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Nivedita Menon: Explains India’s Hindu right-wing hate of the Urdu language

Oct 29, 2021

By Umamah Bakharia
28:10:2021

Hindu nationalist groups argue that Urdu is a ‘Muslim’ language after clothing brand ‘FabIndia’ uses an Urdu word for a Diwali advertisement. The ad reads “Jashn-e-Rivaaz”.

“Jashn” in Urdu means a celebration while “Riwaaz”, which is actually “Riwaaj”, means tradition. The title translated to “A Celebration of Tradition”.
However, Hindu right-wing forces in India forced the brand to withdraw its festive season advertisement, accusing it of “hurting” the religious sentiments of Hindu’s.

Nivedita Menon, professor of comparative politics and political theory at International Studies School of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi, speaks to Radio Islam on Urdu being seen as a ‘Muslim’ language in India.

“It is ridiculous even to suggest that Urdu is a ‘Muslim’ language,” she says.

Menon adds: “it would be a mistake to see this as ‘Indians’ or Hindus’ being outraged; this is very much a political project of ‘Hindu-Rashtra”. “Hindu-Rashtra” refers to a century-old Hindu supremacist movement that seeks to convert India into an ethnic Hindu state by designating another community – the Muslims.

India’s ruling political party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s members and other Hindu nationalist groups, started attacking FabIndia on social media for using an Urdu word.

A BJP member, Tejasvi Surya, tweeted: “Deepavali is not Jashn-e-Riwaaz,” calling Diwali by its more traditional name.

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