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INTERVIEW: M Hamidullah Bhat
Urdu is not the language of Muslims alone

M Hamidullah BhatThe man can easily be credited with giving much needed impetus to Urdu. With a number of achievements up his sleeves, 
M Hamidullah Bhat has managed to add another feather to his cap by organizing the Urdu Book Fair, first of its kind in the history of Urdu in the country. One cannot imagine the lively response of the Urduphiles by merely sitting in his armchair until one visits the site. Between 5-12 November the fair attracted thousands and thousands of people who came, saw and even bought books from the fair thus denying the myth that Urduphiles read only borrowed books. It is not the lone achievement for this young director of the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language, commonly known as Qaumi Council Bara-e Farogh-e-Urdu Zuban. He can also be credited with providing hundreds of books on every subject in Urdu through the council. The language which had been orphaned with the partition of the country has ultimately got a messiah in this man. A Kashmiri by birth, Bhat is a live man and a big charmer. S Ubaidur Rahman of The Milli Gazette talked to him in the Urdu Book Fair on issues concerning Urdu.
Q. How would you rate this book fair?
A. It is definitely a huge success. This is the first of its kind in India in the post-Independence era. While all other languages have received focus and have developed significantly, it is a totally different case with Urdu. Through this fair we have increased the visibility of Urdu books in the national capital. You can say that through this fair Urdu has come under focus.

Q. What you think about Urdu's future in the country?
A. The impression that Urdu belongs only to Muslim is wrong. You just browse through the books kept in this fair and you will feel astounded. Books on all subjects are available, be it liberalization, economy, prose, poetry, books on Hindu mythology, art. You can find it all here and elsewhere too. Let me tell you that I see Hindus more interested in Urdu than Muslims. They want to learn Urdu and also want to spend money on it. Muslims have not cared to develop Urdu and have not patronized the language. It may be due to fear psychosis in the post-Partition era. They worked for it in the South and you can see the results there.

Q. How do you find Urdu publishers?
A. Urdu book publishers are very efficient businessmen. It is just their grit and determination that has kept them going. 

Q. People have been complaining that Urdu books are overpriced?
A. It is absolutely wrong. Let me tell you that Urdu books are normally quite cheap compared to English books or books in other Indian languages. This may be the case with a few books only. Urdu books are published in small numbers so the production cost is very high. This may be a reason for the high cost of some books. 

Q. How the idea to organize such a book fair came to your mind?
A. It is part of our programme. We want to popularize Urdu through these steps. It is an integral part of National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language. We expect that these steps of the council will definitely help boost the morale of Urdu-lovers in the country and provide a centre for Urdu book publishers to publicize and promote their books. It also gives a place for readers to get all they can expect in Urdu literature.


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