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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Bramble territory

I am of the view that not much on recorded shows is unintended.

And recent observations of mine force me to question what's really happening in (the indian) show-business.

To more meaty matters: Last weekend, the first three of the series of KBC episodes were aired. Now, i don't care amuch about the content. But, the one thing i did notice was that Big B ended the first show with Good night, and Shubh ratri. Now, i found that surprising as soon as i heard it, cos i distinctly remembered him saying Good night, Shubh ratri, and Shabba Khair in most (if not all) of the episodes of KBC 1. What surprised me even further was the re-entry of the 'original' phrase Good night, Shubh ratri, and Shabba Khair in the second spisode of KBC 2. Now, to most people this might not seem like anything at all. But, i'd like to question the use of the urdu phrase. What is the targetted effect? Why urdu?

Some facts at this point might make good reading.
1. It couldn't have been picked cos it is the second most spoken language in india. It is the 6th most commonly spoken language (LINK1)
2. It couldn't have been cos it has a special status along with Hindi. There are a few more (21 in fact) recognised national languages! (LINK2)

Now, given the above two facts, the immediate question is, why not telugu, bengali, tamil, marathi...? (note all the listed languages have more speakers than urdu!!) The whole of india watches the show, so what warrants the selection of languages?

There is only one other logical possibility that my minds sems to be able to grasp (i leave it to the readers to guess it for themselves, if they care).

What is even more in the same spirit of events is that during the 70-90 period (maybe even now), almost all the movies had the urdu script alongwith the hindi and english ones. Now, the population that uses the urdu script is in fact much smaller than the population that speaks it (many of the urdu speakers in bihar/UP are non-muslim). The same questions follow for this fact. And as far as i can see, the same interpretation is available.

I am by no stretch of imagination a religious fanatic (i direct u to my earlier posts for verification). I am only interested in fighting irrational bias. (for my opinions on irrational bias, please see the comments in LINK3)

11 Comments:

Blogger Radhika said...

If you probably went through the links you posted properly you might actually have better answers.
'Urdu, Hindi and the consequent Hindustani language have a very strange and complex relationship with each other. The largest difference between Urdu and Hindi is that Urdu is written in the Nasta'liq form of the modified Arabic script while Hindi is written in the Devanagari script.'

'For example, it is said that Indian movies (of the North and North-West regions, primarily of Bollywood) are made in Hindi, but the language used in many of these movies is exactly the same language used by Urdu speakers in Pakistan. The dialogue of these films is frequently developed in English and later adapted to an intentionally neutral Hindi/Urdu which can be easily understood by speakers of most North Indian languages.'

So from the way I look at it, there was a time the number of people speaking Hindi/Urdu was more balanced in North India and when Hindi movies were made they wanted it to appeal equally to all people and hence both Hindi and Urdu. See it is North India being referred to and hence other languages don't really come into the picture.Besides whether people agree or not it is true that Urdu has always been side by side with Hindi and is almost like a secondary National Language though not legally declared anywhere and hence the common usage of Urdu.

Karthik: "But, i'd like to question the use of the urdu phrase. What is the targetted effect? Why urdu?" Well it is a general known fact that Urdu is a more pure version as in the words produce a more pleasing effect and poets, musicians (Hindus and Muslims) have continuously used it in the past coz the words are more appealing to people. I personally find Shabba Khair more appealing to Shubh Ratri. So Amitabh Bhachan
probably used it for the same effect.

Last point: (karthik:There is only one other logical possibility that my minds seems to be able to grasp.I leave it to the readers to guess it for themselves, if they care. Radhika: Now don't gimme the crap that it is how I interpreted :-P)But even after all this.. if you still feel it is in Hindi and Urdu to appeal equally to Hindus and Muslims, even then I don't really find anything wrong in that. These are the 2 most practised religions in India and have also been the source to many communcal wars, religious conflicts post partition. So if the media is actually working out something that they think will bring about more peace within our country and if they feel it will help bring down the feeling of insecurity which people currenly have, don't you think that's a good thing. When educated Hindus like us questions simple day to day things like 'why Big B said shabbha khair' which we don't really care about or which is not gonna affect us in anyway.. it just brings out more feelings of insecurity amongst the Muslims and they are right in their stand coz we have hurt them many a time and at every opportunity we get and all they want to be is part of this country and as much Indian as any other Hindu. So until this feeling is completely dissolved, if we do things to appeal to both sectors, there is really nothing wrong in that.

9:13 AM  
Blogger pagala'k' said...

ditto

12:00 PM  
Blogger PS said...

Wow!!! Some very informed arguments.

10:35 PM  
Blogger karthik durvasula said...

I know of the hindi-urdu differentiation problem. but, u both(kumar and u) miss the basic point that the usage of the word 'shabba khair' is not "a very strange and complex ..." issue.

in fact, as u probably know, the word is restricted to only the muslim population. So, as far as i am concerned, the numbers i quoted are in fact higher than the real users (a fact i pointed out in my earlier post). so, as i see it, the first argument does really hold any water.

radhika:Besides whether people agree or not it is true that Urdu has always been side by side with Hindi and is almost like a secondary National Language though not legally declared anywhere and hence the common usage of Urdu

again this is not true. 'always' is in fact absolutely wrong. the urdu dialect (if u wanna call it that), started with the turkic/persian influence in the mughal (and other muslim) camps. so, 'always' is obviously a joke.

about ur calling it a national language (dialect), again that is a joke. it has to be basd on usage not on personal preference, and if u REALLY search for the numbers, the real/native urdu speakers are only about 11 million, the figure of around 45 million comes up after including the second language speakers. so, that is the upper limit of the people who have a high persian of arabic/persian influenced words NOT script as u mentioned (which is the diff between hindi and urdu). again, YOU seem to 'want' it being called a national language. it is more of a personal choice, which i leave aside.

coming to it is a general known fact that Urdu is a more pure version as in the words produce a more pleasing effect and poets. I will concetrate on the word pure (everything else i see as ur opinion, so i can't discuss the factual content). about urdu being a more pure version and about it being known by everybody. I don't want to insult u, but that is so crazy!! first, not everyone knows it to be purer! second, i don't know what u mean by 'pure'!! langauges have no pure/impure difference (something that u will realise on some thought). so, please explain the word pure if u have a definite notion. if the word pure is to be taken back, u might then follow ur definition and see if the people who spoke languages during the old-stonage had a 'purer' langauge than us! so, when talking about facts, please separate them from ur interpretations/opinions.

coming to ur interpretation. i have already dicussed my views in other posts/comments, and will leave most of it.but one immediate point that comes to mind is that, When educated Hindus like us questions simple day to day things like 'why Big B said shabbha khair' which we don't really care about or which is not gonna affect us in anyway
first in this, u tacitly claim u are an 'educated hindu' :). again, i am not sure u know what u mean by 'educated hindu' (will leave it here). second, u obviously don't know the negative impact a biased media can have! make the US a case-study. We need to understand that to really move on, we need to accept facts. not pamper a minority proportion, who, once used to it, will always expect such 'special' attention. In a democracy, u need to have a proper rational reason than 'pampering' to do things. it is another thing that there is no country on earth that is really democratic. it is a shame that the brilliant concept has remained a concept like all the other political systems.

having said all this, i am all against attacking a specific community (like islam in india, as in this case). but, equally consistently, i am against unnecessary support of a community too. most 'educated hindus' seem to think any proper attack against a minority community is (improper) bias. That in my opinion is wrong. a bias is wrong only when there is no rational/proper basis to it. an example - u choosing to breathe above water as opposed to breathe under water is a bias u have, and it has a rational choice based on the fact that u have accepted/know u can't breathe under water. (ok, that was the fastest example i could think of:). it might seem a little outlandish, but it clearly shows that rational bias is in fact warranted by the principles of survival.)

7:31 AM  
Blogger majanx said...

I'll start of by saying that I am really dissapointed that I couldn't post my comment before Karthik's, because I was going to make exactly the same arguements that Karthik has just made. So, it takes away a bit of shine from mine. Also, it goes without saying that I totally relate to what Karthik has said in this post.

In a way it's better, since it cuts down my work, as now I just have to put an extra vote to his arguements. I had some counter-arguements to Radhika's arguements too, but Karthik has handled them better I myself would have. So I'll leave it at that.

There's one thing I'd really like to stress upon.
"...not pamper a minority proportion, who, once used to it, will always expect such 'special' attention..."- Karthik
This is exactly the point I'd have made, and was going to be the axis of my arguement. This has very dangerous consequences. But I think the harm has already been done through the past 50 yrs., and now it doesn't matter much.

Similar to above is the situation of the minority-communities. We have so many minority-communities in India and the latest to join them are none other, but us Jains.

Personally it digusts me that people of a country should divide themselves in 'gangs' to 'work for their upliftment'. People start working for their community rather than the country. I know what I'm saying since i'v seen it in 'my own community'(LOL!). This clearly creates divisions and ill- feelings over a period of time. Also, once these commuities have special status, they tend to adopt a me-too attitude, which results in conflicts.

What we need is a Uniform Civil Code. What is for one citizen of India should be true for each one,
If English is the official language which everyone understands, then its so for everyone. If Hindi is the national language, it's for everyone. Why should we have any third language in a medium which is accessed nationally (unless ofcourse the medium is language/region specific). People should in no way be made aware that they belong to a particular community or group, rather, that they belong to one single nation which we, with love, call Oman...I mean India.

Supreme sourt has just recently sent an order that different communities should not address themselves as minorities since it clearly creates divides. Do we light in the cloudy horizon?

In the end, a great post Karthik. Really thought provoking. Helped me to answer some of the questions which were bugging me for a while.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Radhika said...

Okay..this is going to be nice and long again.
No the usage of Shabbha khair is not strange and complex, but for greater appeal like I said. The relation between Hindi and urdu is what was said to be in your link strange and complex.
As far as I know I don't think any urdu word is restricted to the Muslim population. It has been used by both Hindus and Muslims alike. Infact we still use words in Hindi like Shaheed, Sharbath(which has even been imported to English lang), Muskaan..(the list is endless). You are talkin in numbers about people who actually have that as their mother tongue or even secondary language and I am talking about people who actually use Urdu words in daily life while speaking a different mother tongue. BTW sanskrit and Urdu are both derived from acient Indo-European parent language (as termed by linguistics) and hence the usage of both in other Indian languages is quite common. Hence usage of Urdu is not defined only to Urdu speaking people.
"radhika:Besides whether people agree or not it is true that Urdu has always been side by side with Hindi and is almost like a secondary National Language though not legally declared anywhere and hence the common usage of Urdu
Karthik: "again this is not true. 'always' is in fact absolutely wrong. the urdu dialect (if u wanna call it that), started with the turkic/persian influence in the mughal (and other muslim) camps. so, 'always' is obviously a joke."
Yes Karthik, the language before that was Sanskrit and not even Hindi. Now a lot of the people think Hindi is the same as Hindustani. I am still unsure of that since there are many contradicting views people have on that. Hindi is actually supposed to be the literary variant of Hindustani using Devanagiri script. But the languages that do come under Hindustani are Punjabi,Sharqi of East Bengal,
Rohilli,Awadhi,Deccani or Dakhini (Gulbargi, Hyderabadi),Sindi
Kohistani (incl. Kashmiri) that are all 80% urdu and 10% sanskrit. So you see there is more to Urdu than what you claim with your 46million.
And I say pure Urdu coz Hindi has been derived from that and Sanskrit. Thought the Hindi which is our national language is supposed to be more of a sankrit derivative (typically wht u can find on Aakashvani:-)), the Hindi that most people speak contains more Urdu than you can imagine. So Hindi is what I consider impure Urdu or even impure Sanskrit for that matter and hence the term pure (and yes there are impure languages).
Basically this whole discussion I guess was on why the usage of Urdu and not on Hindus and Muslims I believe. So please see above once again.
Mayank, I do agree with you on the Uniform Civil Code thing. That will be a great solution and that will only be possible if people the people of India learn to respect one another as Indians and not for one's religion and LIKE THAT'S EVER GONNA HAPPEN. Infact what we actually need is a dictator, a single ruler who will precide over the country and ask the people to shut the **** up. That is a totally different issue altogether and doesn't look like we're heading anywhere there hence and we could probably start by the Hindus not telling all the Muslims in India that they belong in Pakistan or the Arab world. I have heard thousands of Hindus actually say those words. So until one gets to stop the Hindus on that, it will help atleast a little bit to appeal to both Hindus and Muslims for the time being even if that means addressing in Hindi and Urdu(though I still don't feel that is the reason for the usage of Urdu). It is a lot easier said than done implementing Karthik and your suggestions about bringing a uniform civil code and rationality amongst people. With a population like ours, you know what is going to happen when people break into riots and we really need to calm things down a bit . Things have been really rough and need to settle down and what you said can not be practically implemented atleast for a few years. So until then, let's not go provoking people. PEACE

11:49 AM  
Blogger karthik durvasula said...

ok, i will go only after the facts in ur post, or the lack of it.

1. You are talkin in numbers about people who actually have that as their mother tongue or even secondary language and I am talking about people who actually use Urdu words in daily life while speaking a different mother tongue

I used the words 'second language' speakers who are defined as 'people who speak a language other than there mother tongue'. so, i dunno what u are talking about anymore! as far i see it, we both were talking about the same thing.

2. the Hindi that most people speak contains more Urdu than you can imagine

as noted before, the point is not about how many arabic/turkic influenced words there are in hindi. it is in this case about the use of the word 'shabba khair' how many people use it? is it a majority? if not, then the use is not warranted. I said the same thing before, but u didn't read what either i or mayank typed.

3. Yes Karthik, the language before that was Sanskrit and not even Hindi
again, this is poor on ur part. cos it is factually wrong! sanskrit died out as a spoken language long before the mughals came to india (which was the period of major urdu development). and the local dialects at that time are seen as (the precursors) to modern hindi.
next, about urdu being 'pure' sorry factually incorrect. it developed as a language that was to act as a via media for turkish/arabic/'hindi' (or proto-hindi' if u wanna call it that) speakers during the muslim invasions (primarily/only during the mughal period as far as i know). so, again, ur statement is factually wrong.

3. So Hindi is what I consider impure Urdu or even impure Sanskrit for that matter and hence the term pure

first comment about this, u haven't defined 'pure'. second, as said before, urdu was a conglomeration of languages itself. i have no idea what uare talking about when u say urdu is a pure language.

4. BTW sanskrit and Urdu are both derived from acient Indo-European parent language (as termed by linguistics)

not true. yes, urdu has indo european influence from sanskrit and other indian langauges, and persian. but it also has non-indo-european influences (a very heavy from) from arabic (which is a semitic language). second thing about it. urdu is derived from languages that are derived from an ancient language which is given the technical name 'proto-indoeuropean' (i am referring to persian, and sanskrit) but, even if ur facts were all correct (which they aren't), what u argue for has no meaning, there are a million other languages derived from indo-european, including sinhalese, english, german, latin, greek..... what is the meaning of what u say? and even hindi is an indo european language. an older language is not 'purer'. if it were, u would have to agree that what was spoken in the old-stone age/ even before that, is purer that sanskrit and indo-european!! which makes no sense at all. the use of the word 'pure' is highly unsubstantiated! simply because it has no relevance to how langauges operate! there is as i said no pure/impure language. there are only different dialects - this is a tenet of linguistics. u misrepresented linguistics within ur post, so i was correcting it.

anyhow, as i said before, ur statement is factual inaccurate/misleading.

those as i see were the factual inaccuracies in u post.

7:55 PM  
Blogger karthik durvasula said...

we could probably start by the Hindus not telling all the Muslims in India that they belong in Pakistan or the Arab world

i am totally against unfair bias of any sort. and hate it when hindus say such things abotu muslims. but, i can understand why some hindus would see it. if u ever stayed in hyderabad (at least during the 90's) u would understand too. there were actually fire-crackers burst in old hyderabad (almost completely muslim) everytime pakistan won an indo-pak cricket match. it might not be much, but it shows where their loyalties lie.

again, the mob is stupid, they take these signs to be representative of the entire muslim population and get aggressive.

and again, as long as there is no active reprimanding of these anti-national actions by pro-india muslims, the doubt is furthered in extremist hindu minds that every muslim is in the india-hating club. I am not saying muslims are to blame for it all. just saying. it is not as simple as blaming the extremist. the muslim population which does not 'actively' castigate the actions of its own members is equally at fault.

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

urdu is a bastard language. It has arabic, persian, sanskrit and many other language loan words.

8:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the turkish invaders want a language to communicate effectively with persians living in indian region and hindi speaking people of india.

so they came up with a bastardised language called urdu. But still they used persian as official court languge. its called dari. Its a bastard version of the original persian laugange of iran coz the turks (mongols)were neither persian not aryan. Like alexander they want to mimic the persian royals.

Is it necessary to take seriously a bastard language!! Its looks beautiful. There ends the matter. Enjoy it if you like or forget it.

8:45 PM  
Blogger karthik durvasula said...

@Anon: "Urdu is a bastard language"

By that you seem to mean, it's a mixture of other languages. But, so is EVERY other language on earth - that was ever spoken.

Every language we know has a past, and is influenced by other languages. The notion of "pure" language is so wrong, that is it not funny.

This is what I was saying earlier, the term "pure" comes up a lot in common parlance, but a basic linguistics course would tell you that the word has absolutely no content when applied to languages.

People think of Latin, Greek, Sanskrit ... as "pure" languages. But, even these languages evolved from other languages, just that written history doesn't document the evolution too well. Pre-vedic (Sanskrit) is substantially different from Vedic (Sanskrit). Plus, there is pretty good evidence that Sanskrit was affected heavily by proto-dravidian (the parent language of all the dravidian languages today) - and vice-versa.

The same goes for the history of Latin and Greek. There was never a 'pure' language/ The very concept doesn't make sense.

Finally, it is as necessary to take Urdu seriously as it is to take any other language seriously - for scientific purposes.

That being said, for political purposes, the choice of languages makes a huge difference - and that's what the post was really about. Why the choice of one specific word over others?

11:33 AM  

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