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On Mauzis, Madrasas and Mindsets

Urdu Producers unleash a campaign against the government

Posted by arshadamanullah on July 25, 2012

1. In a meet of Urdu Producers Association held on 4 July 2012 at in New Delhi, a number of television producers gathered to protest against Prasar Bharati that was said to be discriminating against DD Urdu channel.  In 2009 DD Urdu invited proposals in the ‘commissioned’ category for kinds of television programmes. Those television producers, who had responded to the call, were notified to make presentations in 2010 before the panels designated by the channel. Interestingly, they were asked to present again in the opening months of 2012.  Despite these two presentations, they are yet to hear from Prasar Bharati. Kala Iyer, Sanjiv Sood, Rajiv Khanpuri, Abhan Kaul, Shahid Waheed Khan and Vinod Zutshi were among those who spoke on the occasion.

2. The Association decided to soon organize a gathering in Aiwan-e Ghalib or Urdu Ghar, in which those academics, journalists and experts who were part of the evaluation panels, would be invited. They will express their views regarding this delay on the part of Prasar Bharati in commissioning programmes for DD Urdu. In addition, prominent names of the Urdu world like Dr. Khaleeq Anjum, Prof. Siddiqur Rahman Kidwai, Dr. Aslam Parwez, Dr. Anwar Pasha, Moeen Ejaz, Masoom Muradabadi, Prof. Naseer Ahmad Khan, Prof. Sohel Ahamd Faruqi, etc. will also be requested to grace the meet and help in transforming the protest meet into a movement. The reporter spoke to some of them and used their quotes in the report. They have expressed their solidarity with the Urdu producers.

3. The Association will soon approach Mulayam Singh Yadav and Imam Bukhari of Jama Masjid Delhi to bring to their notice the plight of the Urdu Producers and enlist their support for the cause.

[A summary of a news report that appeared in the Urdu daily Inquilab (Delhi) on 4 July 2012]


Posted in From Urdu Newspapers, Urdu Journalism | 6 Comments »

Mandalisation Of Muslim Politics In India: A Shift From Religious Identity To Caste Identity

Posted by arshadamanullah on March 29, 2012

March 28, 2012 By R. Upadhyay

The outcome of the Bihar and Uttar Pradesh elections is indicative of a marked shift in Muslim politics in India from religious identity to caste identity and a movement for freedom from Ashraf hegemony- This needs a detailed examination of the Indian scene.

Interestingly, Mandalisation of Indian politics had also brought a marked shift from identity politics in Muslim society to caste politics. Contrary to the claim that Islam is egalitarian and its followers are a homogenized community, the lower caste groups in the community have started to raise their voice against the feudal character of Muslim politics. It was the beginning of the awakening of the Muslim proletariat against the hegemony of upper caste bourgeoisie in the community.

The Mandal Commission Report had also included a number of backward caste Muslims along with the Hindu backwards for reservation in government jobs and educational institutions. The report not only exposed the reality of the caste heterogeneity in the Muslim society but also worked as a catalyst for a movement against the socio-political hegemony of the Ashrafs (High-born Muslims) over the Ajlafs (low caste-born Muslims) and Arzals (Dalit-born or degraded Muslims) collectively known as Pasmandas.

Ever since the advent of Islam in Indian sub-continent, social division in Indian Muslim society was based in reality on the pre-Islamic castes of the converted Hindus. The individual divisions may have lost its sharpness, but the Muslims of foreign ancestry comprising of the descendents of the Islamic invaders like Syed, Turk, Mangole, Moghal and Pathans who claim to be Ashrafs maintained social aloofness with respect of the Pasmandas who are Indian converts from backward caste and untouchables of Hindu origin. The upper caste Hindu converts were also accommodated in the lower category of Ashraf.

Carrying forward their centuries-old socio-political divide even in post-Independence democratic India, the Ashrafs remained the representative body of the entire Muslim community though the Pasmandas constitute over 80% of Muslim population. Bracketing the Pasmandas in a vote-bank group of effective strength in the multi-party secular democratic polity, the Ashrafs used them as a market commodity and enjoyed substantial share in the political, academic, economic and administrative space in the country by bargaining initially with the Congress and latter with almost all the political parties with their vote banks.

Before the Mandalisation of Indian politics, caste division in Muslim society hardly had any political significance. But when the post-Mandal political bond between the Hindu backward castes and the Muslims that led to the emergence of backward caste leaders like Laloo Yadav and Nitish Kumar of Bihar and Mulayam Singh Yadav of Uttar Pradesh on the national political scene, there was a new awakening of the Pasmandas.

Meanwhile with a view to counter the Mandal effect, the Ashraf leaders held a Convention on Reservation in 1994 and launched a Muslim Reservation Movement for declaring the entire Muslim community as backward caste for reservation. Some media reports suggested that this convention had a tacit support of some mainstream parties.

As a reaction to the Convention on Reservation, Dr. Ejaz Ali belonging to a Dalit Muslim group of Bihar launched the All India Backward Muslim Morcha in 1994 with an objective to fight for the right of the marginalized castes in Muslim community. This new awakening among the backward caste Muslims got further momentum when Laloo Yadav denied Gulam Sarwar the father in law of Dr. Ejaz Ali, a second tenure as Speaker in Bihar Assembly in 1995.

On the other hand, the Ashrafs who projected themselves as the natural leaders and authoritative spokepersons of the entire Muslim community took the political awakening among the Pasmandas as a challenge to their political dominance on the community and argued that since there is no caste system in Muslim society, its caste-based division is un-Islamic. They demanded that the entire Muslim society should be categorized as backwards. They accused those in the community campaigning against clubbing of entire Muslim community as creating divisions in the homogenous Islamic society.

Most of the top politicians, religious leaders, landlords, bureaucrats, Academicians, journalists and religious leaders in Muslim society unfortunately belong to the Ashraf category and they are the obnes who decry the caste based division in Muslim society as a ‘conspiracy to destroy the Muslim unity’

In view of the look other way policy of the political leaders towards the cause of the marginalized Muslim castes and attitude of the Ashrafs, a number of backward caste organizations like All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaj , All India United Muslim Morcha and All India Muslim OBC Organisation in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have sprung up to counter- the so called solidarity platforms of the Ashrafs.

Strongly opposing the Ashrafs led Muslim Reservation Movement, the leaders of Pasmanda movement pleaded that if the entire Muslim community is accepted as backward, the Muslim elite group would usurp even token representation of the marginalized section in the community in government jobs. The slogan like ‘Dalit-pichda ek saman, Hindu ho ya Musalman!’ (All Dalits and backward castes are alike, whether they are Hindu or Muslim) made the Pasmanda movement more interesting.

In Bihar the backward caste group had already split into lower and upper OBCs (Other Backward Castes). After Mandal Commission Report, the 27% reservation for the OBCs was also divided into 17% and 10% to the lower and upper OBCs respectively. Laloo Yadav while implementing the Mandal recommendation in Bihar incorporated the backward caste Muslims in the upper OBCs group.

Laloo Yadav in supporting the demands of the Ashrafs for inclusion of the entire Muslim community in the list of backwards disappointed the Pasmandas. They felt that since Yadavas and Kurmis of upper OBCs group were more educated and affluent it would be difficult for the marginalized group of Muslim backwards to compete with them. Since then the Pasmandas have started distancing themselves from the Muslim-Yadav political alliance in Bihar which ultimately led to the fall of Laloo regime.

Taking the Muslim factor as key to the electoral success of Laloo Yadav, the centre also constituted a National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities under the chairmanship of former Chief Justice of India Justice Rangnath Mishra in 2004 which recommended 15% of jobs in government services and seats in educational institutions for minorities including 10% exclusively for Muslims. Again in 2005 another committee headed by Justice Rajinder Sachar, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court was commissioned by the Prime Minister for a report on the social, educational and economic condition of the Muslims.

Nitish Kumar the Chief Minister of Bihar, who understood the new awakening of Pasmandas, concentrated on Mandal recommendation for the marginalized caste-group of the Muslims and convincingly mobilised their support in 2005 assembly election which led to his victory in Bihar.

After becoming Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar reversed the Laloo Yadav’s decision on inclusion of Muslim backwards from upper OBCs group to the lower OBCs group. He also accommodated their leaders of the latter suitably in the legislative and political posts. With this master stroke against Laloo Yadav, he not only divided the Muslim community in Bihar and got the massive support of Pasmandas in 2010 assembly election Both the Committees in their reports categorized the entire Muslim community in India as a backward group and recommended reservation for them in different fields including reservation in Government jobs. All the Ashraf controlled Islamic institutions and organization like Darul Uloom Deoband, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Jamiat Ulema-e –Hind and Imart-e-Sharia welcomed the two reports and started putting pressure on the UPA Government for their immediate implementation.

Pasmanda leaders however, maintained that if the entire Muslim community is clubbed together for reservation it would mean a competition between two un-equals and jeopardise the interest of the backward caste Muslims as they would be cornered by the upper caste Muslims who are socially and educationally affluent for centuries. Despite such consistent opposition of Pasmanda leaders against inclusion of Ashrafs for benefits of reservation for Muslims, political parties particularly the Congress, Samajwadi Party of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Rastriya Janat Dal of Laloo Yadav supported the recommendation of the two committees in categorizing the entire Muslim community as backwards.

It is interesting to note that in the recent UP elections prominent Ashraf candidates like Mohd Umar, son-in-law of Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Delhi who contested on Samajwadi Party ticket, Luis Khurshid wife of Congress leader Salman Khurshid who contested on Congress ticket and Haji Yaqoob Qureshi, who contested on RLD ticket lost the election. The humiliating loss of upper caste Muslims in Uttar Pradesh election is an indication that the political bonding among the backward castes from both the Hindus and Muslims worked as a catalyst for a counter- hegemonic solidarity movement for liberation of the Ajlafs and Arzals from the Ashraf hegemony.

As said earlier, the outcome of the Bihar and Uttar Pradesh elections shows a paradigm change in Muslim politics. From a religion based politics, it is moving onto “caste based politics”. In a way it could be a good development as the Pasmandas may no longer allow themselves to be shackled by the higher caste Ashrafs in future.

Courtesy: SAAG (South Asia Analysis Group), Mar/28/12


Posted in Caste, Dalit Muslims, Governmentality, Lived Islam, Pasmanda Movement, Representation | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Education, Gandhi and Man: Select Writings of Khwaja Ghulamus Saiyyadain

Posted by arshadamanullah on March 26, 2012

Tile: Education, Gandhi and Man: Select Writings of Khwaja Ghulamus Saiyyadain
Editors: Akhtarul Wasey and Farhat Ehsas
Pages: 218 + xii
Year: 2008
Publisher: Shipra Publications, Delhi
IBSN: 978-81-7541-387-0
Review: Arshad Amanullah

This text symbolizes a dialogue between high ideals of mankind and the problems that may arise in the way of their translation into practical realities. It brings before the readers, as the title suggests, theories of education and visions of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) for culture, good life, nation and religion. More precisely, four out of twelve essays of the volume are about different aspects of Gandhi’s scheme of thoughts while another three of them dwell on education and educational institutions like Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia of New Delhi. Contribution of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (1888-1958), Badshah Khan (1890-1988) and Mohammad Iqbal (1877-1938) constitute subject of three separate essays. Though almost every paper of the volume has touched upon the theme of good life and the concept of man, two essays exclusively focus on them in great detail.

Before appreciating contents of the volume, it seems quite pertinent to map the career-trajectory of Khwaja Ghulamus Saiyyadain whose some of writings Akhtarul Wasey and Farhat Ehsas have collected in the volume. Born in 1904 in Panipat of Haryana, Saiyyadain belonged to the family of Khwaja Altaf Husain Hali (1837-1914). Hali’s claim to a prominent place in the history of Indo-Muslim intellectual tradition does not rest only on his being a close associate of Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) but also on two of his pioneering works, Moqaddama Sher-o Shayeri (An Introduction to the Literary Criticism of Poetry) and Madd-o Jazr-e Islam (Ebbs and Tides of Islam) or Mosaddas-e Hali (as it is popularly known). Saiyyadain joined M.A.O College, Aligarh in 1919 and later went to the University of Leeds, U.K. for higher studies in Education. Having returned to the Aligarh Muslim University in 1925, he served at the Teachers’ Training College of the university in different capacities. He was also on the Committee on National Education and significantly shaped contours of the Wardha Scheme of Basic Education. Moreover, he remained attached to various Indian princely states as head of educational administration and advisor. He retired as Secretary, Ministry of Education, Government of India.

Apart from being a bureaucrat, Saiyyadain earned his reputation as an educationist as well. He remained devoted to the promotion of educational theory and practices in India and abroad. To his credit are several books in Urdu on various dimensions of education. The first paper of this volume “New Challenges to Education” which indeed was the first Dr. Amarnatha Jha Memorial Lecture organized by All India Federation of Educational Associations, also reflects, though in microcosm, Saiyyadain’s approach to the question of education as “an imaginative and long-term measures”(p4). He does not conceptualize education in vacuum. He is aware of the challenges before the Indian programme to establish a system of mass-education in the country. Intensified intercourse between the social groups and nation-states on the one hand and increasing industrialization and rapid growth of population on the other, have not only added to the complexity of the problems but, according to him, “in some ways altered their basic nature” as well. (p3)

The education system of India, according him, should cultivate such a citizenry which will help in long run to emerge the nation as a secular democratic socialist state. To achieve this goal, India has to pattern its education system as one which will be instrumental in grooming a child into a “creative citizen”. Defining the term, Saiyyadain points out that the creative citizen should have the following features as his second nature: he should be “well-integrated in his social order”; he should have “a reasonable modicum of capacity to think for himself and understand the outstanding problems of contemporary world about which , as a citizen, he is expected to express his opinions and give his vote”; he should “honour all useful and productive work”; he should “ensure the rule of social justice in the collective life and that postulates the cultivation of social sensitiveness, of charity and compassion, in the ethical sense, towards sections and classes which are underprivileged and the adoption of measures which will give institutional forms to this feeling”. (p 6)

An essential element to this enterprise of nurturing creative citizens through the educative work is the agency of teachers. Saiyyadain expects the educators to frequently engage in the introspection as a technique of self-evaluation regarding the result of their work (p 9). Needless to say that such an exercise presupposes the will to honestly respond to the critique of the conscience. With such an approach to the education, the act of teaching transcends the realm of the material and acquires a spiritual dimension of its own.

Though Saiyyadain’s vision of social reconstruction through the agency of education is said to be “very firmly rooted in his own creative genius” (P 213), there is no denying the fact that Saiyyadain has enriched his views on education through his personal contact and ideational exchange with Gandhi. He first came in touch with the latter during preparation of the Wardha Scheme of Basic Education, thanks to Zakir Husain (1897-1969). It was an effort to provide a proper shape to the Gandhi’s vision of education by a committee chaired by Husain. What really moved young Saiyyadain about Gandhi is the latter’s “uncompromising integrity of intellect and character” (p 11). Next three papers of the volume are Saiyyadain’s interpretation of Gandhi’s thoughts on culture, education and religion. It is in this sense that he is also known as a scholar in the Gandhian tradition.

Making the living conditions of the masses of India and the world better has been very central to the Gandhi’s scheme of thoughts. Education, according to him, can play a vital role in this regard but he was not happy with the education system prevalent in the British India. He questioned it as being “out of touch both with the realities of national life and the upsurge of national aspirations” (p 13). His critique threw many questions regarding the purpose of educative process in the face of those who had reconciled to drifting aimlessly with the rushing currents of the times. He wanted to reorder the education system to make it inter-weaved into the immediate milieu in a way that did not only make the system socially relevant but productive as well. He wanted to bring the work at the center of the educative process. To quote Gandhi on the question, “By education I mean an all round drawing out of the best in child and man-body, mind and spirit ……. I would, therefore, begin the child’s education by teaching it a useful handicraft and enabling it to produce from the moment it begins it training. A proper and all round development of the mind take place only when it proceeds pari passu with the education of the physical and spiritual faculties of the child. They constitute an indivisible whole….” (p 13-14). Through such a system of education, Gandhi dreamt of giving a socially sensitive and integrated outlook to the new generations of India.

It has been erroneously said that Gandhi was opposed to mechanization of the mode of production and hence the process of industrialization. It is true that he regarded the human soul as the most precious thing of the universe and was worried about the toll the unchecked application of science and technology to human life would take on it. Though he was not against the use of technology per se, he had questioned the why and how of its use. He had foreseen the implications of mindless industrialization: “Industrialization on a mass scale will necessarily lead to passive or active exploitation of the villagers, and the problems of competition and marketing come in”.

Similarly, some writings of Gandhi leave the impression that he was least concerned about the culture. What is at the heart of the confusion is his unique understanding of the nature of relationship between culture and work as well as his way of attaching priority to certain issues from a range of problems. Despite being aware of the significance of art and culture in the human life, he seems to be so preoccupied with welt-schmerz, i.e. sorrows of mankind, that fine arts and intellectual pursuits can take a back seat in his order of things. He was very clear that “Do not talk about culture till you have at least made sure that people have the necessary material infrastructure for it”. With help of an interesting anecdote about a public debate between Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) on the meaning of culture, Saiyyadain seeks to further elucidate Gandhi’s concept of culture. Tagore, in one of his poems, described how beauties of art and nature could be fountainheads of joy and freshness. Gandhi joined the issue with Tagore: “But I have had the pain of watching birds, who for want of strength, could not be coaxed even into a flutter of their wings. The human bird under the Indian sky gets up weaker than when he pretended to retire…I have found it impossible to soothe suffering patients with a song from Kabir. The hungry millions ask for one poem- invigorating food…..Life is greater than all arts…. There is an art that kills and an art that gives life. True art must be evidence of happiness, contentment and purity of its authors”. (pp. 21-22 & 48)
Saiyyadain sees Gandhi’s concept of culture as a complex and textured set of ideas which can be explained in terms of Gandhi’s approaches to different aspects of human life and his responses to various societal institutions. Firmness in faith and gentleness in speech, insistence of self-restraint and purity of means, etc. were some of noteworthy aspects of his personal culture. He was a great advocate of diversity and peaceful co-existence. Ability of a culture to achieve unity in diversity hence is one of the various criteria which qualifies it as a great one. To Gandhi, inner freedom of a man should be “in direct proportion” to his outer freedom. The latter is acquired through political means while the former flows from the spiritual growth of an individual which liberates him from the loyalties of the fissiparous forces. Only outer freedom, i.e. political freedom cannot maintain unity in diversity for long in the absence of inner freedom (p 26). This theory of freedom illustrates well how vital spirit and ethics have been in the Gandhi’s conception of culture. It is this concern for equilibrium between the inner and the outer empowerment of an individual that his emphatic criticism of some aspects of Western culture emanates from.

March of history across the last few centuries has been witness to the deadly dangers posed by a capitalist economy based on the principles of cut-throat competition, demands, profit-making and advertisements to the human life. Recent studies have uncovered many forms of these dangers but what was a source of deep anxiety to Gandhi was the deteriorating condition of the spirit. It is in this context that he, according to Saiyyadain, agreed with Tagore that “the ‘Thing’<1> stifles the spirit” (p 29). Saiyyadain has shown how western philosophers like Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), etc. share with Gandhi this protest against the growing materialization as the foundation of the modern culture. He uses verses from the Quran, Urdu and Persian poetry and extracts from teachings of Buddha and other leaders to elucidate Gandhi’s teachings and practices. This approach allows him to place Gandhi at the heart of the intellectual traditions of the mankind as well as universal ethical system.

Truth and non-violence are two cardinal principles of Gandhi’s concept of religion. He views religion, as Saiyyadain informs the readers, as a “perpetual search for truth” and a “force to unite people” (p 56). Gandhi was convinced that various religions when viewed in their purity, shared among themselves a sort of basic unity. Moreover, “a very sensitive appreciation of the intimate relationship between the spiritual and the secular” seems to characterize his concept of religion. He tests worth of virtues against the touchstone of practice and their relevance to the day to day life. Once he observed: “There is no such thing as the other world. All the worlds are one. There is no here and no there. All virtue ceases to have use if it serves no purposes in every walk of life” (p59). His idea of “importing conscience into public life” stems from such a notion of religion. A true man of religion, according to Gandhi, is one who takes his share in the crusades against the forces of injustice and oppression. It is in this sense religion comes to represent a “continuously growing spiritual movement”, as Maulana Abul Kalam Azad has also elucidated it in his famous commentary on the Koran Tarjuman-ul Qur’an (p 66). When religion is conceptualized in these Gandhian terms, it does not pose any threat to the secular ideology to which India is pledged under its Constitution. Rather, it is absence of such a concept of religion that will be detrimental to the functioning of Indian democracy as is obvious in the contemporary political context.

While delineating Gandhi’s views on religion, Saiyyadain deals with the former’s relationship with the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. On the basis of his personal history and acquaintances, Saiyyadain observes that Gandhi had a better understanding of the Muslim people and their religion than he generally has been supposed to have. It is true that his remarks on Urdu, in his early days in the Indian politics, drew some criticism from the Muslim community. However, he revised his position on the question when he became better acquainted with the realities of the spoken languages of the Indian masses. Later, he spared no stone unturned in his advocacy for adoption of Hindustani in both scripts as the official language of India. It should also be kept in mind in this connection that he did not only win hearts of the majority of the Muslim masses of India but some outstanding leaders of the community like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Dr. Zakir Husan, Hakim Ajmal Khan (1863-1927), etc. were also closely associated with Gandhi. All kinds of fanaticism and violence attracted honest criticism of Gandhi. He was opposed to the idea of bifurcation of the British India but when Pakistan became a reality, he advocated for maintaining a policy of goodwill to the neighbouring country and providing protection for those Muslims who chose to stay back in India. Laying down his life he paid the price for the same (pp 75-80).

Originally a lecture delivered in 1970 as the Bhatia Foundation Lectures, “Quest for Good Life” invites the reader to ponder upon some very basic but crucial issues of human existence. The concept of good life cannot be a linear one as it has to respond to the enormous variety of individual differences. Integrity, faith, independence, originality, capacity for dissent and objectivity are the qualities which, according to Saiyyadain, are helpful in cultivating good life if they are carefully transferred into the social domain. These qualities have special significance in the context of the development of science and technology as they make the scientists socially responsible for their work. These qualities also come handy in general in dealing with the problems posed by the technological advancements to the traditional way of living. A proper appreciation of “location of technology and ethics in the economy of human life” seems to be necessary to understand the nature of the changes technology effects in the physical domain and its implications for the moral world of a human being. Technology, as Saiyyadain believes, can reset the problems of mankind by altering dimensions of stage available for human performance, however, it cannot do anything about arresting its spin-offs from entering into the social sphere of human life. As long as implications of the technological changes happen to be social in their nature, the solution seems to come from only one channel: an honest attempt at internalizing and importing the above-mentioned qualities into the personal culture and social behaviour (pp 123-24).

A survey of what eminent scholars like John Dewey (1859-1952), Bertrand Russell, Tagore, Iqbal, etc. has written on the theme of good life, brings out the significance of the qualities like intelligence, courage, sensitivity, vitality and faqr although they may differ in the presentation of their how and why. Not only in its negative sense as absence of physical fear but also as a positive quality, courage has been regarded an essential element for good life. Coined by Russell, the term ‘social sensibility’ stands for “the ability to transcend the boundaries of our isolated ego and merge into the general stream of humanity”. It is from this quality of social sensibility that tolerance and compassion arise from (p 126). Another quality enlisted by Saiyyadain as significant for cultivation of a good life is faqr which has been exclusive to the eastern philosophy and does not invite much attention from the western thinkers. Faqr, as Iqbal has understood it, is “an attitude of mind, a spirit of detachment from the world which man retains even as he tries to conquer it…it is a kind of intellectual and emotional asceticism, which does not need to turn away from the world as a source of evil or corruption, but uses it for the pursuit of worthy ends” (p 130).

Good life, according to Saiyyadain, is “a pattern which has depth and variety” (p 140). He describes the process of quest for such a life as “an open possibility for man” (p 137). In materializing such a possibility, he wants to enlist the service of education and use the faculty of human intelligence to identify points of harmony between roles of natural sciences and humanities in re-patterning the human life and turning those points into mutually overlapping circles of living experiences. He envisages good life neither in absolute ideal terms nor in crude material. In his search for the same he wants to adopt a realistic approach, transcending with aplomb the binary oppositions of optimism and pessimism. The attitude an individual should pursue this quest with is meliorism, to borrow a term from Iqbal. Saiyyadain reproduces these words of the poet-philosopher from his Reconstruction of Religious Thoughts in Islam to explain the nuances of the term: “…We cannot understand the full import of the great cosmic forces which work havoc and at the same time sustain and amplify life. The teaching of the Quran which believes in the possibility of improvement in the behaviour of man and his control over natural forces, is neither optimism nor pessimism. It is meliorism which recognizes a growing Universe and is animated by the hope of man’s eventual triumph over evil”.

This review-article has so far discussed issues that pertain to the realms of matter, mind and spirit. The next in the series is the concept of man. What is the essential nature of man: material or spiritual or a complex of both? Traditionally, the eastern thinkers, including the Indian philosophers, have been arguing for the supremacy of the spiritual on the material. This approach tends to ignore the poverty and squalor which generally characterize social milieu of the eastern hemisphere. Disapproving this nature of the relationship between the spiritual and material in the concept of man, Saiyyadain wants to rectify this pro-spirituality slant in favour of a “tempered ascetic approach” to life. What he means by it is: “asceticism is not for the other fellow but for oneself, where compassion for the suffering of other and effort to ease it is combined with a sense of detachment and a capacity to reject the temptations of the world so far as one’s own attitude to life is concerned” (pp. 149-50). Then, through a reproduction of select passages from writings of Gandhi, Tagore, Iqbal, Azad, Radhakrishnan and Nehru, he goes on to show how his is not an isolated voice on the theme but is woven in the history of ideas of mankind.

Universality of mankind is another element which Saiyyadain considers necessary for the concept of man. Despite the fact that the spiritual and material both enjoy their due place in the social and cultural making of a human being, man is “not essentially translatable” into different categories which horizontally and vertically divide the human society. True, these categories do not represent the human reality in its fullness but are real enough to command attention from the concerned individuals. Man, hence, has to transcend these categories “to view himself a part of the whole of mankind” (p 152) and success in this striving to overflow them calls for a certain deal of creativity on the part of the seeker. Creativity, one of the outstanding characteristics of man, enables him to explore “plural possibilities” of the universe so that he can shape the world according to his needs on the one hand and also adjust himself to the demand of the physical reality on other. In this sense, man himself scripts his destiny and that of the world as well. Saiyyadain mourns that the modern world order tends to “belittle” role of the creative individual and club him together with the mass. He sees it as a by-product of the industrial and technological revolutions and terms this trend as “wrong and immoral” because the individual, to him, is “frightfully important” (p 156).

Creativity effects changes to the status-quo and is required to bring a change. Saiyyadain envisions role of the creative individuals as those who keep re-assessing relevance of certain norms and values to the society at a particular moment of human history. Such appraisals do not only keep vitality of the society alive but also allow people to get rid off the crushing burden of the irrelevant social rituals. Creativity, to perform this function, needs freedom and receptive attitude to the changes that it brings along. A narrow interpretation of the democratic egalitarianism and deep-rooted conservatism in the society, warns Saiyyadain, may be detrimental to ensuring an intellectual climate which cultivates respect for creativity and its critiques.

Most of Saiyyadain’s writings, included in this volume<2> , is comprised of elucidation of the ideas and thoughts of eminent thinkers and writers, both from the by-gone era and contemporary time. It establishes him as an avid reader with an amazing catholicity of interests. Staggering sweep of his knowledge allows him to intersperse his writings with long quotations from his favourite writers and reformers. It is good to locate one’s arguments within the existing knowledge of the mankind but sometimes this criss-cross between his original writings and extracts develops into a maze a reader finds it difficult to keep a track of Saiyyadain’s original arguments. Moreover, if one goes through a number of his writings, one may trace a pattern of reproduction of same excerpts from the same authors time and again. His writings in the volume portray him as a brilliant commentator who seems to have very few original things to share.

This reading of mine regarding the Saiyyadain’s writings draws strength from what he himself says about his interpretation of Gandhi’s thoughts. He discovers that it is “difficult to find something original to say about him (Gandhi)” (p 84), given the volume of literature already available on the different aspects of the activism and thoughts of Gandhi even in 1969.<3> The next sentence further elucidates that what he means by being “difficult” is: “originality of content”. It has its genesis in his realization that “the best commentary on Gandhi is provided by Gandhiji himself”.
This discussion on the originality vs. interpretability in the context of Saiyyadain gives way to another important question: who are those he frequently pulls quotations out from and to what extent they have left their imprints on his thoughts? Views of Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273), Gandhi, Tagore, Iqbal, Azad, Radhakrishnan (1888-1975), Jacob Browneski (1908-1974), Russell and Nehru (verbatim or otherwise) frequently appear in his writings. Though Zakir Husain is said to be second only to Khwaja Altaf Husain Hali in “influencing and shaping Saiyyadain’s thought and action” (p 211), Hali does not find mention in any of the writings this volume contains. One may catch echoes of educationists like Dewey, Kerschensteiner (1854-1932), Adolphe Furrier, Tagore, etc. in what he (Saiyyadain) wrote and spoke on the issues of education before 1937. This was the year when Zakir Husain introduced Saiyyadain to Gandhi who thoroughly impacted former’s mind and heart. Needless to say how much Saiyyadain owes to Gandhi and Zakir Husain in his advocacy for using work as the medium of education. It would be erroneous however to restrict Gandhi’s influence on Saiyyadain only to his thoughts on education, rather the former became a reference point for the latter in almost every issue that his post-1937 phase of life posed to him. Tagore plays complementary to Gandhi in the pattern of Indian culture: the trends they represent are equally precious to Saiyyadain.

Influence of Iqbal on Saiyyadain’ worldview seems to be no less than that of Gandhi. He finds many verses of the poet helpful in explaining the Gandhian thoughts and vice versa. Sometimes, he paraphrases amidst his writings couplets of Iqbal, without even mentioning the name of the poet. In the context of the discussion on good life, the reader comes across the following sentences: “It is only when the drop becomes the ocean that it can acquire the power and majesty of the ocean. Otherwise, it is likely to be lost in the quicksand of self-centredness”(p 131). Those who are familiar with Iqbal’s poetry will not fail to catch in these words an echo of this couplet of the poet: Fard qayim rabt-e millat se hai, tanha kutch nahin/ Mauj hai dariya me aur bairun-e dariya kutch nahin. Saiyyadain’s fascination with Iqbal’s Reconstruction of Religious Thoughts in Islam, also knows no limits. The latter’s theory of meliorism wins almost unqualified admiration from Saiyyadain who does not hesitate in reproducing the concerned portion from the Reconstruction time and again. Apart from Iqbal, couplets of Rumi, the renowned mystic-poet of the Persian literature, also frequently find mention in Saiyyadain’s writings.

Bertrand Russell, among the contemporary western philosophers, has been enjoying a special place in the thoughts of Saiyyadain. He refers to the former as “my favourite writer” (p 137), “dignity of the whole of mankind” (p 100) and finds Russell’s words “stirring” (p 162). It seems that Saiyyadain puts Russell at the same pedestal of respect and reverence as the former has reserved for Gandhi. A passage of Russell in which he underlines power of the human thought, seems to be always fresh and worthy of repetition to Saiyyadain: “Brief and powerless is Man’s life, on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way; for Man, condemned today to lose his dearest, tomorrow himself to pass through the gate of darkness, it remains only to cherish, as the blow falls, the lofty thoughts that ennoble his little day; disdaining the coward terrors of the slave of Fate, to worship at the shrine that his own hands have built; undismayed by the empire of chance, to preserve a mind free from the wanton tyranny that rules his outward life; proudly defiant of the irresistible forces that tolerate, for a moment, his knowledge and his condemnation, to sustain alone, a weary but unyielding Atlas, the world that his own ideals have fashioned despite the trampling march of unconscious power” (p 162).

Had editors included a catalogue of Saiyyadain’s writings in the volume, it would have been added to its value. Typographical errors, in large number, have found their way to the volume. A portion of text which runs into more than four pages (pp 34-38) and is originally from “Biographical Sketch of Khwaja Ghulamus Saiyyadain” (pp. 210-14), has been inserted in the paper on “Gandhi’s Concept of Culture” (pp. 23-53). At many places (like on page no. 148), the text contains references but they have not been typed.

Bringing some important writings of Saiyyadain into the public domain, perhaps for the first time, this volume seeks to restart a debate on many issues of fundamental significance which somehow fail to catch our imagination in the present age of super-specialization and triumphant materialism. Moreover, it will inspire researchers to cast a fresh look at Saiyyadain’s thoughts and serve as a reference-point to study changes the intellectual tradition of modern India has undergone since the time he had thought and written.



<1>In the philosophical lexicon of Tagore, the term “Thing” stands for: the blind accumulation of material goods and riches.

<2>It is noteworthy that the papers included in this edited volume belong to the post-1947 phase of Saiyyadain’s intellectual trajectory. It does not mean that they do not refer to the events that occurred in the British India.

<3>This paper “Gandhi’s Lovable Personality” was presented as the Patel Memorial Lectures in the year of Mahatma Gandhi’s Centenary. (p 83)

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Urdu media modernises, but declining readership a worry

Posted by arshadamanullah on July 5, 2011

Monday July 04, 2011 05:38:11 PM, Abu Zafar, IANS

New Delhi: Overcoming technical and commercial challenges, Urdu media in India is now trying to re-invent itself as big corporate houses enter the market. But the wider problem of lack of readership persists.

The advent of the digital technology has made it easier to print Urdu. Gone are the days when ‘qatibs’ (calligraphers) diligently traced out the script on to transparencies and then the letters were inverted before printing them on a lithographic machine. Now it is done through desktop composing and printing, just like with other languages.

Financial constraints are also easing.

According to Aziz Burney, group editor of the Roznama Rashtriya Sahara daily, big corporate houses are now keen on entering the market and are investing in the Urdu media – something which was unimaginable about a decade ago.

“There is a lot more job opportunities in the Urdu media today than what the position was in yesteryears,” Burney told IANS, painting a contrast to the times when the media was facing a lack of good content.

The Roznama Rashtriya Sahara publishes 16 editions from 10 places across the country and claims a readership of over three million. It also publishes the Aalmi Sahara, a weekly newsmagazine, and the Bazm-e-Sahara, a literary and culture monthly.

In a sign of the resurging popularity of the Urdu media, the Dainik Jagran group started Daily Inquilab newspaper with New Delhi, Lucknow, Allahabad, Gorakhpur and Varanasi editions. The United News Of India’s (UNI) Urdu service, which was launched in 1992 with six subscribers, now is said to have 84 subscribers in different parts of India.

According to the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI), Urdu stands third in terms of number of periodical publications after Hindi and English.

However, the biggest problem is of the declining number of people able to read Urdu. Munir Adil, editor of the Daily Salar in Bangalore, thinks the biggest problem that the Urdu media faces today is that of readership.

“The Urdu language is commonly used in Bollywood, but falling number of readership of Urdu newspapers is the biggest challenge,” Adil told IANS. “The elite class is obsessed with the English language.”

Others in the field seek a greater stress on content.

Noting that there has been “new colour, new life and new courage in Urdu journalism in India”, Adeel Akhtar, president of journalists union Journalism for Justice, told IANS: “The Urdu media needs to focus on investigative journalism and the trend of depending on news agencies should be changed now.”

The view is shared by Ehtesham Ahmed Khan, associate professor at the School of Mass Communication and Journalism in Maulana Azad National Urdu University at Hyderabad.

“The Urdu media needs to focus on its content because content is king,” he said.

Journalists however raise several problems with regard to working conditions. “There is no job security in the Urdu media, nor do we have a strong union backing us,” Mohammed Mubashiruddin Khurram of The Daily Siasat said.

And gathering news is not the sole preoccupation. “We have to gather news as well as advertisements for revenue,” Alamuallah Islahi of the Daily Sahafat newspaper told IANS.

According to Srinagar-based journalist Sareer Khalid, Urdu journalists need to be better trained.

Going one step ahead, Rehana Bastiwala of BBC Urdu said: “For a better Urdu media, the standard of Urdu schools should be improved”.

However, the situation in the electronic media is better. According to Rashtriya Sahara more than 90 million people speak Urdu in India, of whom 40 million are television viewers. There are at least five Urdu news channels, including Doordarshan Urdu, ETV Urdu, Aalmi Sahara and Munsif TV, apart from some others dedicated to religious content.

“The reach of Urdu news channels is massive. A person who knows Hindi can easily understand Urdu,” Burney said.

As far as radio services is concerned, BBC Urdu, which was started in 1940, has a big impact in India. Apart from BBC, Voice of America, Radio Deutsche Welle and All India Radio’s Urdu services are also popular in Urdu speaking belts.

(Abu Zafar can be contacted at

[Source: ]

Posted in Urdu Journalism | Leave a Comment »

Demolition drive on Bokaro Steel Limited radar

Posted by arshadamanullah on June 26, 2011

TNN Jun 24, 2011, 11.06pm IST

BOKARO: The Bokaro Steel Limited (BSL) has decided to remove encroachment from 77 places in the township and evicted occupants from more than 100 illegally occupied quarters, but the company has not taken any initiative to snap electricity and water supply on its encroached compound.

On March 7, the Jharkhand high court had directed PSUs, including the BSL, to disconnect power and water supply to the illegal buildings.

However, repeated directions given by the administrative officials to the BSL management have fallen on deaf ears. On Friday, Chas SDO Sudhir Kumar Ranjan asked the BSL officials to cut electricity and water supply of a slum adjacent to the airport boundary in Sector-XII.

The BSL management has planned to conduct demolition drive in that area on Saturday. The administration has asked the BSL officials to cut the power in the area a few days ago but of no avail.

When asked, Ranjan said he had asked the BSL officials several times to snap the power and water supply in the encroached area, but the company disconnected the lines a few hours before the eviction drive.

Another official said snapping of power and water connections would help send a strong message to the squatters. “It will also save huge revenue loss suffered by the BSL against illegal connection of water and electricity.”

However, the CBI which is inquiring into the encroachment on company land has submitted a preliminary report to the high court saying about 163 dwellings and 2086.39 acres of the company were encroached.

BSL’s chief of communication Sanjay Tiwari said the squatters in different areas used to steal power and water from the main supply line. “Several times the BSL has removed the illegal connections, but the squatters restored them again. However, disconnecting electricity lines to the squatters is difficult as it affects other genuine residents because the main supply line in the buildings is the same,” he said.


Posted in Bokaro, Jharkhand, Political Society | Leave a Comment »

Urdu daily The Inquilab to be launched from Lucknow

Posted by arshadamanullah on June 5, 2011

By afaqs! news bureau, afaqs!, New Delhi, May 27, 2011

An image of the Lucknow edition of the Urdu daily Inquilab

Jagran Prakashan launches the first edition of The Inquilab, a year after acquiring Mid-Day Multimedia, owner of the Urdu daily.

Jagran Prakashan (JPL) is launching the Urdu newspaper The Inquilab from Lucknow on May 27. JPL bought over Mid-Day Multimedia in May 2010, and The Inquilab was a part of the deal.

The Inquilab is targeted at the upmarket, affluent, Urdu-speaking population across a range of markets in the North. The daily is being positioned as a family newspaper, with content for everyone. There will be dedicated content space for women, kids and youth, apart from the regular national and international news, sports, city, business and entertainment.

Post this launch, the group has lined up more editions from other markets of UP, Delhi and Bihar.

The Inquilab will, on an average, be a 12-page newspaper on weekdays, and a 16-page newspaper on weekends. Additionally, there will be two supplements — one on Fridays, and the other on Sundays.

To promote the launch, the group has planned a series of launch campaigns supporting the new edition, both at the reader, as well as the industry levels.

Shahid Latif, the editor for The Inquilab, and who has been responsible for the makeover of the newspaper, has been at the helm of affairs since 2004. Under his overall guidance, the content planning has been done for all new editions.

Shakeel Shamsi is the editor for the North editions. He has 25 years of experience in Journalism, across media types. Shamsi has authored over 12 books, and is the recipient of the Bharatendu Award.

According to a company spokesperson, “There are many Urdu newspapers in the market, and it’s a fairly competitive space. However, our positioning of The Inquilab as a nationalistic paper will be the key differentiator. The Inquilab is India’s oldest and largest read Urdu newspaper, and these credentials give us an edge in the market. While the print runs for Urdu papers are small, the readership numbers are huge.”

For the record, with the launch of The Inquilab’s Lucknow edition, JPL now has 82 editions across four languages, covering 14 states.

[Source:  ]


Posted in Urdu Journalism | 14 Comments »

Jagran launches Urdu newspaper Inquilab in Lucknow

Posted by arshadamanullah on June 5, 2011

  Posted by Adgully Bureau | May 27th, 2011 at 7:00 am

Jagran Prakashan Ltd launches its Urdu newspaper Inquilab from Lucknow on 27th May 2011 i.e today. Inquilab is India’s oldest and largest read Urdu newspaper. With this launch, JPL further strengthens its position as the largest read publication group of India.

The group is launching with the newspaper’s Lucknow Edition on 27th May. Post which there are editions lined up in Delhi, other markets of UP and Bihar.

Shahid Latif is the Editor for Inquilab and has been at the helm since 2004 and been responsible for the makeover of Inquilab. Under his overall guidance, the content planning has been done for all the new editions.

Shakeel Shamsi is the Editor for the North editions. He comes in with an experience of Journalism across media types of over 25 years. He has authored over 12 books and is the recipient of the Bharatendu Award.

It will be a 12 page newspaper on Weekdays and a 16 Page newspaper on Weekends. Additionally there will be 2 supplements – one on Friday and one on Sunday. It is targeted at the upmarket urdu reading population across markets in UP, Delhi and Bihar.

Inquilab is positioned as a complete family newspaper with content for everyone. There is dedicated content space for Women, Kids and Youth. In addition to National & International News, Sports, City, and Business, the paper will cover Entertainment as well. Inquilab will continue on its editorial path of “nationalistic journalism and will also raise community specific issues.” Inquilab is known for its responsible journalism and the new editions of Inquilab will continue to reflect this in their approach.

Apart from local retail and Government and classifieds, Inquilab will provide increased reach amongst relevant audiences to larger national advertisers.

The flagship brand, Dainik Jagran has been the largest read newspaper in India for the last 17 consecutive rounds of IRS. With the launch of Inquilab’s Lucknow edition, Jagran Prakashan Limited now has 82 Editions across 4 languages covering 14 states and a readership of 62 mn.

[Source : ]

Posted in Urdu Journalism | 1 Comment »

Schools under BSL lens for illegal hostel biz

Posted by arshadamanullah on June 5, 2011

Divy Khare, TNN, Jun 4, 2011, 02.08pm IST

BOKARO: In a bid to curb illegal hostel business in company quarters in the township, the Bokaro Steel Limited (BSL) has tightened noose on the schools here.

The BSL has directed schools to ban students from staying on rent in outhouses constructed illegally in quarters. The step has been taken by the BSL to boost the anti-encroachment drive being conducted in the township on directives of the Jharkhand High Court.

BSL has provided land to almost all the schools in the township and hence the directive is being taken seriously by every school, said sources.

The city, which is fast growing as an education hub, draws a large number of outstation students every year from other districts of Bihar, West Bengal etc. With maximum schools bereft of any hostel facility, outsiders are forced to stay in rooms illegally constructed in BSL quarters.

The officials of the town and administration (T&A) department of BSL have found that majority of residents have illegally constructed rooms in allotted or leased quarters of BSL and given it on rent to the outsider for money.

However, BSL while conducting demolition drive recently razed down a few dozen unauthorized hostels in Sector-IV. It also served notices to many employees and lessees to remove such illegal deviations from their quarters. “We have also sought support from schools in this regard,” said a BSL official.

He added, “The increasing number of students in the private schools is one of the prime reasons leading to unauthorized encroachments in quarters in form of dwelling units and hostels. This has created imbalance in normal distribution of basic amenities like electricity and water.”

BSL in the letter served to private schools mentions indiscriminate increase in number of outstation students have forced them to stay in cramped and unhygienic conditions in unauthorized constructions made on the premises of BSL quarters.

BSL management will not allow misuse of the facility provided by the company. A senior official of education department said though the management has planned action against the occupants, the schools should also realize their responsibility towards maintenance of township, which was meant to provide accommodation to the plant employees only.

BSL has directed schools that no further new class or addition in the existing strength of the classes shall be made without permission of the management. Besides, the management has made it mandatory for schools to collect details and addresses related to proposed or existing accommodation from the outside students during their admissions in the current academic year.

If any fresh student, except ward of BSL employees, provides address of BSL quarters, the school should collect a hand written certified copy by the house occupants about the relation they have with the student and mention that the student is not staying on rent in their house premises, said sources.

[Source :  ]

Posted in Bokaro, Education/General, Governmentality, Jharkhand, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Commuters stranded in auto strike

Posted by arshadamanullah on June 5, 2011

TNN | Jun 5, 2011, 01.38pm IST

RANCHI: With over 7,500 auto rickshaws going off roads on Saturday owing to the strike called by auto associations against a new traffic rule, commuters had a harrowing time in the state capital.

Thousands of people, including daily commuters, were stranded in different parts of state capital, many of them seen looking for alternative modes of transport, as members of Jharkhand Diesel Auto Association marched to governor house, protesting against the new traffic rule of al-lowing only auto rickshaws with valid road permits to ply in the city.

Members shouted slogans against district administration and termed the decision of giving only 1,026 road permits to three wheelers on 20 routes as pure diktat, responsible for rendering them unemployed and causing in-convenience to commuters.

Many auto rickshaw drivers, however, turned the strike into an opportunity to make a quick buck, exploiting the commuters’ situation.

Rakhi Kumari, a state secretariat employee, seemed extremely annoyed about arbitrary fares being demanded by a few auto rickshaw drivers and decided not to go to her office at all, returning back home from old Circuit House chowk on Circular Road.

Commuters complained even auto rickshaws with road permits were charging double or triple the scheduled fare.

Sumit Mishra, who tried to board an auto rickshaw from New Market Chowk to Birsa Chowk, said the three wheeler drivers demanded Rs 20 instead of the actual fare of Rs 5 and he had little choice but to pay up. “This is pure blackmailing,” said Mishra.

Many others were seen walking to their destinations or boarding the congested city buses.

Many auto rickshaws without valid road permits also plied on various link roads. About 150 such auto rickshaws were seized by police under different police stations.

“Some of the auto rickshaw drivers even tried to disrupt the plying of city buses on Circular Road but were detained by Lalpur police and released in the evening,” said traffic DSP R N Singh.

[Source: ]

Posted in Jharkhand | Leave a Comment »

Veteran Urdu journalist Dr. Rizwan Ahmad is no more

Posted by arshadamanullah on June 1, 2011

Born on 9 September 1947 in Barabanki to the famous poet Ghubaar Bhatti, Rizwan Ahmad Khan had started his career with Roznama Azimabad Express of Patna. His weekly column Mujhe Bolne Do was popular in the Urdu press and used to simultaneously appear in Etemad (Hyderabad), Urdu Times (Mumbai), Khabar Jadeed (New Delhi), Qaumi Tanzim (Patna).
His thesis on “Azadi Ke Bad Urdu Sahafat” earned him a PhD from the University of Patna. He was one of the founders of All India Urdu Editors Conference. In 1976 he was elected to the office of the secretary of the organization. Apatrt from being a journalist, he has also written short stories and novels. To name some of them: Yunan ki shahzadi, Masdood rahoN ke musafir, Baadal chhat gaye, Faseele shahar, etc.
He has been serving as a correspondent to the Urdu service of Voice of America for long that proved to be his last employer. He died of heart cancer on 31 May 2011 in Patna.

Posted in From Urdu Newspapers, Urdu Journalism | 3 Comments »