Metroplus

Scripting change

DESIGNING LETTERS Calligraphy artist Qamar Dagar  

"Koi jharokha khule ya haseen aaye, kisi tareeke se us kamre men roshni aaye", a line recited by poet Mirza Arif at the workshop organised by Centre for New Perspectives in the Indian International Centre, explained the struggle of traditional skill and language in retaining their identity in Indian society.

Centre for New Perspectives, a think tank based out of Delhi, provides a wide span of solutions to create repositioning of traditional skills which really is about preventing de-skilling of skilled India. The Centre evolves solutions by using expertise of cultural economists, designers, and experts in intangible heritage studies and traditional skill mapping. It organised the workshop with the support of Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation, Government of Delhi (SRDC) to launch two pilot programmes on linguistic heritage of Shahjahanabad through capacity building of traditionally skilled community of calligraphers and popularise Urdu which as a language was born in Delhi.

The first session was conducted by pictorial calligrapher Qamar Dagar and multidisciplinary designer, theatre artist and performer Oroon Das. They presented a model on re-positioning calligraphy in innovative manner manifested in fascinating examples of expansion and diversification. Traditional calligraphers from Old Delhi, Salahuddin, Ataullah Akhtar, Shavez Haider, Waseem Ahmed responded with enthusiasm and it was decided that the Centre will present a concrete action plan to launch the pilot programme.

Discussing the challenges for calligraphy, Qamar Dagar said that the mindset needs to be changed regarding the preservation, diversification and repositioning of the traditional skill. “The main challenge being faced by calligraphy is that it is limited to the writing of Quran Sharif," she said.

An effort, added Dagar, should be made to reposition the skill in the market. Agreeing with Dagar’s suggestion, Oroon Das said that using calligraphy in home furnishing can put the skill in the marketplace and would provide impetus to the neglected art.

The traditional calligraphers presented a different picture. Salahuddin said, "The new generation is not motivated about the traditional skill because little effort is being made in capacity building. The generation should not be dependent solely on software and it should be treated as talent."

The second session was on creating a pilot outreach programme for citizens on Urdu and Persian literature on and from Shahjahanabad. Moderator Sohail Hashmi presented an array of historical, archaeological, sociological narratives from different periods, while poet Mirza Arif referred to novels, humour literature. It was decided that the pilot outreach programme can be evolved in partnership of the Anglo Arabic College.

A common challenge that was discussed during the workshop was that prominence for other languages such as English and Hindi has become a barrier for the growth of Urdu.

Sohail Hashmi said that the language is losing its eminence in the society as not many want to learn Urdu. Mirza Arif added that preservation of the language is necessary. Therefore, an outreach programme can be organised to improve the situation.

Meanwhile, talking about the benefits to the common men through this workshop, Navina Jafa, Vice President, Centre for New Perspectives, said, "A pilot programme is going to be launched to redevelop the skill so that people realise the importance of traditional skill through repositioning and product development."

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 6:36:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Scripting-change/article16075738.ece

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