A government organisation working for the promotion of Urdu has been unable to carry out crucial activities like organising seminars, opening teaching centres and promoting books as the Centre is delaying the reconstitution of its general body.
The National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL), which has 37 members, has been functioning with only its four permanent members — the education minister as the chairman, the director and two officials of the ministry of education. In the absence of the general body, or the entire strength of the NCPUL, the 10-member Executive Board also lies defunct.
Many Urdu scholars and organisations have expressed concern over the activities of the NCPUL coming to a standstill. The education ministry had constituted the council in 2018 for three years. The tenure of the members ended over a year ago in December 2021. The Executive Board is constituted from among the members of the council. The strength of the board now stands at four — the four permanent members of the NCPUL.
The general council of the NCPUL gives broad advice on the activities of the organisation. The Executive Board has a greater role since its approval is required to carry out most promotional activities.
The NCPUL provides grants to institutions and NGOs for holding seminars and conferences, gives approval for opening centres for teaching Urdu and facilitates research projects and bulk purchase of books written by scholars. NCPUL director Aquil Ahmad said he had taken up the vacancies with the government. “The reconstitution of the council is under process. It will happen soon,” he said.
However, the delay means the money earmarked by the government for the promotion of Urdu in 2022-23 could largely remain unutilised.
Shohab Malik, a faculty member of Urdu at Jammu University, said: “This will be the most unfortunate thing that for the first time the funds meant for promotional activities will remain unutilised. There is hardly any time left to organise seminars or open centres and carry out research. The funds will have to be utilised before March 2023.”
Kausar Mazhari, who teaches Urdu at Jamia Millia Islamia university, said the NCPUL lying defunct meant neglect of the language.
“The delay in the reconstitution of the council is an act of neglect towards the promotion of the Urdu language. I hope the government reconstitutes the council at the earliest,” Mazhari said.
An official of the education ministry said the council had proposed a list of names in December 2021 for appointment as members of the NCPUL.
“The process of reconstitution is at an advanced stage,” the official said.
The Telegraph sent an email to Sanjay Murthy, the secretary in the department of higher education, asking why the NCPUL council had not been reconstituted. A response is awaited.
The NCPUL, which organises a World Urdu Conference (WUC) with eminent scholars of Urdu from across the globe, has been holding the event online since 2020, drawing the ire of scholars. Malik said the scholars have a greater scope of interacting and knowing each other when a conference is held in the physical mode.
“A virtual conference is not effective. The participants get disturbed by the activities at home. They fail to socialise. When every institution is functioning in the physical mode, there is no reason to hold the WUC virtually,” he said.
The education ministry’s permission is needed to hold the WUC in the physical mode. In the aftermath of the protests against the Citizen Amendment Act in 2020, the government organised the WUC online that year, ostensibly to avoid protests by Urdu scholars and students.