4 TThe Independence struggle and Partition, thereafter, left an indelible impact on the future and destiny of the Urdu language, mainly at the hands of the two leading lights of both nations – Jinnah & Gandhi.

In his endeavor to establish a distinct identity, Jinnah proclaimed Urdu to be the state language of Pakistan. Gandhi’s views towards Urdu were ambivalent. Gandhi was more an advocate of Hindustani – a mix of Hindi & Urdu. In “My Experiments with Truth”, written by Gandhi much before Independence, he says “..Urdu I have not regarded as a distinct language, because it has adopted the Hindi grammar and its vocabulary is mainly Persian and Arabic, and he who would learn good Urdu must learn Persian and Arabic, as one who would learn good Gujarati, Hindi, Bengali, or Marathi, must learn Samskrit (sic)”

Ironically, as is the case most times, both Jinnah & Gandhi, the deciders of the fate and future of Urdu, were not well-versed with the language of Urdu.

The polarized views of Jinnah and Gandhi on various issues, including that of language are elaborated in the blog link below:

An excerpt:
Urdu: Jinnah & Gandhi
It was the same attitude of mincing no words that made Jinnah declare on his maiden visit to Dhaka after Partition that Urdu was to be the state language of Pakistan (which included East Pakistan). Jinnah himself was well conversant only in Gujarati and English and his knowledge of Urdu was scant.

I do not know if Jinnah made any efforts to learn Urdu or not, but expecting Bengali speakers to grapple with kaaf and gaaf proved costly. Once again it were the Muslims (Bihari Muslims) who bore the brunt when Bangladesh fought for its ‘independence’. Caught between the two Pakistans, it was only recently after a court’s decision that they got voting rights in Bangladesh.

In his letters Gandhi chided any Urdu-knowing person who wrote to him in English instead of Urdu. Gandhi’s dream of Hindustani was a mix of Hindi and Urdu and he always advocated the use of simple Hindi and Urdu in both the scripts. He himself was trying to learn Urdu.