Hindi and Urdu are two sides of the same coin. In Northern India, both these popular languages are spoken interchangeably. Both of them are known for their literary work that is appreciated not just in the country, but around the world as well.
Language is the door to any culture. It has the ability to depict a country's history woven together in words. However, Hindi and Urdu are also two languages that share a controversial history together. What started as a part of the British strategy of 'divide and rule' in the country has found itself in instances even today, hundreds of years after India gained its independence.
Recently, Fabindia drew flak online for its brand advertisement for the ongoing festive season. They used a phrase called 'Jashn-E-Riwaaz' which means the celebration of rituals and festivals showcasing a collection in colours of red and rust. While the aim was to usher in the festivities, it was thrown out of the window as several users stood divided on the usage of an Urdu phrase to describe a 'Hindu' festival.
Tejaswi Surya even went on to call it 'abrahamisation of Hindu festivals, deliberately imposing his intolerant views by maligning an otherwise decent advertisement.
Similar Yet 'Communally' Different
The brand took down the campaign online after they drew unnecessary ire. It sets a rather dangerous precedent when it comes to freedom of speech as it inhibits creativity shown by several companies nowadays in their marketing techniques. However, the issue at hand brought back the age-old debate about the two languages. Historically and linguistically, Hindi and Urdu are extremely similar but the politics surrounding it make them seem like two different languages. More often than not, they are looked at from a communal lens, where Hindi is a 'Hindu' language and Urdu associates itself with Islam.
In reality, there is no correlation between religion and language. Authors like Amrita Pritam, Munshi Premchand and many others whose work was popular in both languages, irrespective of their religion. Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Benaras Hindu University (BHU), both of whom supposedly 'cater' to a particular religion respectively, are known to have departments specialising in these languages functioning without any prejudices. There is nothing unusual about these developments, which many look at from a radical point of view.
Saadat Hasan Manto, in his short story 'Hindi and Urdu', said, "Why are Hindus wasting their time supporting Hindi, and why are Muslims so beside themselves over the preservation of Urdu? A language is not made, it makes itself. And no amount of human effort can ever kill a language."
The subsequent polarisation of the languages has left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Languages should be kept away from the dirty politics many indulge in in the pretext of 'preserving' our 'culture'. In a country like ours that believes in 'unity in diversity', this controversy raises an uncomfortable question about where are we headed in the future.
has Also Read: 'I Read Bhagavad Gita In Morning And Qur'an At Night': Meet Aligarh's Muslim Sanskrit Professor