Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 9 : 1 January 2009
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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Status of Urdu and Efforts and Strategies for Its Inclusion in the Mainstream of Indian Life

Mushtaq Ahmed I. Patel, M.Sc., M.Ed., Ph.D.
Mohasina Anjum Ansari, M.Ed., M. Phil. (Edu)

Urdu - A Panoramic View

'Urdu' is a Turkish word, which means "foreign" or 'horde'. This just shows that the language represents in its origin an amalgamation of foreign with the native elements (of South Asia). Urdu involves numerous elements of Arabic as well as Persian languages. It also derives some elements from Sanskrit. Urdu is not an old language. Urdu is born and brought up in a condition when multiculturalism was in great favor. As this language became a preferred language soon in the courts of rulers, it also became the preferred vehicle for culture.

This language is not bound to any particular area. It traveled to Deccan (South), Delhi, Lucknow, Lahore, etc. So, we cannot say that this language is from any particular place. The language became acceptable to all. We observe in our surroundings that everybody is using Urdu, but they don't speak it in its earlier form. It is now greatly mixed with Hindi and to some extent English. Urdu is with us, but Urdu fraternity fails to use it and we don't help Urdu to nurture to its full potential (Balraj, 2007).

Due to the influence of these languages, although the Urdu language exists, it loses its focus. Added to this, the partition of the nation and adoption of Urdu as the official language in the neighbouring country has given it an alien status in the place where it was born, nurtured and brought up.

Origin of Urdu

Many Indians have been misled to believe that Urdu is an alien language. It is believed that this language had helped in bringing the partition of the nation. It can be mentioned that this language was developed on the Indian soil and acted as a catalyst during the freedom struggle. It may be mentioned that those who brought Islam to India in the northern parts of India were Turks. Turks never knew Urdu, simply because Urdu did not exist at that time. Language of the then rulers was Turkish, their successors - the Mughals - after establishing their kingdom, used Persian as the court language in India. It is only in Bombay films that emperors like Akbar and Shahjehan speak in Urdu, which is not the true picture. Further, Urdu was not the language of Muslim rulers, but grew on the Indian soil as a language of the Bazaars and Chavanis (military garrison) of North India, out of the interaction between Persian and Khari Boli, and therefore Hindi and Urdu are close kin.

There are five theories for origin of Urdu, which are discussed here.

1. According to Mahmood Shirani and T. G. Beli Urdu is born in Punjab. It is transferred to Delhi through Muslims in 1193 and the proof is that old Urdu and Punjabi are similar.

Janan Raham Farmao Nan, Ya Mujhe Bulaya Aao Nan
Ena Bhi Kya Tarsao Nan, Ya Mujhe Bulaya Aao Nan
Hai Dil Manne Ek Arzoo, Ek Roz Apane Rubaroo
Aye Janan Man Batlao Nan, Ya Mujhe Bulaya Aao Nan

2. According to Md. Hussain Azad the centre of Mughal dynasty was Agra, where the local language was Brijbhasha. Urdu is derived from this native language, namely, Brijbhasha.

3. In 'Lissani Jaiza-e-Hind', according Gerareson, Urdu is taken from an Indian vernacular, namely, Khadi Boli, which is also the other name for Urdu (spoken in Uttar Pradesh).

4. According to Zole Black, to solve the problem of Urdu and Hindi, investigations have to be done in Haryana.

5. According to Suniti Kumar Chatterji and Sayed Muhiudding Qadari, Urdu has not extracted from any of the above languages. Actually, the origin of Urdu commenced from the Muslim entry to Delhi i.e. 1193 from North India or Lahore to Allahabad.

Different Names of Urdu

Urdu is the gift given by the Mughal dynasty to the Indian sub-continent. In the opinion of some scholars, it became a give and take language during the reign of Babar. According to Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, it was spoken in Padshahi ministers and their market. Therefore, gradually the elite adopted the speech and it percolated down to the other lower levels of the society.

Since, the language did not develop at once or at a specific place, the naming of the language is also not easily explained . It has been called by various names in different periods and at different locations, and was used in different formats. Some of the popular names of this language are discussed below:

Urdu was popular as 'Rekhta'. In 1169 Hijari (i.e., 1782 A.D.) Shah Hatim has given his Deewan Zada in which he has written about himself in Persian as
Dar Shair e Farsi Peeru saeb ast, O Dar Rekhata Wali Ra astarmi Darad
Amir Khusroo brought some changes in Rekhata, which was used in poetry. Gradually Rekhta became in common use of public. Rekhata was little different from the present Urdu, as it used some Punjabi words.
Sheikh Majid (912 Hijri, i.e., 1506 A.D.) was the first person, who called Urdu Dahalwi. Amir Khusroo has also used this word for Urdu and it is found that Persian influenced his writings.
Shah Meeranji Bijapuri has contributed a lot to the Urdu literature. He has named his language as Hindi.
Mulla Wajahi, in his book 'SabRas' has mentioned about the language used and called it as Zaban-e-Hindustani for Urdu.
The two Sons of Shah Meeranji - Shah Burhanuddin Janan and Ameeruddin Agha, who belong to the Sufi family of Gujrati, named Urdu as Gujrati or Gujari.
Kabir Das was a renowned Sufi. He has written many poems and couplets on the love and devotion of the Almighty Lord and named his language as Purabi Boli.
In Gujarat, Urdu was popular as Gujrati. Similarly, in South or Deccan it was named as Dakani, which has its own remarkable amount of literature. The two states from the South - Gulkhanda (Golconda) and Bijapur played a great role in the promotion and development of Urdu language.

The Present Scenario of Urdu Language

The basic purpose of using a language is to facilitate communication between individuals. Urdu is also considered as a very beautiful and sweet medium of communication. But at present Urdu is gradually losing its ground.

According to the 1991 Census, states with highest percentage of Urdu speakers were: Bihar 9.91% Utter Pradesh 9.74%, Karnataka 9.54%, Andhra Pradesh 7.84%, Maharashtra 6.94% and Delhi 5.88%. One major tragedy facedby this language is that it lacks a specific home in the physical sense. However, in its very being and essence, Urdu is truly national in character, as the language is spoken and used throughout India. It is treated as a stepchild in India, may be because Pakistan has adopted it as its national language. It is for Indians to understand that Urdu belongs to neither a particular religion nor a political system.

According to the 1981 census, Urdu is the sixth largest spoken language of India. It is believed by the Urdu speakers that if the data collection process of Census of India was meticulous, then Urdu would have come out as the second or third largest spoken language. Even with the available figures, the Gujral Committee has recommended that in the states where Urdu-speaking population is large, Urdu may be used in State Assemblies. It is implemented in Bihar, but Uttar Pradesh still doesn't allow taking oath in Urdu in the State Assembly. In this scenario what can be said about the states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, etc.?

A Landmark Report on the Development of Urdu in India

We've referred to the Gujral Committee Report several times in this article. This is a landmark report in the history of Urdu language, literature and uses of Urdu in all possible domains. The report also aimed at the restoration of Urdu.

Here is a brief note on the background of the Report, taken from a Government of India website. (For the complete report, please log in to Language in India, Gujral Committee Report on Urdu.

A brief history of the events which led to the formation of the Committee of Experts is recapitulated in the paragraphs below.

18. The Government of India appointed a Committee for Promotion of Urdu under the Chairmanship of Shri I.K. Gujral, the then Union Minister of State for Works and Housing by a Resolution dated May 5, 1972. It was requested to advise the Government on the measures to be adopted for the promotion of Urdu language and the steps required to be taken to provide adequate facilities for Urdu speaking people in educational, cultural and administrative matters.
19. The Report of the Gujral Committee was received in the Ministry of Education on May 8, 1975. It runs into 269 pages and contains 187 recommendations covering a very wide spectrum of problems and issues.
20. The Gujral Committee Report was placed before the Cabinet on January 30, 1979. Thereafter, it was laid on the Table of both the Houses of Parliament on February 21, 1979. The Cabinet did not take any decision on the recommendations and instead decided that, since most of the recommendations of the Report would have to be implemented by the States, copies of the Report may be sent to the State Governments for ascertaining their views.


Language Shift Among Singaporean Malayalee Families | A Comparative Study of Gojri Double Verb Constructions | Trade in the Madras Presidency, 1941 - 1947 A Doctoral Dissertation | Conceptualization of Nationalism through Language - An Analysis of Malaysian Situation | Status of Urdu and Efforts and Strategies for Its Inclusion in the Mainstream of Indian Life | Language Learning Strategies - An Evaluation of Compensatory Strategies | Marriage and Self in the Selected Works of Henry James and Jayakanthan | King Richard II - Analyzing the Political Discourse of Power | Engaging Autobiography as an Expression of Self - Maya Angelou's Autobiographies and Her Black Self | Onomatopoeic Words in Manipuri | Historical Growth of Short Stories in Tamil and Telugu - A Comparison | The Gujral Committee Report on Urdu | HOME PAGE of January 2009 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Mushtaq Ahmed I. Patel, M.Sc., M.Ed., Ph.D.
Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU)
Andhra Pradesh, India

Mohasina Anjum Ansari, M.Ed., M. Phil. (Edu)
Centre for Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy
Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU)
Andhra Pradesh, India
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