By Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi: The first-ever International Conference on Urdu has urged the Centre to issue a directive to Uttar Pradesh and other states to create provision for setting up of Urdu medium schools, allowing students to write exams in Urdu language and to include Urdu in the curriculum under the 3-language formula wherever the Urdu community demands such a provision.
The conference, on the theme of “Urdu in 21st Century: Development and Prospects” was organized by the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL). Prof. Anis Ansar, Vice Chancellor of Khawja Gharibnawaz Arabic and Persian University, Lucknow, said that Urdu medium schools cannot be opened in Uttar Pradesh and several other states as the State regulations make it mandatory to use the State’s official language as the medium of instructions. He said, such regulations violated the fundamental rights of people to be educated through their mother tongue and also the norms of the 3-languages as enshrined in the Article 350A of the Constitution. The Conference called upon the Central Government to issue a mandate to the state governments under the powers vested in the President of India in this regard. Deliberating upon the state of Urdu in India and other parts of the world for three days, it urged the government to observe transparency in implementing the 3-language formula. It may be noted that under the formula, every State was obligated to ensure that the official language of the state is taught as the first language followed by a modern Indian language included in the 8th schedule of the Constitution as the second language and a modern European language as the third language. Urdu, Punjabi or Marathi may be taught along with the official language of a State. But in most of the states in the Hindi belt, Urdu has been practically ousted from the category of modern Indian languages, depriving the students of opportunity to learn Urdu. Surprisingly, several of these states have brought in Sanskrit in the language curriculum, which is not recognized as a Modern Indian Language in the 8th schedule. Participants observed that the policy is sheer violation of Article 29 of the Indian Constitution guaranteeing the basic rights to linguistic minorities. It suggested that the mother tongue should clearly be mentioned on the admission form itself at all levels in schools as well as colleges along with an additional column for the preferred third language of the pupil that will facilitate in determining the linguistic preferences of the Urdu community avoiding any confusion and wrong practices.
A resolution urged the Ministry of Human Resource Development to prepare a national database of Urdu teachers to have a real status of shortage or non availability of Urdu teachers. It pointed out that namesake presence of Urdu- knowing staff at the CBSE, NCERT, NIOS, National Book Trust and all centers of Central Institute of Indian Languages has become a serious problem. Therefore, it urged, concrete steps should be taken to create new positions for Urdu and recruit suitable incumbents immediately.
It said knowledge of Urdu must be made compulsory for officials and workers in each and every institution meant for education, teaching, promotion and propagation of Urdu such as Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) and National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL).
It urged the government to appoint only those persons who are proficient in Urdu, in the institution of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting like Doordarshan, All India radio, Publications Division, PIB and DAVP and institutions under the Central and State governments such as Directorate of Information and Publicity where positions are sought for Urdu category.
Inaugurating the Conference Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid said Urdu is a powerful symbol of India’s composite culture and an epitome of secular ethos. While Minister of Human Resource Development Dr. M.M. Pallamraju, in his presidential speech, remarked that Urdu is an Indo- Aryan language which had become lingua franca of the South Asians Diaspora outside the subcontinent and a vehicle of communication in all forms of entertainment.
Khurshid lauded the efforts of NCPUL in promotion of Urdu as it had succeeded in launching the Urdu key-fonts, Urdutools, which will help Urdu lovers to use Urdu fonts on mobile phones, laptop, computer, Internet and Windows and Urdu keyboard and Urdupedia.
Dr. Raju said NCPUL is an important autonomous organization of the Ministry of Human Resource Development and his Ministry had recently enhanced its budget from Rs. 29 crore to Rs. 60 crore.
Urdu litterateurs, critics, poets, authors and academics Canada, the United States, Britain, Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Mauritius and Australia attended the conference. n