The Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu (Hind) has enjoyed a glorious history as a premiernationalist organization and literary institution. It has never had any politicalaffiliation and has tried to build bridges between Urdu and Hindi which fizzled outwhen the Urdu-Hindi controversy erupted in the 19 th century.The Anjuman owes its origin to the All India Muslim Educational Conference, setup in 1886 by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. The basic objective of the Conference wassaid to have been not merely to encourage Indian Muslims to adopt moderneducation but also to keep themselves away from all kind of political activity. Toachieve the former, schools and colleges along the lines of the MohammedanOriental College (which graduated into Aligarh Muslim University in 1920) wereto be established. The Conference had three sections: Women’s Education,Educational Census and Schools. The Shoba-e Taraqqi-e Urdu was a subsidiaryorganization of the All India Muslim Educational Conference.In a conference held in 1903, the Shoba-e Taraqqi-e Urdu was rechristened asAnjuman Taraqqi Urdu and noted writer and orientalist Allama Shibli Nomanibecame its Secretary while Maulana Abul Kalam Azad became AssistantSecretary. Shibli had parted ways with the Aligarh movement due to seriousdifferences with Sir Syed, whereas his affection for and reliance on Maulana AbulKalam Azad were firm. The historic association between the two visionaries tookplace around the same time as when Anjuman asserted its independent identity.Maulana Azad, who had started his political career at the exceptionally early age of13 as a nationalist leader—which he remained till his death—was idealisticallyopposed to the Aligarh movement and Sir Syed for his being a blind supporter ofBritish rule. He had seen the kernel of separatist leanings in Sir Syed’s movementbefore anybody else could realize the British design behind it. Later he was provedcorrect by none other than the followers of Sir Syed. Due to his ideology, MaulanaAzad remained instrumental in making the Anjuman a staunchly nationalistorganization, working tirelessly for its cause till his death in 1957. The Anjumantakes pride in its association with that great visionary, much ahead of his times.Sir Syed was against any political activity and wanted Muslims to concentrate onlyon modern education but the seeds of Muslim separatism were fast growing amonghis companions even during his lifetime, and within a few years of his death, theself-imposed ban on political activities came to an end. Sir Syed died on 27 March1998 and in December 1906, a meet of the Muslim Educational Conferenceattended by 3000 delegates was organized in Dhaka. It adopted a resolution toform a political party by the name of All Indian Muslim League which wasresponsible for the partition of India and formation of Pakistan.Initially based in Aligarh, the Anjuman-e Taraqqi-e Urdu, as the name was speltuntil the 1950s, was shifted to Aurangabad (Deccan) in 1913, under the patronageof the Nizam of Hyderabad. In 1938, the Anjuman was moved to Delhi with thegoal of more effective participation in the nationalist movement and of promotingUrdu across India. The name Anjuman-e Taraqqi-e Urdu (Hind) was adopted after1936 when the decision was made to shift it from Aurangabad to Delhi. This isevident from the fact that “Hind” was used in many of the Anjuman’s publicationsfrom 1936 to 1947. Before 1936, the Anjuman was usually called “Anjuman-eTaraqqi-e Urdu, Aurangabad Deccan” in its publications.When the Anjuman actually shifted from the Deccan to Delhi, it was known as“Anjuman-e Taraqqi-e Urdu (Hind), Delhi”. The addition of “Hind” was probablypart of the Anjuman’s effort to promote Urdu as the future national language of anindependent India along with Hindi. After partition, when Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu,Pakistan, was established, the original Anjuman continued to function as AnjumanTaraqqi Urdu (Hind). Not only during India’s freedom struggle but even afterindependence, the Anjuman was fortunate enough to always be at the forefront andremain intrinsic to any discussion related to Urdu, Hindi or Hindustani and thequestion of the national language of India. In fact, it decisively influenced theConstituent Assembly debate in regard to the language issue.Since 1903 and until the mid-1980s, the Anjuman was the only prominentorganization of Urdu which fought for establishing other organizations.The then General Secretary in pre-independence days, Maulvi Abdul Haq, coulddare to announce his allegiance to Muslim League ideology only in the closingyears of the freedom struggle. Immediately after Partition, when he was all set tomove to Karachi, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Dr Zakir Husain asked PrimeMinister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to stop the move by force, if necessary. MaulanaAzad was by then the first education Minister of Independent India, and Dr ZakirHusain a nationalist and a prominent member of the group which had beenresponsible for establishing Jamia Millia Islamia in 1920 in Aligarh. These youngnationalists were opposed to the Aligarh Muslim University, initially due to its pro-British slant and later because it was turning into a nerve centre of the MuslimLeague’s activities. A battalion of sepoys was sent to the Anjuman’s office in Darya Ganj and MaulviAbdul Haq was left with no option but to migrate to Pakistan minus the preciousmanuscripts and documents of the Anjuman. Partition ripped apart north India andthe Anjuman too suffered its horrific consequences. Soon after the sepoys left itsoffice, all the staff members of the Anjuman, though but a few in number, werekilled by those Indians who held the Muslims of India responsible for the creationof Pakistan. In 1949, Aligarh took rebirth under the Vice Chancellorship of DrZakir Husain and the offices of the Anjuman were also shifted to Aligarh andthereafter moved to New Delhi in 1977 after getting its own home, namely UrduGhar.In regard to the promotion of Urdu as a commonly spoken and functionallanguage, the Anjuman played a positive and decisive role, chiefly with referenceto the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. The Anjuman grew to acquirethe status of a nationalist organization, maintaining close relation with nationalleaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, C. Rajagopalacharya, MaulanaAbul Kalam Azad and Dr Zakir Husain along with a galaxy of Urdu and Hindiwriters – Premchand being the most prominent name among them.The Anjuman’s prominence in India continued after partition and it became evenmore relevant simply because Pakistan also established its own Anjuman—anotherinstance of the identity crisis faced by our neighbouring nation —and, for decades,it was the most powerful body concerned with the promotion of Urdu language andliterature.The Anjuman’s contribution to Indian society, mainly its linguistic diversity,continued unabated during the difficult post-Partition years through the promotionof Urdu language and literature along secular lines, thereby maintaining India’scomposite Ganga–Jamuni culture.The Anjuman continues its honourable tradition of working as the most effectiveorganization for the promotion of Urdu language with a nationwide spread of 650branches—in nearly every city and town where a substantial Urdu-speakingpopulation lives or which has a historical connect with Urdu—headed by statesecretaries. In fact, after 1980 the Anjuman assisted in the creation of variousinstitutions through memorandums and dialogues with the Government of India.The country has not witnessed any other instance in which a linguistic movementby a single organization has achieved such success by peaceful means.During the more than 125 years of its existence, the Anjuman has publishedseveral hundred books of very high scholastic standard and its library boasts acollection of rare books and manuscripts, some as old as 600 years, which are ofgreat value to scholars and researchers from Indian and foreign universities, not tomention Urdu writers, poets and journalists. The website of the Anjuman is all setto keep you abreast of its new ventures in the days to come.