At a time when only native speakers master Urdu, city-based IT companies are showing interest in the language. At least two IT companies have sought candidates with knowledge of Urdu typing to expand their business.

Two years ago, the New College was enthused enough to start an e-Urdu learning centre after a similar request was made. An IT major, which came for campus recruitment, wanted candidates proficient in Urdu typing.

“I was frustrated,” recalls Md. Ubaidur Rahman, head of Urdu department. “The boys whose mother tongue is Urdu could write in Urdu but did not know typing.” The college management then came forward with funds and the secretary and correspondent A. Mohammed Ashraf donated a computer. The centre has since developed software for Urdu script and now boasts of around 250 students, quite a few of whom are non-Urdu speakers. Many of them have taken up short-term courses out of interest.

S. Chandrasekar, a first year undergraduate student, studied Tamil till class XII. He is now proficient in Urdu alphabet and can type in Urdu. He says knowledge of the language will open up job opportunities in the northern states. Mohammed Arif, whose grandfather was a lawyer, chose Urdu because he wanted to translate legal manuscripts. “Manuscripts in Urdu and Persian have been languishing in the High Court for want of translators,” Dr. Rahman adds.

Several students say knowledge of Urdu is necessary to get jobs in parts of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Placement in marble and metal products manufacturing firms in Ujjain, Kannauj, Etawah, Meerut, Ratlam and Amroha are available. A candidate proficient in Urdu can expect a starting salary of Rs. 20,000 a month, students say.

In the past two years, seven candidates have got placement in various firms, he adds. A decade ago, S.K. Educational Academy adopted the 20 Urdu-medium schools run by Chennai Corporation and the parent-teacher associations of the five government-run schools. According to its secretary and correspondent Syed M.M. Ameen, there are currently only 18 Corporation schools with 1,600 students and around 300 students in the Urdu medium of the government-run schools.

Dr. Ameen says parents opt for English medium as it is lucrative.

Also, the Samacheer Kalvi system has made Urdu a non-exam subject, relegating it to the background. Male students do not join the Urdu teacher training institutes as they are unable to clear the teachers’ eligibility test. Though non-speakers have shown interest in the language, it will need much more to encourage parents to enroll students into Urdu medium schools, he adds.

More In: Chennai | News