Hyderabad: Can an awardee be part of the selection committee? The impropriety of it is glaring. But that seems to be the case with the Makhdoom award announced recently by the Telangana State Urdu Academy.
Dr Akheel Hashmi, who was chosen for the prestigious award, also figured in the four-member selection panel.
The inappropriate decision has surprised and shocked Urdu circles. Caught on the wrong foot, the Urdu Academy’s attempt to clarify the situation only dragged it further into controversy.
After a gap of four years, the Urdu Academy finalised names for awards instituted in the names of revolutionary Urdu poet Makhdoom Mohiuddin, and India’s first education minister, Moulana Abul Kalam Azad, on June 13.
Those selected for the Makhdoom award are: Prof Habeeb Zia (research and criticism), Mazhar-uz-Zaman (fiction), M.A. Majid (journalism) and Dr Akheel Hashmi (poetry).
For the Moulana Azad award, Prof Yousuf Sarmast and Moulana Rabey Hasan Nadvi were selected.
Dr Akheel Hashmi, one of those selected for the Makdhoom award, figured in the selection committee along with Prof Ashraf Rafi, Prof Shoukat Hayat and Prof Naseemuddin Farees. M.A. Majid, another awardee, was also part of the selection committee. But he didn’t turn up for the meeting.
Urdu Academy chairman, Raheemuddin Ansari, says no impropriety is involved in the selection of awardees.
“Dr Akheel Hashmi was not on the selection panel which chose him for the Makhdoom award. He figured in the other panel which finalised names for the Moulana Azad award,” Mr Ansari clarifies.
However, Prof Ashraf Rafi who was on the selection committee contested this claim.
“Dr Hashmi was present in both the selection panels. He was asked to leave the room for a few minutes and in his absence his name was finalised for the Makhdoom award. In the first place he shouldn’t have been part of the selection panel,” she said.
This view is also shared by Prof Fazlullah Mukarram, who was part of an earlier meeting convened by the Urdu Academy in connection with the annual awards.
This apart, the choice of Mohammed Rabey Hasani Nadvi for the Moulana Azad award has also raised eyebrows.
Many scholars question his eligibility for the award which is intended to be conferred on a person who has contributed in the field of Urdu teaching, education and social work.
“Maulana Nadvi is a great Islamic scholar and president of All India Muslim Personal Law Board but what is his contribution to Urdu?” many ask.
Mr Ansari justifies the selection on the ground that the madrasa Darul Uloom Nadvatul Ulama, of which Maulana Nadvi is the chancellor, has played a key role in preservation of the Urdu language.
“More than Urdu schools, it is madrasas which are responsible for promotion of Urdu, he says.
The controversy surrounding the awards doesn’t end here. As per rules, the meeting for selection of awardees ought to be called by the director/secretary of the Urdu Academy. But the meeting was convened on June 13 when the term of the director, M.A. Waheed, had ended a day earlier.
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