The Partition of Hindi and Urdu

By: Imran Visram  

This paper reflects on the parallel polarization of religion and language that took place alongside the creation of the nation of Pakistan. The first section presents a historical overview on the process by which Hindi and Urdu grew to be distinct categorical units, reviewing various factors that contributed to their linguistic partition. This section can, in a broader sense, be seen to investigate the evolution of Hindi and Urdu in the modern period—until and through the partition of British India in 1947. Our conclusions suggest the departure of Hindi and Urdu from Hindustani was reflective of the colonial power structures which heightened ideological self-awareness of local populations, leading to India and Pakistan’s religious-linguistic polarization. It was the reinforcement of Muslim-Urdu as different from Hindu-Hindi, in this regard, that allowed religious nationalism to flourish through the nineteenth century. Ultimately, these two camps would hold different imaginations and realities that would shape the outcome of their respective nations.

Hindi, Urdu, Islam, Hinduism, Partition, Postcolonialism, Nationalism
Religious Community and Socialization
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Imran Visram

Graduate Student, Department of Graduate Studies, Institute of Ismaili Studies, United Kingdom
United Kingdom

I am currently on a full-scholarship at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London, pursuing the Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities.