Considering the prominence of the Urdu language in Telangana, the authorities should make every effort to preserve and promote it, instead of pushing it towards extinction.

If there is indeed a demand among students to opt for Urdu as their medium of instruction, officials must take measures to strengthen these schools or colleges by appointing teachers and refurbishing infrastructure. Insisting them to convert to English medium is unfair.

History is all about the rise and fall of kingdoms, dynasties and reigns. With them are also gone what made them in the first place — culture and language, their cornerstones.

Language typically reflects the culture and reign of any ruler and its ubiquity in day-to-day life and administration. Power shifts and new rulers lead to change in linguistic preferences too. But it’s rare to see a language losing prominence in its pristine glory. Urdu is a classic case.

From its glorious status during the Nizami Deccan, it has few takers today. With the status of official language for all communication during the Nizam period, the language had come to settle down as second language for those willing to learn it in select schools.

Though Urdu has been the language of masses for long, its rise as official language started in the late 19th century with Salar Jung II, Mir Laiq Ali Khan, allowing it to replace Persian as official mode of correspondence.

The first proposal for making Urdu as official language — at least in the proceedings of Adalat or courts — was mooted in 1871 by Basheer-ud-Dowla who was Sadr-ul-Maham, the Minister for Courts during the rule of Salar Jung I, Mir Turab Ali Khan. But the latter was said to be reluctant to give consent for replacement of Persian, which was the official language of the country.

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The Bahmanis, Qutb Shahis and Adil Shahis all used Persian as the official language since 1206 and Salar Jung I was disinclined for its replacement.

Basheer-ud-Dowla was keen on introduction of reforms in court matters at least so that Urdu could be used in accepting depositions and giving orders easily understood by the different parties. But the proposal did not receive official consent till 1884.

Urdu was introduced as language of court proceedings in 1884 during Laiq Ali Khan’s period and the language went on to become the official language of the State in 1886. Soon, it gained prominence entering revenue and other areas till it was made the official language of the Mutamdeen, the Secretariat.

“An Arz Dasht (memorandum of request) submitted to the Nizam received his consent in 1886, making Urdu the official language,” Telangana Archives and Research Institute director Zareena Parveen said. Orders making Urdu the official language were issued by Mohsin-ul-Mulk, the then Secretary, Finance and Political Affairs, giving the local tongue its pride of place.

While its ubiquity in use as the local tongue was one reason behind the rise of Urdu, shortage of professionals, who could translate the local proceedings into Persian, and issuing farmans (orders) or official gazettes was said to be another. “Continuing communication in Persian was becoming a time- and money-consuming process and was therefore discontinued,” Ms. Parveen pointed out.

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The poetic language saw its peak later when it became the medium of instruction in the Osmania University, started in 1917. Majority of communication continued in Urdu till the merger of Hyderabad State into the Indian Union in 1948, marking the beginning of its decline.

The language suffered a setback since then with English gaining prominence. There were instances of gazettes being issued in Urdu till 1951, but records show that issuance of official gazettes in Urdu was completely done away with in December 1951. “All official correspondence gradually shifted to English,” Ms. Parveen said. Though the seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan was made Raj Pramukh, post the Nizam State’s merger with the Indian Union, this could not help restore Urdu’s pride of place.

The incumbent TRS government has made an attempt to revive the language with the introduction of residential schools and other institutions exclusively with Urdu as the medium of instruction, but it is a slow read for mainstreaming it as a language of communication.

Already on the wane with just about six residential high schools in the state offering Urdu as medium of study, Telangana’s second official language could soon be wiped out from these institutions as well. At least so it seems from a recent order issued to teachers of these schools.

While there has been no written communication from authorities yet, teachers said they have been orally instructed to not conduct any fresh admissions for the 2022 academic year.

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Although many students are willing to take admission in the Urdu medium, we have been strictly asked by the officials to not admit any new student in this medium. Issuing of such directions is not fair on the officials’ part,” said Mohammad Masooduddin Ahmed, general secretary, Telangana Urdu Teacher’s association. He added: “The state is supposed to promote the language by establishing new schools. Instead, they are converting the existing schools into English medium.

They have no right to do so and must secure a presidential order for the same.” The state has 206 schools under the Telangana Minorities Residential Educational Institutions Society (TMREIS), of which six are Urdu medium high schools. Every school has 40 students per class. This apart, there are two junior colleges, with 40 students each in the MPC and BiPC stream and 30 in the CEC stream. According to sources, these colleges too might be asked to follow suit soon — convert from Urdu to English medium.

Teachers termed the latest move of TMREIS department as the government’s attempt at gradually shutting down these schools, which are already reeling under a shortage of teaching staff. “When it comes to schools for day scholars (there are 76 high schools, 1,800 primary schools, four junior colleges) the situation is the same. Urdu medium students are not given enough opportunities to study their mother tongue,” said Syed Shaukat Ali, national cordinator, Telangana State Minority Welfares Association. #KhabarLive #hydnews

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A senior journalist having 25 years of experience in national and international publications and media houses across the globe in various positions. A multi-lingual personality with desk multi-tasking skills. He belongs to Hyderabad in India. Ahssanuddin's work is driven by his desire to create clarity, connection, and a shared sense of purpose through the power of the written word. His background as an writer informs his approach to writing. Years of analyzing text and building news means that adapting to a reporting voice, tone, and unique needs comes as second nature.