Publication of 22-volume Urdu Lughat celebrated
Karachi, July 19: The compilation, publication and merits of the 22-volume Urdu Lughat were celebrated at a ceremony organised by Unikarians International at Karachi University's arts auditorium on Saturday.
It was a well-attended programme presided over by KU Pro Vice-Chancellor Shahana Urooj Kazmi. Chief editor of the Urdu Dictionary Board and poetess Fahmida Riaz was the chief guest.
Azhar Abbas Hashmi conducted the event in an eloquent manner and his talk was replete with anecdotes from his university days and the things that led to the making of Unikarians, an association of former students of Karachi University. He recalled that when after a painstaking effort spanning 70 years the Oxford English Dictionary was completed and published, the then British prime minister Stanley Baldwin lauded the effort in parliament. Mr Hashmi lamented that no such praise was showered on members of the Urdu Dictionary Board, past or present, which is why Unikarians thought it appropriate to arrange a function in their honour. In this regard he particularly acknowledged the endeavours of two members of the association, Abul Hasanat and M. Iqbal Khan.
Unikarians president M. Iqbal Khan was the first speaker of the day. He said it was a moment of pride and joy that after 52 years of hard work and meticulous research the Lughat was finally out. He also recalled the incident in which a British prime minister had appreciated the publication of a dictionary in parliament with a standing ovation. He remarked that perhaps Pakistani rulers had other important things to do. He commended the efforts of all those who made the event possible, and of those who had come up with a book, a compilation of essays on the Urdu Lughat.
Prof Malahat Kaleem Sherwani gave a presentation on Urdu's universality. She traced the history of languages and said that it's through natural (qudrati) and forced (jabri) ways that languages usually evolved. She said four periods were significant in the study and progress of languages: (1) prehistoric (2) when people started to get divided into groups and tribes (3) the age when means of communications began to take root (4) the current period of information technology etc. She argued that a language was deemed universal if it had a vast diction (vocabulary); it had its own grammar; and had its own lexicon. Urdu had all of it, she said.
Former Unikarians president Syed Safwanullah said societies that cared for their language(s) were bound to prosper, for conscientious nations admired those who put together words (dictionaries). He said governments in Pakistan had never kept the Urdu Dictionary Board on their list of priorities, with the result that it had always been plagued with many a problem.
After Mr Safwanullah's speech a commemorative plaque on which names of some distinguished officials of the board were written was presented to the pro vice-chancellor. Then the book in which essays on the Urdu Lughat are compiled was presented to some guests who in one way or another had contributed to the 22-volume dictionary.Fahmida Riaz began her speech by telling the discerning audience that the marked feature of the 22-volume Lughat was that it had been prepared using philological principles, and the role model for it was the Greater Oxford Dictionary. She talked about the thorough research work that had gone into it and commented that a Lughat indicated the evolution of a whole civilisation. She talked about those who had helped the cause of the Urdu Dictionary Board starting from Maulvi Abdul Haq to Liaqat Ali Asim and Farhat Fatima, and also mentioned with gratitude Daily Dawn's contribution to it. She informed the audience how certain people wanted to merge the board with some other organisation and how she with the help of some like-minded individuals resisted it.
Ms Riaz said she told the cabinet that in 1986 it was decided to make the board ineffectual, so if they did it now it'd be attributed to the current government. She said the board vanished from government files in 1986 and it's her wish to bring it back where it belonged. On the subject of the Urdu language, she spoke of the time when Gandhi wanted Urdu and Hindi to be thought of as one language but some members of the Congress didn't approve of it. Later on Gandhi held a procession and things got out of hand vis-à-vis partition, which made Maulvi Abdul Haq despondent.
Speaking about the administrative and financial issues of the Urdu Dictionary Board, Ms Riaz said it's been a year since she joined it and there were employees there who hadn't been promoted to the next grade for the past 25 years. Certain pension-related cases were pending in courts. And the computers installed there were two decades old.
Dr Farman Fatehpuri rejected the claim that Urdu was the third widely spoken language in the world. He said languages were analysed on the basis of their influence and impact, and in that respect Urdu had the widest reach. He spoke light-heartedly about the languages that had the requisite auditory effect (sh) but no corresponding words (admission, tuition, etc). Bearing that in mind, he claimed, Urdu was the first complete language.
Justice Haziqul Khairi lauded the completion of the 22-volume Lughat and said it was the Quaid-i-Azam's dream that Urdu become our national language. Sadly, he said, it was not being employed as the official language. He said Urdu was the language of the masses which is why it should be used in government offices.
Head of the National Language Authority and poet Iftikhar Arif said the work of a lexicographer was never complete because lexicography is an ongoing process. He said when the first volume of the Lughat was printed Shanul Haq Haqqi was no more, though he'd done a lot of work for it. He said 10 volumes were published when Farman Fatehpuri sahib was heading the board. He said Urdu should be adopted and not imposed (musallat) on our society and argued that if the country's linguistic diversity had been accepted things would've been different. However, the situation improved after the fall of Dhaka. He said that it was not in 1948 that the Quaid-i-Azam first spoke in favour of Urdu in a speech that had since become controversial. He added that the Quaid-i-Azam had regularly been speaking about Urdu since 1913. He claimed that in the last 100 years more Urdu-related work had been done in areas which were traditionally not thought of as Urdu-speaking regions. Reflecting on Dr Fatehpuri's comment on the language's impact, he said the biggest region in this regard was India and the languages that were spoken there and their assimilation into Urdu could not be ignored. He said Urdu should also accept words from the Sindhi, Punjabi or Balochi languages.
Mr Arif said that while revising lexicon reference cards such words must be looked into. He said many of the verbs employed in the Urdu language were derived from Sanskrit or Hindi and wondered if anyone at the board was familiar with those languages. He said all the asnaad (cards) should be revised on a continuous basis, and laid emphasis on the need for a one-volume concise dictionary. He said it didn't matter if the prime minister of the country didn't consider it important enough to talk about the Lughat, for what mattered most was that men of letters were all praise for it. If a government official acknowledged it, it's his or her good fortune.
Pro Vice-Chancellor Shahana Urooj Kazmi was the last speaker of the programme. She termed the occasion an historic one and echoed the Prof Malahat Kaleem's musings that Urdu was a universal language.
Fahmida Riaz came back to the podium stating that revision work and work on a concise Urdu Dictionary had already begun.
In the end Mansoor Naqvi thanked the participants and guests of the programme. Certificates were also distributed among workers and officials of the board. DawnYour Comments
Scholar claims Urdu most influential language of the world
Karachi: Renowned Urdu scholar Dr Farman Fatehpuri on Saturday negated the idea that the Urdu language comes third in the rank of global languages. According to him, the status of a language should be decided in view of its influence and that Urdu was the most influential language in the world.
Dr Farman Fatehpuri claimed this while speaking at the Arts auditorium of the University of Karachi (KU) in a programme to appreciate the performance of the Urdu Dictionary Board (UDB) that has just completed the compilation of the 22nd volume of the Urdu dictionary. KU's alumni body Unikarian and the KU had jointly organised the event on Saturday.
Dr Fatehpuri gave the example of the Chinese language that had more than one billion speakers, arguing that it had influence in certain geographical confines while Urdu had taken roots in a number of countries. Urdu has a presence in the entire subcontinent — India, Pakistan and Bangladesh — Nepal, European countries and North America, he said, adding that the language is also spoken in other parts of the world. "Urdu has the distinction of having the phonetics and the letters that conform to it. Other languages are mostly devoid of it," he stressed.
Chairman Urdu Authority (Muqtadra) Pakistan Iftikhar Arif reminded the audience that there could be no second opinion that Urdu had a prominent place in Pakistan. "Quaid-e-Azam spoke about the place of Urdu from 1913 till his death. But Urdu has to take along the regional languages. Urdu has to absorb new words from the regional languages. It will increase the beauty and linguistic power of Urdu. The UDB has to employ people who are experts in Arabic, English, Persian, Sanskrit and other languages because Urdu has borrowed words from these languages. The dictionary should be revised periodically to add more words that have entered the language and a concise dictionary for the students and common man would be a welcome step," he suggested.
Incumbent Chief Editor Fahmida Riaz informed the audience that the dictionary was based on the philological principles (historical principles) that have encompassed 1,000 years of civilisation of the subcontinent. "It is a cultural history, tradition, custom and narrates the usage of words in various periods during 1000 years". She praised her staff that had worked diligently to complete the last volume of the dictionary despite the fact that most of them had no increments for the last 25 years and had no stationary or equipment to do their work.
Pro Vice Chancellor KU Dr Shahana Urooj Kazmi lauded the achievement of the UDB and hoped that the financial crunch being faced by the organisation will be taken care of. "If the government is unable to do it, the civil society, the people should come forward and fill the void," she advised.
Former provincial minister and ex-president of Unikarian Sufwanullah had the view that the language was the gift from God and a covenant for the mankind from God. He especially mentioned Shan Ul Haqqee, Dr Farman Fatehpuri and Dr Rauf Parekh who managed to compile and publish most of the volumes of the dictionary.
Earlier Prof Malahat Kaleem Sherwani gave a presentation on the 'Universality of Urdu language' and described the development of spoken and written languages in the world. Urdu, according to her, had the distinction of being the language that was formed in the camps and spoken by the commoners before the elite of society adopted it.
Fake degrees and unprofessional universities
Karachi: The campaign against the fake degrees remained a hot topic in the country. Interesting, media stories regarding this issue diverted the public attention from all other important issues like Pak-India foreign ministers dialogue and Pak-America talks on strategic issues and even the visit of the US Foreign Secretary Hillary Clinton to Pakistan. This degree issue also diverted the attention from the reports about the two-year extension in service of Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. Though it was not officially declared, reports claimed that the announcement to this effect was expected any time. The murder of Baloch leader and ex-senator Habib Jalib Baloch was the major tragedy and the whole Balochistan province remained shut down for three days, but the media kept focusing on fake degrees issue.
Imran Khan was the first who had started the fake degree campaign and challenged that late PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto had not cleared her final exams and claimed that she had a fake degree. Imran Khan had launched this campaign on the wishes of military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf who, in turn, promised to make him the prime minister.
Imran Khan's campaign turned flop when Benazir Bhutto produced her degree, however, Gen Musharraf imposed the degree condition for contesting election. He also allowed Madressah certificates, as most of the candidates of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) contested the election on Madressah degrees. Maulana Fazlur Rehman remained under threat during the entire military regime era due to having Madressah degree and he supported the controversial 17th Amendment.
The degree issue was raised second time in previous PML-Q led coalition government headed by Gen Musharraf, when the media challenged the degree of an MQM MNA and former state minister Amir Liaquat Hussain. Neither the Election Commission nor any court took action against him. But it was MQM chief Altaf Hussain who took serious notice of the issue and ordered his party MNA and minister to resign immediately. Altaf Hussain remained strict on his stance and he again criticized fake degree holders. He had said on Friday last that how could such legislators serve the people who used illegal tactics and fake degrees to reach assemblies.
The prime responsibility to check the degrees lies with the returning officers when the candidates file their nomination papers. These were the rival candidates who challenged the degrees of their opponents and filed cases in Election Tribunal. No action was taken and cases were still pending with Election Tribunal. The issue was highlighted when the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Education took notice of this issue, as political observers pointed out that the establishment, which was waiting for a chance to malign the democratic setup and settle the score, was now exploiting this issue.
Although the PML-N, PML-Q, JUI-F and other parties also bore the brunt of this heated issue, strong reaction by the PPP and Sindh government created more doubts in the minds of the people. Sindh government, particularly provincial Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, had claimed for so many times that there was no political victimization in the province and neither any political prisoner was languishing in any jail. But the arrest of a Grade-19 officer Farooq Leghari, brother of Chairman Higher Education Commission Dr Jawed Leghari, ruined the image of the Sindh government.
The HEC had referred the degrees of the parliamentarians to their respective universities for verification on the directives of the National Assembly's standing committee. The role of the HEC in this episode was nothing more than a post office.
It is a fact that a degree could be either genuine or fake but declaring it as doubtful makes such matter ridiculous. PPP challenged the media reports that the degree of Faryal Talpur, sister of President Asif Zardari, is "doubtful". This is nonsense and raised doubts about the system of the universities. No university issues fake degrees despite the involvement of some elements in this crime but many questions arose when universities reply of having "no record". Missing of the record is also a big crime and an act to play with the hounour and respect of the degree holders. In most of the cases the universities concerned replied that the record was not available.
Educationists admitted that most of the universities did not maintain proper record. There is a system in the universities that the enrolment of students, their roll numbers and results are registered in a Master Register but tempering with such record is not difficult. It is amazing that the school record of the father of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah is available but unfortunately Karachi University has no record before 1960. NED was a college before 1977 but after attaining the university status the NED did not have its college record. Same is the situation with Dow Medical College. Karachi University used to award the MBBS degrees to Dow Medical College graduates but the situation changed few years back when the medical college was given the university status and it did not have the record of former Dow Medical College graduates. Most of the educational institutions in the country have similar situation and every degree holder will be facing the same agony if record was not available with the educational institutions concerned. -firstname.lastname@example.org
SSUET final year project
Karachi: Students of final year of the Department of the Computer Engineering of Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET) held a poster exhibition as part of their project, said a press release issued on Sunday, A total of 54 posters of innovative projects designed by the students were put on display. Speaking on the occasion, Chancellor, Engineer ZA Nizami said that advancement in science and technology was essential for the progress and development of the nation. The news