Friday, July 07, 2006

Poet Par Excellence

The Milli Gazette
New Delhi, 16-31 Aug 2004

Special Reports

By Asif Anwar Alig

Urdu Poet Jagan Nath Azad
Losses are reversible and painful as well. Death of Jagan Nath Azad on July 25, 2004 bogged down the aesthetics of Urdu poetry in several aspects as his death is an eternal loss of an era, where poetry worked as a medium to teach humanity. Professor Azad (1918-2004) wallowed the credentials conferred upon him by the Urdu world as a renowned poet, prominent literati and fathomed a critic who gave new dimension to Urdu literature.

The turning point in Azad’s literary aspirations was not exceptional. He was born and brought up in a respected family where Urdu was flourishing under Tilok Chand, his father and a poet par excellence of his time. Azad wrote his first verse of poetry at the tender age of five and his first teacher was none other than his father who corrected his lines. The verse was: Paharoun Ke Uper Bane Hein Makan. Ajab Unki Soorat Ajab Unki Shaan. Tilok Chand as a critics corrected the second line: Ajab Unki Shaukat, Ajab Unki Shaan and appreciated his son’s creative connotations.

Azad never looked back in anger. Even his father never knew that this boy would emerge as a prominent poet in future and would cross all heights of success even leaving him behind.

Allama Iqbal was his role model as a poet. He indirectly prepared himself to become a person who finds himself a true human being instead of a Hindu. He was not too much influenced by Hinduism or Islam. Theoretically he followed Hinduism and in practice he knew and practiced the intricacies of Islamic values. This was one of the reasons that his life became a role model for humanitarians to emulate.

Azad’s lifelong struggle to unite the masses of both India and Pakistan is one of the foremost achievements of his career. After the bloody Partition, he never forgot Lahore. Neither he kept himself aloof in India. His poetry was a silent protest against the division. Time and again Azad felt that unity in diversity is the only key to bring peace to both the countries:

Kaho Dair-o-Haram Walo! Yeh Tum Ne Kiya Fasoun Fouki
Khuda Ke Ghar Pe Kiya Biti, Sanam Khanoun Pe Kiya Biti

(Tell the guardians of Mosque and Temple, What confusing atmosphere you have created. Did you know what happened with the house of God and the mentor of peace).

Hindu Koi Yaa Koi Musalman Nazar Aaya
Hasrat Hi Jiski Naa Wa Insaan Nazar Aaya

(Someone came up as Hindu and some as Muslim. What I had realized to see was none but a human being).

Artificial partitions never hampered Azad’s emotional bonding with the masses in India and Pakistan.

As a professor of Urdu in Jammu University, Azad took all steps and fought tongue to toe for establishing the Iqbal Chair. He repeatedly wrote letters to the then chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir, Sheikh Abdullah in this respect. This way India showed the way to recognise one of its greatest poets.

Jagan Nath Azad is no more with us today. But his contributions for the promotion of Urdu literature and poetry would remain a towering step for the future generations to follow. Urdu world has lost one of the pioneers who scintillated Iqbal’s philosophy and a selfless servant of Urdu who worked tirelessly ignoring the religious and cultural boundaries. His works and contributions will remain a source of inspiration for us to form new wave poets who respects the idealistic and humane literary and journalistic approach of Jagannath Azad.

Of gender inequality and emancipation

                                                      The Kathmandu Post
Kathmandu Thursday October 11, 2001 Ashwin 25, 2058
By Asif ANwar Alig

The cases of gender inequality and low sex ratio always haunt the patriarchal societies. India has lower sex ratio than many African countries. Considering women as second class citizens and compelling them to survive under a form of gender apartheid are the usual phenomenon. Women are dehumanized at every step of their lives, either in their homes or outside. They lag behind in all quantifiable areas of development which cannot be measured. Further more, they suffer discrimination and violence. Studies reveal that one woman is molested every 26 minutes and raped every 34 minutes in India. Every day, almost 288 Indian women die of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Some 37 to 38 million women, who might otherwise be alive today, have died of negligence and maltreatment.

This anti-female bias prevailing in our society is the result of cheapest scanning techniques. Ninety percent of the female foetus are terminated annually in India. Estimates show that about five million female feticide operations are conducted in India every year. Declination in female sex ratio is alarming. This has declined from 970 per 1,000 in 1991 to 927 per 1,000 in 2001.

Sex determination tests and illegal abortions are the factors. Punjab, Harayana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and Delhi have been witness to high decline in the number of females. According to recent census reports, Harayana has the lowest sex ratio, which stands at 875 females per 1,000 males. Bihar shows even graver situation.

These worrying problems prevail not only in India but also in the whole of the South Asia region, where the ratio of women to men is very low compared to the rest of the world that stands at 106 females to 100 males. This indicates that thousands of female were either never born or died of chronic malnutrition because of lack of medical attention.

Dowry system is the main culprit. A study conducted by Foundation for Research in Community Health (FRCH), Mumbai shows that most women visiting for sex determination tests had or have two or three daughters. They do not need any more girl child. But a male child comes an asset and highly profitable for the future. This tends women to undergo repeated pregnancies and sex selective abortions. The socio-religious system that offers superior status to the male child contributes to social evils. Women are given due respect only if they give birth to a boy.

On an average, the police register nearly 5,000 cases of dowry death and 3,000 cases of dowry harassment annually. The number of cases of bigamy and divorce by mutual consent are growing day by day. Over five hundred thousand cases of deserted cases are still in pending in various courts of India. Annually at least 12,000 cases of rape, 13,000 cases of kidnapping, 26,000 cases of molestation and eve teasing and 11,000 cases of sexual harassment are registered to police which represent only 10-25 percent of the crimes actually perpetrated on women in India.

Illiteracy is the greatest scourge tarnishing humanity at all levels. The guardians of our society consider educating a girl child is waste of money as she is bound to marry and leave her parental home one day or the other to live with her husband’s family.

Even though more than sixty percent children are enrolled in primary schools every year, only sixteen percent of the girls continue to attend classes after 5 years. Girls encounter resistance from within their family to pursue education. The naive assumption that educated woman might pose a threat to her husband and upset the family status quo is one of the setbacks of grassroots development. It is pathetic that even after 54 years of independence, female literacy in India is merely 35 percent, well below the 63.9 percent for men. With minimal education and lower political vision, their involvement in electoral politics differs sharply from the nationalist movement and the immediate aftermath of independence when they played active and purposeful role in bringing India’s dream come true to the present perspective. Women and children represent 67.7 percent of the country’s total population. Almost all political parties woo them for fulfilling their vested interests. But an interesting dimension is that, though women electorate consists of 50 percent or more, they do not automatically support woman candidates. The reason is that political parties hardly field women candidates who have independent work and achievement to their credit. Women candidates in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections held only 49 out of 545 parliamentary seats. In the year 1996, only one out of 25 judges in the Supreme Court was woman; and 3 percent of the total number of high court judges were women. Total number of women Chartered Accountants in the country stands at 5.8 percent only. In the year 1995, total percentage of registered women medical practitioners stood at 20.8 percent only.

Gender based quote has never brought fruitful results. Instead, it has developed a ghetto mentality in our society. In spite of the reservation policies of successive governments, for a decade, there are states like Karnataka which had only one MP in the 12th Lok Sabha. Kerala with its highest female literacy rate and unfavourable sex ratio had only one woman MP in the 12th Lok Sabha.

Empowerment of women on the basis of quote can be possible only when the democratic process is genuinely democratic. And when every individual is given access to education and an assurance of justice. In the present perspective demand of reservation for due representation of women in parliament and state legislators seem more like a hunt for the post rather than empowerment. Most women politicians in India have inherited political offices in absence of a comparable male figure. With some notable exceptions like Ms Mamta Banerjee, most of them hail from privileged background and enjoy power by virtue of birth or marriage.

In Indian societies, a man generally is not required to participate in domestic jobs. If seen sharing them, he would be ridiculed for his ‘women like behaviour’. Governments cannot be blamed for such mindsets. Thinkers, writers and voluntary organisations will have to come forward to eliminate these nonsense traditions that result in suffering of the women themselves. Even the religious organisations cannot escape their responsibilities. They too have to come across and convince people by their sermons.

Women’s empowerment can be considered ‘complete’ only when they no longer require any reservation, rather they prove mettle in all spheres of life. It is a happy sign that lots of young women have started expressing that they would prefer to come up in life on the basis of merit rather through reservations.

Bihar Diary

The change of guard, after fifteen years of misrule, in Bihar might smooth the befuddled political ambitions of its biggest political party Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) to rethink and reorganize itself in the next five years. So applies to the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) that dripped into its own crossroads. For ultra secular reasons LJP was one of the major contenders to see the affairs of the state more angrily.

In a very short span of time, after the masses of Bihar gave their mandate and elected the new government, it has also provided “ample opportunities” to the left handled Congress led Central government --- the UPA to calculate their future strategies in countering the right piqued Nitish Kumar government of the state. This would help the RJD too to understand the art of the war of muscles for how to regain power in the shattered state in the next assembly elections.

Former governor Buta Singh tried to pamper his power in unopposed conditions, and had enough mileage to rule the state for several months. His second innings too was like his first innings, when he demurely complied with the political pressures that overpowered constitutional sanctity.

None could ignore his efforts in constituting a high-powered committee to curb criminal activities in the state in his first attempt of constitutional crackling. To remember one such, he applied the power to let down the gangsters, got arrested 15000 absconding criminals who were caught and put behind the bars under the able handling of the then state chief secretary K.A.H Subramanian.

This special derive was an initiation to improve the law and order situation in the state that was one of the major reasons of imposing president’s rule before a new political equation was expected to take birth. Mr. Singh, then, deserved full marks on his assignment.

Subramanian had then repackaged a crime control panel under the aegis of the police and administrative authorities of the state and had then briefed it to the media in his first one on one when the state came under president’s rule, “the state legal department is giving final touches to a crime control act like TADA. The home and legal departments were studying TADA and the crime prevention laws in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Similar provisions would be made in the new legislation to curb crime in Bihar”. The then acting advisor to the governor might remember this statement of his own. He might have, perhaps, conveyed this to his successors also. But more than hundred day old Nitish Kumar government seems to have disagreed with him for now.

Nothing has materialized from then till date. The hoopla has resurrected with the garnering of Mr. Kumar’s secure prospects to rule the state to add on in creating history. Criminal activities minus political stamp pad, continues in the state. Cracking a few notorious goons is nothing but a routine diagnosis of the ailing law and order situation of the state.

What Purnea tells
Purnea is one such sub-divisions of Bihar that goes after an old saying, “come to Purnea to die”. The sub-division is a full fledged district stretched into 18,78,885 kilometers with eleven blocks namely East Purnea, Krityanand Nagar, Banmankhi, Kaswa, Amaur, Bainsi, Baisa, Dhamdaha, Tarhara Kothi, Rupauli and Bhawanipur. This is obvious that the new government is trying its level best to end criminal activities in the sub-division but no fruitful outcome has come in fore till date.

The new government of the state should avail this opportunity to partake the constitutional empowerments for securing Purnea’s pride that is ogling into the deep dark ages along with the time. The district, primarily an agrarian one accommodates four renowned rivers of the Bihar, namely Kosi, Mahananda, Suwara Kali and Koli that provide abundant water to the farmers of this region and other parts of the state as well, and though they are also the primary reason of their devastation; flood in the rainy season is mandatory that costs lots of lives and properties every year. Even then the district is one of the major producers of jute that are grown here as its land is fit for this cultivation.

Bordering several other districts of the state like Araria in the north, Katihar and Bhagalpur in south, Kishanganj and West Dinajpur of West Bengal in east and Madhepura & Saharsa districts in west, Purnea has its own identity as a central point of the region.

The preceding governments, including present one to be mentioned here, might have forgot that Purnea once known as “poor man’s Darjeeling because of its favourable climatic conditions and rainfall”, is being neglected by the state governments that is one of the largest producers of poultry and egg in Bihar.

The new government needs to introspect that how much concerned it has been upon the periods in curbing the criminal activities in this region that ruins the historical identity of this sub-division. Prosperity here has turned into devastation.

Employment generating aspects that once mushroomed in Purnea is now extinct thought for its inhabitants. The past experiences of malnourished deaths, natural calamities be added, that the region always encounters; a well saying goes, “there was a time when people in the area fell like flies to the malaria”. The present status is more alarming.

People still fell like flies. But malaria mosquitoes have less impact now. They are replaced by the goons, who are armed with sophisticated weapons and spew blood and terror in the villages and other towns of the district and its adjacent areas like Araria, Kishanganj and Katihar.

The bonhomie has come to its peak. It is not denying that the masses treat the administration and the criminals equally --- in the same quo. Their faith, strength and belief in democratic system of governance have turned into fight for the might attitude. They are scared masses much scared of themselves and the goons. Nobody dares to come out and be quoted on the issues like criminalisation, rape, extortion, kidnappings and killings for ransom or are even ready to present oneself as witnesses if has faced such atrocities.

The reason is that it can happen to any one who opens their mouth or be repeated again because police are not in the position to secure their lives at the first instance. “Better to survive cowardly than to die early” is boorish but applies at large in this region. Surprisingly local journalists are not courageous enough to report these crimes for one reason or the other.

The organized crime found base in this unorganized region; Purnea where like Assam, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Orrissa, organized criminal groups have already flourished, is emerging in this sub-division. The North Bihar Liberation Army (NBLA); most notorious of the gangs and White Ant Army, another group are thriving to develop anti-constitutional and anti-democratic spirits, that in the long run, would hamper the growth prospects of the region.

This is for long that the history of Purnea is dying down gradually. The state governments, either the president’s rule by the governor, or the legislative assembly elected by the masses should take utmost efforts to curb criminal activities for providing better opportunities and prospects for the survival of its inhabitants, failing which the region would divide this part of India into some more pieces.

The saying goes that history repeats itself. In case of Purnea it seems untrue. Peace has turned into turmoil. Is India ready to see the emergence of another gruesome partition? Purnea is encountering the suppressed growth. The government should take ardent steps to control the law and order situation here either it is any!

Tough Loo
June 20, 2006

All one needs to know of the pathetic condition of dream city, Delhi

The dream cities of millions are not rare in India. Delhi is one of the metros that enchants lots of young professionals to look hither and thither for hunting better opportunities for survival, opportunities for betrothal besides fulfilling sensual and infighting dreams to have sexual encounters; live in, extramarital, gay and et al to having the luster of dating etc. I don’t like to sit idle in my occasional dates that I attend, though I feel bore along my partners, who too face the stigma of having the company of a too mature date friend. I usually find it okay to have one in my company, either for the pleasant ride or for reproaching the methods to earn wealth by interviewing socialites for page three. For one who understands my mind and is a bit mature remains as personal trait.

For having one such encounters materialized I took the help of one of my juniors, Shadab Ahmad Khan who happens to work under me in the office, to accompany me to meet a personality who forgives your mistakes in one excuse, unlike the ruled Indian trend. We are about to reach the high profile Akbar Road near India Gate. The Gate said so---ironically closed forever. None can pass through the gate, as this is not permissible for Jack and Harry. Even the first citizen of the nation, Mr. Prez can’t cross the gate for purchasing lollipop and or ice cream. Neither any other high profiles even think of moving along free as Delhi has now become the hub of bomb scares.

Nobody knows where the bombs are kept and when they can burst. Such activities go at peak when the traditionally rich country of ours prepare for any of the festivals amongst many; for that Indians are always known. The elite Delhites are powerful in their drawing rooms. They know well to use power politics, their posts and their contacts while intimidating any of their juniors, counterparts, contemporaries or the middle or lower middle class chums. But once they are out of home or far from the security zone they know that anything can happen. Bombs don’t recognize the faces the powerful and the needy equally. My young champ Shadab is a good driver. He enjoys driving bikes. And he enjoys keeping the escalator out of control. Any devout Muslim like me, some of my friends still assume that I am devout enough and follow my religiosity, can well remember the Almighty Allah and chant Kalma while sitting in his back while he drives. I chanted all religious deities while Shadab kept driving the bike. It took a few minutes to reach to Akbar Road.

I enjoyed my rendezvous with my seventy something friend, at that place the village occupied by the high profile “poor” citizens of Delhi. I instantly read the pale face of my young friend. But without wasting a minute I kept chatting with my “older” friend and kept the “young chap” in aloof. My attention diverted when I saw the young toddler’s face changing hues. His multi-hued face started changing expressions. I enjoyed reading his face. He looked like a good drama artist. I also realized his talent for the first time---he could have worked as best mimicker of the country. Such expressions of him remained less enchanted to me as my seventy something friend proved more intellectual than a brood.

I too sometimes project myself in the list of intellectuals. But this company was educative. And finally I finished my one on one in three hours and moved forward to the other face of Delhi where I reside---the place that is having its own identity with bleak water, sanitation and electricity facilities. My area of Delhi reminds me of the true India. I am happy that I don’t own any home at Akbar Road. I live in peace and enjoy writing columns in the candlelight, find solace in acknowledging the real Indian society. That is why I don’t deny advocating, “India is the country of villages”. And once you talk of rural traditions you should talk of abbot and not of royal segregations.

We were about to come out of the security zone area of the capital. My chap kept riding his bike faster and faster. I told him to understand the ethics of rustic life. Can’t we live in peace? Can’t we remain out of the dogma? We should realize that complexes, both inferior and superior, would hamper our progress. We should die another day and late too. We have lots of assignments to complete before our death. We have responsibilities in the office and at home. Why can’t we drive slow I suggested him. Without listening me, he drove faster. Finally in the free roadside evening environment near India gate he revealed to me that he had to be faster as he needs to attend the nature’s call. “I need to go for loo,” he said. I abruptly suggested him, why don’t you finish it up anywhere roadside. You need not worry. Things are okay here.

After all we are the citizens of free India. No way sir, I am searching a place that proscribes urination activities below any poster or municipal corporation order. People usually relieve in those places because those places are free of any police atrocity. Police don’t cajole you there. Stinky places have it’s own charm. It helps you to get relieve. I admired his suggestion and thought of implementing the same once I feel to attend the nature’s call soon. In the meanwhile I saw a roadside public toilet. I suggested him to first attend his “nature’s call”. Following my humble order he approached the attendant to get him relieved of the “call”. But the attendant denied his entry and requested him to come for loo after a week, as the minister who was out for a political tour did still not inaugurate the public toilet. He came out sadly, keeping his patience down.

I consoled him not to worry. We moved forward. In few minutes we were about to reach to Nizamuddin. I found an unusual reaction on his face. He was exclaimed. He told me; let me free myself of the Lord’s call. He had seen a board saying, “Yahan Peshab Karna Mana Hai:” He finished soon. We moved to our home near Okhla. I was happy, he was happy and both were in our “safe zone” area. I always keep myself cool that I am not gobbledygook, as my area doesn’t accommodate maximum numbers of public toilets. Hence the area remains safe---most politicians out of sight.

I, me and myself

This was a usual weekend evening in my office. As a boss, I usually kick a few rebukes on my junior pals; order them to plan new stories for the coming week and think of more innovation because television viewers have now become road smart. They always hunt for a change. Thus we need to fulfill their demands, moreover to counter with our competing television channels. My files were ready. I had signed the pending bills. The post production of the show was going smooth.

My colleagues were attentive, though I am well aware that they possess much show off tendencies; listens to me all the rubbish I chat and does what they feel, always sincerely follow up the upcoming projects wholeheartedly. The ‘I’ of my personality has always been one of the centres of attraction for my colleagues. They listen to me while I share my experiences as a television journalist, and still they are relieved that I have not been one of the typical bosses who should be strict, don’t laugh, don’t joke, don’t walk much in the corridors and don’t ‘eat alone’. Some of them even offer me to watch romantic movies in my company and I don’t bother projecting myself the carefree cute guy image that, as I remember, I was having decades ago.

I was busy in looking into the files to search loopholes in the recently finished projects---particularly to ward off my anger, few minutes ago I had been rebuked by my own boss, sincerely to compensate my anger. One of my female colleagues, Pallavi came to me and requested of, projected herself a very cold impression on the face, that she usually didn’t had earlier--- bhai I want to have a few minutes one on one with you. Yeah sure, why not, I replied. Tell me frankly what your problem is. I replied her instantly while peeping into her face continuously.

I respect you as an elder brother but I hate you as a professional. I have learnt from working under your supervision how nepotism, regionalism and religious fervor work under your nose. You still need to learn the ethics of “being a boss”. You support those who buttress you. It is really unfortunate that I spoiled my career here. I am unable to bear this humiliation and wish to resign from your project. When should I leave, please suggest me? You can go right now I suggested her. Anything else you wish to ask. Perhaps it would be our final talk before your departure. Any other complains. No sir. I can’t gather courage to work under you because I am more talented than my other colleagues. The technical team of the project has certified it on several go.

Our other colleagues, to whom according to her I support, don’t know the ethics of media. But I felt it more strange as to whom she was blaming were her class fellows and one of them had requested me hundreds of times to let her in, in my team as one of the participating colleagues to learn media. She fathomed; are you not looking into the affairs. You still support their work; who are not certified as competent. Furthermore, you are too young to work as a boss. I am not a novice. Not less than you. Neither in age nor in talent should my competency be ignored. Am I lagging behind to you? I usually took all pains to research, direct and edit the programmes that you never ever do and, as a boss, without doing anything, merely certify the final software. How can you claim of doing quality check if you are practically immature and advocate injustice? You are wasting your days by doing nothing and killing our time by calling us for repeated meetings. Besides this she also conveyed to me that you are a lecher.

You are interfering in my personal relationships. This is absolutely wrong and you, as a boss, should learn to work in the team atmosphere. For a moment, I was shocked. I had lots of abuses to guffaw on her face. I could even kick her out for such nonsense talk. But I could not utter a single line except telling her to resign at that moment itself. She should leave and should not show me her face, as I was not interested to see her again. While she walked out of my room, my mind flashbacked to the very first day she joined me. She was a newcomer, was suffering from a chronic disease. I remembered that she was not fit for the assignment I had given to her. She did several mistakes that at times became bone of contention between me and my boss. Boss even intimidated me of showing nepotism towards my junior colleagues including Pallavi and my boss repeatedly threatened me that I could even loose my job by doing this.

I have still not forgotten that the mistakes Pallavi did land me into catch22situations on several occasions. But I covered them all thinking that such mistakes would help my juniors to grow mature. They would not do any mistake as a professional; at least when they would reach up to my position. Once Pallavi was told by her relatives, with whom she was residing, to vacate their house and have her own accommodation anywhere as they could not adjust her timings with a media person’s odd working schedule, I recalled, that always disturbed them. She came to me for help in solving this problem. I instantly gave her a clue to sort out from this crisis.

Why don’t you accept me as brother? My home is waiting to have a glimpse of a guest like you whose bond as a sister would bring pleasant atmosphere in my hyper tensed life, I requested. She accepted my proposal. She learnt the ethics of media under my supervision. But she is much mature now and understood the ups and downs of life. She has got good friends in the media circle. Her creativity has grown up to the level of excellence. I wished her good luck while we parted our ways. And finally I too learnt much from her. How a media person should portray one’s persona. How one boss should treat with his juniors? I also learnt that no personal relationships should be encouraged in professionalism.

More importantly I am happy that now onwards I would have additional saving of rupees one every year as I would not wear Rakhi this time for that I used to pay Pallavi a one rupee coin.