Learning Hindi-Urdu is one of the best ways to engage with the study of South Asia. Hindi, one of the most important South Asian vernaculars, is the official language of India and is spoken in different regional manifestations and variations in the northern Indian states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. Hindi has also traveled to countries outside South Asia and is spoken in Fiji, Mauritius, Trinidad and Guyana, for example, and throughout the South Asian diaspora of the Western world.
Furthermore, Hindi is related to Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi and other South Asian vernaculars through shared histories, etymologies, and cultures. Urdu is the national language of Pakistan and also commonly spoken in India. Many students will know Hindi-Urdu from Bollywood movies. On a colloquial level, Hindi and Urdu share grammar and lexicon.
Learning Hindi-Urdu, is exciting, challenging and timely, especially when considering the increased attention towards South Asian economics, politics and culture on the global market. Irrespective of your personal background and regardless of your major, enhancing your knowledge about South Asia by means of learning Hindi-Urdu language and literature at a University level or through participating in the South Asian Studies program will benefit your future life. Learning languages in the age of globalization is another aspect to consider.
Shobna Nijhawan, Ph.D.