Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Controversy over Amir Khan's statement on NBA: Only the Gujaratis have pride!

The rhetoric over Gujarati pride has now acquired a noisy level. It seems as if no one is concerned about their pride as the Gujaratis are. Is a remark by Aamir Khan enough to hurt an entire group of people and a state?

I am sure Tamils, Malayalis, Punjabis and if you go deeper then Bundelkhandis, Vidarbhites, Bhojpuris all have pride. In fact, all human beings have some self-respect.

But the most fragile is the Gujarati pride, it seems.

Even if it is all politicised, I see that this pride is acting as a great vitamin for the race that probably thought that they were just viewed as money-making Banias. But now after riots they turned a masculine race and with every round of Gujarat Pride slogans, the state is getting a sort of high.

I am sure many would agree with me. How serious one needs to take Aamir Khan need no mentioned. The state that has produced Gandhi and Patel amongst innumerable giant personalities can't be so less on confidence that any Tom, Dick and Harry could affect them.

What he said? What one gathers from most of the quarters is that he had asked for rehabilitation to be carried out in a just manner so that poor don't suffer. If we believe that he went to the extent of saying something about not height of dam, which is the lifeline of Gujarat...

...[it is the failure of state goverment in constructing the canals that has led to water scarcity otherwise the current height is enough for irrigation in vast areas], even then the entire state need not have reacted in such a manner.

Is it Aamir Khan's film alone?. Hundreds of people are involved in a film and success of film is linked to their bread and butter. He is just one actor. But not only multiplex owners but video-library owners are demonstrating, kicking CDs of his films and declaring that they wouldn't carry his films' CDs. Ok don't carry. I am not concerned.

But stop these tantrums. No one is impressed. Gujaratis are capable of much better things, I know. And if you just need any one to make a statement to give you an enemy to beat so that you can show your solidarity and get a high, no one can help you. Gang up, go to Mumbai, lay siege to Aamir's house and do whatever you have to do to him but spare us of your cacophony. TV channels may keep airing your misplaced jingoism. I better go to sleep.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Urdu's First Openly Gay Poet Iftikhar Naseem and seven beautiful couplets in English, Urdu scripts

Iftikhar Naseem is Urdu's first gay poet [from Pakistan, now living in Chicago].

Though I don't have the courage yet to put some of his verses dealing with homosexuality on my blog, his poetry in classical mould is no less enchanting. Here is a selection from some of his couplets which I like.


Ifti is now a well-known international figure due to his work for gay rights. Personally, I have nothing to do with his sexual preferences.

Earlier, I too had the perception that the there was something wrong with gays. I was told that gays were probably perverts who lured teenaged and even young boys.

But the difference between pederasty and gays became evident to me later. Otherwise Urdu classical poetry is full of homosexuality starting from the era of Khuda-e-Sukhan Meer Taqi Meer to 20th century's Firaq Gorakhpuri.

When I read his autobiography, I felt stunned like many others. It was too disturbing. Ifti has suffered enormously, faced brickbats for speaking truth. Atleast, he did not live a false life. He did not hide the truth about himself which many gays in the sub-continent do and marry girls who suffer all their lives.


is qadar bhii to na jazbaat pe qabuu rakho
thak gaye ho to mere kaandhe pe bazuu rakho

KaTi hai umr kisii aabdoz* kashti meN
Safar tamaam hua aur kuchh nahiiN dekha

Udaas baam, khulaa dar pukaarta hai mujhe
Jila-watan huuN mera ghar pukaarta hai mujhe

Taaq par juzdaan meN lipti duaa'eN rah gaeeN
Chal diye bete safar par ghar meN maaeN rah gaeeN

Chalte chalte aa gaya huun aisii manzil par jahaN
Chand mujhko aasmaaN ka ek darwaaza laga

Koii jo puuchhe to kah denge usne bheje haiN
Wagar-na phool khud apne liye khareede haiN

Read his poem 'Mere baba' [My father] in Urdu, Hindi and Roman scripts AT THIS LINK

Saturday, May 27, 2006

History And Poetry: Immortal couplet of Raj Ram Mauzoo.n

How historical events get further immortalised and romanticised by poetry can not be better explained than this famous Urdu she'r [couplet].

It tells us about the power of poetry and how it passes from generation to generation. The couplet was penned when Sirajuddaulah lost in the battle against East India Company.

First read the couplet:

GhazaalaaN tum to waaqif ho, kaho majnoo.n ke marne ki
Diwaanaa to mar gaya aakhir ko viirane pe kyaa guzri

This immortal couplet was composed by  Urdu poet Raja Ram Mauzoo.n. It is said that the master poet had recited it extempore on hearing the news of Sirajuddaulah's defeat and death.

During the war in 1757, when Siraj, the last Nawab of Bengal, Bihar & Orissa, was killed, the prosperous region of Bengal [or Gaur] went to British hands. The people loved the Nawab, and ryots rued the defeat for long, as during later years, indigo cultivation ruined rural economy and the fields.

Couplet survives 250 years

The couplet has survived almost 250 years and is still afresh and on the lips of innumerable poetry aficionados who quote it.

Not many other couplets of Raja Ram Mauzoo.n, a poet from Bihar, are known. MauzooN was primarily a Persian poet and most of his kalaam was in Farsi [Persian] though he did write occasionally in Urdu as well.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Doctors are no angels: Of Strikes, Snobbery & Selfish behaviour

The doctors who are agitating against reservation do not have my sympathy now.

I have seen with my own eyes people lying in the premises of hospital with no one to look after.

Will these doctors let their ailing parents, siblings or children without any treatment?

It is no ordinary profession and docs do get great respect too because of their unique profession.

But the selfishness they are just concerned about their career [that whether they would be able to get into the post-graduation which might be affected due to quota for OBCs of the doctors] is apparent.

1. There are good doctors and they get everybody's respect. But these protesting doctors who will run to attend a rich patient are right now treating the ordinary citizens like dirt. This is shameful and unjustifiable. When was the last time they took a stand on any other issue, public cause?

2. Throughout India, rarely doctors who are in government duty, go to rural areas. In most of the states, government medicos are allowed to see patients at their private clinics also. The private hospitals are notorious for extorting money and even do not give away body of the dead before all the expenses are paid.

3. It is in these private hospitals and clinics that lakhs of baby girls are illegally killed and aborted. Where was the Indian Medical Association (IMA) until now? It never addressed such issues or took action against any doctor. But today it takes high moral ground.

4. They are sad that the police beat them. The Indian police has beaten poor and ordinary citizens for the last 57 years. It has committed massacres and has hurt the self-respect of Indians everywhere but the doctors were never there to voice concern.

5. Some doctors even refused to treat injured persons of a community during Gujarat massacre. Did doctors ever express their voice on any such occasions or condemned carnages. Ordinary citizens are beaten up routinely at the hands of police and so it is no great injustice that docs also get beaten up.

6. And if the politicians with whom it is angry fall sick even today, they will run to treat them. The docs are angry why public doesn't support them. The ordinary Indian citizen is too beset with his own problems and daily hardship to earn his bread. And he is sick of the increasing greed of the doctors.

7. It is outrageous for doctors to strike work. Life is too important and the docs must not hold the society to ransom with this attitude. Ironically, medicos have such contempt of human labour that they resort to bootpolishing and hold brooms to express their anger as if these are the worst jobs.

8. These people who study at the expense of ordinary poor Indians forget the Hippocratic Oath soon after they get out of the colleges. I liked what a retired professor recently wrote. He said that the doctors should remember that if they are studying MBBS at this highly subsidised fee, it is at the expense of the ordinary poor boys who remain illiterate and work in tea kiosks at shops and who could never get any opportunity to study.

9. Though I am personally not in favour of extending reservation but seeing the selfishness of docs I feel compelled to think that what makes these arrogant Junior Doctors to believe that they are the best? A leading doctor on Times Now news channel said that no matter what happens, a lower caste person can't have the efficieny and expertise of an upper caste doctor.

That made me sick. The difference in the society, financial health, regional backwardness, English proficiency and lot many factors are involved in cracking a competition exam apart from caste. I have seen two internationally-acclaimed doctors commit serious lapses in minor cases recently. Both belonged to upper castes. So what does that mean?

10. To be a good doctor one also needs compassion and love for fellow human beings, not simple great IQ and GREED. A SC or ST who enters the college has to pass all the examinations in each year of the MBBS to become a doctor. He may get through PMT/CPMT with lesser marks but he doesn't get any such concession in MBBS where he has to pass all the papers and the pass marks are same as that for the general category else he wouldn't get the degree.

11. The students of AIIMS and also IIMs should not think they are celebrities and must be pampered. They are doing no favour to Indian society if they get into these premier institutions. It is not the alumuni that has made this institution but the innumerable poor whose blood and sweat has resulted in these educational institutions established in the country.

12. There are many other factors. Being a Muslim, what is my stake in this? None. I neither have any reservation nor I seek any. If such hullabaloo is raised for OBCs, then one can imagine what would happen when all right wing parties who are silent on the issue would be out if ever a quota for 14% Muslims of India who are more than the combined Upper Castes (Brahmin, Bania, Rajput) but have negligible presence in jobs and education while the upper caste rule the roost.

13. But I feel as a citizen I must come out with my view. No dotor or engineer is above the country just because he is more intelligent. He has a duty also towards fellow citizens and the country also. They should think of their DUTY also while they wail for their 'rights'. They better end their strike and attend to patients.

14. A look at the faces of the relatives of the patients can leave you terribly disturbed but these medicos are unmoved. And the doctors should know they get respect, get paid and are almost like VIPs but they should not expect to be treated like demigods and if they want that they should improve their conduct, credibility and image that has suffered over the years.

15. Ghareeb, Aam Aadmi jo beemar hai usse yeh kaisa badlaa? [Revenge upon poor!] The Hippocratic Oaths ends with ...If I fulfil this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot. Doctors who break the oath don't deserve the respect.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Philosophical Poetry: Urdu couplets for humanity and against religious fundamentalism

Naushad Ali is one of the most popular music composers of Hindustani movies, that are popularly termed as Bollywood, but not many are aware that he was an exceptional poet.

As a music director, he got enormous success, name and fame. But he remained a closet poet. In fact, his poetic abilities are an eye-opener. Naushad Ali was born in Lucknow in 1919.

Naushad sahab passed away in Mumbai in 2006. Now read the first couplet of this ghazal:

Na mandir mein sanam hotay na masjid mein khuda hota
HameeN se yah tamasha hai na ham hotay to kya hota

न मन्दिर में सनम होते न मस्जिद में ख़ुदा होता
हमीं से है यह तमाशा है, न हम होते तो क्या होता

Aren't you impressed! Now see these lines of the same ghazal:

Na aisii manzilein hoteeN na aisa raasta hota
Sambhal kar ham zara chalte to aalam zer-e-paa hota

Ghata chhati, bahaar aati, tumhara tazkira hota
Phir uske baad gul khiltay ki zakhm-e-dil hara hota

The 'ghazal' that has five couplets deals with a gamut of issues which the world is facing. In a classical mould, still, its as progressive and modernist, as Urdu poetry can be.

From urging people to shun narrow-mindedness and stop fighting over God, all the 'ashaar' not only have a message but they are also enchanting to read and listen.

Bula kar tumnay mehfil mein hamko ghair se uthwaya
HameeN khud uth gaye hotay ishara kar diya hota

Tere ahbaab tujh se mil ke bhi mayoos laut gaye
Tujhe Naushaad kaisi chup lagi thi kuchh to kaha hota!


Friday, May 19, 2006

Now Indian Christians also see Jewish Hand in Da Vinci

For long Muslims have been seeing Jewish conspiracies in everything. Now it is the turn of Christians who feel that the tiny but influential Jew populace is running a campaign attacking the Christian beliefs and defaming the life of Jesus Christ.

The Christian Forum has alleged that Jews who are influential in USA are behind this sustained campaign as part of which two major television channels showed a series of stories spreading canards and propogating misconceptions about Jesus' life.

The fact that the stories were shown in April, the month of fasting, as hurt us even more, said Indira Iyengar of Forum. She said that while Dan Brown claims his novel to be a fictional work, the channels based on the book claimed their stories as based on facts and mauscripts.

"It is to be investigated who funded these channels for telecasting many series of programmes like Knights' Templar, Holy Grail et al", she asks.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Translating Norway's anthem in Urdu: European countries' effort to integrate Asian immigrants

European countries never fail to surprise you. In Norway there is debate over the demand to translate their national anthem in Urdu so that the immigrants who are unable to understand the anthem can easily sing it and understand it.

'Ja vi elsker' is the initial line of the anthem (We love our country). The need for translation arises as it is felt that it could be tough for speakers of other languages.

After translation, the meaning would reach a larger populace and it will also will help them hum in along with others

I have gathered that there has been already a translation. The debate is going on. The fact that they discuss it speaks volumes of the efforts of many European countries to integrate immigrants.

I don't think Urdu speakers are more than 3-4% in Norway. And ironically, in Uttar Pradesh,te heartland of Urdu and India, that has 20-30% Urdu speakers, a law does not allow you to open a school in Urdu medium.

This law was promulgated soon after partition in UP alone by the then Congress government, in the communally surcharged atmosphere post 1947. [Norway is on extreme right in yellow, Sweden in the middle and Finland is on the right].

Monday, May 15, 2006

Indian Christians protest against Da Vinci Code movie: Fatwa issued on movie-maker's head

It is not Muslims alone but all Indians who love to protest, says Vir Sanghvi in his Sunday column in HT. He writes that the general impression is that Muslims are the most intolerant community but it is not so.

In fact, it was late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan who argued that all Indians love to protest. Mr Nicholas Almeida has done a Haji Yaqoub-like act. He has announced Rs 11 lakh on the head of Dan Brown.

Some other Christian leaders and clergymen are also protesting. Sanghvi further says that it is a film made by a Christian on the story written by a Christian that has sold in Christian countries and the film made and shown in countries with large Christian populations.

But Indian Christians are protesting. So that proves the common factor amongst all groups in India. We are all Indians and like to make noise. We believe we won't be heard until we do hungama.

In fact, we are such a huge population group that even if 1% of any minority comes on the streets the figure of protesters can well be in thousands. Meanwhile, Muslim groups have come out in support of Christians in Mumbai to stop the screening of movie.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Shankar-Shaad Mushaira & the overall decline in standards of contemporary Urdu poetry

The Shankar Shad Mushaira held in Delhi
Frankly, this year's Shankar-Shaad mushaira was a letdown. I am not happy to say it but I felt depressed at the future of Urdu poetry.

Held in memory of late Lala Murlidhar 'Shaad' and Sir Shankarlal, it once used to be an important event in the literary calendar of Delhi.

The couplets recited and appreciated at this annual mushaira would spread all over the world in no time.

But over the years the mushaira had begun losing its sheen. This year the few remaning faces of Urdu poetry that still command audience were present but they also seemed to have lost their magic. Some of them looked tired.

The spat between Nida Fazli and Rahat Indori was in a bad taste. Shaharyar was repetitive and so were Munawwar Rana, Javed Akhtar and Bekal Utsahi. Besides, the entire generation of poets belonging to the Progressive Writers' Movement [Ali Sardar Jafri, Kaifi, Majrooh, Wamiq, Jazbi etc] is now gone.

And there is none to step into the shoes of even the old-timers like Shameem Jaipuri, Khumar Barabankvi. It was boring and the audience hooted the poets. To see Wasim Barelvi in his twilight makes one's eyes moist. Once his voice brought exhilaration among audiences.

There are few poets coming up. The last crop of 'mushaire-baaz' shayar [poets who specialised in reciting at soirees, rather, than literary shaaers] is also fading away and there is even no replacement for them now.

Ab iske baad sub'h hai aur sub'h-e-nau majaaz.
Hum par hai khatm shaame-e-gharibaaN-e-lucknow

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Tharpakar: Hindu majority district in Pakistan!

Tharparkar's location in Pakistan adjoining India
It was a surprise to know that a Hindu majority district still exists in Pakistan.

Though there is a large Hindu population in the country, especially, in Sindh, we don't get to hear much news about the Pakistani Hindus.

This is sad as many agencies and newspapers have correspondents stationed in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, but unfortunately they don't seem interested to focus on Hindu culture in Pakistan.

Tharpakar [also spelt as Thar Parkar] district in Pakistan had Hindus constituting more than half of the population.

Eminent author Yoginder Sikand writes that it is a Hindu majority district. Though he says that the voice of these people does not reach anywhere because they are mostly Dalits or Backward Communities and the Hindu community representatives in Assemblies are mostly the upper castes like Banias.

Tharpakar is situated on the Indo-Pak border. On its east lies Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan while on the south lies Rann of Kutch ie Indian state of Gujarat. There are numerous temples in Tharpakar, the only fertile desert, of the world.

A temple in Tharpakar
I tried to get more information about the district but couldn't find as much as I wanted. If the Hindus are not in a majority by now and even if they comprise 30-40% of the district's population, it is an interesting and gladdening news.

In fact, substantial population of Hindus survived the partition and remained in Sindh, even parts of Punjab and Balochistan, even towns in the interior regions.

The poor among them like their Muslim brethren, work as 'haari' at the farms of landlords. Wikipedia says that Hindu population migrated during the war of 1965 still substantial chunk of population is Hindu.

Read Part II on this blog
There are Sikhs and a few Jains as well among the other religious minorities. In fact, the temple visible in this post is a Jain shrine. Most of the Jains had left Pakistan, along with Upper Castes, in the wake of partition.

Also, Hindu tribes like Bhil inhabit the district. For the second part on Hinduism in Pakistan and the photograph shown on the left, read another post on this blog.

Hinduism in Pakistan Part-II. Click