Friday, November 13, 2020

How to form political connections, gain clout and establish yourself in society: Learn the most basic model from Mr Agrawal


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi
Agrawal Sb is just an 'active' citizen. Always having important numbers & ready to make call to police station, a municipal official or minister's bungalow.
He presents himself as a man who ensures votes from entire housing society, in a candidate's favour, hence, gets attention. 
In fact, 1000-1500 votes that he claims from his entire locality, are not less, as this is more than the victory margin in closely fought polls.
He arranges visits of politicians to area & before MLA or leader's arrival, ensures that some people are ready--from guard to his trusted ones with garlands. 
Leader feels good, ensures that his representative, bungalow staff always respond to this man promptly. Interestingly. He (on behalf of others) makes similar promise to other important candidate too. Anyone wins, no issue.  In colony, he is not liked, people call him 'sharp' and 'go-getter' but when faced with an issue, seek his help. 
Though his community has less strength among the electorate, he is able to present self as important to all. It is about being active, smart & able to 'claim' and 'sell' others as your 'people'. Others too don't have an objection.
It is not even too much hard work, just systematically doing certain things over a period of time. And, it is mostly such people who are able to create 'clout', at a city level without doing great. Just marvel at those who 'manage' to do all this, find a way to become 'some sort of operators' in the city, region. 
You may feel it's petty but in times of need, it is important. Anything demands sustained work, cultivating people, yrs. It is not that politician doesn't know that any X, Y or Z can't get you votes. Who can? 
But, it's about claiming, arranging, playing the role of the 'in-between'. The netas also enjoy a show when in a locality they get genuine support from locals without party organisation or workers' involvement. There are many other models but this one is the most basic.

PHOTO: Aleksejs Bargmanis, Pexels

Friday, October 30, 2020

Open letter to Dainik Bhaskar: Stop publishing biased, inflammatory reports that divide society

It's shocking how journalism takes a backseat and propaganda, falsehoods and terms that are inflammatory, objectionable and divisive appear in news items of the paper.

It was a gory crime, a youth kills a girl (published on October 28, 2020) but the news was presented in Dainik Bhaskar as a case of Love Jihad. 

There was no 'alleged' as prefix or even the term in inverted commas though the reality is that there is no Love Jihad either in Indian Penal Code & Home Ministry has clearly said that this term has no legal basis.

Every day there are innumerable killings across the country but if in one case, if it is an inter-religious crime, the newspaper uses this term to strengthen this propaganda though Love Jihad was a term used by ultra right-wing groups and it is a figment of their imagination. 

However, they succeeded in repeating this charge and the term was brought in usage. But when a newspaper on its own starts using it, it not only makes a mockery of journalistic standards, but also divides society and tries to give the impression as if it is mouthpiece of a ultra-right wing group that feels there is a conspiracy and one community is targeting girls belonging to other community.

A crime is a crime and the accused must face action in accordance with law, that's all. There are no ifs and buts, stern action must be taken. But how the paper on its own decides to use this term, a usage which cleverly pushes forward a shameful narrative that demonizes one community, it is a dangerous thing. A newspaper is for public information, not to strengthen biases and create communalism or mistrust in society.

When you are fully aware that Home Ministry has said that there are no Love Jihad cases, the term has no legal basis and that no such cases have been reported by central agencies. This has been stated in the Parliament. So who uses this term? Did police tell the reporter that this was a case of Love Jihad? No. How, your editorial team on its own used this term?

That's not the first occasion. You need to be sensitive and practice journalism. Does your news organisation even have a basic diversity, representing the region's population or your editorial team doesn't have representation of all communities and sections. As, the reporting quite often shows deep biases and failure to adhere to high standards of fair journalism.

On the same day, another news from Indore came--a man killed his newly wed wife by strangulating her with dog leash (chain) and later stabbing her repeatedly. In this case it was not Hindu-Muslim issue, so it didn't get attention. Unfortunately, of thousands of cases if one case has an inter-religious angle, it is played up and people fall for the propaganda when newspapers too take such stand rather than reporting crimes as crimes.

Petition urging the newspaper to stop publishing biased reports and adhere to journalistic standards and media ethics

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Indian politics: From blaming 'foreign hand' for troubles to 'inventing' enemies to for polarization, inflaming passions

Till 1980s, national politics was about blaming 'external hand' for any disaster, failure and to divert attention.

It was so common that at the slightest opportunity, leaders would either blame an outside agency for the troubles or it was believed that certain leaders were working at the instance of the 'foreign forces'. 

But now it's a totally different scenario in India. Our own people are branded, enemies are 'invented' within the country in order to inflame passions and for polarization.

Entire groups-communities are defamed, targeted and hate fuelled through IT cells, media & propaganda. 

The strategy now is to term a group 'anti-national' & hound it through TV and social media. It becomes a 'tamasha' and weeks, even months pass as channels and newspapers enter the fray, forcing people to discuss, while forgetting all other pressing issues. 

Effort is made to pit own people against each other, at least that way focus is away from failure on development, other issues. There is always more passion when there is hate & rivalry among groups. TV is playing a major role in this sinister campaign. 

New terms are coined, dissenters can be branded, one is Urban N, other is Tukde Tukde Gang or Love Jihad, et al. And above all this Hindu-Muslim issue. Anything from what one eats, what one sells or cooks, from Vande Matram to Cow, Madarsa, Jinnah, Burqa, Marriages, name a word, even one of them can be used to spread hate through 9 pm debates, FB pages that are for this reason & it just never stops.

It's not that people don't know. You have to live together, hundreds of millions of each community, no one is going anywhere. You know, this hate is manufactured, it serves a purpose but still people continue to fall for this. Distrust and hate keeps going up, people do not even get tired! 

Now it has hit the level of creating enemies from within, own people termed outsiders, students and activists branded, sometime it is religion, then regional from M'shtra Vs Bihar or anything that just pits one group against other, keeps minds occupied, grab eyeballs, inflames passion.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

America yet to elect first women president in 230 years, Asian countries chose female heads of states long back

It has taken 230 years. America has seen 45 presidents in history.

But not a single woman head of state, till now.

That's strange, isn't it?

In a few weeks, results would be known and we will know if United States of America (USA) is going to have a new President. The contest between two men, once again.
And, no woman in sight, as yet. In the last elections, there was a chance.
In fact, Hillary Clinton was expected to get elected, but ultimately Donald Trump became the president.

Compared to the 'progressive' USA, countries in other parts of the world, Asia, Africa, Europe and Oceania have elected many women head of states including Presidents or Prime Ministers.

Today, Europe has Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany and there was Theresa May in Britain, till sometime ago. However, in Asian countries--Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim nations, there is a long history of popular women leaders who led their countries.

Srimavo Bhandarayaka was the former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka [Ceylone]. Indira Gandhi was, of course, Prime Minister of India, for so long. Benazir Bhutto, the former PM of Pakistan, was a charismatic leader. Tansu Ciller was Prime Minister of Turkey.

Bangladesh has the best record of electing female leaders. The contest has been between Sheikh Hasina Wajid and Begum Khaleda Zia. Both of them have been PMs in the country. Among the initial women leaders was Golda Meir, the former PM of Israel.
One of the most well-known women politicians to lead a country was Margaret Thatcher in UK. There have been many more names. It is surprising that America hasn't had woman president before or even a serious contender. This is surprising because countries where women empowerment is believed to be far less and where literacy among females is quite less, have had female leaders. Sylvie Kinigi was acting president in Burundi (Africa) and later women leaders were elected in other parts of Africa too.

Wednesday, October 21, 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

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Muslim woman donates own land for construction of temple in Uttar Pradesh: Communal Harmony Project-43

It is another heart-warming story that tells about how communal harmony exists on the ground and people go extra-mile to help other communities.

The Muslim woman decided to donate own land for construction of temple.

Not just her husband but entire family including the son, supported her decision.

This incident has occurred in Uttar Pradesh--the same state from where we get so much bad news--crime and lynching incidents.

This is all the more important as UP is the same state where the dispute at Ayodhya continues for ages and hundreds have died in communal clashes across the country, over the temple-mosque dispute.

According to reports, Akbari, who lives in Siwalkhas, nearly 20 kms away from Meerut, was approached by local residents who wanted a donation for construction of temple.

Rather than donating a few hundred rupees, she instantly committed that she would give her own land--more than 1,350 sq ft [150 sq yards]. This is indeed exemplary and rare. Her husband was not at home then. When he returned, he supported his wife's stand.

Aas Mohammad is a retired teacher. His wife Akbari says that when the delegation of local Hindus arrived at her house, she felt that she had donated for construction and repair of mosques earlier, so she offered the land to temple.

Siwalkhas is located on Meerut-Baghpat highway. It has nearly 80% Muslim population. People like Master Ram Gopal, Ravinder Sharma and local Hindus who were part of the delegation were overwhelmed.

Now, the agreement has been finalised on paper. It has been a talk of the town and also in neighbouring cities, that how a Muslim woman took the decision in the times when land prices have skyrocketed.


[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]

#Communalharmony #Communalharmonyproject #India

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Remember freedom fighters' sacrifice, their struggle for independence, stop hate and save the nation: Communal Harmony Project-47

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Can we look at them from a religious prism?

Who can dare do that? These are our heroes, the men who gave away their lives for the cause of India's independence.

Their idealism, their hope, their immense courage resulted in awakening of masses in the country.

They represent our freedom movement, the shared heritage, the combined struggle, they symbolise our unity. Just don't fritter away this great legacy.

We must corner, shame those who spread hate and divide people among religions. Be proud of our common heritage, spread love and brotherhood, harmony, save the country.

Today, as we see hate, communalism and religious divide, people spreading false messages and targeting each other, it is all the more a reason to remember their sacrifices. For the freedom fighters, their identity as an Indian was more important.

They gave their precious lives for the sake of freedom. We need to confront hate, take the hate-mongers head on and fight. We need to live up to the ideals of the freedom fighters whose struggle gave us independence.

Take a pledge, shame those around you who divide people on communal lines. Speak forcefully about unity, defend the 'other', take stand for everybody. This will be the biggest service to the nation and also to those who died just because we could live in freedom.

We need social movement, must shame those who create divide or talk ill of others. It is a fact that hate speech & attacking others on religious lines hurts people, weakens the country. Shun people who do it, make it 'un-cool' again. Stop hate. Save India.

[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]

#Communalharmony #Communalharmonyproject #India

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Unethical, inflammatory reporting in Indian Media: How vernacular Hindi newspaper 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?

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.

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.
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.