Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Ramadan / Shawwal 1423 H
December 2002
Volume 15-12 No : 192
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Men, Mission & Machines


Discovery of the Real India


Discovery of the Real India

Disturbed by the Babri Masjid demolition, Anwar Ali Khan started his all-India tour on his scooter
from his hometown Parbhani in Maharashtra in 1995. Arriving in Mumbai recently, Khan relates to
M. Hanif Lakdawala his startling discovery that the common man is not communal at all.
His worries are much different and related to water, food, roads and employment.

indian-rural-womanHe left home on March 13, 1995 to tour the country to discover if the common Indian is communal in nature. Seven years and seven months later, Anwar Ali Khan was in Mumbai last month, on his way to the riot-hit town of Solapur. On his last leg of journey, Khan will proceed to New Delhi to release his travelogue - India Through My Eyes in English, and Aankhon Dekha Bharat in Hindi - which he hopes to get released by President A. P. J. Kalam. Khan, a freelance journalist, claims to have visited almost every state in the country as well as Nepal, Bhutan, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Lakshadweep Islands. Today, his photo albums do not have pictures of the Taj or the beautiful valleys in Kashmir, but faceless, nameless people whose stories are etched in Khan’s mind.

Disturbed by the Babri Masjid demolition and its aftermath, Khan (45) started his all-India tour on his, then eight-year old scooter from his hometown Parbhani in Maharashtra. “I have covered 1,95,000 kms on the scooter, travelled through 77,000 villages, stayed with 15,000 families and interacted with 98,87,612 people. Also, I have visited 14,000 colleges and 70 madrasas,’’ says Khan, who left on his tour with a camera, tape recorder, transistor and a sleeping bag, among other things. He went looking for communal India, he could not find it anywhere. He wanted to focus on national integration, communal harmony, environment protection and population control. Now, with his journey almost complete, Khan is full of anecdotes and stories. Brimming with optimism, he says, “I found that the common man is not communal at all. His worries are much different and related to water, food, roads, employment and so on.’’

On his experience in Gujarat, he says, “I have travelled 13,000 kms, before and during the riots, and have actually spent only Rs 26 for my food in Gujarat. This is because of the hospitality of the people there. Despite the fact that I am a Muslim and that my name is emblazoned on my scooter, 90 per cent of the families who played host to me were non-Muslims.’’ Khan, who has already found a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records and the Limca Book of Records, says he managed to pay for petrol and other necessities through the honorary money he was paid when he was a lecturer in various colleges. Help from unexpected quarters also helped. “A mechanic in Hyderabad altered my scooter, so though I can’t drive over 50 kms limit, it gives me an average of 90 kms per litre,’’ he laughs. Before sputtering away on his scooter, Khan’s optimism borders on utopia and he shares his belief that “India and Pakistan will unite in the future.’’

Indian FlagKhan is also emphatic that it is incorrect to state that a Muslim in India is insecure. “I have travelled the entire country alone and have not had a single communal experience. Just because some cities witness riots, it is unfair to say that the entire country is communal.’’ He adds that the average Kashmiri is not anti-national either. “How else would I have been allowed to travel with the national flag on my scooter through the Valley and the so-called sensitive areas?’’ he asks.Khan goes on to explain, that even the madrasas he visited proved that they do not indulge in any anti-national activities either.’’ “In fact”, says Khan, “the real problems faced by Indians today are rising prices, growing unemployment, exploitation and atrocities against women especially in states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar, and commercialisation of education. Education has not brought the change it was supposed to and has failed to introduce a scientific outlook among people. The educated, today, have become hypocrites and self-centred,’’ he explains.

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News| Community Roundup| Editorial| Readers Comments| Men, Machines and Methods| Globe Watch| Political Diary| Issues
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