Demand to keep Urdu out of regional list

New Delhi: Vice President of All India Urdu Editors Forum and its spokesperson, Qari Muhammad Mian Mazhari, said here while releasing a letter of Urdu Editors Forum's President Syed Hasan Shuja to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, that this is for the first time in independent India's more than 60 year history that a secular government, by including Urdu in the category of "regional" languages, has not only secretly and fraudulently tried to kill Urdu and Urdu journalism but also tried to hurt the feelings of crores of lovers of Urdu and secular-minded people of the country by challenging and degrading its national status. He asked how the UPA government, by confining it to a particular state, wants to hoodwink the people by making it a regional language while it is the symbol of Ganga-Jamuni civilization and is spoken, read and understood in eighteen states of the country?

He said that a few months ago an animated discussion had taken place in Parliament about central and state governments' biased and partial attitude towards Urdu but till date government is totally insensitive and has not taken any steps for the promotion of Urdu.

Urdu Editors Forum convened an advisory meeting with MPs of different political parties in the Constitution Club on 7 February in which more than 50 members of Parliament alongwith Urdu editors were invited. Among the demands of AIUEF is that Urdu being the second biggest national language, including it in the category of "regional" languages is highly improper. Information and broadcasting ministry should accept it as equal to Hindi and English and bring its biased policy to an end. Its other demands are that a corpus fund of at least Rs 200 crore should be created in order to link Urdu dailies with Hindi dailies and to equip Urdu newspapers with modern technology so as to bring it at par with Hindi and to improve the economic condition of Urdu newspapers in a planned manner by allocating at least 20% of I&B ministry's advertisement and publicity budget to Urdu newspapers so that bureaucracy's biased attitude towards Urdu and Urdu newspapers could be defeated. Another demand is that Urdu newspapers should be included in the category of small scale industries. Tender notices of all ministries, including railways should be given for publication in Urdu newspapers also.

According to ministry of information and broadcasting's Registrar of Newspapers for India's latest report for the year 2007-08, the total number of daily newspapers in India is 2566 of which the number of Hindi newspapers is 1248, English newspapers is 263 and Urdu newspapers is 283. From the point of view of total circulation the number of Hindi newspapers is 10,57,91,199, of English newspapers it is 3, 66,45,112 and of Urdu newspapers it is 1,31,73,266. From the point of view of circulation and number, Hindi newspapers stand at No. 1. Total number of Urdu newspapers, as compared to that of English newspapers, is more though from circulation point of view the number of Urdu newspapers is much less; but even then these official figures prove that Urdu is not a regional language but a national language which is spoken and written in more than 18 states of the country.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 March 2011 on page no. 6

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