Mumbai News: Devanagari Or Perso-Arabic? An Old Dispute Over Script Erupts Over New Sindhi School Textbooks

Mumbai News: Devanagari Or Perso-Arabic? An Old Dispute Over Script Erupts Over New Sindhi School Textbooks

NCPSL's Director Ravi Tekchandani accused Chand of 'misleading' Sindhi speakers.

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Wednesday, June 19, 2024, 11:57 PM IST
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Left To Right: The Ramayana in Sindhi,Sindhi language books, the Bhagwat Gita in Sindh | FPJ

The dispute over which script should be used for Sindhi has been revived with the plans for a new batch of school textbooks in the language.

While the books produced for the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) are being written in Devnagari, community groups have said that the Perso-Arabic script, used predominantly in the past, should have been used. Devanagari is the script used for Marathi, Hindi, Nepali, and Sanskrit.

NIOS, which offers vocational anal academic courses, has already published books in Sindhi for classes 10 and 12 and is in the process of creating texts for other grades. The institute said it hopes to revive interest in the language among Sindhi children who are unfamiliar with it. The books will be distributed to affiliated schools, especially those run by Sindhi speakers ."The response (to learn the language) is not very encouraging, but we are trying.' said B K Rai, Deputy Director of NIOS.

Rai added that the books are being written in Devnagari because that is the demand. "It is need-based. When we get a requisition for books in Perso-Arabic we will publish them."

However, some community groups have said that the Perso-Arabic script is best suited for Sindhi. The script uses 52 letters - 28 from Arabic, some from Persian, and others unique to the language. "Devanagari does not have enough alphabets to suit Sindhi phonology. Most of our literature is written in the Persio-Arabic script. How will young people access the language's literature when they are unfamiliar with the script?" asked Asha Chand of Sindhi Sangat who wrote to the National Council for the Promotion of Sindhi Language (NCPSL).

The dispute over the script came after a section of the community, who had moved to India after Sindh was allotted to Pakistan, wanted to discard the Perso-Arabic script and use Devanagari. A consensus arrived after the government intervened in the 1950s and it was decided that both scripts were acceptable. "If both scripts are acceptable, why are the books published in Devnagari?" asked Chand.

NCPSL's Director Ravi Tekchandani accused Chand of 'misleading' Sindhi speakers. "NIOS is publishing the books in Devnagari, keeping in mind the demand. When there is a demand for books in Perso-Arabic we will print that too. Both scripts are being used. The Sindhi Sahitya Akademi has published 250-300 titles in the language, all in the Persio-Arabic script. This is dividing the community," said Tekchandani. "Young people want to learn Sindhi in Devanagari because they want to live and work in India."

Languages written in more than one script Konkani: Devanagari, Roman, Kannada, Malayalam Punjabi: Perso-Arabic (in Pakistan), Gurumukhi, Devanagari Manipuri: Meitei, Roman, Bengali-Assamese Photos 

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