Hyderabad: The Telangana State Urdu Academy finalised names of two towering personalities for the award instituted in the name of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, first education minister of independent India. For the year 2017 it is decided to present the coveted award to Prince Mufakkham Jah Bahadur, grandson of the 7th Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, and for 2018 to Prof. Anwar Mauzam, retired professor, Islamic Studies, Osmania University.

A 5-member expert committee constituted for the purpose unanimously selected the names of the awardees on Friday. The award which carries a cash prize of Rs. 2.25 lakh and a citation with a shawl will be presented on November 11, the birth anniversary of Maulana Azad.

The Urdu Academy also finalised names for the Makhdoom award for the last four years from 2015 to 2018. The awardees are Dr Farooq Shakeel (poetry), Prof. Baig Ahsas (fiction), Rasheeduddin (journalist), Abbas Muttaqi (humour and satire). This award carries cash of Rs. 2 lakh along with citation and memento.

Urdu Academy's prestigious awards named after poet, Makhdoom Mohiuddin and Maulana Azad, turned controversial when a member of the selection committee was chosen for the Makdhoom award in June. The contentious selection raised eyebrows in the literary circle forcing the government to cancel the awards and order a probe. The government took a serious note of the procedural lapses in setting up of the selection committee without any official nominee.

The Urdu Academy constituted a fresh selection committee which met on Friday and finalised the names. Academy chairperson, Rahimuddin Ansari, Director, Urdu Academy, Shahnawaz Qasim and Prof. S.A. Shukoor (on behalf of Secretary, Minority Welfare), were present on the occasion.

The Azad award is given to eminent personalities for their contribution in the field of Urdu teaching, social work and contribution for the education of the community. Academy chairperson, Ansari, was in favour of giving the Azad award to Maulana Rabey Hasani Nadwi, renowned Islamic scholar, who figured in the earlier selection which was later cancelled. However, other committee members felt the award should go to someone from Telangana and to a non-religious personality.

The awards will be presented at a programme at Urdu Maskan, Khilwat, on Monday by Minister for Minority Welfare, Koppula Eshwar.

J.S. Ifthekhar

J.S. Ifthekhar is a senior journalist with nearly four decades of experience. Ifthekhar cut his teeth in journalism at the Indian Express before he moved to The Hindu. He was also associated with the Siasat Daily, Telangana Today, Deccan Chronicle, Onlooker magazine, Newstrack, Detective Digest and a few news agencies. He has written on different subjects and aspects of Hyderabadi life. However, his passion remains literature in general and Urdu poetry in particular. He is equally concerned with culture, heritage, civic affairs and problems confronting the man in the street. As a journalist he has taken up cudgels on behalf of the underprivileged and many of his stories in The Hindu saw the government promptly taking corrective measures. Ifthekhar has authored two books - Hyderabad - The Nawabi City on The Move and Haj - The Spirit Behind it. He has also translated two books from Urdu to English. Currently he is working on his third book - Poets and Writers of Deccan. Loves to write and writes to live. Can't imagine doing anything else.

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