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Gandhi praised Urdu in his last letter

world Updated: Jun 29, 2007 17:43 IST

PTI
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In a letter written 19 days before his death, Mahatama Gandhi had admonished those who were opposing Urdu, asking them not to copy "the bad manners of Pakistan with a vengeance" while advocating that it should be jointly recognised with Devanagari as national scripts.

In the letter, a rare manuscript that will go under hammer at Christie's in London on July 3, Gandhi said opposing Urdu will "put a wanton affront" on the Muslims, who "in the eyes of Hindus have become aliens in their own land".

Writing in his journal 'Harijan' on January 11, 1948, Gandhi, who appeared disturbed with the dwindling circulation of its Urdu edition, said in the letter that it is likely to be stopped.

Praising Urdu, which he said "is set free from bondage of orthodoxy", he asserted that those who learn it will "lose nothing but gain". At the same time he urged Muslims to learn Devanagari to "enrich their intellectual" capital and subscribe to his journal.

Indian government has stepped up efforts to acquire the letter which is likely to be sold for 9,000 to 12,000 pounds.

Following is the transcript of the Gandhi manuscript, including the majority of the cancelled passages. Text between brackets has been crossed out in the original:

"(I have at) Two weeks ago I (referred to this) hinted in the Gujarati columns that Harijan printed in the Urdu script was likely to be stopped as its sale was steadily dwindling. Apart even from financial considerations, I saw no meaning in publishing it, if there was no demand for it."