Skip to main content

Hard times? Seeking to promote Urdu amidst 'efforts' to brand it as language of Muslims

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed* 

Those who believe that Urdu is a dying language, must come to the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL), spend some time here and see that Urdu, like any other language, is on a fast track. For the connoisseurs of Urdu, it is a heaven!
In spite of the pitfalls in the way of Urdu, the language of syncretic culture, it is growing, owing to the never-say-die efforts of Prof Aquil Ahmed, its director, under whom thousands of poor Muslim boys and girls have been learning various computer courses all the year round in hundreds of areas from Kargil to Kanyakumari and Tripura to Goa while non-Muslims have been learning it with penchant.
When Ahmed took over as the Council’s director, he had a vision to upgrade Urdu culture through its literature both for children and adults. His basic aim is to take action for making available in Urdu language, the knowledge of scientific and technological development as well as knowledge of ideas evolved in the modern context. 
What’s interesting is that he has accomplished it rather than indulging in mere lip service which could be seen in the testing and trying days of Covid-19, where the council was managing exceedingly well.
As George Orwell and Prof Aquil were both born at Motihari (Bihar), they also share the literary and academic taste of course in different languages – English and Urdu. The way Orwell worked on fantasy in “1984”, Ahmad’s masterpiece is, “Urdu Fiction mein Fantasy ki Jamaliat”, also on the same topic.
When asked about his views on Urdu being branded as a language of Muslims, pat came his reply: Urdu was very much India's lingua franca, a language of our amalgamated cultural heritage belonging to all Indians, irrespective of caste, creed or religion. Umpteen Urdu publishing houses were manned by non-Muslims. Urdu was nurtured equally by litterateurs like Prem Chand, Rajinder Singh Bedi, Pundit Anand Mohan Zutshi, Krishna Chander, Gopi Chand Ram Lal and others.
A yeomen’s job that Aquil has accomplished in his tenure is the publication of the Urdu literature for children including a large number of storybooks with coloured pictures. Many of them have been translated from the National Book Trust children’s books in various languages including the works of Shankar, M Chalapathi, Manorama Jafa, Mitra Phukan etc. Eminent Urdu writers include Saliha Abid Hussain, Alqama Shibli, Ghulm Haider, Ather Parvez, Prem Pal Ashk, Meem Nadeem. MM Rajinder etc.
Besides being a dynamic, enlightened and go-getter academician, Prof Aquil also occupies a higher pedestal among the authors, writers and orators on the global fabric of Urdu world. Owing to his multifarious expertise at the language, which has enabled Prof Aquil Ahmad to enact a variety of roles in electronic media including a tele-film “Shanti Doot”, directed by Prakash Jha and the Door Darshan serial, “Gulistan Bostan”, the Urdu world visualizes him as a celebrity already.
Prof Aquil Ahmad
Though a professor of Urdu, he has marvelled his writing prowess both in English as well as Hindi to the extent that as a multi-lingual writer, many journalists have written columns upon him. His writings are bedecked with literary genius and journalistic excellence and hence, are a treat to peruse through by one and all and especially the connoisseurs of his creations!
The basic job of the NCPUL is to advise the government of India on issues concerned with Urdu language and having bearing on education or undertaking any activity for promotion of Urdu. Almost every year the NCPUL organizes the Urdu Kitab Mela, an Urdu book fair where books are sold for the students and connoisseur of the language at astonishingly low prices. These exhibitions have helped Urdu lovers a lot. NCPUL’s books are best displayed at cheapest rates.
In academic circles, the books published by the NCPUL have a very high rating owing to the quality printing and paper. An excellent effort has been made to reproduce the Urdu classics of the last 300 years. The Council has printed about 1,500 books including the three internationally acclaimed journals “Urdu Duniya” (Urdu monthly), “Fikr-o-Tehqeeq” (Urdu quarterly) “Bachchon ki Duniya” and “Khwatin ki Duniya” (Urdu monthly for women).
Conscious of the fact of the outstanding contribution of Urdu Press in freedom struggle and its important role in the social stability, communal harmony and mainstreaming of the minority thought, the NCPUL has also taken initiative by financially assisting the Urdu authors and writers by considering their work as well as involving them for errands in Urdu.
Owing to his multifarious expertise at the language, which has enabled Prof Aquil Ahmad to enact a variety of roles in electronic media including a tele-film “Shanti Doot”, directed by Prakash Jha and the Door Darshan serial, “Gulistan Bostan”, the Urdu world visualizes him as a celebrity already.
Though a professor of Urdu, he has marvelled his writing prowess both in English as well as Hindi to the extent that as a multi-lingual writer, many journalists have written columns upon him. His writings are bedecked with literary genius and journalistic excellence and hence, are a treat to peruse through by one and all and especially the connoisseurs of his creations!
Owing to his participation and expertise in a plethora of varied activities in the field of administration, publication, organization, his calling a spade a spade and honesty being his watchword during the disposition of his duty in his three-year tenure, Prof Aquil has been felicitated with a two-year extension as the director, NCPUL – something that many of his predecessors haven’t achieved.
It was owing to Prof Aquil’s fondness for Urdu that he took the language to the remote areas like, Goa, Kerala, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Manipur, Assam etc., ably proving that he is worth his salt (promotion of Urdu)! Not only nationally but internationally as well, Prof Aquil Ahmad as per the motto of the NCPUL, has promoted the cause of Urdu abroad as well.
Aquil has conducted more than 300 conferences, seminars, Urdu teachers’ and journalists’ refresher courses, calligraphy workshops, book launches, madrasa modernization programs and quiz competitions to focus that Urdu is a language of composite culture and syncretic ambience.
He has conducted Urdu book fairs, Urdu, Persian and Arabic calligraphy exhibitions, “ghazal” and “mushaira” (Urdu poetry recitation and singing) evenings, storytelling sessions, Urdu drama etc. besides many other activities involving the language, nationally/ internationally.
*Grandnephew of Maulana Azad, chancellor, Maulana Azad National Urdu University



Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Lack of welfare schemes, BSF curbs force West Bengal farmers to migrate far away

Counteview Desk  In a representation to the National Human Rights Commission chairperson, a senior West Bengal based activist has complained that villagers living near the border with Bangladesh are forced to migrate to as far away as Mumbai and Kerala because of lack of government sensitivity towards their welfare in original villages. Giving specific instances, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), said, if the Border Security Force (BSF) had not put any restriction on agricultural activities, and if villages had properly implemented welfare schemes, these people would never migrate to other States. Text: I want to attract your immediate attention to the inhumane condition of the migrated workers of Gobra village, Swarupnagar Block in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal to seek your urgent intervention to protect the rights of these people. Gobra is a village situated near the Indo-Bangladesh Border where the border fencing is about 500 meters i