Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The rise of Buddhism in India: Growth of Buddhist population after Dr Ambedkar's conversion

For centuries, Buddhism was a major religion in India. However, a period in Indian history, saw its downfall.

In twentieth century, once again Buddhism emerged as an important faith in India.

This was solely due to Dr BR Ambedkar's decision to embrace the religion.

This is reflected in figures. For example, at district level, the old Census report tells how there were just 149 Buddhists in the 1951 Census. However, the figure had gone up to 2,34,112. 

Such a huge increase, an unprecedented rise, that changed demography of the place, was possible only due to an extraordinary event--Dr BR Ambedkar's decision to embrace Buddhism. The year when he converted to Buddhism at Deeksha Bhumi was 1956. 

Hence, the difference in figures between 1951 and 1961 is so stark. The Mahar community followed him. Not just one district, in the Vidarbha region and other parts of Maharashtra, it happened. The affect was visible all over Central India, up to parts of Madhya Pradesh, also.

Not just major cities and districts but up to towns and villages. Buddhism spread fast in this region. Though, the conversion to Buddhism later slowed down, but it's impact was huge in Maharashtra. Some conversions took place in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and other states in North India. But Maharashtra was the epicentre of this movement.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Journalism in India: No fresh idea, why not do a cover story on 'Indian Muslims'


It's the age-old system in Indian journalism.

For magazines, periodicals and even Sunday papers that needed a special story.

If you don't have a fresh story or run out of all the ideas, just focus on 'Indian Muslims'.

Do a story on 'Indian Muslims', with different angles!

Either term them 'backward' or do a story on 'Muslim vote bank', so-called appeasement or write about the clergy and institutions, terming them regressive. 

This is the level of understanding and it has not changed in the last 70-odd years. 

The stereotypes that journalists carry even after getting a degree, the perception about Muslims and the beliefs about Muslims as monolith who need to be patronized and told about 'their issues', it just never ends.

So even if the community may be doing well against all odds, improving on indicators, the preaching continues. Forget data, statistics. And, why not write on issues concerning the majority. Do a story on 'Indian Hindus', now. It is time to focus.

The superstitions or bigotry among majority community, the radicalism or growth of hate among large sections is a big story. In fact, writers who belong to particular religion or caste, aren't aware about their own misconceptions, how they inherit the false notions and how they are regressive despite education and degrees.

Else, what is the reason that you don't write about your own superstitions, bigotry, privilege, radicalism, superstitions or growing fundamentalism among this huge section! Many people do have serious issues, strange phobias, join these Right-wing groups, Dals and Senas, many of them are involved in lynchings or hate crimes, yet suffer from fears of Muslim takeover, these are strange complexes. Aren't they a community that needs to be covered?

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Madhya Pradesh district map: India's regional and state maps in Urdu-1

As children, students need to consult map for identifying districts and places, there is need for such maps in most languages.
This map is important as it shows all the districts in Madhya Pradesh, which is the second biggest state in India, in terms of area. MP is located in the midst of the country, and has a population of over 72 million as per last census.
This map is just for illustrative and representational purpose. However, one finds that there is a lack of maps in Urdu.  Hence, we are putting up the maps on the internet. This map is just for illustrative and representational purpose. The figure is not to scale and does not claim to represent geographical boundaries.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Transfer of population was complete in Punjab during partition: Muslim exodus and arrival of Hindus, Sikhs but not in Bengal

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi
Partition of India was a tragedy, one of the biggest manmade disasters that changed geography and caused suffering to millions. 

Tens of lakhs had to leave their homes with family and belongings, and had to go to the other side of the border. Innumerable people were killed on way. 

Two big regions--Punjab and Bengal, were affected but in a different way. 

Both states had people with a common culture and language. Yet, there were mass killings in Punjab that resulted in large-scale migration. However, this didn't happen to such a scale in Bengal.

Undivided Punjab or Greater Punjab was a huge region. Such was the level of displacement that entire cities and towns were transformed. The exodus was up to the level of villages, each and every place in Punjab. 

So lakhs of people from each district left to the other side of the border. This was unprecedented. Lahore and other cities in Western Punjab too witnessed similar exodus. Muslims left from Eastern Punjab and went to Pakistan, Hindus and Sikhs left their homeland in Western Punjab and came to India. 

Except Mewat region, the town of Maler Kotla and a small pocket like Kadian, there was no place that had any sizable concentration of Muslims left in Indian Punjab, after partition. Haryana and Chandigarh were carved out of Punjab, later, and earlier they were part of greater Punjab state.

For example, Ludhiana had more than 3 lakh Muslims in the district before partition. However, after independence, barely a few hundreds remained in the city, and a couple of thousand spread in some rural parts. 


In sharp contrast, Bengal, another huge province, that was too was divided like Punjab, had a different story. The scale of migration was not such. In fact, large Hindu population remained in Eastern Pakistan, and to this day they remain in Bangladesh.

Also, Muslims remained in Murshidabad, Malda as well as Purnea and Kolkata. Partition caused huge turmoil in North India. People went from Uttar Pradesh (UP), Delhi and Rajasthan-Madhya Pradesh, also. But the situation of Punjab was altogether different.

The violence and killings in Punjab had no parallel. This fear for their lives, drove people to leave their homes. The communal temperature was high in Punjab that had three major religions. Arya Samaj had Shuddhi movement were strong, here. 

Parties and their strong organisations had responsibility at grassroots. The role of Congress workers also needs to be remembered. Besides, the part played by the press in Punjab in dividing people among religions lines, is another aspect. 

Bengal too had frictions but the level of communalism was not as high among a common Bengali. Perhaps, there was greater cultural affinity too between the communities. Seven decades later, the partition of India, the killings, displacement and its impact, continue to haunt us. Have we learnt any lessons? 

[The figure is not to scale and does not claim to represent geographical boundaries. It is just for illustrative purpose. This is an old, pre-independence map and is just for representation and educational purpose.]

Sunday, March 28, 2021

How newspapers publish baseless reports, defame localities, communities: Questions on Dainik Bhaskar newspaper's credibility over mischievous report


Just imagine how such a defamatory report can find its way into a paper, along with such headline. 

A huge locality with a population of tens of thousands, demonized, targeted and on what basis?

No wonder, on social media the paper was questioned about it. 'What data do you have to blame an entire locality, present it as place where knives taken out?". 

When, Where, Which case! It is really shameful, as this is not a one-time mistake. Such biased reports are published on a regular basis. 

In fact, the manner in which 'old city' seen as 'Muslim quarter' of the capital, is constantly defamed, is shocking. There are rapes and murders or all sorts of crimes in any locality, once in a while. If there was even once an incident in any locality in a year, you can never project it as den of 'goons'.

When papers publish a mischievous report, that too on front page, lot of readers take it seriously. Even people in own city, naturally, feel that if paper has written, then it must be true. So cunningly, they create this hatred towards localities, people and cause friction among communities. 

It reflects the sad state of affairs when a newspaper divides, spreads propaganda. Even apology doesn't matter. Dividing people or pushing own biases, cleverly through newspapers, is not journalism. You have a huge circulation and this makes you more responsible but you act irresponsibly.

It is about how deep is the hatred among several so-called 'journalists' who try to find a way to spread hatred, even at the cost of lies, falsehoods, dividing regions, cities. The most notorious rags in the history of Indian publications, haven't gone to the extent of publishing such reports.

Even when carrying a story, you've to have a certain data, something to support it. They just have certain ideas, beliefs--imagine, write. The audacity--they can claim anything, write, publish it on front page, as lead. Unfortunately, this is something that has become a norm, as there is no self-correction mechanism in Indian media.