to understand the Hindi used in government notifications. Also this policy of hatred for Persian words resulted in almost genocide for Urdu.
The famous Urdu critic, Shamshur Rahmaan Farooqui, in an interview to Dr Athar Farooqui, said "It is a sad thing for me, just as it is for others like me, that Urdu literature has ceased to be a living reality for our generation. It has become dead and buried in books."
With respect, I cannot agree.
Despite all hostile efforts the language which speaks the voice of the heart can never be stamped out as long as people have hearts. The evidence that Urdu lives in the hearts of Indians even today can be seen from the surprisingly large crowds which 'mushairas' attract, from all sections of society and in all parts of the country, north, west, south and east. If Urdu is a foreign language it is very surprising that the people of India love it so much, they buy Urdu poetry books, sing Urdu songs, etc.
I suggest that the Devanagri script be also used in publication of works of Urdu poets, (as was done by Prakash Pandit and others) since that will enable those who do not know the Persian script to read it. In my opinion one should not be too rigid about 1the script.
Some 'progressive' writers wanted that all Urdu should be written in Devanagri script, but I do not agree with this view. A flexible approach should be adopted leaving it to the individual to choose whatever script he wants.
What can be done is that in the left hand page the text can be published in the Persian script, while on the right hand page it can be published in the Devanagri script, with meanings of difficult words explained below in simple Hindi (Hindustani).
The great Urdu writer Josh once said that Urdu suffered badly after 1947 because it was cut away from bread and butter. This is true. One main reason why people stopped learning and reading Urdu was because it would not help them in their livelihood (as it did before 1947).
In this connection I have a suggestion to make. While a judge of Allahabad High Court I had given a judgment, Ramesh Upadhyaya vs. State of U.P., Writ Petition No.29290 of 1990 decided on 18.1.1993 in which I recommended that Sanskrit and Urdu, our two great cultural languages, be made compulsory in all schools for five years (from class 3 to class 8). As yet this recommendation has not been accepted, but if it is accepted it will mean that thousands of people knowing Urdu will get jobs in schools in many parts of India. In this way Urdu will get connected to bread and butter, and also, our children will get a foundation of this great cultural language, which they can later build upon if they wish. They will thereby also learn the Persian script.
I would like to appeal to Urdu (and Hindi) writers to use simple language. Often on reading some Hindi or Urdu work one finds it difficult to understand it. But if what is written is not even understandable what use is there of such literature? Today the Indian people are facing terrible problems like poverty, unemployment, price rise etc. Literature must contribute to the people's struggles in the face of these problems, and that it can do by using simple language which the people can understand, like the war time speeches of Winston Churchill, or the stories of Premchand and Sharat Chandra.
It must be remembered that Mir and Ghalib wrote for select gatherings comprising of aristocrats and the educated elite. In the modern age Urdu writers must write for the masses, and for that they must use simpler language.
I also appeal to my brother judges in all court in India to quote Urdu poets on appropriate occasions in some of their judgments, as this will give encouragement to Urdu.
In this connection I may mention that Mr Justice Mahmood, the celebrated judge of the Allahabad High Court of the 19th Century often quoted from Urdu poetry e.g.
"Jo chup rahegi zubaan-e-khanjar
Lahoo pukarega aasteen ka".
He used the above couplet in a judgment while deciding a murder appeal.
Why cannot our other brother and sister judges do the same? I sometimes hear shairi (poetry) in parliamentary speeches, but never in court judgments.
In the end I would like to quote a sher (couplet) from one of my favourite Urdu poets, Faiz :
"Gulon mein rang bhare bade-naubahar chale
Chale bhi aao ki gulshan mein kaarobar chale"
What does this sher mean? Ostensibly it means :
"Among the flowers the coloured breeze of a new spring is blowing,
Come forward, so that the garden may function."
In Urdu poetry, however, many shers have an inner meaning, apart from the ostensible one.
In my opinion the above sher really means that the objective conditions in our country are inviting the patriotic people in India to come forward now, so that the country, which is facing huge problems, may move forward.
Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Springtime in Delhi
By Babar Ayaz
The 600-strong Pakistani businessmen delegation visiting Delhi got a very pleasant surprise when the Indian commer .....more
Mr Justice Markandey Katju of the Supreme Court of India. The speech, presented at Jamia Millia I .....more
This is the first of a series of articles based on a speech by Mr Justice Markandey Katju of the Supreme Court of India. The speech, present .....more
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For the past 2 years the Jang Group and Geo have been working on a project of great national interest; one that we hope will help usher in an era of peace and prosperity in the country and indeed, in the region. And one that hopefully all Pakistanis can be proud of. more
The Jang Group has entered into an agreement with the Times of India Group, the largest media group of India, to campaign for peace betw