Thursday, August 31, 2006

No dearth of Hindu, Sikh poets of Urdu in India: Sahitya Akademi function shows non-Muslim litterateurs abound in language

Sheen Kaaf Nizam
One is fed up of hearing that Urdu has become a language of Muslims in India and that the language has lost favour even amongst the Sikhs and sections of Punjabis who had kept the language close to their heart for decades after partition.

That may be true to a large extent but at the recent Sahitya Akademi Bhasha Awards function, it was clear that at least Urdu literature and poetry has no dearth of non-Muslim writers in India even today.

Quite a heartening sight indeed. In Urdu poetry rendition most of the poets were non-Muslim like Gulzar, Pritpal Singh Betab [from Jammu], Jayant Parmar [from Gujarat], Sheen Kaf Nizam ie Shiv Kumar Nizam [from Rajasthan], Chandrabhan Khayal etc. 

Jayant Parmar
The Sahitya Akademi president Gopi Chand Narang, whose mother tongue is Saraiki [spoken in Pakistan] is considered an authority in Urdu criticism. He was also present there.

A lady journalist who had gone to interview the litterateurs was astonished as she thought they were all poets of Hindi. However, they turned out to be that of Urdu.

The poets were visibly sad at the plight of Urdu in the country. Khayal, who has composed the life of Prophet Muhammad in poetic form recently, echoed similar sentiments. 

Pritpal Singh 'Betab'
"No language is identified with religion except Urdu, he said. "Unfortunately Hindu writers are given so much respect amongst Urdu-speakers."

"But most Hindus believe that Urdu is a Muslim language, kuchh halaat hi is mulk ke aise ban gaye hain, kya kiya jaye", he said in an almost resigned tone.

"Mai.n daae'N pahluu baith jaataa huuN to Hindi likhta huuN aur baa'eN pahluu baith jaataa huuN to Urdu jo jaati hai", said Sampooran Singh Kalra more popularly known as Gulzar.