URDU: Story of Banishment
When Death Certificate is translated as Certificate Mout, Urdu can only commit suicide
STATE LANGUAGE BY MUHAMMAD TAHIR
Entrances to government offices in Kashmir have a common story to tell: that they are failures of imagination. While Srinagar Municipal Corporation in shiny metallic letters welcomes you when you enter its big arched gate, Roads and Buildings (R&B) department at Rajbagh flaunts its lustrous black marble plaque with words Engineering Complex carved in Roman as well as Arabic letters, and then there is wide steel-grill entrance of Jammu and Kashmir State Board of School Education carrying its name on either side: Arabic script on the right and Roman script on the left. But none of these departments have translated their English names into the so called official language of Kashmir – Urdu.
The sorry state of Urdu language in Jammu and Kashmir is all pervading. It has fallen victim to official neglect and there is hardly any government department that uses Urdu for day to day official business. In different cities of India, one finds government hoardings and sign boards carrying both English as well as the official language of the state, but same is not true about Kashmir. The name plates, boards, notices, hoardings and even the Jammu and Kashmir Government logo is bereft of Urdu.
Even where the Urdu script is used, the language is ignored. The example is the death certificate issued by SMC Srinagar. Just below the bold English words Death Certificate the supposedly Urdu version reads: Certificate Maut (certificate death), which seems a weird concoction of the two different languages. Any Urdu knowing person can tell you that certificate is not an Urdu word, rather Death Certificate in Urdu should translate into Sanad-e-Wafaat. This is a chronic error of which almost every government department in Kashmir is a victim and, ironically, Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, too needs a treatment.
In 1986, when erstwhile Maharaja of Kashmir Ranbir Singh declared Urdu as an official language, he did so in order to make it a language of communication between the three linguistically distinct provinces of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. But “Urdu language has been communalized and labeled as a Muslim language. The incumbent officials and higher ups deliberately ignore this language as they want it to be systematically erased and forgotten” says Zareef Ahmad Zareef, renowned Kashmiri poet and cultural activist of the valley.
“If such a thing had happened in any Indian state,” Zareef Ahmad further says, “people there would have come out on roads and started agitations”.
Retired Section Officer of Manasbal Development Authority, Ghulam Rasool Bhat says that the basic reason of this official neglect is that it is much easier to print English language sign boards, while Urdu is bit difficult. He shared an anecdote that once he asked his superior that weren’t they, as per government orders, supposed to use Urdu on sign boards? The officer brushed the issue aside saying that it was not compulsory. That shows the level of official apathy meted out to the so called official language of Jammu and Kashmir.
In order to enquire why Tourism Department does not use Urdu language anywhere I went to meet Abid Maqbool Bhat, Deputy Director (Publicity) Tourism Department. “We have government orders [only to use English language] and we cannot change that” he says. In his white wood-paneled office he was busy and before him on the table lay heaps of papers and files. These greenish files bore the curved name of the state government flanked by a logo: two paddy branches with Jammu and Kashmir Government written in English. I could not find a single file or paper on which Urdu was noticeable. Even the government calendar on the wall was all English.
“For writing sign boards and name plates in Urdu, right type of persons are needed, which are hard to find these days. And besides, it is not mandatory to use Urdu language.” These are the words of Chief Engineer R&B Srinagar, Mushtaq Ahmad Lone.
His contention that it is ‘not mandatory’ to use the official language in public places speaks volumes about the official attitude towards the language.
“Such neglect of Urdu language needs to be addressed. Our civil society and intelligentsia has a role to play in this regard, but it seems as if they are sleeping over this issue,” says Zareef Ahmad Zareef.
Despite neglect at large level, some officers need to be appreciated for their initiatives to have semblance of the language in official realm. Health Officer SMC Srinagar Dr. Rubeena Shah made the License Under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 bilingual on her own, because she “thought when other states can have both English as well as their respective state languages why cannot we do the same!”
“Besides,” she reasons “since most of our shopkeepers and vendors are not well versed in English language it was absurd not to have Urdu options”
When asked why SMC was ignoring the official language, G.N. Qasba Commissioner Srinagar Municipal Corporation replied in assured but ambitious tone: “Give me a month and you will see all these English boards outside our offices replaced with Urdu ones”
Well, it is a wait-and-watch on how much the honorable Commissioner walks the talk and brings some concrete changes.
Meanwhile, forget about other things how Urdu is denied even a symbolic status reflects from the fact that the state emblem adorned with a bloomed lotus and twin paddy branches embraces Jammu and Kashmir Government in roman letters rather than the official language, Urdu.
Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastupdate on : Sat, 28 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 28 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 29 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM GK MAGAZINE
Solution, Our Priority: Imran Khan
NISAR AHMED THOKAR
Islamabad, Apr 28: The chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Muhammad Yasin Malik has said that an early and amicable solution of Kashmir issue is important for peace and stability for More
- Srinagar City
DOG MENACE BUSINESS PART 1
Srinagar, Apr 28: The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Kashmir, which recently confessed to have last year aired the “propaganda” that dogs were being poisoned in Srinagar, is no More
PROCESS TO BE COMPLETED BY DECEMBER THIS YEAR
GK NEWS NETWORK
Jammu, Apr 28: Electrification of the Jammu-Pathankot railway track is all set to be completed by December this year, officials said. “The work on electrification of Jammu-Pathankot railway track More
- South Asia
NISAR AHMED THOKAR
Islamabad, Apr 28: Appreciating the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s recent statement on Kashmir, the Chairman of United Jihad Council Syed Salahuddin on Saturday said that peace and stability in south More