Sunday, December 26, 2010

My blogging experience in 2010: Indian Muslim blog stepping into seventh year

Despite prophecies that blogging is dying and indications that netizens are now preferring facebook and twitter rather than writing blog posts, as a blogger it was a satisfying year for me.

It was the sixth year of my blogging and though I wrote considerably less compared to past, I felt that I wrote some of my best posts this year. Apart from politics, social issues, communalism, religious harmony and off-beat pieces, I also wrote about Muslim issues.

I always feel that Muslims can [and should] be more introspective and attentive towards the community affairs as they can afford to be more critical than others. Not just critical posts but also positive stories. I also did nearly half-a-dozen movie reviews.

This blog will soon be in its seventh year. I'd begun blogging in 2003-2004 but quit shortly after. Then again I started afresh in 2005 with this blog and since then it has been a terrific experience. I have written almost 600 posts so far on this blog alone.

Of course, the blogging scene is not quite hot as it was back in 2006-2007. But I enjoy it as much. On an average I wrote barely a post or so every week in 2010. Earlier I have written up to 167 posts in a year that amounted to almost one post every two days but then I realised the importance of quality and thoughtful blogging.

And I was surprised to see that for most part of the year this blog was at the top position in the category of Indian blogs in at least two categories including the personal blogs category at Indiblogger's ranking list with the highest rank of 87, ahead of those who were once considered celebrity bloggers. May be it appears kiddish excitement but I like it.

So I am not doing that badly even though I seemed to have lost steam a bit this year. There is a prophecy that blogging doesn't have much future as netizens are tweeting more or speaking their mind in facebook status messages where friends comment immediately and you get satisfaction of getting likes rather than critical and negative comments on blogs.

However, I don't buy much of it and intend to continue my blogging journey. I hope that in 2011 I will write more regularly and refine this blog further. Here is a list and links of the selected and best articles as per category which I wrote in the bygone year [2010]:

National Issues
Blame the bureaucrat for corruption and not just politician Read
Inefficient administration causing mishaps: Fix responsibility on guilty bureaucrats Read
Empowering Eves or Elites: On women's reservation at needs at ground level Read
Welfare Vs Warfare: How to tackle Naxalism Read
Is Indian police a force to safeguard the rich? Read

Indian Muslim society: Critical articles and Positive news 
Culture Vs Constitution: Now the Muslim Khaps Read
Darul Uloom turning Fatwa Factory & Triple Talaq Read
Anisa Sayyed: Ticket checker to shooting champion Read
Educational revolution among Indian Muslims Read
Triumphant Shireen steps into University without veil Read
Born in 1890, going for Haj in 2010: Munni Begam Read
Denying admission to Muslim students and other discrimination Read

Movie reviews
I watched a lot of movies this year though I couldn't review all as I saw some of them a few days after release. The movies about which I wrote included My Name Is Khan, Ishqia, Salman Khan's flop film Veer, Ajay Devgn-starrer film on the life of Haji Mastan titled Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, Salman's blockbuster Dabangg and Rajinikanth's Robot.

MNIK was definitely a bold movie with an emotional message while Ishqia and Dabangg brought back heartland to Indian cinema. Robot was Southern superstar Rajinikanth's film that grossed over Rs 25 crore in North India also.

Politics and political analysis
Decline in influence of Rajputs in Indian Politics Read
Nitish Kumar's victory in Bihar: How and Why? Read
Cong responsible for Maharashtra mess, not Shiv Sena-BJP Read
Reaction of Urdu media on Babri Masjid verdict Read
Ayodhya verdict and my reflections Read

Communal Harmony
Hindu saints stand for man fasting for Batla House probe Read
Muslim youths' rally for return of Kashmiri Pandits Read
Sai-Taj Darbar: Harmony among Hindus, Muslims Read
Hoardings in Harmony Read
The mosque that briefly turns temple every year Read

Urdu poetry, Literature
Urdu's egoist poet gone: Khuda Hafiz Abdullah Kamaal Read
The Shaharyar of Urdu literature Read
The glorious tradition of Tarahi mushairas Read
Mushaira in Delhi: Famous poets regale audience Read
Urdu language in Roman script in South India Read
Mahlaqa Chanda, a pioneering and forgotten Urdu poetess Read

Communalism, Fundamentalism, Terrorism and Media criticism
21 killed but not termed Terrorist strike Read
Sangh Parivar: Cultural nationalism, hardline Hindutva or Terrorism Read
Investigation & Media's role in Terror cases Read
'Pro-Muslim' RSS irked right-wing the fanatics Read
How RSS & other right-wing outfits escape terror tag Read
Fanatic Muslim killer Sudhakar Rao's arrest ignored Read
Recruiting Hindu warriors: New radical outfit rears head in Central India Read

Caste Issues: Discrimination with Dalits
Parents protest lower caste women cooks Read
Children hit for sitting on mat reserved for Upper Caste kids Read
Man says dog untouchable after lower caste family fed it Read

Weird, off-beat and features
The Horse's grave in India: Blend of local Hindu, Muslim cultures Read
Worshipping 'Kansa' in North India Read
Rise of Urdu media: Aalami Sahara, Zee Salaam channels launched Read
Celebrating Mughal Emperor Akbar's birthday Read
'My Papa is an ice-cream seller' Read

So that was the roundup for Year 2010 on Hope you enjoyed it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Finally Sahara group's Urdu news channel launched in India

After years of wait, a standard 24/7 Urdu news channel has been launched in India. The Sahara group's channel Alami Sahara that has made its debut recently and is now on air, has been launched almost 10 years after Ramoji Rao's ETV Urdu.

While ETV was a complete infotainment channel, Sahara is a dedicated news channel. I have been watching Alami Sahara for the last few days and it seems to have filled the void in Urdu broadcast media in India. The standard and presentation of its news and current affairs programmes gives it a clear edge.

The selection of guests for panel discussions is done quite professionally. News stories and special stories are also quite different and watchable. Currently the special programmes on Muharram are being telecast and they are certainly made painstakingly.

Your cable operator may not be showing it yet, but there are a few websites where you can see it live and free. While ETV Urdu is in a different league, DD Urdu is not shown in most parts of the country just like other DD channels which are ignored by cable-walas. 

The latest channel Zee Salam [launched a few months back] is more focused on religion and cultural aspects. However, Alami Sahara which is the fourth national Urdu TV channel in the country, focuses mostly on news and current affairs. The news bulletin is broadcast every hour like other news channels. 

The pace at which Sahara group's Urdu empire is growing has been surprising as it has overtaken Rashtriya Sahara Hindi newspaper in terms of number of editions as well as circulation.

 To a section it is worrying how one group commands such strong readership & influence among Indian Muslims due to its newspaper, Urdu weekly, monthly Bazm-e-Sahara & now the first nonstop Urdu news channel from India.

Sahara has broken new grounds in Urdu media in India. It has been an unbelievable journey, especially when most established publication groups including Shama Group, Biswin Sadi and Blitz left the field, claiming lack of readership and purchasing power among Urdu speakers.

Clearly there is a market for Urdu publications and channels, provided, the product is good and the publishers must stop treating the Urdu reader as a ghettoised man who only wants to read or watch about Palestine or minority politics. The success of Roznama Sahara and The Sunday Indian's Urdu version have proved it.

The channel had been 'soft-launched' without much publicity but it is grabbing eyeballs. The pronunciation or what we often call 'sheen-qaaf' is good. Hyderabad's Munsif group is also ready with its channel but Sahara has clearly taken the lead.

[*Alami means International in Urdu]

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Celebrating Mughal Emperor Akbar's birthday in Bihar

Emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar [1542-1605]
Mughal emperor Akbar's birth anniversary was celebrated recently. This news, which was published in newspapers in Bihar had caught my attention sometime back but I couldn't write about it then.

The organisation, Akhil Bharatiya Ashok Sena, that organised the function to mark the '468th birthday of Shahanshah Akbar' is headed by Shakya Ranjit Maurya, who lives in Patna. The event was unique in many ways. 

Firstly, in India, most anniversaries are either observed by Centre and state governments or organisations. In some cases, seminars or symposiums are organised in universities.

But personalities who are identified by their caste groups or religious sects are more commonly remembered. Even otherwise there is no dearth of famous personalities in India but often lesser known persons are remembered while those who don't fall into the confines of caste, region or religion are forgotten.

Claiming personalities & Caste pride
Ironically, Maithili Sharan Gupt is mostly remembered by Vaishya Community though he was a poet of high literary standing. And most functions to remember Chandrashekhar Azad are organised by Brahmin organisations.

Kayastha websites and organisations also claim Amitabh Bachchan, Subhas Chandra Bose, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Vivekanand among the heroes of community. Though Amitabh Bachchan is claimed by Allahabad and UP-walas also.

In fact, freedom fighters are also appropriated in accordance with their caste, regional and religious affiliations. Many social groups that don't have a famous personality to identify with, look for names in history and celebrate their anniversaries, so that they can hold their heads high and inspire the children of their community.

Maharana Pratap, Mahatma Phule and Maulana Azad

It is this reason that Maharana Pratap, a symbol of valiance, became signifying Rajput pride and the Meo [Mev] Muslims have now begun identifying themselves with Hasan Khan Mewati. However, a personality like Akbar who is termed as 'Akbar the Great' can't fit in such confines.

In fact, it's rare for non-Dalits to hold a function recalling contribution of Mahatma Phule or BR Ambedkar. And equally rare for a non-Muslim organisation to hold functions in memory of Hasrat Mohani, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai or even Maulana Azad.

Caste, Community, Regional and Religious Identities in India

It is not just caste group or religion, however, region and community sub-groups also claim heroes. Bundelkhandis and Jhansi residents take extra pride in the Jhansi ki Rani Queen Laxmi Bai. Rajendra Prasad is not just a leader of Bihar but Kayastha groups claim him as a great Kayastha leader.

Shivaji is a demi-god in Maharashtra but in neighbouring Gujarat he is not the same sort of hero, as he had attacked Surat. So there is a conflict on this level also. For some personalities there are multiple claimants while some others are forgotten.
Those who don't fall in any such category and have less following are not remembered. Phiroz Shah Mehta or Dadabhai Naoroji will remain in text books as the number of Parsis is dwindling.

Akbar and his contribution

Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar, of course, is in a different league, as a king, who ruled India centuries ago. Though a Muslim, he was perhaps not as 'pious'. He even initiated a new religion 'Din-e-Ilahi'. Nevertheless Akbar remains one of the most important figures in medieval India.

Akbar's contribution towards communal harmony, inter-faith dialogue and his governance apart from shaping the geographical boundaries of modern India is known to anyone. Had he been linked to a 'biradari' or clan, the particular group would be remembering him every year without fail.

However, it's not the case. And in this context, it is more important that an organisation remembered him. At the All India [Akhil Bharatiya] Ashok Sena's programme, speakers recalled the Mughal ruler's 'sulah-i-kul' policy as well as his progressive thoughts, social reforms and steps towards bringing order in the country.

Read similar posts on this blog published in the past

1. Maithili Sharan Gupt, a poet of Vaishyas!
2. Freedom fighter Chandra Shekar Azad or Chandra Shekhar Tiwari