(Last Updated on : 13/08/2012)
Much as Indo-Persian (Mughal) cultural conflation is represented, the manifestation of Indo-Anglican cultural conflation can be heard in the voice of poets, scholars and critics. All have, in the late-nineteenth century, amply documented the phenomenon of the reformist Indo-Anglican - Aligarh Movement, and also its influence on the careers of Maulana Azad
, Altaf Husain Hali, and other writers in Urdu language
In the year 1835, Lord William Bentinck
passed legislation to propagate English education in India. During this time there was a keen desire on the part of Indians to acquire the knowledge which was considered to be the secret of the progress and efficiency of Western nations. Certainly this desire was shared by Sayed Ahmad Khan
, the leader of the Aligarh Movement
. Indian Muslims, it is widely agreed, were demoralised by the crushing defeat of the Mughal Empire
's last stand in 1857. Many saw its failure as the inevitable outcome of a moral and spiritual turpitude into which Indian Islam had fallen. The key to survival in a country where they were neither the indigenous people, nor any longer the ruling elite, was, in Sayed Ahmad's eyes, to emulate the new rulers as closely as possible. He was firmly convinced that the salvation of his community lay in the assimilation of Western culture and that the best chance for securing a favourable place for Indian Muslims in British India was to forge as close a relationship as possible with the British Empire
Aligarh writers and most respected and esteemed of them all took to heart the notion that Western cultural models were to be emulated, and that Urdu poetry had grown contemptible. English, as a language, because of their political supremacy in India, had become the new arbiters of cultural legitimacy for Indian Muslims.
Surprisingly, Altaf Husain Hali, a renowned Urdu poet, denied that his own poetry was influenced by English poetic principles, or that there was anything in his poetry that could be ascribed to a pursuit of English ways or could be castigated as an abandoning of traditional ways. This apparent contradiction offers a striking indication of the constraints under which Hali was working, and the understandable ambivalence he must have felt as to where, exactly, his loyalties lay. His piety and devotion to Islam were sincere and fundamental, which impelled him in the direction of whatever action he was able to take toward the betterment of his fellow Indian Muslims' condition. Although the Aligarh
reformers openly admired British culture they drew a definite distinction between the virtues of Western civilisation and the objectionable treatment of Indians at British hands.