Even though 40 per cent of Hyderabad’s population consists of Urdu speakers, the city’s libraries stock very few of them, and sometimes none at all!
Urdu books continue to get a short shrift in Hyderabad’s public libraries. Though 40 per cent of the city’s population is Urdu-speaking, the 90-odd libraries run by the Hyderabad City Grandhalaya Samstha (HCGS) remain devoid of Urdu books.
“The budget allocated for Telugu books is around 50 per cent, followed by 25 per cent for English. The remaining 25 per cent is earmarked for other languages including Urdu, which is why there is a shortage of books in the language,” admits a HCGCS official.
In fact, rules provide for spending a large amount of funds on buying Telugu books and distributing them to public libraries, irrespective of public demand.
“In certain areas there is no demand for Telugu books, especially in Old City; yet libraries are full of them,” says a librarian on condition of anonymity.
“It is not bias towards any language, but the fact is many women and senior citizens enrol as members at public libraries and they prefer Urdu books. What is the logic behind bringing Telugu books when there are no takers,” asks Afzal, a resident of Golconda.
No dearth of books
Urdu scholars and publishers also say that there is no dearth of Urdu books.
“Though not on par with regional languages, but many new titles on various subjects are published in Urdu every year across the country.
“A few book stores also source books from other countries for their customers,” a book publisher points out.
Complaints of uneven distribution of books are common.
“The number of Urdu books are negligible though the Urdu knowing population is more than 30 per cent in the locality,” says Muneer Ahmed, a resident of B.S. Maqta in Somajiguda.
Data collected through RTI by S.Q. Masood, a social activist, reveals the HCGS spent Rs.38.79 lakh on purchase of Telugu books, Rs. 34.14 lakh on English, Rs. 86,489 on Hindi and Rs. 77,667 on Urdu books in the financial year 2012-13.
“It is just a fraction of the amount spent on Telugu and English books,” Mr. Masood complains.
When contacted HCGS Secretary B. Jagan Mohan Reddy said, “The purchase of books is based on a government order that specifies the budget for each language. But as and when we receive request for a particular book, we source it from the publisher and supply to the library”.