With many Delhi University aspirants gunning for a seat in English and English journalism, traditional languages such as Urdu and Arabic—which were at the centre of an intellectual movement called the 'Delhi Renaissance' through the 1840s and 50s—seem to have taken a backseat.
But all is not lost for the courses, especially Urdu.
Zakir Hussain College (ZHC), Kirori Mal College and Satyawati College are among the few trying to keep tradition alive.
Colleges such as St Stephen's, Lady Shriram, Miranda House and Dyal Singh College do offer Urdu as part of their BA Programme, but ZHC is among the three offering an undergraduate course in Urdu and the only institution offering one in Arabic.
A degree in Urdu is considered especially beneficial when it comes to journalism.
“For vernacular media within the Hindustani belt—knowledge of Urdu is not only an asset, but indispensable,” said Dr Khalid Alvi, reader at ZHC.
Others echo Alvi’s statement.
“Most of our students want to get into Hindi media,” said Dr NM Kamal, head of Urdu department at DU.
“We also get many applications from theatre artistes. I believe this is because Urdu is the language of the North Indian media.”
Established as Madrasa Ghaziuddin Khan in 1702, ZHC was the first and only college offering education in Maths, Law and Philosophy with Urdu as the medium of instruction.
And Mirza Ghalib was a frequent visitor here.