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Govt criticised for removing Arabic, Persian from Civil Services exams
Wednesday September 4, 2013 3:27 PM, Manzar Imam

The All India Association of Arabic Teachers & Scholars (AIAATS) in collaboration with the All India Persian Scholars' Association (AIPSA) organized a symposium on "Problems and Issues Related to Arabic and Persian" with special reference to a UPSC early 2013 decision to remove Arabic and Persian from Civil Services examinations on Saturday 31 August here at Ghalib Academy, Basti Hazrat Nizamuddin.

The decision to remove Arabic and Persian from the Union Public Service Commission's examination has shocked teachers and thousands of students enrolled in different universities and colleges across India. Many see it as narrowing the opportunities for students many of whom aspire to join India's top administrative services.

It should be noted that earlier in 2013, the UPSC had removed Arabic, French, German, Pali, Persian and Russian from the list of optional subjects for the main examinations.

During last 2-3 years about half a dozen candidates have cleared the India's topmost competitive UPSC exams choosing Arabic and Persian as their main subject, a few of these candidates were even educated in madrasas. While on the one hand, the government is asking the madrasas to join the main stream, on the other hand it is depriving them of such opportunities by these decisions. The UPSC decision therefore is oxymoronic, unfortunate and, very ironical. If the decision is not taken back soon, it might lead to large-scale protests and nationwide condemnation.

Speaking on this occasion Rajya Sabha MP, Mohammed Adeeb, termed the decision as injustice which can never be tolerated. He said that both Arabic and Persian have been India's official languages for centuries and their removal from the UPSC cannot be justified. The MP further said that he had spoken to the Prime Minister to think over the decision and in the meantime he also asked people to meet political leaders and office bearers in the ministry of education in groups and delegations to register their protest against the decision.

This is for the first time in Independent India that a meeting is being organized for survival and protection of Arabic and Persian, remarked Prof. Sharif Husain Qasmi. The decision of the UPSC Committee to remove Arabic and Persian from the competitive examination is very unfortunate. The Committee did not understand the significance of these languages. If this is what democracy is, we lament it. He said that even during the Narasimha Rao government Arabic, Persian and Pali languages were removed from UPSC competitive examinations but after protest the decision was taken back.

Prof. Akhtarul Wasey of Jamia Millia Islamia blamed the UPA government for doing what was not done even during the NDA regime. When English which came to India two centuries ago could become the official language how would Arabic and Persian which have been the official languages of India for eight centuries not be promoted, asked he. He demanded that Arabic and Persian should be promoted and included in the category of modern Indian languages.

Noted Arabic scholar Prof. Zubair Ahmad Farooqi called it an academic corruption and said, "The decision is intended to absolve Muslim energy and prevent Muslims from constructive thinking".

Prof. Chander Shekar, Head of the Department of Persian, University of Delhi criticized the government for the decision and said that alike the British government which had decided to kill India languages, the Indian government now seems to have decided to kill its own language and culture. He said that Urdu, Hindi and Sanskrit would remain incomplete without Arabic and Persian.

Tracing the root of Arabic and Persian to India's long past the AIAATS president, Prof. Mohammad Nauman Khan said that Indian skills, arts and crafts were first introduced to the outside world through Arabic and Persian languages. Arabic and Persian are the languages of national integrity and a means to preserve India's cultural heritage.

While expressing his displeasure over the decision, JNU's Prof. Ainul Hasan, president of AIPSA called the decision a conspiracy. He said that teaching of Arabic and Persian was imperative to understand the Medieval Indian history.

Prof. Khalid Hamidi of Jamia Millia Islamia said that the decision was an example of a serious ignorance. It isn't just a matter of languages but a national issue. Persian is a centuries old language and Arabic used to be the official langue of Sind and Punjab government of the undivided India.

A resolution which condemned the removal of Arabic and Persian from UPSC examinations was read out by Prof. Syed Hasnain Akhtar of Allahabad University. It termed the decision improper and uncalled for and said that in the era of globalization Arabic and Persian languages were being used to enhance India's relations with the Arabic and Persian speaking countries. The resolution further read that Arabic, Persian, Pali and other classical languages had immensely and positively led to the evolution of composite culture. The resolution was unanimously upheld by the audience.

[Photo Caption: (from L to R) Prof. Sharif Husain Qasmi, Prof. (Dr.) Zubair Ahmad Farooqi, Prof. Ainul Hasan, Member of Parliament Mohammed Adeeb and AIAATS president Prof. M. Nauman Khan]

(A freelance journalist Manzar Imam is a research scholar at the Academy of International Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi and can be reached at


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