Tuesday, 7 August 2012

WW2 propaganda in Roman Hindustani

Found an interesting webpage a few days ago. It tells a fascinating account of the propaganda war between the British Colonial Government on the one side and the Axis powers (Germany and Japan) and a group of Indian freedom fighters on the other.

I have yet to read the whole thing. But skimming through it I noticed something damn interesting. The British, Germans, Japanese and Indians were using Romanised Hindi/Urdu to reach the masses. 

The title of a leaflet from the Indian National Army of the Provisional Indian Government reads: 

Burma par dobara qabza karna ger-munkin hai.

(It's impossible to conquer Burma again.)

The leaflet refers to the British attempts to recapture the territory from the INA and its Japanese allies.

A German propaganda pamphlet asks Indians if they were aware of what was happening in the world. 

It reads:

Hindustánio! Tum ko kuchh khabar haí kih dunyá men kyá ho ráhá haí?

Another example of German efficiency. They mark long vowels! It makes the text easier to read.

That was more than 60 years ago. What makes it so fascinating is that the people writing them were no scientists experimenting on a new script. They were propagandists of desperate regimes trying to woo Indians. And this makes me wonder, why would they chose to put forward their side in Roman script. I don't have the faintest idea.

Aside from the script, the propaganda is chiefly in four languages: English, Hindi/Urdu, Bengali and Tamil. English probably for the educated urban populace, Hindi/Urdu for the North and the West, Bengali for the Eastern parts and Tamil for the South.