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Purpose: The paper examines how Urdu evolved from the language of the rulers to the lingua franca of Muslims in the modern times. The paper attempts to highlight how Urdu is still being used as an identity marker for Muslims with respect to the other communities and is a source of ascendancy, an achieved elitist status within the Muslims of the North and Deccan.
Approach/Methodology/Design: Socio-cultural analysis.
Findings: The usage of Urdu as a political instrument by the Muslim League and the cultural influence the language has exerted on the Muslim community led to its usage as a source of elitism within the community in the modern times. The analysis indicates that there is harking back to the highly Persianised, nastaliq form of Urdu, which was manifested in its literature in the twentieth century as the pure, hegemonic and the aspired language, true to the identity of the community. The language was characterized by its emergence as a monolithic, distinctive medium, overcoming the different varieties and registers during the British rule through the Hindi-Urdu controversy.
Practical Implications: This review study situates Urdu in a socio-cultural context, reflecting the historical status of the language in India.
Originality/value: Urdu has been recognized as a language of a particular community i.e. Muslims in the Indian subcontinent, especially those in the Northern and the Deccan parts of the independent India. This review article, through the use of literature review and content analysis, shows that Urdu is used as a language by Muslims in a way that denotes their high status within the community, due to a variety of factors embedded in the socio-cultural history of the community in the Indian subcontinent.
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