NCPUL, Urdu Academies and status of Urdu in India


(Prof Syed Liaqat Husain Moni)


Urdu, the language of ishq (passionate love), adaab (etiquettes) and tehzeeb (culture), has been flourishing in India and unlike popular perception, the central government and state governments have been providing ample back-up to keep the language alive and vibrant. The National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) and state Urdu academies are rendering their services to the language in the best possible way.

The central and state governments have taken various steps to promote Urdu. Urdu academies have been recently founded even in states which don’t have bodies. Increasing number of colleges and universities have Urdu departments. Urdu receives official grants for mushairas, seminars and publications of books.


The NCPUL is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Education, Department of Secondary and Higher Education, Government of India. Set up to promote, develop and propagate Urdu language, the council started its operation in Delhi on April 1, 1996. It performs a number of tasks to promote the cause of the language. It strives to undertake the production of literature in the Urdu language, including books on science and other branches of modern knowledge, the children’s literature textbooks, reference works, encyclopaedia, dictionaries, etc.

To collect and evolve technical terms relating to various disciplines of knowledge in order to enrich the Urdu language.

The council also liaises with the state governments and other agencies in matters relating to promotion and development of the Urdu language. Besides, it provides financial assistance and guidance to Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) for propagation of the Urdu language.

The NCPUL also coordinates the activities of the state Urdu academies. In addition, the council organizes various courses for the youngsters to learn language and to disseminate information about the language.

Urdu Academies

Urdu Academies are government bodies and their task is to promote Urdu language and literature. Almost all major states of India have Urdu academies that are active to promote the cause of the language in their state and the academia. Some of the prominent states that have Urdu academies include Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal.

Their primary goal is to safeguard the interests of the language. For this purpose, these academies organise literary gatherings, publish books, run classes and courses. They also distribute awards to honour prominent Urdu writers, poets and critics.

These academies use a clout of Urdu lovers, intellectuals, poets, writers, bureaucrats who have influence in society to promote the language. They also use connections of pro-Urdu personalities, organise seminars, invite principals of leading public schools and facilitate them and through such good gestures, establish relation, urge them to ensure that Urdu option is kept in private schools as well.

Status of Urdu in India

Urdu ranked 6 in the list of national languages. It is a major language in six states namely Uttar Pradesh (UP), Bihar, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Jharkhand for a cumulative total 85.6 percent of Urdu population. In the Hindi belt Urdu is also widely spoken, in the other states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Utrakhand, unlike other national languages.

Urdu has been designated as the second official language in several states like UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh (some districts only) apart from several smaller states. However, this status is largely a formality as far as official and educational use of Urdu is concerned. Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the only state which recognizes Urdu as official language has a very minor Urdu population. Urdu shares territorial space with Hindi.

In other national institutions like the Parliament a member may speak in Urdu. The electoral rolls are available in Urdu for polling centers with 20 percent Urdu electors. However, the highest judiciaries like the Supreme Court or High Court do not officially recognize Urdu.

The electronic media, including the national channels Doordarshan (DD) and Akashwani (AIR), have programmes in Urdu.

Films and electronic media, mushairas and Qawwalies are turning Urdu into a language of culture.


(The Author is Retired Professor of Aligarh Muslim University,  Director at Indo Islamic Heritage Center New Delhi and Gaddi Nasheen of Dargah Khwaja Saheb Ajmer)

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