Friday, September 17, 2021

Book on life of revolutionary freedom fighter Sher Ali who had assassinated Viceroy Lord Mayo

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Revolutionary freedom fighter Sher Ali, who was hanged by the British in Andaman and Nicobar islands, was among the early revolutionaries on whose path Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad,  Madanlal Dhingra and many others, walked, later. 
Though Sher Ali's sacrifice is well-known, but the need was felt for a long time to have a proper book on his life. Dr Md Shahid Siddiqui Alig has written the book on the revolutionary who was executed in Andaman and Nicobar. 
Sher Ali was hanged as he had attacked and assassinated Lord Mayo. No other such high-ranking British official faced such an attack on Indian soil. Sher Ali's life and patriotism, how he turned into an anti-imperialist, in the company of other freedom fighters, is a long story.
Sher Ali Afridi was born in Tirah valley. He had assassinated Lord Mayo when he went to visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 1972. He was immediately overpowered. Subsequently, he was arrested, incarcerated, faced trial and was executed. 
The author delves deep into history though Colonial era documents, and brings to fore the entire turn of events. The reader also gets to know about Andaman islands, the harassment and extreme torture meted out to freedom fighters who were kept in the prison.

Author brings to us British officials' comments about Sher Ali, as well. WW Hunter wrote that Sher Ali was a 'hillman of immense personal strength and when heavily fettered in the condemned cell overturned lamp with his chained ankle, bore down English sentry by brute strength of his body & wrenched away his bayonet with the manacled hands'.

We know well about great revolutionary leaders--Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Chandrashekhar Azad who planned the assassination of Saunders. Also, about Madanlal Dhingra, who in England assassinated William Hutt, but a dedicated book was needed on Sher Ali's life. 

In foreword, M Ahmad Mujtaba mentions that earlier an event was held every year in Hopeland on March 11, in memory of the pioneering revolutionary of Indian's independence struggle. He mentions that not even a street in Andaman and Nicobar is named after Sher Ali. 

Dr Shahid Siddiqui went through historical texts, documents, visited multiple libraries, accessed archives' records and also visited Andaman and Nicobar, before he began penning this book. It's an important book and must be in your collection, if you are interested in history and Indian freedom struggle.

You can get the book through a local Urdu publisher in your city. It has been published by All India Urdu Taleem Ghar. The cost is Rs 150, 10 US dollars for readers abroad. In case, you want to communicate, write to publishers at this Email:

READ: Remembering Sher Ali on the anniversary of first war of independence

Monday, September 13, 2021

Time for a new, articulate Muslim leadership to appear: Lack of leaders in Lucknow is a cause of concern

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

While there is considerable interest regarding politics in the society, the lack of initiative towards entering political arena, is intriguing.

This article deals with the issue of Muslims in Uttar Pradesh. Already, the community is facing a serious issue of poor representation in political sphere. Major parties are not giving tickets to Muslim candidates, as they feel polarization will affect their chance of victory.

Every community needs a voice and its members must reach echelons of power--at all the three levels viz. civic body, state legislature and houses of parliament. Besides, there is also social, intellectual leadership that is needed, apart from electoral politics.

What is surprising is that we don't have more people emerging as leaders in our centres. Cities like Lucknow need leaders, voices. It takes sometime before a person gets recognized in the society. This is through sustained efforts, speaking up, learning how to 'emerge' as leader in a society. 

Sometimes, a person who was never even a legislator or councillor, is seen as an important person or a leader of the region, because he has a forum or speaks up on important issues. On the other hand, there are people who win and have held public offices for several terms, but are not recalled or considered 'leader'.

It's about vision, taking initiative and several other factors. Basically, how you present yourself, how you engage with your regional media. There are certain tricks of the trade too. We need leadership that talks about real issues and also gives hope to community. 

Firstly, let's talk about a leader who got elected as MLA from one of the constituencies of the city, after a long time. It's rare for a Muslim to get elected from Lucknow, because of the manner in which delimitation of constituencies took place.

The person got ticket, he won, he was highly educated, had party chief and the cadre's support, yet he  remained silent for whole tenure. Even after loss in the next polls, could have raised issues as 'ex-MLA', because person is known, established as a leader.

Surprisingly, one never heard his statements, support to people when it was needed or any intervention, let alone positive work that could have changed perceptions or helped people in his constituency. Isn't it weird? Why does a person get into politics.

At least for sake of furthering own career or strengthening your image, you should speak an act. But you remain totally inert, then how does it help you or the electorate and the community. Capital's MLA has power, can speak on state issues, raise them, present self as face of community in state. 

Gets more media exposure, has opportunity to be known across state and country. But when someone wins, and remains inactive, then this issue. Rehan Naeem was MLA in the term 2012-2017. He lost in 2017. He lost in 2017. However, he failed to make any impact. Not party's fault. 

Earlier, it was in 1985 that a Muslim legislator had won from the seat, during the Rajiv Gandhi wave. Easy to dismiss others as 'old school, 'out of touch' but if modern, highly educated and well-connected person, fails to act, then it's really depressing. 

Not visible or taking up issues. Even as ex-MLA, leaders take delegations, hold demonstrations, meet Chief ministers and Governors, call press conferences, speak for people but when you don't do these basic things, who is responsible.

You are considered a leader when you speak up, when you are visible, you speak, stand with citizens. Now imagine, in a city where Muslim MLAs don't get elected easily due to certain factors, you get elected & yet no one thinks about you when talking of leadership in your own city.

This city has such a huge educated elite among Muslims, yet, so less engagement with politics. If you don't engage with politics, avoid social or political or any kind of leadership, and then rue that some non-serious person is seen as your representative, then what's the solution?

New generation must take up leadership role, come forward. If you've no proper leader and just those 3-4 religious faces representing you from the city that is seen as heart of Indian politics as well as Indian Muslim politics, then what can be more depressing!

There is need for not just 1-2 but 10-12 faces. Alas 0. Own failure. Accept. There is no death of people with political understanding. Every second person is an expect and has 'siyasi shaoor'. But if you can't even project yourself as leader or get into mainstream politics, then something is definitely wrong, seriously.

You've a population of nearly 1 million Muslims in  district now. But you have one sellout joker who is seen as representative. Two-three more Sunni, Shia personalities. Where is politician, where is leader?Join any party but get in politics, there's space, don't let the void remain. Take it as a profession or along side your main job, but get into active role.

Contest, lose, but at least be in politics, there should have been many leaders for such a big population, visible real netas in many parties What you do best is labelling or being minor party activists, fighting for one party and running down the 'other'.

There are people who never won LS or VS elections in their lives but are seen as big leaders. In fact, people generally don't even realise that the guy has never won a election. So, you are basically, not even able to present yourself as a neta. That's the saddest part of the story. One can't leave the field wide open.

READ: Indian Muslims need to seriously take up politics, reasons for failure in the field

Thursday, August 12, 2021

INJUSTICE: Innocents arrested and jailed, hate preachers remain free due to policemen's power to apply harsh laws selectively

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

In India, world’s biggest democracy, a huge debate is going on over incarceration of people who committed no crime and were framed.

A journalist who was going to cover a crime, was booked, arrested and languishes in jail. 

A doctor who saved lives of ailing children, was jailed for a speech and was much later given a ‘clean-chit’ by court, however, he had spent months in jail by then. A comedian was arrested even before 'cracking a joke'.

These are just three names from different fields. Apart from them, numerous activists are in prisons just because they were booked under harsh laws — one of them is Unlawful Activities Prevention Act or UAPA. It’s really strange, almost unbelievable that this can happen. 

That a man who came armed with pistol in front of university students, gets bail, another who makes inflammatory and threatening speeches day after day in Western UP is never arrested, yet another man who organised maha-panchayats and issued threats to minority community, was not detained.

In so many cases, such people were not even booked. It’s because the first step is an authority taking action and police doesn’t take ‘cognisance’. Or, even there is a person who is not high up in the rank and can be termed ‘fringe’ and arrested, then he gets booked under such sections that are ‘bail-able’.

Those who led a rally where slogans against Muslims were openly raised in Delhi recently and pamphlets containing extremely offensive content were distributed, [even minors brought in that demonstration], had it easy.

Such people, even when they are booked, are charged under such provisions that they get bail, within 24 hrs. This is because no UAPA  applied. No sedition charges either. The harsh National Security Act or NSA was not invoked and the officials prepared a soft case.

So it in a way creates a system where one person without committing an offence may rot in prison while other who is involved in issuing open threats, making genocidal comments, spreading hate, can breathe easy because no one is going to book them under a harsh law.

And, this is just a part of the story. People who have given inflammatory speeches in different states and that caused mob violence or communal riots, were saved because even after a case is registered, the State has power to withdraw charges.

Who will be booked or not booked under the harsh law, is a decision made by police officials. Laws can be applied selectively by an official who knows that depending on a person’s leaning or background or other factors, he will take ‘cognizance’ of his actions and act accordingly — case under a bail-able law or harsh law.

Even the video of a speech gets cleverly edited and a false complaint made, on the basis of which a person can be booked under harsh law, and will remain in detention and he, his family will suffer for months, year or even more, before it’s known that he committed no crime.

Worse, a standup comedian was arrested on the basis of a complaint. He hadn’t even performed in the city till then. But, a senior officer who arrested him, was quoted as saying that he hadn’t performed but he may have cracked a joke later’.

The names of a doctor, a comedian and a journalist mentioned to give an idea about the situation. The difference is clear when you see treatment meted out to Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid, Shahrukh on one hand or Rambhakt Gopal, Kapil Gurjar, Suraj Pal Amu and many more on the other hand.

Imagine, the seriousness of the situation. How do you resolve it when there is such disproportionate power — the power of ‘taking cognisance’, the power to book anyone and destroy their life, while let a hate-preacher get away without even detention!

Cops can add a section or just not add it. This causes sufferings for the person and his family. It’s an example of ‘show me the man, I'll show you the rule’. The officials know well depending on regime and political climate, how to act — very soft on one group, extremely tough on other. 

So that’s injustice at the first and critical stage. It can’t change until people realise how it impacts everybody. When there is public opinion. When top courts finally take a call on this power of police and administration.

Besides, does media even inform citizens about the double standards in implementation of law and actions, taking place! No. There are such twists, just listen how the TV anchors speak, that it confuses the ordinary viewer.

What would you do when one of the largest circulated dailies or the most viewed TV channels repeat a false claim and present in a way that it gives a totally wrong impression — that something happened though it didn’t happen at all!

But, as a result locally officials get under pressure or due to this reason, take unfair action. It can’t change until there is huge awareness and also action against those officials whose actions lead to false cases, undue harassment, unjust incarceration and such extreme injustice.

The freedom to consider an incident ‘cognizable’ or ‘non-cognizable offence’ just because of political line, affiliations or community link, and then adding harsh sections is nothing but a symbol of unfair action, tyranny, prejudice and clear double standards.

Recently, a movie and TV star’s video clip went viral. He was speaking in front of right-wing leaders and rued, “The issue is that people belonging to minority, are able to speak to us, look at us in our eye, talk as equals”.

If you want to subdue or harass minority or turn them second class citizens, will you bring a harsh law like UAPA, amend it to make it more tough, and then misuse it, so that discrimination becomes legal — through a law!

Another version of this piece is available on Medium.

Sunday, August 08, 2021

How Indian Media interprets data: Journalists' conditioning that never let's them go beyond 'Muslim backwardness'


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

It’s painful to write this piece. But just read these few points to understand how even statistics are interpreted in a particular way due to ‘conditioning’ and biases.

1.How many times you see headlines that say, ‘Percentage of illiterates among Hindus 2–1/2 times times the percent among Jains’ or ‘Sikhs, Christians ahead in literacy in particular regions, X community still lag’ or ‘Buddhists performing better than Y community in this state’, and ‘Muslim women literacy rate set to beat Hindu women in rural India now’*.

This is a fact that Muslim women now have higher literacy rate in rural parts of the country that Hindu women. But have you seen anywhere this reported or big headlines that show this upward trend!

Also, the statistics now clearly indicate that overall [rural plus urban] literacy among women above five years is— Hindu women (69%) and Muslim women (68.1%). Quite close. Isn’t it. The Ministry of Statistics, NSS, PLFS, all reports, you can check and find it yourself.

2. Unfortunately, despite this data that is available in public space, it is the only Hindu-Muslim binary and ‘Muslims as backward’ headline appearing in papers despite so many other figures and different points.

Now, even if Muslims were behind — moving fast or slow, the journalists rarely mention overall figure of illiterates, as it will reveal something else — almost 250 million or nearly 25 crore Hindus are illiterates.

3. In India, every data is analysed in newspapers and reported in a way that it must not show majority community in poor light or backward. When there are figures, they are picked in a way to ‘reveal less, hide more’, and also presented in a particular manner — that’s the status quo of reporting.

Perhaps, it’s due to conditioning that just this aspect or on these lines, the story on social indicators is believed to be written and rarely people try to look deep into the reports and see the changes.

4. So extrapolation, NFHS surveys & reports like PLFS or others give us a picture. Even if we tilt towards positive side and believe that figure will reduce dramatically by next Census, still around25 crore or 250 million [illiteracy] are illiterate in India. Imagine extent of the problem.

5. If a community is small, then it’s comparatively easy to catch up. Small groups have shown way. Bigger the group, the tougher it is. As per 2011, illiteracy figures were 25.8 cr and 5.42 cr for Hindu & Muslim. 2021 are estimates.

6. If you imagine a rosy picture & say 25 crore, even this is bigger than population of 190 countries, only less than China, US and India. Still, we focus on nonsense, every day discuss those issues. Politicians, Anchors want not just illiteracy but probably want to snatch our brains too.

7. Now coming to second part of the article. I didn’t want to write it but such is conditioning of journalists that I have to write and I must remind — remember, as per statistics, Hindus still have the lowest level of educational attainment of any major religious group according to international studies. Jews are at the top but Christians and Muslims are also much ahead.

8. Globally, the average is 5.6 years of schooling, and 41% of Hindus have no formal education of any kind. On average, Hindu men have 2.7 more years of schooling than Hindu women, and just over half of Hindu women (53%) have no formal schooling, compared with 29% of Hindu men.

9. Whoever owns media can make you believe anything and such is power of ‘mainstream media’, its narrative that you blindly start believing them. If someone says something, talk on statistics and look at the complete picture. 

Ideally, educational backwardness or anything should not be linked with religion. In a huge country, there are regional differences, also state support, many factors, and any ‘issue’ should be seen as just an ‘issue’, not on communal lines.

But in India, media and channels’ job is apparently just to communalise and show entire Muslim community permanently as ‘backward’, hence, when it is linked to religion all the time, we too need to explain it with statistics.

10. As a citizen in world’s biggest democracy, we must know our real situation — it shouldn’t be that we are either too self-critic, gullible and believing that ‘we are bad, we don’t want to study, our community is really against education’ or even turn over-optimist. 

11. Opportunity and state support can make a community prosper fast and taking away support can have negative affect. We must know reality, neither turn pessimist, nor self-hating, but be aware and always make efforts to move ahead. 

12. Communities that are so big that they number hundreds of million, are so easily termed ‘backward’. This sort of crass generalization, ignoring the regional differences [the regions too are huge, states that have population over 100 million and even 200 million — ranging from Maharashtra to UP and are 175 most countries of the world] and without evidence and bringing focus on all indicators, is not just careless but dangerous.

One last point — never believe media’s narrative blindly, as the social conditioning and training of most journos in news rooms [or just because they feel it is the model or style going for generations] is to present news in a fashion by cherry picking data, so that Muslims feel they are indeed ‘poorest, backward, and behind everyone else’.

*It's true now, as per latest government survey results.

NOTE: The photo of child with skullcap is deliberately used as Indian Media has made this photo as symbol of backwardness. Though it shows how presence of maktab and madarsa ensures that even without availability of schools, Muslims do far better and get basic literacy with ease due to these institutions.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Death of Journalism: How Indian media remains soft on right-wing hate speeches and extremism, even refuses to report

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

The headline may seem harsh but it’s true. In fact, it was unimaginable till a few years ago that we would be witness to the situation where hate speeches that have the potential to disrupt the social fabric would be delivered on a regular basis and media organizations would not be willing to report.

Imagine, a politician in central India gives speech in front of public and he openly gives a call to stock arms and indulge in attack and arson, yet, no major news channel or paper mentions it, though the video is available and complaint was made to authorities in this regard.

Within a couple of days, another youth delivers a speech in a public event, around 700 kms away [in Haryana], threatening to shoot the ‘Nawab of Pataudi’. The video is available, it was shared, but there was ‘pin drop silence’ from mainstream media.

The same media that talks about ‘Nawab of Pataudi’ day in and day out, covers his family like Paparazzi. But despite users on social media, expressing outrage, not a single TV channel or paper wrote a word on this ‘hate speech’.

Sometimes out of 50–100 major publications, barely one reports that too in a way that it dilutes the speech or avoids mentioning the worst part. Oh yes, there is another incident recently. Down South, a third case of extreme hate speech took place. 

A legislator created a song ahead of a Muslim festival and the song spreads hate against the community, in fact, in the song he gives a clear message — threatens to ‘bury them alive’ (sic) and in this case too, no one has reported it — not a single newspaper or channel.

It’s indeed phenomenal. So how this 'code of silence' has come into being? The cover-up and more than this, the ‘understanding’, that no one will write about it, lest the world gets to know about the level of hate speech and radicalization in our society.

That’s the same media which casually publishes unverified content, does stories based on mere claims, churns out reports after reports on the basis of hearsay by putting an exclamation or question mark in the headline and it even reports things that were never said.

How media covers up right-wing extremism, hate speeches and ignores growing radicalization in society

When ‘maha panchayats’— grand gatherings are held and such hate is spewed, and media doesn’t even focus on these speeches or tends to ignore or just write a bit in a passing mention, it raises serious questions on Indian media setup.

How can such a big cover-up take place? That, major news organisations avoid reporting when hate speeches lead to panic, fear and even violence. Due to failure of media, there is not adequate pressure and neither cases are registered, nor culprits brought to books.

In case after case, officials say, ‘we don’t get information’ or ‘no one has complained to us yet’. It is, of course, because the participants at such conclaves are aligned to the right-wing and the party sympathetic to them, rules many of the states.

But inaction of administration or silence of politicians aside, the issue is that how media has developed this system of not focusing on such extremism and the decision to not report these incidents. It’s clear that the right-wing doesn’t want the incidents to be known. 

That media outlets considered left-liberal or centrist too avoid, shows that there is a clear feeling that it will show us in poor light and hence it must not be reported. Worse, many of the leading journalists who avoid these cases, don’t even want others to write. 

The moment there is a video or a social media post, the veteran journos appear with the advice — ‘don’t give publicity to the chap’. This is weird because when things don’t get reported, there is even less chance of any official taking cognizance. 

And, if it is not reported, it’s easy to deny in future and say that, ‘nothing happened, who said it, bring proof’. Do they want these hate preachers to continue their work without any hindrance? Why else, they don’t write and stop others too from writing about such horrific speeches that are becoming a regular feature!

Quite consistent with the line that documentation of hate crimes and hate speeches is not liked. Hindustan Times had suddenly stopped its tracker and the editor had left the group. There are few outlets other than ‘mainstream media’. On social media, ‘reporting groups’ get active and accounts that document have been targeted and suspended.

Is media aim to allow fanatics to continue activities on one hand & on the other hand ensure that this doesn’t get reported or documented. Sharp management. It’s not new. Just that the speeches are now more common. In fact, it was the same earlier also. Almost twelve years ago, a leader gave an inflammatory and divisive, hate speech in UP.

He said a lot — from open threat and allegedly inciting violence. The journalists didn’t mention the horrific part. When asked, why you didn’t write, the reply was like, ‘oh I missed’ or ‘which part?’ Even after forwarding the video or the part, there was no change in story. 

So this issue has been there in ‘mainstream media’ in India for long. Just that there was no social media and it was difficult to keep track, then. The composition of newsrooms, the people who don’t want ‘own society to be blamed’ or seen as radical, try to hush up and remain in denial, even at the cost of objectivity and fairness in journalism.

It’s a majoritarian society and this is reflected in media, more in newsroom composition. It doesn’t want others to know that such things happen and that there is such level of ‘hate’ in the society, hence it zealously tries to conceal and hush up, even if it’s immoral and unjust.

Clearly, it is a complicity of epic proportion. Apparently, there is a strong belief that ‘our people can’t be fanatic like ‘others’, and if they are as we see them turning into monsters, it’s better to not write about them because this will affect our image’.

In fact, reality is opposite. By telling the truth, you won’t be defaming own society or nation, rather, it will be a self-correcting path, it will ensure that fanatics are pushed to boundary, exposed and brought to books. However, if you feel that reporting about their acts, would affect your own image, then it’s a huge mistake. 

Because, this will have far-reaching consequences for the society, faith and the nation. You can also read this report at the Medium. It's titled, 'If media stops reporting hate speeches and ignores growing radicalization in society, it shuns its duty, becomes complicit'. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

How a family of 5 can be seen as 'draining resources of nation' while a family of 153 praised for 'joint family tradition': Indian Journalism

First see the newspaper clipping on the left and then you will realise howmedia has the huge power to create perception.

1. A family with 5-6 children or photo can be used to portray them as 'threat to nation, overpopulating and draining resources of the nation' but another family with 153 members is termed as 'great example of joint family, carrying Indian tradition forward'. 
And, reader won't even notice, how cleverly it happens. That's the power of 'journalism', as it creates perception. How things can be presented or misrepresented, depending on who has the power in newsrooms. How the agenda gets pushed and everyone starts believing it. 

2. This is Surja Ram's family. Report was carried as 'Special' on Family Day in a positive way. All praise for the family with so many members. The report lauded Surja Ram's family with the line, 'even in these times, they stay together'. Pride, 'values'.

3. The reader is so glad to know about the family. But another report about a different family of mere five kids, or caption with a photo [remember the Open cover story] is so negative and reader would accept that too--Bad people. That's how once brain works in accordance with media reports. No questions.

4. Any thing can be cleverly presented in a totally different way. If the person is biased, he can do it. That's the power of journalism. In fact, misuse of the power of 'wielding the pen'. Not as tool to inform, but as a weapon to damage, defame and destroy. 

5. Basically, a journalist or writer must be objective. It means that he should be fair, just and neither pursuing particular agenda, nor going overboard. But this is probably impossible to expect in present times. So just remember this, how any aspect can be presented differently.

The clipping is old, but this is just an example. In fact, images of a man with his children, on a bike have been used to spread hate. A well-known news magazine had even photo-shopped an image to create a false perception, and linked it with 'over-population' in a cover story.

Nothing is wrong in writing positively about a family, but then standards should be same. Fascism must not come wrapped in the attractive label of 'news' or under the garb of 'journalism'. Besides, the victims must know the reality and should be able to identify and distinguish--what's news, what's propaganda. and what's the real agenda.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Leader of Mewat: Chaudhary Tayyab Husain who was elected to Assemblies in three different states and became minister as well

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Chaudhary Tayyab Husain is known for his leadership of the Meo community and for representing the region in Assemblies as well as parliament. 

A prominent politician, he not only voiced aspirations of the people of the region and raised the demands of Meo community, but also took up the leadership role and led from the front, setting up schools, health facilities as well his role in the Meo College.

His father, Chaudhary Yasin Khan, was born in a farming family in Rehna village but with his hard work and determination, reached St Stephen's College and Aligarh Muslim University, then went on to practice law in Lahore before independence.

As leader of Meos, he became their voice. The Brayne* Meo school was set up. His drive to set up 'School every two miles' was an important step. He was a member of Unionist Party and legislator in undivided Punjab's Assembly for a long period, and was a unanimous leader of the Meos. 

After independence, when there was violence and fear, he had brought Gandhi to Mewat and the latter gave a call to Meos to stay. Yasin Khan had joined Congress and was elected as MLA in Punjab in early 1950s.

Carrying the legacy of his illustrious father, Chaudhary Yasin Khan, the son--Tayyab Husain made his foray in politics in post-independent India. First, he was elected as MLA in Punjab Assembly. It was greater Punjab then and this also included Haryana.

Later, he was elected to Rajasthan and Haryana Assemblies. In fact, he was minister in all the three states, a unique record. Meos live in the region that is spread across Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and up to the Delhi's border-viz. Gurgaon. 

Apart from being member of three State Assemblies, a unique feat, he was also elected to Parliament twice. He remained with Congress, though for a while, he was associated with Vishal Haryana Party. He had a long political career.

Tayyab Husain was barely 26 when he was made a deputy minister for health and PWD in Pratap Singh Kairon's government in Punjab. He became Chairman of Punjab Waqf Board in 1965. In 1966, he became member of Haryana Assembly, as the state was carved out of Punjab.

In 1970, his father passed away. After Yasin Khan's death, Tayyab Husain was bestowed the title of Chaudhry of 36 'biradiris' and the 'pugri', this honour came to him. A worthy successor to his father, he continued to guide the community in social, educational and political fields.

In 1971, he was elected to Lok Sabha from Gurgaon seat on Congress ticket. Then, in 1980, he was again elected to Lok Sabha from Faridabad. Besides, he represented the Tavdu seat later. In 1993, he was once again elected from another state--Rajasthan. 

In Rajasthan too, he was made a minister and had portfolio of Agriculture, Health and Rural Development. Yasin Meo College is located in Nuh, Mewat. It was due to his efforts that became a major institution. He passed away in 2008. After Tayyab Husain, his next generation carries the legacy.

READLeader of Mewat: Rare Indian politician who was elected to Assemblies of 3 states

*It was initially named after FL Brayne, the then Deputy Commissioner of Gurgaon. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Persian in India: Once language of court and administration, Farsi survives in the country in a unique way


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

In mid-1980s, there used to be a column in children’s magazine, Paraag, where the editor replied to readers’ queries in detail, but also tried to bring a little humour.

I remember, once a boy had asked, ‘Uncle, why an intelligent person is called ‘aql-mand’ when ‘mand’ means slow in Hindi?. The editor, Kanhaiya Lal Nandan replied, ‘My dear son, it’s Farsi suffix ‘mand’ and by not realising it, you are proving yourself ‘aqal’-‘band’ [mind closed, shut].

The boy was curious, rightly so, because nobody tells that this is Persian, which was for centuries the language of courts and administration in India. In fact, there is so much Farsi in vocabulary in Indian languages that it is an intrinsic part of lingua franca but people don’t even realise it.

From words as small as ‘daar’ [keep, hold], or ‘khaana’ [house] or ‘mand’ [having], each forming hundreds of words — dukaandaar [shopkeeper], dawakhaana [dispensary or medical shop], ehsaanmand [indebted], it is so much present in our speech — even if a person is speaking Urdu, Bangla, Hindi or Marathi, that it is not even noticed.

In 1980s, when I was a young boy, I was expected to learn Farsi, in order to improve my Urdu. I wasn’t too interested but elders would always insist that without Farsi, you can never have good command over Urdu.

My mother felt that if I learnt a bit, I could be able to relate to ‘tough Urdu’ that was written in the past and also understand the poetry of Maulana Rom [Rumi], Urfi, Nazeeri and Hafiz, that her elders often quoted.

For me, the idea that one had to take out time in the summer holidays and spend time on yet another subject, was strange. After all, one barely got two months of summer holidays, and the thought that you have to spend an hour or two out every day from the schedule, was not delightful. Still, I had no choice.

Some of my uncles suggested that I should start with ‘aamad-nama’. However, one of my elder cousin brother, Ahmad Yahya bhai, gifted me Tasir-ul-Mubtadi.

But, when I started, it was the traditional way — rote learning, repeating the ‘sabaq’ in Gulzar-i-Dabsitaa.n that for centuries has been the standard basic text for beginners in the sub-continent.

Many of my friends and young friends in UP, Bihar or other states who had the option to study Persian as third language in certain schools, had ‘the first, second, third book of Persian for each class’.

However, I had to repeat terms ‘Aab-e-Zar’ — Soney Ka Paani, Aawaz-e-Dilkash — Dil ko kheenchne wali aawaaz, Peer-e-Kham-Kamar — Tirchhi kamar wala boodha, initially.

It was a system of training the mind, so that you directly learnt the language — entire sentences and could make out the meaning, without getting lost into the complex maze of tenses and the rules of grammar.

I must say that Hafiz Shah Taqi Anwer, the renowned scholar, gave me ample attention and taught well. In addition to reading and repeating, I had to write it on ‘takhti’ with the reed ‘qalam’.

This routine continued for a few years. Must be around 40–50 classes every year in the summer holidays when I visited Lucknow. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go past all the ‘hikaayaats’ [moral stories in prose form] in Gulzar-i-Dabistaa.n.

Today as I look back, I feel I should have an opportunity to study it in school as well. However, I got a basic understanding, which indeed helped me in Urdu. The Gulistaa.n and Bostaa.n were read more as a tradition, later on.

India has produced huge literature in Persian. Almost every library in old parts of a prominent Indian city or town has racks filled with Persian books. There is also so much religious literature in the form of classical texts.

And above all, the appeal of poets like Hafez and Rumi, that is unparalleled. Urdu ghazal is an extension of the tradition of Persian poetry. Mirza Ghalib was immensely proud of his Persian poetry. He wrote:

Farsi ba-ee.n ta-ba-beeni-naqsh-haai-rang rang
Baguzar az majmua-e-Urdu ke be-rang man-ast

He felt there was an immensely beautiful world in his Persian poetry, compared to his Urdu works that he found ‘colourless’. Unfortunately, he is loved and known more for his Urdu poetry that he didn’t take too seriously.

One of the greatest Persian poets, Bedil, is buried in Delhi and Sheikh Ali Hazee.n in Benares. Till just over a decade ago, veteran poets like Saraswati Saran Kaif in Bhopal and Qasim Niyazi were actively penning Farsi poetry.

In Bhopal, the city I grew up, there were many Persian scholars. It was once a princely state and Persian was the state language till 1858, until it was replaced by Urdu. Nawab Shahjahan Begum was an accomplished poet who has a collection of poetry in Persian too. 

Three hundred and fifty miles away, Lucknow too remains a major centre of Persian. Wali-ul-Haq Ansari continued to write poetry in Lucknow till the last decade. 

People learn the language in households or from elders. Besides, Persian is taught in madarsas and Darul Ulooms and there are Persian departments in umpteen Colleges and Universities. It is also taught in Islamic centres, Sufi darsgaahs and Khanqaahs. 

Lot of people learn it as it considered part of culture, along with Arabic and Urdu or those who appreciate the Farsi shaa’eri [poetry].One of the challenges faced in learning Persian is that we still learn classical Persian in India and there is a disconnect with modern Persian. 

There is need for better books and smarter ways. Especially, the use of audio-visual medium to teach so that students learn the correct pronunciation, because even otherwise there is a tendency to shun ‘eraab’ i.e. ‘zer-zabar-pesh’ [maatras] in printing Urdu, Persian books. 

READ: Once language of court and administration, Farsi survives in the country in a unique way

Saturday, June 12, 2021

How race to 'break stories', create sensation destroys lives: False cases, stern sections, framing youths and implicating due to irresponsible journalism

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Most of us often read, how youths were jailed and after a decade or more, released.

The need is to understand that how it happens. It's extremely necessary that people must know.

It happens because of overzealous and careless media, more than any other 'bias'. 

Now read this: 

Some youth get booked in a case. Papers sensationalize. 'Are they linked to X group'. Cops naturally say 'we're questioning, will probe'. 

But they write, 'links with shady group'. Sometimes, not even '?' or '!' mark, but headline is enough to create anger in city. 

Tough sections are applied against them. Now race for follow-up. The thought that other paper may publish something 'big', so similar such 'question framed', again asked, standard reply 'we're probing this angle too'.

More big headlines, 'they were planning THIS or THAT, had links HERE and THERE', with may be an exclamation mark, but it doesn't matter. Impact is devastating. Certain cops too love this attention, holding press conferences, cameras in front of them, their photos on front pages, local channels.

They get calls from friends, neighbours, 'Aap to chhaye hain' [wow, you are all over on the screens'. And 'cracking a big case' helps in projecting self as a strong cop, also in career. Follow-ups over a week, result in this situation. 

As you see, it may be a simple case but extremely tough sections used because of the pressure created in media. Then, politicians too enjoy, to show 'tough action'. 'Local pressure' and mahaul due to all papers' front pages in regions, is such that anything can be passed off. 20 years of lives. 

Old news but serves as an example. Once people are framed, entire families are destroyed financially, emotionally, physically. Cases may not be perfect, might have loopholes but once registered, the treatment to people, expenses, mental torture, kin rushing to courts and prisons. 

How that's a serious failure on part of journalists, lack of empathy and sensitivity in newsrooms

People in newsrooms don't think of these aspects that it's a crime to create an environment in which people get unfair treatment or get framed, implicated and slapped with cases they don't deserve.

That's more a bad journalism problem. For them, 'it's just a story', a 'big story', that will get them feel 'special', story that will be in their file, claim that we 'covered such things or broke these stories too'. It's not about justice. Minds just act this way.

However, this is is not the main point. The main point is failure of people to see and understand this even after decades and decades. There are cities that don't have a single, small, basic paper that can even go against the 'mahaul' & report objectively. You blame 'system'. No.

It's a unique phenomenon. Just a few people in a newsroom who because of their presence in that space, and their lack of empathy or training, cause huge injustice. When there is nonstop coverage for days, there is pressure everywhere. On lawyers, bars, courts. It has gone on..

But you must marvel at the victims, the society, the people who suffer in state after state, that they fail to even take the most basic steps in dealing with this issue. It's less of a 'biased state' or 'biased police' but more of dirty and cheap, biased or careless journalism.

If you know it, you suffer but your leaders, your leadership in the cities, districts couldn't frame strategy, dealing with such a basic thing all these years. You can't get liars and sensationalists shamed or make them behave or even talk to them over their acts. Then!

Of course, if there is suspicion and evidence take due action, book and deliver prompt justice. But don't let the media misreport, create hysteria. This 'influence' is disastrous. When papers do it, just competing among themselves, it has horrible affect on society. On every institution, everyone.

So 15-20 years later, you publish that the court did not consider them guilty, acquitted, ordered their release, but media houses must introspect that it causes such suffering to people and it's role in abetting injustice due to inherent biases, disproportionate power and newsrooms that have little representation. 

A news in Dainik Jagran: How newspapers give twist, spread fake news and fuel Islamophobia

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Yet another example of bad journalism.

The headline is misleading, totally giving a different angle.

It was not vaccine hesitancy among Muslims. They have given a twist.

Rather, they needed Covishield, as they work in Gulf and in order to return to their jobs they need it, as Covaxin not approved in other countries and they won't get entry. But see the misleading headline. Copy too is pathetic but as you read, you realise the issue.

Each and every day such papers create misconceptions, give twists. So much harm to society through this sort of 'journalism'. Any civilized society or democracy must not tolerate such falsehoods. What's the agenda, after all? 

This goes on for years and years. A person sitting in a district headquarters or a city, a capital or a tehsil, doing this for his entire life.This mindset, that 'come what may', the twist will be given to divide society, pit people, demonize a section, misusing power of print.

Over 8 lakh Indians returned to Kerala from overseas between May 2020 and January 2021. So many lost jobs. Many have to go back to eke out living, for family. Kerala leaders like KC Venugopal had urged Union minister to ensure Covishield dose so that they dont lose livelihood.

At least, think of how damaging it is for own people, lakhs of Indians, and for prestige of country, if not for other reasons. Spreading misconceptions, all the time. And, they are called 'number one or number 2 papers'! Big papers have huge responsibility but they act carelessly and spread such narrative that leads to division in society and anger towards other communities.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Bad economy can't make people see reason, turn them 'humane': Can't checkmate communalism with this bogus theory

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

In wake of Haryana 'maha panchayat'--a huge gathering in support of those arrested for lynching a youth, I must say that the belief that recession, unemployment and failing economy will change people for good and make them see reason, is  wrong. 

Ideological turn is not easy despite financial hardships. There were hate speeches openly given at this conclave, and also the threats. 

This shocking episode was followed by silence of top leaders, politicians and lack of coverage in TV channels and 'mainstream' newspapers. Let's talk about it, point wise.

 1. Who propounded this 'theory' that when people are suffering or they are in a financially bad situation, they will become wise and humane and stop reacting to propaganda? It's a bogus and false theory that has no basis.

2. What history tells us? Where was it seen or learnt?  Is is that you just don't want to accept the level of radicalisation in society and hence make it up! Spare us the gyan that 'economic crises' or unemployment will change situation.

3. False. It's not about poor or rich. People can be manipulated by the constant false narrative that they are superior to others. Or through circulation of dangerous ideas like 'certain groups are encroaching, gaining strength, our misery due to them'. 

4. Daily dose of hate & bigotry, poison spread by their men on the ground and through many other mediums like WhatsApp, is an addiction. Pitting people against another section been witnessed, so many times! 

5. Polls or no polls, this never stops. Just because you don't want to see the mirror, don't want to accept the reality, the level, you try to give yourself and others a false hope that, 'people would get tired of this communalism one day, that when they don't have jobs they will realise'. Then, even more easy to sway!

6. Despite restrictions, tens of thousands gather in support of those who lynched a man, and listened to such hateful speeches. After Asif was lynched, tens of thousands gathered, defying Coronavirus restrictions, in support of the lynching accused. How many editorials were written on the situation Haryana? 

7. Most of the TV channels, newspapers avoid reporting, but to ignore this level of right-wing support on ground, hate speeches shows the horrific situation in the media. Clearly, this is because they are part of it, do not accept the rot. Cunningly conceal, give spin. Accomplice!

8. It's now understood well. To say that these are 'diversions' or 'eye on elections' is nothing but an attempt to hide, your inability to speak on it. That's not diversion because elections or no elections, lynchings and forcing youth to raise certain slogans, beating them or targeting Muslims, continues.

9. It's cowardice--politicians, intellectuals, journalists who are all silent on this. As if they don't know the extent of the real project and its aims. As far as many centrist and liberal journalists in India. How they whitewash, it's last point.

10. Many of them always divert by saying, 'ah, fringe'. When it's not possible as too many fanatics seen, they keep mum or act like 'sages', giving advice--ignore.  Or write by balancing, bringing others. Not more expected. No question of 'acceptance', that a major problem exists. 

Without hard work on ground or real movement, society can't change on its own. Once there is ideological shift to such an extent due to propaganda for decades, it can't be 'humanized' on its own. Either a big leader is needed or a revolution. 

A comedian did not utter a joke but was arrested and jailed because cops felt he 'might crack a joke'. However, those who deliver extremely inflammatory speeches, threaten and lynch, don't face prompt or harsh action.

So it all depends on the side of the fence--whether action will be taken or not. Those who spread false info and rumours social media or share fake info that has potential to damage harmony are not touched due to their links in the ecosystem.

It has reached the stage where 'system' is compromised. A slogan that was never made can send youths to jails under harsh sections. But hate speeches that are recorded in gatherings and aired, don't lead to action. Cops later say,  'we are verifying'. 

READ: Failing economy doesn't turn society rational or make people shed bigotry

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Mulla Jan Mohammad: Prominent Muslim leader who played important role in post-independent era


Mulla Jan Mohammad Bengal Muslim leader

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Mulla Jan Mohammad was among the leaders who played a vital role in post-partition era in India.

He was a known personality earlier too. But post-independence, it was a critical period.

Muslim masses who were looking for leaders, as top brass had left them and migrated across the border, found in him a man who was able to pick up pieces, help community pass through the troubled times. 

Calcutta was not just the former capital of British Empire in India, but also, it was a prominent centre of Muslims. Though the top leaders had migrated, shifted to Dhaka, millions of Muslims remained in West Bengal.

The city had been rocked by riots before partition. After partition too, there were riots and killings. In this situation, leadership was needed. There was communalism apart from anxiety, apprehensions, institutions were facing several serious issues. 

Among prominent leaders, Badrudduja Sb decided to remain in India. It was only until 1955 that the situation improved, well. So either the 1950 situation, that had once again heightened fears of Muslims in Kolkata, or the later disturbances in 1960s, Calcutta had the figure of Mulla Jan Mohammad, who became a symbol of hope and reassurance for Muslims. 

Mulla Jan Mohammad had seen Ali brothers, the rise of Muslim politics and its fall, the consequences. He was a strong man, known for principles, steadfast, honest and self-less. Hence, he was termed Khadim-e-Qaum.

In 1961, Jabalpur riots shook the nation. The series of riots in cities in Eastern India, Kolkata, Rourkela, Jamshedpur, again hit the region. In these circumstances, just like in 1950, he remained active and also  oversaw relief and rehab measures.

Either the 1963 and 1965 riots in Kolkata or the Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Rourkela incidents, that were clearly planned riots, horrific killings and large-scale destruction took place. He was instrumental in taking the politicians head on over the riots.

Calcutta Khilafat Committee (CKC) is one the most well-known institutions of Muslims. Mulla Jan Mohammad was its president. Also, his association with Islamia Hospital and serving the institution must be written with golden letters. 

Following any riot in Kolkata, he would hit the street, take the lead, go out in the city, meet authorities, would also ensure rehab and relief. Disturbed by the series of major communal riots, Syed Mahmud took the lead and meetings of Muslim leaders, scholars, clerics were held.

Once again Mulla Jan Mohammad played a key role in formation of the All India Muslim Majlis Mashawrat. Apart from Syed Mahmud, Maulana Abulhasan Nadvi alias Ali Miyan, Mufti Atiqur Rahman Usmani, Ebrahim Suleiman Sait, Maulana Manzoor Nomani and veteran leaders were present.

The need for social, intellectual, community leadership is always needed. More so, in desperate times. Later too,Mulla Jan Mohammad mooted idea that there must be tours to riot-affected cities and areas.This was accepted and hence leading Ulema planned the tour. 

The visit to Ranchi was a major success. Individuals who can unite, bring others on one platform, have community's trust, show way, keep others motivated and can act, are required in every society. Interestingly, the Peshawar-born Mulla Jan Muhammad, became 'Mulla' because Maulana Azad a regular visitor used to call him 'Mulla' lovingly.

"Ever since I can remember, from the time I was a student, I saw Mulla Jan Mohammad was always involved in community issues, redressing them and doing social leadership. He dedicated himself to serving the community", writes Abdul Aziz, in a column in Halaat-E-Bengal. 

"The relationship was mutual, as top Muslim leaders of the country too kept him close. Despite his relations, he never let politics and politicians enter the institutions and damage them, and this is true for all these institutions viz. Islamia Hospital, Calcutta Khilafat Committee and Mohammedan Sporting Club", he further writes. 

"The Calcutta Khilafat Committee came into existence around 1919. The Islamia Hospital was built a few years later. All his life, he remained attached to the hospital and rendered yeoman's service", writes Maulana Talha Bin Abu Salma Nadwi, in an article. 

"In 1967, Mulla Jan Mohammed went for Haj. When he returned and came to know that hospital authorities had fixed 'aath annah' fee for outdoor patients, he was so angry, sat at the gate of the hospital, with this stick and returned the amount to each person who had come to the hospital and paid it", he mentions in the article. 

Saturday, June 05, 2021

How Communist party vote declined in India: Political parties, opposition and CPI, CPM strength


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Communist party was once the rising party in Indian politics. 

That's long ago. But after independence, there was a time, when there were apprehensions among establishment that Communist movement may sweep across the country. 

Huge rallies were taken out in several cities. The sentiment was there and hence, Congress was worried about it. 

From parts of Bihar to UP, Andhra Pradesh to cities with mills and workers, there was Communist affect.

Today it's difficult to imagine how Homi Daji could win from Indore. Or that Sher-e-Bhopal, Khan Shakir Ali Khan, kept winning and getting elected from Bhopal seat to Madhya Pradesh Assembly till 1970s.

So, from Bhopal to Indore, Kanpur to Allahabad, cities in Maharashtra and regions in several other states had the influence of Communist parties or their leaders who were regionally strong. Earlier, there was a period when the party got split. Its vote share was affected.

But it remained an important player because it was getting vote in certain states. Under Jyoti Basu, West Bengal went on to become a Communist citadel. In Kerala, CPI became strong. Besides, in other states, there were pockets that had Communist influence.

In the 1951-52, the first Parliamentary election, Communist Party of India (CPI) got 3.3% of popular vote and managed to win 16 seats. It hadn't contested on too many seats then. But the party was gaining strength throughout the decade.

The next election witnessed, a surge in its popularity. It got 8.9% vote. CPI won 27 seats. This was emergence as an important block in the House. However, the best performance was yet to come. The party did even better in next election.

In 1962, the CPI got almost 10% vote. [9.9% to be precise]. This was an achievement. However, the party suffered a setback, as there was the split. Either it was purely ideological or the China Vs USSR, the party was divided in India. 

CPI(M) and CPI, the two parties emerged. Later on, the former became strong in Bengal under Jyoti Basu. The latter found a foothold in Southern India, Kerala. At national level, their consolidated vote share declined.

The Communist movement too lost its pace. Still, due to strength in West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala, the coalition with other parties in several states, the Communists had a hold in Indian politics. In fact, Harkishan Singh Surjeet played a key role in formation of governments at the Centre.

In the late 1980s, the formation of National Front, then the 1990s when United Front was at the helm, Communists' support was important for these governments' formation. Again, when there was Congress' resurgence led by Sonia Gandhi, Communists' strength was important for UPA. 

In 2004, CPI (M) contested just 69 seats but got a nation wide 5.66% vote and won 43 seats. It's vote share was third, after Congress' 26.5% and BJP's 22.16%. CPI (Marxist) had got more votes than SP and BSP. CPI had 1.4% vote in this election. 

In 2009, it was 5.33% and 1.43% for CPIM and CPI respectively. But 2014 was the year of disaster. CPI(M) got barely 3.25% votes. CPI could fetch merely 0.78% votes. And, in 2019, BJP came to power on it's own. CPI (M) performance was at its worst, just 1.75% vote. CPI got 0.58% vote.

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Lessons from Indian Politics: Drastic decline in Indira, Rajiv Gandhi's popularity in different eras after huge mandate in 1970s, 1980s


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Indira Gandhi was at peak of popularity after 1971, who could have imagined situation changing so much in few years that she'd have to impose Emergency. 

Rajiv Gandhi had got a huge mandate in 1985. In year or so, at pan shops, one could hear jokes on his language and the oft-repeated, 'hamne dekha hai, dekhenge, kara hai karenge' & 'zimmew(d)ari' jokes. How?

Remember, there were no channels to keep an eye round the clock, that could oppose or criticise. 

Just one DD and its evening bulletin that was more of a mouthpiece and was airing just those positive things and Rajiv was doing things smartly, yet, his image was crashing. 

No IT cell. There was no such concept, no channels. But long list of top Opposition leaders at national level who were constantly in attacking mode.

1. Ayodhya movement, things VHP did, Hindi press aggressive reports to 'prove' that indeed there was mandir, VP Singh, all. But, even earlier, barely a year & when the smartly dressed Rajiv was giving speeches, touring world, people had grown bored, wary. That was real mystery

In seventies, there were not just JP, Raj Narain, Morarji, Charan Singh, Fernandes, but in Rajiv's era too, such a long list. Like it or not, two top leaders of UP parties, are not active-vocal despite their cadre always waiting for their leaders to show. No consistency.

Fact-based, real and strong vocal opposition? Leaders who speak on important issues, on regular basis, it's missing. Some of the top leaders in Oppn limit themselves to issuing statements on days & anniversaries. Then, their Twitter accounts handled by 'professionals'!

Consistency is the key. In 70s-80s, regional satraps were vocal, even if they spoke in English or regional languages. N India too had many leaders. Many voices. That's how momentum built. Not that Tejashwi lose Bihar & wait 3-4 years. Agle election se pahle bolenge. 


2. Now, coming back to how this counter-narrative is constructed. Journalist Shyam Meera Singh, who openly says that he was once a 'bhakt' and later realised how was cheated, spoke at length about this journey in 'Spaces' on Twitter.

He gave example that whenever he speaks to elderly relative but latter comes with strange points on any issue, almost all of them coming from Dainik Jagran. Yes, the same paper that tried to debunk stories about bodies near bank of Ganges and that also published one story 'particular slogan raised' to defame or break a movement--farmers' or students. anyone.

So he gave example of Jagran that has a huge readership, and it's there since eighties. It's a 'mainstream paper' in North India, and it is not considered a mouthpiece. But it does the job more than a mouthpiece, an active supporter. Socialists, other parties, SP, RJD or BSP they were never serious about media. 

3. Congress story we know. BJP understands power of media. Organiser or Panchjanya were there. Dailies like Swadesh & Tarun Bharat in different states. Even when they got in a position to manage most TV channels & national papers, they strengthened own existing ones never shut them down. 

Jagran & others were influential in 80s and they remain so even today. In one state, one paper on a given day, can deflect all with one story. In MP, Jagran was already there. They bought Nai Dunia too. It's not that they have huge circulation. 

But on a given day when in newsrooms, all papers kept on table, if a 'different' story is published even in small paper, it has affect, others forced to follow. You have none. When there are mainstream papers affecting mind, terming any other party's rule as 'Jungle Raj' and the other as 'Sushasan', it works. 

Those leaders of Opposition parties who today rue that media is no longer talking for days and weeks about 'jungle raj' in a state or region, forget that they never invested in creating or running own media. Had there been other channels or big papers as rivals, won't be one sided.

4. 'Socialists' remained in power in UP-Bihar for decades but were happy with media houses like Jagran groups. Who had stopped them to set up own media houses? In Southern states, parties have channels & newspapers aligned to opposition too, hence, possibility of criticism. 

By giving directions to go slow and by stopping 'follow up stories' from the next day, it can be ensured that the issue doesn't become big. The potential for a story to become a symbol of state failure and leading to anger or movement, is brought down by a few phone calls. 

You can't control people's mind to such an extent if there is other side too shown in TV, papers etc. Actually, Temple movement in 80s, division in society won't have been possible had 5 major papers in entire N India, not actively become part of movement. 

This part of India--the North, has huge political power due to number of MPs. Hence, the role of Hindi newspapers is important. They ensured that Indian public shifted from centre towards right, through consistent reporting in a manner that people came towards BJP on all issues--Bangladeshi infiltration, Artcile 370, Temple.

5. It's basic for any movement or party to have their own supported groups in media. Every party needs to reach to people. Since 1800, every reformer or leader tried to start a paper, either Raja Ram Mohan Roy or Maulana Azad, Gandhi or Maulana Mohammad Ali.

READ: How Congress' failure to understand 'media power' caused its decline

The right-wing understands power of communication, importance of media, how to reach people. It takes even a weekly of 2,000 or 5,000 seriously, doesn't shut it down. It ensures the weekly reaches each panchayat or main reading room of town or places where people can take it forward.

Even a daily paper that has a circulation of less than 10,000 but published from capital, one counter-narrative story, forces other papers too to think over that aspect. But if you don't have trusts, not even most basic investment to support your own people and run papers, it's a tragedy.

READ: How fake news is planted in newspapers, role of vernacular media in misinformation

Friday, May 28, 2021

Sir Syed of South India: Mumtaz Ahmad Khan is no more, now is the need to take forward his legacy

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Leading educationist, social worker and visionary, Dr Mumtaz Ahmad Khan, passed away on May 27, 2021. 

Called Baba-i-Talim in Karnataka for his achievements in setting up institutions and colleges, he was also lovingly termed as 'Sir Syed of South'.

Khan was considered a prominent social worker and educationist in the country. He was born in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu on September 6, 1935. 

His father Yusuf Ismail Khan was a lawyer and his mother Saadat-un-Nisa was also a graduate, in the pre-independent era. Both had got their degrees from AMU. 

In 1963, he finished his MBBS degree from Madras University. He did MS in surgery from Stanley Medical College, Chennai. At the age of 31, he set up the Al Ameen Society in Bengaluru. 

Under the society, 250 institutions are running all over the country. Al Ameen Hospital in Bangalore [now, Bengaluru] is also one of his achievement. He had realised that the need for institutions, educational as well as those in other important sectors.

Al Ameen Medical College in Bijapur is yet another example. For a long time, he was printer and publisher of Bengaluru's famous Salar Urdu daily as well. The newspaper carried the news at first lead. We are posting the front page obituary published in The Daily Salar. 

Not just colleges, schools and hospital but sports clubs, amaanat bank, ensuring mechanism to provide loan to needy without interest, scholarships to students who came from financially weak background and not keeping his work to just Karnataka, but expanding it outside too.

Al Ameen has presence in many other states, from Maharashtra to Gujarat, UP and North East. Setting up so many colleges, institutions and leaving behind a rich legacy! It took vision, commitment and sacrifices. Tens of thousands of students who come out of these institutions year after year, it's a testimony to the vision of Mumtaz Ahmad Khan sb.

Former Union minister K Rahman Khan said that his immense contribution and sacrifices led to setting up of the Al Ameen institutions, and he left them for the welfare of the comunity. M Aleemullah Khan, the honorary secretary of Salar Publications said that he set up institutions and took them to success.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Uttar Pradesh district map in Urdu: Map showing districts, just for educational purpose

This is a basic map of Uttar Pradesh in Urdu. 

It is purely non-commercial and for mere representational purpose.
The aim is that children, particularly, students in Urdu medium schools are able to identify places, theri districts and seek information. 
Apart from districts, the boundaries of the state and the names of the adjoining states are visible. 
Urdu is one of the two state languages of Uttar Pradesh, along with Hindi. Hence, there is need for map too. 
One, often finds that there is a lack of maps in Urdu. Hence, we are putting up the maps on the internet. This map is just for illustrative and representational purpose. The figure is not to scale and does not claim to represent geographical boundaries.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Saving India: Political parties must confront, take stand against hate crime, vigilantism, lynching incidents before seeking Muslim votes

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

The case of a youth in Jabalpur who was stripped, humiliated, beaten and later FIR registered against him, once again shows the  deterioration of institutions.

Also, yesterday's incident in Moradabad that witnessed brutal attack on a Muslim youth for carrying meat, is another example of such vigilantism. 

The point is that whenever such incidents occur--people in groups taking law in their hands, target 1-2 persons, thrash them brutally, the officials avoid taking action against the culprits, the vigilantes who commit such atrocities.

No one has right to attack, abuse, torture & humiliate any citizen. Unfortunately, after these incidents, the members of the right-wing groups go to police and even get FIR registered against victim. Cops too duly register the case, in fact, it seems that they just obey. 

Role of Opposition, 'secular' parties: Failure to take action against such groups

There is no system to counter-balance, stop or even deal with it. Opposition--Congress or SP, BSP, RJD, other parties & their wings don't take on these Dals.Not even opposition on paper. Result is that no justice, as vigilantes get so strong that the acts are not challenged. 

It was in mid-1980s that Bajrang Dal  emerged in a big way in India. Across India, boards of 'Hindu Rashtra' with Bajrang Dal 'prabhag, khand' of area', came up in N. India. In those days, mostly Congress governments. But they ignored, no action or FIR, allowed to grow. 

The result was that it became normal--any group of 5-10 persons with a 'gamchha' could do any thing. Their acts have damaged Indian democracy, state. For Muslims, the issue is that when it happens, no party or group to even reach police station, to tackle pressure or oppose. 

It's not that action is not possible. But when all parties ignore, no delegation goes to meet top officials or 'question' over one-sided action, no one needs to act. Even statement is important because when you speak, oppose, then newspapers can write on its basis, follow up. 

 A 'system' has been devised that let there by any case of such attack, atrocity or public humiliation, victim will be further de-humanised and would be targeted, slapped with FIR. This to send message that let there be law on paper, see the reality--Second class citizen.

What's the solution, how to save democracy, ensure law-and-order

There is no solution to this issue unless there are citizens who want Indian democracy and law-and-order to survive, who decide at state level or city level to have certain forums for 'citizen rights', formal or informal. 

They have to raise voice, do their bit, some legwork, some efforts, monitoring and meeting leaders-officers, doing the most basic things that aren't tough. Secondly, those who seek your vote should speak, intervene. Else get your own party!

Living with respect & dignity is the biggest issue. Leave 'votes will be divided', this & that fear. Support a party, big or small, that is ready to take delegation to police, senior officials step by step, from CO-DSP to SP, IG to DGP, Home department, Ministers, take stand. 

Why Congress in Madhya Pradesh doesn't take stand on such atrocities, if not fight, at least raise voice and meet officials. Can Digvijaya Singh tell us why B Dal's such acts, are not countered or condemned by YC, NSUI, Sewa Dal or any other wing. Other parties too in MP, UP must speak. 

Why it is important to speak, give representations, act

What moves the 'system'. Sometimes fair officials too need representations, noise to tell bosses that action must be taken. They can't act on their own because of factors, regime 'soft' on groups. So there is need for parties, their wings to speak, act, meet. Silence is criminal.

It has reached here in 30 years. It won't go easily. It needs society to take strong stand to stop this culture of de-humanizing people. Parties deliberately allowed them to gain strength. If your cadre doesn't oppose RW vigilantism, then there is something terribly wrong.

Any party that wants your vote, must have to stand. Ask them the question, will they stand with you if you are attacked? If they can't, they must go and leave. We know we are on our known, so we will get beaten more, but learn, organise, stand and tackle.

 After incidents, locally stories floated to divert, dilute. Just like in case of lynching cases, this'd started-- 'X was moving in suspicious manner' or 'locals felt he was...' to 'justify' (sic) attack. You'll decide and act? What systems, police, judiciary are for? 

1. LINK: Vigilante attack on Muslim shopkeeper in Jabalpur

2. LINK: Muslim youth brutally beaten in Moradabad

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Role of Dr Abdul Jaleel Faridi and his Muslim Majlis in Uttar Pradesh, Muslim politics of North India

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

As we talk about Muslim politics and leadership, the role of Dr AJ Faridi and his party, Muslim Majlis, we need to first recall the circumstances that led to the formation of the party. 
We must remember that it was the series of communal riots post 1961, especially, Jabalpur riot, and inability of government to act, which led to creation of All India Muslim Majlis Mashawrat, a national platform.
Also, despite promises, Opposition, PSP or Swatantra Party leaders didn't raise issues in Parliament, Assembly or even show real concern. Dr AJ Faridi had floated party in this backdrop in UP.
Many people may not be aware today but Dr Faridi's Muslim Majlis was not just an experiment, it helped change the political atmosphere in North. 
In regions, towns with historical Muslim presence in all spheres, where Muslims felt besieged and powerless, the party boosted morale of Muslims, as far as organising rallies, events, protests was concerned [as even that had become difficult in the prevailing atmosphere].
The 'custodian' and land related issues, series of riots, PAC's excesses, many other serious issues were there, apart from growing bias in bureaucracy, denial of jobs, status of Urdu. Hence, Muslims had withdrawn from politics.
It was not about winning a few seats. They spoke, they were on streets, they made alliances, brought the community back in political arena. The fact that Dr Faridi was an eminent doctor, a specialist when TB was a dreaded disease, it helped. Even CM Sucheta Kriplana went to him.
Most of the prominent leaders whom we know including those who came up in seventies and eighties, learnt the basics of politics from Dr Faridi or initially contested on seats allocated on Majlis' quota in alliances. Either Azam Khan or Alam Badee'a Azmi, who won on MM quota from Azamgarh in late 1990s.
How people learn from experiments is important. Point was simple. You can't get things done if you are withdrawn or you don't have your own voice. If you see in vote percent or seats, you may not be able to see how it happened on the ground. 
But it's there, known, part of history, as it happened after the controversy regarding University character and the disturbances that impacted results in elections in 1962 Aligarh. BP Maurya's victory had stunned Congress as well as other parties, it was due to Muslim support. This was also a lesson. Politics, local factors.
For example, Chaudhary Charan Singh's views, the drastic change and his totally different views after 1960s, how it happened, and how it affected UP politics. You can't measure it in seats. But many see it as 'his style of politics'. No. He didn't say that you just ally with one set or leave another set.
The photograph of Zulfiqarullah, Fazlulbari and other members of Muslim Majlis in UP, after courting arrest against Moradabad killings, are examples of how the party because of its being an independent outfit, able to protest, not take 'permission' from high-command before issuing a statement or planning an agitation. 
Those who can't read Urdu books and are not aware of this long period of struggle, can read Mr Ghazali Khan's article to have an idea about Dr Faridi and Muslim Majlis in UP. Political parties are needed, that's the bottom line. The photograph above, courtesy Mr Ameeque Jamei.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

How the term 'Ganga Jamuni' symbolising communal harmony became controversial, invites ire online


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

The term 'Ganga Jamuni' has been in vogue for a long time.

It symbolized communal harmony or a composite culture, basically--mutual respect and coexistence.

People these days interpret it differently. To some it means 'equal respect for each others faiths'. 

Some feel that it has come to reflect 'co-opt or get absorbed as the smaller stream joins the river and becomes part of it, losing its own identity'.

Though the term was commonly used in Awadh, it was equally in circulation in Bhopal, Deccan or many other parts of India. In fact, not just UP, in any district of Rajasthan-MP too, papers write, 'our city has a ganga jamni culture', even if city has seen numerous conflicts or never even witnessed a single riot. 

So it became common over the years. The term is frequently used & understood differently by different people. But basically it should be about harmony and mutual respect. Doesn't mean that any Muslim will go to temple or a Hindu has to visit mosque or attend-host 'iftaar'. 

There should not be any onus, anything to prove. It's more about the concept of 'yours to you, mine to me', just that I wish you well on your things. But then somehow people came to believe that it means, 'I need to do those things to please you'. No. Not to do certain things just to adapt, 'co-opt' or 'fit in'.

Wish each other well, respect each other, that's all

On your festival I wish you well, on my festival you may wish or not even that's your choice. But to expect that someone else will follow your rituals is totally wrong. If anyone in individual capacity does anything, it's their choice. But to brand entire regions, areas then point fingers is incorrect.

It's a vast country, local cultures. For example, pictures about Muslims taking part in certain celebrations, come from Maharashtra every year. So you can't pass judgment on entire Maharashtra Muslims or Uttar Pradesh Muslims or Hindus or anyone else. It's sad that people just make up mind and then target entire regions, people and refuse to see beyond it.

Don't generalize: Opportunist people misuse, push own agenda, expose them

A crafty person can play any role, to suit his personal agenda or for political reasons, but this doesn't mean that you count 5-10-15 people and blame 'all'. Idea should be of goodwill, do things that help everyone, people from your and other communities, no need for subjugation.

Opportunism of people or politicians' attempts to please others and go extra-mile, can not be linked to a term and then used to target people of an entire state, create impression that these people do nothing, are just involved in poetry, fun and happily see their own decline. 

This has gone for too long. Name the opportunists, who do it, NOT everyone. Don't generalize. For example, there were comments when a politician who became Governor was performing puja, and lot of people termed it 'Ganga Jamuni'. 

Author Yusuf Ansari says it clearly, "This has nothing to do with “Ganga-Jamuni” which is about accommodation. It is not about assimilation based on compromise, skullduggery, batshittery and downright treachery; all things this vile, despicable man (don’t even want to take his name) has perfected into an art form".

It is basically, whataboutery and media manipulation that has affected society. Otherwise, in any society, there is need for basic mutual respect among communities. No one needs to follow others' rituals. There must not be any compulsion or force to prove something. 

Ideally, there should be 'rule of law' in real sense. Those who indulge in hate speech, dividing society and spreading communalism or discrimination need to be dealt with sternly. Especially, those who, even after taking vow of constitution, cause a divide in society. [The photo is merely for representational purpose]

READ: Hindu wearing skull cap or Muslim performing Hindu ritual must NOT be an issue

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Singer Ataullah Khan: Cult following in India and the urban legend about shooting the girl, recording from prison

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi 

Ataullah Khan, the folk singer from Pakistan, once used to have a cult following in India.

For decades, there was an urban legend, youths in any city would say--that Ataullah Khan had shot the girl whom he loved and who had cheated him to marry elsewhere.

People confidently told story about his hanging or pardon or how he was in jail, recording songs from there

I remember, many 'dil jale' youngsters spent precious years of their lives, listening to his songs, each & every day. It was said that 'T series cassettes' had got special permission to go to Pakistan to record him from prison. Worse, then the movie 'Bewafa Sanam' was released.

'Achcha sila diya tune mere pyaar ka....' was one of those songs that were played at eateries, tea shops, pan kiosks. Youngsters played them on their tape recorders or two-in-ones. It was a different era. Not everyone had girl friend.

A youth who felt that a girl cast a glance or smiled at him, once. He would imagine that she was in love with him. It was not the era of cell phones or even telephones. They remained obsessive about the girl and if she later ignored the boy, he would consider her a 'dagha-baz'. 

There was no dearth of such youngsters, in those days. The mohalla friends would know that the boy was after the girl and she had broken his heart. Sad songs and the image of Ataullah Khan taking revenge for a betrayal, were the medicine for these one-sided lovers too. 

Now, an interesting conversation:

"Kaa baat kar rahi ho buwa? Ataullah mar chuka hai?" -- '...Jis ladki se ye pyar karta tha, woh kisi aur se shadi kar lihis, ye ek dam gussa ho gaya. Katta le gaya, donon ko goli maar di, surrender kar diya. adalat phaansi ki saza suna dihis, tabhi to itna dard hai uske gaane mein"

That's how writer, Ashutosh Chacha, recalled how he got teary-eyed when his aunt told him this story, with conviction. It's published in Lallantop.  After internet came, it was found that this was untrue. He'd sung thousands of songs, was very much alive. 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Madhya Bharat: History of a forgotten state that was merged to form Madhya Pradesh

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Madhya Bharat was a state that existed for several years after independence. 

Madhya Bharat had Gwalior and Indore as capitals. The former ruler of princely state of Gwalior was the nominal head, Raj Pramukh i.e. Governor. 

While the ruler of Indore state, Holkar, was Up-Rajpramukh, Deputy Governor. The state lost its identity after it was merged into MP in 1956.

Actually, MP had already been created in 1950 from Central Provinces* and other regions with Nagpur as its capital. But in 1956, the regions that had Marathi speaking populace, were ceded to Bombay presidency. 

And, the remaining parts of MP were merged with Madhya Bharat, Vindhya and Bhopal, a part C state, to create Madhya Pradesh, the biggest state in the country. Sironj, which is located in Vidisha district, but was part of Tonk state, was also included. This greater MP existed for almost 44 years, till 2000.

Chhattisgarh was carved out, and now MP's geographical area is comparative quite less. In May 1948,  24 princely states of Malwa region in Western part of central India, were brought together to create the state.

The biggest were Indore and Gwalior, the two princely states that formed 77% of the area of Madhya Bharat. Gwalior was much bigger, twice the size of Indore. The first chief minister of the state was Liladhar Joshi.

Later, Mishrilal Gangwal Jain became chief minister. For a while, Gopikrishnan Vijayvargiya was CM. He was a Jain from Gwalior. Takhatmal Jain was CM of the state, too. He was also known as Takhatmal Jalori and belonged to Vidisha. Joshi was CM from January 1948 till May 1949. 

Gopi Krishan Vijayvargiya was CM from May 1949 to October 17, 1950. Then, Takhatmal Jalori alias Takhatmal Jain took over from October 18, 1950 till March 2, 1952. From March 3, 1952 till April 15, 1955, Mishrilal Gangwal Jain was CM. Once again, from April 16, 1955 to October 31, 1956, Takhatmal Jain remained CM. 

In 1956, Ravishankar Shukla took over as first CM of the newly formed Madhya Pradesh. Interestingly, Jain dominance in politics continued in MP to an extent, later too. Three Jain leaders, PC Sethi, Virendra Saklecha and Sunderlal Patwa, became chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh.

Another aspect of the politics in Madhya Bharat, from 1948 to 1956, is how many leaders were cabinet, at one point of time five senior positions occupied by Jain leaders. However, none of them used Jain surname, and hence their identities were either of caste [Bania] or region--Indore, Gwalior etc. 

As a result, there was no focus on how one group got over-representation. Digambar Jains on the other hand use Jain as surname and the practice has now become more common in recent years. However, even today leaders like Pawan Ghuwara, Manohar Untwal or even Jayant Malaiya in MP, are not seen as Jain leaders, rather their identities are more of region or caste.

Indore a city, ruled by Holkars, before independence had businessmen and industrialists like Sir Seth Hukum Chand Jain. The financial power and the clout, helped the section in politics too. It took a long time before power equations changed. 

*After re-organissation of state, MP had an area of 4,43,452 sq kms. However, when Chhattisgarh was carved out, MP remained a state spread over 3,08,252 sq kilometers. Now Rajasthan is the biggest state in terms of area, followed by MP and then Maharashtra.

*Digambara generally prefer using 'Jain' as surname, unlike Shwetambars who continue to use their original surnames ranging from 

*CP and Berar, formerly