After pondering over it for long, Gujarat Urdu Sahitya Academy has announced Gaurav awards to poets and authors of Urdu language. Names of four persons have been announced and they have been conveyed individually about the academy’s decision. The awards are likely to be given in April.
According to sources, Urdu poet Shakil Azmi, academic and Congress leader Nisar Ansari, Palanpur-based poet Musafir Palanpuri and Surat-based poet and former Surat Municipal councillor Vaseem Malik have been nominated for academy award for different years.
The announcement has been received in literary circles with applause, but there are many who are not amused because some senior writers have been “sidelined” by the academy.
One such person is Qayyum Kanwal Fatehpuri, a former member of the Academy in its early years. He has authored four poetry collections, besides having edited the Academy’s journal Sabarnama. He was also a close associate of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri. “The academy has overlooked senior writers like me for some unknown reason for a long time now,” said Fatehpuri whose first collection Sang-o-Gul was published in the early 1980s.
To him, it is hard to establish the credentials of some people who have been named for awards. “Something is seriously lacking in the functioning of the academy and something should be done if the credibility of its awards has to be saved,” said Fatehpuri, who had published an Urdu monthly magazine for some time.
Bhagyesh Jha, chairman of the Academy, said there was no favouritism or grudge at work in selection of persons selected for the awards. “Before announcing the names, we duly consult experts of the subject who suggest panels of names of likely winners, then these names are sent to the executive committee of the academy, which sends the names to the culture minister for final approval,” Jha said.
He said the names were worked out by a senior academic M G Bombaywala, who had been associated with the affairs of the academy for many years. “The names were discussed with him before the announcement,” Jha said. He said he had no information about several writers or their background. “The academy is ready to discuss issues and suggestions threadbare with persons in the know of things,” he said. He added that the criteria was that the candidate should have made contribution to Urdu literature.
Bombaywala said, “I have been suggesting names even before Jha became president. No one objected when other names were suggested and they got awards till 2010. There are better names than Qayyum Kanwal even at present, but still they have been left out for some reason. Let Kanwal go to the academy and present his case if he feels injustice has been done to him. Awards are not given by one’s age or to maulvis, but on literary merit.”