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Govt of India-supported meet admits: Urdu a language of interfaith bonds, syncretism

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
"Bari aristocracy hei zabaan mein
Nawabi ka maza deti hei Urdu faqiri mein!" 
(The language is so rich in aristocratic ethos
To a pauper it gives a king’s royalty all across!)
The fragrance, candour and timelessness of Urdu, basically an Indo-Aryan language was stamped at the two-day International Urdu Webinar by the NCPUL (National Council for the Promotion of Urdu Language) recently in New Delhi. Indeed, since time immemorial, Urdu had been the lingua franca of Sindh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, undivided Bengal, Punjab, Doaba etc. besides being the language of the heart and soul.
The topic of a recent two-day webinar was the role and responsibility of Urdu writers in the age of electronic and social media. Organized by the NCPUL (National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language), the webinar began with the inaugural address by Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Union minister of education, who called Urdu a language of not only composite culture, syncretism and interfaith bonds but also of humaneness of heart and soul.
Participated by around 35 eminent Urdu litterateurs plus hundreds of connoisseurs of Urdu from all over the world, the webinar saw Prof Shahid Akhtar, vice chairman, NCPUL, insisting on the need to promote Urdu in these days of social media with smart phones, where the information is just a touch away. 
Prof Zaman Azurdah said that writers, poets and authors are the eyes of the entire social, religious and political system and they have a huge responsibility towards their connoisseurs and the lovers of the language and literature and hence, have to be very positive sans all negetivity. He added, most powerful source of information is the social and electronic media. Like the authors, poets and journalists of other languages, Urdu writers too are toeing the line of the internet and are connecting globally via smart phones and laptops.
Sheikh Aquil Ahmed, director, NCPUL, stated that these are the days webinars and Wi-Fi technology where everything has been condensed into a smart phone via social networking and hence, Urdu too has to be techno-savvy to come at par with the other languages.
Dr Syed Taghi Hasan Abedi said that when the world has become a global village and in this situation, no language can establish a strong connection with its readers without the help of modern technology. He added, NCPUL must take lead in forming a centre for the Urdu writers who are techno-savvy in the way that a new generation must come up to manage the electronic and social media advancement of the language, like — "Tahaffuz-e-Urdu Board barai Barqui Media" (Board for the propagation and promotion of Urdu via electronic media).  
Speaking about the progress of Urdu in Bangladesh, Prof Golam Rabbani said that the future of Urdu is bright and brilliant in the country. He differed with those who believe Urdu was drifting, adding,plethora of Urdu websites is testimony to its continuing popularity. 
Dr Ahmad Mohammed Abdel Rahman of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University stated that the excellent work done by Urdu poets, authors and journalists should be processed and progressed to the global readers. For this, senior Urdu scholars and intellectuals must join heads together for putting Urdu on a fast track.
Opined Dr Humra Parveen of the Department of Mass Communication, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) that Urdu happens to be the language of the conglomerate tradition and culture of India that, after being acquired by the Khanqahs, educational institutions and the official world, also became th language of market. During the times of Mohammed Shah and Quli Qutub Shah, it became the government’s language. At that time, it was in fact the most popular language. Owing to its poetic exuberance and an easy language to learn (which it is even today), Urdu replaced Persian. 
The cultural and artistic tone and tenure of Urdu has been depicted generously in multifarious forms, including the Mushaira (poetic gathering), Marsiahkhwani (elegy) Ghazal (poetry recitation), Qawwali (chorus), Dastangoi (story telling), Chahar Bait (poetry competition) Mujra (ballet) etc besides other art forms, like drama, she added. 
Others who participated included Prof Shamim Hanafi, Prof Shehzad Anjum, Syed Zain Shamsi, Prof Azarmi Dukht Safawi, Dr Ataullah Khan Kak, Dr Afzal Misbahi, Dr Mohd Kazim, Prof Mushtaque Ahmed, Prof Eqbql Ahmad, Dr Imteyaz Ahmad and Prof Abuzar Usmani. They agreed with UK's Prof Fahim Akhtar that the world has changed in the days of Covid-19 and no one knows as to what would happen in the days to come. In such a scenario, webinars are the best that are going to be the in thing of the future.
Several speakers pointed out that the reason Urdu got proliferated and promoted was owing to its secular character and a universal base in India and abroad. Today Urdu happens to be one of the most popular of all international languages. Not only that Urdu is a language of the subcontinent but it has become an important South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) link language. 
In India alone, it was suggested,as per the government records, more than 70 million people’s mother tongue is Urdu. An equal number of Urdu-knowing people are spread all over the nation. In the state of Kashmir, Urdu is the first language while in other states like — Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal -- it has been recognized as the second language of the second language, it was pointed out. 
The webinar highlighted NCPUL's contribution in promoting Urdu on a pan India basis by conducting seminars, workshops on calligraphy, graphic designing, e-books, Urdu media and other topics besides teaching of Urdu, Persian and Arabic to their connoisseurs from all cross sections of society besides bringing out of Urdu magazines like, “Urdu Dunia” (monthly), “Bachchon ki Dunia” (children’s monthly) “Khawatin ki Dunia” (ladies’ monthly magazine) and “Fikr-o-Tehqeeq (research-based tri-monthly). 
--- 
*Chancellor, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad; grandnephew, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

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