Treating language as merely an emotional issue will not suffice: Minister

The Union Minority Affairs Ministry has directed the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities to prepare a draft legislation “to protect and develop” minority languages.

At the Urdu Day celebrations organised by Mahfil-e-Nisa here on Sunday, Union Minister for Minority Affairs K. Rahman Khan said there was no specific law in the country for this purpose though it was a Constitutional guarantee.

“There is no mechanism to enforce this Constitutional guarantee because of the absence of a law. There are over 50 reports submitted to Parliament by the commission besides many circulars. All these are just gathering dust,” he said.

Emotions won’t do

Mr. Khan said treating language as “merely an emotional issue” or “conducting mehfils and mushairas” would not suffice. “There is a need to frame laws that can protect and nurture a language. That requires struggle and intellectual investment,” he said.

He said there were 10 crore people in India whose mother tongue was Urdu, which makes it the next most-spoken language after Hindi. “But there is a sense among Urdu speakers that the language has not got its due after Independence, though it was the link language at one point in history,” he said.

The Minister said that while the government and other institutions could be held accountable to an extent for the neglect of Urdu, it was also time for Urdu speakers to introspect on why young people no longer want to learn the language.

“It is not enough to be happy if an Urdu academy is set up and some grants are given.” He asked if any organisation had done a survey to find out how many schools were offering Urdu as an optional language despite having many Urdu-speaking children.

Three people contributing to the development of Urdu — Qalander Razvi from Hubli, Faqrunnisa from Mysore and Minhajuddin Parvez from Gulbarga — were presented awards at the function.

Twelve-year-old Parvez, a student of class 6 in an Urdu-medium school in Gulbarga, is a skilled Urdu calligrapher. He told The Hindu that he had learnt calligraphy, an art which is slowly fading out, from his father, a traditional calligrapher who now works on the computer because of reduced demand for his art.