‘Urdu not a foreign language’

The Panjab University’s Urdu Department has objected to its proposed merger with other foreign tongues, asserting that Urdu is not a foreign language but an Indian one like Hindi and Punjabi.

The university recently proposed making the Urdu Department part of the School of Foreign Languages to be set up after merging departments of Russian, French, German, Chinese and Tibetan languages, said Urdu Department coordinator Ali Abbas on Saturday.

“Urdu was born, nurtured and cultured in India during the first two decades of the 13th century by Amir Khusrau. From that moment onward, Urdu and Hindi languages have not looked back. Not only this, even Punjabi language was put on the path of development by Baba Farid Ganj Shakar,” said Mr. Abbas in a letter to the PU’s Dean University Instructions (DUI). A “wrong impression” is being created by certain elements that Urdu is a foreign language”, said Mr. Abbas, asserting that “it is far from the truth”.

The Urdu script. The photo is for representative purpose only.

The Urdu script. The photo is for representative purpose only.  
| Photo Credit:
S. Harpal Singh


Urdu, Punjabi and Hindi are the three main languages of India which were later accorded the status of State language at different times, the letter stated.

The Urdu Department raised the objection after the PU authorities recently proposed to merge small departments with less than six faculty members with each other to form one single school or centre, as per new norms laid down by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).

As per PU’s proposal, the merger is aimed at enhancing “academic performance by sharing infrastructure and human resources of various smaller departments”.

Mr. Abbas has, however, suggested bringing the departments of Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi under one umbrella of the department of Indian languages. “… or the Urdu Department may be allowed to function independently as per the present arrangements,” he wrote.

Final call tomorrow

Several other departments are also being merged. A 15-member panel will take a final call on the proposed mergers on September 30.

Before Partition, the Urdu Department was a major department of the then University of Punjab, Lahore, which was set up in 1882.

It was introduced in Panjab University, Chandigarh, in 1976.


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