Beyond the tyranny of script

Follow Shabnaama via email

Shafey Kidwai

Digital word, enjoying a new vogue, goes against the transience of the written word. In the interactive media-driven society language can no longer be curtained by the script. The computer savvy new generation by and large pulls the plug on the paramount of the printed word. Digital word drawing its sustenance from the spoken word and oral tradition seems to be invested with the tremendous potential of being fully alive to the aesthetic and emotional sensibilities of a slew of people completely oblivious to the formal written structure of a particular language.

In an era that is characterised by collapse, disintegration and disorder and where permanence is being receded from view quickly, script has become the latest casualty. Mobile apps and convergent media ease off the written nuances of the language and now young generation not fully conversant with the written nuances of the language enjoys its cultural, aesthetic and oral ethos fervently. It has been fully corroborated by the overwhelming response of ever swelling crowed thronged the Jashn-e-Rekhta (celebration of Urdu) recently held in Delhi.

The crowd usually drawn from the upper middle class and elite belonging the age group of 20 to 35 years came to feel the aesthetic experience of a language without knowing its formal script. Many scholars and linguists lamented the decline of Urdu and its plight in the post-Partition period is described as “genocide of the language”.

Further constant privation on several counts makes Urdu almost invisible at official level but its firm roots in the collective consciousness of India enabled it to survive. New generation that hardly stick to a single unified linguistic identity wants to understand Urdu. It wishes to explore the creative genius of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ahmad Faraz, Manto, Qurratul Ain Haider, Intizar Hussain, Rajendra Singh Bedi, Shehryar and Nida Fazli and Rekhta festival has given the audience much more what it has been looking for.

Conceived by Sanjeev Saraf and meticulously designed by eminent poet Farhat Ehsas and Zammarud Mughal, the two-day festival brilliantly showcased the creative prowess of Urdu which is aptly articulated in various genres of literature. A number of prominent authors scholars and poets such as Professor Gopi Chand Narang, Javed Akhtar, Intizar Hussain, Ajmal Kamal, Asif Farukhi, Amjad Islam Amjad, (Pakistan) Ziya Mohiuddin (UK) Ashfaq Hussain (Canada) CM Naim (USA) Shams-ur-Rehman Farooqui, Shamim Hanafi, Ashok Vajpai and many others took pains in elucidating how Urdu propagated certain values that make India a vibrant democracy. Their perceptive conversation made it clear that Urdu is not a language that just takes prides in articulating the most intimate feeling of love. Conversely, it is a language that is fully measured up for all that one wishes to do.

Initiating a dialogue on the relevance of Urdu in the contemporary world, Javed Akhtar regretted that the language continues to suffer from the apathy of power that be. India pays no heed to Pakistan’s claim on Kashmir but it unwittingly accedes to Pakistan’s entitlement to Urdu.

Urdu and Hindi belonging to same geographical area and they cannot survive without each other and they must create a bulwark against English generated monolingualism that is gaining currency in India at very fast speed, asserted Ashok Vajpai, noted Hindi poet.

Urdu continues to fire the imagination of even those who are being pressurised to believe in ever-widening gulf between Muslims and the rest as it is the only Indian language that provides a formidable alternative to what English offers. Explaining the cultural and linguistic affinity between Hindi and Urdu, eminent theorist and linguist Professor Gopi Chand Narang made it clear that both the languages owe their existence to Khari Boli but gradually they emerged as distinct and autonomous languages but Urdu symbolises our shared legacy. At the aesthetic level it can easily be described as the Taj Mahal of Indian languages. It is the language that provided much needed infidelity to the religion. Urdu poets mock at preachers and religious rituals. Religion is meant for believers but poetry goes beyond belief, philosophy, polities and ideology. For Narang if Urdu gets its due it will certainly auger well for Hindi. India is highly indebted to Urdu and it must pay off, he concluded

The two-day conference featuring lively interactions, discussions, poetic symposium, drama, and ghazal recitation enabled people to explore the multi-layered and nuanced dynamics of our cultural aesthetic which Urdu stands for and for which Sanjeev Saraf and his team deserves appreciation from all quarters.

Shafey Kidwai , “Beyond the tyranny of script,” in The Hindu, April 2, 2015. Accessed on April 2, 2015, at:

The item above written by Shafey Kidwai and published in The Hindu on April 2, 2015, is catalogued here in full by Faiz-e-Zabaan for non-profit educational purpose only. Faiz-e-Zabaan neither claims the ownership nor the authorship of this item. The link to the original source accessed on April 2, 2015, is available here. Faiz-e-Zabaan is not responsible for the content of the external websites.

Recent items by Shafey Kidwai :

Help us with Cataloguing

Leave your comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s