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Thursday, June 29, 2006

A year of blogging

So this blog is now a year old. I started the blog last year June-end. It has been quite an interesting journey. I rediscovered my love for Urdu literature and poetry, made friends, new acquaintances and in process managed to get some good traffic to the blog, which I had surely not imagined.

365 days and around 330 posts--not bad. My only regret is that I couldn't write the Urdu poetry in English and Nagri script as well. The Devanagari script takes the poetry to a wider audience but I have been scared to touch the code of the blog and thus couldn't change the design as much as I needed.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Popular couplets, unknown poets-1

Many ash'aar have become part of our conversation but who penned them is not so widely known. Also, instances where one misra (stanza) got popularity while the other stanza was forgotten also abound in Urdu poetry.

1. muqaabla dil-e-natavaaN ne khuub kiya
This is Amir Tandvi's couplet:
shikast-o-fateh to ittefaaq hai miyaN/ muqaabla dil-e-natavaaN ne khuub kiya

2. Allah kare zor-e-qalam aur zyada:
khat unka bohot khuub ibaarat bohot achchhi/allah kare zor-e-qalam aur zyada

3....lahu pukarega aastiiN ka
qariib hai yaar roz-e-mahshar chhupega kushtoN ka khuuN kyo.nkar/ jo chup rahegi zuban-e-Khanjar lahuu pukarega aastiiN kaa
This is Ameer Meenai's couplet.

4.sar-e-tasliim Kham, jo mizaaj-e-yaar meN aaye
This is Khawaja Haidar Ali Aatish Lukhnavi's couplet:
agar bakhshe zehe qismat, na bakhshe to shikayat kya/sare tasleem kham jo mizaaj yaar mein aaye

Friday, June 23, 2006

Is Hindi literature less secular, not inclusive much?

Frankly I have never thought about it as much. But a journalist posed this query to me. He said that poems on Hindu festivals, culture and religious figures abound in Urdu.

Innumerable poets have written poems and their ash'aar represent the gana-jumni tehzib. Either it's Iqbal's verse in praise of Lord Rama where the poet terms Rama as 'Imam-e-Hind' or Mohsin Kakorvi's legendary 'Simt-e-kashi chala jaanib-e-mathura baadal' which is in praise of Prophet Muhammad but also shows his love for Lord Krishna, such verses are easily available and on the tip of Urdu-speakers' tongue.

But you hardly find any Hindi poetry praising Prophet Muhammad, Ali or any other aspect of Islam. Its not about Hindu or Muslim because Hindu, Sikh and Muslim poets of Urdu have equally written in abundance about each other's religions, festivals and prophets.

Hundreds of Hindu poets have written 'naat' expressing their love for Prophet Muhammad or marsias on battle of Karbala. However, Hindi poets have hardly touched these subjects. Though I remember two long poems about Muslims during the turbulent 90s but nothing like the kind of secular tradition as in Urdu.

For centuries Hindus and Muslims have lived together and shared the same culture but somehow Hindi seems to have lacked this tradition. Is Hindi literature less accomodating! Shouldn't Hindu and Muslim writers in Hindi need to look at this!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Few interesting classical Urdu couplets

Aap ke paao.n ke niiche mera dil hai
Ek zara aapko zehmat hogi

Allah re nazuki, chambeli ka ek phool
Sar par jo rakh diya to kamar tak lachak gaii

Unse chhii.nke se koii chiiz utarwaii hai
Kaam ka kaam hai, angRaii ki angRaii hai

Kya nazaakat hai ki aariz unke neele paR gaye
Humne to bose liye the Khwaab me.n tasviir ke

Huuro.n ka intezaar kaun kare hashr tak
Mitti ki bhii mile to rava hai shabaab me.n

Lab-e-nazuk pe missi ki dhaRi hai
Khizr ki naao kausar me.n paRi hai

Kamsini hai to zide.n bhi hai.n niralii unkii
Aaj yeh zid hai ki hum dard-e-jigar dekhenge

The first couple is of Siraj Lucknowi, the rest I am not too sure.

Caste composition of India: Percentage of different groups including Upper Castes, SCs & STs in the country



What's the caste composition of India? The recent controversy over reservation has once again opened the lid off India's caste cauldron.

So, what is the percent of OBCs (Other Backward Castes) in India's population. The figures range from 28% to as high as 38%.

In fact, it is also possible that the OBCs could number around 40% of Indian population. In some regions, the backward castes are landed communities and influential but have little presence in government jobs.

Caste-wise population & percentage in India

As per ancient system, except Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas, all the others are Shudras [almost 90% of India's population]. The Shudras include all OBCs, Dalit [SC], Scheduled Tribes and intermediary castes. In the pie chart, Upper Castes includes Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya etc.

The non-Hindu OBCs include Muslims. The intermediary includes Hindu castes of Jat, Reddy, Patel and Maratha (as per their status in various areas). The Upper Muslims are non-OBC and non-ST while the rest include upper Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and rests.



Is this distribution/ caste composition correct? I don't know, frankly. The 14% Muslims are thus divided as per their castes in this chart.

So are the OBCs most numerous in India? I was recently reading an article published in a weekly paper about the by-poll in an assembly constituency.

It was shocking to see the detail of caste configuration to which they had calculated, in order to understand ground realities as how caste cohesiveness works in elections.

They had mentioned each and every group that even constituted over 1% of the population. There were castes like Dangi, Kiraar, Lodhi and what not! Many of them form large population in a constituency, even 15-20%, but groups that represent just 1-5% have the numerical strength in legislature and executive.

The reason is that historically the groups that are disadvantaged, find it enormously tough to go ahead of Brahmins, Banias, Thakurs and the elite among Muslims, Sikhs, Christians or Jains. One wonders how much fragmentisation we will witness in the years to come.

Percent wise Brahmins are more in percentage terms in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh & UP. However, in UP, they form less than 8% of state's population. The Bania are even less. Thakurs are not too large a community but have traditional power due to their financial resources, land and clanship.

The Kayasthas, who are considered Upper Caste, due to their disproportionately high strength in educational institutes and bureaucracy are not even 1% in states like UP and  Bihar, which t hey chiefly inhabit. In Southern states, situation is different.

Reddys are considered Upper Caste, as they are moneyed and privileged. They are over-represented in jobs and Assemblies. In Karnataka, Backward Castes like Lingayat and Vokkaliga dominate, just like Gujjars and Meenas are strong OBCs in UP-Rajasthan regions.

Meenas have got ST status in some regions. The situation in Tamil Nadu is entirely different. Due to strong Dravidian movement against caste, condition of backwards and Dalits improved. Yet Bramins have more influence than their real numbers. 

Friday, June 16, 2006

Khumar Barabankvi's ghazal: Naaz kar naaz ki usne tujhe barbaad kiyaa....


The very presence of Khumar Barabankvi brought grace to the mushairas. He died a few years back. His son Suroor Barabankvi died at a very younge age. Suroor ko bhi sharaab kha gayii.

Isn'tit  ironical that Khumar lived a long life despite his addiction to liquor but his son could barely survive his father. I just heard the recording of a mushaira on a website.

Khumar sahab reciting his ghazal:

Na haara hai ishq na dunia thaki hai

In fact, that was the last ghazal I heard from Khumar Barabankvi in a mushaira.

Tujh ko barbaad to hona tha, bahar-haal khumaar
Naaz kar naaz ki usne tujhe barbaad kiya

Found two couplets of Ali Abbas Ummeed written on a piece of paper.

Uske bin dar-o-diivaar sab kuchh mujhe suune lage
Aur chhat ha meer sii, baarish na ho chuune lage

Jitne qaddaavar the unke sar to ghutnoN me.n gaye
Ab tamaasha yeh hai baune aasmaaN chhuune lage

Read Khumar's ghazals in Urdu, Hindi and English scripts at BESTGHAZALS

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Mohammad Alvi's Nazm: Kaun?























Mohammad Alvi is a leading modernist Urdu poet who has won
Sahitya Akademi award. Read his verse Kaun?

Kaun?
Kabhii dil ke andhe ku.nve me.n paRaa chiiKhtaa hai
Kabhii dauRte khuun me.n tairtaa duubtaa hai
Kabhii haddiyon ki surango.n me.n batti jalaa kar yu.n hii ghuumtaa hai
Kabhii kaan me.n aa ke chupke se kehta hai 'Tuu ab talak jii raha hai?
' BaRa be-hayaa hai Mere jism me.n kaun hai ye
Muhammad Alvi

Temple razed in Lahore: Condemn the Demolition, Speak for Affirmative Action for Religious Minorities

Over 90% of Pakistani Hinds live in Sindh region
The demolition of a temple in Lahore has come as a saddening news. Though I could not follow the reports earlier and the circumstances surrouding the issue, but the demolition is absolutely wrong.

Lahore, I know, has a substantial Hindu population. What a great cosmopolitan town Lahore was until partition, when it had a fair mixture of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs.

Unfortunately the exodus of Hindus and Sikhs after partition transformed the demography quite similar to Delhi.

The national newspapers didn't carry the report extensively and most of them relied on agency news that itself quoted a Pakistan newspaper. Why a newspaper like The Hindu that has a correspondent in Pakistan didn't carry the news.

The report mentioned that the PPP and a section of Muslim League members protested the demolition. But the construction of commercial complex on the place is a painful and sad news. Even if, there are no Hindus in the region, or in the name of development, it can't be justified.

[Post Script: Later reports about protests by Muslim youths have been encouraging. In any society, it is important to raise voice against such action. Feels good to see that Pakistani bloggers have taken up the issue and are agitating against authorities]

Distorting, Sensational Reporting in India, Pakistan: I accept that often news and reports that go from county to another are distorted. Just like an abduction in Pakistan, is often reported as 'Hindu abducted' here, to make it more sensational in India.

Similarly, the practice of Pakistani papers excessively highlighting crime against Muslims in India, as atrocities against minorities, is not correct. We, are a healthy democracy, a secular nation, and can surely deal with out internal issues. So can they, and they should.

Stop Generalizing: We don't get to know clear picture of the other country

Hundreds of people, Hindus, Muslims and of all faiths, get killed and murdered due to petty reasons or local feuds. They should not be given such a colour. We must be mature enough. Still, what is important is that a religious minority should feel safe and secure.

Affirmative Action for Hindus needed in Pakistan, Bangladesh

In Pakistan, if Muslims stand for the rights of Hindu brethren, it will be good for their country, as well as sending a message outside also. Similarly, it should be in Bangladesh. If India can have Sachar panel and debate to have more minority representation in jobs, it should happen in Pakistan and Bangladesh also to ensure that Hindus don't get discrimated.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Fatwa on Vande Mataram: Bankim Chandra Chatterjee's novel and two stanzas of the song

Movie based on Anand Math
Once again the issue over Vande Mataram [originally Bande Mataram in Bangla] has cropped up. Exactly a year ago there was a similar hue and cry over the issue.

First of all, the fatwa is absolutely uncalled for. Everybody is aware of the history of the hymn [song] and the context in which it was written.

But the strange debates on TV channels and the aggression among self-righteous and jingoistic anchors who are least aware of Bankimchandra and his Anand Math, complicates the situation.

How can someone call it 'imposing' the song, they wondered. And then a participant says, 'Hindustan me.n rahna hoga, Vande Mataram kahna hoga' [If you have to live in India, you must sing Vande Mataram].


To set the record straight, Bankim Chandra's novel Anand Math from where this song has been taken was nearly pro-British and fiercely anti-Muslim. It was written a few decades after 1857 but the novel portrays Muslims are outsiders and enemies.

Having heard so much about the novel, I bought it a few years back and was taken aback by the intense anti-Muslim pitch and the aim of eliminating Muslims and pulling down all the Mosques and Muslim shrines. It is much more shrill than the present day RSS' rhetoric.

In this novel, the protagonists exhort others to kill Muslims, clearly spreading hate.That the novel was written by a Bengali and set in Bengal, the state where both communities shared the same language and culture--much more than several other states, comes as a shock.

Hindu revivalism is understandable but not fanaticism and blind hate. It was this reason why not only Pt Jawaharlal Nehru but also Subhash Chandra Bose opposed this hymn. No wonder a socialist like Ram Manohar Lohia called the novel a blot on Indian national struggle because it hailed the British.

What about the tens of thousands of Indian who laid their lives for the independence? Just two stanzas of the hymn were approved to be sung in the late 30s in the Congress Working Committee. Unfortunately,  Bankim Chandra had done his BA with the Haji Mohsin Fund but wrote such a fierce anti-Muslim novel.


Novel & Comic for Kids based on Anand Math
Only the ignorant would term the novel as patriotic. It was basically against the Muslim dominance [population-wise] in Bengal. Otherwise Muslim representation was abysmally low in Bengal.

The fatwa would do little good because it will only be construed as the 'kattar-pan' [fundamentalism] of Muslims without giving a thought to this fact that it is a hymn in praise of Goddess Kali. I am not against Vande Matram.

But the song shouldn't be forced on anybody, particularly in schools. It is no litmus test for patriotism, rather it is a song that comes from a book that praised our colonial masters.


Now, if you have any more doubts.


Please go to this link and READ my take: 'From Pro-Vande Matram to Anti-Vande Mataram'

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Four Muslims in Indian cricket team: Wasim Jaffer, Mohammad Kaif, Irfan Pathan and Munaf Patel



It is a proof of how much scope Muslims have in independent India to excel. Four Muslims were selected in the playing eleven against West Indies in the second cricket test match.

Though it is no index of our secularism but purely a cricket-maniac's observation.
Still, this is almost 60 years after an Indian cricket team has played four Muslims.

In the first official test of India in 1932, four Muslims--the stylish Wazir Ali, Nazir Ali, Jehangir Khan and speedster Mohammad Nissar had represented the country.

The English were shell-shocked by Nissar's accuracy. In the series of 1933-34, Dilawar Husain, the gutsy wicket-keeper, who became the first Indian to score fifties in both innnings and Mushtaq Ali played apart from Wazir Ali and Nissar.

The record was made in the series in 1936 when six Muslim cricketers played in the Oval test. Under Vizianagram's captaincy, Mushtaq Ali, Dilawar Husain, Wazir Ali, Jahangir Khan, Baqa Jilani and Nissar were part of the playing eleven.

However, after independence the number of Muslims steadily went down in the team.
In the 70s Pataudi, Durani and Abid Ali played in the same test several times.

Mohammad Azharuddin, Arshad Ayub and Rashid Patel played in the same match in late 80s. Similarly, with the arrival of the era of Zahir Khan, Pathan and Kaif, often three Muslims have played.

But it has been almost 60 years after, that four Muslims are part of an Indian cricket team. The photographs of all the four cricketers are here on the left. Munaf Patel, Mohammad Kaif, Irfan Pathan and Wasim Jaffer. Clearly, that's the highest number [maximum] of Muslims in Indian team, post-Independence.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Legendary Urdu poet Quli Qutub Shah's ghazal


Quli Qutub Shah was born in 1580. He is the first poet in Urdu to have a diivaan [poetry collection] of his poetry.

He was born in Golconda in Deccan region, Southern India. This is the same region [Hyderabad State] which was later ruled by Nizam.

Quli was the founder of Hyderabad and a versatile poet. Here is a ghazal of this legendary poet-king who was also fond of Sanskrit and Telugi.

Qutb Shah built Char Minar. A scholar of Arabic and Persian, Quli was a romantic person. He had married Bhagmati. This great poet passed away in 1611-12.














Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Urdu Poet Who Got Inside Courtesan's 'gharara': Mischievous 'Maulana', his antics and idiosyncrasies

Representative photo: A Gharara-clad woman
The immensely loveable Suha Mujaddidi was a unique Urdu litterateur in the sense that he was just 4 feet. Unless someone knew him, they mistook him for a 10-11 year-old boy.

Suha was too fair and looked like chubby child. Owing to his tremendous talent and knowlege he was fondly called Maulana Suha.

Another aspect of his life that attracts me was his colourful personality. Once on a visit to Lucknow, the group of litterateurs went to renowned tawaif-turned-radio artiste Gauhar Jaan's kotha.

Upon seeing her teenaged daughter, Suha rushed towards her and in a fraction of second entered into her gharara [similar to lehanga]. 

There was no electricity then and the mother-daughter kept screaming. 'Haai, bhutna ghus gaya hai' [the dwarf devil has entered].

Everybody was laughing and when after sometime they were told that it not a bhutna but a real man, a poet, the former courtesan got relieved. Soon they were giggling.

Another eminent cleric was part of the group that had went to the former courtesan's kotha. I wouldn't name him, the fact is that any scholar can be colourful.

THE NAUGHTY SCHOLAR

In fact, his name is taken with utter respect, as he is now considered a great personality among the Ulema [clergyman].  In those pre-partition days Aalims could also be quite funny and interesting. One doesn't need to make a serious or arrogant face if he is a scholar.

Now a days, a religious man can't afford to be as naughty or mischievous openly. Suha was married to a tall and huge Pathan woman and he was an exponent of 'gaali' [Urdu laced with choicest Persian expletives].

The Maulana often hurled newly-invented gaalis. When angry, his amazonian wife, often lifted him and make him sit on the high loft in their house. He would beg not to repeat the mistake and when brought down, again started abusing.

Master of Abuses, Expletives in Urdu

Khair, Suha was a complex and interesting personality. He often begged women for 'bosa' [kiss]. Often tawaifs and someother elder women who were charmed by his boyish looks obliged him. He never cared for princes, rajas and nawabs and spoke his mind, even abused the mighty nawabs.


[Though in a list of Indians who gave innovative 'gaali' Suha can't find a place easily. Nizam, Abdul Rab Nishtar and Hamidullah Khan were on the top of an oral list compiled and reproduced often in Urdu books of the past].

Example:

A Nawab: Maulana mehfil mein khalal mat paida kijiye
Suha: Mehfil ki to MKC*
Nawab: Maulana mere viqaar/vaqaar ka to khayaal rakhiye, aap ki zubaan...
Suha: Aap kee viqaar ki MKC aur aap ki bi MKC aur.....
Nawab: Haaieen.......[shell-shocked]
Suha, walks out, leaving everybody stunned

But then the rulers of the erstwhile princely states who played host to him were also aware of his literary stature. Ironically, Suha died in misery. In a government hospital waitinf for medicines and proper medical care. The literary world cried and there was a feeling of outrage.

Bhopal Nawab Hamidullah Khan faced lot of criticism. The last rites were conducted by the state. But few remember Suha today. His Sharah-e-Ghalib was a pioneering work in that era. Ah! They were scholarly, they were social, lovable and also had all traits--positive and negative--which humans have.

Zameen kha gayee aasmaa.n kaise kaise



*MKC is the Urdu variant of m**%*r f%**er

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Angry cobbler wears apron, stethoscope even as doctors hold brooms, shine shoes during anti-reservation agitation


Angry over the contempt to his work by agitating doctors who resorted to shining shoes, the cobbler Jagdish Kaushal has been working wearing an apron and a stethoscope for the last few days in Indore in Madhya Pradesh.

"Doctoron. ne hamaari jaati ka ghor apmaan kiya hai, hamaare kaam ko ghrinit samajhne wale mafi mangein.", he said. Translation: The doctors have insulted our caste, those who consider our work as demeaning should apologise.

Kaushal feels that protest against reservation or pro-reservation do not interest him much but he does not like the docs showing contempt to manual labour.

"Just ask them all to stop wearing shoes and then you have liberty to insult this profession", he said. He also said that he is moving court if the docs didn't apologise. The Ahirwar Community has however distanced themselves with Kaushal's move. The stethoscope wearing cobbler has hit headlines in Hindi newspapers in Central India. (The photo was scanned from a paper so the quality is not that good).

Friday, June 02, 2006

List of online Urdu Newspapers and Urdu poetry websites from India, Pakistan and around the World

India has a vibrant Urdu press though circulation of newspapers is much higher in Pakistan. However, in India, Urdu papers are published from far and wide across the country.

Apart from Delhi, which is a major centre, Lucknow, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Patna, Ranchi and Sri Nagar have papers that are now online.

In Southern India, particularly, Deccan, the four main papers are Siasat, Munsif, Etemaad and Sahara. The papers of Bangalore viz. Pasban, Salar, Bhopal's Nadeem, popular Kolkata papers Azad Hind and Aabshaar are yet to have websites.


Best Urdu Newspapers' Websites

Roznama Rashtriya Sahara, Delhi
Inquilab, Mumbai [also epaper]
Siasat, Hyderabad

Azizul Hind [mutli-edition newspaper]
Aag, Lucknow [Epaper]
Sahafat, Lucknow

Munsif, Hyderabad
Urdu Times, Mumbai
Akhbar-e-Mashriq, Calcutta

While Roznama Sahara is now published from ten centres, Inquilab has expanded in UP. Both websites also put up epapers.

Taemeer News: Online Urdu news in Unicode font
Asia Express: Newspaper from Aurangabad
Daily Shama-e-Rahbar from Aurangabad

WEEKLY NEWSPAPERS

URDU NAI DUNIYA WEEKLY [Tabloid]
Aalami Sahara weekly
Chauthi Duniya weekly
Dawat [published once in three days]
GAWAH, coloured Urdu weekly from Hyderabad, Deccan

Still, around 40 Indian Urdu newspapers have websites on the net. This is no mean feat. It shows that Urdu press is eager to adapt itself to new technology and is ahead of many other important regional languages that have barely a couple of papers on the net.

Hindustan Express, Delhi
Etemaad, Hyderabad
Jadeed Mail, Delhi

Milap, Delhi
Pratap, Delhi
Qaumi Salamati [Journalist SMA Kazmi has recently launched this newspaper]
Siyasi Ufuque is published from Delhi and Ranchi [Jharkhand]


While major papers now have editions from Jharkhand [Ranchi] and Uttarakhand [Dehradun-based Sahafat], several parts including Madhya Pradesh have few online papers. Gujarat and Rajasthan depended on Delhi or Mumbai based newspapers.

But In Dinon has launched Jaipur edition also. It is also published from Bangalore, Saharanpur, New Delhi, Lucknow, Panta and Mumbai.

Jadeed In Dinon
Urdu Action, Bhopal and Burhanpur editions [MP]

Andhra Pradesh has several papers. But Karnataka's famous weekly Nasheman and Zamzam are yet to have a web presence.

Aurangabad Times, Aurangabad [Maharashtra]
Hamara Samaj, Patna
Sahil Online, Bhatkal [Karnataka]
Azad Hind, Kolkata [Website launched, yet Epaper not readable]
Hind Samachar, Jalandhar [Punjab]

In Jammu & Kashmir, where Urdu is state language, there are many newspapers. But the daily Udaan and Kashmri Uzma have impressive web presence.

Kashmir Uzma, Sri Nagar [Epaper]
Roznama Udaan, Jammu & Sri Nagar editions
Mashriq, Kashmir
Aftab, Kashmir
Chattan weekly, Kashmir

MORE PAPERS FROM INDIA:

The online newspapers also include Markaz, Lashkar, Andaleeb, Hamara Maqsad, Siasi Ufaq, Urdu Net, Qaumi Tanzeem, Farooqi Tanzeem, Nadia Times and Awadhnama.


IMPORTANT NEWSPAPERS OF PAKISTAN [WEBSITES]

Roznama Jehan Pakistan
Jang, Pakistan
Nawa-i-Waqt, Pakistan
Express, Lahore
Jasarat

Urdu Times USA, America

Websites on Urdu poetry and Literature [Shaayri-Adab]

1. Best Ghazals and Nazms [Urdu, Hindi, Roman scripts]
2. Urdu Point [Urdu script]
3. Urdu Life [Read and listen poetry. Urdu/Roman scripts]
4. Urdu Poetry [Roman script]
5. Urdu India [Literature News, Poetry]


[Most of the Urdu newspapers in India didn't have websites till a few years ago. When this list was first compiled, there were barely half-a-dozen papers. But computerization began fast in the last couple of years. Recently many papers have started online editions. There are many other websites on Urdu shayari that you can find elsewhere also. The list here is my personal selection and includes my blogs.]


Among the major Urdu newspapers of India are:

Roznama Sahara [Delhi, Lucknow, Kolkata, Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Patna, Kolkata], Sahafat [Delhi, Lucknow, Dehradun and Mumbai], Hindustan Express [Delhi], Akhbar-e-Mashriq, Aabshaar, Azad Hind, Akkas [Kolkata], Aag [Lucknow], Qaumi Khabrein [Lucknow], Nadeem [Bhopal], Urdu Action [Bhopal], Inquilab, Urdu Times, Hindustan [Mumbai], Siasat, Munsif, Rahnuma-e-Deccan, Etemad [Hyderabad], Milap, Hind Samachar [Jalandhar, Punjab], Pasban, Salar [Bangalore] and Musalman [Chennai].

Weekly papers like Nasheman, Nai Dunia, Alami Sahara also have a fair circulation. Urdu papers are also doing well in Kashmir. As far as circulation is concerned, the situation is far better in Pakistan where Jang alone sells over a million copies a day. It also has editions from Europe, particularly, London.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Hindus, Muslims converting to Baha'i faith in India: The Game of Conversions, Changing Religions

Apart from Lotus temple in Delhi: What else do you know about Bahais?
The lady's surname was Patel but she was not a Hindu. She was a Bahai, member of a faith, who believe in Baha'ullah

There were Mishra, Patil and Ghosh. All of them were Bahais. People with seeming Muslim names also.


That was quite confusing initially because of our notions that we associate surnames to religion.

They were born in Hindu, Muslim families but recently turned to Bahaism.

As far as Indians are concerned, what we know about the Bahais is that their most prominent place of worship in this country is the Lotus Temple in Delhi. But apart from this, most of us generally have no clue about Bahais and their religion.

That the Bahais, wherever they live, have a feast every 19 days and that they assemble at the local Haziratul Quds, is also not known commonly. In every city they have a local spiritual assembly. But when you see a Siddiqui or a Sharma as Bahai, what you make out of it?

Hindu, Muslim converts to Bahai religion

That confuses many of us. Because in India, we  associate names and surnames with religions. If someone is Rahmat Ali, he ought to be a Muslim and Ramesh Joshi should be a Hindu. Some Christians have Hindi/ Sanskrit/ Arabic names but most of the people can be identified.

Even Jains are often distinguishable due to their surnames--either Jain or Khandelwal/Shah/Kasliwal/Singhai etc. I find many Hindu and Muslim converts to Bahai faith. The Bahais are under intense religious persecution in Iran. 

This is a fact. They are not allowed to run schools and kept under state surveillance. That's really unfair. Many, in India, consider them as a sect of Muslims, which they are not--an independent religion. Bahai population is growing quite fast in India though they are not flexing muscles about their population.

Hiding faith: Not too open about conversion, growing figures as yet!

I have met a few Bahais here and there. Recently, at a programme, to highlight their issues in Iran, a journalist got irked with Bahais. 'You hide your identity', he charged them at a gathering they organised to raise the issue of Baha'i persecution in Iran.


"We don't", they said. The journo asked, 'If you believe in all religions equally then why you convert others?', the debate continued. I don't have any thing against Bahais.

If anyone wants to get converted to the faith, he has every right to do so. What I didn't exactly like are incidents like the recent marriage of a Muslim orphan girl to a Bahai family of Muslim names.

The organisers, all of whom were highly educated, deliberately mispronounced the name of the girl and hid her surname to conceal that she was a Muslim. At orphanages such things do happen routinely. As far as preaching to an adult is concerned, I am not much interested but incidents like this one are disturbing.

The Bahais claim to have followers in every country except Vatican. However, their claims of numbers seem exaggerated. In India they claim a population of 20 lakh [2 million] and tens of millions in the world. I don't think these are correct.

But it is quite clear that the Bahai faith may not be growing too fast in Europe and America, but in India, Bahai missionaries are quite active. They are working in rural areas also. However, at state level, there is no recognition of this religion as yet.

Christian and Sikhs have also converted. Among the biggest converts, however, are Parsis [Indian Zoroastrians]. Perhaps, this is because its a new faith that brings a new energy for them, and Parsis who are turned outcast after marriage with a non-Parsi, adopt this faith, which also comes from their ancestors' land--Persia [Iran].