Mumbai: The Medical Council of India has been approached by a student organization with a request for Urdu to be included as one of the languages for conduction of the National Eligibility(NEET) exam.`
On December 21, the Council allowed the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) in eight languages — English, Hindi, Marathi, Assamese, Gujarati, Bengali, Telugu and Tamil.
The Maharashtra wing of Student Islamic Organisation (SIO), however, has demanded that the exam be held in Urdu as well. Mohammed Ali, the organization’s Secretary, claimed that the fate of several students, who have been formally trained in Urdu, was at stake.
“In Maharashtra alone, there are around 168 Urdu-medium science junior colleges and many Urdu-medium students appear for HSC examinations in the science stream every year,” said Ali. The organization has also gathered online signature support for the cause of Urdu for NEET by gathering 1300 signatures on an online petition.
Speaking about marginalization of the urdu language due to communal politics post independence ,Abdul Shaban, Deputy Director of the Tuljapur centre of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, said the Sachar Committee, which looked into the social, economic and educational status of Muslims, too had confirmed the fact.
“Urdu is neither the language of the state nor the market. As a result, those formally trained in the language have been at a disadvantage,” said Shaban. In his paper titled Urdu and Urdu-medium Schools in Maharashtra, Shaban talked about this disadvantage: “Most of the state-conducted competitive examinations are in Marathi and English. This shuts the door for Urdu students for larger job opportunities. In such a scenario, the most an Urdu-educated student can expect is the job of a teacher in Urdu schools and/or in madrasas.”
Citing the above as one of the reasons for poor muslim representation in technical education institutes . To correct this, the Sachar committee as well as educationists have highlighted the importance of Urdu-medium education beyond secondary sections. It is the language disadvantage that makes it difficult for those interested in higher education to sit for medical and engineering entrance tests.
“There are more than 30,000 students in Maharashtra alone who appear for HSC exams after being trained in Urdu. They are eligible for writing competitive exams, but need special preparation in English,” said Kazim Malik, a career counselor and teacher who helps students from the Muslim community prepare for entrance exams. He also urged the government to publish textbooks in Urdu to improve quality of education imparted to Muslims.