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Saturday, December 07, 2019

Panjab University: Capt champions cause of Urdu: ‘It’s Indian, like all great languages’

Vice-Chancellor Raj Kumar recently set up a committee proposing that Urdu be made part of the foreign languages department. The move has been met with widespread criticism from people inside and outside the university.

Written by Pallavi Singhal | Chandigarh | Published: September 30, 2019 5:48:42 am
Panjab University  Capt champions cause of Urdu: ‘It’s Indian, like all great languages’ Vice-Chancellor Raj Kumar recently set up a committee proposing that Urdu be made part of the foreign languages department. (Illustration by Suvajit Dey)

CHIEF MINISTER Captain Amarinder Singh came to the rescue of the beleaguered Urdu Department of Panjab University on Sunday when he tweeted that he would talk to the Vice-Chancellor and senators of the university to review their proposal to make Urdu Department part of the school of foreign languages. “Urdu is an Indian language, like all great languages of the country,’’ he tweeted.

Vice-Chancellor Raj Kumar recently set up a committee proposing that Urdu be made part of the foreign languages department. The move has been met with widespread criticism from people inside and outside the university.

Indu Banga, professor of History at PU, said, “This seems like an oversight on part of a few people of the university which should definitely be rectified. Urdu is an Indian language which originated in the country itself and is already on the verge of becoming extinct. If anything, we should work towards preserving it in every possible way.”

In a letter to the Dean University Instructions, Urdu department coordinator Ali Abbas wrote, “Urdu was born, nurtured and cultured in India during the first two decades of the 13th century by Amir Khusro.’’

Gulzar Singh Sandhu, a prominent Punjabi writer, editor, and an Urdu lover, who has won the prestigious Sahitya Academy Award, spoke glowingly about Urdu’s rich history. “Urdu is the language of adab (respect). The language was born in India itself when the Mughals invaded India, in parts of Multan that now lie in Pakistan. This language does not belong to any particular religion or to any particular land. Urdu is also called ‘Rekhta’, which means a mixture. It was birthed in united Punjab and was widely spread in parts of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Hyderabad and carried to others. Its importance has been decreasing in the country after Independence. It is a sad state of affairs in the country now that Uttar Pradesh, the one state that celebrated the language, has forgotten it. Hyderabad, though, still retains it a little.”

Dr Om Prakash, a fond lover of Urdu from Uttar Pradesh, recalls how he grew up seeped in the language. “I was born in the pre-Independence era and grew up with people fighting the Britishers all around. I used to live at Rampur, which had a ‘nawabi’ rule and Urdu was the ‘sarkaari’ language then. Urdu has played a major role in all struggles through time. The rebels of the centuries have written in Urdu. It is the language the best poems have been written in. It is the language of ‘mithaas’ that reflected and conveyed emotions no other language can. The poems of Ghalib and Mir and Faiz are evergreen and are recognised all through the world.’’

He lamented that the language, which was so sought after those days, is losing its sheen, though mushairas continue to be popular even now.

Sandhu said, “M S Randhawa, the first chief commissioner of UT, loved the language so much that when he conducted a research, he decided to print it in six languages which comprised Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Marathi, Bengali and Urdu. When somebody asked him who would read Urdu, he replied, ‘I will send it to Jammu and Kashmir if that is the only place that would read it.’ Such was his love for Urdu. Gopichand Narang, the sub-editor who translated his research into Urdu, went on to become the president of Central Sahitya Academy in Delhi later.’’

Sandhu quoted a poem that rightly defines the language, “Vo urdu ka musafir hai yahi pahchan hai us ki/ jidhar se bhi guzarta hai saliqa chhod jaata hai.”

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