Wrong, misspelt Urdu on Delhi signboards

Delhi is the national capital and dozens of organisations working for the cause of Urdu are present in the City but erroneous spellings and wrongly written Urdu on signboards, hurt every Urdu-knowing person.

Daily Sahafat’s journalists Ali Raza Adeel and Mohammad Ahmad Khan’s report about the disinterest of Urdu Academy and individuals towards rectifying the mistakes, highlights the issue once again. The problem is at different levels.

Lack of interest of citizens and falling standards of Urdu-knowing painters are some of the reasons behind such blunders. Bazaar becomes Bajaar and Muhiuddin becomes Moinuddin. Even worse when the board is near the mazar of Maulana Abdul Kalam Muhiuddin Azad. It’s time that Urdu anjumans and activists join hands and ensure that qualified persons are consulted and after due approval, the signboards are painted.

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Tributes pour in for late Dr Wazir Agha

One of the most widely respected Urdu critic and poet Dr Wazir Agha passed away at his native place Sargodha in Pakistan last week.

kahne ko chand gaam thaa ye arsa-e-hayaat
lekin tamaam umr hi chalnaa paRaa mujhe
[Wazir Agha]

Agha wrote over 60 books including texts on criticism, poetry, literary trends, humour and other genres.
He was 88 at the time of his death. He is remembered for his role in establishing Urdu ‘inshaiya’ while he is also credited as a leading poet of modernist verse [Nazm].

Dr Agha also wrote ghazals. Apart from his collection of poetry, he also penned an autobiography. In Delhi, Shrine Group of Action, organised a programme in memory of the late litterateur. Eminent poets paid tributes to Dr Agha.

In Lucknow, Bazm-e-Lauh-o-Qalam organised a condolence meeting. The speakers recalled Wazir Agha’s literary journey from Adabi Dunya to Auraaq. His Nazms, particularly, Aadhi Sadi ke Baad, and Ek Katha Anokhi were also mentioned.

Literary organisations throughout India are holding condolence meets in other cities also and obituaries are appearing in newspapers as the news. In fact, his demise has stunned the literary world in the sub-continent.

We are publishing his verse ‘din Dhal chukaa thaa aur parinda safar meN thaa’ by Wazir Agha in Urdu [nastaliq] script here:

It is quite a unique Nazm, which is written in ghazal format. He also wrote free verse or Azad Nazm apart from Nasri Nazms and Paaband Nazms.

jabeen-e-sang pe likha mera afsaana gaya
maiN rahguzar tha mujhe raund ke zamaana gaya [Wazir Agha]

However, Agha is not a figure who could be forgotten. As a leading nazm-go shaa’er and an immensely respected critic, Dr Wazir Agha’s contribution can’t be erased. His name and his works are now part of the literary history of Urdu.

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Mulayam Singh takes up the cause of Urdu in Parliament

Once again, it was Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh who thundered in the parliament, and took the Centre to task for its failure to promote Urdu.

He castigated the centre for stopping advertisements to Urdu newspapers, a recent decision which has hit the Urdu media and has made it immensely difficult for the papers to survive.

Unfortunately, the Muslim MPs, particularly those who won on Congress ticket, didn’t raise the issue. It must be recalled that after successive Congress governments tried to bury the language, the Mulayam Singh-led SP government had given Urdu its rights in UP for the first time ever.

It was under Mulayam Singh Yadav’s rule that Urdu translators were appointed in UP and strict directions were given to display Urdu signboards and nameplates in government offices.

Once again, it was the Samajwadi Party supremo who forcefully raised his voice for the language. After Mulayam Singh, Railway minister Mamata Bannerjee also supported him.

She said that West Bengal had nearly 30% Urdu speakers and there was dire need for a Urdu university in the state, apart from reservation for Muslims in jobs.

A surprise was BJP leader Gopinath Munde whose speech in favour of Urdu and his stress on promoting the language that is respresentative of India’s ganga-jamuni culture, put the Union government on backfoot.

Filmstar-turn-actor Shatrughan Sinha also raised the issue of injustice with Urdu. Farooq Abdullah and other leaders including communist Gurudas Das Gupta joined the debate.

In fact, the rare solidarity for the cause of Urdu and the manner in which politicians spoke in unison for the language, forced the government to admit that it was rare unity in the house.

When Speaker Meira Kumar urged the government to take cognizance of the concern of members, Pranab Mukherjee gave an elaborate response and assured that the issue of cutting newspaper advertisements would be sorted out.

Urdu India hopes that Urdu-speaking MPs and leaders whose mother tongue is Urdu, would raise the issue of injustice with the language in Uttar Pradesh where Urdu medium schools are not allowed to function as per an old and discriminatory state law implemented during the earlier Congress regimes.

While Maharashtra, Bihar, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have thousands of Urdu medium schools, none exists in UP, which is the heart of Urdu language and culture.
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Campaign for Urdu nameplates, signboards in UP

The Urdu Development Organisation (UDO) deserves to be congratulated for its ongoing campaign to urge citizens to put up Urdu nameplates at their homes.

The effort at the ground level is laudable. In Muzaffar Nagar, UDO’s district unit is leading the drive in municipal wards. Nameplates were installed at the residences of several Muslim officials and prominent personalities.

UDO’s district chief Kalim Tyagi, members of the organisation and representatives of Urdu organisation, were part of the drive. Some citizens apologised for not getting their names writen in Urdu script and promised to get Urdu nameplates put up at the earliest.

The campaign is also urging people to get Urdu signboards pained and installed at private establishments, offices and shops. This will also open employment opportunities to Urdu painters.

UDO is the rare organisation that takes its work for promoting Urdu to the streets. It’s time that UDO spreads its wings and open its branches in other states of the country to promote Urdu at the grassroots.

For those who are not aware, UDO which is based in Allahabad has been fighting for Urdu for many years. It has taken legal action and has won several court cases for the language in Uttar Pradesh.

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Remembering Muhammad Hasan: A Critic, Poet and Writer

Professor Muhammad Hasan, who passed away recently, will be remembered as a leading Urdu critic.

But Prof Hasan [1926-2010] who was associated with the Progressive Writers’ Movement was also a poet, a playright and a multi-facted personality.

He had penned a biographical novel ‘Gham-e-Dil, Vahshat-e-Dil’ on the ‘Keats of Urdu poetry’ Majaz Lakhnavi. The novel is considered a gem.

Dr Hasan wrote several plays including the famous drama on Ghalib. His play, Zohak, centred on the sensitive subject of emergency imposed by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the seventies.

A former chaiman of the Centre for Indian Languages, JNU, he wrote 75 books, which include his collection of poetry Zanjir-e-Naghma apart from some unpublished works.

A Lucknowite, his creativity bloomed further in Delhi after he joined the JNU. He paid special attention to drama and wrote several plays. His book on Iqbal, which was published in English, is regarded highly by scholars.

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Sabaq-e-Urdu: Literary magazine revives Shab-e-Khoon era

It was a pleasant surprise to see Sabaq-e-Urdu, a new literary magazine, hitting the stands. The monthly revives the memories of SR Faruqi’s Shab Khoon.

In fact, when I initially flipped the pages, the printing and fonts gave me a feeling that I was reading Shab Khoon. Editor Danish Allahabadi and his companion Riyaz Ahmad must be congratulated for the publication.

Apart from the usual treat of ghazals and nazms, Mohammad Zakariya Virk’s three exhaustive articles about role of Muslims in Europe’s renaissance, eminent Muslim scientists of yore and 42 historials of Al-Andalus are hallmark of the issue.

Majaz’ nazm Aawara has a universal appeal and Mohammd Salim has put an effort in translation. Though I personally prefer KC Kanda’s ‘What to do O aching heart, What to do O frenzy wild’ for ‘Aye gham-e-dil kya karuuN, aye vahshat-e-dil kyaa karuuN’.

Sabaq-e-Urdu has its head office in Bhadohi in Uttar Pradesh and is printed at Allahabad. Faruqi is the patron of the magazine. The magazine costs a mere Rs 25.

Send a cheque or draft to Sabaq-e-Urdu at Sabaq-e-Urdu, Gopiganj, Bhadohi (UP) 221303. The annual subscription is Rs 250 for twelve issues of the magazine.

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Renowned poet Abdullah Kamaal is no more


Leading Urdu poet Abdullah Kamal [pronounciation Kamaal] is no more. He passed away in Mumbai recently. He died of cardiac arrest.

Kamal was amongst the last generation of Urdu poets in India that not only had absolute command over Urdu diction but also made full use of the legacy of Urdu poetry from Wali to Meer and Ghalib to Nasir Kazmi.

Abdullah Kamal was 62. He had been associated with different magazines and had two collections of poetry to his name. He was living in Mumbra for a few years and avoided attending events due to his illness.

Tributes were paid to him at a condolence meet in Kurla. The speakers rued that litterateurs are passing away and there are hardly any new poets seen that can fill this void.

Kamaal’s demise didn’t get mention in papers as well as on websites. An esteemed visitor to this blog, Mr Humayun, had drawn my attention towards the fact. I intend to write about him at my other blog.

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