Monday, January 30, 2006

Poet Dr Ateequllah's strange Urdu couplets

Ateequllah is an established Urdu poet, who hails from Ujjain. He is known for his experimenting with ghazal and for his unique verses.

But some of his couplets appear shocking at first sight. It is possible that you may admire his craft. Similarly, you may also feel that the poet has deliberately composed slightly different poetry, in order to astonish, the reader.

Just read the three 'shair' which I have posted here and tell me what do you make out of them. The couplets are posted in both Urdu as well as Roman transliteration, for the benefit of readers.

میں ایک کانچ کا پر تولتا پرندہ
اڑان بھر نہ سکا اور چھن سے ٹوٹ گی

main ek kaanch ka par taulta parindaa
uRaan bhar na saka aur chhan se TuuT gayaa

طلوع ہوتے دن کی پیٹھ پر چڑھ کر
سیاہ دیو میری ہڈیاں چباتا ہے

tuluu hote hue din kii piith par chaRh kar
siyaah deo meri haDDiyaaN chabaataa hai

وہ سنگ پاش ازیت کی تاب لا نہ سکا
میں اپنی چیخ میں پیوست ہو کے گونج اٹھا

woh sang-paash aziyat ki taab laa na sakaa
main apnii chiiKh meN paiwast ho ke guunj uThaa

Friday, January 27, 2006

Padma Award to renowned Urdu litterateur Kashmiri Lal Zakir

I am glad that Kashmiri Lal Zakir got the Padma Shri award this year. The only Urdu litterateur to get the award this year.

As a matter of fact few writers got the Padma awards this year. I remember in childhood the name of Kashmiri Lal Zakir in most of the magazines including Biswin Sadi for which he regularly wrote.

In those days the magazines like Shama, Biswin Sadi and Bano were full of non-Muslim Urdu writers. Now Hindu and Sikh writers are rare. Kashmiri Lal Zakir has been active with the Haryana Urdu Academy.

Zakir has written extensively on Haali and is credit with rediscovering the literary giant of yore. He is a prolific writer and one expects that he would continue to enrich Urdu literature in the years to come. 

Protestant Bradman Vs Cathlolic teammates in the legendary Australian cricket eleven

Protestant 'Don' among Catholic teammates
I find it very interesting that the differences between Bradman and his team-mates also had a Catholic-Protestant angle. Despite the fact that the Australian team was world-beater the differences within the team are well-known.

Bradman's phenomenal success caused jealousies among team-mates who watched as he was showered with financial gifts and remained a private person, aloof from the team.

Fine. But now just read this short excerpt:

"This disaffection was strongest among a group of players-Jack Fingleton, Grimmett, Stan Mc Cabe, Ernest McCormick and O'Reilly--all of IRISH origin and Roman Catholics and a different political persuasion to Bradman, who was a Protestant".

"That Bradman was essentially a patriot and monarchist, a tee-totaller and a non-smoker. This group suspected it was discriminated against by Bradman". Doesn't it sound interesting! I wonder if this issue has been taken up seriously in the past by cricket historians and writers.

When he was bowled out for just four in his last test innings and could not achieve a test average of 100, O'Reilly and Fingleton who were in the Oval press box could not conceal their delight, says Simon Wilde in his book "Number One: The world's best bowlers and batsmen'.

I never knew this. Though Bradman praised O'Relliy through out his career. He called his team-mates when Mc Cabe was hitting his famous century against Larwood during Bodyline saying ' Come and watch you will never see such an innings'.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

State of Urdu newspapers in India & Etemaad's website

The website of newly launched Urdu daily Etemaad is impressive. Though difficult to find the site because of the spelling of etemaad.

It is among the best Urdu sites I have seen. Like Hindustan Times and Times of India website, it also brings to you the entire page in the form of epaper on the screen.

Truly Hyderabad has remained the fortress of Urdu in India. While papers in Uttar Pradesh have seen a great decline lately, Lucknow has seen a growth in circulation, particularly since Rashtriya Sahara Urdu was launched.

The Lucknow edition of Sahafat is doing well. Also, Indian Express' local Urdu daily "Qaumi Khabrein' is beautifully printed and is an eight-page standard newspaper.

Apart from this 2-3 other papers like Eqdaam, Waris-e-Urdu etc are being published but none of these papers are available on net. The Mumbai newspapers Urdu Times, Hindustan and Inquilab are doing reasonably well.

 Mumbai is thus another citadel of Urdu journalism. Situation in Karnataka where Salaar and Pasban are old newspapers and West Bengal where Kolkata has Akkas, Azad Hind among the main newspapers, is not very rosy though.

In Madhya Pradesh Urdu Action's Bhopal and Burhanpur editions are the saving grace. Famous Urdu daily Nadeem that is now in its 70th year is a dying institution sadly. Though Muslims easily switched to Hindi newspapers in Rajasthan, parts of UP, MP and Bihar, the 95% Hindu-Sikh Punjab still has the mass circulated Hind Samachar.

Though its circulation figures have dropped to less than 50,000 in recent years. However, it faces no immediate threat because the sister publications in Hindi and Punjabi are earning profit. The group is named after it and the owners have an emotional bond with this paper.

Hind Samachar remains the only newspaper in Urdu that is published on glossy paper. In Bihar and Jharkhand a few newspapers are carrying the tradition. The popular paper in this region is Qaumi Tanzeem apart from Akhbar-i-Mashriq.

Hope remains from Jammu and Kashmir the sole state with Urdu as state language in India. Many newspapers are published and circulated fairly well. Delhi has Qaumi Awaz, Rashtriya Sahara and a few other newspapers. The old papers like Milap, Pratap that are still read by the elderly Hindu-Sikh.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Why no Indian, Pakistani cricketer in Simon Wilde's list of great cricketers?

Simon Wilde's book 'Number One' is about the best cricketers in the history of the game and has got attention in the media.

The writer has selected about 50 cricketers. The criterion is that the batsman and bowler should have been the best batsman or bowler at least for 5-7 years in the world during his career.

The list starts with John Small, then lists William Beldham, Frederic Beaucleark, William Ward and Fuller Pilch, going up to Carpenter, Grace, Trumper, Hammond, Bradman, Sobers. After the decade of 1970s it includes the following cricketers:

Batsmen: Barry Richards, Vivian Richards, Graham Gooch, Brian Lara, Waugh

Bowlers: Lillee, Marshall, Ambrose, Warne

So no Imran Khan, no Sunil Gavaskar. Neither Hanif Mohammed, nor Sachin Tendulkar or Kapil Dev. The sole Indian  in the list is Ranjitsinhji who played for England and who tried his best to stop Indian cricket from progressing even though India named its highest championship of domestic cricket in his name.

Zaheer Abbas hit over 100 first class centuries. This man is blind. He could spot none of them. He goes to the era of Carpenter, includes eighteenth centuries' cricketers who bowled under-arm and played without middle wicket about whom we only heard stories.

Another way I can prove Simon Wilde a failure. He failed to list the two greatest cricketers before WG Grace. Alfred Mynn, the Lion of Kent, the first cricketer whose statue was made and who was declared champion of all England.

Secondly, George Osbaldeston, the ferocious bowler who was said to be the greatest sportsperson after Assyrian Nimord. But he chooses his own Toms, Dicks and Harries. Its not a question of disappointment that how he ignored Indian, Pakistani cricketers.

One is entitled to biases but it can be tolerated to an extent. Unfortunately, Simon Wilde has simply left the entire sub-continent, ignoring the exploits of legendary cricketers who turned the game into a world sport, taking it out of the UK-Australia-South Africa axis. 

Friday, January 20, 2006

The country that is an enigma for outsiders: Iran

Iran's stand on the nuclear issue has once again brought the attention of world on this gas-rich Shia Muslim country.

Iran remains a mystery to outsiders. In India the right wing often sees Iran---Shia republic amind the belligerent and majority Sunni nations--with sympathy.

The Sunni Muslims are also often in awe of this country where the revolution took place under Khomeini and which was the first to issue a fatwa on Rushdie issue.

Iran remains a country that does not allow itself to be dictated by any superpower and it is this aspect of the country that is contrary to position of most of the Muslim countries.

The rightwing activists often wonder why Shia Iran remains committed to the cause of Islam as strongly. This dilemma is seen when section of RSS-BJP ideologues on one hand show a sympathy for Iran's nuclear ambitions and charge America of bullying but the rest feel insecure and warn about another 'rogue' Muslim nuclear power in the world.

It is this independnce of Iran that is termed as roguish attitude which the West does not like. Generally a sensible man, Sudheendra Kulkarni, who was once a card carryin communist and eventurally wrote speaches for Advani before being shown the door, tried to unravel the puzzle that Iran, the fascinating country of contradictions as he puts its in Indian Express. Interesting artile indeed. The few excerpts:

1. Iran inherits a glorious civilisation and therefore has a narrative that is as mysterious as the poetry of Rumi the great poet of Sufi mysiticism (Our death is our wedding with eternity). Iran is as Islamic as one can get. Ye its strong Shia identity stands out as a quiet defiance of much of Sunni Islam.

Beauty and melancholy are twins in much of Iran's art and history. One of its greatest rulers, Shah Abbas I, who established the magnificent Isfahan, killed his eldest son and gouged eyes of second son, who in turn killed his daughter.

2. Is grief Iran's self-willed destiny? Collective grieving for Imam Husainis a finely choreographed ritual in Iran. Reading Christopher de Bellaigue's book ' In the rose garden of the martyrs' is to be reminded that martyrdom is both the leitmotif of Iran and also a pointer to its perennial search for its true harmonised identity.

3."Iran's sole perceptible gain of the past quarter of a century: the liberty to take important decisions without having to consult a superpower", quotes Kulkarni from the book.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Poet Bashir Badr's effigies burnt: Controversy, condemnation and now theft at his house

بشیر بدر : مشہو ر مگر متناذ عہ 
Bashir Badr has been in the news for wrong reasons lately. First it was the controversy surrounding his statement that he could play the role of all prophets from Adam [and later of Satan as well].

'Hazrat Aadam se le kar har paighambar aur unke aagey Shaitaan tak ta roop dhar sakta hoon'. [This is not the entire sentence, he made the offending statement brazenly and it should not be reproduced in full]

No sooner did the statement got published in Madhya Pradesh, than people came out on streets and his effigies were burnt. There was a wave of anger. The statement could not be retracted because he had said it on camera.

Meanwhile, in a mushaira, Munawwar Rana had barely read the first stanza of his couplet that Badar who was on stage itself said 'Lahaul Wilaquat' [Disapproving couplet as trash].

This was heard by the vast crowd as the mike was in the front and scores of loudspeakers blared out the Lahaul around the vast ground in Bhopal. Angered by this 'bad-tahzibi' [uncultured behaviour], local leaders and youths beat up his effigy, held demonstrations and issued strong statements against him. 

There was wide condemnation. The most senior Urdu poets of Bhopal including veteran Ishrat Qadri came on television and said that Badar had lost his mental balanceNow, he has to deal with another situation. Thieves have struck at his house. 

And people were wondering what thieves would have taken from his house as large part of his poetry is nothing but excerpts from past poets' works and picked up from little-known shayars [shaa'er] whose couplets he slightly altered to suit present day needs. Wallah Alam.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The love story of an elderly Muslim couple: 90-year-old woman proposed to 105 year old man

It is immensely inspiring story for everybody. A 105-year-old Bagh Husain [whose age is certified] marries a 90-year-old woman. It was the woman who had proposed to him.

It was in 1942 that Bagh Husain, already twice married and having children, had proposed Shajra Bi of Poonch, Kashmir, but her family refused.

یہ مسلمان اتنا عشق کیوں کرتے ہیں

Heart-broken he joined army and as a soldier in Jat Regiment fought in Libya, Myanmar and many other countries. Shajra got married to a person. Meanwhile, Husain's wives either died or left him. Recently Shajra's husband died and after the period of 'iddat' she approached Husain with the proposal to which he readily agreed.

Angry at the marriage of the elderly granny, her family lodged a case with police against Husain of abducting her. But police intervened and the marriage took place. Urdu papers published the story and the Indian Express printed it as anchor story on page 1 [Jan 3, 2006].

The cute picture of the elderly couple can inspire the most depressed person. The smiles and blush on their faces are amazing. The zeal for life and love at the age of 90 and 105, Imagine!

I am sure nothing less than an ageless story like of Fermina Daza only if it gets a Marquez like man to pen it down. See the photo and stop getting any depression whatsoever. I remember what a friend of mine once said in a group where I was the lone Muslim among them.

She said that the greatest lovers have always been Muslims, they love like none else see Laila Majnu, Sheerin Farhad, Sohni Mahiwal, Azra Wamiq and innumerable others. They don't care about other things but for love.

One wishes it was the same impression across the world even today. Let's pray for that. Amen.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

'Backward' Muslims don't practice female foeticide, don't kill baby girls in the wombs

It does not deserve a news item for most newspapers--'Two six-month old foetuses found abandoned'.

Who bothers to find that it may not be the case of abortion by a teenaged girl wanting to get rid of unwanted pregnancy but a case of female foeticide.

The foetuses were both of girls and were aborted at such a late stage [six months] just because the family found that they were going to be baby girls. Naturally it could not have been a poor family as poor don't go to nursing homes or for illegal ultra sound tests as much. It was most certainly a middle-class family that killed its girl children but the murderers go scot-free.

The other day, TV channel CNN-IBN showed the story that in the midst of a belt in Haryana where there are barely 750-800 girls for 1000 boys, a poor Muslim family has FIVE DAUGHTERS and no son and they don't even yearn for a boy. But this is one thing that intrigues everybody.

The educated Indians have stopped so many girls from coming in this world that vast regions have below 800 sex ratio. The situation in Haryana and Punjab is worst. Amongst the religions communities the Sikhs are the worst follwed by Jains. It is becoming very difficult for Jain boys to find girls in middle-class and rural areas.


The Upper caste Hindus are also suffering the consequences. Muslims have however rejected female foeticide and the sex ratio amongst Muslims is a very healthy 930. At the national level the sex ratio is 927. Amongst Sikhs it is 786, Jains 870.

The Sikhs, the Jain, the Jats were doing it and most of the highly educated ones---killing the girl child in the womb. Kerala that has Muslims and Christians accounting for over 50% of population has a sex ratio of 1058 (more girls than boys) but a 95% Hindu Haryana has just 861. Naturally education and economy don't make a community forward or backward.


If it were so educationally backward Muslims would be killing their daughters but they are protecting. And the educated Christians too are protecting their daughters. But the Hindus, Sikhs and the most literate of all, the Jains, are not.

Those who call Muslims backward should see these figures and introspect and learn a few things from Muslims rather than labelling them outrightly as backward. All the time we hear that Muslims treat women badly and that Hindus treat women as 'devis'. Doesn't this expose the fallacy of such claims!

Interesting, the sex ratio is also good among Dalits and Tribals. In tribal societies, there are often more women than men. It clearly suggests that the so-called 'Educated Upper and Middle Class', which preaches high morality but kills baby girls.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Spelling confusions ahead of Id: Is it Eid-uz-Zuha or Id-ul-Azha?


Eid-uz-Zuha will be celebrated tomorrow. I have got leave from office and will take rest after prayer. As Eid approaches, once again people keep asking, 'Which Eid is that? Baqrid or the 'Siwain wali'.

And then the confusion over spellings. Eeryone is in doubt whether to use the Arabic, the Urdu, the hybrid style or the desi--Baqrid.

Nice to see how newspaper in English spell it differently every time. Eid-ul-Zuha, Eid-uz-Zuha, Eid-ul-Azha, Eid-ul-Adha or then all the same derivatives with Id, Idul et al

So what's the correct spelling?

Firstly, you can write Eid or Id, both are correct. 
Now the question of the middle word. The 'ul' works with both 'Zuha' and 'Azha'. But 'uz' with 'Zuha' only.
The suffix can be 'Zuha' or 'Azha'.

So all these are equally correct: Id-ul-Zuha, Id-ul-Azha, Id-uz-Zuha. Even Id-ul-Adha is correct though its recent import. In Arab, it is common to use Adha. But that's not proper in the context of Indian sub-content.

Here, we still say Ramzan, not Ramadan. We also say, 'Zohar' prayer, not 'Dhuhr'. For us, it is Fazal, not Fadhal. If we go on Arabising, then our entire language will change. And everything becomes a joke. The way Arabs pronounce certain letters is slightly different from Indian, Pakistani or even Persian pronunciation.

Arabs don't have P in the alphabet and they use B for it. So will Pakistan call itself Bakistan? No. Arabic doesn't even have 'G' or the sound of Urdu 'Gaaf'. There is a limit to which this madness can go. Let's not be ashamed of our pronunciation or our culture. The 'mithi' Eid which comes after Ramzan, is Eid-ul-Fitr. There is less chance of spelling mistake here.

Generally, it is called Baqreed or Baqr'id. For God sake, don't say 'Bakra Id'. Hope I have clarified to an extent. Still, if you insist on replacing your 'Zo', 'Zaal' and 'Zuaad' with 'Dh', and try being more Arab than Indian, Bangladeshi or Pakistani, then you can surely do it.

Hope I have clarified certain confusions that come annually prior to the Eid(s). I am quite happy today as I got a cute 'bag-cum-radio' as a gift. It has a radio on the front side and the bag can be attach to the belt or slung on the shoulder.

It looks lovely. I can't understand the mechanism but everybody who saw it, liked it. Now read an Urdu Nazm. Titled 'Marine driver', it has been written by well-known poet Adil Mansoori. You may have heard of his famous Nazm 'Tubook' also.

Marine Drive: An Urdu verse

Shahariyon se tang aa kar
Shor se daaman chhuRa kar
Unchi unchi buildinge.n
Khudkushi karne ki khaatir
Saf-ba-saf daryaa kinare
Der se aakar khaRii hain

[Adil Mansoori]

Monday, January 09, 2006

An astonishing incident: Communalism on the countryside... [Part-II]

Deeply hurt I went to the people I had to meet as part of my assignment. But I was demoralised and did all this without my heart into it. I hastily finished all the work in just a few hours without going into long sessions of interviews with politicians, workers and local media men.

I asked the driver to take me back. Barely had we set off and from the side of the railway station went to the other side of the town that was the way out, the driver exclaimed..probably it was Baap Re or Maar Daala [exclamation].

This was followed by, 'Arrey sahab...yeh kahaaN le aaye..dekha! yahan to poora Pakistan bana rakha hai...'.[Where have we come, they have made a Pakistan here]. He was obviously pointing towards the row of houses, mostly pained green, the minarets, domes and the people looked Muslim.

 This was the second shock. Not as harsh as the first one but nonetheless a shock that unsettled me. As the town was not too far, just a few hours of journey away, so I had no formal introduction with the driver. On my way to the town I had slept in the taxi for the couple of hours and reached there in the wee hours.

If we had a meal together he might have guessed about my religion. I had a book which I was reading in the early morning and so there was no way he could have felt that I was 'The Other'. He hadn't asked my name

Why should have he bothered, it was a routine job for him and I was used to the comments "You don't look like a Muslim" from childhood. The difference in Hindi-Hindustani and Urdu is not as discernible to everybody. 

It was a five hour journey and by evening, I reached home. In the meantime, he told me so many things. Of course, he didn't ask me about my name even once. He said that he lived in a Muslim ghetto in the old part of the town. 

And he took pride in the fact that he owned a Giant Wheel [merry go-round or Hindola]. This was his side business. During the peak months when the fetes and fairs were organised he earned lot of money with his Ferris Wheel.

In rest of the months, he worked as taxi driver. The job of taxi driver was harsh, he said, you have to work for long hours and on occasions no sleep for 36 hrs or 40 hrs at a stretch. But the gleam in his eyes was unmistakeable when he talked about the Giant Wheel which when installed went up to 51 ft in height.

In fact, I had never given a thought that there are men who can earn good money through swings and merry go-rounds. He dropped me at the home and asked me to write my name on the slip. I wrote it in English and he asked me to write in Devanagri also, I wrote and he casually kept it in the pocket.

The Pakistan comment was not as harsh compared to the previous statement. One is used to 'Pakistan comment' since childhood. I wondered that if after reaching his house and taking out the slip he might feel slight remorse on noticing that I was a Muslim. 

Instead of signature, I wrote my complete name. This is necessary as it approves the distance travelled. Unless I do sign, his bill would not be cleared, as it may be construed that he went elsewhere also and drove in excess, to make money, by fooling the owner.

So I wrote my name, verifying the kilometers and places I had gone to, and handed him the paper. He might think of being more careful in future and not to take any one as a Muslim or Hindu on the basis of mere looks. It took me a few days to come out of the shock this short journey had given me.

I told many of my friends, mostly Hindus, about the incident. This made me feel lighter, I don't know why. There was a long period of introspection. We can't force any one against his will to like or dislike a community but then it is in our hands to introspect and mend our ways.

I am sure we must share part of the blame, Kuchh ghaltiyan to hamari bhi hongi warna hamse itni nafrat ki koi wajeh to hogi......READ THE FIRST PART OF THIS SERIES HERE

Friday, January 06, 2006

Ten best couplets of renowned Urdu poet Parvin Shakir


Parveen Shakir became a legend in her life. From the era of Mahlaqa Chanda to Meena Kumar 'Naaz', Urdu has had hundreds of poetesses.

Urdu poetry with its long hertiage had many poetesses but never before a poetess had given expression to her feelings in such a way.

Here is a selection of her couplets, which will give you an indication about the poetesses' unique talent and calibre.

Read the couplets:

Ghar ka darwaza khula rakha hai
Waqt mil jaye to zahmat karna

main sach kahungi magar phir bhi haar jaaungi
voh jhooT bolege aur la-jawaab kar dega

kaise kah duuN ki mujhe chhoR diya hai usne
baat to sach hai magar baat hai ruswayee ki

jugnoo ko din ke waqt parakhne ki zid kareN
bacchche hamaare ahad ke chalaak ho gaye

main uski dast-ras* mein huN magar voh mujhe meri raza** se maangta hai [*reach,**permission, will]

Rail ki seeti mein kaisi hijr* ki tamheed thee
Usko rukhsat karke ghar laute to andaza hua

Woh kaheen bhi gayaa, lauTaa to mere paas aaya
Bas yahi baat hai achchhi mere harjaai ki

Woh mere paaon ko chhoone jhuka tha jis lamhe
Jo maangta use de detee ameer aisee thee

ladkiyaan baithii hain paaoN daal ke
roshni hone lagi talaab mein

ek chaand saleeb shaakh-e-gul par
baali ki tarah latak raha hai

Chaand bhi meri karwaton ka gawah
Mere bistar ki har shikan ki tarah


Thursday, January 05, 2006

The decision against minority status of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU)

The Aligarh Muslim  University (AMU)
The High Court has ruled that Aligarh Muslim University [AMU] is not a minority institution. Just a few months back also, I had written on the same subject.

With all due respects to the courts and the Indian system of justice in which I have great faith,one observation is that I don't remember any major decision in favour of Muslim community emerging from courts in UP.

Most of the important judgments go against Muslim community. And this is not a personal observation, people are aware of it. I am not making any sweeping statement. May be, it is because of the failure of Muslims who can't plead their cases properly, do not get good lawyers.

OR WHATEVER REASONIt was in the Allahabad court that the case of Babri Masjid dragged for years after the idol was kept soon after independence and that led to riots in the decade of eighties and later in 1992. Even then, there was no effort to speed up the judicial progress.


We all remember Kalyan Singh had been sentenced to just a single day of imprisonment [Ek Din Ki Saza] for the colossal crime of not protecting the Babri Masjid. Peole who keep track of events in the last couple of decades are aware of how communal elements got reprieve often.

That they got away easily but an institution like AMU remained under scanner. Muslims and their language kept on receiving unfavourable judgments. It is this same state UP where Urdu was systematically killed and Urdu schools were not allowed to be opened after 1949. 

All efforts were made to keep Muslims out of jobs and for 20 years after partition not a single Muslim was recruited in UP police--a state with at least a crore Muslims then. Historically, the great injustices have been meted out to Muslims in Uttar Pradesh.


Major massacres of Muslims including Hashimpura-Maliana, Moradabad, Meerut and Firozabad occurred without any punishment to perpetrators or compensation to victims. Hashimpura case drags to this day even though 25 years have elapsed.

There was no focus on stopping riots and getting justice to victims until the era of coalition politics arrived and the major riots stopped after the BJP government was voted out. With BSP and SP alternatively forming government, the situation changed.

There is need for governments to be clear. The issue of minority character of AMU [and Jamia] should be settled once for all. Why should there be controversies year after year just because of minor slips in definitions in the acts.

No solution is in sight because the more you beg, you cry, you are seen as victim and suffering from a persecution complex. We don't want charity and reservation, but we must create more of our universities of such excellence that other communities should crave for admission in them. Do we see light at the end of the tunnel?

Before ending I must reiterate the great respect we all have for the courts. If there could be justice for victims of massacre in Gujarat then it will be solely due to the courts, particularly, the Supreme court that has kept the hopes of the victims alive.

MORE ON SAME SUBJECT at Milli Gazette: Read at THIS LINK

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Urdu poetry: Less classical and more contemporary

Mumbai is India's commercial capital and the biggest metropolis. Its known for the film industry. But, Mumbai is a centre of Urdu language and literature. Poets, who have written lyrics for Hindustani movies, for generations, came from Urdu background.

Abdullah Kamal, who is one of the leading Urdu poets in the country, is not the one to compromise on quality. For him, literature is his first love. He can't alter his verses to suit the movies. I have a few of his ghazals in my 'bayaz' [diary].

Read this ghazal:

anaa rahi na meri mutlaq-ul-unaani ki
mere wujood pe ek dil ne hukmraani ki

karam kiya ki bikharne diya na usne mujhe
mere junoon ki hifazat ki, meherbaani ki

PahaaD kaatna ek mashGhala tha, bachpan se
Kadey dinoN mein bhi teshe se naujawani ki [Kadey=tough, Tesha=axe*]

Azl se husn ka apna mizaaj tha yahi
Yahi ki dasht mein aaye the, baaghbaani ki

badan, ki uDne ko par taulta parinda saa
kisi kamaan see chadhti nadi jawani ki

Sunaii khwaab mein us Gul ko dil ki bechaini
Naseem-e-sehen chaman ne jo aana kaani ki

'Kamaal' main ne to dar se diye uthaye nahin
Uthai usne hi deewaar badgumaani ki

Read Kamaal's poetry in Urdu, Hindi & Roman English scripts AT THIS LINK

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

'These Muslims'...most astonishing incident of my life

Surprises await us at every nook and corner in our life but there are only a few incidents that etch lasting impressions on the memory.

I had a few experiences of tragedies in childhood and later on there was the demolition of Babri Masjid, the Gujarat riots and some other mishaps that hurt me deeply but nothing gave me such a jolt as a brief interaction with an elderly man in a nondescript small town in central India during my visit as part of my job as a journalist.

It was during the assembly election in 2003 and I had just reached the town in the wee hours. Barely a couple of pan/cigarette shops at the station were open. I came out of the taxi to take a look at the place when I saw an elderly man, around 60 years of age, who had probably returned after a morning walk was sitting at the bench.


I was to cover the political mood of the place before the election and being new to the town I asked him."Dada ji, yahan kaisa mahaul hai?" The question was to assess the political climate of the area that whether the wind was blowing in favour of Congress or BJP [the area has no presence of any third force].

Barely had I finished my sentence that the man erupted like a volcano. 'Sab se badi museebat to yahi hain', he pointed to the other side of the station and the pan kiosks. Seeing my blank face, he got more specific...'Yeh Musalmaan, saale ek ke sattarah moot hain'. (moot=piss, sattarah=17)

My reaction was of absolute shock. Clearly, he could not even think that this journalist could have been a Muslim. He suddenly got conscious and changed the topic, started asking me a lot of questions but I was so shaken by the ferocity of this statement I could not help but move away.


Whatever the phrase exactly meant but the meaning was crystal clear. More so, I could sense the contempt in it. I later realised that the small shops were owned by Muslims. It was a city overwhelmingly Hindu [naturally] but divided in such a way that on one side of the railway track it was mostly Muslims who lived while the other side was dominated by Hindus.

The statement took time to sink in but it was an experience of lifetime, surely, such 'original' experience of the real bias towards Muslims could not have been felt by me had I introduced myself. It gave me an insight into the kind of gulf that exists between the same people of different religions who life side by side for a millennium in this country.

I wondered what amount of hate or anger towards Muslims may have prompted him to blurt out such a demeaning expression without a thought. I salute his audacity. And his conviction. He hated Muslims and he said this before a stranger.


Now for the record the district I am talking out was carved recently. It has a Muslim population of just 7% but as Muslims are hardly in rural areas, the urban area has a concentration and their percent swells to over 15 and in the main town it is even more.

But apart from small-time jobs and a few shops they don't run business or own establishments. They are not eating into any one's business or taking away jobs at all. Then what could be the cause for such a tremendous hate and impulsive anger towards the community.

Is it about the way Muslim are, their apparently aggression and ego that is intolerable to others who probably want them to be like the extremely lower castes--unable to raise voice. The town I am talking about has no history of any communal record at all.

[To be continued.....]