Renaissance of the Urdu Academy

By Hafeez Naumani

Translated from Avadhnama, Lucknow, 8 February 2014

It is something to be happy about that president and chairman of Urdu Academy have been nominated. However, this did not go well with that the High Court had to intervene in the internal affairs of us, the Urdu banner bearers.

Munawwar Rana
Munawwar Rana

The names of Munawwar Rana as President and Nawaz Deobandi as Chairman are not simply appropriate but are most deserved.

Whatever has happened inside the Urdu Academy during the past years has been widely publicised but how much more damage this publicity has done will only become known when the respected Munawwar Rana and Nawaz Deoband will review it.

Urdu Academy was established in response to the demand of Urdu speakers that Urdu be recognised as a regional language and be included in the Three Language Formula. Once Mujahid-e-Urdu (the great campaigner for Urdu) Qazi Adeel Abbasi  had questioned the then Speaker Purushottam Das Tandon, ‘Why don’t you give Urdu what is its right?’ To this he had retorted, ‘Qazi Saheb, we will give Urdu its right but after 20 years.’ And exactly 20 years later and exactly 20 years after independence Mr Kamlapati Tripathi gave us the Urdu Academy and Anand Narain Mulla was made its first chairman which was in no way appropriate. Even at that time I had opposed this decision as much as I could and had written that, ‘For a starving language we had demanded succor like bread, water, lentils and rice and had not asked for cream, powder and silken sari that has been given to us in the form Urdu Academy.’ But we lost the battle when people enjoying the status of Ghalib and Meer of their times gathered round [towards Urdu Academy] like hungry and the destitute lot and when they saw that they had achieved what they had wanted then there followed the scuffle and fight for its positions and membership.  Anyway, what has so far been happening is extremely shameful. As far as we know every [bad thing] that happens in the tehseels and registrars’ offices in small towns is being practiced here.

President Munawwar Rana knows it very well and Chairman Nawaz also knows it to some extent that we are a responsible press people and excepting Ms. Tarannum Aqeel there has not been any president or chairman [of Urdu Academy] with whom we have not been personally acquainted. But despite extreme pressures we have not printed even a single book of the Academy. Not because this was a bad thing for us to do but because we could not call the commission being demanded a, ‘Gift’ and later apportion a share being asked by the person who prepared the cheques.

Nawaz Deobandi
Nawaz Deobandi

It went to the extent that a staffer [of Urdu Academy] asked us to prepare an estimate and to add 20% in it as his share. Hearing my ugly response he went away. However, the book in question, whose budget was in lakhs of rupees, was published fulfilling all the requirements being practiced in Muslim institutions i.e. Waqf Board, Arbi Farsi [Arabic, Persian] Madrassa Board etc.

The anguish of the delayed elections has now been converted into joy because both names are very appropriate. Munawwar Rana lives in Lucknow and will be aware of the malpractices in Urdu Academy more than we do because he is on record to have once even said that the Urdu Academy should be closed.

He is a businessmen and has managed and run a department like the Transport. We are sure the crafty-tongued employees will not be able to trick him. He has published his own collection of poetry and prose in various forms and sizes. Merely holding and weighing a book in his hand he can tell you how much printing of one thousand copies of that that book will cost?

Soon after taking over the charge indications of the reforms that Munawwar Rana intends to introduce, give us an idea of a complete road map that he has in his mind for the Academy. He does not need to be told what needs to be done; nor does he need such an advice. Yet we would want to remind him that when Dir. Yusuf Nagrami was elected as Academy’s Chairman he had campaigned for starting evening school of which Mr Rana must be aware in detail. Either through evening schools or through some other method there should be some kind or the other motivation for children to learn Urdu and adequate budget should be allocated for this.

It is an embarrassment for us the people of UP that the foundation stone of the Urdu Academy was laid in UP and the other states followed the suit later. We are still sitting in a hut and selling our faith for as cheap as Rs10 while in a small state like Delhi it is glittering like a sheesh mahal [palace of mirrors]. In their progress perhaps Urdu Academies in other states are ahead of us.

Most interesting aspect in this development is that the president has been fully empowered and the he happens to be so strict that even slightest sense of interference by anyone will make him kick this position and go home. It is because his stature is higher than this position. May this never happen and may the dreams of us, the Urdu speakers, come true. I, on my own behalf, and on the behalf of all those newspapers in which my columns are published, congratulate those who have made this selection and those who have been selected for this job.

Recitation by Munawwar Rana

Recitation by Nawaz Deobandi

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