Urdu language and its current status in India came under the scanner at an event held in Delhi on January 14, 2012 to launch a book titled ‘Justice with Urdu’, by Justice Markandey Katju, Chairman, Press Council of India.
“Linking language to politics can create problems, as we have seen in the case of Urdu,” remarked Mohd Hamid Ansari, Vice President of India, while releasing the book. Speaking on the occasion, veteran journalist and columnist Kuldip Nayar stressed, “Urdu needs to be saved so that secularism can be protected in the country.”
Union Minister for Law and Justice and Minority Affairs, Salman Khurshid, expressed his concern on the decline in the number people who spoke Urdu in India. He also spoke about his long association with Justice Katju and questioned the low level of importance that the language Urdu held today. He affirmed, “Who said we should stay away from Urdu? Who said to break our relationship with Urdu? We must give a new platform to Urdu. When an issue becomes difficult, we can often find an Urdu couplet to suit the situation.”
Speaking on his book, Justice Katju said, “The book is a product of great distress in my heart for many years for the injustice done to Urdu. Poetry expresses the voice of the heart in a powerful, elegant manner. In that respect, Urdu is the greatest in the world. Look at the tragedy – it’s rejected in the city of its birth!”
Mohd Hamid Ansari called upon people to give more attention to the Urdu language and said, “Let’s place Urdu in contemporary India. Today, it is evident that Urdu is an international language from the Internet. There is no reason why Urdu language should not be treated as any other Indian language.” The Vice President noted that a language declined if it was not linked to normal life.
“According to the Census of India 2001, there were a total of 51.5 million Urdu speakers in the country, amounting to 5.01 per cent of the population and constituting the sixth largest language group. However, the number of Urdu speaking people is progressively declining in the country,” he lamented, adding that the only reason Urdu had been able to survive in the country was because of its intrinsic strength.