ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Dream of a National Language, Hindi Hegemony and Urdu Spaces: Have You Seen Urdu These Days?


Shukla Vivek kumar - Aarhus University, Global Studies Departmnet, Aarhus, Denmark


32 – Dynamics of Language Diversity, Multilingual Identities and Linguistic Nationalism in South Asia


 The idea of a national Language had been in every part of the world. In a multilingual country like India is it even possible to have one national language? What happens when we push for the agenda?

This paper aims to look at the root of the issue and try to focus how Urdu was sidelined in the process of formation of national language. Mapping the history of Urdu’s presence in public sphere is also mapping origin and rise of Hindi Hegemony along with Hindu Nationalism. The later part had been discussed a lot in Vasudha Dalmia and others’ works. This paper will aim to first look at the historical backgrounds primarily in the context of History of Hindi literatures which made the Hindi hegemony institutional and how it alienated Urdu. 

 Immerging from Mugal soldier camps and transformed into the carrier of culture and poetry and kept in being till late 19th century. In early 1900 Hindi hegemony becomes institutional when Achray shukl edited Hindi shabd sagar and later Hindi Sahity ka Itihas. The attempts to alienate Urdu starts around this time. Urdu was limited but it had its space in post independent India. Later with the rise of Hindu nationalism this space also starts to shrink.

In this part, this paper will try to map the presences of Urdu in cultural spaces, cinema and TV from past to present. It will be interesting to juxtapose the presence of Urdu to this understand it’s in wider frame of the idea “one nation one language” as the question of Urdu became relevant ag