Nationalism in Hindustani

Alok Rai's Hindi Nationalism, published in 2001, dealt with the politics of language in India "through a study of the history of one language: Hindi. It traces the tragic metamorphosis of this language over the last century, from a creative, dynamic, popular language to a dead, Sanskritised, dePersianised language manufactured by a self-serving upper caste North Indian elite, nurturing hegemonic ambitions. From being a symbol of collective imagination it became a signifier of narrow sectarianism and regional chauvinism. The tract shows how this trans- formation of the language was tied up with the politics of communalism and regionalism."

Nationalism in the Vernacular: Hindi, Urdu, and the Literature of Indian Freedom, a new book that will be published by Permanent Black in early 2010 is edited by
Shobna Nijhawan, who teaches Hindi at York University in Canada. The book discusses the issue in reverse, namely "how nationalism—as a cultural ideology and political movement—was formed in literature. Unlike other anthologies, this one focuses on writings in two North Indian vernaculars with a contested relationship: Hindi and Urdu. The combination is deliberate: the relationship of Hindi and Urdu was being consolidated and sealed even as these texts were being written.

This anthology comprises a selection of formative literary writings in Hindi and Urdu from the second half of the nineteenth century, leading up to Indian Independence and the creation of Pakistan. The texts here are mostly hitherto unpublished translations into English.

There are two separate Introductions to this anthology. Each grounds, respectively, the peculiar paths taken by Hindi and Urdu proponents and practitioners.

In our Culture section, in hardcover, 536 pages, Rs 795.00. ISBN 9788178242606

Comments