HYDERABAD: Students of schools with Madrasa background are taking to the study of Persian with the classic ‘Farsi’ language opening up job avenues in government and private organisations lately.
Islamic universities and institutions in the state have been teaching the language at basic levels for some time now. “At higher levels, the madrasa passouts are seeking admission in universities to learn and master the language. It enables them to get jobs in government institutions and multi-national companies,” said professor Aziz Banu of the department of Persian in Maulana Azad National Urdu University.
MANUU recently gave affiliation to a few Islamic institutions and is treating their courses equivalent to Intermediate and graduation as the case may be.
“Students familiar with Arabic and Urdu are also allowed to take admission in the BA (Persian) course. The decision has given a fillip to those keen on mastering the language,” she said, adding that as of now about 40 students are pursuing various courses in the university. “Recently, HR personnel from IT giant Facebook conducted interviews at the campus to select students. The company want to recruit candidates to check Persian language content on their pages. The recruitment process is underway,” said professor Shahed Naukhaz Azmi, HoD of department of Persian in MANUU.
The university awarded recognition to many institutions, including Jamia Nizamia, Darul Uloom Hy-derabad and Deoband, Ma-drasa Jamaitul-ul-Momin-ath etc., apart from a few other institutions in New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.
As for job prospects for Persian language students, apart from multi-nationals, several private and government-managed libraries in the state are also looking for candidates with those skills.
“There is a large collection of Persian literature, manuscripts and books in the libraries. Students proficient in Persian are hired by libraries to preserve these works and do research in the language,” said Osmania University’s department of Persian HoD Dr Mohd Ashfaque Chand.
This apart, many private management and engineering colleges have also started offering Persian as second language to students from Iran and other countries.
One-man staff at manuscripts institute
The Oriental Manuscripts and Research Institute has just one person to handle Arabic, Persian and Urdu sections which together have a collection of about 17,000 manuscripts. So, getting hold of one of these valuable pieces of literature for reference or research is a feat in itself.
The vast collection of manuscripts date back to several centuries, mostly the Asaf Jahi period. The collection includes about copies of 700 Qurans, many written in golden ink, firmaans (royal decrees) and books on about 47 subjects ranging from medicine to history.
Of these, a large majority of books and manuscripts are written in Persian language. There are another 5,000 books in Telugu and Sanskrit languages.
Scholars from across the globe, including Iran, Oman, Iraq, visit the library at Oriental institute for research. With just one person to look after an entire range of literature, there is delay in issuing books.
“Upkeep of the books and manuscripts is the most important issue. They are given chemical treatment periodically. But all this isn’t being done on time for lack of staff qualified to do that, thereby risking damage to the centuries old manuscripts,” said a scholar in Osmania University.
The digitisation of about 10,000 books is done but work on others has stopped owing to absence of staff. Keeping in the mind their value, a lot of care should be taken to keep the books preserved and safe lest they get damaged or are stolen. “Some of the manuscripts are the only ones of their kind anywhere. So security of the material is utmost important for us,” said a staff member on condition of anonymity.
The library allows people to take printouts or photostat copies of the books for Rs 5 a page. Scholars shell out thousands of rupees for material they need for research. But the government does not pay attention to the library’s upkeep. It should either merge it with Salar Jung Museum library of the State Archives and Research Institute for better care, said academicians and historians.
Need for short-term Persian courses
Historians say the government needs to do more to promote Persian language in the interest research work.
“People are keen on learning the language. But the system is such that there are certain age barriers when it comes to taking up a degree or PG course in Persian. However, a few institutions do offer diploma courses for those who are interested in learning the history,” said Dr Mohd Safiullah, a historian.
Some language experts want the government to start short-term diploma courses in Persian for a nominal fee so that it attracts people. “Such a move can boost research activity locally,” said one historian.
There are about 1.5 lakh Persian books and manuscripts at the State Archive and Research Institute apa-rt from several lakh other books at Salar Jung Muse-um, Oriental Manuscripts and Research Institute, Asafia library and other private libraries in the city....