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Uttar Pradesh Urdu Academy offices in Lucknow and (inset) its chairman Muhammad Shahidullah KhanUP Urdu Academy to host international festival
By Masood Hasain, Lucknow

Pic: Uttar Pradesh Urdu Academy offices in Lucknow and (inset) its chairman Muhammad Shahidullah Khan

The Uttar Pradesh Urdu Academy is hosting an ‘International Urdu Festival’ in Lucknow in the month of November, which will be the first of its kinds in the history of the Urdu Academy. 

In an exclusive interview to The Milli Gazette, Muhammad Shahidullah Khan, who took over as the new chairman of the UP Urdu Academy recently, said that the thrust of the festival is to popularize Urdu which is a very rich language but has been of late losing its charm and glamour. He pointed out that Urdu is not only limited to a community or creed but is the language of all sections of society.

Shahidullah Khan said that more than 40 countries would take part in the Urdu festival. He added that the chairmen of all the 13 Urdu academies in the country, who are meeting next month in Lucknow, would give final touches to the programme and would also chalk out a plan how to make the event a big success.

The new chairman said that preparations were in full swing to make the festival a grand success and committees have been formed for its preparations.

He said that Iran was the first country which assured the UP Urdu Academy of providing all kinds of cooperation for the festival. Mr Khan added that besides Pakistan and Bangladesh, cultural attaches in the embassies of United Kingdom and China have also promised to extend their cooperation and participation in the festival.

The chairman said that Lucknow has always remained the hub of litterateurs, critics and poets, and this city has produced innumerable distinguished literary figures. Therefore, the Urdu Academy decided to organize this festival in Lucknow. He said that a book exhibition, special books for children, mushaira and a literary seminar would be part of the four-day festival.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has been requested to inaugurate the festival. Moreover, Minister for Human Resource Development Dr Murli Manohar Joshi would grace the function.

The Chief Minister of Goa has sent his consent to spend a day in the festival. Chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are also expected to attend the function.

The chairman made it clear that the help of NGOs, film industry and industries based in Mumbai has been sought as the grant sanctioned by the state government is inadequate to organize this festival on a grand level. He has requested the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Ram Prakash Gupta, to double the amount of the Academy’s grant because more than 150 books are lying in a bad shape which need to be reprinted.

Mr Shahidullah Khan joined the Union Territories Civil Services in 1981 as collector Diu and Daman but he resigned from the services in 1989 to devote his full time for the cause of the people. Mr Khan, who unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha elections from Bahraich on the BSP ticket, has worked for communal harmony for several years in UP, Daman and Diu. He has extensively toured India and abroad. At present, he is the national general secretary of the Jantantrik Bahujan Samaj Party which is an ally of the ruling BJP government in Uttar Pradesh.

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