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Mainstream, VOL L, No 19, April 28, 2012

Whither National Council for the Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL)?

Monday 30 April 2012


I wholeheartedly congratulate Mainstream on the publication of Ather Farouqui’s remarkable article on Urdu in its annual issue and the overwhelming response it has received, generating an unpre-cedented debate on the pathetic inactivity of the literary organisations of Left-wing parties, particularly the Progressive Writers Association. The issue of shoddy functioning of Urdu organisations in general has also remained unaddressed for years. The situation is, indeed, pathetic and nobody seems to be concerned about the language, which has remained confined mostly to Muslims and is for all practical purposes taught mainly in dini madaris. And it is the alumni of these dini madaris who control the levers of power in Urdu organisations. Likewise, Urdu newspapers also focus for the most part on the concerns of the alumni of dini madaris. A recent example of this is that no major Urdu daily of Delhi has published the news about the resignation of Dinesh Trivedi and the whole debate around the increase in railway fares. For non-Muslims, the Urdu script has become alien and, therefore, anything published in the language hardly reaches anywhere outside Muslim circles. This has also led to criminal unawareness of the state of affairs in government-controlled Urdu institutions, the functioning of which is arbitrary and full of corruption.

I would like to take this opportunity to bring to the notice of the eminent readers of Mainstream the happenings in one such organisation under the HRD Ministry which has an annual budget of Rs 20 crores and where indiscriminate loot was carried out by its tainted Director, Dr Hamidullah Bhat, for nearly 15 years till the Hon’ble Delhi High Court banished him following legal proceedings initiated against him by Jawaid Rahmani, a young scholar and critic, and Professor Lutfur Rahman, a former Minister in the Bihar Government. The thick-skinned and corrupt Director had almost every Muslim politician in his pocket and implemented schemes in their constituencies as if money was flowing directly from his own pocket rather than that of the public exchequer. The surprising part of the situation is that while this same Director, who was responsible for saffronising Urdu and madrasas as per the RSS agenda, was officially engaged in campaigning for Dr Murli Manohar Joshi in the 2004 elections, he was legally supported by the National Council for the Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) and the HRD Ministry in his legal fight. This support comes as no surprise as the Ministry is headed by the same person who holds the telecom portfolio also and who maintains that there was no loss in the 2G spectrum auction by Raja instead of the loss of Rs 1,70,000 crores, as noted by the CAG.

Following the voting out of the NDA Government, huge sums of money, disproportionate to Dr Bhat’s known sources of income, were recovered by the CBI from his premises and led to his incarceration. The case is still subjudice. He was, however, soon reinstated with assistance from those politicians on whom he had showered monetary favours and again got back to his erstwhile ways. But the Hon’ble Delhi High Court, in response to the PIL by Rahmani, ruled in favour of sacking him, with the observation that he had worked for one year beyond his set tenure through fraudulent means and had violated the norms for retirement. Despite this, this tainted Director made the NCPUL, which hardly had any locus standi in the matter, file a review petition against the judgment of the Hon’ble High Court, using public resource. Mercifully, this plea was summarily dismissed by the Hon’ble High Court. Even then, Dr Bhat did not relinquish charge and had to be unceremoniously removed following contempt proceedings. The worst damage he did to the NCPUL was through his act of convincing the HRD Minister to pack the newly-formed general body of the NCPUL with his own favourites, so that it was reduced to a forum of only the chamchas of the Imam of Jama Masjid, to whom it is alleged that the Minister has outsourced his constituency. Most of these worthies cannot even sign in Urdu and the Vice-Chairman is a third-rate Urdu poet from a small district of Uttar Pradesh, totally devoid of literary abilities and administrative acumen.

To top it all is the reticence of the Left-wing Urdu writers, who have never raised their voice against the formation of the NCPUL general body, let alone supporting the PIL which led to the Director’s exit. May I now request Mainstream to keep a strong vigil on the working of the National Organisation of Regional Languages and take up the issue of quashing the General Council of the NCPUL, so that a new team takes over, incor-porating clean and eminent writers?

Last, but not the least, a footnote to the ongoing debate in Mainstream on the character and ideology of the officer-bearers of the PWA. Namwar Singh, unveiled the new book of Tarun Vijay, an MP of the BJP and the erstwhile editor of Panchjanya, the RSS weekly, at the recent World Book Fair. I am keen to glean the CPI’s ‘theory’ for this shameful act.


(Secretary, Urdu Journalists Association)

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