All those who are opposing the choice of Urdu as an option for writing a public exam have forgotten a fact that it’s a language enlisted in the Constitution of India under the Eighth schedule.

A collage showing BJP Telangana chief Bandi Sanjay and BJP MP Arvind Dharmapuri speaking against an image of Charminar in the backgroundCourtesy: FACEBOOK/ BJP TELANGANA & ARVIND DHARMAPURI
news Politics Sunday, May 15, 2022 - 10:16

The allegations by Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Telangana Chief Bandi Sanjay and Nizamabad MP Arvind Kumar that providing candidates an option to write the Group 1 (state civil services) in Urdu language was to favour Muslims in Telangana has stoked a fresh controversy. 

The Telangana State Public Service Commission (TSPSC), a government recruitment agency recently issued job notifications, which include vacancies under Group -1 services. Posts like Deputy Collector and  Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) which play crucial roles in administration come under this category.

The TSPSC has notified around 503 posts with category wise-reservations as per the new zonal system. Acknowledging the presence of aspirants who had Urdu as the medium of instruction in their education, the commission notified that the candidates can take exams (preliminary and mains) in Urdu beside Telugu and English, if they wish so.

Taking exception to this Bandi Sanjay said: "Now exams are allowed to be written in Urdu, but who will write in Urdu? Who is learning Urdu? Who is going to scrutinise if the exam scripts are written in Urdu ? Brothers, think about it once, if the Urdu choice is included in Group-1 notification tomorrow only one section is going to get all the big posts/jobs."

Taking a cue from his colleague, another BJP MP Arvind Dharmapuri also alleged that the Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao was trying to appease Muslims by allowing candidates to write the exam in Urdu. "Scripts written in Telugu can be corrected/scrutinised by Hindus and Muslims while those in English can be scrutinised by any Indian —  be it Hindus, Muslims or Christians. But who will scrutinise the script written in Urdu? Only those who know Urdu, which means only Muslims,"

BJP national party president Jagat Prakash Nadda too said that they would remove all those who secured jobs on the basis of Urdu from services, if they are voted to power in the state. But all of them seem to have conveniently forgotten a fact: Urdu is one of the 22 official languages enlisted in the Constitution of India under the Eighth schedule.

History of Urdu

Telangana's linguistic history of having Urdu as an administrative language dates back to the 18th century. The state with over 12.68% Muslim population accommodates lakhs of people whose mother tongue is Urdu, though many pursue their studies either in Telugu medium or in English. Historically, Dakhani has had the same power and prestige as Urdu, and the same fame and acceptance in literary circles.According to historians, people considered knowledge of Urdu language essential in order to get into government jobs.

 

Multilingual writer and poet Samala Sadasiva in his book "Urdu Literature" (2007) observed that Urdu is people’s language and became significant following the downfall of Mughals and the Persian language. According to him, Urdu got its name towards the end of the 18th century and was known as Hindawi, Zuban-e Hindustan and Hindustani.

"Urdu is a language which was created out of the compulsion to maintain relationships between rulers and the ruled by using few words from each language as the Musalman rulers used to speak in Turkish, Persian and Arab. This (Urdu) is neither a language of a specific region nor a language which came from another country, it is our language since it was shaped in our country. Since it does not belong to any group or religion it's a language of all of us," writes Sadasiva.

Politics driven by communal agenda

According to the Hyderabadi historian Sajjad Shahid, Hyderabad was the first state to have Urdu as an administrative language and it entered south India following the conquest by Aurangazeb in the 17th century. 

"Urdu was and is an Indian language. Those who are trying to communalise have neither read its history nor have any knowledge about the same. BJP seems to be driving their political agenda. There is no truth in calling Urdu a Muslim language," says Shahid.

According to him, Urdu spoken in the Indian subcontinent has many variants. Initially, the language emerged with elements from Persian, Sanskrit and Marathi and later assimilated content from Telugu and Kannada as it entered the Deccan region, he said. Shahid Sajjad also noted that some of the greatest scholars Urdu has seen are from non-Muslim communities. One of them was Rajeshwar Rao of Kamineni dynasty who was the Raja (Chieftain) of Domakonda under the aegis of Nizams.  

Shahid feels there is nothing wrong in giving opportunity to the people whose mother tongue is Urdu. "Why should they be deprived of the opportunity to write exams and enter into services just because their mother tongue is Urdu," he said.

Professor MA Malik, who teaches economics at the Kukatpally Government Degree College of Osmania University, said it was wrong to use a language to abuse the integrity of a section of society. “Such comments also question the integrity of the faculty members who are going to scrutinise the answer scripts. No professor or expert is going to give marks just because it was written in Urdu or English or Telugu," says Prof Malik, who has 20 years of experience in teaching Indian Economy.

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