Narendra Modi’s Aarogya Setu app to fight COVID-19 neglects Urdu

Aarogya Setu app supports eleven languages excluding Urdu which is one of the official languages in India. Two Union Territories Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have Urdu as their official language. According to census 2011, 50.4 millions of population use Urdu as their primary language.

Narendra Modi government launched the Aarogya Setu (a bridge to healthcare  in Hindi) mobile app on April 2. The app is meant to alert users if they come in contact with a Covid-19 positive patient, and what measures they need to take in case that happens.

Prime Minister Modi recommended on April 14 that citizens download this app while announcing an extension of the national lockdown till May 3. Several government agencies have also been spreading awareness about Aarogya Setu through different social media and other channels.

Although, the app has received criticisms from Cyber Experts fearing misuse of citizens privacy, there is a more serious concern for 15 crores Muslim population of this country. The app has no option of Urdu in spite of the fact, a big population especially from two newly created union territories Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh speak this language. Both UTs have Urdu its official language status. Madarsa background people also do not know better Hindi and English and their primary language is Urdu. Muslim women are also at loss as they are homely educated and do only know how to read and write Urdu.

इस स्टोरी को हिंदी में पढ़ें: COVID-19 से लड़ने के लिए तैयार सरकारी मोबाइल ऐप आरोग्य सेतु ऐप से उर्दू नदारद

Mohammad Adil, says he has a smart phone and wanted to install Aarogya Setu after Prime Minister Narendra Modi recommended for its use to fight COVID-19 pandemic. “I am helpless as I am not well-versed in English and Hindi as much as in Urdu,” he said in a disappointing tone. “I want to be with our prime minister in this disastrous time and help our country get rid of Corona but I do not know how he forgot to include Urdu which is a vernacular for many like us,” he further added.

Adil is not all alone. Rahma is a graduate from a Madarsa and prefers to use Urdu as she better understands the language she has been educated in. “I feel very sorry for the prime minister who claims to the world  that he is one who is equally concerned about minorities in India but he ignores the language of the Muslim mass and thus deprived a big population from using the healthcare app introduced in the wake of COVID19 epidemic,” she said.

“This government is very insensitive to the weaker section and the minority. It has categorically wiped the language from the app. Every citizen of India who holds a smart phone needs to install this to keep away from the infected people,” a woman social activist on condition of not publishing her name said. “We women at large use this language and having no option of Urdu we are just eliminated. Are those not Indians who speak and write only Urdu?” she asked.

Aarogya Setu app is a mobile application developed by the ministry of electronics and IT. The app was launched by the Government of India on April 1, 2020 to track the corona virus cases across the country.

The app is designed to inform the users regarding risks, best practices and relevant advisories pertaining to the containment of COVID-19. The tracking is done through a Bluetooth and location generated social graph which calculates the user’s risk of infection based on proximity of COVID-19 patient. It is available on Google Play Store for free and more than 50 million users have already downloaded this.

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