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Meanings, history of Urdu language

The term Urdu means military camp
Pick up any Urdu textbook and the chances are that it will endorse the following myths: (a) the term 'Urdu' means military camp. Our language is called 'Urdu' because it was created in the army camps of the Mughals especially during the reign of Shah Jahan; (b) Urdu is a mixed language (khitchri zubaan); (c) Urdu is a Muslim language.

Now let us deal with these myths one by one. All the histories in Persian about medieval India use the Turkish word 'Urdu' (which means 'camp' in original Turkish) for 'city'. The word is not used in the original Turkish meaning in Indian sources in Persian for the most part. Sometimes the terms 'Urdu-i-mualla'and 'Urdu-i-badshahi' are also used. During Shah Jahan's time, Urdu-i-mualla referred to the language spoken in the city of Shahjahanabad (Delhi).

The language we now call Urdu has an ancestor referred to as Hindvi and Hindi in most medieval Persian sources. In Gujrat, however, the language is called Gujri and sometimes Gujrati. In the Deccan it is called Dakani and around the Delhi area it is also called Dehlavi. During the 18th century the word 'Rekhta' was also used for it.

Meanwhile the British, and also some other outsiders, call it Indostan, Moors and then Hindustani. In fact, the name 'Hindustani' was used so much by the British that both Muslim and Hindu scholars often used it themselves for their common heritage during the 1930s and 1940s.

Syed Sulaiman Nadwi and some other thinkers who wanted Hindu-Muslim unity in British India even suggested that the term 'Urdu' be abandoned in favour of 'Hindustani' because the former conjured up the image of a military conquest and war whereas the latter had no such symbolic baggage.

The word 'Urdu' is a contraction of the phrase 'zubaan-i-Urdu-i-mualla' (i.e. the language of the exalted city) which came to be used during the late 18th century. It is, in fact, the most recent name for a language which certainly existed even in the 13th century. There are words and sentences which we can recognise even today in the malfuzat (sayings) and tazkiras (biographies) as well as other records of that period. They refer to the language used in the marketplace, songs, conversation and in homes. The military reference does not exist though the language must have been used among soldiers also.

It was certainly used in religious circles because even in far-off Kaniguram in Waziristan, a religious reformer called Bayazid Ansari wrote a book called Khairul Bayan in 1560 which has over 16 lines in this language which the author calls Hindi.

Now for the myth that Urdu is a mixture of other languages. If a language is really a mixture it is called pidgin which is nobody's mother tongue and a reduced language. It may become a creole when it is developed and becomes somebody's mother tongue.

Urdu's ancestor - call it what you will - existed in India (probably in the vicinity of Delhi) as a full language. Words of Persian and Arabic origin crept into it. This was not because of military activities but ordinary everyday interaction.

This is a natural process and modern English came about in exactly this manner. That is why about half the vocabulary of English is from Latin and Greek via Norman French. But English is not called a 'mixed language' so why should Urdu be stigmatised as such?

If one starts calling languages mixed in the sense that there was no base for them and words from different languages combined then Urdu is not that kind of product. Urdu is mixed in the same way that English is: it has absorbed words from many languages.The third myth that Urdu is a Muslim language is more problematic. For about 500 years of its existence nobody called it Urdu. It was called Hindi and had many words of Sanskrit origin as do other texts - until the 18th century.

Then a language reform movement initiated by Muslim poets (Hatim, Mirza Mazhar, Nasikh's students etc) threw out certain words from the corpus of the language. Among them were words like chinta (worry), prem (love), sundar (beautiful) etc. The movement was actually an attempt to create a linguistic marker for the cultural elite which was mostly Muslim. However, instead of being merely a class movement it became a religious one. Thus, Urdu was imbued with distinctive Perso-Arabic cultural content and served as an identity symbol for the Muslims of India.

In the same way, after 1802, modern Hindi was created by weeding out Persian and Arabic words and using only the Devanagari script for writing. These new languages - Sanskritised Hindi and Persianised Urdu - drifted apart from each other and still serve as identity markers for Hindu and Muslim nationalism in South Asia.

During the Pakistan Movement, Urdu became a symbol of the identity of South Asia's Muslims. It was invested with emotional force and Maulvi Abdul Haq, who used to term it a composite language while in India, started calling it the mainstay of Muslim separatism.

Similarly, Sanskritised Hindi became the symbol of the attempt to eliminate the share of Muslims in Indian culture. This political gulf between the two sister languages remains to this day - although at the spoken level, Urdu and Hindi remain the same language as all Indians who watch Pakistani dramas and all Pakistanis who watch Hindi movies will testify.

However, while Pakistani Muslims insist that Urdu is a Muslim language, the Muslims of India refer to it as a composite language. This is because it is in the political interests of Pakistani Muslims to emphasise the differences between themselves and the Indians while the opposite is in the political interests of Indian Muslims.

In short, Urdu means different things to different people. It is only by separating the myth from reality that we can appreciate its true nature. Dawn

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LHC ordered Punjab govt to file its reply in two weeks
Rawalpindi: In a case filed on behalf of 46 teachers against the Punjab Education Department for regularisation of their jobs, the Lahore High Court (LHC), Rawalpindi Bench, here on Wednesday sought provincial government's reply within two weeks.

The court had stayed filling of vacancies sometime back in response to two separate writ petitions by Shafqat Javed and 45 other teachers against the ongoing recruitment process. The Punjab Education Department on Wednesday filed a civil miscellaneous (CM) application in the court, praying that the stay order may be vacated.

Shafqat Javed, through his lawyer Tanvir Iqbal Khan, had adopted before the court that a representative of the Punjab Education Department in a similar case of regularisation of teachers produced before the Supreme Court a notification dated October 19, 2009, in which it was said that all employees of the Punjab Education Department had been regularised.

Shafqat Javed, through his legal counsel, had taken the plea that even after the said notification their jobs were not regularised. There were around 3,000 employees of the Punjab Education Department in six tehsils of Attock district. The petitioner told the court that employees in these six tehsils were not regularised even after the notification.

The provincial government, on the other hand, told the court that there were 1,122 employees of the Punjab Education Department in Attock district and there were around 2,700 vacant seats that the government wants to fill. But a stay order of the LHC is restraining the government from doing so. Both cases will be taken up after two weeks.

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Good teachers to get plots, cash awards
Rawalpindi: Advisor to Punjab Chief Minister Raja Ashfaq Sarwar here Wednesday announced that the government would provide residential plots and cash awards to the teachers, showing good performance.

He was speaking as the chief guest at the oath taking ceremony of 2,485 educators, appointed by the Punjab Education Department in District Rawalpindi. All the educators to teach students of Class I-X have been selected on pure merit and without any political influence, aimed at improving the country's declining education standard, he said.

Raja Ashfaq said the country's education system suffered badly because merit had been ignored during the selection of teachers, who play a key role in the nation building process. Moreover, in the past, the teachers were not offered any incentive to excel in their fields, he added. He alleged that the previous government spent billions of rupees on self-projection after raising the 'Parha Likha Punjab' (Educated Punjab) slogan. Had that money been spent on the construction of schools, the situation would have been totally different today, he observed.

Raja Ashfaq observed that a country could not develop without attaining cent per cent literacy rate and the present government's top priority is to promote education. He assured that schools with improper seating arrangements would be provided furniture. The services of all employed 'educators' have been regularised to provide job security and nobody would work on contract any more, he said.

CM Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, he said, has great respect for brilliant students and he has established an endowment fund for needy and bright students. The CM believes that better academic results could only be achieved if both students and teachers are encouraged simultaneously, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Executive District Officer (EDO) Education Muhammad Ashraf Malik said the oath taking ceremony of the teachers has been performed for the first time. He said Shahbaz Sharif rooted out the 'Booti Mafia' (cheaters) from the examination centres during his previous tenure as the chief minister, and now he has promoted merit in teachers' selection.

Muhammad Ashraf urged the teachers to come up to the expectations of the CM and play their role in the country's development. He asked the teachers to make the children good students, true Muslims and patriotic Pakistanis. Member National Assembly Malik Ibrar asked the parents residing in rural areas to educate their daughters in order to create an educated society and to turn them into responsible mothers.

Prof Aziz Ahmed Hashmi, former chairman Board of Intermediate & Secondary Education, Rawalpindi, said Islam has great respect for teachers. He urged them to teach the children the philosophy of the great thinker, Allama Iqbal, and also asked the teachers to make the coming generations caste, creed and sectarianism free.

The oath taking ceremony was also attended by EDO Revenue Zubair Khan, DDO Education Sajida Ahmed, and Head Faiz ul Islam Complex Mian Muhammad Sadiq Akbar.

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Students should play their role
Islamabad: Amir of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Syed Munawwar Hasan calling upon the students community to play their role in safeguarding ideology of Pakistan said colleges and universities of Pakistan would be converted into fronts against America to foil its conspiracies against the country.

JI central Amir was addressing a big anti-America rally, organised by Islami Jamiat-e-Taluba (IJT) in the federal capital on Wednesday. The rally, which started from Melody Market, concluded at Parade Ground where it was addressed by JI and IJT leaders including IJT Nazim-e-Aala Attiqur Rehman, Mian Muhammad Aslam, Syed Muhammad Bilal and Shamsur Rehman Swati.

The charged students carrying placards and banners were raising slogans against American policies, Blackwaters' presence in Islamabad and other cities, Kerry-Lugar Act and Pakistan government's pro-America policies. The traffic remained suspended for a couple of hours from Lal Masjid Chowk en route to Parade Ground and traffic police had to divert the vehicles to other routes. As the federal capital is passing through strict security measures, the Islamabad Police were not ready to take any risk, therefore, all link roads were also blocked for all kinds of traffic that created problems for commuters.

Munawwar Hasan recalled that the students were in forefront of Pakistan movement, the success of which was not possible without their participation. "The same role is required from them now," he said. He asked the government to introduce uniform education system and restore student unions in education institutions of the country.

Strongly criticising US interference in Pakistan, Munawwar Hasan maintained that he colleges and universities of Pakistan would be converted into fronts against America to foil conspiracies against the country. On Balochistan package, JI top leader said the Baloch leadership had also categorically rejected the package. "If the government believes in Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) with India then why the same policy is not good for Baloch people and their leadership," he said.

He warned that the United States and India were eying on natural resources of Balochistan while the Pakistan government has been ignoring grievances of people of the province.

He said that India was involved for unrest in Balochistan adding that JI would observe three-day protest from December 14 to 16 against Indian conspiracies against Pakistan. He said India wanted its supremacy in the continent but the Muslims of Pakistan and Bangladesh would not accept Indian hegemony in the region.

Munawwar Hasan called upon the Pakistan government to call back its High Commissioner from Indian capital for India's acts of terrorism in Balochistan and other parts of the country. He said that Baloch leadership should have been taken into confidence before announcing the Balochistan package. "The government should have registered FIR against murderers of Akbar Bugti before announcing the package," he said.

On NRO, JI Amir feared that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) would destroy all record against President Zardari and federal ministers as NAB was working under the Interior minister.

He said that Qadiani and secular lobbies were working against Islamic ideology of Pakistan. JI Punjab Naib Amir Mian Muhammad Aslam demanded of Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani to fulfil his promise of holding elections of student unions in educational institutions.

He said the United States would fail in implementation of its policies and one day they would have to run away from the region. IJT Nazim-e-Aala Attiqur Rehman said the students were being victimised and they were being expelled from institutions. He said the students had been deprived of student unions for the last 26 years saying the student fees have also been increased during tenure of democratic government.

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Tribal students get relief assistance
Peshawar: Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) in collaboration with Peshawar University Teachers Association (PUTA) Wednesday distributed relief amount among 30 female students of the University of Peshawar belonging to tribal areas.

Prof Dr Shafiqur Rehman was the chief guest at the function, while Dr Arbab Khan Afridi, president, PUTA, Mohammad Zubair Khan, general secretary, Naveed Anwar, chairman, PAD, Pakistan and Shahab Hussain, coordinator, PAD for NWFP, were also present on the occasion.

Dr Arbab Khan Afridi welcomed the guests and appreciated the efforts of PAD in connection with the financial assistance offered to the female students of affected areas. He reminded the participants that PAD in the recent past had distributed around 1.6 million rupees among more than two hundred female students of the University of Peshawar belonging to Malakand division.

Naveed Anwar gave a brief introduction of the PAD and said its management was elected on yearly basis. He informed the participants that overseas Pakistanis, especially those based in Dubai, make contribution through PAD for the alleviation of miseries of their brothers and sisters in distress in Pakistan. He said that PAD has so far offered financial assistance to female students of affected areas to the tune of rupees 3.3 million. Besides, PAD had also established a hospital and center for orphan children of Malakand division.

Prof Shafiqur Rehman in his address informed the participants that the University of Peshawar had given financial assistance of Rs30 million to the students of Malakand division and financial assistance to the students belonging to the FATA areas was in the pipeline.

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Seminar on human rights concluded
Islamabad: Three-day seminar on 'Human Rights Mass Awareness and Education Programme,' concluded here on Wednesday.

Addressing the concluding ceremony as chief guest, Establishment Division Secretary Muhammad Ismail Qureshi said fight against ignorance is more important because ignorance is the root cause of militancy.

He highlighted the responsibility of state towards provision of human rights, and added that good governance should ensure rights of masses at their doorstep within stimulated time period. The seminar, organised by Secretariat Training Institute, was focused on promotion of proper knowledge of human rights awareness, develop positive attitude to character building and discourage bureaucratic indifferences among the participants.

Speaking on the occasion Dr. Zia ul Haq, director faculty of Shariah and Law, International Islamic University (IIU) said that it is high time for the nation to forge unity against the miscreant elements. The news

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Emission of green house gases
Islamabad: The Pakistan Academy of Sciences on Wednesday appealed to the world leaders meeting in Copenhagen next month for a summit conference on climate change to devise stringent ways to check emission of green house gases.

"Science has spoken and given its findings on climate change and public opinion around the world has expressed its overwhelming concern on global warming," President Pakistan Academy of Sciences Dr Ishfaq Ahmad said. He believed that continuing increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, climate change was coming faster with larger impacts and bigger risks to the ecosystems everywhere and specially developing countries including Pakistan.

Speaking at a meeting held at the National Centre for Physics, Dr Ishfaq said in Pakistan our per capita GHG emissions are very modest. Nonetheless, our vulnerability to adverse impact is very high. Melting glaciers and variability in rainfalls will pose grave threat to the country's water security which in turn will affect our food security.

Rising sea levels would adversely impact on the ecology of Indus Delta. Energy, health and all other sectors of the economy would face extreme difficulties, he added. "Climate change will bring with it multiple crises and global warming breeds more global warming," he said. Dawn


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