Posts Tagged ‘India’

A village without Muslims

July 1, 2016

So it happened. My native place, a village of 700, had 5-6 Muslim families. It was early 1990s and the people lived in good harmony. Muslims were Muslims like Marathas were Marathas, Kunbis were Kunbis, Dhangars were Dhangars, and Beldars were Beldars. My uncle was Sarpanch, an RSS volunteer and BJP position holder. Village had a daily baal-shakha.

So, those were the 1990s and Ram Mandir movement reached our village. There were mini-Rathyatras around too and one came in our village. In those days, we heard that the Muslims in our village were “good Muslims”, for example, Rauf Seth gave his golden ring to one of those the Ram raths.

But then the Muslims started to leave. The village had to migrate due to an upcoming dam. People were allotted plots at a place nearby. Marathas, Kunbis, Dhangars and Beldars shifted from old village to new village. Muslims left the village altogether. They didn’t come to the new village. They moved to another village, some 20-30 km away, that had sizeable Muslim population. We heard that they left because the Muslim community was not willing to marry their girls in a village where Muslims were only a few. Perhaps, they didn’t feel it safe anymore, after the Babri masjid demolition, to live in a village with such strong RSS influence. Perhaps, being “good Muslims” for an RSS village wasn’t good for them. I don’t know the reasons. I was a kid of not even 10.

One elderly couple stayed. They shifted from old village to new one with the Marathas and Kunbis and Dhangars and Beldars. They lived there till the old lady died. My uncle, the RSS waala, took up all expenses of her last rites. Afterwards, the husband left village too.

No one talked of an Exodus. My village itself never had any communal tension, but perhaps the whole atmosphere changed after the Babari. Perhaps, the “good Muslims” saw the villagers as “good Hindus”, but there was something they weren’t sure about — “Will it be good enough to be just good ‘despite being Muslims’ in the changing scenario?” I don’t know. I was too young to think of these things. I only knew RSS are good people, Muslims in our village are “good Muslims.” I, perhaps subconsciously, knew that the term “good Muslims” itself implies existence of “bad Muslims” too. At that young age, Rashtra was Hindu Rashtra and Rashtrabhakti was what I learnt from my uncle. In hindsight, when I see, I see my uncle was a “good RSS waala”.

So as it happened, my village has no Muslims anymore. Neither have the 3-4 villages in the vicinity. The kids born after 1995 in my village have not seen any Muslims neighbors. We haven’t been to any Muslim households. I myself hadn’t been to a Muslim household till I visited Shams bhai’s place in 2014.

I don’t know why I’m writing this, but I wanted to write about it for long. It’s sad. People, who were living there for generations, felt it wasn’t prudent to stay there further. We were a tiny village. But those words – Ayodhya, Babri – reached us, for no reason. My parents still talk reverently of the elders in those Muslim families. Many of those died. Some of them, the younger ones, sometimes meet the village oldies in town on market days and they talk like relatives met after a long while: ” Chachi kaisi hai? Sharif kahaan hai ab? Sharif ki ladki ki shaadi? Baap re..” We, the newer generations, don’t even know them.

What was it that happened? Who gained from it? Who lost? No one knows. As it stands now, we have no Muslims in the village.

P.S. I wrote it as I saw it as a kid of 10. Please don’t take out conclusions.

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Living with uncertainties

October 6, 2013

It’s again a Sunday and I am still in Goa. I went out for a walk, to a nearby church. It was closed for renovation, so I sat in the premises for a while. Then I went to a nearby garden. It’s an old garden since the Portugese days and now maintained by the Muncipal Corporation of Panaji. There is a massive cylindrical column at the center – height 12.76 meter – with the National Emblem of India on the top of it – the four lions and Satyameva Jayate. A monolith there notes that earlier there was a bust of Vasco da Gama on top of the pillar, but it was replaced with the Indian National Emblem after Goa gained freedom from the Portugese.

I have a lot of tasks to do. I have my presentation tomorrow – just a three-minute talk. I am planning to talk about Importance of Savings or something like that. I have thought nothing about it though. Then I need to prepare a book review that I must submit by Thursday. Again, on Thursday evening, these folks are arranging a cultural program where I am supposed to sing a song. I am prepared for nothing of these.

We have our training here till Saturday, so I don’t know where I would be on the next Sunday. We haven’t got any communication from the bosses about where to go and what to do, so life is with a lot of uncertainties.

Being Indian. Being Plural.

September 30, 2012

Being Plural. Being Indian.

While my experimentation with SVG continues, I have tried creating this logo with Inkscape.  It depicts secularism and plurality of thoughts in India.

India is a land of diversity.  We have a long tradition of differences of opinions and argumentative discourses.  Many authors of different times have hailed pluralism as a distinct characteristic of our Indian-ness.  Shashi Tharoor, in his 2007 article, finds pluralism as an integral part of the Indian idea.

I created this logo for Wikipedia article Secularism in India.  There are a few glitches remaining that are being fixed.  Give me your feedback.

Coming up soon…

September 15, 2012

The Ganesh festival is just around and the colorful Ganesha idols have started to show up in the market 🙂

Ganesha idols in Nagpur market.

Shivaji: Saffronization of a secular king

February 20, 2012

Yesterday was the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (1627-1680).  It was celebrated with great joy all over the Maharashtra and by all Marathi-speaking people wherever they are in some form or other.  Shivaji was one national hero of who is still revered by millions above cast and creed.  Indeed Shivaji is a towering name above all, and if you ask anyone to give just one name that binds all Marathi people together, it would be that of Shivaji without a second thought.

Let him remain as he was.  Don't color him saffron.

The popularity and greatness of Shivaji’s character have given rise to a typical phenomenon in the modern India.  Each and every ideological group want him colored in their own color, and unfortunately the far-right saffron Hindutva folks succeeded in it.  They distorted his image so much that he is almost deified as an incarnation of God who took birth “to save the Hindu people from the tyranny of Muslim rulers”; and this is far from truth.

This needs to be checked against historical facts and people should be made aware about this.  This has become more important in the post-1992 and post-Godhra India where Shivaji is again and again projected as a destroyer and enemy of Muslims.

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The neglected people of shining India

February 12, 2012

While I’m still waiting for more opinions on my last post (What is God?), I am here with a new post that has been building up in me over the last couple of weeks.

A while ago, I started posting a daily photo on Flickr.  The concept was to get an eye looking for new ideas on a daily basis.  I had a hard time for the first few days to find something new to click.  I had already shared about 100 photos from literally every corner of the city, so it was very difficult to find new places everyday.  Also, one cannot go on a photo-shoot daily, we have our own jobs etc., so I had to find something new at the very same places day to day, and I turned towards people.  After all, we can always find new people on the same streets forever.

He lashes himself with a whipcord in the name of God to earn his living. These people build our roads, and they can't afford warm clothes for the winter.
Sadhu: Victim of a philosophy that handicaps. A boy at the main market in the city.  He should have been in a school.

But what I started as a leisure activity turned out to be a disheartening thing for me.  We are a booming economy.  People are getting salaries that they never believed they would.  Roads are getting poured with more cars and more bikes.  India is shining.  And as I turn my camera on roads, I find people living at the lowest brink of poverty, at the depth of human dignity.  And the socioeconomic system, the religion have deep-sown a philosophy in them to be satisfied in what they are.  They neither aspire something higher, nor are they conscious of what destitute life they are living.  I am standing between the two extremes of India, and I’m awed with those both.

And this family; shall I say anything else?

I wish someone of them grows up to sue me for publishing their pictures in such inhumane state without their consent.

Note:  Hover over the photos for the alt text.  Click on the photos for the respective Flickr page.  All photos are CC-BY-SA.

Of a wonderful evening and National Book Fair

January 8, 2012

What what what a wonderful evening this had been!  I just went out for a Sunday-evening ride and saw an ad of National Book Fair held at Kasturchand Park, Nagpur.  This is a yearly book exhibition fair and I kind of wait for this fair every year.  I saw the ad and then what could stop me!  I had only 100 rupees in my wallet, but said “let’s see” and made my way to Kasturchand Park.

It usually takes me more than three-four hours to go through the fair, more than 100 book stalls each with thousands of books.  Although conscious of my wallet size, today I had thought of only a short stride.  And Look what I came back with:  Eleven books, more than 1800 pages!  I could not resist.  Chose the books, talked to the shopkeeper, went to an ATM, got the money out, paid, and done!  Very unlikely of me, I took all the books from one stall only, by National Book Trust.  They are wonderful people, consistently publishing standard books, and a lot of nonfiction!  I picked every book like pick-at-first-site, without even bothering to peek through it, like I was looking for them all my life.  And look what I came up with:

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Lest we, the people of India, forget…

November 26, 2011

November 26! The Constitution of India was adapted and enacted on this date in 1949; exactly 52 years ago. Surprisingly, most of my fellow citizens do not know the importance of this date and those who know tend to forget it for some reasons (it would be a topic for a separate post)!

Constitution of India, the supreme law of the land, is the document of foremost important to us. It’s the originator and the guardian of the rights we enjoy: The freedom of expression, freedom of religion, right to equality, just to mention a few. While all of us benefit from these rights, most of us conveniently fail to attribute the due respect to the Constitution of India. Most of us just think that we have this freedom because it has naturally been such for ages.

I have seen many of my friends thinking the Constitution of India is only to benefit a section of the society while they see it as an obstacle for growth their individual growth. But my dear friend, if we need to grow as a nation, we must keep in mind:

The growth of individuals does not constitute the growth of a nation; if we must grow as a nation, we must grow as a whole.

And if you are on the sufferer’s end, then someone needs to be there. If the nation asks a part of your individual growth for the growth of the community, you must be the happiest person to offer it.

On this November 26th, let’s pay our tribute to the supreme law of the land; lest we forget it is the Constitution of India that makes us what we are!

Of potatoes, eggs, Ahmadiyyas, and Pakistan

October 26, 2011

I was casually going through BBC News website last evening and found a news about a YouTube video “Aaloo Anday” (potatoes and eggs) getting viral popular in Pakistan. What so special about a video, first one by the unknown-until-now band, to be so popular that BBC making a news out of it. I watched the video on YouTube. It’s a satire on the current sociopolitical situation of Pakistan. It’s in Punjabi, I couldn’t get it’s meaning by mere listening to it. I further googled to get some insight. The video itself and the situation surrounding it have obsessed me so much that I had been thinking of it almost every moment since I watched it.

The video starts with three school-going-looking boys opening their lunch box finding the same “Aaloo Anday” in them as usual. They put off the lunch boxes and start with the song: “my mother has cooked aaloo and anday. I don’t like them. I want to each pieces of chicken.” The video further takes a hard stand on some tough issues in Pakistan. They talk of a country where Mumtaz Qadir (one who assassinated a liberal minister) is treated like a royal nawab, where Ajmal Kasab has become a national hero, and of a country where no one talks about Abdus Salam, the first Noble laureate from Pakistan who won Noble Prize for Physics in 1979.

Abdus Salam (1926–1996)

Dr. Abdus Salam

Although the most part of the song made only a little appeal to me (as I am not that aware of the situation there), I must give the guys full credit for talking about Abdus Salam.  Abdus Salam was one of the most important scientists Pakistan has ever produced. He belonged to Ahmadiyya community, which is declared non-muslim in Pakistan by law of the land. Ahmadiyya is a community within Islam that believes Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahamad (19th century) to be the Messiah and hence denies the finality of prophethood of Muhammad. They believe in the oneness of Allah, they believe Muhammad was a prophet of Allah, they believe Quran to be the book sent by Allah, but deny the finality of Muhammad as a Prophet. Pakistan has about 4 million of Ahmadiyya population; and these people are declared non-muslims by law.

And what does it really mean? By law, an Ahamadiyya cannot pose himself to be a muslim in Pakistan, or he can have a jail of up to 3 years. An Ahmadiyya cannot say “Assalam walaykum” to someone else; an Ahmadiyya cannot call their place of worship a “masjid”; an Ahmadiyya cannot keep a copy of Quran in his home; an Ahamadiyya cannot quote the verses of Quran in public; an Ahamadiyya can in no way pose himself to be a Muslim. Anyone who applies for a Pakistani passport has to sign an oath stating that Mirza Ghulam Ahamad was an imposter and not the prophet of Allah and his followers are in no way Muslims.

Ahmadiyya are often a target of social malignity in Pakistan. In 2010, there was a suicide bomb attack on a Ahmadiyya place of worship and about 100 people were killed.  Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called the deceased “our brothers” in his condolence speech.  Eleven political parties together have protested his calling Ahmadiyyas “our brothers.” The prejudice against Ahmadiyyas is so intense that they often try to keep their Ahmadiyya identity hidden in their social life. In short, Ahmadiyyas are the Jews of modern Pakistan and living in almost the same situation as the Jews were living in the early Nazi regime.

Grave of Prof. Dr. Abdus Salam (1926-1996) in ...

The gravestone of Dr. Abdus Salam. The words "Muslim" are removed by a judicial action.

Abdus Salam was a proud Pakistani and a Muslim. He went to receive his Noble award in the national dress of Pakistan. He had quoted a verse from Quran in his Noble speech. He departed from the country in protest when Pakistan declared Ahmadiyyas to be non-Muslims. Afterwards, he lived in United Kingdom. He kept constant contact with his motherland for all his life. He died in UK. His corpse was brought back to Pakistan and buried in his hometown. His gravestone read “He was the first Muslim Noble laureate.” This was unbearable in Pakistan. He was an Ahmadiyya; he cannot call himself a Muslim even after death. They dusted out the words “Muslim” from his gravestone by a judicial order leaving it to nonsensical “the first Noble laureate.” Every attempt was made to clean out his name from the public memory; even his hometown was renamed. And such an important public figure in Pakistan was rubbed out of history, just because he was an Ahmadiyya, a non-Muslim. The prejudice against Ahmadiyya is so intense in Pakistan that a blogger satirically wrote a public sentiment like “we can convert the Hindus and Christians to Islam; we do not want the Ahmadiyyas.”

One can easily make remarks against political leaders; they are soft targets. A little more courageous can talk even against the military, but to talk against the public sentiment–it takes a great deal (think what kind of comments those got here in India who argued against the Anna Hazare movement). The aaloo anday guys must be congratulated for taking up such an important issue. It may not change the situation in a while, but it can set start a debate. The video ends with the lead singer holding a placard “If you want a bullet through my head, like this video.” Unfortunately, it is really such a case in Pakistan. Take care guys, may God give you a long life.

It’s a hectic Diwali!

October 25, 2011

It’s Diwali.  I will be in the office tomorrow from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Hope all work gets done by then.  The next day, Thursday, a full working day, and in the evening I will be leaving for home for Bhau-beej.  I have applied for leave on Friday and Saturday.  Sunday will be an off.  Again, I will have to get back at work on Monday at 6:30 in the morning.

In between,  on Thursday night I will be leaving from here; will reach home on Friday morning.  Friday Bhau beej.  I will have Saturday free; planning to spend some time with Master; may be we’ll go on a little walk by the riverside, or a bike ride.  Again on Sunday, I will be on a way-back journey.  The trains and buses will be fully loaded, it’s a festival season.

And the distance–it’s about 328 km from here–to and fro 656 km; return journey may be by bus (yaack!! buses make me sick), just to reach office Monday on time.

It’s Diwali.  It wished there were no Diwali this year; I haven’t even done my shopping and I have literally nothing to wear tomorrow and I’ll have to reach office at 6:30 a.m.

Happy Diwali 😐