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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tilak, Topi in Indian politics: People don't want Hindu politicians to wear skullcap or Muslim leaders to sport 'tilak' or perform Puja

(C) Indscribe

Media often takes up the issue of Narendra Modi not wearing a 'topi' [skullcap]. I don't think it is an issue at all.

Do you think those who oppose him would have a change of heart, if he wears the topi! Still, on TV & social media, this issue is often raised.

Amid conversation with Muslim friends, this topic often came up. Not a single Muslim I met, ever said that he expects or wants Modi to wear the topi.

Why should it be expected? In fact, the person who offered him topi shouldn't have done it. Citizens want the politician to be honest and work, rather than do such gestures. People on the street are more smart than journos believe them to be.

Another interesting aspect is that many people write that while Hindus are expected to wear topi, Muslims don't do anything like that? Arrey bhai, this is no secularism. Just for the sake of information, I should tell you that Muslims not just sport 'tilak' but many politicians have even done puja.

So? How many Hindu leaders perform Namaz? Is this a debate at all? Muslims remember how PV Narasimharao spoke in chaste Urdu on TV just after 'allowing' the demolition of Babri Masjid, and even promising that he would rebuild the masjid again at the same spot.

LK Advani is seen covered in green cloth at Ajmer shrine but don't we remember his Rath Yatra? They do it for reasons they know best. 

Topi is no Islamic symbol though it has become one in India. In Arab, even in mosques you don't need to cover your head, during prayers.

In India, media image of Muslims is that of a person who is wearing the skullcap. Till a few decades back, it used to be the Turkish cap.

But in India, we have a unique culture. Hindus and Muslims, despite their perceived differences, attend each others' programmes and even religious events.

Prominent persons are invited at such places, and to offer respect, the person is either offered 'headgear', made to wear 'saafa', or 'tilak' applied on forehead. This doesn't mean everything should be seen as Communal Vs Secular or Hindu Vs Muslim.

Section of media splashes the pictures to create CONTROVERSY and then seeks others' opinion to get TRP. Though this is a non-issue. When Mamata Bannerji covers her head, the photo is seen as 'interesting' and gets published. Lalu Yadav, Mulayam and even Atal Bihari Vajpayee were seen wearing topi at iftaar. 

Muslim politicians with 'tilak' are common to see at any event. In fact, Muslim leaders often go to temples and even pray.

Yes, they do it too, despite all allegations of Muslims being more rigid. Do Hindus expect them to do it? No. Only a fool will call it appeasement. And no one forces them to do it either.

While passing the area, the leader feels that he should go to the temple, he goes. Nobody prevails upon the neta to do that or even bow head before God or Goddess.

I know many Muslims who have no objecting getting a 'tilak' on their forehead. But some may not because they don't have Hindu friends from childhood.

Similarly, many Hindus easily go to mosque or dargah while some don't, again, because these Hindus didn't have close Muslim friends early in the life. You can't judge people over these issues. All these gestures are more about your personal feelings.

A person does it also because of his society, his childhood friends and his/her engagement with people in his/her area.

A person or politician may not resort to such gestures but at the same time he could be many times more honest and just.

In fact, those who talk about such things, probably, have never lived in the real India, and have no idea about the strength of Hindu-Muslim bonding at the ground level.

As I start thinking, I can recall many more politicians doing such acts. It is their personal choice. They often do it to respect others sentiments. It is not right to say that they are fooling us. 

Would you call these acts as 'Hindu Tushtikaran' or 'Hindu Appeasement'. Of course, not. We are a diverse country of multiple faiths and overlapping cultural practices.

Don't we all remember, how Samajwadi Party MLA Chaudhary Bashir was attacked by a section of clerics for Puja at Hanuman temple in Agra. 

And MUSLIM LEAGUE's leader Cherkulam Abdullah went to mutt and sported vermilion [tilak] on his head, leading to a controversy.

There is no dearth of such incidents. We are a unique society. It can't be judged from British, American or any other point of view. We are a nation of 1.2 billion persons. There will be many trivial incidents every day and at the same time there will be many great events too.

Depends, what you track, what you see, what you are shown and what you want to believe.

MORAL of the Story

Those in media who feel that Muslim with tilak is doing 'Hindu tushtikaran' or Hindu wearing topi is 'Muslim appeasement' are not too much far from those who think India is just a land of snake charmers and yogis. Or you perhaps had most interaction with the 'Other' on just social media and internet. 

Get a life, yaar.

Check these links if you want to read more

1. Photograph of Tariq Anwar sporting the 'tilak' courtesy The Hindu
2. Shazia Ilmi's photographs at Bhaskar's website
3. Muslim MLA condemned for puja at Hanuman temple Times of India
4. Last photo courtesy Business Insider [Rajesh Kumar Singh]
5. Muslim League Minister Cherkulam Abdullah sported tilak Link
6. Atal Bihari Vajpayee's photo wearing topi. Courtesy S Arneja [Frontline]

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Of Kolkata visits, Muslims and Bengali Bhadralok: Difference between Leftist government and Trinamool's rule in West Bengal

By Ather Farooqui

My first visit to West Bengal was in the year 1989. This was followed by subsequent tours in 2010 and 2014. Kolkata [Calcutta] was quite an intimidating town then.

The infrastructure had crumbled and there was a sense of  fear in the metropolis. It was tough to walk on the streets as there was no place on footpaths.

My visit was about collecting statistics about Urdu education. Hence, I met CPM
leader Salik Lakhnawi.

When I contested his opinion and said that CPM hasn't done anything for Urdu and told him that the class conflict between Bengali and non-Bengali was similar to the situation in Maharashtra, he told me that if someone else would have said it he would have been in jail for such a statement.

That was the end of the conversation as I left the tea in the middle and left the place. The visit in 2010 was short but travelling on the streets and passing by mohallas, one could see the poor condition of Muslims who were living in the Communist ruled state.

West Bengal hadn't moved ahead a bit and seemed to be stuck in time. But when in March 2014, I again went to West Bengal, it was an altogether different state. I was surprised to see that there was no sense of fear in the air.

Left leadership is not used to learning from its past mistakes. Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu Hind's branch is active here.

I found that there were issues about Urdu education but there was no unhappiness with regard to the State government.

Bengal's middle-class or the Bhadralok lives in a world of its own. The Telegraph is their favourite newspaper.

Comparatively, it gives much more prominence to international stories than local reports. This class still lives in the world in which Upper Class society of North India lived in till 1970s.

There is tremendous greenery in rural West Bengal. I travelled from Kolkata to Darjeeling via New Jalpaiguri, for ten days. No where I could see sign that CPM is a force here. There were party flags on very few houses.

In Darjeeling, GJM is the strong party that had supported Jaswant Singh in the last election, with the
hope that BJP would come to power. Unlike North India, in West  Bengal, one has to pass through extremely bad roads to reach the hill stations here.

There is huge tourism revenue generated but the money is not spent on infrastructure. As a result, there is a strong support for creating Gorkhaland state in West Bengal.

[This is a guest article. It was originally published in Roznama Sahara, a multi-edition Urdu newspaper. Ather Farooqui is secretary general of Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu Hind]

Sunday, April 06, 2014

BJP's double-speak on welfare schemes for Muslims: Shouldn't party come clear on its policies regarding minorities or does it intend to extend 'Gujarat model' nationally?

This aricle was first published in an Urdu daily*and it raises important questions about BJP's policies and its intent regarding the welfare of Muslims.

The BJP being a national party should reflect on these issues and clarify its stand. On one hand, BJP leaders including PM candidate Narendra Modi quote** Sachar panel's findings in speeches to show the plight of Muslims.

But on the other hand, the same party in Gujarat is not ready to implement a central scheme that can benefit poor Muslims students and is adamant over it, even though BJP governments in other states have no objection to the scheme's implementation].

Now read this guest article:

By Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood

BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had recently said that if his party forms government at the centre, then it would implement the Sachar committee recommendations. Naqvi said it to journalists on March 20, in Rampur.

But Gujarat government has approached the Supreme court terming the Sachar panel as illegal and unconstitutional. The scholarship scheme for students belonging to minority communities was not implemented in Gujarat.

I took up this issue in my power point presentation before Chief Minister Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad on June 29, 2013. After I gave my presentation, Modi came to me and said that Gujarat government intends to tell the Apex Court that 75% of the amount is borne by Centre and 25% by State under the scheme, but if Centre gives cent percent [100%] money for the scholarships, then it will be extended to the state.

When I said that BJP governments in Jharkhand, Uttarkahand and Chhattisgarh had implemented the same scheme as per 75%-25% formula, he thought for a while and said that it is about these (other, not Gujarat) state governments. Doesn't it clearly say that Gujarat government would not let Muslim students in the state, avail the facility of the scholarship scheme.

Later, in November 2013, Gujarat government, gave an affidavit in the SC, terming the panel's existence as illegal. It is apparent that BJP governments in many other states had no objection to the scheme and even BJP isn't wary of it, as Naqvi stated in Rampur, but Gujarat government has reservations about the implementation of the scheme.
Shouldn't Narendra Modi, who is now the Prime Ministerial candidate of the BJP, clarify the overall BJP stand on it.

If he doesn't do it, then the statement of party vice-president should be changed. If there is no clarification on this front, it can have an affect on Muslims and other religious minorities, who will be free to form their own opinion. Also, their voting pattern can be affected by it.

On ABP news' programme, Amit Shah said that BJP hasn't changed its policies and those coming to join us, support our policies.

Now, shouldn't Jagdambika Pal, Ram Vilas Paswan, Ram Kripal Yadav and such leaders clarify their position too on the Gujarat government's affidavit in the Supreme Court.

In the affidavit, Gujarat government maintains that if any scheme is made just for Muslims, then it is unconstitutional. But then, there is no mention about the Presidential order of 1950, which selectively targets Muslims and Christians, as it stops scheduled castes among them can't get benefit of reservation, which is also a selective order for certain groups and is clearly discriminatory on religious (communal) lines.

The communities excluded due to this order have suffered enormously in the last six decades. Gujarat government's stand is incorrect as Sachar committee made a comparison of different communities on a number of indicators before coming to the conclusion about backwardness of Muslims.

Not just the Sachar panel, but also the Justice Ranganathan Mishra commission report establishes that Muslims are the most socio-econominically backward group in the country and they don't get adequate representation in jobs and on other fronts.

Under article 16(4) of the constitution, it is states  that if a 'class' of citizens are not well represented, then reservation ought to be provided to them. Ranganath Mishra commission and Sachar committee have corroborated the fact taht Muslims don't get due representation. Hence, this class should be given reservation.

The Scheduled Castes (SCs) have also got the reservation under this clause. If Muslims can't get reservation because of their religion, then the Presidential order of 1950 should is also wrong, as it benefits adherents of particular religions. 

Gujarat government mentioned that the Sachar report put forth statistics about Muslims alone. Though the reality is different. In the report, through hundreds of charts and graphs, the Muslim community has been compared to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, SCs and STs, on educational, socio-economical and other indicators.

In National Sample Survey report, the rate of poverty in Gujarat is 18% for OBCs, 17% for SCs, 3% for remaining  Hindus,  and 0% for non-Muslim minorities but it is 24% for Muslims. NSS' 66th report says that average urban monthly per capita income for is 1,797 for Hindus, 2,053 for Christians, 2,053 for Sikhs and a mere 1,272 for Muslims.

Either it is urban area or the rurla region, the income of Muslims is less than SCs (Dalits) too. Dr Tanvir Fazal's report 'Millennium Development Goals and Indian Muslims' tells that rate of poverty decline is least among Muslims, at just 3.1%.

If there is a comparison among states, then just three other states are behind Gujarat, as far as presence of Muslim childrne in schools, is concerned. Yet, the 'model' Gujarat government is taking all possible steps to deprive the poor Muslim kids from getting benefited by a welfare scheme! 

Isn't it a tragedy? We can only wonder about the India of our dreams, if a similar model is replicated at the Centre.

[*The article was published in the multi-edition Roznama Sahara, which is published from nine cities across the country]
[**Link to reports about Narendra Modi's speech in Bihar in which he used Justice Rajinder Sachar panel's findings to emphaise on plight of Muslims under Congress rule LINK 1 and LINK 2

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Why was Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi so angry over Sabir Ali's induction in BJP!

After former Janata Dal (U) leader Sabir Ali joined BJP, there was a near-hysteric reaction from Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

Naqvi, who is the vice-president of the BJP, tweeted about Sabir Ali's 'terrorist' connection.

He inferred that if things continue this way, then Dawood [Ibrahim] may also be allowed to join the party.

It was surprising as Naqvi, 56, has rarely reacted with such intensity before. With his reaction, he publicly embarrassed the party too.

So what was the reason? Was it a feeling of insecurity that prompted him to target the party leadership for induction of Sabir Ali. Naqvi is the most prominent face of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP).

The party has had tremendous difficulty finding 'Muslim faces' in the past. That he belonged to UP, once the most polarised state during the Ram Mandir movement, was an advantage to him and the BJP too gave him enough importance.

When no Muslim leader worth his salt associated himself with it, Naqvi was a proud BJP worker.
Muslims openly expressed their dislike for the man who was in BJP when its leaders [Kalyan Singh, Vinay Katiyar, Uma Bharti] were more harsh on minorities and less 'polished' than today's BJP.

Once he managed to win from Rampur Loksabha constituency too. The second Muslim face, Shahnawaz Khan, who has represented Kishanganj (Bihar) in the Lok Sabha, is much junior. It is only a few years back that Najma Heptullah joined the party.

More Muslim leaders began joining the BJP. MJ Akbar is the latest entrant. For long, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi enjoyed a unique position in the party. He was regarded and rewarded by the party. Even for the RSS, the dhoti-clad, Mukhtar, who often sported tilak on forehead, was quite close to the ideal Muslim as per their definition.

But now, with the purported Narendra Modi wave, and when there is a feeling that BJP may emerge as the largest party and form the government, everyone is flocking towards the party. Sabir Ali may not be a big leader but he is quite articulate, even speaks English and has a 'rustic charm', as certain BJP leaders said.

Also, Ali at least has some support among a section of Muslims in Bihar. Clearly, Naqvi must have felt insecure. For decades, he worked hard, faced all sort of criticism and condemnation, even abuses from members of the community, and when the party appears close to forming the government at the Centre, all these guys who have made no sacrifices, are joining the party & stealing the limelight!

They may also become contenders in the hierarchy, as senior office-bearers or even ministers. Isn't it unjust? A friend remarked, 'Mehnat kare Murgi, Anda Khaye faqir'. No wonder, Mukhtar was so much upset that he shot off the tweet. We do understand your pain, Mukhtar Bhai. We really do. Aap logo.n ka kya khyaal hai?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Holi Mubarak: How the Urdu newspaper celebrates Holi on the front page

See the front page of the Urdu newspaper on the left.

The masthead is quite colourful. It reflects the mood of the day.

Holi is the festival of colours, and the top part of the paper, is tastefully designed, with the message, 'Holi Mubarak'. The Sunday edition too has multiple photographs, with reports about traditions of Holi in different regions.

Apart from photographs, there are articles too on Holi, in other Urdu newspapers. An overwhelming majority of readers of these Urdu newspapers are Muslims. This is true for most papers, except, those in Punjab, Delhi and J&K.

Many national English newspapers don't bother to wish readers on Eid-ul-Fitr of Eid-uz-Zuha, despite the fact that they have substantial Muslim readers. In the case of vernacular papers too, you find it quite common.

In states, where due to hawkers' pressures, papers are shut on Id, they do mention about 'chhutti', that the paper won't be printed on the day. However, these things matter a lot. We have a shared culture and it is our tradition to be inclusive.

That's what Indian-ness is all about. Isn't it. Now three links on the Holi day for you. Spare a few minutes. I am sure, most of you would be astonished.

1. Holi as Eid-e-Gulabi [Pink Eid] in an Urdu Nazm that places Prophet Muhammad in a distinct Indian cultural milieu. Abida Parveen renders it in 'Raqs-e-Bismil' album. "Hori hor rahi hai Ahmad jiyo ke dwaar....Hazrat Ali ka rang bano hai, Hasan Husain khilaar....."Listen at this LINK

2. How Sufis, Mughal kings and Muslims on the street play Holi. Read, 'Holi, a shared colourful heritage of Hindus, Muslims ' at this LINK

3. Listen this amazing 'Thumri' (sung by Sardari Begum) that was penned by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah [Awadh].  LINK

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Police excesses in Mumbra: Midnight raid, illegal detention, humiliation in the garb of 'search operation' shocks residents in Maharashtra town

Around 300 policemen stormed into Rashid Compound in Mumbra (near Mumbai), entering houses, detaining elderly citizens, youths and even the minors.

They were all brought out, forcibly taken towards the police vans and herded to the police station.

Additional Commissioner of Police (ACP) Amit Kale led this operation that has sent shock waves in the entire Mumbra settlement, and causing anger among Muslims.

There are 11 buildings in the Rashid Compound. All of them were targeted for this 'midnight search operation'.

It was not about policemen entering one or two houses to catch suspects, with warrant. People were woken up in the midst of the night, without telling reason to women folk, the police dragged the male members away.

The senior citizens, schoolboys and prominent persons including poet Obaid Azam Azmi were also forcibly taken away, for no fault of theirs. The victims have recounted the harassment faced at the hands of policemen, to newspapers.

Inquilab reports that women in the bedrooms were woken up during this 'house search' operation. Azmi told the policemen that his father was an MLA, yet, there wasn't any respite. Local residents alleged that many policemen were drunk.

The incident stunned the residents and the news of the mass detentions spread like wildfire. People began gathering outside the police station. Local NCP MLA Jitendra Avhad and members of the social organisations began gathering on the spot.

Seeing the situation was now getting out of hand, the police later released 80 persons. Residents said that it was saddening to see the mistreatment of such magnitude and the manner in which people were taken away like criminals and made to sit on the floor in police station, an eyewitness was quoted in the newspaper.

This incident had occurred on the night of Wednesday and Thursday. The reports in newspapers quote residents as saying that policemen were armed with cutters to break the doors. Over a dozen police vehicles had entered the locality in this swoop.

The reason was that police had to catch certain chain-snatcher. This report tells how '80 Muslims were held to catch a chain snatcher'.

There was no criminal found among those detained. The police highhandedness has been widely condemned.

On Thursday, meetings were held at different places. A formal complaint was also made to home minister. This has happened in a Congress-ruled state.

Though an inquiry has been promised, the highhandedness and the totally unjustifiable action, once again shows the mindset and the biases of sections among the Maharashtra police.

Report in Urdu Times, says that while officials in the raid had said that they had orders from top, senior officials said that they hadn't given any such order to conduct the midnight swoop.

Mumbra is located in Thane district, but falls under Greater Mumbai. It has a population of nearly 10 lakh [1 million now]. The place has a strong Muslim population. In fact, minorities account for 70% of the population  here. Jitendra Avhad is the NCP legislator from here.

The police commissioner has also promised that inquiry would be completed in eight days, say newspaper reports. One hopes that the police officials will conduct an impartial inquiry and take action against policemen responsible for such excesses.


Shamelessly, it was termed a routine checking drive! Where on earth, cops enter homes at 2 am, herd people out, parade them, force them into van, take to police station, made them sit on floor and then for no fault of theirs, and then say it is 'routine checking drive'.

The officer Amit Kale hasn't been suspended as yet. There has been no action so far against other policemen who were part of the team. The officials claim that an inquiry has been instituted. Let's see if it is just a delaying tactic or they will take action.


The English and Hindi newspaper almost completely ignored the incident, despite the gravity of the biased action. There is clear bias against Mumbra at the root of this post-midnight swoop. Indian Express followed the news and printed it on its front page.

But for most other papers, it was just no news. TV channels that get into hyper active mode at minor incidents, didn't take up the case. It was an incident over which the Maharashtra government and Mumbai police ought to be questioned, so that corrective measures are taken. 

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Religion as a factor in Indian elections: Muslim, Sikh, Christian majority seats and constituencies that elect Upper Caste Hindu candidates

With elections round the corner, newspapers have again focused on factors like caste, community and religion, which do affect the choice of candidates as well as voting in polls in India.

Dainik Bhaskar, a leading Hindi newspaper, has come out with an interesting report on page 1.

The report tells us about how certain seats are perceived as 'Muslim seats', 'Sikh seats' or Upper Caste Hindu seats.

Most of these are constituencies that have large percent of voters of the group.

We all know that the religious or caste affiliation of the voter and the contestants do matter to some extent.

Sometimes the constituency may not have the particular group as majority or a block.

Yet, it is seen as the constituency where candidate belonging to that group is given ticket and wins easily. Interestingly, while focus is often on Muslim votes, because of a myth that Muslims vote 'en bloc'. In election season, such reports come too often. Journalists seem to enjoy filing such reports and discussing them.

But this report interestingly talks of Savarnas vote [Upper caste Hindu population] too. It says that though the Upper Caste aren't a numerical majority in most seats, still, they command wide influence and around 125 constituencies regularly send Upper Caste contestants to the Parliament.

125 Upper Caste influence constituencies or 'Savarna Seats'

The report says that Lucknow may have a large Muslim population and also strong Shia populace, but most of the parties always fielded Upper Caste candidates from here. Either Shivrajwati Nehru, Hemwanti Nandan Bahuguna or Sheela Kaul who won thrice and later, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who won five times from here.

It also lists Indore as an 'Upper Caste' seat from where 'savarnas' have been winning for 45 years. Then, there is Allahabad constituency, that elected Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Murli Manohar Joshi, Amitabh Bachchan, VP Singh and Revti Rama Singh, all upper caste Hindus.

It lists 36 seats in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where only Upper Caste candidates win. While Punjab has 32% Dalits, more than half  of the seats in the state are cornered by the Upper Castes.

The 'Upper caste' seats often have a strong Muslim population too but no party risks fielding Muslim here.

There are 172 constituencies that have Muslim, Sikh and Christian influence.

But in the 125 upper caste seats, the factor of religion doesn't work, it says.

There are 79 constituencies reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) and 42 for Scheduled Tribes (ST) out of 543* (545) seats in the Lok Sabha. Of  course, Dalits (SCs) and Tribals (STs) can contest from un-reserved seats too.

So out of the remaining 432 seats, Bhaskar has identified seats that have a trend of winnability among a particular religion or a group. Many places have huge backward (OBC) population too but there isn't focus on their voting and election pattern.

Muslim vote can tilt balance in 92 constituencies 

The report says that 92 constituencies have Muslim influence. There are many constituencies in Kashmir, Kerala, UP and West Bengal that have 65-95% Muslims.  Then, there are constituencies like Laccadives, Kishanganj (Bihar), Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh) too.

The example is Assam's Dhubri where Muslim candidates win. AUDF's Badruddin Ajmal contested and won from here, defeating the Congress. Over all, seats that have more than 20% Muslims are included in list where the minority swing can make or mar candidates' chances.

An interesting example is Araria seat in Bihar. Now, Araria has 41% Muslim population. Yet, seven Muslims were in the fray, and hence BJP's Pradeep Kumar Singh, won Loktantrik Janshakti Party's Zakir Husain by a margin of 2,000 votes. Of these 92 seats, most of them are in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, West Bengal and Kerala, apart from J&K.

16 seats have Christian electorate's influence

There are 16  seats that have Christian influence. An example is Ernakulum in Kerala that has 38.8% Christian vote or South Goa. Then, there are many constituencies in North East and some other places in central and eastern India where Christian vote is decisive.

The Christian candidates win from Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur. Also, there are pockets in certain regions of South Indian states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. In a few constituencies in Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh, too they have limited impact. 

Sikhs are a major factor in 16 constituencies

Also, there are 16 seats where Sikhs are an important factor and decide outcome of the election results, like Bathinda that has over 75% Sikh voter. Sikhs are mostly concentrated in Punjab-Haryana region in North India.

The other seats include Amritsar 77%,  Sangrur 74%, Jalandhar 38%, Ludhiana 58%, Anandpur Sahib 57%, Fatehgarh Sahib 58%, Firozpur 51%, Patiala 55%, Gurdaspur 44%, Hoshiarpur 39%. Also, there are constituencies liek Chandigarh, Sirsa (Haryana) and Sri Ganga Nagar (Rajasthan).


Now, that you have seen these trends and statistics, there is a message for you. You don't need to blindly believe every 'fact'. Anything can happen in election. It is not purely religious or regional line on which a person votes always. With polls barely two months from now, you will see analyses and more reports.

See more on elections 2014 in upcoming posts.

[Report published on March 10, 2014. Link to Dainik Bhaskar's Epaper. See page 1 and with graphic on inside page of the same day's edition, if they remain in archive. Alternative text link is HERE]
[*India's lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha has 545 members, 543 of them are elected while two are nominated]

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Legend in Lifetime: Magical Urdu storyteller Mohiuddin Nawab wants his stories to be translated in English and Hindi


Mohiuddin Nawab, who rules over Urdu story world, is a true legend.

He is the man who has authored Devta, the most voluminous and longest running novel ever written in any language, and that runs into more than 50 volumes.

He is also the man whose stories are published in almost every monthly [digests] in Urdu and are awaited by millions of readers, in India & Pakistan.

Also, publishers in India, print and sell his novels, of course, without copyright [and no royalty]. His novels and stories are awaited by a large number of readers. On blogs the entire novels are copied and uploaded by fans.

The octogenarian writer who is known for his unique writing style, finds tales from the people around us and then writes extraordinary stories about ordinary men. He is a cult following. While his stories exhilarate you, at the same time they also have a social message and expose the hollowness of our society.

Nawab sahab lives in Karachi in Pakistan. There is little doubt that he is an inimitable writer and generations have loved him. Still, there is a very sad aspect. Perhaps, it can happen only in the East, that such a major writer hasn’t got the due regard from so-called ‘literary world’.

Is it because his writings—though no less incisive than the leading litterateurs, mostly got published in popular magazines [digests] that have huge circulation, and not to literary magazines. Isn’t it an irony? It is an honour to be able to have a brief chat with the famous author who has been writing for the last 55 years.

Interview with Mohiuddin Nawab

*Nawab Sahab, first tell us about your childhood and how you were drawn towards writing stories?

Mohiuddin Nawab: I was born in Kharagpur in West Bengal. The year was 1930. I was interested in listening to stories when I was a kid. I also enjoyed narrating tales. Rest, it is life that has taught me. I consider me a student till date. I guess it was my destiny to become a writer.

*How many stories you have written so far?

Mohinuddin Nawab: Frankly, I never kept an account of the number of stories wrote. But I believe that I had more stories to tell than most authors. Devta is undoubtedly the longest story written in any language in the world.

*We wonder, how you can write so much. Once it was commonly known that you dictated and recorded your stories.

Mohinuddin Nawab: It depends on the mood. Sometimes I write and t here are times when I use the tape-recorder. These days, I am also using computer.

*Your stories show your deep insight about the society. There is also a message in them. How do you get so many experiences about people and their lives, which help you form such strong characters?

Mohiuddin Nawab: From books, I gather information about the world around. I study people and try to understand their psychology, their actions. The effort to get into the person’s mind, helps me create the stories.

*How did you plan writing ‘Devta’?

Mohiuddin Nawab: Every person’s brain works differently. I thought that it would make the diverse kind of human minds play through my pen. Emotions like love, hate, treachery and all other passions come out of human mind. I successfully wrote this long story for a period of 33 years.

*Do you think that mainstream Urdu literature has ignored writers like you who have huge readership?

Mohiuddin Nawab: Sadly, readership is going down. The advent of electronic media, especially, cell phones have turned youth away from books. Our stories aren’t translated and published in countries that have large readership. I have been writing for 55 years but my stories were never translated. I wish that my works get translated in English and Hindi.

*You have lot of readership and fan following in India.

Mohiuddin Nawab: I was born in India. Naturally, I feel a pull towards the country, its soil. I hope to see friendship and good relatins between both the countries. But probably, I won’t be able to see it in my lifetime.

*In India, writers do get awards and respect. Do you feel Urdu writers don't get their due recognition and spotlight in Pakistan or should get more respect from government for their efforts.

Mohiuddin Nawab: I never got any award. Electronic and print media also ignored me. But the love from readers has kept me going. From one corner of the world to another corner, I have lakhs of readers who admire my writings and this is the biggest award for me.

*Who inspired you as a writer?

Mohiuddin Nawab: I learnt from my predecessors. Learning is a constant process. Sometimes, a child says something that astonishes you and makes you ponder over it.

*Do you write poetry also?
Mohiuddin Nawab: Sometimes I do write couplets.

*Any message for young generation?
Mohiuddin Nawab: I wish that youth would devote more time towards reading. Excessive use of mobile phone hampers their creativity. I hope that the youngsters would read  books as they are a true friend and have a treasure of knowledge.

[These were excerpts from an interview]

Monday, February 24, 2014

How media turned Nitish Kumar from hero to villain within months!

Just refresh your memory and you will recall how Nitish Kumar was the darling of media, till just a few months ago.

Whenever there was a mention of the Bihar chief minister, the word 'Sushasan' or 'Good Governance' was used to describe his achievements.

It was routinely said that he had brought a turnaround in Bihar, from the era of Lalu Prasad Yadav's 'jungle raj'.

After Lalu was ousted from the power by the JDU-BJP combine, Nitish Kumar was seen as a true leader, a man who was changing Bihar.

It was said that crime rate had come down in Bihar, development was again visible and the mafia had been brought under control. The backward Bihar was now a progressive state, we were told.

Those who don't live in the State, obviously, have no idea about the ground realities, and are dependent on media to understand the 'change'.

In fact, there was so much positive news about Bihar, that we even heard how advertisements were being given to newspapers, in order to get good coverage. Negative stories were not being reported at all.  If it was happening, it wasn't good either.

Remember how Forbesganj firing was totally blacked out from media. Now within the last few months, ever since, he had a fallout with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Nitish Kumar is no longer the 'Vikas Purush'. All positive coverage has gone away.

No longer, we hear the word 'Sushasan Kumar'. In fact, there are reports now that the law-and-order situation is bad. Really! The 63-year-old leader who comes from the JP movement, just like his bete noire RJD's Lalu Yadav, is now miffed with media.

In a function, a bitter Nitish Kumar asked the photographer that why was he taking the photographs, when they won't be published them in the newspaper.This is in sharp contrast to the earlier situation when Nitish Kumar got excessive coverage.

In fact, a section was uncomfortable, and felt that due to huge money in the form of Ads, the TV channels and newspaper in Bihar, have 'sold themselves out'. [media bhi business hai bhai]

Now JDU leaders rue that the media no longer gives them coverage as it is in the hands of BJP. In India, media is largely independent, despite the political affiliations of the owners of the media houses.

Lot of people outside Bihar wonder how it is happening so fast. What is the true picture? Something is surely amiss here.

With Mukesh Ambani's growing stakes in media houses, it is suspected that there is growing influence of owners on journalists.

In news rooms, there is a clear order that stories against BJP's future PM wouldn't be telecast. But to say, that Nitish Kumar has been blacked out just because his opposition to Narendra Modi and the JDU's severing ties with BJP in Bihar, is almost unbelievable. Is it that the media has been swept away by the 'Modi wave'?

For eight years, he was doing everything right. Even eight months ago, he was doing great. He was looked at as a statesman and was positioned as the future Prime Minister. However, it is a fact that Nitish Kumar is no longer a favourite among media men.

How this 'hero' to 'zero' transition took place! It is not a great mystery. But the change in coverage does have impact on people who don't belong to Bihar and live outside the state. Without firsthand experience or information about whether things are improving or they have worsened, they are at loss to understand such a transformation in media views.

What's the reality. And the mystery behind the change in image! Just a few more months and we will know.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Great social reformers series-Part 1: Revolutionary roaming saint Baba Gadge Maharaj

By Indscribe 

Gadge Baba [1876-1956] was one of the greatest social reformers, who dedicated his life for public service and set up 31 schools, orphanages, educational institutes and shelter homes for destitute.

While the reformist leader who was bestowed the title of Saint in his lifetime, is a household name in Maharashtra, ironically, his life and works don't find much space in the text books outside the State.

Gadge Baba*, who was born in second part of the nineteenth century, built schools, hospitals, hostels, orphanages, homes for women and elderly, dharam-shalas and animal shelters across Maharashtra, all by collecting donations, but never constructed a room for himself.

The mendicant went village to village, with the food pan on his head and broom in his hand. Upon reaching the place, he would start cleaning the roads and drains. This inspired the people to become self-reliant. The money handed over to him by villagers, was used for setting up institutions.

He also performed the 'kirtan' and recited Sant Kabir's couplets [dohas] during his discourses.Either he stayed in verandahs or under the shade of tree. An old and crumpled sheet, an earthen pot [which he wore on his head and used it as bowl to eat] and a piece of wood--that was all he had in the name of possessions.

The wandering Saint came to be known as Gadge Baba, because he carried the earthen pot [in Marathi, term for pot is Gadge].

He attacked untouchability through his teachings. An associate of Dr BR Ambedkar, he played an important role in social awakening in Maharashtra, especially, among backwards, Dalits and the poor.

A rationalist, he dedicated himself to the larger public good, urging the poor and persecuted to educate their children. For Gadge Maharaj, religion was all about serving the humanity and uplift of the oppressed, especially, the handicapped, the destitute.

Rural masses thronged to hear him. The public preacher also spread awareness regarding sanitation and for keeping environment clean. He emphasised on feeding the hungry and serving the society. A saint in Bhakti tradition, he was respected by all sections of the society.

For almost 50 years, he kept moving in the vast region, spreading awareness in the society and condemning the social ills. He established 12 dharam-shalas at different places, some as big as the one in Nasik which can accommodate 500 persons. So that the poor don't have to worry about their stay while visiting other places and pilgrimage spots.

Gadge Baba had a humble background. His real name was Debuji. He was born in Amravati. After his father's death, he had spent the early years of his life at his maternal grandfather's place.

Though he had no formal education, he had the missionary zeal and conviction to bring about change in the society.

Throughout his life, he remained active, spreading awareness to tackle the existing social evils, the prejudices, the regressive beliefs and the superstitious traditions.

He was against the casteist discrimination and also opposed touching feet of the saints. Further, he was a strong crusader against illiteracy.

When Bal Gangadhar Tilak opposed the representation of entry of lower castes into legislatures, Gadge Baba, had opposed it and challenged Tilak from the same dais. He left behind a rich legacy that will inspire generations. He is fondly and respectfully termed as Rashtra-sant.

Almost a contemporary of Gandhi, he passed away in 1956. His contribution towards the Indian society and educating the masses, is truly astonishing. The Amravati University was named as Sant Gadge Baba Amravati University in his memory.

[pronunciation: Gaad-ge/گاڈگے / राष्ट्रसंत गाडगे बाबा]
[In the first photograph, you can see the food pan on his head]

1. Folk hero Sant Shri Gadge Maharaj
2. The reformer saint who was crusader against superstitions