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Explained: Why Urdu is an Indian language, not a foreign one

Urdu debate: Several million in Indian speak this language besides it has great impact on around four dozen cities and regions where it is spoken widely.

Explained: Why Urdu is an Indian language, not a foreign language The Indian Express tries to Explain that why ‘Urdu’ language is an Indian and not a foreign language. (Illustration by Suvajit Dey)

Recently Punjab University, Chandigarh, had proposed to merge Department of Urdu language with school of foreign languages to be set up after merging departments of French, Russian, German, Chinese and Tibetan.

The move earned huge criticism from the department of Urdu of the same university and Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh also objected to this move of PU and said that Urdu is an Indian language like any other Indian language.

The Indian Express tries to explain why ‘Urdu’ language is an Indian and not a foreign language.

What is the origin of Urdu Language?

According to the Urdu Language experts, the origin of Urdu language had taken place in India several centuries back and the names of three places-all in India- are quoted in the historical references where this language had developed and got flourished with different names.

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Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Department of Urdu Punjab University, Chandigarh, Prof. Ali Abbas, said that all the historical references indicate that origin of Urdu had taken place in Punjab state of India and the great poet Ameer Khusro, in his book ‘Ghurrat-ul- Kamal’ had written that Masood Lahori (Masood Saad Salman), a renowned poet who was born in Lahore in 11th century) had composed poetry in Hindvi (Urdu), which is also called Dehlavi. This shows that Urdu was very much originated from Punjab as Lahore was the part of greater Punjab only before partition. The subject, object, auxiliary, verb, grammar, tenses of Urdu are very much Indian and like the Hindi language. “Even if it has derived some root words from Persian and Arabic languages then they were changed into Urdu language in India,” he stressed.

He said before it is called Urdu, it was familiar with other names including Hindustani, Hindavi, Dehlavi and Rekhta.
He also mentioned that we write it from right to left but the same was the case of Punjabi Shahmukhi language which was also written right to left.

“Despite its Persian script, Urdu is an Indian language because there are several examples of great Indian languages which are written in scripts derived from outside the country,” informed he. For instance, Punjabi Shahmukhi language is also written in Persian Script.


How it got developed and flourished and where?

Experts said that as per the historical references after its origin in Punjab, Urdu got developed and flourished in Delhi along with part of Haryana state and some states in South where it was developed in the form of ‘Dakhni (Deccani) language’.

Historians said that it had developed and flourished in Delhi during the period of ‘Delhi Sultanate’ from 12th to 16th century and then during the period of ‘Mughal Empire’ in Delhi from 16th century to 19th century when several court poets used this language in their great poetry and writings. And then it was also developed in Deccan states.

What is its connection with Deccan India?

When Delhi Sultanate and then Mughal Empire spread its wings towards the Deccan, Urdu speaking people of Delhi spread the language in South where it got developed and flourished in Dakhan (Deccan) states mainly in Karnataka, nowadays Telangana, part of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. “The language derived even local words of the local languages of those states and developed it as a ‘Dakhni’ language which was a bit distinctive of Urdu language in North,” said experts, who added that when Delhi Sultanate emperor Muhammad –bin-Tughlaq had decided to move his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad or Devagiri or Deogiri ( a present-day Aurangabad) in 1327 in Maharasthra along with the migration of Delhi’s people, the several Urdu speaking people of Delhi spread its usage in Maharasthra for seven years till the capital of Delhi Sultanate was not reversed to Delhi in 1334. Also, the language got evolved gradually and several new words, which were not used in Northside, became part of Urdu.


“During Bahamani Sultanate in Deccan from 14th to 16th century mainly in Maharasthra, Karnataka and Telangana, Urdu got flourished a lot as several scholars, who were the part of Deccan Sultanate used Urdu and local words which further got spread in other parts like Ahmednagar, Bijapur, Bidar and Golkonda (now in Telangana),” said Prof. Abbas, adding that there is no reference of origin of Urdu in any other part outside India.

“Even Golkonda ruler Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, a great scholar of Urdu, Persian and Telugu, has a credit of Being first Saheb-e-Dewan (Urdu Poet) and credited to develop ‘Hindustani’ into a new version,” he added.

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What is Urdu’s official status in India?

It is one of the officials’ languages under the Constitution of India, it is among the 15 Indian Languages written on the Indian Currency notes. It is one of the official languages in states like Kashmir, Telangana, UP, Bihar, New Delhi and West Bengal.

In Punjab, all old records in the Revenue Department are available in Urdu language only.


Several million in Indian speak this language besides it has great impact on around four dozen cities and regions where it is spoken widely.

Post-independence much attention was not given to the language and several states where Urdu was a compulsory subject in school curriculum was no more a compulsory subject now.


What are the famous Urdu words we speak daily?

Kanoon (Law) Darwaza (Door), Kismat (Destiny), Akhbar (News Paper), Taarikh (Date),Azadi (freedom), Imaarat (Building), Hukum (Command), Bahadur (Bold), Havaa (Air), Kitaab (Book), Gunah (Crime), Aurat (Woman), Dil (Heart), Dosat (Friend), Shukriya (Thank You) etc.

First published on: 04-10-2019 at 17:07 IST
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