The Anjuman

Ather Farouqi

The Partition of India has had a devastating and everlasting impact on every aspect of life in the subcontinent, including the damage or complete distortion of institutions and halting the process of the evolution of Indian society. The Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu (Hind) is one such institution that has also fallen victim to the political motivation to Islamize Urdu, and by corollary to support the belief that it is the language of the newly established nation of Pakistan. The Anjuman had already parted ways from the Sir Syed Movement in 1903 when, following his death in 1898, it was hijacked by separatists who were successful in establishing the Muslim League during the 1906 session of the All India Muhamma-dan Educational Conference in Dhaka.

Since 1903 nationalist leadership was determined to help preserve the Anjuman's character as a nationalist institution of Urdu. Mahatma Gandhi too was closely associated with this move, and Maulana Azad and Dr Zakir Husain aggressively spoke for the migration of the organization to Pakistan. Even though the Anjuman's office at Daryaganj was burnt down and a family of workers living on the premises was killed by rioters, most of its precious manuscripts were saved. When it was felt that the Anjuman would notionally be moved to Pakistan, Maulana Azad had deputed policemen to stand guard and not allow the then General Secretary to transfer the books and manuscripts to Pakistan; he migrated empty-handed.

In the last 75 years, the Anjuman has slowly rebuilt its library, and now it is one of the major libraries with a huge collection of old books and priceless manuscripts. These can be accessed on its website,

An American historian, Andrew Amustuz then a research scholar from Cornell University, has written his doctoral dissertation on the Anjuman, and his degree was awarded in 2017. He has also contributed an article on the Anjuman's library “A Partitioned Library: Changing Collecting Priorities and Imagined Futures in a Divided Urdu Library, 1947–49”, which gives new insights about Partition, to South Asia, a renowned journal of history published by the South Asian Studies Association, Australia. It is attached with the hope that it will givenew insight on Partition.

Its translation is published in the quarterly

A brochure giving a brief overview of Anjuman can also be accessed

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Vol. 54, No. 18, Oct 31 - Nov 6, 2021