Indian Consulate organises Urdu festival in Saudi

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Dubai, Jun 11 (UNI) The first Urdu literary festival organised by the Indian Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, brought together some of the best writers, academics, critics, poets and journalists in the language.

This week's World Urdu Conference and grand 'mushaira' was organised by the Hyderabad-based Maulana Azad National Urdu University and the Consulate General of India. The participants at the festival included Gopi Chand Narang, Chandra Bhan Khayal, Ziauddin Shakeb, Shamim Hanafi, Taqi Ali Abidi, A M Pathan, K R Iqbal Ahmed, Zahid Ali Khan, Zafar Ali Naqvi, Abdul Wahab Qaiser, Basir Ahmed Khan, Hisam-ul-Islam Siddiqui and Masoom Moradabadi, the Arab News reported.

Narang's literary credentials are impeccable but his oratorical skills left everybody speechless. ''He is a living legend, a giant among all Urdu critics and when he speaks, he speaks flawless Urdu,'' the Indian Consul General Ausaf Sayeed Ausaf Sayeed, who himself runs a website in Urdu said.

''Urdu is a functional language,'' he said. ''And functional languages do not die. Despite all the step-motherly treatment, Urdu has stood the test of time. Its past was glorious, its present is safe and its future assured,'' Narang said.

He paid glowing tributes to Maulana Azad National Urdu University Vice Chancellor A M Pathan, who was playing a crucial role in promoting Urdu in India. ''There was a time in a not very distant past when there were only a couple of students at the Maulana Azad University. Today, there are more than 150,000 students studying various aspects of Urdu. This is phenomenal,'' said Narang.

Narang's views were seconded by Ziauddin Shakeb, the Britain-based scholar and teacher of Urdu.

Shakeb pointed out that more and more young people were writing Urdu in the Roman script and the switch perhaps need not be frowned upon. ''Increasingly the young generation is writing Urdu in the Roman script, especially on the web, in e-mails and in the Internet chat rooms. You can't stop them, can you?'' he asked.

However, Taqi Ali Abidi, the well-known Urdu scholar from Canada, disagreed. ''Our script is non-negotiable. I am aware of the fact that some of our best writers have advocated a change of script, but I think that would be a nail in the coffin for Urdu,'' he said, suggesting that pioneering work should be done to make technology available so that computers would be compatible with the vagaries of the Urdu script.

Pathan said his focus at the university had been to link Urdu with employment, giving economic utility by introducing technical courses in the language. ''The other area that we want to focus on is translation.

The Urdu literary festival, which was preceded by a grand 'mushaira', was quite a success and the outgoing Consul General came in for effusive praise.

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