Islamic Voice
Jamadi-Ul-Awwal 1422H
August 2001
Volume 15-08 No:176

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FEATURES


Trivandrum Muslim Association: Setting New Goals
Commission of Errors
Kids of Muslim Prostitutes: Should They be Ignored?
Interview : Md. Aslam Parvaiz


Trivandrum Muslim Association

Setting New Goals

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Kayamkulam Yoonus in Thiruvanathapuram

The Trivandrum Muslim Association, the umbrella organization of Muslims of the capital of Kerala, plans to establish an engineering and a medical college. The Association which runs a string of institutions, has unfolded plans while celebrating its 44th year of establishment. The Association has elected Haji K. M. Salih as the new president, Advocate M. M. Hussain secretary and Shahul Hameed treasurer and installed a group of energetic Muslim youth in the new executive body which should see the realization of new dream of the organization as it is headed for its golden jubilee.

 


K.M. Saleh
President


M.M. Hussain
Secretary


M.M. Shahul Hameed
Treasurer

Kerala was formed with the merger of Travancore, Cochin and Malabar while Indian states were reorganized. The responsibility of serving as capital fell on Trivandrum. The city had virtually no social and educational infrastructure for the Muslim community. Influx of a large number of Muslim employees, businessmen, and professional from various parts of the state necessitated a base from where the community could plan its progress. On November 3, 1957 a meeting was held at Merchant Chamber Hall of Mayyanna Building at Chalai, the commercial hub of the city. It had been convened by late Janab T. R. Kuttiammu, managing director of Marikkar Motors Group. A committee of the Association was constituted with him as the president, T. P. Kuttiammo and IAS officer P. K. Abdulla were elected as vice presidents, K. Abdul Rahman was secretary, while S. M. A. Khader was Treasurer and K. B. A. Hameed as joint secretary. All barring K.B.A Hameed IAS(Retd.) have passed into the history. Hameed still continues to be a member and has been recently elected vice president of the Association. During 1968, the defunct Muslim Club which was founded in 1948 merged with the Association.

08TVM!1

The initial activities of the organization included giving scholarships to a few Muslim students. The organization acquired its first mentionable asset in 1968 with the purchase of 43 cents of land and a building near Jagathy, in the city centre and the building was named after Seethi Sahib, the late speaker of Kerala Assembly and was inaugurated by the Education Minister C. H. Mohammed Koya. Another memorable event was the foundation stone laying ceremony of the cultural complex at Palayam by then President of India, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed. The Kerala government donated 27 cents of land for the purpose. The Association’s office, Cultural Centre, Auditorum, an ITI, Study center of the Kamaraj University etc, are functioning here at present. With the assistance of Islamic Development Bank, the 4-floor Cultural Complex is nearing completion.

The association currently runs two Men’s Hostels and one Working Women’s Hostel in the city providing accommodation for the women professionals and students from outside. These hostels are cosmopolitan in nature and the allotment is on first- come-first-serve basis. The Women’s Hostel is run and managed in a rented premises by the Women’s wing of the Association. The foundation stone was laid for its own building in January 22, 1977 while Justice Fathima Beevi was its president. The building was inaugurated by then Governor of Kerala, Ms. Jyothi Venkatachellam in August 20.

Association has built the Thampanoor Mosque to cater to the visiting public, with a Musafirkhana alongwith it. This is the only mosque which is not run by any Jamath and is very helpful for the commuters, located as it is close to the Central Bus and Railway Stations.

Under the auspices of the Association, an educational trust was registered in March 1991. It acquired land at Nettayam in the outskirts of city and a CBSE school was established. With the assistance of Abdul Rahman Rafi, philanthropist from Saudi Arabia, (the school is named after him) the school complex has been put up with lot of other facilities. The school has now been sanctioned with plus two level courses as well. Sayed Khan, former managing director of Kerala Tourism Development Corporation deserves special mention for running of this school to the level of one of the best in the city and in shaping the institution.

The Association also conducts coaching classes for competitive examinations, group marriage schemes, organizes medical aid for the poor. It also represents community’s problems to the government.

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Commission of Errors

The Minorities Commission in Rajasthan is a toothless body headed by a political featherweight.

By A Staff Writer

Jaipur: The Minorities Commission established in Rajasthan with much fanfare two years ago has failed to deliver the goods in the absence of the statutory status promised to it by the State government. Its Chairman, Dr. Nizam Mohammed, seems to be in no hurry to make the Commission an assertive body keen on protecting the rights of minorities.

Ironically, the Commission as of now has no power even to ask for a document from a Government department, let alone inquire into a complaint independently. It has been rendered a toothless organization, unable to take a tough stand on receiving complaints about discrimination against minorities in the social milieu of Rajasthan. Despite the Congress (I)-led government’s assurance, the issue of according statutory status to the Commission was neither raised in the budget session of the State Assembly nor was there any formal initiation of the process to table a Bill to grant it legal status. Dr Nizam Mohammed who was a nondescript Congress (I) leader before he was appointed the Commission’s Chief, now intends to request the State government to promulgate an Ordinance granting statutory status to it. He says the chief minister Ashok Gehlot had assured him that a Bill would be brought in the Assembly, but it could not be done because the budget session was adjourned abruptly following a turmoil created by the Opposition BJP.

Nizam is neither consulted by the government on minority-related affairs nor has he shown any inclination for espousing the cause of minorities. At a press conference in the State Secretariat recently, Nizam listed the Minorities Commission’s “achievements” during the last one year. He claimed that the State government had withdrawn the TADA cases against 40 Muslims and appointed teachers in madrassas under the Rajiv Gandhi Golden Jubilee Schools scheme on his recommendations. He also said that Muslims had been appointed to various government bodies, an Urdu B. Ed. College in Jhalawar was given recognition, a Minorities Cell was established in the Home Department and various ministers were made in-charge of the Prime Minister’s 15-point programme for minorities welfare in the districts on the advice of the Commission. The claims are, however, at variance with the facts. The Muslim community had exerted political pressure on the State government through the TADA Relief Committee to get the vindictive TADA case revoked. The 15-point programme remains practically unimplemented in Rajasthan. Similarly, most of the madrassas are unwilling to accept teachers as they will have to bear the burden of salary after six months.

The Commission failed to bring succour to the Muslim families who were victims of violence as well as police excesses during communal riots in half a dozen towns across the State around Muharram this year. Nizam did not think it fit to even personally visit any of the towns affected by violence. The Commission took no initiative to prevent the lapse of Rs. 2 crores sanctioned for modernization of 619 recognised madrassas in the State budget of 1999. The State government’s failure to disburse the grant in time, reduced it to a meagre Rs. 78 lakhs and it lapsed eventually at the end of the last financial year. The six-member Minorities Commission was appointed by the Congress (I) led-government in Rajasthan in May 1999 in keeping with the promise made in its election manifesto. The members appointed to the panel were Sardar Mastan Singh, Asrar Ahmed, Asghar Ali Naqvi, Syed Ansari and Prof. David N. Sen. The Minorities Commission was first established in Rajasthan on September 23,1993, when the State was under the President’s rule. The axe had fallen on the previous Minorities Commission during the then BJP regime in December 1996. The ground mentioned for the controversial decision was that the three-year term of the then Chairman Ashk Ali Taak had come to an end.

The BJP leadership had publicly stated that the majority of Muslims in the State were converts from Rajputs and Jats and there was no discrimination against them in the society. Without paying heed to the ground realities, the then government declared that all minorities, be they Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and neo-Buddhists were well-off in the State and there was no need to patronize them. Muslims constitute 7.28 per cent, Sikhs 1.44, Christians 0.12, Jains 1.82 and Buddhists 0.01 per cent of the total population of Rajasthan The previous Commission’s report for three years of its existence, submitted to the then Governor, Baliram Bhagat, was never tabled in the State Assembly. The strongly-worded report had accused the BJP government of disregarding all Central schemes for welfare of minorities, including the 15-point programme, and throwing all norms to the wind by discriminating against minorities in all walks of life.

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Kids of Muslim Prostitutes

Should They be Ignored?

Stigma of prostitution does not wash. But children of the prostitutes can be saved from inheriting their mothers’ mantle

Maqbool Ahmed Siraj

Problems do not go away by ignoring them. They fester, assume menacing proportions and ultimately damage the entire society.

Few in the Muslim community would like to hear about Muslim prostitutes. Yes, they exist. And exist in greater numbers than the community’s fair share, so to say. Going by the social stigma, one would realize how difficult it would be to reform and rehabilitate them. But a much easier course would be to at least rescue the children of the prostitutes, remove them from their environment and thereby ensure that the world’s oldest profession ends with the unfortunate mothers and the children are not sucked into the slushy whirlpool. But since most Muslims and Islamists live in the candy floss world of idealism, none has ever attempted any rehabilitative measures for the vulnerable kids, if not the women mired in vice and sin.

Usha Wagh and her husband Vilas Wagh are Dalit activists from Pune and work among the prostitutes. The couple has been doing yeoman service in rescuing the kids of the prostitutes, bringing them up in special hostels and placing them in the wider world to lead a life of dignity. Both are academics. Usha earlier taught Mathematics and Statitistics at Pune’s prestigious Fergusson College while Vilas was assistant director in Adult Education Department. They gave up their positions and set up Samata Shikshan Sanstha which runs hostels for the Other Backward Classes, schools for children of tribes that were named as criminal tribes by the British. They have even set up the Dr. Ambedkar College of Social Work in Dhulia under Jalgaon University.

I had a chance meeting with Usha during my recent Pune visit. Her account of the prostitutes is insightful and I think it will be appropriate to share them with the readers of Islamic Voice. I wish it lits a spark for social activism in some heart.

The question is how would the Muslims deal with this issue. It should not be a case of throwing away baby with the bathwater, while the case with the other communities is that they even depollute the bath water itself. Will Muslims muster the courage to embrace these kids and address the larger question?

Some years ago, Vilas’ survey on behalf of the Indian Institute of Education revealed that Pune’s red light districts like Budhwarpeth and Shukarwar Peth have nearly 5,000 prostitutes. Of these roughly 30 per cent are Muslims. Generally prostitutes assume names of other community women, Hindus taking Muslim names and the vice versa. This is to conceal the real identity. Be it Hindu or Muslims, women fall into the ring when they find no support for them and their kids once they are widowed, deserted, or divorced. In order to serve their clients, they drug their 3-6 age group kids to sleep. This is the age when kids grow phenomenally, both physically and mentally. Long sleeping hours render them weak and sick and spoil their childhood. Beyond this age when these kids go to general schools, they are hated and called names. No amount of effort washes off the social stigma.

Vilas was moved by their plight. He set up hostels under the Bala Sangopan Kendra (Child Reform/Rehab Centre) in order to remove the kids from the red light districts, though not altogether denying contact with mothers. Since most Hindu prostitutes were from OBC, SC or ST communities, Vilas could avail benefits for them under schemes meant for these sections.

But Muslim children could not be benefited from these schemes. Moreover, there was general lack of awareness of subcastes among Muslims. Most Muslim prostitutes would cite Shaikh, Sayed or Pathan as their caste while some Muslim castes such Derivish, Pinjara, Takara etc were elegible for OBC benefits. So most of their kids dropped out. But thanks to the Wagh couple’s efforts, a good number of children of the Muslim prostitutes were brought up by the Kendra and its hostels. Some of them were given non-Muslim names. Sameena (all names changed for protecting privacy) was an extremely beautiful woman who was misled by a pimp and took to prostitution. Her two equally beautiful daughters were taken away by the Kendra and educated up to 12th. Nimita Ghatage works as a receptionist with a doctor. Daughter of a Muslim prostitute, she has been saved completely. Though herself a Muslim, she would not like to marry a Muslim.

Neelima is daughter of a Muslim prostitute from Mahboobnagar(Andhra Pradesh). She studied upto 12th standard and has settled in life after marrying a non-Muslim. According to Usha, some Hindu prostitutes would point out one or two of their kids to be brought up as Muslims because they are certain about their Muslim fatherhood. The Waghs have case studies of at least a dozen Muslim kids who were brought up in the hostels. But they feel the Muslim community should take care of children of Muslim prostitutes as they have some culture and religion specific problems. By doing this they would at least initiate a step towards a problem which the community ignores but cannot deny.

Mrs Usha Wagh runs a bookshop of protest literature named Sugava Publications in Pune and can be contacted at : 020-4478263(shop) and 4355316(Res.).

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Interview : Md. Aslam Parvaiz

'GM Foods are Dangerous for Nature and Human Beings'

The threat of Genetically Modified (GM) foods is hanging like a Damocles sword over the nation. The latest developments in biotech engineering have made it possible to tamper with genetic structure of foods and animals. The Islamic Voice spoke to Mohammad Aslam Parvaiz of the Islamic Foundation for Science and Environment recently when he was in Bangalore. Parvaiz teaches Botany in a Delhi University college. A doctorate in Botany from Aligarh Muslim University, Parvaiz also edits the monthly magazine Urdu Science from New Delhi. The magazine popularizes natural sciences in Urdu, particularly among graduates of madrassas. He has also attended seminars on environment in Harvard and Yale Universities in the United States.

What is GM Food? Genetic modification in the food material is a century old phenomenon. Scientists have been modifying crops as well as livestock through the time-tested techniques of crossbreeding which is also known as making hybrids. But these things were done in nature under natural conditions and were given trials for years before selecting a desirable variety. There were no ‘unnatural’ elements or processes then. These varieties thrived well in nature, competed successfully with other varieties and gave us healthy food. However, with the advent of genetic engineering techniques, scientists have devised short cuts to bring about changes within one generation, i.e., instantaneous changes with the help of genetic techniques. Scientists can now identify the gene responsible for a certain character. That gene is synthesized artificially and is incorporated into that plant to double or treble its effect e.g., if scientists are interested to increase the yield of corn, by increasing the size of the cob, they would simply multiply the number of genes in the plant which control the size of the cob as a result of this GM, the cob would grow to a two or three times bigger than its normal size. Naturally to support such a big cob, the plant itself would be huge with very big leaves. So to say, we will have giant corn plants. What are the harmful effect of such plants for nature? These plants because of their sheer big size virtually drain the soil of its nutrients as well as its organic matter and structure.

G.Mcrops are likely to disturb the local plant population as well as kick up diseases unheard of so far.

To supplement these losses, inorganic fertilizers are added which further disturb the balance of the soil by proportionately decreasing the organic content. Secondly, these genes have every chance to migrate and move to other plants during natural breeding process, which always occurs, and is very difficult rather impossible to control under natural conditions. As a result, those plants, which get these genes through breeding would also be big in size and would ultimately disturb the local plant population in that area. Harmful effect on human beings? Growth whenever it occurs requires proteins, which are the building blocks for the body. These plants when they grow in size, they synthesize different types of protein in different proportions and many of these proteins are not produced in a normal plant.

These proteins when they are consumed by human beings are very likely to produce some kind of adverse reaction either in the form of allergies or may be something worse. People are already vulnerable as one of the potato chip company, a Multinational had used American corn which was prepared as a GM food. But was withdrawn under protests. The Government woke up and asked for the withdrawal.

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