‘Abay yaar’, who betrayed Urdu?

Published: December 9, 2013

The difference in what we called aasan (easy) and garhi (thick) Urdu was one of the main reasons why I never liked Urdu periods at school. PHOTO: Reuters

There is a large number of modern, educated people in Pakistan that are blind to an entire area of literature, beginning with the first Urdu novel written by Deputy Nazir Ahmed back in the 1800s to anything written in the Urdu newspapers today. Not only are they completely oblivious, but this educated class also looks down upon the mother language and anything associated with it.

To me, it seems that it’s not their fault. For every one of them, somewhere along the line, Urdu lost its value and respect in their eyes.

This is how I experienced it.

I remember very vividly the day I first used the word ‘abay’ in a conversation. It was in first grade, at Habib Public School, and I remember feeling quite proud. I thought I had learnt a cooler way of saying ‘aray’.

Our class teacher was so alarmed that she took it upon herself to drive this evil from us and used up an entire period just to explain how bad the word was, and how we were never to use it again. We were not given a reason apart from ‘it’s bad’. To me it seemed like the teacher was trying to denigrate Urdu.

At the time, if an adult said something was bad, it was bad. Ergo speaking in Urdu was bad.

The difference in what we called aasan (easy) and garhi (thick) Urdu was one of the main reasons why I never liked Urdu periods at school. Our esteemed teachers never told us what situation the poet had been in. Nor did they feel it important to explain why some person with a likeness of ‘Gandalf the grey’ had written a particular piece of very hard to comprehend text.

Maybe my teachers didn’t know or care, or maybe they thought that it was understood. Whatever the case, the end result was me hating Urdu poetry and hating the poets even more.

What I hated most was the hard-to-digest eccentric ‘intellectuals’ from bygone eras who used increasingly complex Urdu, as I liked to call it, as a medium to transfer their message — a message my teachers assured us existed, but never quite connected to the text.

Why could they not have used the simple language of the common man?

Wasn’t the main idea getting the point across? So then why make it difficult?

My fourth grade teacher informed me that these ‘amazing’ poets had used the language of the common man and that the language I was referring to was not Urdu at all. It was, according to her, the ‘adulteration’ of Urdu with a ton of English and slang thrown in. But if that were the case, I thought, why did she not use that complex, arcane Urdu in her own conversations?

Was the ‘real’ Urdu incomprehensible, even for the Urdu teacher herself?

In exams, we were asked to explain the message the poets had tried to convey. According to the teacher’s guide, one that my teacher had on her at all times, I was always wrong to try to decipher the ancient word-masters’ verses on my own. Apparently using simple words to explain something was a sin and an insult to the writer. Translating ‘real’ Urdu to simple Urdu was not allowed.

All subjects besides Islamiat, Sindhi and Urdu were in English. We were supposed to talk in English at school. Chemistry, Physics and Maths could not even be understood in Urdu. Urdu started to seem very backward and unimportant at this point.

Soon enough, unable to cope with the difficult task of getting through my Urdu classes without help, I approached my father for help. By the time I reached fifth or sixth grade, I began to realise, with his help, that the Urdu intellectuals of yesteryear had in fact been in a very different time and place, and had used the language of the common man of that time.

This was a revelation and it succeeded in making me appreciate Urdu poetry somewhat — something that all my teachers had failed in doing. Despite this appreciation, I had become convinced that English was still the language that actually held importance, the language we had to know.


Well, Urdu was just something we spoke.

As time passed and I grew older, the subjects Urdu and Islamiat disappeared altogether. English took over completely and ‘real’ Urdu went out the window. The adulterated version of Urdu was the everyday language. Urdu numbers disappeared from our minds and Urdu has been largely forgotten. The complex Urdu I was taught was definitely all gone.

Who is to blame?

Who has failed?

Who is betraying Urdu?

Is it me? My parents? Or the Urdu teachers and the education system?

Why do you think students dislike Urdu?

     View Results

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Taha Shaheen

Taha Shaheen

A student who has done his A-Levels and is interested in sports, writing, reading and learning about new cultures, he tweets as @Taha_Shaheen_ (twitter.com/Taha_Shaheen_)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Babar

    This article should be published in an Urdu newspaper.Recommend

  • Sami

    You used the Word Mother Language for Urdu. A recent language developed in 1800s and forced upon Pakistan after 1947. Let me tell you one thing that Urdu is a Mother tongue of less than 10 percent of the Population. But owing to the false association with Islam our country recognized only one language and removed all other languages from Federal Curriculum. Urdu is enjoying the elite status in Pakistan.

    For many Pakistanis including me Urdu is not my Mother tongue. My mother tongue is Punjabi that is banned from Punjab’s Book board courses. But for me rather than Urdu English is the preferable language as If i will equip myself with the English language then i will be able to teach my kids in a more broader manner and it will open new avenues of Science, Technology , Research and Innovation for me as most of the literature of this kind is in English.
    Can someone explain how many Original Urdu Scientific authors we have??. The only thing we hear about Urdu is Infatuation with the Beer, Wine and to Pluck flowers for the girls from the moon and nothing else. Recent Urdu is bereft of Sufism and give examples of intolerant type of Writing. Hejazi Novels and likes of him with Urdu Newspapers have already made an important role in radicalizing the general public of Pakistan.Recommend

  • sk


  • Proletarian

    It will be better for everyone if the regional languages are discarded and the use of English is spread as the undisputed global language. This will allow the formation of a Global Union. Humanity will not lose anything of value if it loses Urdu or Hindi or Arabic or Persian.Recommend

  • Shareef Khan

    Curriculum, Multiple Classes (English, Urdu and KachiPaki-English Medium), Teachers and above all Governments… Education has never been a problem for our Rulers or or People.
    On the top Awam bhi jahal hai, Parents ne apnae bacho k ikhlaki tarbiyat or skills development karna hi chordi hai.Recommend

  • Humza

    Urdu or Hindi which are largely the same have little allure for educated Pakistanis. For me, Urdu is less Islamic anyways since it is almost like Hindi so the religious argument makes no sense. English is more useful and Urdu is as foreign as English for native Pakistanis. I think that the native languages of Pakistan have more charm than Hindi / Urdu anyways. Rather than decry the loss of Urdu, we should decry the loss of Baluchi, Sindi, Punjabi and Pashto which are much older languages.Recommend

  • Sikh of Mumbai

    Y Not such a Article & voting for Punjabi Language in South Asia & around d globe!Recommend

  • Urdu hai jis ka naam

    When Shakespeare doesn’t bother you; you should not complain about garhi Urdu !
    The way it is taught should be changed, not the content!Recommend

  • Supriya Arcot

    Urdu was born in the camp . When the mughals came from the Arab lands Central Asia ( Mongolia / Uzbekistan etc., where Babur came from ) and mingled with the Hindi / Sindhi / Punjabi speaking soldiers of Hindustan, they could not communicate . so they got together and built this new language ‘Urdu’. Language is not stationary. It undergoes change . what does not ( refuses to change ) is bound to dissolve like our own Sanskrit or Pali .So I don’t see any need to lament the degeneration of Urdu ( or any other ) language . Instead lets say like a rich and healthy river , Urdu has integrated words and phrases from other ‘modern’ languages in its flow.Recommend

  • Necromancer

    Damn!!! You sound like Illuminati are you trying to create a NWO hereRecommend

  • Necromancer

    Again Urdu!!!! look what you started @faraz talat now every one is debating about this Urdu thing………Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Err..no. Who anointed English as the undisputed global language, to replace all others in the world?

    The trick to global unity is not ignoring the fact that we cherish and speak different languages, but embracing that diversity. The hegemony of any single language, culture, race, religion or gender over all others, would doom us all.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Urdu, a modern amalgam of various loosely-related languages, itself seems to beckon adulteration.

    Nearly 150 years of British rule have re-wired the minds of the subcontinent into associating English with elites, and Urdu with commoners. The same happened during Mughal rule, when learning and speaking Persian became trendy.

    Of course, the fact that nearly all of science and mathematics is in English, or based on languages more closely related to English, makes it a far handier mode of learning than Urdu.

    Keeping all that in mind, plus the fact that Urdu simply isn’t as historical as some of our other local languages (Punjabi, for example, has been around since 12th century, and Sindhi’s origin can be traced back to 1500 BCE), it’s understandable why it’s THIS hard for Pakistani nationalists to force ‘khalis’ Urdu upon an unwilling populace.Recommend

  • gp65

    In India many of use grew with a 3 language formula. English, Hindi and regional language. On top of that if the regional language was not your mother tongue, you were taught your mother tongue by your prents/grand parents. This was the case for me since regional language in Mumbai was Marathi and my mother tongue is Gujarati. It wasn’t a problem for me.

    Now onto the other point you were making i.e. discarding all local languages and adopting English wholesale. A lot of the bhajans by poet saints, literature are in our own language and connects me to my heritage. The world may not lose anything if these languages were gone but I would lose a part of my heritage. So in order to learn English I see no reason to discard Hindi or Gujarati. Of course you are free to discard Urdu if you choose. These should be individual choices and not enforced.Recommend

  • Falcon

    Existence of scientific terminology is not a hallmark of a language’s viability. If you look through Urdu medium books of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology, you will be able to find a lot of words that have been translated into Urdu. But that is besides the point. To the point of literature, Bano Qudsia, Ashfaq Ahmed, Mumtaz Mufti, and Saadat Hasan Manto are few of the recent and famous Urdu writers. How much of their work have you read? We can not lazily justify our ignorance of a language as its intrinsic flaw. Pakistan’s English vs. Urdu problem has been best summed up by a famous outside observer Anatol Lieven in his book, which is this; unfortunately, English is mysteriously considered as a symbol of elite status in Pakistan (it is to be noted that this issue exists in other countries as well but the problem is too obvious in Pakistan)Recommend

  • http://gravatar.com/skchadha SKChadha

    Dear Sami, as an Indian, in my view Urdu is pure Indian language. This language is having its origin in Awadh. It was basically Hindi Khadiboli) spoken by Muslim rulers of Awadh (Central India)? It has little vocabulary from Arabic, Persian and Turkish. Even the dialect is not Arabic. Urdu is only a SCRIPT (Nastaliq style with Persian alphabet and a bit of Arabic literary vocabulary). Pakistan has adopted it and distorted it by adding Pashto, Punjabi, Sindhi and Balti words to it over time. Urdu is and was always a royal language and spoken in ‘Lakhnavi Andaz’. There is no denying of fact that Muslim citizenry in India and Pakistan patronize it. We owe a lot to them for keeping this language alive. Urdu has nothing to do with Pakistan except its adoption for obvious reasons.

    The main languages of Pakistan are Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Balochi, Kashmiri, Brahui, Shina, Balti, Khowar and Burushask. Sindhi is even Official Language of one of the prominent Province of Pakistan? The ancient languages of present Pakistan were Sanskrit, Prakrit and Pali which are contemporary to Latin or Greek. Recommend

  • Ahmed Iqbal

    Ha! This article reminded me how they used to make us believe that a certain verse is associated with Ishq-e-haqiqi not ishq-e-majazi. Urdu rooth gayi hum se aisi baton par..Recommend

  • http://imransahir.wordpress.com/ Imran khan Sahir

    Only the circumstances-adapting
    language would sustain; a language that cannot transform itself as time goes along
    is likely to go extinct. The more funny part is that when you use tons of
    English words while speaking Urdu, Sindhi or any other language, it feels
    pretty normal but what if you, all of a sudden, started blending Urdu words
    while speaking in Sindh, you start to look stupid; that’s just the psyche and
    broadly accepted viewpoint and nothing else; you look as stupid as you should
    look while mixing English into any other language.Recommend

  • Anwaar

    @author if you read english writers of the 18th Century you’ll find english in a form you’ve never used in your life…. languages keep evolving through times and there is nothing wrong in it if urdu has slang in it now or has some words from english then there is no noting wrong …. however i do agree with the point that our teachers in school never really taught us the way it was required to understand that form of Urdu plus our schools and our education board never encouraged us to write in the Urdu that we can easily understand.Recommend

  • Sami

    By using the word like Royal Language for Urdu and dismissing any influence on Urdu from local languages like Sindhi, Pushto, Punjabi, Balochi, Balti etc shows your inferiority complex about this language and inherit despising of the local cultures and languages of Pakistan and North India.. Also kindly learn again when Urdu emerged as it as recent as late 18th century.

    Let me reiterate again and again that no language is royal or anything. All languages have an equal status in my view. Even the Word Urdu is derived from the Turkish Word that means Lashkar. Also almost more than 50 percent words in Urdu directly came from Persian language. The Britishers patronize and gave scholarships to everyone who promoted Urdu including Iqbal and Ghalib because they want to end the Persian influence with another language.

    I hope other than Urdu a New language will emerge in Pakistan known as Pakistani Language derived from local languages so to have a unique identity rather than indebted to some so called Royal beings language as you have mentioned.Recommend

  • grandmasti

    well chadha sir,on this issue I m with many pakistanis here who r not in support of Urdu..I dont like its script and writing style..Its too formal a language to speak..For me speaking in Urdu is very difficult taskRecommend

  • Sana

    I may be wrong, but i think you had a bad experience studying Urdu at school. On the whole, i would not generalize this problem only to the education system. I think this problem has got more to do with the social status, and our parents have a more role in downplaying the value of this language. Sadly English is considered to be a language of elites, and if you dont know English, you are judged as being “paindoo” and “illiterate”. I personally think this mindset has played more part in declining the value of Urdu. As we grow up, we are asked to read only English books before going to bed. Even libraries at schools have only English books. I remember myself having an interest in Urdu as a child, but was always afraid to buy an Urdu book, only to avoid the disapproving eyes and the difficult questions of “are you reading Urdu?!!”. I eventually grew out of it when i was mature enough to answer those difficult questions.

    Also i disagree with the part where you mentioned “asaan” Urdu and “garhi” Urdu. I think this segregation goes for almost every language. Classical English is not what we speak/read nowadays. Same goes for our regional languages. There are certain words in Pushto that i still cannot understand, only because they are not used as frequently now. Same is the case with Urdu. I dont know if its the right thing to say or not, but i guess languages do evolve with time and take a new shape.

    Long story short, when it becomes a norm to like and promote a specific language, and when same is taught and learned at home as well, you automatically tend to dislike the other language and that becomes difficult as well – be it your national language.Recommend

  • omer

    You have something really strong against urduRecommend

  • RHS

    To answer your question, we all did. By the way how many scientific journals are there in Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi and Baluchi?Recommend

  • Acorn Guts

    ‘Allam’ is spelt with an ‘Aeyn’ not ‘Alif’ as you’ve done in the picture for this article. Irony at its best .. sigh.Recommend

  • tribune’s conscience

    wrong spelling of allama iqbal’s name in the picture: what an ironyRecommend

  • gp65

    I would like o add. The excellent points you have made. Punjabi, Sindhi, Baloch, Pashto etc. are languages that are local to the region tha is now called Pakistan, that is nit so for Urdu which originated in present day India and is a mother tongue to only 7% of Pakistanis.

    I also find the survey question is poorly designed because
    a) it assumes that All students definitely dislike Urdu and we now need o analyze why. This may not be the case at all.

    b) the option none of the above should have been covered to allow reasons other than provided,Recommend

  • gp65

    How do you know hay Shakespeare does not bother him? In US for example Shakespeare is not taught upto high school level in public schools since that language is considered inaccessible and not relevant t he studentsRecommend

  • gp65

    Thee is no mystery to Enlish being considered aspirational in this region.. It stems from the bureaucratic structure we inherited from our British masters. Moreover it is the llanguage that is a passport o he world and hence allows upward mobility.

    There needs to be no debate of Urdu vs. English when one could learn both if one chooses to.Recommend

  • grandmasti

    north indias local language is Hindi and it is thriving..Recommend

  • Talha Rizvi

    As an Indian you have no right to in our affairs. Mind your own business, Aren’t you the one who also comments on Dawn and the Nation. On the Nation like other Indian trolls your comments are full of filth towards Pakistanis even expletives are used by you guys. Mind your own business.
    @f29237d808e73cf756f28e2b8c41cf32:disqus : No body asked you to learn Urdu just as no one has asked you Indians to poke your nose in our business.Recommend

  • http://imransahir.wordpress.com/ Imran khan Sahir

    And Sir, Sindhi is also perhaps the oldest among all languages in Pakistan if I’m not wrong. It also is deeply rooted with Hindi and shares a vast vocabulary with Hindi too.Recommend

  • Talha Rizvi

    Try this debate in Mumbai and see the reaction from Shivsena who are Marathi chauvinists. I don’t understand why you Indians come here other then to mock and speak nonsense about Pakistan.
    @ gp65: Why are you interfering in our affairs? Nobody asked you Indians! You guys go berserk if any body so much as takes your country’s name so why come here like uninvited party crashers?Recommend

  • http://imransahir.wordpress.com/ Imran khan Sahir

    You’re right there. Urdu was the language of only 2% of less when it was declared as an official language; this was a naked discrimination
    against all other major languages. My first language is
    Saraiki though but I happen to speak Sindhi more than that since I studied
    Sindhi and was raised in Sindh. Sindhi was taught in schools until the private
    schools system came along; but the campaigns of restoring the status of Sindhi are active. In the same way, Punjabi is another language rich in its
    originality and historical terms. What should have happened was that all these
    languages should have been declared as National and their status should have been recognized but sadly it was opposite.Recommend

  • Arsalan Azhar

    “My mother tongue is Punjabi that is banned from Punjab’s Book board courses.”

    First understand the difference between a language and a boli. In SIndh we study Sindhi which is compulsory.

    and i felt that you are behaving like a more PUNJABI rather than a Pakistani. URDU is a language which unite us as one nation.

    If you believe that by knowing english your future generation will do well in engineering , medical and other fields of science, than you should take lesson from the countries like France, Rusia, Germany, China and Japan.Recommend

  • XYZ

    I am guessing you’ve never heard of the existence of a phenomenon known as Diglossia?

    It’s when the written and spoken form of the language differs and this has been observed in older languages like Arabic and German so your argument about the difference between garhi and asaan Urdu being hard to bridge isn’t really valid. If they can do it, why not us?

    “Our esteemed teachers never told us what situation the poet had been in. Nor did they feel it important to explain why some person with a likeness of ‘Gandalf the grey’ had written a particular piece of very hard to comprehend text.”

    Also, not everyone dislikes Urdu. You may have been put off by your teacher’s style of teaching or your personal preference of another language and not only because you couldn’t understand what you were reading.Recommend

  • Agnikul

    I really really really am annoyed by the mauling received by Urdu, it is a charming language raped brutally in everyday speech. Whether it is Ministers on TV saying “tuluk” instead of “ta ul luq”, the waiter cleaning a “tayvul” or Maulvi sahib on a loudspeaker kicking the language to Jahannum and back or teenagers texting in Roman I would prefer people to just leave the helpless thing alone. Either treat it with respect: write, speak and pronounce it as it is meant to be pronounced or go degrade another language.
    English (or substitute Mandarin/Arabic/Punjabi, whatever) can be the sole National/Official language of instruction. Misusing Urdu publicly should be a punishable crime, writing it in Roman alphabet merits flogging. Everyone may speak, write, violate whatever other consenting language they prefer in the privacy of their homes. Children can and should learn regional dialects as elective school subjects.Recommend

  • Anshuman Tripathy

    Each Language is beautiful in its own way and it would be a crime to discard all of them and adopt English as the Gold standard. As gp65 mentions, in India it is quite common for people to know 3 or more languages. I learnt English & Hindi in school, I stayed in chennai throughout my childhood so I learnt tamil and my mother tongue is Oriya which was taught by my parents. As a fluent speaker in all of the above languages I find it quite insulting that you would consider One language (especially a foreign one) to be superior to all the others. In India it is very common for people to use English during formal conversations at work,school etc then switch to another language when they are with friends and then go back to their native tongue when they are at home. I used to do this all the time with English at work or school with teachers, Hindi & Tamil with friends and Oriya at home with my parents. English is still being used as a global language , but that doesn’t mean we discard all our local languages for a foreign one which only you consider superior to others.Recommend

  • grandmasti

    what about pakistanis poking their nose in our business.Look at the blog written by pakistanis about India ..For a minute they dont consider India as a foreign country.So much so that one of the blogger suggested us to do not vote for modi.No issue..but then there should always be give and take.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Talha why are you so against Indians voicing their opinions on this forum ?…………diversity is the spice of life.
    Apart from a few crackpots ( and they should give you a laugh ) most post intelligent arguments and viewpoints. The fact that they tend to get carried away if India is even slightly mentioned in a negative tone, is something for us to understand because it not only teaches us tolerance ( much needed ) but gives us an idea of the workings of their mind.Recommend

  • Talha Rizvi

    That was one blog and I can’t remember the times you interfered in our matters. Ok go ahead and elect Modi or the devil as your PM(There isn’t much difference any way). We least care for you as we are not peeping toms or control freaks who think it’s up to them to comment on every thing. Usually the first comment on every article is by an Indian abusing Pakistan.Recommend

  • Talha Rizvi

    The majority are trolls who only come here to spew venom. Try giving an advice to an Indian and see how they take it. Many have openly said they hate us and only come here to poke fun. I’m sorry but such uncivil behavior can’t be tolerated any where.Recommend

  • Proletarian

    A new and more elegantarian world order is certainly needed. A world where the individual is not left abandoned but is nurtured and trained to be a valuable member of society. Where knowledge and technology is made universal unversal and you dont have to pay to get access to it. When the needs of the individuals and families are assured. To make this a reality we have to break down the barriers dividing people so that be can be One Humanity in practice.Recommend

  • http://gravatar.com/skchadha SKChadha

    Read aboveRecommend

  • Anooop


    Are you as angry as you sound? Its very easy to get on your nerves, isn’t it..

    How to get on your nerves? Answer: Be an Indian and comment in a domain which has a “.pk” at the end of it.

    So, do you follow your own advice and stay off “.com” domain, which is an American one? Facebook.com, Google.com, Twitter.com..Recommend

  • http://gravatar.com/skchadha SKChadha

    Talha: We are on public forum and there is nothing wrong in exchange of views (till moderator of blog or newspaper permits). Can you point out me my any comment which is out of context to discussions?Recommend

  • Anooop

    @9d136820c88a6bd6892c4edf3cff478a:disqus ,

    Considering this blog is about Urdu/Hindi which is an Indian language, it is we Indians who have the right to opine.


    Also, repeating the same comment ad nauseam is really tiresome. What brownie points are you trying to win here? Clearly, the basket in one’s brain which stores opinions is filled with only one kind of fruit called unindia.

    We get it.. You hate Indians.. You hate anyone apart from Pakistanis from commenting on “.pk” domains.

    We get it.. For once, I’d like to see an opinion, not abuse, from you..

    Again, I know you hate India and Indians and bla bla bla..Recommend

  • Karela

    Waah waah, kia khoobsoorat baat ki hai aap ne. Maza aa gaya. You should blog. :)Recommend

  • http://gravatar.com/skchadha SKChadha

    Sir, you are absolutely right. It is descended from Indo-Aryan languages and probably from Prakrit. Forget Urdu, Sindhi is probably older than even Hindi (Kadhi Boli). It is spoken in different dilects in Sindh, Baluchistan and Kachh. I understand that dilect of Sindhi find its traces even in scriptures which are over 1000 BC old.
    India have over 3 millian Sindhi speakers and it is one of the Official Language in India. Sindhi is much much older than Urdu.Recommend

  • http://gravatar.com/skchadha SKChadha

    Zara Koshish Keejiye Janaab.Recommend

  • Another North Indian

    MR Rizvi can have any objections he likes to Indians but he is simply ignorant and bigoted. Punjabi in Pakistan is not the same as Punjabi in Maharastra. But to know that a Pakistani. would needs to know more than simply his hatred of ‘Indian trolls’. Recommend

  • grandmasti

    That is surely not the case here on ET..They r very strict in their policy ,dont allow even a single abusive word.And yes that was not a single blog..There were numerous blog about delhi gang rape,arushi murder case,tarun tejpal case ,minority issues and so on..Seems like ET is more interested in correcting India than pakistanRecommend

  • grandmasti

    kya..kuchh samajh mein nahi aya,chadha sir:)Recommend

  • gp65

    I am not a troll and I do not spew venom. Specifically in the posts I have made in this blog, thee is nothing remotely offensive. Your post was directed to me and not to the ‘majority’. IT shows nothing other than intolerance for people of another nationality and religion.

    You probably haven’t figured this is internet and it is really not upto you to decide whether I can post my comment or not. If it meets the comment guidelines of ET, this will be posted. If it does not, in their opinion it will be filtered.Recommend

  • gp65

    Parvez, Cannot generalize for all contributors but for many including me, I think when India is mentioned in a negative tone -accurately e.g. on the gang rape issue – Indians would keep quiet or agree. But when the negative news item is based on inaccurate facts or flawed logic, we certainly dispute it based on facts and logic.

    Of course you are entitled to describe that as being carried away but I would call it reasoned debate.Recommend

  • gp65

    I have been raised in Mumbai. It is true that Shiv Sena promotes sons of soil policy for local employment. This does not mean it gets it way but it is certainly an advocate for that. But Shiv Sena does not dictate the language people speak in and someone who can speak in Hindi could get by very easily in Mumbai. The only thing is that if you are in a regional board school system, you will have to learn Marathi at least as a 3rd language for some years in school. Also many signboards will have English, Hindi and Marathi. But this is state policy and in effect even when Shiv Sena is not in power.

    It is unclear what you think Shiv Sena will do if people do not speak in Marathi.Recommend

  • http://gravatar.com/skchadha SKChadha

    Talha: We are on public forum and there is nothing wrong in exchange of views (till moderator of blog or newspaper permits). Can you point out me my any comment which is out of context to discussions?Recommend

  • http://gravatar.com/skchadha SKChadha

    The British used to pronounce Urdu as ‘Horde’ and probably you are deriving the meaning from that. It may be from ‘Udoo’ meaning of which probably is ‘Enemy or Rival’? I have not dismissed the influence of local languages on Urdu. In Deccan India even Telugu and Tamil have its influence on it. I don’t know what make you offensive about my comment. For your information Urdu is official language of 6 major States of India and one can appear for Indian Civil Services Exams with Urdu as medium.

    To my knowledge Urdu emerged when Muslim Rulers started maintaining administrative and revenue records in India in their own script and with Hindi words. Please correct me, if I am wrong? Read my post again … you are just repeating what I said about its script. So don’t spin. For your information Iqbal and Ghalib were poet and not scholars of Urdu. Both of them have extensively used Persian in their Shayari. Read about Urdu scholars at: wikipedia(dot)org/wiki/Category:Urdu_scholars and understand their individual status.

    Please don’t be hopeless about Urdu and hope for some new language ….. :-) There is nothing wrong with Urdu ….. It unites us …… :-)Recommend

  • http://gravatar.com/skchadha SKChadha

    Sir, you are absolutely right. It is descended from Indo-Aryan languages and probably from Prakrit. Forget Urdu, Sindhi is probably older than even Hindi (Kadhi Boli). It is spoken in different dilects in Sindh, Baluchistan and Kachh. I understand that dilect of Sindhi find its traces even in scriptures which are over 1000 BC old.

    India have over 3 millian Sindhi speakers and it is one of the Official Language in India. Sindhi is much much older than Urdu.Recommend

  • Talha Rizvi

    Et mods allow me to respond to someone who has written directly towards me. It seems fair.
    No I don’t Anoop although it’s your arrogance that bothers me. Here the nonsense you come up with is simply pathetic. Take you for example how many times you have launched a diatribe against Islam in general. I have lost count of the times that Indians said after every unpleasant incident that it is all due the fault of the ‘religion of peace’. By the way it’s funny how you guys speak such with out even visiting Pakistan for a change or even having a basic knowhow of Pakistan. Have you forgotten the comment of yours where you said that Pakistan was on it’s way to becoming a Saudi arabia type country . By the way since you and gp65 are always in denial here are some topics in which Indians posted comments that even by the jingoistic standards were rude and some even contained expletives:
    Pakistan building the Palestinian embassy.
    Muslim not performing sacrifice in Poland this year.
    Nearly every article about robbery , murder, arson and serial killing.
    Pakistan launching a satellite .
    The whole concept of Eid-ul-Azha.
    So Anoop tell me how did these topics involved Indians and most importantly who asked for your opinion?Recommend

  • Parvez

    Talha, I agree with you…….but don’t you think policing is the job of the blog moderator ? …….and as I said there are crackpots and many who visit the site deliberately to provoke. The best response is NOT TO GET PROVOKED and that will deflate them, possibly even prompt them to think a bit more rationally. I have personally experienced this in life and it works.Recommend

  • gp65


    Do read the comments on this entire blog and check who has spewed venom? Most of the Indians and Pakistanis here have had a perfectly civil discussion which relates o the subject on hand. The only person ‘spewing venom’ to use is own words is Mr. Rizvi at anyone who does not share his faith and nationality.

    Have you seen any comment from him that actually discusses the issue posted in the blog or news item? All I have ever seen is his intolerance for Indians.Recommend

  • What?!

    @ Sami, Ghalib lived all his life in Delhi and was very old and died soon after the British sack/conquest of Delhi. His patronage, if any, came from Mughals whose primary language was persian; which was also the official language during the mughal dynasty. So, i don’t think Ghalib had the opportunity to enjoy the patronage of the British.Recommend

  • What?!

    Very nice point about Iqbal and Ghalib using Persian, infact their persian poetry is much larger than the urdu set – a fact not generally knownRecommend

  • Anooop

    Oh, so your real problem is I tend to question Religion, the opium of the masses, and that bothers you. Not surprised.

    If you had a cogent arguments I am sure you’d have forwarded them. But, you have resorted to do what one does when they are unable to respond to an argument – shout and push. But, this is the Internet, buddy.

    By the way can you show me one comment where I’ve used “expletives”?

    As far as I can remember, my questions are backed by strong empirical data(which is explains why you resort to such devices).

    I don’t believe in this Politically Correct nonsense. I say how I see it. I don’t hesitate in directly questioning Religion’s role in the happenings in the Muslim world.

    I don’t mind you criticizing my country or Religion or whatever. But, to hear the same comment regurgitated, over and over and over again is a bit boring and tiresome.

    But, I like annoying people and hence, I am the guy who responds. :)Recommend

  • 4

    Hey genius, let’s all accept the most popular language, Mandarin and then say no loss if English disappears.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Talha Rizvi does get carried away but I put it down to the exuberance of youth but to say that he does not have a point, is simply wrong.
    Do read the comments on this entire SITE majority by Indians and, most have a typical anti Pakistan thread woven into them, some are completely asinine and many are well thought out and make great sense.
    Now for your benefit, as I feel you will understand this, I will try give you the substance of a very, very senior Indian newspaper editors view, which relates somewhat to this discussion ( I have forgotten his name, it was rather long and he was in his late 70’s and it pained him to say this : We Indians are a curious lot. We take pleasure…..yes pleasure in the discomfort of others. This is something that is seen in most people but not to the extent that it prevails in us Indians.
    Now, understand that I am not spoiling for a fight, that is not my style, but Talha Rizvi has a valid point, though his approach is all wrong……..and I hope you can understand that.Recommend

  • rashid behlim

    Whatever Urdu is a beautiful languageRecommend

  • danish omer

    Urdu was a bazaari language looked down upon by the educated persons of hindustan they were either speaking farsi or sanskrit or their local languages like Punjabi, Merathi, Bengali, Balochi, Pashto, Sindhi, Gujrati. URDU emerged as rekhta ‘a corrupt’ language. The term rekhta is used by none other but Ghalib.

    It was the British imperialists that patronized Urdu at the famous Fort William College to Sir Syed, Hali, Azad and numerous contemporaries remained attached to. Urdu was the language of comprador bourgeoisie and from its inception it was using English words. To date it is a modern evolving scientific language created by the most advanced nation of its time the English.Recommend


    In my opinion, if you want to learn science subjects, you have to learn it in English language and if you want to learn ADAB (literature) with deep human feelings, you have to learn URDU.

  • Farrukh Kamrani

    This seems to be the age of the downfall of all the languages. Ironically, capitalism and democracy are not the ideal systems to expect a development in culture and language.Recommend

  • x

    Totally agree. In fact, I quite enjoy comments from Indian commentators. Helps get perspective and adds depth to the conversation. Some trolls or haters- from either country- should not let us enjoy the benefits of online newspapers and platforms to enjoy healthy exchange of views.Recommend

  • x

    Not stop us from** correctionRecommend

  • Rana Arshad

    Urdu should be used as a tool to reduce hatred and not to create it.Recommend

  • macroname

    Yeah maybe he was just stupid and found it hard while his peers sailed through. Go on, say it.
    @author, its ok. Everyone learns at different speeds and through different appraoches. Maybe languages are not your strong point. Maybe you’re better with numbers or science.Recommend

  • Rana Arshad

    The most important question raised here is who is responsible for the present position of Urdu. And if you ignore the point of script, Urdu and Hindi are actually the same thing. The people who think they speak Hindi can easily understand what the people say who think they are speaking Urdu and the other way round as well.
    So Urdu or Hindi, whatever you call it, is a common heritage.
    The author had raised the question that who is responsible and he had also given a subtle answer that it is the teaching arrangements that are failing the actual point; creating the love of the language. This also leads us to the answer that it is the teaching and learning arrangements that we need to improve.Recommend

  • harry

    It seems your pants are on fire just to hear Modi has been selected as his party’s PM candidate. I cannot imagine what would happen if he really becomes the PM.Recommend

  • harry

    China is teaching English in its primary schools. And I believe others are too. If you do not speak English, you can only survive as a farmer.Recommend

  • harry

    I do not see why you are so fussy about Urdu. People will use a language they feel comfortable and useful. English comes to mind.Recommend

  • Nero

    Some corrections: Mughals didn’t come from arab lands. Babur belonged to the a chagtai turk clan based in farghana valley in central asia. Though Urdu has been associated with “camp”, there isn’t evidence that it was linked with military camps. I like your point about language being like a rich and healthy river though!Recommend

  • Talha Rizvi

    Where have I said that whatever happens in India is because of Hinduism? I have always respected others religion even they don’t respect mine. I can however say with the greatest confidence that after every suicide blast, Incident of terrorism , even honor killing Indians say that it is the fault of ‘religion of peace’ sarcastically I mean. However you failed to respond how launching a satellite or building a embassy of Palestine could possibly be of interest. I say you are the guy who barges uninvited into a party insults the guest and yet claim the higher moral ground.Recommend

  • Sam

    Dear Mr Chadha
    Just to point out a couple of things:
    “Hindi Khariboli” (as you phrase it) is nothing more than what Urdu is called after the politicization of the language issue after the arrival of the British in the sub-continent. To clarify, the court language in the Mughal court and earlier Muslim ruled royal courts of the sub-continent was Persian. The ordinary people began to speak something which was a mixture of Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Sanskrit. This language of the ordinary folk was called “Khariboli” by early poets, chief among them, Amir Khusrau. In his experimentation with poetry, he composed verses one stanza in count Persian and one stanza in Khariboli. This language of the common people came increasingly to be called Urdu. Following the Persian / Arabic script, urdu was written in a similar fashion, following the Nastiliq form of calligraphy. In the South of India, because the script was Sanskritised, Urdu was written in a form of Roman Sanskrit. Same language, different script. After the advent of the British into India, much was made to highlight the differences in what was essentially the same language. In Pakistan, we have remained true to the Persian/Arabic script while in India (for obvious political reasons) the Sanskritsed version of the script wasRecommend

  • Sam

    retained. That, actually was the only difference pre-Partition, although the British made us believe that they were two different languages. Now, I feel that Hindi and Urdu have become very different languages – with Hindi getting more influenced by Punjabi and Sanskrit and Urdu possibly becoming more Anglicised. In any case, if Urdu literature is explored during the ages, it presents a wondrous world of language and culture. Short stories by Munshi Prem Chand and Kishen Chander and the poetry of Ghalib, Iqbal and Faiz are amazing works of literature. My only gripe is that our exposure to our language as Pakistanis is very non-utilitarian and our school syllabus is tedious enough to imbue a hatred of the language in our children. I wish that would change and we would venture forth into an exploration of the beautiful language that is Urdu.Recommend

  • Arsalan Azhar

    I understand the power of English in this global world, i am just against the mindset that if you are able to speak English well its not make you an educated cultured person.Recommend

  • http://gravatar.com/skchadha SKChadha

    Sir, go on speaking Hindi (Lakhnavi Bolchaal Ke Bhasha)…… for listener it is Urdu ….. :-)Recommend

  • http://gravatar.com/skchadha SKChadha

    Basically language is just a medium of conversation. When we start attaching it to culture or religion it starts becoming a subject matter of politics …. :-) Some times it make satyanash of the language itself e.g. the word ‘train’ is commonly understood but while becoming Hindi minded if we start calling it ‘Loh path Gamini’ it become difficult to understand. After declaration of Hindi as ‘Rajbhasha’ in India, an ‘Engineer’ has become ‘Abhiyanta’. It is difficult to explain to a rural person as to what it is? This is imposition of a language with political or cultural motives which is incorrect. Languages evolve when they are able to communicate your expressions with ease.

    It is not Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi but even English and French is also facing it. Every year thousands of words are added to Oxford Dictionary due to this only. Enjoy Bro, ….. it will go on.Recommend

  • http://gravatar.com/skchadha SKChadha

    You are correct. The script is mixture of Persian/ Arabic/ Turkish in Nastiliq form and dialect changes with place to place from Far East/ South India to Baluchistan ….. :-) Sir, after every 20 km quality of water changes and after every 50 km the dialect to communicate changes.

    For language of Punjab the Dialect (spoken) is written in two forms Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi. This is Satyanashi presentation of a single dialect …… :-) Recommend

  • Supriya Arcot

    Nero saheb did I not specify – Arab lands and / or central Asia . Turks , Mongols came from Central Asia. Many of their soldiers came from Arabia . Yes Urdu means camp ,When their soldiers mingled with ‘our’ soldiers (non Arab speaking ones ) , they developed a common language which was easy to communicate. Urdu is a cross between Hindi and Arabian languages.Recommend

  • http://gravatar.com/skchadha SKChadha

    Tahla: After partition India adopted English and Hindi as Official Languages and having over 26 other National Languages. Urdu, Sindhi, Sanskrit and Punjabi are also National Languages of India. In India all States adopted ‘Three Language Formula’ where study curriculum made of Official languages (i.e. Hindi & English) compulsory and any one of the other National Languages as Third language to be learn compulsorily upto High School (Script and Grammar). The local people are too attached to their native languages e.g. Tamil Nadu (Tamil), Andhra Pradesh (Telegu), Kerala (Malyalam), Karnataka (Kannad), Orissa (Oriya), Maharashtra (Marathi), Gujarat (Gujarati), Punjab (Punjabi), Bengal (Bongla) and so on.

    In India, Urdu is taught under ‘Three Language Formula’ in the State of Andrea Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tripura, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. There is also no bar even if some schools teach more than three languages or teach alternate third language as is decided by that State. Other than this there are many dialects (which are having no script) are being encouraged and preserved by States and Nation in its Arts and cultures. Haryanvi and Rajasthani (written mainly in Devnagri Hindi), Mizo (of Mizorum written in Roman English), Kashmiri (of J&K written in Sharada script, Pursho-Arabic Script, Devnagari Script and Roman English script) ……. :-)

    For your information Marathi (or Shiv Sena) are less fanatic about their language (Dialect, Script and Grammar) in comparison to Tamilians, Bangla and Telegus. So don’t worry about Shiv Sena …… :-)Recommend

  • Anooop

    Even if you are unwilling, I will say it. Lot of injustice in India has to do with Religion.

    Only by recognising it can India overcome it. Sati was a practice 100 years ago. Now its stopped. Indian culture is flexible, can be attuned to modern times and thoughts.

    Do you think yours is?

    Stop regurgitating the same nonsense. If you can’t answer it ignore. Internet is for everyone. Pakistanis download Indian movies, watch our TV. All I and many of us here do is read and comment, that too on a topic which is talking about an Indian language!

    Get off your high horse.Recommend

  • harry

    I do not wish to demean the farmer, I am saying one cannot survive without English in this global world.Recommend

  • gp65

    “Now, understand that I am not spoiling for a fight, that is not my style”

    You are the voice of reason. I doubt anyone would accuse you of being combative.

    “Do read the comments on this entire SITE majority by Indians and, most have a typical anti Pakistan thread woven into them, some are completely asinine and many are well thought out and make great sense.”

    I do not disagree and frankly a similar description may very well apply to Pakistani commentators who come in all shades. If @Talha challenged someone who posted factually incorrect stuff or hateful messages it would be totally understandable. But any blog or news items where Indians have posted, he calls us all trolls and accuses us of spewing venom even when there is no evidence of either trolling or spewing venom. This blog is a perfect example. People have had a nice robust discussion and yet Talha is upset. Also very specifically he has gone after me by name multiple times including the specific post where you asked him why he is upset. Now you may not agree with my opinions but I reject the charge that I spew venom or that I troll because I always post on the subject at hand and back my opinions with facts and/or logic. Finally, at least occassionally it would be nice to see an actual opinion about the subject on hand from him. I have yet to see that.Recommend

  • Parvez

    You do know that you are the bigger person here and knowing that, it falls on you to make him understand that he has crossed a line. This cannot be done by accusing him and getting him all fired up and that is what others who comment like to do and take pleasure in doing it…….and thats not right.Recommend

  • oman

    Parvez: to be the bigger person, one needs maturity. These people pretend to be well wishers but it is all fakeRecommend

  • oman

    What is the point of luking for support where none is being given? No one (esp pakistsnis) will disagree with talhas charge.do u see anyone disagreeing?Recommend

  • Nero

    Apologies, should have been clearer. Mughals had nothing to do with Arabian peninsula. Babur’s army was primarily central asian, which picked up additional fighters (mostly from modern Afghanistan and Persia) on the way to India. Arabs had hardly any representation in Babur’s army, if at all. Urdu might mean camp, but there is little evidence for the association. All these languages, including Arabic, had been present in India long time before Babur, brought mostly traders and itinerants. Infact Persian was pretty well established.Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/19808/abay-yaar-who-betrayed-urdu/ Ali

    You shouldn’t be in Pakistan if u cant speak Urdu. Without Urdu there is no Pakistan. From the Founder of Pakistan to the creator of the name Pakistan all spoke Urdu. National Poet of Pakistan spoke Urdu. Punjabi is the language of Punjabis, Sindhi is the language of Sindhis, Pashtun is the language of Pashtuns but Urdu is the language of Pakistan. Recommend