Hindi in Pakistan

Hindi in Pakistan

As Pakistan and India seek to normalize their ties, plans to introduce Hindi language at various academic levels are multiplying.

A few years ago hardly any student would aspired to learn Hindi. This was despite the fact that the Oriental College, affiliated with the University of the Punjab, had been offering diploma and certificate courses in the language for decades. A lone, ailing female teacher, trying to keep things going despite 'threats' of closure, has long staffed the Hindi Department of the college. Only recently, the perception has started to change. When Pakistan and India began talking about normalizing bilateral relations, Hindi suddenly won note -- the Punjab University has started making plans for its promotion.

Two years ago, the university hired a new teacher, who has a master in Hindi from Punjabi University, Patiala, India. The university has introduced Hindi as a required subject for the students taking up M Phil and PhD in Urdu. There are plans to introduce it as an optional subject in MA Urdu as well. Hindi is also taught as part of M Phil and PhD programs at the university's Institute of South Asian Studies. Moreover, it will be one of the four optional subjects at the varsity's Department of Mass Communication. In the years to come, the university also intends to introduce the teaching of Hindi language as an optional subject at bachelor's level.

Mrs. Shabnam Riaz, the new Hindi teacher at the Oriental College, was born and brought up in India. After completing her post-graduation in Hindi Language and Literature from Patiala, she got married to a Pakistani in 1996. "Two years ago, I read in the newspaper that the university badly needed a qualified teacher to teach diploma and certificate classes in Hindi language. I applied and got the slot," Shabnam Riaz stated. She believes students in Pakistan should learn Hindi, which, according to her, is the third largest spoken language in the world. "Moreover, it can help bring two hostile nuclear South Asian rivals closer and bring peace to the region," she says.

Previously, there would be only three to four students in Hindi diploma and certificate classes every year. "This year we have nine students and the number may increase as the classes start next week," Shabnam Riaz said. About the introduction of MA Hindi, she says, "all necessary arrangements have been made and courses formulated. The only reason why the program is getting delayed is the absence of Hindi language teachers." In her opinion, "the shortage can be met through bilateral exchange of teachers between Pakistan and India". She believes: "Urdu and Hindi are two sister languages with identical culture and traditions."

Akram Ateeq, a student, feels: "Teaching of Hindi can unite the people of Pakistan and India who would then press their governments to abandon hostile attitudes towards each other and live like friends." [Source: The News]