Uttar Pradesh has been the epicentre of art and literature of the Hindi-speaking world. It has produced several litterateurs in Hindi and Urdu, including the likes of Premchand, Jaishankar Prasad and Firaq Gorakhpuri. Those who were born and lived here, and breathed in its socio-political atmosphere, depicted these in their poetry, short stories and novels. Over the last decades, the most significant change in these parts is migration. This doesn’t just apply to UP, but almost all states. A big section of youth who were born there has moved to Delhi. It’s not a new phenomenon, though. Even before Independence, most people from UP and Bihar would go to Calcutta in search of employment. After some time, Bombay (Mumbai) emerged as the most alluring destination to people looking for a livelihood. Today, it is Delhi that has acquired the distinction of the city that attracts hundreds and thousands of people—not just for their bread and butter, but also for education and politics.
Even though UP itself has some good old seats of learning, like Allahabad University, Banaras Hindu University and Aligarh Muslim University, they no longer have the charm they once held. Those who want to get a better education or a foothold in politics make a beeline for Delhi. Hundreds of Hindi and Urdu poets and writers from UP have landed up in the capital for better prospects. Living here, they have been removed from the everyday realities of the land they write about. How can they portray its social milieu in the way writers like Rahi Masoom Raza did, if they are not experiencing or observing the rhythm of life there? For writing to be rooted in the soil, it is important that the writer gets himself immersed in the throb of its culture. But in reality, the migration of writers from UP to the metros—one could call it a brain drain—has ensured that there are few left in the state who can carry on this tradition.