Sunday, February 28, 2021

Indifference of Congress, secular parties' wings: Inability to act, confront or even speak up against right-wing groups' lawlessness acts

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

The inability and indifference of Congress and other secular parties' wings to confront or at least take stand against right-wing groups' excesses, is one of the reasons for the imbalance in society. 

Politics is about power and clout. If you fail to even wield clout on the streets or society, and don't even take stand, your voter ultimately loses confidence in you. Besides, you help opponents keep gaining strength on ground as well as in public perception. 

In the latest incident, two couples went from Indore to Khargone. Hindu Jagran Manch (HJM) men heckled the couples, informed police that the boys were molesting the girls, then cops booked the boys (Muslim) for kidnapping, molesting and forcing to convert under sections of Freedom of Religions Act, 2020.

Besides, in another example, a five-day drama event of IPTA was called of after right-wing groups including VHP opposed the drama 'Jati hi puchho sadhu ki...', claiming that it was provocative and against sentiments. The district administration cancelled the event.

Then, in yet another case this week, principal of a missionary school, Sister Bhagya was booked under anti-conversion law in Chhatarpur after a woman claimed that she was being asked to convert. Principal said that she had just passsed intermediate, lied about her graduation and after a year, she was sacked due to this reason. 


Unfortunate that wings of other parties don't even issue statement or meet officials to oppose street thuggery, false cases by RW groups. If NSUI, YC, Mahila Congress or Sewa Dal workers don't act, wield clout, how would they attain trust and power in society. BD can get anyone booked. 

You, at least, oppose! If you don't want to fight, don't want to take stand--either its moral policing, false cases, how can people come to you? You aren't just for fixing few things at college, university level. This is the reason people get fed up, look out for other parties, fresh option, new cadre.

In bipolar states like Madhya Pradesh, Congress' multiple wings--Women's Wing, YC, NSUI, Sewa Dal, they just never bother. If you don't have clout, you gain it by taking a stand, holding a demo, meeting Collector-SP over certain action that you find biased or one-sided. But no!!!

You don't even do the least--'confronting by issuing statement'. Then, your leaders tell victims later--'Our only request you, don't let THAT party enter the state'. You don't at all intervene & despite the decay, you are inert. What's your politics, after all!


Has a single Congress leader thought of writing an open letter to DGP, asking how Bajrang Dal can get any event stopped, create ruckus anywhere, then get FIR registered against others, people framed under harsh laws, police too act as per them. Are the cops functioning under them?

Congress or other parties' wings keep themselves away from these issues. And as a result, even in states that are bipolar, people want an option. BJP's youth wing is BJYM. ABVP is not students' wing of BJP, rather, they claim they are independent, and are actually allied to Sangh Parivar. Bajrang Dal and VHP are wings of the RSS. 

How these groups acquired so much power that cops almost take instructions from them! It took years--from the eighties, it's been going on. Yet this all goes unchallenged. Any group involved in lawlessness, disruption, gets innocents framed, lives destroyed. And no one bothers!

This article needs to be understood in context of incidents mentioned in the post below. Click the link to read and get a sense of how things get complicated, despite the 'rule of law'. There is no counter, no checks and balances. The result is collapse in law-and-order.

If there is a moral policing or case of excesses--false case registered due to right-wing groups' pressure, you can do the least by going to officials, taking delegations and ensure that the officials feel there is a force in the society that stands against lawlessness.

Several officials too want this to tell their political bosses about 'resentment' over one-sided action, but when no political party will bother to even take stand or go to streets or meet Minister, State police chief, City officials, what will happen?

If any group is indulging in lawlessness, you must raise this issue, question government over its failure in reining them in. But the silence is painful. In a way, it's unbelievable how active parties' youth and other wings can get so insulated, inert. 

If any party that wishes to have space and hold in society, it has to take stand, must rise against injustice & at least speak up for victims. If you can't do even this much, you can't remain strong. Many are closet RWs but other party leaders, workers, heads of the party wings must realise.

You hurt your own cause, the result is people no longer consider you as strong political force, not even taking seriously. Just a few cases that occurred within a week have been mentioned, otherwise, there are many such incidents. LINKLINK & LINK

READ: Bajrang Dal raids, police register case under harsh sections, people go to jail

Thursday, February 25, 2021

AIMIM's electoral footprint in India: Asaduddin Owaisi turning Hyderabad-based outfit into a pan-Indian political party

From a local political outfit, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) has increased its electoral footprint.

Once a party in a tiny dot on the map, today it has a presence in many states. From Telangana, it has gone up to North, West and East.

The AIMIM now has electoral presence in five states and a cadre in many more states. 

It has taken hard work, mostly in the last 5-6 years, but Majlis is now turning into a pan-Indian political party.

AIMIM does not have many members in the parliament and is not at the helm in any state. But is growing fast and is now in a position that it has state units. In Telangana, it has an MP, over half-a-dozen MLAs and MLCs apart from 44 councillors in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).

Though Hyderabad is the party's base, it has cadre in Maharashtra too--an MP from Aurangabad and two MLAs in the Assembly. The party has done even better in Bihar where it won five seats in Assembly elections in Seemanchal region. 

Now, in Gujarat, it contested on a few seats in civic elections and has won at seven places in Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. This is also an achievement, considering that there is no other party apart from BJP and Congress in the corporation. 

Earlier, in UP, its councillors were elected at several places in municipal elections. Clearly, the party is gaining strength and it is now spreading towards North India and other parts of the country. Credit is due to Owaisi for the hard work and dedication. 

NOTE: One of the reason that is driving AIMIM is that its leadership at state or district level is basically taking up issues pertaining to Muslims and their areas. In sharp contrast, Congress leaders refuse to even pay lip service or speak, let alone act, as they fear they would be seen as pro-Muslim and hurt their Hindu base.
When an AIMIM leader gets elected as a corporator, his main job is to talk about health, education, issues pertaining to his ward--mohalla or locality. He is expected to speak, act on these issues. It helps develop cadre and more people learn how to take a representation to officials or present memorandum, charter of demands. 
However, Congress' leaders irrespective of their religion, even refuse to speak when there is violence as seen in Madhya Pradesh recently--the incidents in Mandsaur, Ujjain and Indore where there houses and properties were damaged. Yet Congress leaders didn't even visit the victims.

Photo: AIMIM's Bina Parmar, who is among the elected councillor (corporator) in Ahmedabad. Earlier too, apart from Muslims, Hindus have been fielded in Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana. AIMIM has had Mayor from majority community too.

UPDATE: Now, AIMIM has also won seats in Godhra, Modasa and Bharuch, in the second round of civic elections. With presence of the party's elected representatives in urban areas, AIMIM is clearly a visible force in the state. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Partition of India: How migration differed from district to district in Uttar Pradesh, role of officials and politicians in controlling situation

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Just when country was partitioned, some regions saw major disturbances.
There were apprehensions among people regarding their safety in states and mostly in  towns of North India.
But violence was not happening in all the regions. People were abandoning houses, migrating more due to 'fears', rumours or apprehensions of attacks, also local factors in certain districts, towns. 
But there were also districts  that were unaffected. The difference in the situation between Jhansi, Lalitpur on one hand & Jalaun on the other, is important to understand [exodus at one place, peace in other], even now.

Apart from DM, SP and their intent at quelling rumours, controlling situation, the third--Congress district president in that situation, was immensely important. One district saw law-&-order issues, people leaving town due to fear while adjoining district remained in peace.

Congress was then seen as the party that led freedom movement. Its leaders were respected & its district chief wielded clout. So if they wanted peace, held public meet, gave call & assured locals, it had affect and also stopped people from leaving mohallas to a particular town.

There were some who wanted to go because of greener pastures--the educated glass, those in bureaucracy or those traders who were not ready to take chances & were selling property to just leave forever. We are not talking of Punjab & Bengal that were partitioned, directly affected. Within UP, situation in West UP was vastly different from Awadh and Bundelkhand.

'Systems' are in place but they work when there are some people at the top and have the intent to ensure peace, law-&-order. It was seen then, seen later in riots, even now. Things can be handled if officers or leaders who are fair, have commitment & take stand. Else, all fails.

While Punjab saw complete transfer of population and it was a state, along with Bengal, that were directly affected and divided, the other regions that were affected included--Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Migration was from many princely states too--Gwalior, Alwar, and later after 1948, from Hyderabad as well. 

North Indian cities lost huge Muslim population. Many had Muslim percent fall from 30 plus to barely 10-odd. Certain cities in South, like Gulbarga, also had huge fall in Muslim population [percentage]. Cities like Raipur had a drastic fall in Muslim population, as recorded in Census figures in 1941 and 1951.

It was not that there was violence in all these regions. The 'fear', the apprehensions, led to the exodus. Hence, fairness of officials, administration and role of leadership is always important. Cities where the main Muslim leaders, migrated, suffered hugely.

This is just a post, hence, I won't get into it, far. But one example is Khaliquz Zaman. He was not an ordinary leader, a person in constituent assembly, one day giving speech and then suddenly he left. That had a huge psychological impact. 

He was not an ordinary politician. He had been head of civic body of Lucknow for such a long time. He was among the tallest leaders and the manner in which he vanished, was shocking. This dealt a big blow. Seventy years have passed but still in Lucknow, people talk about it.

The role of political and social leadership is important, critical. You should have a leadership, more and more politicians who work on the ground, those who care, who are active, and can have the ability to go and talk to the masses, have a connect with them, apart from taking stand. It's the permanent lesson. 

Lot of oral history should have been preserved. Locals are aware but it was not properly documented--the impact on each district, the cities and towns that saw population reduced in a big way. What was the exact role of politicians and bureaucrats in these places, then!

We should have record, testimony. Though it's not recent past, but its not distant past either. People in individual accounts mentioned, a few about Moradabad or Saharanpur. Some wrote about Lucknow or Agra. However, Uttar Pradesh was affected in a big way. [This is a short post, will be updated later]

10 points about safety and security regarding lifts in wake of mishaps: Elevators in residential colonies, localities and precautions


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

First, Chief Minister got stuck in a lift. Now, a former chief minister too got stuck where the was a mishap involving a lift.

And, apart from them, a third incident when lift fell and several people including women, children got injured in a colony in Bhopal. 

The fact is that there are quite a lot of accidents involving lifts in India. Definitely, this is an aspect that needs attention. 

Lack of adequate focus on security regarding lifts, the quality & the compromises made in quality. When kids get trapped, its even more serious. Lift mishaps happen a lot, are reported less. Let's talk about it:

1. If lift suddenly stops and you are stuck inside it, the biggest problem is that often your mobile doesn't work inside and even if you shout, it takes time for people around to realise and then call help. In such circumstances, people who are inside the lift get panicky, so awareness about it is needed and dealing with it is important.

2. In Indian conditions, people get lifts installed but quality is often compromised. Regular maintenance is not there. In colonies, new buildings t hat have less flats occupied, the problem is more serious, because if someone is not close, your voice may not reach outside.

3. Always ensure that people in your locality know the protocol in this regard. I wish that lifts should always have a opening small window so that in case of emergency, you can shout or see outside, otherwise elders and ailing people suffer panic attack.

4. There are often situations when power goes off suddenly and lifts stop working. Is the system of power back up for lift, in order in your residential locality! This needs to be taken care of. It is really important.

5.  At some places alarm is not functional or the 'system' that connects lift to the other line and ensure smooth operations, was not in order. Power went off, lift stopped between floors, and hence gates couldn't open. Imagine!

6 . In colonies, your family members and maintenance office should always have the phone number of people who have the task to maintain the lift, the engineer, person who can rush fast and open a lift in case its gets stuck or any other security issue.

7. Recently, two incidents involving VIPs in lifts in Bhopal and Indore. Imagine, even in high security establishments, it takes time before action. So always ensure the lift is from a company that has good record, servicing.

8. There should be regular security audit of the lifts in the multi-storey buildings, proper check and the lift manufacturing company must take responsibility. Often to curtail expenses, there is a compromise in quality & later people suffer.

9. Then, certain other points that are not given attention, but they are equally important. For example, who has the 'key' that is used to open the lift in case of emergency? Is it with residential colony's maintenance office in your colony! And the duplicate key?

10.  Avoid using lift in old govt offices & buildings, especially, if the lift area is in a desolate corner &not many people seen in that part of the building. There are really bad incidents that keep getting reported from different parts of the country. Be aware, careful. Stay safe.

[Screen shot: Coverage of the incidents in Free Press, English newspaper]

Monday, February 22, 2021

Facing consequences for racist language in foreign countries: Indians must shun racism, avoid hate speech and learn to be sensitive

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi
First, the two incidents--Rashmi Samant, the first Indian female president of Oxford students' union, had to apologize and quit.
Similarly, in New Zealand, Kantilal Patel had to leave his office due to objectionable comments about Muslims. 
Making 'casual comments' on races, bigotry, biases and strong beliefs or prejudices that lead to stereotyping, all this should not have a place in any civilized society. 
A few points:
1. Both Patel and Rashmi Samant had to apologize, leave their posts in other countries. In India, it may not have no serious repercussions, but it has consequences in other countries. 

2. There is so much racism, bias and discriminatory mindset, that it is 'normalised' in certain societies. Here, extreme hate speech, calls for violence lead to no punishment or public shaming, besides, there is hardly any conviction or long sentence. 

3. The bigotry is often deeply ingrained. Sometimes, people take these biases to other countries. The absence of clear and dedicates laws to check hate speech, is another major issue. Though existing laws have some provisions but on ground, there is hardly any impact. 

4. On social media, even in real life, casually, people make such comments.  If strong biases & certain 'acceptability' about casteist, communal or racist beliefs within households was not enough, celebrities and netas pushing hate & using discriminatory language that affects communities is so common that lot of 'desis' just don't find it bad or serious.

5. Point is that despite tall claims about values, morality, the society has major issues and there is so much lack of sensitivity in this regard. Apart from known issues, also on skin complexion, race. African citizens who come to India, too speak about the prejudices here.

6. Sadly, there is no punishment for this in India. Not even shame or fall in stature. Petty politicians emerge 'stronger' after spreading hate & use of dirty, racist language or causing riot. Get power, 'respect'.

READ: Rashmi Samant quits after race row, flies to India

READ: Indian terminated over Islamophobic posts in New Zealand

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Nawab Hamidullah Khan's photograph on the front page of Nadeem: Old photograph of Urdu daily's special issue in Bhopal


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

On the left is an old issue of Urdu daily Nadeem, one of the oldest newspapers in the country. 

It was a special issue and the newspaper had carried the photograph of the last ruler of the erstwhile princely state.

It's the photo of a young Nawab Hamidullah Khan on the front page of the special issue. 

It is clear that this is the silver jubilee edition of the newspaper, as it is dated November 20, 1960.

The paper also has an advertisement of Usha and the company's products--sewing machine and fan. 

It's a part of the front page--top part. Nawab Hamidullah Khan was the last ruler of the princely state of Bhopal. The princely state was established in the first quarter of eighteenth century i.e. 1715-1720 AD.

Dost Mohammad Khan was the founder of the dynasty. It was in his reign that the constructions began and over the period, Bhopal became a town and later developed into a city--one of the most well-known cities in the era, due to its unique culture. The princely state patronized authors and poets.

Four women ruled the state, three of them in succession, for over a century. After Sultan Jahan Begum, her son Hamidullah ascended the throne. He was the last Nawab. It was in 1949 that the state formally merged into Indian Union. Nawab Hamidullah Khan had passed away on February 4, 1960. 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Mehfil-e-Naat, Manqabat: Urdu poets and devotional poetry in praise of Prophet, Ahl-e-Bait

Apart from 'mushairas', there are poetic meets like 'Mushaira-e-Tarah' or Mehfil-e-Na'at-o-Manqabat that are held in cities, towns. 

Poets who compose poetry in praise of Prophet Muhammad, recite the couplets in Naatiya Mushaira. 
Simiarly, there are poetry meets where poets render their compositions in praise of Hazrat Ali, Imam Husain. 
Most of these events aren't reported in 'mainstream press'. However, they are a common feature in most towns. 
These genres are such that not just poetic talent is tested but they should also be aware of historical events and could deal with the terminology, even the delicate use of language that has be kept. One of the couplets recited: 
Main ne naam Muhammad ka liya, khud Toofaa.n 
Chal diye le ke safeena mera saahil ki Taraf 
[Zeeshan Ali Shauq]
Ye aur baat hai ki saaya nahi tha unka magar 
Hasan, Husain parchaaiyaa.n hai.n Mohammad ki
[Javed Iqbal]
Jab azeezo.n ne meri timardaari chhoR di 
Dard-e-ulfat ne Nabi ke, kar diya achcha mujhe 
[Qaaim Husain Qaaim]
This post is just to give a glimpse about the Indo-Islamic culture and poetry sessions held in most cities in India. This report published in Roznama Sahara mentions that Anjuman Baqaa-e-Mahfil-e-Naat--Manqabat organised a session. Mutahir Husain Nausha presided over it.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Magic formula behind BJP's popularity despite price rise, hike in cost of Petrol, LPG, unemployment or issues on the border

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Time and again, people wonder and discuss that why price rise, fuel hike, unemployment, mishandling of major issues, just nothing seems to work for the opposition and other parties.

There was an era, when even a slight increase in LPG price would anger the entire middle-class and this was felt by the ruling party when UPA was at the helm. Ruling parties had to give 'explanation' for everything, back then. 

However, it's no longer the case. The reason is not difficult to find. There is a strong feeling among a large section that its 'our govt', even if it fails or takes steps that hurt, this is 'our own' & ultimately it will take care of 'our interests'.

Other parties still worry how to tackle it. But by following same strategy--by appeasing Hindu populace or going for 'soft Hindutva', you can't beat your opponents in this game, as they have perfected it. 

The moneyed, vocal citizens, middle class, aspiring upwardly mobile people who own resources and have ability to push narrative, are part of this section. The BJP must get credit that they worked very hard to indoctrinate, pushed their narrative for years.

This was going when opposition parties were careless, thinking that 'propaganda', 'wild conspiracy theories' won't work. It's a fact that the BJP succeeded in defaming Congress' leaders so much that even if they speak, they are not taken seriously. 

TV and newspapers that earlier used to give strength to the opposition's voice and served as vent for public anger, are no longer in attacking mode. And anyone who questions is now seen as 'anti-national'. That's the eco-system. 

But that's not the end of the road. Opposition has to do things, differently, smartly. And needs to speak up, ensure that it's message reaches people. There is price rise, there are definitely issues. So what, next! 

At least, now, do the hard work. Either on petrol price or sensitive things like border issues, the strength on the street is still not visible. The aggression, the voice, the consistency. Energize the cadre, catch sentiment, channel it, fighting spirit is needed to survive in politics.

BJP definitely has a strong organisation, pool of dedicated workers is big, they worked for years & years even when there was little hope for them. I know some of them haven't even got benefits after party being  power, remain 'karyakarta', but listen & keep doing 'their work'.

Agreed, the religious, ideological nature has a greater pull. But for a party like Congress that has its roots in freedom struggle, it's leaders asking journalists-writers to 'give points to them to tackle the narrative', I mean, what are you doing, even now, nothing!

Photo--Amul's official account, Twitter. LINK

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Politicians who buck anti-incumbency even after successive terms: Leaders, CMs who know the trick, leave no other choice for voters

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Disenchantment with a ruling party can come easily. 

After all, how many citizens can feel that they are in a state of bliss, for a long time. 

All the citizens can't get a job or even a constant rise in their personal earning.

Hence the anger with the regime is always likely. Besides, what else you get from state governments? 

How many promises are met with or personally do most citizens get any direct benefits! Within states, voters are bound to get upset after sometime. Traditional wisdom says that anti-incumbency factor should come on its own. 


Trick is to beat it despite doing nothing, survive & win again.

For every government, this is the key. How to ensure that popular sentiment doesn't go against it. How the expectation level gets so so low that without even doing something really constructive, people remain happy or at least feel that it's better than the rest. 

*Defaming opposition, so that people never ever consider them an option, better if they hate the other parties. Also, dividing society, making a few classes as 'enemy' for the rest. And ensuring that citizens vote on the belief that by voting them, they will remain dominant & powerful. 

Clever identity politics, even if it doesn't get the voter anything real in return. But the perception, the feel, matter. So to manage, Governments do certain things. Generally, there should be tremendous incumbency after a term, but see how CMs continue to beat, remain popular term after term. 

They do some clever things, very smartly. Of course, along with 'managing' media within State, very well. The success in this 'art of narrative' along with PR blitz and that media is reined in. The aim is to keep the narrative in control.

Credit is due to leaders who keep winning term after term, their love affair with the electorate continues. Of course, opposition has to take the blame, as it is not able to even emerge as a strong option. But for this too, the ruling party leader, cadre and supporting organisation's nonstop efforts, are the reason.

In the end, one must still marvel at the citizens who can believe that there is no option in sight & no better standards or scope of more competent, visionary politicians coming up to raise the bar and also the expectations. After all, it's said that the people deserve the leaders whom they elect!

As far as Madhya Pradesh is concerned, even after three terms BJP lost barely by a whisker. Despite Goa fiasco and Karnataka, Digvijaya Singh and Kamal Nath weren't alert, didn't even try to get support of independents of third party legislators, for an entire year, until the legislators realised that the Congress was taking them for granted. 

So that was really careless for Congress, Scindia switched and they lost the government. Those who have killer instinct or snatch power, do it. Others can cry foul, as they too had opportunities in the past but didn't grab or were soft, when the need was to play game by the changed rules. Ultimately, it's about the politicians we have around, the 'system' and the voters.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Muslims may not vote for Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi in future: Is Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) aiming to be become BJP's 'B team'

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had won Delhi elections in February 2020. Polls revealed that nearly 70% Muslims had voted for it. 

The year witnessed riot in Delhi, later students' arrests, sanctioning prosecution, lot happened. 

Now, in 2021, Raghav Chadha's shocking statement over a murder has once again led to strong reactions on social media. 

People are openly calling out, reacting and many now term its leaders asopportunists without any clear ideology and having politicians who can bend or take any political line, when it suits them. 

So they are not different and can communalize blatantly if it helps them! Is there support for Arvind Kejriwal and his party, among Muslims anymore! Doesn't seem so. But the next election in Delhi, is far away. 

If a political party that is fundamentally anti-minority, plays such a role, then it's a different matter. In case of AAP, what happened, shocked the voters. It was seen as 'centrist' earlier. Anger, hurt is such that leave Delhi, if party plans expansion outside, there won't be minuscule section of Muslims voting for it.

Some thought it was a non-BJP, Congress option, others felt it as a regional party for Delhi, which focused on development& would stay away from communal issues, despite AK's past. But within months, felt they'd been back-stabbed & that it was just another offshoot of Parivar.

From its role in the entire period, apathy, how it abandoned even towards its own Muslim leaders, and the handling-stand during crackdown on students, Jamia, later sanctioning prosecution, it has given its electoral base, such a jolt within a short time!

Saturday, February 13, 2021

What language media, regional press need to do: For Urdu newspapers too, original reports from ground are the key for impact, survival

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

If a language newspaper carries news that is available elsewhere too, then there is no uniqueness. 

It is seen as just translation of news available from other sources. 

In today's world, that's no longer not enough, it shows lack of imagination and if you run a established regional media group with a legacy, you are doing grave injustice to your own capabilities.

Language media or regional press doesn't mean carrying the same story that is reproduced in every other outlet, in your own language. Of course, when you pick up papers, most of the stories would be similar but ONE or TWO unique stories are necessary. 

Regional media or language press i.e. newspapers in states or the papers in other languages are not just supposed to carry the news which people are already getting from other sources, TV, social media and mobiles. 

They must have certain other strong points--either should be known good network in that area or for their exhaustive ground reports. This is important to understand because those consuming your work, are doing it just because of a habit.

You can't catch next generation or create impact, if you don't have a difference. Or if you have certain things that only you can provide them. As far as Urdu media is concerned, it is even more important, because it caters to a particular section. 

People are already getting stories from links that are shared on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. They also get stories from TV, internet and Mobile Apps. Unfortunately, many established Urdu media groups and seasoned journalists ignore this aspect and the change that's coming fast.

It is by 'doing stories, coming out with fresh, original and interesting reports, breaking stories or even data based insights, little known facts, that they can get huge mileage. It helps in building a brand, which is necessary.

Not only this is the way to gain credibility, you can present yourself as expert of the region or at least a particular area, community or section. And also its make others [non-Urdu media] acknowledge your work, its importance or even follow it. 

The fixation with 'Views' hurts the Urdu media. VIEWS are important but NEWS is foremost. You are upset with others reporting biased news. Fine. You can simply go to field, report from the ground, change the news narrative completely. 

If you come up with fresh insight, a new angle, a better follow up the next day, then they'll be forced to carry your reports, give you credit, which will enhance your reputation and strengthen your voice. Also, in city or state, your group will gain credibility. At least, people will know that these are established groups. 

There are dozens of ways to get your media house or newspaper attain prominence without spending much amount. Some points I have mentioned in an article earlier. I hope to write it in a few posts in future.

[Photograph is just for representational purpose. It shows Acharya Pramod Krishnam reading popular Urdu daily, Sahafat]

Friday, February 12, 2021

Biggest cities in India before independence: Census reports show huge changes in growth of Indian cities, their population


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

There has been a staggering rise in population of cities in India, since indepenence.

More people migrated to cities and the rapid urbanisation led to cities turning into  mega cities. 

The increase in population has been huge in the last few decades. Bagalore, Surat and Pune have emerged as big cities, among the top ten in the country. If we go back and check census figures, we find out they were much smaller cities. 

Prior to Independence, there were just two million plus cities--Calcutta and Bombay. The population of Kolkata was more than 21 lakh or 2.1 million. Bombay was 1.489 million i.e. 14.89 lakh, the second largest city in terms of population. 

All others didn't even have a population of 1 million or 10 lakh. Madras [Chennai] was third at 7.77 lakh and Hyderabad was 7.39 lakh. At fifth place was Lahore--6.71 lakh. The remaining five in the top ten included--Ahmedabad, Delhi, Kanpur, Amritsar and Lucknow. 

Ahmedabad was 5.91 lakh, Delhi 5.21 lakh** [see note], both just a bit more than half-a-million. Kanpur was 4.87 lakh, Amritsar 3.91 lakh and Lucknow 3.87 lakh. Then, three other cities had more than 3 lakh population--Howrah, Karachi and Nagpur. 

All others were under 3 lakh and this included the cities that are huge now and are past or getting close to 10 million population now. For example, Dhaka and Bangalore. It was still a very predominantly rural country. It was undivided India and things were to change, soon. 

Post-partition, Delhi, Dhaka and Karachi became big cities

Till 1947, Dhaka was not such a big city. Even Karachi was much smaller, compared to Lahore. Delhi also saw a huge influx of population after independence and it also kept growing, very fast in the years to come. 

In pre-partition era, the last census figures suggested that after the top ten cities, the order:

1. Calcutta, 2. Bombay, 3. Madras, 4. Hyderabad, 5. Lahore, 6. Ahmedabad, 7. Delhi** [see note], 8. Kanpur, 9. Amritsar, 10. Lucknow. The cities that came next included 11. Howrah, 12. Karachi, 13. Nagpur, 14. Agra, 15. Benares, 16. Allahabad, 17. Poona, 18. Bangalore, 19. Madura(i), 20. Dacca, 21. Solapur, 22. Srinagar, 23. Indore. All of them had a population ranging from 2-3 lakh or slightly above.

The cities with population less than 2 lakh included: 24. Bareilly, 25. Lashkar, 26. Rawalpindi, followed by 27. Jabalpur, 28. Patna, 29. Surat, 30. Meerut et al. Today, Delhi, Bangalore, Surat and Pune have seen a huge population rise. In neighbouring countries Karachi and Dhaka are now two of the biggest cities of the world.

Pre-indepenence population of certain other middle-level cities

Howrah 3.79 lakh

Karachi 3.59 lakh

Nagpur 3.01 lakh

Agra 2.84 lakh

Benares 2.63 lakh

Allahabad 2.60 lakh

Poona 2.58 lakh

Bangalore 2.48 lakh

Madura 2.39 lakh

Dacca 2.13 lakh

Solapur 2.12 lakh

Srinagar 2.07 lakh

Indore 2.03 lakh

Bareilly 1.92 lakh

Lashkar [Gwalior] 1.82 lakh

Rawalpndi 1.81 lakh

Till now, we were talking about, the population in the past. Coming back to our times, Solapur [or Sholapur] that was equal to Dhaka [Dacca] once, is now far behind and its position is at the 49th place  in terms of population in India. Surprised! That's how demography works.

In Pakistan, Karachi is now the biggest city. Its population was 1.6 crore or 16 million, a few years ago. Similarly, Dhaka was 9 million in 2011. The population of Greater Dhaka is also getting close to 20 million or 2 crores. Both are among the biggest cities in the world now.

Indian cities NOW: Metropolitan areas and urban agglomerations

A distinction is necessary between a municipal coporation area and a city. Sometimes, city is much bigger than municipal corporation or a mega city may be divided among several municipal corporations for administrative purposes.

Hence, for comparison, it's better to go for Metropolitan population as per latest Census report. 

This census was undertaken in 2011. The report had come a few years later. Next census' report will take many years. 

Many of the big cities have become so huge--Mumbai crossed 18 million i.e.1.84 crore. 

Delhi 16 million or 1.63 crore, Kolkata 14 million or 1.41 crore, followed by Chennai 86.96 lakh, Bangalore 84.99 lakh, Hyderabad 77.49 lakh, Ahmedabad 63.52 lakh, Pune 50.49 lakh, Surat 45.85 lakh, Jaipur 30.46 lakh.


Two more Kerala cities will enter the club of big cities, soon. The trends and projections suggest that not much will change as far as top cities are concerned. Calicut and Malappuram could make it to the top ten list. 

Both these cities will cross 5 million or 50 lakh by 2030. This will happen as Jaipur and Lucknow will be relegated further. Besides, two more cities of Kerala will be part of Top 15--Thrissur and Kochi [Cochin]. 

NOTE 1ABOUT DELHI. In the census, Great Delhi that included population of New Delhi, the other population in and around, including smaller settlements and the inhabitants of rural Delhi, made it slightly higher. 

In 1941 Census, Delhi had three categories. I, II and III. Adding all, it was higher than 5.21 lakh, New Delhi 93,000 and the rest 80,000, adding to almost 6.95 lakh. Also, it was treated as a province then as well in Census. 

This is the reason that there is lack of consistence and Delhi's population before partition shows variation in different articles and sources on the internet. After partition, Delhi saw influx of refugees from Pakistan and it grew astonishingly.

Being a national capital, it has the status of state. In 2001 census, Delhi's population has been recorded as 1.1 crore or 11 million and that of Delhi metro area as 1.6 crore or 16 million. So that's the reason for variation. 

Delhi region has a municipal corporation, municipal council (NDMC) and 12 Census Towns apart from a Cantonment Board. A list of towns, areas that fall under Greater Delhi, the Metropolitan Urban Region, is available at Census website.

NOTE 2: The order of cities kept changing earlier too. For example, if someone goes through reports of Census 1891 or 1911, 1921, it could be even more surprising to see how cities became bigger or smaller in terms of population. However, the figures here are from the decade of 1940s, as this is base for pre-partition figures, the last count before independence.

NOTE 3: Current population ie. metro area population figures are from Census 2011 figures. Spellings have changed--Dacca to Dhaka, Bangalore to Bengaluru, Cawnpore to Kanpur, Bombay became Mumbai and Madras is now Chennai. Poona is now Pune, Calcutta is Kolkata and Madura is Madurai.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Concern about 'image' in foreign countries but not worried about stopping harassment, need for justice or ensuring independence of institutions?

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Senior journalist Nidhi Razdan recently expressed her concern over India's image in the world, especially, the Western Media.

She tweeted, 'Crackdown on farmers, jail comedians for jokes they didn’t tell, arresting journalists, internet shutdowns, a troll army that unleashes abuse 'against' @rihanna @meenaharris and all critics- India has a serious international image problem. Real democracy is our biggest asset'. 

This was about her piece in Gulf News. While she is a well-known journalist and speaks objectively, we expect better. It is not just about 'image', what must concern us is harassment, atrocities, be worried about how to stop injustice and set things right in our country.

Self-styled moral brigades, vigilantes and groups that attack and lynch need to be reined in. Further, when laws brought to discriminate and  harass, when people specially targeted over food, life style, marriage, existence that are under attack, it's not mere 'image problem'.

This is serious, it affects everyone. But it affects minorities [read, Muslims] more. It is about lives. Let's talk of rot in the society, need for justice, own issues. This is a big issue and a democracy like India must ensure that institutions remain independent. 

Lynchings to law over 'Love Jihad', selective use of draconian laws like UAPA, when houses demolished depending on owner's name, when on mere suspicion of what someone has eaten or the cattle he was buying or grazing, person can be attacked, then it's not merely an image problem.

Concern should be towards stopping Hate, bigotry, tackling injustice, checking the collapse of institutions, pushing back such laws that are brought to oppress and above all think of ways, how to improve a society that ignores lynchings and atrocities--attacks on minorities are so 'normalized' that doesn't seem to bother the majority!

Either in Delhi violence or later, we have seen how suspicious people enter mob and amid police presence, attack or wield gun at students [remember Jamia], however, they get away easily and not booked under tough laws. 

However, victims, activists or those defending themselves get booked and sent to jails. I don't want to blame those who have good intentions or question their role. But they should call a spade a spade, talk about the elephant in the room--communalism, hatred, compromised institutions.

So once again, it must be said that when people are specially targeted, when there are inflammatory speeches and attacks on minorities and the victims are often penalized [not the perpetrators], then it's not just 'image problem', this is too deep. 

Let's talk of rot in the society, need for justice, own issues. For those, who call themselves liberals, it is important that human rights are universal and fascism, everywhere must be fought and condemned. We need to rectify, redress and not just think about projecting our 'image' outside.

Lot of people who want to be seen as 'liberals' too whitewash, tend to pass off this organised violence as 'fringe' or 'exception'. Institutions have been tamed or willingly started toeing the line, media has been controlled and earlier too it lumpenized the middle-class.

As a result majority is not affected much by anything--even laws on 'Love Jihad', meat, conversion et al. Reality is unlike Western democracies, here institutions don't have the mechanism or willingness and strength to undo the damage. 

Alas, when there is international coverage that makes us get serious, sit up, take notice and in turn, this forces institutions to act sometimes, then our 'liberals' call it 'image problem'. 'Just image problem'. 'Handle it'--that's so simple!