L E T T E R S    T O    T H E    E D I T O R

Teach Punjabi in Gurmukhi and Persian

I appreciate Justice Markandey Katju’s article, “Injustice to Urdu in India” (Perspective, Aug 3). Justice Katju, Supreme Court Judge and son of illustrious freedom fighter Kailash Nath Katju, has rightly pointed out that Urdu is not a language of Muslims alone just as Hindi is not a language of Hindus alone or Punjabi is not a language of Sikhs alone.

Any language at any point is always a language of all people. Unfortunately, some sectarian people tried to link the language with religion which has resulted in disastrous consequences in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It was a sad day when in Punjab and other Indian states, soon after Partition, the teaching of Urdu was suddenly stopped though it was the medium of instruction in schools in many states.

While teaching Hindi and Punjabi in schools, Persian script should be taught in schools itself to Hindi language students in North Indian states and elsewhere, whereas in Punjab, Persian script should be introduced along with Gurmukhi for the teaching of Punjabi language. Similarly, in Pakistan also, Punjabi should be taught both in Gurmukhi and Persian.


A large number of Sufi literary texts of medieval period in Punjab were written in Persian script. Almost three-fourth of Punjab across the border use Persian script for Punjabi whereas about one-fourth of Punjab on our side use Gurmukhi for Punjabi. It has created a wide gulf in the literature of the same language. The time has come to correct it now.

We in JNU teach Persian script to the students of Hindi and Devnagri script to the students of Urdu compulsorily. Should we not expect from Mr Parkash Singh Badal, himself an alumni of Lahore College, who must be knowing Urdu, to take this bold step of introducing Persian script along with Gurmukhi for Punjabi students in our schools?

Centre of Indian Languages,
JNU, New Delhi

Inimitable Faraz

No doubt, Ahmad Faraz, was a distinguished progressive poet who wrote in plain and simple language and avoided extravagant verbal padding and overreaching eloquence (Khushwant Singh’s piece “Popular poet of his time” in Saturday Extra, Aug 2). Secular to the core, words Islam and Muslim hardly featured in his poems.

He guzzled wine like a fish. However, his voice never faltered when he recited verses in mushairas. He always received tumultuous applause from the audience. Faraz had the courage of conviction and often incurred the wrath of the authorities because of his outspokenness. He wrote about the decay in politics and social life in his verses. About hypocritical religious leaders he said:

Mazhab ke mudaam bechtey hain ye log
Eemaan to aam bechtey hain ye log
Jannat key ijaara-daar ban kar shabo-roz
Allah ka naam bechtey hain ye log


The kal to ek na’ra-e-Mansoor bhee giraan
Aur ab ke sankaren hain khuda dekhtey rahe

(Till yesterday, even Mansoor’s slogan-Ana-al-Haq — I am God — was undesirable and lo and behold there are hundreds of Gods today).

He also warned innocent people against self-seeking politicians thus:

Tum aab-e-hayaat maangte ho un se
Jo log zaihr key saudagar hain.

I pray in Ustad Zauq’s words:

Kya khoob aadmi tha khuda maghfirat karey.

(He was a wonderful man. May God bless his soul)


Learn from UK

In “A lesson from the British” (Spectrum, Aug 3), Lt-Gen Baljit Singh (retd) has candidly revealed the apathy suffered by gallantly award winners and their frustration over not getting the promised monetary dues and land grants as was revealed by the two living Victoria Cross winners.

The prompt action taken by the British Prime Minister John Major to redress the genuine grievances of Victoria Cross winners reveals the British government’s concern in this regard. But the Indian government has not been so forthcoming in recognising the bravery of its gallantry award winners.

The GoI had sanctioned just Rs 5,000 to my late father Sub J. Gurung (retd), who was awarded the Military Cross during World War II in Iraq in June 1942. The GoI should adopt a more humane attitude towards the brave soldiers and give them due honour.

R.S. GURUNG, Kangra

Ghosh tales

I read Harihar Swarup’s article, “Sailing with Amitav Ghosh” (June 29). Born in Calcutta in 1956, Amitav Ghosh has emerged as one of the most internationally acclaimed writers. He was the first of the band of Stephanians to respond with gusto to the challenge of Midnight’s Children (1981) wherein Salman Rushdie succeeded in writing a novel about the creative process in a world under constant threat.

Amitav is primarily concerned with India’s place in the larger international cultural network. His fiction is directly informed by contemporary debates about colonialism and culture. His first novel, The Circle of Reason (1986) was inspired by American novelist Herman Melville’s highly complex novel, Moby-Dick (1851). This also makes Amitav’s debut novel complex.

Nonetheless, it has been hailed as “easily the most inventive, brilliant, complex and purposeful first novel produced by an Indian since Rushdie”. Then followed The Shadow Lives (1988) which won the Sahitya Akademi Award. The novel shows that different narratives of self and nation can collide with devastating effect.

An Antique Land (1992) combines a travelogue with historical reflection to challenge the privileges of the academic anthropologist’s scientific gaze. The Calcutta Chromosome (1996) is concerned with the relationship between science, history and colonialism. For this, Amitav won the Arthur C. Clark Award in 1997.

In The Glass Place (2000), he writes about the indentured labourers from India in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He also deals with colonial hegemony and the economic and cultural subjugation of the populous regions of the world by the West.



Lata: Nightingale of music

The book Lata Geetikosh authored by Snehasis Chatterjee and highlighted by Shreya Basu in “Knowing Lata” (Spectrum, July 27) provide a mine of information on the icon of Indian film music.

She has been conferred the Bharat Ratna like musical greats like M.S. Subbulakshmi, Pt. Ravi Shankar, and Ustad Bismillah Khan. This writer had the rare opportunity of meeting her in the 50s in Delhi at famous broadcaster Brij Bahushan Mehru’s house, and in the 70s in Bombay during her father’s memorial music festival featuring Pt. Bhimsen Joshi.

As a singer, Lataji had sound training, first under her celebrated father and later under the Bhendibazar gharana maestro Ustad Aman Ali Khan. But her entry into the filmdom was not easy. Filmistan chief S. Mukherji chose Punjabi folk singer Surinder Kaur to sing for Kamini Kaushal in the old blockbuster (film) Shaheed instead of Lataji as he found her voice to be too thin and shrill.

The author has painstakingly collected Lataji’s recorded songs but the total number of songs sung by her may be much more than the listed 7,000.

After the Indo-China war her patriotic song Aye mere watan ke logo... brought tears in the eyes of Jawaharlal Nehru.

Her Gurbani LP (EMI-ECSD-2821) of 1979, recorded under the music direction of the famous Singh Bandhu, became highly popular with the devotees.

Lataji is a great philanthropist. She has donated most of her earnings to build a 450-bed Master Dinanath Mangeshkar Hospital in Pune.

V.K. RANGRA, Delhi


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Classified Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |