Urdu is registered as the mother tongue of lakhs of Indians in official records. On the basis of these records, it is often claimed that there are a lot of Urdu readers in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. But people who enter Urdu as their mother tongue in government records, usually can’t read or write Urdu.
In many villages of Mithilanchal in Bihar, even though there are a lot of native Urdu speakers, not even a single Urdu newspaper or magazine is distributed. Newspaper vendors and bookstore owners told The Wire that the state of Urdu readership in the region is dismal. Newspaper vendors and bookstores in Mithilanchal said that barely 100 Urdu papers get circulated among 50,000 people in the region.
Many bookstores in the area stock only two Urdu magazines. Despite declining readership of Urdu, some religious texts and few grammar books for private schools do get circulated.
But those close to Urdu feel the language has lost its charm.