Sunday, September 20, 2020

Unethical, inflammatory reporting in Indian Media: Jagran group's newspaper Nai Dunia turns into Saffron groups' mouth piece!

 


This is just an example of how newspapers can give a twist, play in the hands of communal elements and demonize entire community. 

Nai Dunia, a newspaper in Central India, which is published under the title Nav Dunia in Bhopal, has published this report. 

The paper uses the term 'Love Jihad' in a way as if it is a 'known practice' or there is a finding or a judgment about it. 

Besides, there is no 'alleged' as prefix along with the term. Not even the inverted commas to suggest that this is what VHP says. With total finality the term is used, as if it is a phenomenon and an established thing!

This report has been splashed as if it is one of the biggest issues facing the nation. Of course, they didn't even bother to publish any data or figures to suggest that there is anything as sinister as they claim in this report.

If they just do their bit & get info directly from DM's office or through RTI about number of Muslim girls who marry Hindu boys and Hindu girls marrying Muslim boy. Even though there is nothing illegal in inter-religious marriages, the paper presents VHP claims as news.

The reader gets a feeling that Muslim youth as involved in luring Hindu girls for marriage--demonizing and accusing the entire community. 'Nav Dunia' in Bhopal was once considered a prestigious newspaper.

Further, if you don't have any ulterior motive, why don't you give figures that are easy to obtain. There are inter-faith marriages & in states, assent is needed before conversion. term is 'floated', then these papers do every bit to ensure that they pass it off as something real, not even 'alleged Love Jihad'.

Of course, these papers have taken upon themselves the task to keep this society in conflict, forever. In small cities, more rabid. If any organisation or party has issue with Hindu-Muslim marriages, please go ahead and press for a law that stops such marriages and term them illegal. 

Also, ban inter-faith marriages and get the Special marriages act, quashed. Don't act mercenaries under garb of journalism. Society that consumes this level of trash,  remains silent, such irresponsible & unethical journalism where journalist, just because of privilege of being at a position, can demonize communities, act as mercenary of a group & create social divide, how things will improve, ever?

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Revolutionary freedom fighter Turrrebaz Khan and the soldiers who led attack on British Residency: Independence Movement's Martyrs in Hyderabad

 


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Tura Baz Khan alias Turrebaz Khan was the fearless revolutionary who led the audacious attack on British residency in Hyderabad. 

This heroic act and the supreme sacrifice of soldiers, had caused a stir in the entire region, during the first war of Independence in 1857. 

The attack was planned in order to free the rebel Indian soldiers who were held in prison, there. 

Earlier, as news from the North about the revolution in Oudh and other regions arrived, there was resentment among people in Hyderabad too. Like most of the other princely states, here too the ruling class was pro-British. 

Cheeda Khan had revolted against Britishers when the state contingent's 3rd cavalry was ordered to march to Delhi, at Buldhana. He had refused to fight for the East India Company and left with other soldiers. However, they were arrested and handed to Resident. 

In order to rescue them, 'Sher-i-Hyderabad' Tura Baz Khan and other revolutionaries surrounded the Residency. As large number of rebel soldiers reached, Turrebaz Khan and Maulvi Alauddin along with Rohillas demolished wall and broke into the residency. There was a full-fledged battle. 

A large number of rebel soldiers were martyred. Treachery and deceit, particularly, role of several officials who had sent information to British officials about the impending attack, was responsible for the defeat. 

Turrebaz Khan got injured but managed to escape. He was later identified and arrested. He was asked about whereabouts of Maulvi Alauddin but he refused. He was to be sent to Andaman Nicobar but he managed to escape from the prison on January 18, 1859. 

Now, an amount of Rs 5,000 was announced on his arrest. This was a huge cash reward by the standards of the era. He was caught and killed [shot dead]. Tura Baz Khan's body was hanged by a tree near Residency. This was to send a strong message to the revolutionaries as well as the ordinary people. 

But the sacrifice of revolutionaries is an important chapter in the history of freedom struggle. There is a memorial and a road has also been named after him, however, despite the act of valour, his name is missing from text books and he was termed an unsung hero. Of course, the memory of such martyrs and revolutionaries remained in the hearts of people. 

Journalist Papri Paul, in a Times of India report rightly says that," ...this revolutionary act brought Hyderabad on the map during the first war of independence in 1857". Of late, there have been efforts to remember the freedom fighters and a play on his ultimate sacrifice was staged in Hyderabad.

The photograph above [on the right] is the title of Devireddy Subramanyam Reddy's book Uprising of 1857 a movement that defined India of August 15, 1947. It is available on Amazon, at this LINK. He is also the author of Colonialism and Resistance in India.

READ: The story of Turrebaz Khan, the forgotten hero

READ: Turrebaz Khan, the forgotten hero of freedom movement

Photo of the memorial above, courtesy Mr Kavali Chandrakanth

Friday, August 28, 2020

Revolutionary freedom fighter Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi who was jailed in Andaman Nicobar: Exiled, died in prison, buried in Port Blair




Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Revolutionary freedom fighter Allama Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi who had given an open call for armed struggle against British, in the capital of India, rests in eternal sleep in his grave in Andaman Nicobar where he was exiled.

Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi had given this open call in Delhi, also giving the speech after over 14,000 soldiers had arrived, soon after uprising in Meerut and Awadh. He had issued the diktat at Jama Masjid. 

The widely respected scholar and author had taken upon himself the role to exhort Indians to fight the British. In fact, soon after reports of rebellion came, he had left Alwar and arrived in Delhi. He took part in framing the constitution for the the rebel army that had now set up administration in Delhi. 

In 1815-16, he had joined royal service. A farsighted man, as early as in 1826, he had petitioned to the Emperor Akbar Shah II [Saani], as a people's representative. In this Persian letter, he had mentioned how Company rule was crushing the people, and this was resulting in misery, loss of jobs.

He wrote that how trade was captured by foreign 'taajirs'--from cloth to horses, everything was in their hands and also gave insight about farmers' poor condition. Besides, wrote about the situation that had actually arisen due to Metcalfe's orders--thehardships in Delhi and around. This gives an indication about Allama Fazl Haq Khairabadi's vision.

In 1831, he had left Delhi for Jhajjhar. Zafar was now the Emperor and he was saddened to see him leave. He served at top posts in several princely states and made valuable suggestions to Mirza Ghalib, about his divan. 

From 1857 to 1859, he remained active from Delhi to Awadh, however, he was finally captured. He was made to face trial. A man of conviction, he said, 'I issued the fatwa and I stand by it'. His property was seized and he was sent to Kala Pani i.e. Andaman Nicobar islands. 

In the 'Sage journal' article, Jamal Malik, points out how Fazl Haq Khairabadi's role was ignored and his contribution sidelined despite his role and the fact that he drafted the constitution based on democratic ideals. It also cites his prison diary, letters and texts. 

Allama Fazl-e-Haq [also spelt, Allama Fazl Haq Khairabadi, Fazal Haq Khairabadi] was incarcerated and in his jail diaries, he wrote about his sentiments against the East India Company. In the prison in Andaman, he wrote, 'I did not commit any crime, I did not like British who...".

British government considered him one of the biggest threats and he was among the initial freedom fighters who were sent to Kala Pani. One must remember that, 1857 was not mutiny, but revolution across North India. 

People from all cross-sections were part of it--farmers, land owners, artisans, religious leaders, workers, sepoys. In 1857, when the revolution began, he was in Alwar. Allama came to know about situation in Meerut and Delhi. Hence, he returned to Delhi. 

Due to his stature and authority, there was massive support in favour of the rebels. He had also told last Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar that royal employees were inefficient and that there was need to ensure food supply. 

Born in 1797, Fazl Haq Khairabadi was son of Allama Fazl Imam Faruqi Khairabadi, who was Sadr-us-Sudoor, Delhi, was a scholar of immense repute and wrote 'Muraqqat' on Ilm-e-Mantiq. Fazle Haq Khairabadi learnt from his father, also from Abdul Qadir Muhaddis Dehlvi and Shah Abdul Aziz Mohaddis Dehlvi. 

He had quit royal service as he was not happy with the way things were going on, and he joined the court of the Ruler of Jhajhar, Nawab Faiz Mohammad Khan. Later, he went to Alwar. Subsequently, stayed in Saharanpur and also Tonk. Later, in Lucknow, where he was posted as Sadar-us-Sudoor. 

In 1856, he met great freedom fighter Maulvi Ahmadullah Shah Madrasi. Allama wrote several famous books. He also wrote his memoir in Andaman, which reached India through Mufti Inayat Ahmad Kakorvi. In 1857, when General Bakht Khan arrived with his army of 14,000 from Bareilly, Allama gave the speech at Jama Masjid. This created a stir. 

Soon tens of thousands of soldiers gathered. There were several reasons that led to the failure of the first war of independence and this included treachery as well. However, Delhi fell, finally, and he reached Oudh in 1858. Subsequently, he was arrested. 

On January 30, 1859, he was arrested and accused of inciting Indians to rise against the British. On October 8, 1859, the ship Fire Queen took him along with other freedom fighters to Andaman. He died in 1861. He was 64,

The great revolutionary was buried in Nicobar islands. The Andaman Nicobar waqf board takes care of the grave that is visited by lot of people who pay respects to this great soul of India. Locals also organise the Urs annually. In Khairabad too, tributes are paid to him on his birth and death anniversaries.

Abdul Shahid Sherwani mentions that as per his son's will that after the British would leave India, Najmul Hasan Razwi and a big crowd reached the grave on August 15, 1947, and organised an event--milad and recital of fatiha, paid respect to the valiant revolutionary.

[Photo shows location of his mazar in Andaman. Inset, Allama Fazl Haq Khairabadi. Photo of poet Chander Bhan Khayal paying tributes to the revolutionary. The phorotgraph of mazaar, courtesy Mohammed Obaid Khan.]

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Lessons from Tablighi Jamat case verdict and TV channels' campaign to demonize the group


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

There are several lessons from the vile campaign that was launched against the Tablighi Jamat, which resulted in hate towards Muslims.

It was a crucial juncture, the country was supposed to fight Coronavirus, but the media's focus was on demonizing Muslims, 'otherizing' them and cooking up false stories about Tablighis 'spitting or refusing to eat', most of those stories turned out to be totally false. 
Now, the Bombay High Court judgment has come as a relief. However, the foremost lesson to be learnt from this controversy is that you can't throw your own people under the bus, just to get a foothold among section of opportunistic liberals or in the hope that you will be 'accepted' by accusing-busing your own. They will come for you too, later.
Never try to 'fit in' among any circle just to show 'we're different, they are backward'. Courage is to take stand. No one has the right generalize, demonize an entire section. Even if you hear anything against an entire group of people and you've a bias against them, you can't play a part in vilification. Everyone knows propaganda can pass off victim as aggressor, and this happened in front of our eyes.
Media has the power to blow anything out of proportions We may have issues but when an entire group is being targeted & we know it is being done 24/7, totally one sided, say that it's wrong. Those who have voice must take stand.
Poor vegetable vendors were discriminated, boycotted due to these false stories. The most vulnerable, poorest of poor, who lives in rented house, who doesn't have an idea how next day earning will come from, and it is he who bears the brunt on the street. People like Dilshad who didn't test positive, yet, he was boycotted and the result was his death. 
If the privileged among us who have money, house, property, too don't speak up and rather than taking stand, are unable to see this vilification, then what's the hope? It happens that many say, 'yes most of our community is backward, uneducated' or things like 'they may have done all this' just to be accepted or because of the influence of TV news.
No, when your community is being demonized, you too are part of it. You can't escape it, even if you feel that for the moment, you saved yourself. Lot of Muslims too were taken in by the propaganda, others wanted to sound 'modern', not to be seen with 'regressive' or 'backward' people.
But remember, those opportunists who had the audacity to openly accuse people belonging to your religion in front of you, those who didn't stand with you and despite being friends with you, never thought twice before hurting your sentiments as they openly shared propaganda, will not be your friend either.
Hence, it's the duty of our privileged class too, who know the pattern, that they must not close their eyes and at least speak up. If nothing else, at least do NOT side with tyranny. Believe me, TV channels and media's constant propaganda, have this power to push you to the corner and make you feel 'embarrassed of even your own existence'. 
This is the level of fascism and if you can't speak up, at least, be silent, rather than promptly accusing 'your own'. Now, you know well how stories are planted, false narrative is created to target you and keep focus away from other issues.
Those living alone in localities feel such pressure! Thus, speak up, do your bit to demolish the fascists' arguments, side with the victim, not the propagandists. We all learn at different times in our journey. These are the times most have us have seen how things can be presented, misrepresented. 
We can give benefit of doubt to some among us but now even the most gullible among us have seen how it happens. So let's not be like oppressors or mob, hopefully we all get educated by these experiences and learn. Take stand, speak up, always.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Great Freedom Fighters of India: Revolutionaries who were hanged for the role in independence movement during the British rule

Mohammad Abdullah who was hanged 


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

The role of revolutionaries in creating the awakening among masses and their sacrifices for the motherland, can never be forgotten. 

The fact is that martyrs were the real heroes--those who hanged and happily went to gallows for the cause of freedom. 

Remember, it was an era when Indians were treated like slaves and there were large-scale killings after 1857. 

Even in later years, the Jallian Wala Bagh Massacre and Qissakhwani Bazar Killings, had infuriated Indians. 

After 1857, freedom movement saw participation of hundreds of such patriots who were willing to give their life for the cause of independence.

Each such martyr--every hanging and freedom fighter shot or matyred, was responsible for the rise in nationalistic fervour and as a result created awakening among the people. The list of martyrs and revolutionaries is long from Tatya Tope, Azimullah, Sher Ali, Bhagat Singh, Ashfaqullah, Rajguru, Madanlal Dhingra, Mohammad Abdullah to Chandrashekhar Azad and many others.

Mohammad Abdullah had assassinated the judge who was known for giving harsh sentence to freedom fighters, especially, the revolutionaries. History books mention that John Paxton Norman was assassinated by Mohammad Abdullah. 

The incident took place in Kolkata (then, Calcutta). The judge John Paxton Norman was known for harsh sentences on freedom fighters and revolutionaries. Historians, for this reason, mention that the revolutionaries despite strong repressive measures, preferred to die but remained committed to the cause of freedom. 

Sir Paxton Norman was acting chief justice of Calcutta High Court in 1871. Abdullah was later hanged. His portraits adorn museums and homes, now. Just like later years freedom fighters and revolutionaries who wanted the atrocities to end, and took up initiative--Bhagat Singh and Rajguru killed Saunders, and got hanged, the flame of resistance continued to burn. 

READ: Sher Ali, revolutionary freedom fighter who assassinated Viceroy, got hanged

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Policemen's promptness in firing, role of media in branding Muslims and shifting focus from victims


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

It's very easy to dismiss someone by throwing a label at them, also, there is a lot between being 'liberal' and 'illiberal' in real world. 
Regarding Bengaluru firing, it is clear that everyone is against violence, no one supports it. But it's not as simple, as media makes it. 
While many of us may claim that we don't watch TV news, but headlines can still indirectly shape our thought process & it is also the reason, how a victim can become a hooligan in our eyes.
First, a basic thing if someone abuses a woman or man, targets or indulges in character assassination, its termed 'harassment' & there are proper sections under IPC for registration of case. If action is not taken, there is harsh criticism of authorities. People stand with victim. Obviously, the victim is not asked why he or she went to lodge a FIR. 
Routinely people get booked for defamation or online abuse, arrests or convictions are at a later stage. Now, whenever it comes to Muslims', it is claimed that the community is 'over sensitive'. Section 295 (A) of IPC is for deliberate & malicious acts, intended to outrage feelings of any class. Now let's see.
Imagine, one group can claim that its sentiments got hurt over a historical movie, say Padmavat, go about ruckus and arson in different cities, (remember that bus carrying kids) but no where police would open fire. Right-wing groups have attacked police stations in different cities in the past, but never face bullet.
Despite the threatening language and scale of violence over days, these groups or Senas won't be termed 'extremist', no news would be planted about their links, and even in vernacular papers attempts would be made to term lawlessness as result of a 'genuine grievance' of 'false depiction'.
There are umpteen examples. Remember when a cop was shot dead in UP, and the accused was not arrested for days and later came out of jail as 'hero'! What provisions of law were used, which property was seized. Now, this post is not just about comparing different incidents of vandalism. No.
It is about something that even 'liberals' fail to realise. Whenever it comes to Muslims', it is claimed that the community is 'over sensitive'. In this case, a complaint was made. Case was not registered, there was delay. There was ruckus, but in this case cops fired, 3 died.
There're cases in the country where  police stations are targeted or vandalized but cops don't fire. Even after failing to get FIR registered and losing lives--no debate on excessive use of force, pm report or compensation, media presented it as a case of 'bloodthirsty mob'...
Violence is no solution, everyone condemns ruckus and commotion. But there are protests and mob attacks at many places. Here, in Bengaluru, people faced bullets, they were killed but there is no focus on deaths. No sympathy for victims, some of whom were perhaps not in crowd, as we found that one of them the sole breadwinner who was caught in melee on way home.
In case of Muslim protesters, stories are readily planted to link them to certain 'group', wild theories, suggestions about the role, attempts to bring 'extremist' angle. So, people get angry at them. You instantly accuse them, believe that 'they were wrong', even after they were killed.
It is not just majoritarian privilege but inequality, gross difference in how action is taken. Remember, even after acting sensibly you may be presented as a troublemaker while the goons treated with respect--that's narrative, media power. Remember Malcolm X words! So that's it.
It's something you need to know, yes, be very very careful in any protest or delegation that even if you've been wronged & you seek justice, one mistake, one or two persons infiltrating and creating ruckus, would lead to serious consequences. Because harshest action will come.
People who claim that they don't watch TV or go to WhatsApp, even they'll say, 'why this hooliganism?', 'why so intolerant?'. Not their fault either, that's how system works. How dare you speak, how dare you demand an FIR, how dare you be visible. Killed, but no word on justice or condolence.
Law should be visible on the ground, applied fairly, at least, to some extent. If others go about ruckus, its their privilege, you can't afford a minor slip. As, unjust portrayal can make you appear terribly lawless, madman, even if you want to pursue something legally & lawfully.
Such is the skewed system that someone comes and ask me after the killings, that why are 'they' so 'over-reactive' and 'bloodthirsty'? Who is bloodthirsty! I tell, I just want that if there is a hate crime or speech, anyone Hindu or Muslim, should face similar charges, action..
Ground reality is that we've our 'aasthas' over everything, because we are a majority. We can imagine what you eat, enter your house & thrash you but if you get wronged, don't dare speak or file FIR. Intellectually, too, we can label you 'backward' for anything. Be, live like a 'subject'!
And, even talking about all this on social media is something that shocks-hurts them. How dare this guy lives here, speaks this much, talks about 'double standards', so let's get into his FB-Twitter timelines and question him. A lot of guys have the gall to 'question'. Now, label us whatever you want. Fine!
Bottom line. You are engaged in most restrained behaviour, you try to be the most ideal citizen, you are always law-abiding but even one incident among hundreds, here too you face atrocities but you'll be again termed 'bloodthirsty mob' or backward and even you will accept it. 
In the case of Bulandshahr, when inspector Subodh Kumar was killed, police post was set afire, but not a single newspaper could write, 'Bajrang Dal attacks police station'. The harsh sections, special acts, UAPA are not meant for all, isn't it!
Understand these aspects, also, how narrative is created, how we fall in trap. How to be more careful, how to deal with this level of branding. The need to talk more about diversity in newsrooms, at least, at local level, city and state, are some of the main points that need urgent attention.


[Photo is for representational purpose]

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

More Indian Muslims need to take up politics as full-time career: Reasons Muslims are not successful in politics in India


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

You often get to hear arguments about reasons Muslims are not doing well in politics, or about dwindling representation in legislatures and parliament. 

Also, there are people who have quick-fix solutions and even go to the extent of saying that Muslims should avoid electoral politics. 

This is immature and emotional talk. Any community needs leaders, not just political but social, intellectual and community leaders. However, politics is full-time job, a profession, you need hard work to succeed, you've to speak up constantly, ensure that your voice reaches people. 

It's not about party or region, you have to do work on a daily basis, ought to be strong enough not to be irked by criticism. Leadership is social, political, community, intellectual. If you have the drive to hone your skills, know a few facts and can speak decently to media, you can become a voice too.

Lucknow, that was considered heart of Muslim politics for ages, known for institutions like Nadwatul Ulama, personalities like Ali Miyan. Today, it's sadly, Khalid Rashid Firangimahli and Bukkal Nawab, who have come to represent this great city. We deserve better. It's not the fault of political parties, alone. 

People have to come forward, work hard, speak up, take politics as full-time career, issue statements, at least, show that they can talk sense. You don't become 'voice of region' or 'representative of community' or MLA-MP, one fine day.

It needs planning, serious ground work. This city has no dearth of educated Muslims, despite all nonsense and propaganda, this city is home to one of the most educated and affluent Muslims too, who have political sense as well as command over multiple languages. 

A legislator, or corporator or even a strong voice from capital, has great strength, it also helps in many ways that don't need to be explained in a Facebook post or Twitter thread. But you have people who get ticket from parties, won or lost & yet never even visible. 

People say 'education is the solution' but you have no dearth of it. Mute, voiceless but 'educated'. I will give example of Rehan Naeem, close to Akhilesh Yadav, got elected as MLA from Lucknow in last term. Well educated, 'modern' but never seen or raised voice. 

An elected leader comes to represent people, the city. Urban issues, civic issues, vision. But even Lucknowites don't remember him. It's a great opportunity, if you are elected as MLA from capital, you have cameras, attention, but if you fail to even speak, let alone work, then?

If you don't speak up, duffers or plants get the chance & they are made to represent 'you'. That's how you are seen as. But that's not the end. One doesn't need to be a legislator or even a corporator, or to win election. 

One does need to have commitment, the ability to learn, understand PR, how media and world functions. You've to be a leader who attends calls, gives bytes, ready to learn things, not be petty and short-sighted.

Media too needs people but not the sort of ones whom you call and get weird replies or delayed responses. Once it's known, that he is the 'go to' person who will speak with facts, that he talks some sense, there is recognition. But questioning, dismissing others!

The bottom line is that there is no alternative to hard work and learning. Stop blaming others or targeting small or big people for own failure. You need to hone your skills, get facts ready, just like you work hard in any other field. That's the road to recognition, which helps.

It was after several terms that a Muslim MLA was elected from Lucknow. Hence, there were expectations. Still, he was never heard or seen. Even when after the term as MLA, he could have spoken as ex-MLA or leader but despite several major issues confronting citizens and Muslims, he was never visible. 

Now, I am giving example of Lucknow, just because this city has a very strong Muslim 'elite', the 'class' too, you meet them in parties, functions, events & you will marvel at their knowledge but somehow withdrawn from politics. 

Activists, lawyers, youngsters rose to the occasion and spoke up in last two years or so, but not him. If there is an incident of lynching or an assault, hate crime or discrimination, if a leader speaks up, it does have impact. 

When a politician takes representation, leads, takes up petititons to ministers or bureaucrats, it is published in media, citizens too feel the strength. But if you're in politics, still, you fail to do the most basic job, it's really sad.

This is the reason we need to have multiple 'visible' leaders take up politics. You've to have certain basic ideas--clarity about your goals, not negativity, but self-determination and focus on getting ahead. You have to be able to carry people along, so you must have patience, ability to listen & be large-hearted. If just for theka, tenders etc, then.

Human behaviour is same everywhere. We like people who are efficient. Journos need byte, reactions. If you don't respond, fail to be media friendly and despite having nothing extra to add, show tantrums, who will come to you and why? So learn to be courteous, understand world.

It is in no way to be taken as UP Vs South etc. In certain regions when there is established leadership, the next generation learns, takes cue, transition is easy. Sometimes other factors, comparisons are always not fair. 

Lot of finer things can't be described in Tweets, nuances lost in conversations on social media. Population alone is not a factor. Difference in degree of communalism in regions is yet another aspect in this society. 

Yes, Moradabad district has more Muslims than Hyderabad district. Hyderabad suffered during Police Action & what happened in 1948, is not even known to 95% outside. There were riots till 1990s. There is a party that has managed its base, did well to keep sectarianism at bay, despite attempts.

But there is absolutely no comparison between Malda, Purnea or Moradabad or Katihar or Mewat. Don't just waste time in these debates, rather, if you are interested, take up leadership role. A strong leader can emerge from Cuttack too, from Balasore too. 

Speak up on issues--on not just Muslim issues, talk about your vision of the capital or city or state, about what your city or place will need in 2050, about infrastructure, about daily issues, about cost of medicines, about power bills, about civic issues. 

You have to do it with a mission, without hoping that next day, you will get a reward. It takes time but citizens notice that there is a person who is constantly raising issues. That he doesn't talk nonsense, he talks about things that matter. 

Anyone who is serious must work on the ground & avoid getting rattled or engage in long social media' debates, just for ego. Much better to take a plunge, learn, do serious work and make a mark. If you are educated and have a passion, don't waste it. 

Don't get into negativity or the frame that 'x gets more attention'. When you become leader or at least turn into a recognizable face in public life, as leader in your field, it also helps change perception about your community. Frankly, things aren't as tough as they appear, just that one needs to throw self in public life, act. 

Frustration, hopelessness and self-loathing are useless. Don't lead to any solution. Learn, Lead.

READ: Way Ahead for Indian Muslims is to be change maker, lead the society

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

How Indian middle-class, a product of institutions built in Congress era, turned against it



It's often discussed that how the urban middle-class that had emerged due to the institutions that were built in India, after independence, turned against the same model and went on to hate it. 
The generation that got jobs due to colleges, schools, hospitals, IITs and AIIMs, PSUs and major institutions, vital installations, was the first that provided the push to Ram Temple movement in the decade of 1980s.
Also, later when Nehru-Gandhi family was targeted, it was generally the middle-class that lived in cities, bought this propaganda and wholehearted supported the BJP. Over the years, the babus who enjoyed job security and even managed to get his next generation, fully settled, turned into the Congress-hater.
Actually, as it is about past, one must remember how certain rulers felt that if they tried to uplift masses, it would be disastrous for them as the people would have growing aspirations, will seek more, and would never be satisfied. 
In princely states, some of these rulers didn't want people to get educated. If masses are poor, they are resigned to fate. There is less of feeling of entitlement, let alone raise voice or speak against the regime and the Raja. 
Post-independence, there was nation building, institutions were set up, lakhs got govt jobs. Those benefited, those who came out of poverty, they wanted continuous growing prosperity---for self, not others i.e. not for other sections. 
Their next generation too wanted same, the 'entitlement'. Also, this class that didn't have to worry about two square meals, was now relatively affluent. With luxury, comes time to think of golden past. As it happens, those who enjoyed fruits of development, became critics of the set up that propped them, saw it as completely against their traditions, culture and Sanskar. 
Remember, the more misery, poverty and unemployment, it suits the ruler who has committed supporter base. It's a wonderful idea and system to ensure that focus is not kept education or job creation, that institutions are sold or destroyed.
Many rulers considered 'clever' in the past, who managed to keep their throne and had totally 'dedicated subjects', followed this model. Even otherwise, as they say that if all get educated, its tough as they would want desk job, which will create imbalance in society.
The thought that let them have 'chutney roti' and they would be happy with a 'mithai' once or twice on festivals. This keeps the public happy, otherwise, once it is used to comforts, there is no more thrill in it and no question of being grateful for smaller or even bigger things.
After all, 'optimum' number of people uplifted (out of poverty). It is not for the rest, entire populace. Now, the need for more people as cheap labour. Less job security for them would ensure that they are insecure, fearful. The more vulnerable, the more dedicated they would be.
For any ruler or regime in a modern democracy, toughest task is to deal with 'expectations'. How you deal with it, because expectations will continue to rise. And, there'll be anti-incumbency, too. So, how can a dream merchant, deal with it for long! Be a crook or totally break the system. Do both.

Monday, August 03, 2020

Coronavirus shows inequality in 'system': Celebrities get facilities but ordinary citizens run from pillar to post, suffer




Shams Ur Rehman Alavi
Coronavirus has once again brought to fore the inequalities in the 'system'.
That, how it is unfair towards not just the poor but also a common citizen, unless he or she is a celebrity or politician. 
For influential people, it's easy. For them, it's just an ailment and there are chances of recovery because they don't face procedural issues or stigma. 
There will be no trouble in getting tested or getting timely medication. If a celebrity or a politician gets unwell, he won't have to worry about getting treatment or finding hospitals. 

He will not face issues--poor infrastructure at hospital or lack of hygiene at the quarantine centre apart from factors like quality of medication, availability of oxygen, cost of treatment.  The celebrity will get doctors' focus, full attention, medicines and the best available medication. 
But common person? From trying to get self admitted to worrying about expenses, it's a really tough journey, at times, too lonely. The standards that are applied in his case could be too tough for him and his family. This 'tension' worsens the situation.
At every step, there might be issues, depending on the hospital he is treated in--private or government, and several other factors. Every one deserves equal attention and at least, basic treatment but doesn't happen. In many cases, the fear, apprehensions have caused shock. 
From delay in getting ambulance to not finding proper hospital, it's not easy for an ordinary citizen. However, when it comes to celebrity, the sense of 'power' is such that they don't feel anxiety, fear, panic attacks. After all, they don't need to worry about these issues. 
This is the difference, at least, in India. Any other person and his entire family faces uncertainty, suffer a lot due to stigma in society apart from lack of adequate attention, non-availability of medicines. Strangely, even citizens seem to have resigned to the fate. 
They don't demand or expect best facilities. It is a general feeling that the celebrities deserve the best and that they are 'more than equals' in our society, hence, no collective anger over this discrimination in services. 
Media too doesn't run campaigns to keep focus on cost of treatment or equality for patients. The result is that there is little scope for a nationwide consensus or a push to ensure that there is at least a semblance of equality in terms of health services for all patients. 
Photo courtesy: Oles

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Muslims ahead on nutrition, health indicators: Status of women, dietary discrimination in other communities


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi
Firstly, this post is not for those who've no interaction with Muslims but have preconceived notions about the community and without statistics or any report, generalize, branding entire community as backward.
This is about the fact that in Muslim households, girls are valued much more, comparatively, and this is evident, statistically, also.
Even when female foeticide was rampant in North India, this was not a major problem in Muslim society.
In households, you often hear, 'Hamare huzoor ki nasl bhi unki beti se chali'. Many people don't understand that at ground level, even among the poorest of poor, this slight difference in attitude due to religion, plays a major role.
This is to highlight how certain religious teachings, sayings about women's status, have impact. Those working in social sector sector for years, knew difference but said, 'ya, they [Muslims] have less of this problem among women' (or in malnutrition too) but won't tell more.
There are big regions where Muslims don't have much land holdings, less than even 1% in govt jobs, yet, on these indicators like nutrition among girls, doing much better & despite less affluence, attitudes towards girl child-daughters, different-visible. Problem is sweeping generalization, false narrative.
Either it was about dietary discrimination or birth of girl child, these social evils were prevalent more in other communities. But nobody termed them as 'backward'. Backwardness is in social evils, attitudes. Being less affluent is not being backward. Open mind, shun prejudices.
It's not that we don't know or won't focus on our own shortcomings, we do and we must make an effort to get rid of social evils, try to improve. If on one indicator, we are doing well, we must try to do even more better in coming years. But branding & falsehood will be tackled.
It's not that you have a sex ratio of 850 in a region but still remain 'forward' or that women-girls in your community are more stunted, anaemic and malnourished, but you continue to term others as backward just because of your power to brand others and use majoritarian privilege to brand the 'other'.
This blog has a series of posts on this issue. Also, regarding backwardness, the false narrative that is shaped and how propaganda is used as a means to brand an entire community. More on this topic, with statistics would be posted, soon.
It is interesting that if you ask journalists on social sector beat, why they don't give religion-wise figures on these indicators, they quickly say, 'oh ya, we never thought about it'. Nobody else will tell your story, you need to tell it, claim your voice.
Else, even if community doing well, the report will be published with a classification among Muslims, OBCs, Dalits and Tribals, not as Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jain, Buddhist--and you won't even know your own progress. Either it is NHFS or similar reports, keep an eye, read, write and tell. This series about the 'backwardness narrative' will continue and figures will be shared in coming posts.
Photo courtesy: Mr Joy Deb, Pexels

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Colonialism through Journalism: Establishing, appropriating, otherising and suppressing voice of locals through 'media power'






Shams Ur Rehman Alavi
It is an aspect that needs to be talked about more. How, locals can be totally sidelined and their voice suppressed cleverly through a complex but established process. 
That people can be made voiceless in their own land. This is possible through media. 
You can be made to believe that 'it' is a traditional 'vegetarian land' or the local history can be totally altered-erased, as in the case of several towns where it happened within a comparatively short period, around 15-20 years.

The ability to mould public opinion, gives this power. In front of your eyes, it will happen but you can't even notice. It is difficult to even understand as this is a different sort of power, you don't acquire it by cracking a examination or winning election. But this creates the discourse and sets the agenda for everyone, in later years.
Highly opinionated, biased and arriving with a sense of entitlement--a few people can make it happen. A job in a mainstream newspaper gives people this freedom, the power to push such a narrative. It is bizarre, the power to decide what to publish, what not to publish.
And, whatever is published on a regular basis, is believed. 
The lack of diversity in the newsrooms, as well as TV channels, makes it a universal phenomenon. If in the largest circulated newspaper, you won't find a single person belonging to local community, most of the caste groups or any of the minority religions in editorial, just imagine the situation. 
Similarly, in tribal regions, you may not find a single tribal in the editorial section. Groups that form barely 5-10% of population, form the overwhelming majority, and hence, the ability to present, misrepresent and project things in a totally different way.

Recently, I had given an example, which was posted on social media. I am again mentioning it. It is about a guy who came from a town 500 km away from the region. No great qualification, not even command over Hindi, but as he has an uncle in media, the youth gets job in newspaper.
Initially, he is asked to see copies from small towns, and soon becomes journalist.
Without knowing city or making acquaintances, no idea about town but believes 'local populace here is too backward and uneducated', though he has no statistics to support it. This is amazing sense of entitlement, armed with half-baked notions.
But the person is confident and feels that whatever he knows is absolute truth. He is ready to shoot his mouth, everywhere. He hasn't met people in the town despite having lived a couple of years now but never ventured into lanes or entered into households, but reflected in writings too about city, region.
Goes to a hotel, becomes friendly with him, then even tells him about what's wrong with 'your community', telling the owner whose daughters' and sons' achievements or education he has no idea about. Hotel owner has a beatific smile, nods, he has seen such saviours earlier too.
Meanwhile, his reports continue to show extreme lack of knowledge even about his 'beat'. Within 2-3 years he believes that he is voice of the region, now a 'buddhijeevi' [intellectual]. Imagine when there are dozens of such people in each media house.
Photo courtesy. Pexels

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Craft of Urdu Ghazal, Nazm: Meter, Prosody and charm of couplets vis-a-vis poetry sans meter


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

When you write 'ghazal' or even a nazm, it's not just radeef & qafia [rhyming system], but 'beher', 'wazan', the meter too you need to be aware of.

The ghazal has to be in one particular 'beher' [among many] & all couplets in this ghazal will be in accordance with this pattern. For ages, 'faaylun, faaylaat' has confused young writers.

To some, it comes naturally. You remember 'dohas'--the laghu [1] & guru [2] or even in lyrics in songs, the 'dhun'. Classical masters, bards who never studied, knew it well, it came naturally to them. Others learn it.

Initially, it appears too tough & master poets tell you basics, correct the mistakes. If one knows the system, it's good. If you don't know, try to learn. In many languages, poetry is no longer dependent on prosody. But it is also true that this art is the reason Urdu couplets and ghazals have tremendous reach, quotability and are remembered.

Don't dissuade: Knowledge of Prosody is not for patronizing, rejecting

Everyone is free to write. And, knowledge of prosody must not be used to deter and dissuade anyone. As the 'ustaad-shagird' system has weakened in recent decades, unfortunately, some senior poets, don't help, rather their command over the subject becomes a ruse to reject others.

I remember, I was sitting with veteran poet, Kausar Siddiqui, when he was asked by a young boy about 'arooz'--prosody. He instantly took out a piece of paper and started explaining the system of 'beher'. There are ways to easily make you understand when a teacher is around. How the words are broken, where you can take liberty, how much is allowed, etc.

There are arguments in favour and against this system. Debate has been going on for decades. 
But it is still believed that if you want to write literary ghazal or even a nazm, (except Nasri Nazm), there has to be meter. But apart from that, there is another aspect.

For example, a youngster has a superb potential, he has imagination. He writes a ghazal or nazm, the master poet says, 'it is kharij az bahar' or simply junk, this is patronizing. Rather than telling, correcting and asking him to keep writing and learning, he tries to impress him with his knowledge of a 'lesser known art'. 
The youngster gets disheartened, reads lot of books, but is still not able to learn, even the names of the 'behers' are so tough, he gets disheartened. In case, he tries to read Dr Naresh, understands a bit, then may watch Bhatnagar Shadab sb's videos, but there is a greater chance that he may get overwhelmed.
However, if he decides that there is no need to learn this craft and he starts writing in Hindi, presenting the same compositions in devnagari, he is hailed as a poet. In Hindi poetry, there is no such issue. The 'chhand' was was shunned long ago.

Uniqueness of Urdu poetry: A tradition of centuries and focus on art, language

It's not that 'arooz' is something that should scare us. It's an asset. When it comes to Urdu poetry, it is the uniqueness. And, Urdu has an extremely tough system about judging poetry because of a long history, tradition, three hundred years of master poets who took inspiration from Bedil and Hafez etc.
Anyone who knows 'arooz' naturally feels that the youngster who doesn't know it, is just not 'mauzoo.n' for poetry, and that it's junk. This is also an extreme view. I remember Ustad-i-Shahar Ishrat Qadri sahab in Bhopal, would instantly tell youngsters--go write prose.
'Aap ke bas ka nahi, aap rahne dijiye', he would say. He felt there were too many poets and there was need to focus more on prose. Then, you see those who know arooz, try to patronize, else dissuade others while on other hand give 'crash course' to son or preferred 'shagird', telling them the ways how to ensure that their ghazals follow rules, but reject others. 

You must not patronize, decide or control what others write

Most basic thing in life is that, one must try to learn and if someone asks you something, share your knowledge, help them out.  Lekin aap izhaar par 'qaid' bhi nahi laga sakte. If someone writes, he-she is satisfied, adhering to meter or not, it's fine.

They seek your help, you should give them the necessary tips. Every ghazal or nazm may not be literary as per your standards. But everyone has the freedom to express themselves. You can't hold others at gunpoint--write in meter or I'll not consider you a poet unless you prove yourself in this format.
If someone is writing, it's their choice. 'Paband shayri' ya 'azad', whatever they do, it's their choice. Don't give gyan, unless asked. And if asked, don't discourage but make person realise what he can do, best. Not 'Gyan ka Ghamand' or becoming a 'pir tasma-pa' unknowingly.
Similarly, if someone ready to provide you tips, you must be thankful and treat them respectfully. Lot of Hindi knowing youth now learning arooz, practice daily on FB. This is a topic that needs our attention, discussion and it may go on a bit longer.
Post-Script: 
Not just ghazal, either it's Azad Nazm or Nazm-i-Muarra, all genres in Urdu poetry have 'beher'. The sole exception is 'Nasri Nazm' which many accomplished Urdu poets still feel is 'prose'--that is scattering sentences [prose] to turn it into a 'Nazm'. Many purists even believed that Nasri Nazm of only those people are worth consideration who can write ghazals, nazm in meter. However, there is a change in opinion now. 

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Vilification of Muslims as a political strategy: Majoritarian tendencies and obsession with minority in Indian society



Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

A cab driver who was not earning well, even before Coronavirus, still felt that 'all Muslims were poor'.

It was well entrenched in his mind that he may not be rich but 'all Muslims are poorer' than him. Enough to give him satisfaction!

Truth is all communities have rich, poor. As far as social backwardness is concerned, on most parameters, Muslims have done far better, despite lack of adequate government support.

Meanwhile, another guy finding difficult to pay his rent, casually said that 'ye log bahut bol rahe hain' [they are speaking too much], because Muslim youth were holding a protest, then.

He said he was sick 'with them'. He wanted them to be shown 'their place'. The dominance, majoritarianism gives him happiness.

That's what he expects from his leaders, party or elected representatives too, obviously, not infrastructure or something else. More than own issues or aspirations, he gets happiness is something else. Third person was angry with a Muslim leader who speaks fearlessly.

He doesn't want a Muslim to be so vocal. He wants to even decide this that how much they (minority) should be allowed--speech, rights. TV channels have drilled in their minds this that all Muslims are poor, backward.

They've little idea about Muslim society. If they come across an educated Muslim, they tell themselves, 'oh, this is an exception'. There are poor among Muslims but certainly there are lot of positive aspects. Muslims certainly had a drawback--didn't get due favour in government jobs.

But education, intelligence or mastery in job-art-work doesn't need govt job validation. There are reasons Muslim economy still works, thought it is not proper to reveal all. Strangely those who never had decent friends, never ventured into Muslim localities or seen Muslim households--rich or poor.

No interaction, yet, feel Muslims backward, still competing with them. Drown yourself in hatred, delude yourself, your choice. It is this systematic propaganda, the debates on Halala & Talaq, ignoring all the social evils among Hindus, that led to this strong belief among majority community.

A reason that why many 'self-styled' intellectuals didn't like the sight of Muslim women taking charge of protests or Muslim girls speaking confidently, conversing in English. This is because there are forces that have invested in it, this project, they want the entire nation to believe something else.

This is a very complex society.  On one hand, they want everyone to believe that Muslims are the most backward community, they also want to 'compete' with them, yet have strange fears about Muslims, still want to outdo, dominate.

The political project: How it helps get rid of incumbency, how it continues to work

All the passion, fire, anger among youth in this society, is not for better facilities, a better future, basic amenities or policies that help them. But all this is turned towards a group that has been turned into a common enemy. It helps this political project.

Even if a person is suffering, he is delighted that the 'other, is suffering even more. That's what he gets to hear on TV, the same news he gets on WhatsApp. That's why so much emphasis on propaganda, even on celebrities who tweet rubbish.

As everything comes to the level of Hindu Vs Muslim, as political class, mass media and society keep pitting communities against each other, nothing else is needed. All frustrations, all anxieties, anger, everything, it goes to just one thing.

They suffer, but are content that 'country' is safe. The feeling that finally those parties that appeased minority, are out. The satisfaction that even if there is bad governance & we may remain or not but the sole country where we are a majority, will remain (Our culture, supreme, dominant again).

All the passion goes into divisive aspects, so there is no anger over poor governance or anti-incumbency factor. When everyday, you just heard primetime hour dedicated to debates over Azan, Namaz, Madarsa, Infiltration, Rohingya, Triple Talaq, Temple, how can you not feel strongly about it!

You have to understand the depth of emotion. 'Those' who were trying all means, overpopulating, encroaching, infiltrating, shown their place. The idea that, 'We may not live long but at least, our faith reigns supreme now, no more pseudo secularism'. 'Main rahoon na rahoon, ye desh rahna chahiye...'

Sometimes people feel that 'economy' will force people to have a rethink, but the reality is that the communal temperature has been too high for years and entire generations have grown up, hearing just one thing--day and night. That's the political project and it works.

READ: Lack of jobs don't anger youth, electoral success of Hindutva politics in India

Monday, July 13, 2020

Why fewer government jobs, lack of recruitment doesn't anger youth in India: Electoral success of Hindutva politics in India



Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

If thousands of job openings in a department are closed for ever, shouldn't youths express concern and oppose the move?

The general belief is that they should protest and get angry. But there is no such anger visible on the ground. It is this reason that Ravish Kumar wrote an article that sarcastically says that there is joy among youngsters.

This led to debate on social media. However, one must try to understand why there is no feeling of loss if  vacancies are not filled and job opportunities decrease. It is a complex process but one must understand Indian society.

Firstly, majority of Indian voters have repeatedly and decisively voted the BJP. The BJP's plank was Hindutva i.e. Ram Temple, Article 370 removal, 'infiltration', cow protection and so on. The party has been honest and has done it's best on this front.

It not only got Article 370 abrogated, it also remained serious towards its commitment made to the electorate. Ram Temple will also be constructed in Ayodhya soon, as Supreme Court verdict has paved the way.

Muslims faced lynchings and hence the message went to the ground that they are at the receiving end. The dominance of Hindutva in Indian politics has given a sense of power to a section of Hindu majority that felt it was 'cornered' and Muslims were 'appeased' during previous regimes.

The 2014 victory was not a fluke. 2019 results clearly show that BJP under Narendra Modi enjoys immense popularity among majority. The party delivered on those counts. More thrill in the feeling that finally you rule in your own country, sense of being powerful.

From Persecution complex to Hindutva pride

The strength that comes when they wear Saffron scarf and feel Muslims reined in. Can anything beat it! As far as government jobs, privatization and end of vacancies, it must be seen in the context of Indian society.

Those who have heard stories of 'persecution' for years and felt that they were 'victimised', say that they never felt this freedom and happiness while celebrating festivals. 'Was such Kanwar Yatra possible during the days of earlier governments? (even though earlier too such yatras were taken out).

That's how a upper middle class man reacts when there is a sea of youth with Saffron bands on the street, DJ, loud music, bhajans et al. For him, this is finally the country where he can live like a proud Hindu. Now, ask him, that when he was persecuted or how, there will be a long conversation.

He has made up his mind, he is cent percent sure that in the past Hindus were not safe. The Kashmiri Pandits were forced to leave the Valley. But now, of course, this can't happen. [So what if BJP was in the power at the Centre along with Janata Dal, when the KPs left Jammu and Kashmir.]

Jobs, Economy, Society

Now coming back to economy and jobs. Do we need to talk about it after demonetization and the failure to create 'crores of jobs'. The point is how much you have been able to convince and how much the voter is convinced--either due to propaganda or politics.

BJP has successfully used religious and Hindu victimisation card in India. Once people feel that they are more secure and have self-respect, than during the previous regimes, all other facts are meaningless. Over the years, the number of government jobs has come down, drastically.

There's high competition, most youngsters know its tough to chase the dream, one guy gets it with hard work and luck in a mohalla but 95% know they don't stand a chance, its not on their radar either. They know they ain't getting, rather anger towards those who get it..

This figure of a few thousand govt jobs ending, actually affects very few. 'Hamein kaun si sarkari naukri mil rahi thi' [We weren't getting the job anyway], the 'good riddance' factor that, 'doosre bhi aish nahi karenge' (others won't get either).

Remember, envy and jealousy are important factors. In a country where people can't afford higher education or high cost of medication, but still don't speak up for improvement in basic facilities in primary health centres and government hospitals, or even unable to raise voice for infrastructure at schools or reconstruction of a road, it is too much to expect.

READ: How identity interest overrides, make us vote for those who risk our future

This society is more complex than it is generally believed. The idea of taking position for 'overall public good' or what is good for society, either doesn't appeal to people in the same way it does in other countries.

Things are more seen through the prism of local factors--caste, local leader, party, with whom people align themselves for 'certain benefits' or due to 'loyalty factor. Politicians too get votes not for the hope that they would bring quality services or improve infrastructure but due to altogether different reasons.

READ: Why people elect rogue politicians, musclemen and goons in India

Friday, July 10, 2020

Sharib Kausar Kakorvi: Urdu poet who mastered calligraphy, composed chronograms and also wrote ghazals in Persian




Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

The ever-smiling poet Sharib Kausar Kakorvi's life was an inspiration for many of us.

A self-made person, he didn't let physical disability stop him in his passion--acquiring knowledge.

One can't forget the twinkle in his eyes when he would talk about writing a second 'qaseeda-e-lamia' or a 'hamd', composing a chronogram or ghazals in Farsi. His zeal to constantly learn and improve his skills, was unique.

Despite polio that had affected his legs, I never saw him sad or depressed for even a moment, though it affected his school education. But he learnt from books, mastered languages, taught innumerable children. Also, he achieved financial independence.

If there was no one to teach him a particular subject, he would delve deep in books or find a way to learn it. He learnt 'arooz' [prosody] from Iftikhar Ahmad Alavi, who lived in Delhi, and was a disciple of late Sahar Ashqabadi.

The hunger for learning, child like enthusiasm, the passion, it was inspiring for all of us. ٰٰٰI remember when he used to do composing work for publishers, doing 'kitaabat' i.e. writing with 'klik' pen on those yellow pages before advent of computer apart from teaching.

Alongside, he would teach kids--correct their Sheen, Qaaf, as well as looking at their handwriting. In later years, he would always have a certain aim. For a period, he would focus on Arabic, then he would feel that he needs to improve his English.

In recent years, he would ride his tricycle and often attended 'mushairas' too. In the town he was loved by all and sundry. When he would go out, people would gather, stop and won't let him go unless he recited a few verses or ghazals.

He has left several collections of poetry in Urdu. His recent collection of ghazals in Persian is yet to be published. It was remarkable that in recent years, he composed ghazals in Farsi, when very few poets in India are penning poetry in Persian.  
As far as chronogram is concerned, it is the art of composing couplets in such a way that it denotes a particular date--the addition of Urdu letters as per the 'Abjad' system, brings out the date or year of the event.

Poet Dr Makhmoor Kakorvi has paid this unique poetic tribute. On the right, the Qita-e-Tarikh* is mentioned.

All these things apart, the single biggest thing one could learn from Sharib Kausar's life was that if a person doesn't have a dedicated teacher or resources, has several constraints, but can still go against all odds and carve a niche for himself, if he has such a strong desire and determination to do so. 

Monday, June 29, 2020

Urdu Podcast in India: Urdu Literature Radio brings excerpts from eminent Urdu authors in audio form to break script barrier, take text to more people


Podcast is fast emerging as a medium to communicate and connect with the audience.

The aim behind 'Urdu Literature Radio' is to present excerpts from major works of Urdu authors, poets, and litterateurs.

Firstly, the aim is that reading a few paragraphs from, may draw the attention of the reader and prompt him to read the book.

For example, if 5 pages are read out from a 500 page novel, it can be an introduction to the reader.

Once interest is generated, people make an effort to read the book, buy it. After the first episode itself, I got queries from people as to where they can get the book.

Hence, I like this idea. Besides, there is a need to focus on Urdu pronunciation. The podcasts can play an important role in this regard. Those who are not reading enough and have lost touch with the script, can again be brought back towards the 'rasm-ul-khat' [script]. Also, there is another angle.

People who speak Urdu but never learnt to read the script. For them, it can break this barrier. It is an amateur work. So initial episodes will have glitches. Later on, not just literature but I plan to read from books that focus on a particular era or contain information.

For example, if I read one page from a 500 page novel, it is just 0.2% of the book, and it rouses interest of a listener and he or she is drawn towards buying reading the book, it would be a service for language and literature.

The initial episodes are about Lucknow, the culture of Awadh, the battle against East India Companya and its aftermath, reading from Qurratul Ain Hyder's magnum opus, Aag Ka Darya. Hope, you will enjoy Urdu Literature Radio. If you like Urdu Literature Radio, do share the link with friends.and relatives who might be interested. 

INITIAL EPISODES OF URDU LITERATURE RADIO

1. Communalism, post-partition era in UP from Salahuddin Parvez' novel Identity Card. Listen
2. Dilemma of a Urdu loving Hindu man in Musharraf Alam Zauqi's novel Bayaan. Listen
3. POETRY. Hasan Abidi's verse on Baghdad, the city of Alif Laila and Marjeena. Listen
4. Charm of Lucknow, battle at British from Qurratul Ain Hyder's Aag Ka Darya. Listen
5. The Lanes of Lucknow, the transformation witnessed as Kolkata man arrives in Lucknow. Listen
6. POETRY. In memory of lynching victim Md Akhlaq who was killed in Dadri. Listen
7. Sirajuddaulah and East India Company's role from Qurratul Ain Hyder's novel. Listen
8. Boy carried Qazi's chilam, ran to keep it burning, became poet from MA Zauqi's novel. Listen

Check it here: URDU LITERATURE RADIO

[The podcast is now available at SpotifyGoogle PodcastsBreaker, Overcast, Radio Public, Pocket Casts and several other platforms] 
اردو لٹریچر ریڈیا کا مقصد یہ ہے کہ سیکڑوں صفحات پر محیط ناول کے ایک دو پیراگراف پڑھ کر، لوگوں میں تجسس پیدا کرنا اور انکو کتاب کی طرف راغب کرنا، جسسے وہ کتاب خریدیں اور پڑھیں۔

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Police Reforms in India: Reasons that neither police atrocities go down, nor there is real intent to reform policing in India



Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

The aim behind 'police reforms' is to have a people-friendly force that is held accountable. A force that is more fair, less corrupt and treats people equally.

Unfortunately, all talk about 'police reforms' is basically elitist and has little connection with the ground realities. Giving you a recent example:

A man gets beaten up by policemen but when he approaches the local police station, his FIR is not registered. He was injured, there is the medical report, yet, no action is taken, even after he knocks all doors and goes to SP, IG and even DGP.

Worse, the cops refuse to give CCTV cameras recordings, then say all got deleted. So evidence was destroyed. With such levels of dishonesty? Even more, it is claimed that the person was at fault (after destroying evidence) and it is claimed that he was drunk and mistreated policemen, so as to defame the person and instead justify the 'action'.

This is when the medical report didn't find any trace of alcohol. Imagine, that's the reality. Dreamy-eyed youngsters who read about law, constitution & crack competitive exam to become officer, strangely, instantly start acting like the traditional Khaki-wala soon after join the force

Hide info, make false claims, save offender who is from their own ranks and go to any extent to discredit the complainant. This is just one of the examples. In this case, complainant is a lawyer, who is able to fight and still he faces a 'system' that is not in favour of the victim.

There is possibility of reform when there is morality, sense of justice & aware society. Not when officers parrot same line from constable to the top like a gang. You can't get a basic FIR registered in such a case until you reach courts & then department turns against you.

Just look at officers who led the movement for reforms. Many of them want more freedom [powers], not even the basic executive control [of IAS officers, politicians'. Right now, some cops get transferred or face inquiries, suspensions and dismissals.

But those in favour of reform, don't even want it in the hands of non-IPS officer or politician. The 'reform' that is needed is not on their radar. It is just more power and more autocracy. It is not about transparency or being more humane.

Media won't take it up or give due attention, because it generally suits media houses locally to establish good relations with 'officials' & 'force', rather than criticise-question them. Everything (entity) & everyone who has 'some power' is a 'holy cow' now. Stand with strong, bully is the mantra now.

As we all know, action is taken after 'public outrage'. When media won't take up these cases or will not take stand, rather, present a case of atrocity in a manner that victim appears aggressor, it is smart manipulation of public opinion. So when there is no public anger or pressure from top. No action.

This 'model' is well in place. Those who have power, have been able to create a successful arrangement. Interests of these people are foremost, rest of the society can live like 'ulloos', are victims, rights gone but don't realise, even cheer when someone like them suffers.

Vernacular media even makes humans wary of the word 'human rights'. Can we even think of a real reform when there is no intent to set right things that have gone wrong. We need real reforms. First, acceptance that there are issues, structural problems and then correctional measures.

For this, we need to understand that the policemen are to serve the citizens, ensure law-and-order and uphold the law. The policemen need a different training, they need to have more empathy, must be held accountable for their actions and there should be diversity--representation of people from all sections and communities in the force.

Monday, June 22, 2020

93-year old Hindu woman lived with Muslim family for 40 years, finally gets reunited with kin: Communal Harmony Project-54



An elderly woman who was found abandoned decades ago, was kept like a family member in a Muslim household.

The woman Panchu Bai, who hailed from another state and couldn't tell much about her kin, became a part of Noor Khan's family in Damoh in Madhya Pradesh.

The woman who hailed from Amravati in Maharashtra, 400 kms away, went missing in 1979. Noor Khan had rescued her from a bee attack in Madhya Pradesh in the year 1980. He gave her medicine and again found her on road side a few days later and then decided to take her home.

As she was unable to tell anything about herself and spoke a different language (Marathi), they couldn't find much about here family and ancestral place. She stayed with Khan's kin and became a part of the family.

Noor Khan had asked his children to take care of  'aunt'. Everyone was attached to her and respected her. Khan died in 2007. Recently, during lockdown period, she uttered a few words like 'Khanjama Nagar', a locality or place that was not found on internet.

Noor's son Israr Khan said that they finally found that Khanjama was a village in Amravati and sent her photos on WhatsApp. The message got circulated and finally she was identified. But when her kin came to meet her in MP, it was an emotional moment.

Not just Khan's family, she was an 'aunt' to everyone in the locality as kids grew watching her and counting her as an elder. Hundreds came out to bid her farewell. Her grandson Prithvi Shingne, who lives in Nagpur, says that he wasn't even born when she went missing. "She was taken to Nagpur for treatment when she went missing. Now we have found her 40 years later".

LINK, LINK, LINK

[Harmony exists all around us but is often ignored. Instead, stories of hate, discord and communalism get spread easily.

There are a million examples in our daily lives across India but they don't get promoted, hence, news of hate and discord gets heard more. Let's change it, now. This is a small attempt to change it through Communal Harmony Project. For reading similar reports on this blog, Click the link HERE and also find out more about Communal Harmony Project]

Saturday, June 20, 2020

From Hinduism to Hindutva: How fundamentalism changed religion and society in India


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

In early 90s, right-wing leaders were addressing a public rally near my house. I was passing by and stopped.

There were fiery speeches, speakers were using terms like 'Babar ki aulaad' [Babar's descendants] for Muslims.

I met a 'friend' who was clapping, he saw and gave me smile but there was no awkwardness or shame in him.

I wondered how he is not uncomfortable. This was a 'friend'. I couldn't dare to imagine myself in a similar situation where my friend's religion is targeted or abused and I'm even listening, let alone clapping or feeling happy.

This was not the first such instance. It happened later too, a boy whom I'd taught when he was in sixth and I was many years senior. He respected me a lot. I'd never charged him a penny for the tuition but then the transformation was really surprising.

For me, it was not the normal human reaction. It bothered me for years. I tried hard to figure out what gets into these people. In my college life too, it happened. Remember, it was all much before Gujarat riots or the Islamophobia across the world.

This is all pre-2000. It was painful. It still happens and now people are even more audacious, don't at all care about basic manners or civility. Those who hate an entire religion or community, generalize, make sweeping remarks. It is too irrational but it is around us.

Trolls have made it worse. But over a period, we develop our own mechanism to deal with it. I've learnt to sever any such relation. Someone who can't take a stand, who knows your for years but still doesn't stand with you, rather, use racist terms, can't be a friend.

I understood more in years to come, the entire process--how it happens, not just this reaction, but the entire psychology. Apart from the cocktail that consists of victimhood, the competition and the grudges, there is a a lot more.

So much is drilled in them about invaders, kings and wrongs committed for centuries, that it changes the personality. Every generation grows up with own experiences. It happened in the 1980s and 1990s. It happened in 2010s and 2020.

Photo. Arti Agarwal

Friday, June 19, 2020

Dealing with 'dissent' in democracies: 'Discredit, defame, destroy' is the strategy but a bad one



Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

In an ideal or even a functional democracy, there must be freedom to speak up, question and criticise government's policies.
In strong democracies there are traditions--people are allowed to speak their mind, oppose official and government line and agitate on the failures. 
Earlier, it was mostly in monarchies that dissent was seen as 'rebellion' or even linked to treason. 
However, now a days, even in several democracies, dissenters and opposition are seen with suspicion, viewed as 'enemy' and even termed 'anti-national'.
This is not a good sign for any strong nation. Of course, 'system' is powerful and can deal with a dissenter in many ways. But it's better to let him speak because diverse opinions make a country stronger. 
There must be right to agitate, right to peacefully protest, right to express our disagreement with the government. It also acts as a safety valve. If there is a section that is angry, it feels relieved once it is able to express itself, well.
But often it happens that detractors are seen as adversaries. So, they are discredited, defamed and steadily 'destroyed'. There are dirty tricks that are used, lapdogs on TV channels will target them and make the person(s) appear evil. 
In case of groups, new terms can be invented to make them sound more sinister. Defaming is not tough. Once, the lapdogs get signal, they go after the person. Cut a video, if not possible then insert audio in background or claim anything. 
If slogan was 'Jine (life) ki Azadi', it can be given a spin and falsely claimed that they were seeking 'Jinnah ki Azadi'. Media invents the new 'anti-national', manipulates the public opinion, ignoring all other important issues affecting us.
Somebody makes a provocative statement or not, it seems 'enemies' have to be invented constantly because youths, students continue to be hounded. If there is no statement, some media persons event 'invent' it to defame or for 'eyeballs'.
Then, they can be demonized and booked under harsh laws so that they don't get bail for months. On the other hand, those who threaten, warn of repeating 'Godhra like massacres', threaten just before riots in Delhi or give hate speeches, are never booked for sedition, let alone facing interrogations or arrests.
This is happening for too long now. The script remains same and continues to play in front of us for years now. But it doesn't help anyone in real sense. it speaks volumes about a powerful government if they can't handle, deal with dissent.
Overall, temperature remains high, there is too much anger in the society and it doesn't help the country in the long run. If only the leaders realised that voices are necessary, all the voices, especially, the dissenting voices for a healthy democracy!
Photo courtesy: Jason