Saturday, October 19, 2002

Urdu in India since Independence

by Ralph Russel

The link language of everyday communication in India continues to be, as it was before Independence, one which is as much Hindi as it is Urdu. It is true that since independence the government has shown apathy and worse towards Urdu. But the proponents of Urdu focus almost exclusively on the injustices done to Urdu. They too often call upon somebody else � such as the government � to do something instead of doing it themselves. They have failed to take advantage of factors that favour Urdu. The defence of Urdu requires an increase in the number of people who have a command of it. The first step is education. But one need not depend on government-run Urdu medium schools. Those who have a command of Urdu can start teaching it in their own neighborhoods. Confining Urdu to the Persian script also works against its spread. There is a large readership for Urdu works written in Devanagari script and also for Urdu works introduced through English.