Dhu'l-Qa'dah / Zil-Hijjah 1423 H
Volume 16-02 No : 194
Camps \ Workshops
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Muslim India, the magazine run by Syed Shahabuddin, a former career diplomat and Member of Parliament, has ceased operation. Syed Shahabuddin who was also the editor, wrote his last edit in the last issue that reached subscribers in the last week of December, 2002.
In his last edit, “Witness to twenty years of struggle, transformation and survival - A postscript,” Shahabuddin wrote: “ Muslim India has recorded this transformation from ‘Indian Muslim’ to ‘Muslim Indian’ and monitored the evolving equation between religious identity and the nation-state reach a stable equilibrium, not only in form, but in substance, not in fear, but in freedom, as a declaration of faith, as a proclamation of Indianness, without claiming any special rights, without asking for anything in return, but acceptance as equal citizens. The Muslim India has consistently played a positive role in catalyzing and accelerating this transformation under a regime of Democracy, Secularism and Social Justice.” Further, Shahabuddin wrote: “One question haunts me. Isn’t something wrong with the community if it cannot support one authentic journal of documentation, reference and research? Yes, the Muslim India received many encomiums, ‘a unique journal’, ‘a journal with unparalleled and historic contribution’, ‘the documentation of our contemporary history’. Yet the number of subscribers diminished, perhaps in keeping with my political fortune, perhaps reflecting the elite’s instinct for self-preservation which instinctively rejects association with a venture seen as anti-establishment and pro-Muslim and, therefore, communal and anti-national! How can persons with a future associate with a subversive venture?”
He stated the reason behind the closure with the candour for which he is known: “To put it bluntly, advancing age, diminishing energy, falling circulation and financial crisis combined to force me to call it a day.”
The signed editorial said at the end, Khuda Hafiz and Eid Mubarak (Goodbye and Happy Eid). The monthly journal had been documenting everything that had the slightest bearing on Indian Muslim lives over its 20 years of existence. Financial difficulties, physical strain and growing involvement in myriad Muslim organisations and institutions led Shahabuddin to decide to transfer its ownerships to a younger band of journalists who are currently bringing out Milli Gazette, an English fortnightly from Delhi. One hopes the Magazine serves the cause even more in it new incarnation.
Recently, a two-day seminar was organised by the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism and Minority Rights Group (UK) in Mumbai, in which a number of eminent academicians, journalists and activists participated to focus on the deterioration of minority rights in India. The seminar was inaugurated by Mungekar, Vice Chancellor of Bombay University. The VC is a well-known agricultural economist and the first Dalit VC of Bombay University. He observed that in today’s world, no country is without a minority. In case of India, in the last 15 years, the rights of minorities are deteriorating and also they are being suppressed openly. The state, which should have been the protector of rights of minorities, is itself suppressing those rights. Mungekar opined, that had special provisions been made for the Indian Muslims from 1906 itself, Partition could have been prevented. Justice Dawood of the Peoples’ Verdict on Bombay riots averred that Article 29(1) of the Indian Constitution confers on each and every citizen of this country the right to have a distinct culture and to preserve it. He highlighted how the Hindu fundamentalists have two faces.
Ram Punyani, who fearlessly exposes the Hindutva, warned that Hindu Rashtra does not recognise human rights of a large section of Hindus themselves, so it would be naïve to expect that Hindutvavadis would respect minority rights.
Imtiaz Ahmad, an eminent sociologist and political scientist, too warned against the false propaganda by a section of politicians that there are too many rights given to Muslims and that minorities should have no special place in a democracy. Why is communalism increasing? It was pointed out that high level officer-criminals who indulged in communal killings, rather than being punished, are promoted. For example, Tyagi, the Police officer, who was responsible for killing of 12 innocent Muslim boys in the bakery on Mohammad Ali Road during the communal riots in Mumbai was promoted as Police Comissioner of Mumbai.
Irfan Engineer, a human rights activist and a practising lawyer, said that even though a lot of noise is made about the rights of minority educational institutions as enshrined in Article 30 of the Constitution, in reality they do not mean much. AbuSaleh Shariff, Chief Economist, NCAER, who has done a lot of evaluation surveys, revealed that in India, lot of money is spent on public programmes to help the deprived sections, but no evaluation studies have been done to know their effectiveness in reducing the deprivation.
Iftekar Ahmad, Editor of Shodhan, regretted that time and again, the government has failed to protect the minorities in times of need. So now, the time has come for the minorities to depend upon themselves. Justice Dharmadhikari felt that no Indianness is left among the Indians. “We have characterless political leaders who will do anything to grab power and remain in power”, he said. Kuldip Nayyar, the internationally renowned journalist, felt that Gujarat elections were fought on empty issues viz. Pakistan-hatred and Muslim-hatred. Today, it is a fight of Hindu-Muslim liberals against Hindu-Muslim fascists.
Chikmagalur: Swami Agnivesh, Father Pinto, the Students Federation of India, the Democratic Youth Federation of India, the Mahila Jagruthi Samithi, the Karnataka Muslim Muttahida Tehreek from Shimoga and a large chunk of people from Karnataka converged at a rally in Chickmagalur, recently. The focus of the rally was to express their discontent over the communal attitude of the BJP, the RSS, the Shiv Sena and the Bajrang Dal over communalisation of Baba Budangiri Shrine in Chikmagalur. The shrine attracts both Muslim and Hindu devotees. But the VHP has been trying to place an idol there claiming it to be Datatrea Peetha. Though the slogan has few takers locally, the fascist organisations have been trying to bring in activists from outside and inflaming passions. “Sab Milke Chalo” created the ethos of communal harmony in this cosy town where the early morning fog over the hills presents a breath-taking view. Baba Budangiri is said to have brought coffee seeds from Arabia and created coffee plantations in the area. The saint who made Kemmangundi hills his seat is also revered by the Hindu community in Karnataka.
Hyderabad: The Telugu Islamic Publications, (TIP) Hyderabad, a brain-child of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, established in 1977, in Hyderabad is striving to fulfill the Islamic literary needs of the Telugu speaking Muslim and non-Muslim community based in Andhra Pradesh. About 70 per cent of the 12 million plus Muslims, out of a total population of 80 million of Andhra Pradesh are conversant with the local and the state official language, Telugu. Clearing the misconceptions of Islam, cleansing the Muslim community of innovations in their religion, establishing peaceful brotherhood among various religious communities are among the principles upon which the TIP has been established. Within the ambit of TIP is the Telugu weekly magazine Geeturai, a 24-year old weekly Telugu magazine published by TIP. The non-Muslim readership ratio is about 50 per cent. The postal library is an innovative free service of Dawah-at-Doorstep. Out of 7,000, 60 per cent of its membership comprises non-Muslims.
The TIP can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or over the phone at : 00-91-40-2456 4583.
Fax: 00-91-40-24576237.Postal: Sandesha Bhavanam, Lakkadkot, Chatta Bazar,
Hyderabad-500 002, Andhra Pradesh.
Aligarh: Several Muslim intellectuals at a conference here on the ‘cyber world’ urged the Muslim youth to use internet for positive and constructive work, rather than for gambling, betting and pornography. Prof. M Zakariya Siddiqui, a member of the World Red Cross Society, Geneva warned that the use of the internet for unlawful purposes violates Article 66 of the Information Technology Ordinance. This Article prohibits gambling, betting and pornography. The people involved in any type of cyber crime could be sentenced to imprisonment upto five years and fined up to Rs. one crore. Afrina Rizi of the department of journalism, AMU and Dr. Arif Rizi, stressed that the internet could be used for providing information on Islam.
On receiving the Sahitya Akademi Award for his book Dhuan in Urdu recently, writer, poet, lyricist, Gulzar said that this was the first time his work in Urdu has gained recognition. Gulzar said that though his scripts for films have always been recognised, “this award has been a recognition for my personal work. That is what makes it so satisfying. I’ve been into literary work for a long time but due to my script writing for films, it never got recognition. So I felt I had not reached people yet”.
Gulzar opines that Urdu zabaan is what we speak in our daily lives. “It’s a combination of many dialects. Even in films, 80 per cent of the language used is Urdu. Urdu is not Persian, just as Hindi is not Sanskrit. It’s just that the way they are spoken, and their sounds, are different. Just five or six sounds make all the difference” he said.
According to Gulzar, Urdu has revived in the last three to four years. “The National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language, Delhi, is doing a great job. Now, Urdu software is also available. Urdu calligraphy is majestic, but it is not seen since Urdu writing is published in Devnagari. That is the sad part. Out of prejudice, we should not attach the language to any religion. Urdu is an Indian language, it is born in India. It is not even a Pakistani language, it belongs to us. It’s not a language of Muslims, but of Indians”, he said.
Mumbai: Those living in thousands of shanties along Barrister Nath Pai Road that snakes through the central suburbs of Reay Road and Dockyard Road all the way till CST, dread the midnight knock. The slums in this stretch are the traditional refuge for those who migrate to Mumbai from Bangladesh. With the announcement of the Central government ordering their immediate deportation, the one lakh odd Bangladeshis in Mumbai are on their guard.
Paan-chewing women wearing sarees with the characteristic bright floral borders busy themselves with their daily chores or chat animatedly around their bari (home). The men, sporting beards and dressed in kurtas and colourful lungis, are anxious and huddled in small groups. “Now, there will be more harassment. In any case, Crime Branch men keep picking up individuals in this area regularly and deport them. We all fear the midnight knock. Crime Branch officials usually land here in the dead of the night. They take away people to the police station and a lengthy interrogation follows. If you don’t have valid documents, you better have money ready’’, says 55-year old Khan.
It’s not easy to evade the police. The settlement is unmistakably steeped in the culture from where they come. They squat close to their homes on the road and lunch on rice and macher jhol. Peep into any home and you find the residents glued to the Bangla programmes on the television screens. If that is not enough, their tongue gives them away. The heavily accented Bengali casually breaks into passable Hindi when approached by a stranger.
Most of the Bangladeshi do not have any identification papers. In the late 1990s, L.K. Advani had mooted a proposal to give ‘work permits’ to Bangladeshi migrants. The proposal was acclaimed as a realistic measure to cope with the exodus - including from Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan. So whatever happened to the ‘work permit’ idea?
The poverty-stricken migrants from Bangladesh, according to estimates, number a staggering 15 million in India. Given that this migration has taken place over three decades, identifying and deporting them would be nearly impossible. Many Bangladeshis have been here for generations and have acquired ration and photo identity cards. Even after deportation, they will keep coming back. The demographic shift of this ‘human flow’ is often due to linkages of geography, community, religion and language, as it is for socio-economic and political reasons, as were the migrations during the 1971 war, the 1974-75 famine, or after natural catastrophes and communal/ethnic violence. This is a historical phenomenon mirrored all over the world. There is reason to take the home minister’s directive to ‘throw out’ ‘illegal’ Bangladeshi migrants with a pinch of salt. The Bangladeshi question has been raked up time and again by the Sangh Parivar, often as a political rhetoric.
New Delhi: Contrary to the general perception that Madrasas in the country are averse to the idea of modernisation of the education system, a majority of Madrasas in Delhi favour inclusion of modern subjects in the curriculum. They, however are unwilling to accept any intervention from the government in their functioning. There is a fear that government intervention in the functioning of these seminaries will snatch away the very sanctity of the madrasas. These observations were made following a workshop of Madrasa teachers and administrators here recently. The workshop was organised by the department of education, Jamia Millia Islamia.
In the workshop, they were informed about the latest teaching methods, student psychology and new developments in the field of education. There were six sessions on the use of computers too. According to Mohammad Akhtar Siddiqui, director, Academic Staff College, Jamia Millia Islamia and organiser of the workshop, the majority of Madrasas favour teaching of modern subjects, at least at the elementary level. But, he says, they do not have the teachers, the space or the money for the purpose. “Many teachers, administrators and parents of the students are, however, convinced that it is necessary to introduce modern education compatible with the times,” says Siddiqui, who has surveyed some 450 madrasas across this city.
Shoeb Abdullah, a teacher at Jamia says, the syllabus of the madrasas has not changed for over 100 years. “There have been lot of changes in the subjects they teach, but they are carrying on with the same old pattern because the teachers are not trained and there has been no effort to reform,” he said, adding that the teachers were taught at the workshop how to design a modern syllabus and introduce subjects like mathematics and science in madrasas. “Any effort to change has to come from within. They will not tolerate any interference.Teachers in the madrasas are underpaid, they have been isolated from society. We wanted to show them that there is another world”, explains Abdullah. In the view of Mohammad Yosuf, a madrasa teacher who attended the workshop the syllabus is so hectic that the students felt overburdened when they are introduced to subjects like English and mathematics. “I liked the way they taught us to design the syllabus at the workshop,” he says.
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee recently honoured 10 eminent Indians settled abroad with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, during the recently held three-day Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. One of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman recipients is Fatima Meer,72, and bubbling with life. Fatima Meer’s claim to fame is the biography she wrote of Nelson Mandela, Higher Than Hope. “My husband Ismail and Mandela were close friends and thus I got to know him,” says Fatima. The third-generation South African Indian was in India to give the final touches to Krutao, an eight-episode TV serial for which she wrote the script. It is based on the diary of a 17th century Dutch coloniser. Krutao is a tribal girl who rises to become a sort of diplomat and a hero for the tribe. Fatima has just completed Prison Diary, a memoir of her experiences behind bars. “I am planning a biography of my husband who was an advocate and an anti-apartheid activist,” says Fatima. “And then maybe an autobiography.” Dr Fatima Meer, director of the Institute of Black Studies, University of Natal, Durban, has been closely associated with the African National Congress and its charismatic leader, Nelson Mandela.She was an active participant in the years when South Africa abolished apartheid, and thus had a ringside view of the momentous changes taking place.
When asked what she felt about the whole Pravasi Bharatiya Divas and the proposed dual citizenship for Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs), she said the Divas was a good idea, but like all ideas it had to grow. On the proposed dual citizenship, she said it was “very nice’’ to be told that “you’’ are also a citizen of India, but people of other countries had problems. When the issue of dual loyalty arose there were bound to be tensions, she said. She compared it to the problem the children of divorced parents faced - loyalty to the mother or the father. On communal violence in Gujarat, Meer said it was more tragic because it was not in keeping with Indian values. She also said that Partition was one of the “world’s greatest tragedies.’’