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Can Urdu Regain Its Lost Glory?

The Minority Conundrum is the second volume in the Rethinking India series. It explicates what it means to be a minority in majoritarian times. The contributors identify vulnerabilities that encumber the quest for the realization of substantive citizenship by minority groups.

In an essay titled ‘Is There a Future for Urdu?’ Mahtab Alam explores whether the language can regain it’s glory.

Here are some points he makes:

Treat Urdu as a mother tongue


…Urdu should be treated as a mother tongue rather than just a language of a religious, cultural or linguistic minority group.

What does treating it as a mother tongue mean….

There are two components to my proposition: first, primary education should be imparted in one’s mother tongue, and secondly, it has to be of high quality, as providing mediocre education in the mother tongue will not solve the problem.

Promote the language through books

Commissioning and publishing quality Urdu translations of good books across genres and languages is another useful mechanism to promote the language.


Use Urdu to bridge the cultural gap

In addition to translating from Indian languages, useful texts from Arabic, Persian and other world languages, apart from English, should be translated into Urdu. All this is important because there is an availability of rich literature in these languages. Moreover, this will also help in bridging the cultural gap, which is very important given the growing segregation of our societies.


Provide more fellowships to scholars, researchers and translators

In order to publish and promote quality content in Urdu (translations as well as original writing), fellowships and grants must be provided to scholars, researchers and translators.

Focus on digital is also important

Similarly, special efforts should be made to make Urdu digital-friendly. In this regard, special consultation with different stakeholders (such as software developers, writers, translators, online search engine optimization specialists, etc.) must take place.


The government would also need to pitch in…

The role of the government and its agencies is very crucial because both the promotion as well as development of the language require capital investment and human resources.

His conclusion:

In short, the promotion and development of Urdu in the current scenario would require a multifaceted, long-term and planned approach straddling education, research, digital advancement, cultural activities, to making it a language of day-to-day use.

The Minority Conundrum is a thought-provoking volume that considers the minority question in India.

The essays deal with educational attainments, employment prospects in a liberalized economy, possibilities of equal opportunity, violence of the state and vigilante groups, emerging questions of citizenship and employment, linking language with the material life of its speakers, and the receding political voice of minorities amidst a majoritarian upswing.

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