Below is an excerpt from the very insightful book “Anthems of Resistance” by Ali Husain Mir and Raza Mir that celebrates Progressive Urdu poetry in the Indian sub-continent.
This particular piece touches upon the changes that took place Post-Partition, in the sub-continent, that affected the Progressives and Urdu poetry:
“The All India Progressive Writers Movement (PWA) whose dominance had been established during the freedom struggle in pre-Independence days, found itself under attack after the formation of the independent state. By early 1950s, the cultural consensus that the PWA had generated had begun to wither away. There were a number of factors that contributed to this decline. The biggest of these, of course, was the partition of the nation. The promised independence arrived, but its surkhi (redness) was not that of the awaited socialist ‘red dawn’ but came from the blood of the victims of violence that ccompanied the division of the country.”
“The Progressives also had to come to terms with the growing communalization of the polity, an issue that became increasingly urgent after the Partition of the country along religious lines. An unfortunate corollary was the communalization of Urdu itself in India. Urdu suffered a debilitating blow when it became identified as the language of Muslims, resulting in, among other things, a loss of state patronage, particularly in the north, leading a bitter Sahir (Ludhianvi) to comment on the centenary celebration of Ghalib’s death”
Jin shahron mein goonji thi Ghalib ki nava barson
Un shahron mein aaj Urdu be-naam-o nashaan thahri
Aazaadi-e kaamil ka ailaan hua jis din
Ma’atoob zabaan thahri, ghaddar zabaan thahri
Jis ahd-e-siyaasat ne ye zinda zabaan kuchli
Us ahd-e siyaasat ko marhoomon ka gham kyoon hai
Ghalib jise kahte hain Urdu hi ka shaayar tha
Urdu pe sitam dha kar, Ghalib pe karam kyon hai
The same government that once crushed a living tongue
Now wishes to mourn and honour the dead
The man you call Ghalib was a poet of Urdu
Why praise Ghalib after suppressing his language?