We should give Urdu its due

Khushwant Singh’s “Breathing new life into Urdu” (Saturday Extra, April 7) was timely.

Apparently, Nawab Mirza Khan Daagh (1831-1905) did not know what would be in store after Independence for Urdu. The language, which was so much popular then that even masons, green-grocers and scavengers wrote poetry in it, is now on its last legs.

Urdu came into being as a shared language of communication between peoples speaking different tongues. Many Hindu poets and writers have enriched it. According to Allama Shibli, none of the then seven crore Muslims of India could write beautiful Urdu like Prem Chand. Chander Bhan Brahman, who held high posts under Shahjahan and Aurangzeb, was perhaps the first Hindu Urdu poet. Kalidas Gupta Riza has rightly said: Hindu hai na Muslim hai Riza Mazhab-e-Urdu/Donon hee kee aaghosh mein ye phooli phali hai. Yet it is regarded as the language of Muslims. RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan once said that Urdu was responsible for the Partition.


Some couplets are embellished with far-fetched and high-sounding phrases and metaphors as defy appropriate expression in another language. Only an expert can make a faithful rendering of the same, which could attract and please the lovers of Urdu verses, although someone (perhaps Tagore) has said that enjoying poetry through translation is like kissing the beloved through proxy.



Urdu is not a language of Muslims alone. It is incomprehensible why it was removed from schools after Independence. It remained popular because it found favour in Bollywood films. Most of the film songs are composed in Urdu. Such a majestic language cannot die.

Though the Punjab government has established the Urdu Academy in Malerkotla to promote Urdu, it should be reintroduced in schools and colleges as suggested in the article.

D.S. THAKUR, Hoshiarpur


The write-up superbly reflects the writer’s concern for the utter neglect the Urdu language has suffered since Independence. In fact, language divide is a natural corollary of caste divide, which has been the bane of our motherland.

It is the result of our morbid sentimentality and mindset and vitiated ethos. It is erroneous and a lopsided view to associate any language with a particular sect, cult and creed. Linguistic chauvinism must end and step-motherly treatment to this otherwise rich and enthralling language must be stopped at once.

We believe in the gospel of emotional integration. So we must acknowledge what is humane and universal. Teaching of Urdu language and literature must be made compulsory in our schools and colleges as in the case of Hindi, English and other regional languages.n


Maqboolpura: Victim of govt apathy

The plight of the residents of Maqboolpura in Amritsar is heart-rending (“Breaking out of Despair” by A.J. Philip, Saturday Extra, April 28). It is sad to know that almost all families in this locality have fallen victims to drugs and alcohol and that it has become a haven for smugglers and drug addicts. It is a matter of shame that Maqboolpura has come to be known as the “locality of widows”.

Most residents belong to the Scheduled Castes and are very poor. So many mothers have lost their sons, wives their husbands and children their fathers to drugs.

Who is responsible for all this? The civil and police administration? Maqboolpura’s proximity to the Pakistan Border? A nearby religious place that distributes liquor as prasad? In fact, the poor and unproductive socio-economic conditions of the residents are the real culprits.

The Tribune raised its voice and tried to attract the government’s attention in 1999. It is sad to note that till date nothing substantial has been done to ameliorate the lot of the residents. The Tribune deserves commendation for highlighting the cause of Maqboolpura’s deprived residents and their children.



The write-up is a tribute to the selfless, dedicated and missionary efforts of Master Ajit Singh and his family, and Brij Bedi, to educate children and save them from falling a prey to drug addiction. The story will act as a motivating force. It emphasises that even a few brave hearts can make a difference in mitigating society’s ills.

It also exposes the shameless apathy of the government towards the miseries of the people of Maqboolpura. Even after getting written complaints, the Deputy Commissioner of Bathinda failed to remove the signboards sponsored by a liquor company prominently displaying their brands at the gates of Dunes Club here.

The government should come forward to support individual efforts to curb the drug menace. Even after 60 years of Independence, we as a nation are still groping in the dark on national health issues without any effective long-term health policy.




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