At a time when lack of employment opportunity for those with Urdu education is slowly taking away the sheen of this beautiful language, introducing its literature as an optional subject in MPSC will give it some success. A language that is deeply rooted in the soil of Maharashtra and is also a symbol of the composite culture of India needs and deserves it.
Recently MPSC has changed its pattern and syllabus of State Services exam from next attempt onwards to mirror that of the UPSC Civil Services exam. Thus the Mains exam will now be descriptive, it will have four papers of General Studies, one paper of Essay and one Optional subject with the exact marking scheme as that of the Civil Services Exam.
This is a welcome move as it will help candidates from Maharashtra to seamlessly prepare for both the exams simultaneously. Many states have already taken this step giving their candidates an edge. Furthermore, the descriptive nature of the Mains exam will rigorously check the intellectual depth of the candidates and ensure more competent officers for the state.
But a crucial difference in the scheme of the exams is in the list of optional subjects. UPSC, apart from prominent subjects studied in graduation, allows literature of several languages recognized in the Constitution as optional subjects. MPSC on the other hand has allowed only literature of Marathi language (apart from a few prominent subjects studied at graduation level). While it is absolutely logical to introduce Marathi literature, this write up makes a case that introducing Urdu literature too, as one of the optional subjects for the exam, is just and logical.
First argument in this context is the sheer number of Urdu speakers in Maharashtra, their proportion in the overall population in the state and also a comparison of this figure with other states. According to an article published on the Wire, a reputed media platform, 75.4 lakh people have registered Urdu as their mother tongue in Maharashtra (Census 2011), which is the third highest in the country. In Maharashtra it is the third most spoken language after Marathi and Hindi.
The number of Urdu speakers in Maharashtra are higher than the combined population of Urdu speakers of Andhra and Telangana. At a time when the number of persons recording Urdu as their mother tongue is falling in North India (as per 2011 census), Maharashtra continues to record a high number of Urdu speakers. It must also be noted here that a lot of Urdu speakers also record Hindi as their mother tongue.
|Name of Mother Tongue|| Number of Persons in Maharashtra
Secondly, the sheer number of Urdu schools in Maharashtra is massive. In fact, according to a research carried out by Mr Abdul Shaban of TISS for Maharashtra State Minorities Commission Maharashtra in 2014, the state has the largest network of Urdu medium schools (4900) in the country from primary to HSC level. It also has the largest number of students (about 13 lakhs) enrolled in Urdu medium schools in the country. In the light of this data, it is clear that a huge number of students from Maharashtra have had Urdu as their medium of instruction.
Here it must be noted that it is not necessary for a person to have studied in Urdu medium or have studied Urdu literature during graduation for opting for this subject as his/her optional subject. Shakil Ansari of Shahda, Maharashtra cracked the Civil Services Exam with Urdu literature in 2011 although he had completed Bachelors of Science (B.Sc.) as his graduation. Similarly, Nooh Siddiqui of Aurangabad also got selected in the Indian Revenue Service with Urdu literature as his optional subject although he too had done a technical graduation. Many such examples of candidates from Maharashtra can be cited.
Thirdly, over the recent years several candidates from Maharashtra who are preparing for Civil Services are opting for Urdu literature. As MPSC transitions from the old pattern to the new, one apparent aim appears to be to facilitate preparation of both the exams i.e Civil Services and State Services simultaneously for candidates from Maharashtra. But if Urdu literature is not included then these candidates will have to face the challenge of preparing a new optional from scratch.
Fourthly, Urdu as a language is deeply connected with Maharashtra. During its evolutionary phase the area of Dakkhan has had a huge role in its enrichment. Dakkhani Urdu has been influenced by Marathi apart from other languages in the region such as Telugu and Kannada. Many scholars of Urdu have been associated with Maharashtra and it boasts of a rich heritage of Urdu literature and journalism. The Government of Maharashtra too has taken some measures for promotion of Urdu language through initiatives such as Urdu Ghars.
It is worth pointing out that students opting for Urdu Literature, will obviously continue to be expected to crack the compulsory Marathi language paper and also fulfill the requirement for Domicile of Maharashtra. Hence there is no reason to believe that introduction of Urdu literature will in any way harm the prospects of other aspirants.
Rounding off, at a time when lack of employment opportunity for those with Urdu education is slowly taking away the sheen of this beautiful language, introducing its literature as an optional subject in MPSC will give it some success. A language that is deeply rooted in the soil of Maharashtra and is also a symbol of the composite culture of India needs and deserves it.
- Jawwad Kazi, Pune