Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The new nurturing grounds for Urdu in India

Since independence, the gradual demise of Urdu from the national mainstream has been a cause of concern to the lovers of the language. The downfall can be attributed to various reasons, but I am not going to delve into those. If we were to categorize the demise into two categories, it would be firstly the loss of Nastaliq(Urdu Script) knowing people, and secondly the gradual dissolution of Urdu speaking population into the Hindi fold.

The paradox over here lies in the close proximity of the language to Hindi, which has lead to the dilution of it's separate identity, but which I believe in the long run, may also aid it's revival. In order to achieve this, I have several proposals. The first one being the publication of joint Devnagari-Nastaliq newspapers. This idea can be extended to the electronic press, and we could have joint Hindi-Urdu news channels. I feel such channels may have great potential, since they can alternate between Hindi and Urdu news(like Star News and NDTV a few years back, when they used to alternate between Hindi and English). The added advantage is that unlike the Urdu newspapers( which have acquired a visible Islamic tinge in the recent times), the joint Hindi-Urdu platform can revive the status of Urdu as a secular language in the eyes of people. This combination would not only be beneficial to the cause of the language, but also to the news channels themselves, as they would be able to grab a significant demographic, numbering more than 50 million in India. Also, this would also increase the familiarity of Hindi speakers with the language.

The next issue which I seek to confront is the loss of literary Urdu from the national mainstream. I personally don't blame them, since publishing houses are also dictated by market pressures, and till they see a profit, I don't see them taking up a noble cause just for the heck of it. In my view, the revival of literary Urdu( which also includes areas like Urdu comics, Urdu magazines etc) should start from the Internet/blogosphere. Today blogs are providing an alternate medium of expression, and why should Urdu be left behind? This would also propagate the infusion of new themes and ideas in Urdu literature( like post-modernism, etc). Only a language which continuously reinvents itself can claim itself to be living. This would also increase the scope for concepts like 'bilingual' literature. For eg. an Urdu novel/short story with a contemporary theme may alternate between 'Urdu' and 'English' text.This would add a dimension of realism and contemporaneity in Urdu literature.

Also blogs dealing with Urdu literature could have the same texts in devnagari or any other script so that even those who are not familiar with the script could gain access to the wonderfully rich world of Urdu literature. Likewise, there can be any ideas....All I'm trying to offer is a new and a different approach to the problem of Urdu in India. If we have to save this language, we have to think afresh. Obviously, any criticism and ideas are most welcome.

P.S.I am going to put up the same article in Urdu soon...It would be my first so please be nice!!!


indscribe said...

Fantastic post. You are right on several counts. Though a few newspapers experimented with both Hindi and Urdu scripts, they were on small-scale.

Aag, the daily Urdu newspaper from Lucknow, has been a success. It has 16 pages in Urdu and four in Devanagari and now it is a mass circulated daily.

Secondly, Aziz Burney's special articles in Sahara Urdu are printed by the paper in Devanagari also which took the message to a huge population. In Delhi, a weekly paper Akbari was launched recently.

Though the generation that knew both scripts has almost passed in North India, Urdu remains a spoken language in many non-Muslim homes and in communication on the street.

If one knows Urdu, his Hindi also gets improved markedly. Blogs have definitely given a medium of expression to people like you and me. And here lies the opportunity.

Khair....waiting to see your post in Urdu.....:)

Raza Rumi said...

Great post - your link made me come here and I am glad that I read this..best, R