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We still fight over languages, says top Urdu poet-critic Farooqi


Shamsur Rahman Faruqi spoke at ‘Samanvay’

shamsur-rahmanNew Delhi: Literary critic, novelist and poet Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, a distinguished name in Urdu literature says, lately, language as a medium of expression has been reduced to a tool of dissent.

“Nobody owns a language but we still fight over languages in our society. Many native writers don’t want their work to be translated by anybody else other than themselves. It is sad that language has become a tool of ownership and hegemony; not the thread that binds people together,” said Farooqi.

The novelist was participating in the third edition of ‘Samanvay’, the Indian Languages Festival, which began at the India Habitat Centre, here on October 24.

Farooqi points out that the bracketing the 17 dialects of Rajasthan with the Hindi language was a wrong decision.

“It was said that these dialects have no literature and very less number of speakers. Instead of preserving them, we categorize them as vernacular language. Similarly a language like Tulu, spoken in the Indian state of Karnataka is also sidelined on the central stage for its less number of speakers,” the literary stalwart said.

Farooqi had recently published “The Mirror of Beauty,” a novel based on the life and times of Wazir Khanam, the mother of the famed Urdu poet Daag Dehalvi, set mostly in 19th century Delhi. It is a translation of his 2006 novel originally written in Urdu.

Emphasizing on the need to use language as a thread to bind people and ensure that they do not become extinct, the literary critic said, “It is difficult to speak about the connection that languages forge as we have made our names and languages as a tool to create disconnect.”

“I am from the interiors of Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh and it is one of my greatest disappointments that a language like Bhojpuri associated with my place is never considered a full-fledged language” the author said.

Meanwhile, Sahitya Kala Academy winner Vinod Kumar Shukla was present during the inaugural day of the literature festival.

Titled ‘Samanvay’ meaning ‘to synthesize or combine’, the festival promises an interesting line up of Padmashri awardees, Sahitya Kala Academy recipients, National Film Award winners and various other popular names from the world of languages.

Raj Liberhan, Director of Samanvay said that event aimed to bring together Indian languages and equip the younger generation with the country’s intellectual capital.

“Samanvay is a platform where authors of different languages come together, their writing is discussed and thus a dialogue is created about the emancipation of languages and dialects. It is an endeavor to make people appreciate the thought processes of different languages and the feelings entwined with the writings.

“Such a festival that celebrates the plurality of Indian languages and culture also help the youth in understanding and embracing the intellectual capital of our country,” Liberhan said.

The festival has been scheduled as a four-day event ending October 27.

Chandrakant Topiwala was conferred the Samanvay “Bhartiya Bhasha Samman” 2013 award for outstanding contribution to Gujarati language by a jury comprising renowned linguist Udaya Narayana, Delhi university professor Alok Rai and Gujarati literature’s stalwart Sitanshu Yashaschandra.

Many theatricals, songs, storytelling and other cultural performances are planned. Prolific writers like Leila Seth, Mukul Keshavan and film personalities like Gulzar, Mahesh Bhatt and Ketan Mehta are some of the top draws at the event.


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