Hyderabad: An online campaign to restore the old logo of historic Osmania University of Hyderabad has gained tremendous momentum with more than 25,000 people signing a petition urging Telangana government to respond positively to the demand.
The controversy came to the fore with alumni of the more than century old university with a glorious past launching the online campaign after the logo was completely altered removing all the Urdu and Arabic inscriptions from the intricately designed emblem and replacing them with Telugu and Sanskrit inscriptions.
Zuhair Madani, who moved the petition on Change.org platform last week, explaining the reason behind his campaign said, "Urdu is integral part of this region. Its removal from the emblem is irrational as OU was the first university in the country to start courses in Indian languages".
Osmania University, established by the last Nizam of Hyderabad Mir Osman Ali Khan had many unique distinctions to its credit as it was the first university in the country to have an Indian language – Urdu - as medium of instruction.
Even subjects like medicines and engineering were taught in Urdu language till the police action in 1948 through which Hyderabad state was merged into Indian Union.
Former Chief Minister Dr Marri Channa Reddy was among hundreds of non-Muslim students who studied medicine and other subjects in the university. Even former Indian Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao was a student of the university till he was rusticated by the authorities for his activities against the Nizam rule.
The widespread change after 1948 saw a drastic alteration in the character of the university as English replaced Urdu as medium of instruction and gradually the logo of the university also underwent many changes under successive governments.
An online activist and student of architecture Sibghatullah, who decoded and analysed the gradual change in logo over the years said, "the internet campaign was triggered when I put the decoded version online and it went viral".
While the original logo has the Turra (the crown) of Nizam on the top with a Quranic verse Noorun Ala Noor (Light upon Light) and also a saying of Prophet Mohammed in Arabic script, "I am the city of Knowledge and Ali is its gate", the bottom of the logo had the name of the university "Jamia Osmania". In the middle of the logo, Arabic and Urdu alphabet "Ain" was written in bold and prominently which was the initial of Mir Osman Ali Khan.
Sighatullah in his comparative chart of various logos from different points of time showed how it was completely changed and ended up becoming a pale image of its original with only "Ain" remaining in the middle and all other inscriptions replaced by Hindi, Sanskirit and Telugu.
Along with the online campaign, thousands also took to social media to urge the Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, his son and senior minister K Taraka Rama Rao and also Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi to take measures to restore the old logo.
Some of them even charged the Chief Minister with attempting to change the character of the university and Hyderabad itself.
With the K Chandrasekhar Rao government coming under attack from all sides, especially from the Muslim minority, the state government deployed the state's only Muslim minister Mohammed Mahmood Ali to defend itself.
"The logo was not changed now. It was changed between 1951 and 1960 under Congress rule but now some people are blaming the TRS government for it", Mahmood Ali said.
In a report submitted to the government, Prof SA Shakoor, head of the department of Urdu, Osmania University said, "the logo was silently changed starting with the removal of the crown of Mir Osman Ali Khan. Finally the name of the university written in Urdu was replaced with Telugu. The logo had completely changed by 1960".
"The changes had nothing to do with the TRS government. The criticism against the present government was baseless", he said.