View from India


As we drove from Mysore towards Halebidu we were still going by our travel brochure and referring to the place as Halebid.Sounds very anglicized,doesn’t it? The guide later told us that the local name Haalu beedu actually means -the destroyed city.

The drive was through lush green countryside and to a Gulf resident all that green was bounty enough.When the taxi came to a halt I wondered if we had reached.There was the usual clutter and run down chaos of a small Indian town.Trinket and picture postcard sellers swarmed momentarily but gave up quickly.Quite unlike the persistent (and annoying) hordes at tourist places in the North.
Where was the famed temple I wondered. I caught a glimpse of it from the side and it seemed like a stack of blackened stone.I felt a small sense of disappointemnt.Then the guide came along and took us inside the temple complex.The photo below captures what I saw then and was floored.That ‘stack’ of stone turned out to be an epic poem in stone. Have a look.

 

The most impressive, in the beginning, were the two Nandi Bulls that guard the two adjoining temples.I was stumped.So much evocative beauty in these two gentle giants.The carving itself is so fluid,so life like, down to the minutest detail of how a bull sort of slumps to a side when sitting in this posture. Unfortunately I was not able to click it from that side as it started raining.The carving of the bells,ropes and tassles around the Nandi’s neck are flawless and have escaped the damage inflicted on the rest of the temple.
 

This is a view of the main vestibule of the temple and it is awesome.I got goose bumps just standing there. I felt I could literally reach back in time and be one with all those who must have frequented it during its hey days and subsequently through the ages. Right in the middle, where a samll nandi is visible, is a circular dance floor that w as used for temple dances and it is like a mirror due to its age worn sheen.All around are the viewing stands for the audiences( lower right corner of the picture) that had steps of stone to climb on to.The edges have cavities carved out in the stone.These are the oil lamps that were lit at the time of the dance performances. What an awesome sight that must have been.I hope they organise some dance festivals there in future.The pillars of the entire temple are of varied designs…….all beautiful.There is something about age worn stone………..that warm sheen that enchants me everytime I am anywhere near it.

 
India’s ancient history,mythology,festivals…all are carved here with spellbinding effect.
Ganesha can be found in various moods here including the rare one of him in angry mood.According to the guide the trunk in that case is to the right side!
 

 
 
Almost all important dieties can be found in that part of the temple that is devoted to the spiritual part.The other half is devoted to worldly things like dancers,animals,trees etc.
 
 Brahma ji Ved japey,tere dwaarey amba………….could not help but sing the lines from Delhi 6 Bhajan.
 
 
The ‘trimoorti’- Brahma,Vishnu,Mahesh
 

 

 

The eternal lovers
 Shiva – Parvati

 
Krishna holds up Mount Govardhana
 
Lord Vishnu’s third avatar,Varaha, who appeared in the Satya Yuga 
 
 
The scenes of war from Mahabharta and Ramayana.This one is the ‘chakravyuh’ that Abhimanyu did not know how to exit.
 

 
 
Lord Ram slays Vaali. Vali had a boon that he would acquire half the powers of who ever confronted him in order to kill him. It was because of this Ram stood behind trees to kill Vaali.Look at the beautiful detail of the arrow piercing the trees…..800+ years and the picture is still so clear.
 

 
 
This picture is a bit out of focus but is the scene of Holika,the sister of the evil king,Hiranyakashipu, burning in the fire.Elsewhere,there are  beautiful scenes of people filling their ‘pichkaris'(water guns) from tubs of water to play the north Indian festival of Holi
 

 
 
Bhima slays elephants with his mace in the battle to capture Drupad,the King of Panchala.Their guru, Drona, had asked for the capture of Drupad as his tuition fees.Pandavas and Kauravas went together to this battle.
 

 
 
There are endless images in my collection. I went berserk with my camera but nothing can capture the feelings of awe and wonderment that one experiences when one stands in ancient places like this temple.The temple took many centuries to build and infact was never completed as the Hoysala kings were forced to move their kingdom due to the raids by armies of Malik Kafur.There are many portions of the temple that have incomplete carvings.It as though the workers had to move away from their labour of love and could never return again.
 

 
 
The temple was ransacked (for its wealth) by Kafur’s army sometime in early 14th century and thereafter fell into a state of neglect.
Since Hindus used to discontinue ‘pooja’ in temples once desecrated this temple fell prey not only to the initial muslim invaders but also to local vandals and the British (this is anecdotal but given the history of the stuff the British carried away,this could be entirely true) too are thought to have spirited away many of the sculptures that could be carted away. Below is my documentation of the plunder by various vandals.
 
The first place honor( in the hall of shame) goes to the Muslim armies who destroyed what they could, easily, at the lower levels.The free standing, delicate carvings at lower levels are all gone….smashed wilfully but the solid stone carvings are all there.These perhaps took too much effort to destroy.I can’t help but think that India must have been the Muslim invader’s ultimate nightmare. They were instructed by their Book/Prophet to hate idol worshipping and destroy idols.They then marched to India, to capture this bounteous land, only to encounter a veritable hot house of temples,idols and more idols. Ha!
 
The sculptures that have taken the most hit are actually the scene of “samudra manthan’. You can still see the ‘rope’ in the hands of the destroyed figures.
 

 
 
The next come the local bounty seekers,perhaps, egged on by the western world’s appetite for Indian antiques. The British could have been complicit in this trade.All around the temple are empty niches like this from which stupendously beautiful idols have been taken away.Mercifully, the nearby temple of Belur has all its idols intact and one can get an idea from there of what Halebid has lost.
 

 
Finally the modern day vandals who engrave their names on anything of antiquity that they visit. On the snout of Nandi which is like a polished mirror the name of one Khan. On the rump of the magnificient beast two lovers have added their graffiti.Thankfully, according to our guide,this ‘modern’ graffiti is some decades old and now the temple is more protected.I hope this is true.
 

 
 
This is already an epic post so I shall call a halt to image uploading and let you get on with sharing my wonderful journey through a small part of India’s glorious heritage
 
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Rajendra Krishan

Lovers of old Hindi film music, everywhere, still swoon with sheer pleasure when they listen to gems like :

Chup chup khade ho zaroor koi baat hai (Badi-Behen)), 
Jaag dard-e ishq jag (Anarkali), 
Mann doley mera tan doley (Nagin), 
Ai dil mujhe bata de,tu kis pe aa gaya hai,(Bhai-Bhai), 
Main chali main chali dekho pyaar ki gali
( Padosan)

.

The common factor in these and hundreds of other songs of that era is that they all flowed from the pen of a lyricist who is now rarely remembered and about whom not much is known by the public.

 
 He was an equal amongst giants like Sahir Ludhianvi, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Shailendra, Qamar Jalalabadi and Shakeel Badayuni and penned such stirring lyrics as Suno suno ai duniya waalon, bapu ki yeh amar kahani. By the time his career ended he had penned many hundred lyrics for films, innumerable screenplays and dialogues for films like the ever popular film Padosan.
 
Given his accomplishments, it is strange that a net search for him turns up little information. Many articles mention wrongly that he was born in Shimla. I think its about time that the lovers of his songs knew some more about this man who could produce lyrics of immense pain and loss like, Chal ud ja re panchhi ki ab yeh des hua begaana and then turn around and pen a loony song like Ek chatur naar karke singar(Padosan).
 
 Rajinder Krishan was born Rajinder Krishan Duggal on June 6, 1919 to Parvati and Jagannath Duggal in Jalalpur Jattan of Gujarat district (now in Pakistan). He had three brothers Madholal, Banwari Lal and Hargobind and one sister,Gomti. His initial years and education were in this small town and it was here that he imbibed the best of Hindi and Urdu literature. He said that he was as indebted to the poetry of Urdu poets like Firaq Gorakhpuri and Ahsan Danish as he was to that of Hindi poets like Pant and Nirala.
 
 It was only in search of employment that he moved to Shimla somewhere in the late nineteen thirtees to live with his brother Madholal Duggal and his family. Being the eldest, Madholal, tried his best to get Rajnder to study some more and to try and get a reliable job. Rajinder Krishan though had his own ideas about what he wanted from life and did not pay much heed to his brother’s advice. A smart dresser and a lover of poetry, Rajinder was to be found most evenings in the Coffee House on The Mall Road, in Shimla, hobnobbing with others who shared his literary interests. He was a constant presence in all the poetry contests and gatherings that took place in Shimla.

 Needless to add that these interests of his led to many disagreements with Madholal and also resulted in Rajinder Krishan walking out of his brother’s house in anger and protest. He was to return later on his father’s cajoling and much to his eldest brother’s relief he eventually managed to get a (clerical) government job and got married to Sumitra. He then moved into 10 Nabha House next door to Madholal who lived in number 11. These houses still exist in the Shimla of today although the surrounding areas have changed. Incidentally the other neighbors included the villainous Madan Puri, Amrish Puri and their family.

 
Rajinder, however, was born to another destiny and the drudgery of the clerical job and his domestic responsibilities only sharpened his desire to break free. Sometime in1942, much against the wishes of his extended family, Rajinder Krishan left Shimla to try his luck in Bombay’s( now Mumbai) film industry. Leaving his wife and daughter, Pyari, with his brother and with about a hundred rupees in his pocket, Rajinder Krishan embarked on an uncertain future. Upset as his brother, Madholal, was about his decision to leave his secure government job he let him go and took on the responsibility of looking after his brother’s family, in addition to his own family. And this on his meager salary. His change of heart came about after he read one of the short stories that Rajinder Krishan had written and left for his brother to read.Madholal himself used to write in his spare time but after reading this story by Rajinder Krishan he understood the true genius of his younger brother and its is said that Madholal himself never took up the pen again to write!
 
What Rajinder Krishan faced over the next few years in far away Bombay was extreme financial distress and professional hardship. Try as he would he could not make a place for himself in the film world and at one point was reduced to selling socks and handkerchiefs that he would buy in wholesale and then peddle around the city. It was many years before he could get his family to Bombay to live with him.
 
During these early years of struggle he made some friends who were to prove to be his life long friends. One such man once came to ask Rajinder Krishan for some help. Madholal was on his maiden visit to his brother then and was aghast that Rajinder Krishan without hesitation handed over Rs. 10,000 to this man. When asked for the reason for such largesse Rajinder krishan told him that this man and his wife had supported him in his darkest days in Bombay and it was at their home he would knock to get a meal when he had no money to buy food.
 
It was with the Motila-Suraiyya starrer, Aaj Ki Raat that he finally got the fame that he deserved and the success he desired. This then set him on course to greater success and left a legacy of such songs as:
 
Chali chali re patang meri (Bhabhi)
Jadugar saiyyan( Nagin)
Baharein phir bhi aayengi (Lahore)
Bhooli hui yaadon mujhe itna na satao(Sanjog)
Woh bhooli dastaan jo phir yaad aa gayi(Sanjog)
Mere mehboob qayamat hogi ,aaj rusva( Blackmail)

 
A keen lover of horse racing he went on to make history of another sort when in the late sixties he won a tax free jackpot of approximately 49 lacs. However, in spite of his busy schedule and fame, he kept in touch with Madholal and his children whenever he got time to come to the north of the country. His other brothers had all moved to Bombay in years following Rajinder Krishan’s spectacular success in the film industry. Whenever he visited he rued the fact that the vegetables in Bombay never had the taste of the ones that grew in Punjab and took care to go back armed with such Punjabi favourites as fresh mooli(radish) and sarson ka saag. He enjoyed his life in Bombay where he was the toast of the film world but at heart he remained the simple man who had caught a train from Shimla to follow his destiny.
 
Note:I know all this as I am his great niece. Madholal was my maternal grandfather and my mother(Santosh) spent a large part of her childhood and teen years in Rajinder Krishan’s company. From my childhood I remember that whenever he visited he wanted my mother to make tandoori rotis and show his city bred children how the tandoor worked. He brought with him a whiff of the fantasy world of Bombay film industry and thanks to him my mother got to attend the premier of a few of his later films and see the film stars that attended the weddings of his children. I feel privileged to share these details from the life of Rajinder Krishan, the lyricist par excellence, with other lovers of Hindi songs.

For a detailed,though not exhaustive, list of songs written by Rajinder Krishan please visit:

A more comprehensive listing is available at: beta.lyricsindia.net/vyakti/show/111/

The amazing thing about India is that there is history everywhere…in almost our backyards, so to speak.The frustrating thing about India is that most of the time nobody cares.For every Taj and every Red Fort there are ten that are utterly neglected,confined almost to the dustbin of history. The Maratha forts,the many temples across the country,the Kos Minars on the old Grand Trunk Road,the Mughal monuments in Punjab…the list is endless.
 
When we set out, for a 4 day trip of Gujarat, from our base camp at Ahemdabad we had no expectations of what we would find on the way.A quizzing of many Gujarati friends before embarking had brought forth puzzled glances and a shrug of the shoulder. ” Not much to see in Gujarat…but good shopping in Ahemdabad”, was the refrain.A quick internet search yielded some details about the pilgrim’s trail to Dwarka,Somnath and some Jain temples.Our travel itinerary mentioned briefly the towns we would be driving through….Junagadh,Porbandar,Rajkot….
 
Thus it was, with few expecations, that we arrived at the dusty, town of Junagadh.Before I say anything about this town that seems to exist only for its inhabitants read what wikipedia has to say about this town.

Junagadh (Hindi: जूनागढ़ /junāgaḍh/, Gujarati: જુનાગઢ) is a city and a municipal corporation, the headquarters of Junagadh district in the Indianstate of Gujarat. The city is located at the foot of the Girnar hills. Literally translated, Junagadh means “Old Fort”. It is also known as “Sorath”, the name of the earlier Princely State of Junagadh. 

An impressive fort, Uperkot, located on a plateau in the middle of town, was originally built during the Mauryan dynasty by Chandragupta in 319 BCE The fort remained in use until the 6th century, when it was covered over for 300 years, then rediscovered in 976 CE The fort was besieged 16 times over an 800-year period. One unsuccessful siege lasted twelve years.(wikipedia)


 

We could see the fort dominating the horizon from many places in the town but no way to the fort or to information about it seemed at hand.A small part is accessible to public but most of it is in ruins, according to our driver.The next big surprise was the building housing Ashoka’s rock edicts

An inscription with fourteen Edicts of Ashoka is found on a large boulder within 2 km of Uperkot Fort[2]. The inscriptions carry Brahmi script in Pali language and date back to 250 BCE On the same rock are inscriptions in Sanskrit added around 150 CE by Mahakshatrap Rudradaman I, the Saka (Scythian) ruler of Malwa, a member of the Western Kshatrapas dynasty[3]. Another insciption dates from about 450 CE and refers to Skandagupta, the last Gupta emperor.(wikipedia)

  

The rock with the edicts.

The rock is huge and the entire surface is covered with the edicts.Some attempts in the past have been made to give the tourist some pictures and translations of the edicts but neglect is the word that comes to mind on seeing the rotting,mouldy pictures and fading,scratched translations.Only the rock stands in ist majesty….timeless and mysterious..one amongst the many markers of the vast empire of Ashoka that stretched from present day Afghanistan,Pakistan to Gujarat,Bihar….
 
Then we went to the better known, but totally negelcted,Mahabat Maqbara of Junagadh.

Mohammad Bahadur Khanji I, who owed allegiance to the Sultan of Ahmedabad, founded the state of Junagadh by expelling the Mughal governor and declaring independence in 1748. Mohammad Bahadur Khanji I, who assumed the name “Zaid Khan” when he came to power in Junagadh, was the founder of the Babi dynasty. His descendants, the Babi Nawabs of Junagadh, conquered large territories in southern Saurashtra and ruled over the state for the next two centuries, first as tributaries of Baroda, and later under the suzerainty of the British. Nawabs of Babi dynasty( Wikipedia)

 

 

It is an astounding collection of a few buildings with the local Jama Masjid and the buiding that used to be the residence of the Junagadi Nawabs (before they fled to Pakistan at the time of the partition of the sub- continent)adjacent to it.Almost black now with the effects of the weather this monument stands forlornly on a dusty street of small shops.
Children play cricket on the premises,goats nuzzle around for whatever little vegetation is there and the fakirs and the homeless sit in the shade of the building.
 
This was an impromptu counselling session by this man who had been sitting quietly in the shade.He was consoling a woman who had come in crying and in great distress.


 

 The slender minarets with the staircases twirled around them are surprisingly sturdy still and gave us a vantage point for some aerial shots of the area.
 
The dome and the minarets of the local Jama Masjid are framed by the buildings on the maqbara premises.
 

 
 
 The facade is in a state of disrepair but still impressive in its details.The jumble of various architectural styles seems to work and small graves are scattered around the entire compound.Steps lead up to the building that is locked but the many broken ‘jaalis’ and panes allow the vistor to peep inside.
 
 
 Its only when you peep through the ‘jaalis’ that the full impact of the building manifests itself.Its like a scene frozen in time.Although the floor is littered with rubble and is dusty and neglected the building has enough of its past glory still showing through the dust to whisper stories of times gone by into your ears..Its like the Nawabs and their people are still there somewhere…
 

 
 
This is my favorite shot that captures the past spirit of the place while telling the sad story of its present day neglect.The light plays tricks and I imagine soft footfalls,the swish of fabric and the gentle murmurs of conversations.

The adjacent residence of the Nawabs of Junagadh has been, most unimaginatively, converted into the District Courts….a death warrant for any heritage building knowing the track record of the government in taking care of its offices! This building would be a wonderful candidate for turning into a heritage hotel….Neemrana guys are you listening?


 

 An interesting nugget from history: When the newly formed state of Pakistan and India were entangled in a tussle over the acceeding of Junagadh to Pakistan/India, the Nawab and his family fled to Pakistan taking due care to empty the treasury of absolutely everything before their departure.It was the then Dewan of Junagadh,Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto,father of the more famous( and unfortunate) Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who invited the Government of India to intervene by writing a letter to the Regional Commissioner of the state of Saurashtra.

Read the details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junagadh

For eight centuries now this lovingly created masterpiece has stood here on the edge of a water body.Rulers have come and gone and everything around the temple has changed but it stands still in a quiet serenity.It would be cliched but entirely true to say that it has been a silent witness to the human drama going on around it for centuries.

Generations have stood in and around it now and looked up in awe and admiration (except the vandals I chronicled in my earlier post).Every little bit of the temple is encrusted with exquiste sculptures. I am making an effort to bring some of the best to all of you in this post.I do not know the stories behind some of these and am hoping all of you will chip in with the details and then I can add them on to the post(with credit given to source).

1) A dynamic relief carving of Siva’s jubilant dance of triumph after killing the elephant demon Gajasura. Having flayed the elephant, Shiva held its skin in his outstretched hands and danced a tempestuous dance. The exaggerated twist of his body dramatically conveys his frenzied movement.

(Source: C.Sri Vidya Rajgopalan’s explanation . From the internet)
 

There a quite a few sculptures of this ‘roop'( Gajasamhara) of Lord Shiva but this particular one is the least damaged,If you look at the top right side of the sculpture you can notice the astonishingly delicate detail in the way the thumbnail of Shiva is shown protruding through the elephant’s skin.!! Absolutely unbeliveble that this small artistic detail has come down to us from 800+ years. Wonder what the artist was thinking when he was executing this….did he ever imagine it would be so admired and commented upon centuries later?
 


 

This next sculpture sculpture depicts Vishnu in his incarnation as the Vamana the dwarf, also known as Trivikrama. Bali, the king of the demons, promised Vamana all the land that Vamana could cover in three strides. Vamana or Vishnu Trivikrama’s first step covered the entire earth.

The Halebid sculpture shows Vishnu Trivikrama taking his second step, which covered the entire heavens. Bali squats at the left lower corner of the sculpture. Trivikrama’s third step came down on top of Bali’s head. Vishnu Trivikrama then rewarded Bali by giving him the celestial kingdom of Sutala.(Courtesy: Gregory Fegel)

 
 
3) Ravan tries to shake out  Mount Kailasa to dislodge Shiva-Parvati from their abode. Another story goes that he ws trying to move the entire mountain as it stood in the way of his ‘aircraft’ (remember, the one in which he whisked away Sita after kidnapping her from her forest dwelling?) .Please feel fre to add on these explanations.
 

4) The ‘naked’ roop of Shiva ( Lord  Bhairav).This exquisite work stands in one of the niches.It is very graceful,almost feminie in the fluidity of its curves.

 
5) This scene from the outer walls of the Hoysaleswara temple never fail to evoke a chuckle from the visitors,thanks to the explanation given by the ASI trained tourist guides.He calls those arrows the Patriot missiles of yore!!
 

 
 

Just felt that I should share this.Human beings have always sought to understand how this universe was created.Many stories abound.Each religion takes its own myths and explanations as sacrosanct and the ONLY TRUTH.The way I see it…..the power or force that created all this is the same and our dividing ourselves into religious communities does not alter that fact.So let us celebrate our own explanations and stories but know that the OTHER too speaks of the same DAWN.

Song of Creation:

 

Then was not non-existent nor existent: there was no realm of air,
No sky beyond it.
What covered in, and where? And what gave shelter? Was water
There, unfathomed depth of water?

Death was not then, nor was there aught immortal: no sign
Was there, the day’s and night’s divider.
That one thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it
Was nothing whatsoever.

Darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness, this All was
Indiscriminated chaos.
All that existed then was void and formless: by the great power of
Warmth was born that unit.

Thereafter rose desire in the beginning, Desire, the primal seed
And germ of spirit.
Sages who searched with their heart’s thought discovered the
Existent’s kinship in the non-existent.

Transversely was their severing line extended: what was above it then,
And what below it?
There were begetters, there were mighty forces, free action here
And energy up yonder.

Who verily knows and who can here declare it, whence it was born
And whence came this creation?
The gods are later than this world’s production. Who knows, then,
Whence it first came into being?

He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all
Or did not form it,
Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily
Knows it, or perhaps he knows not.

Poem # 10.129

Rg-Veda

Read this article in Dubai’s newspaper Gulf News,yesterday. It was a refreshing change to read an article about India’s Muslims that went against the ‘herd opinion’ of Indian Muslims as a huge monolithic community that is uniformaly persecuted and denied every possible right in an ‘ over whelmingly’ (newspapers overseas love to define India thus) Hindu nation.The ‘crying ,moaning brigade’ is usually led by Kuldip Nayyar with endless articles quoting from the Sachar Report that has become a self- perpetuating,Hydra like entity. While the disadvantages of the community are for real,the discourse, in the media and elsewhere, usually glosses over the real reasons for this .Atleast this article dispels some of the myths and also hands back to the Muslim community its due role in uplifting its own lot. Hopefully this kind of an enabling discourse will be internalised by the Muslims here and thus diminish the exploitation of their condition by political parties and leaders of all hues.(simply61)

  • What do India’s Muslims want?
  • by Taberez Ahmed Neyazi

  • The 30th general session of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind on Nov-ember 3 endorsed a fatwa of 2006 by the influential Darul Uloom seminary at Deoband that calls on Muslims not to sing Vande Mataram, the national song of India, as it is in violation of Islam’s faith in monotheism. Since the Jamiat’s session was attended by the Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, it has become a cause of political controversy.

The right-wing opposition, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is accusing the ruling government of legitimising the stance of the Jamiat against singing the Vande Mataram. This raises many questions: Can Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind speak on behalf of the entire Indian Muslim community? Do Indian Muslims need to look beyond religious issues and think more in terms of constructive issues such as education and economic development?

Rather than issuing a fatwa against illiteracy and ignorance, Muslim organisations in India seem busy quibbling about matters that might not be of immediate interest to the majority of the Muslim community.

The Sachar Committee report released in 2006 is indicative of the deprivation of Muslims in comparison to other minorities in India. Though Muslims constitute 13.4 per cent of India’s population, their representation in government occupations is a mere 4.9 per cent, and in the civil services their share is as low as 3.2 per cent. Similarly, only 3.4 per cent of the Muslim population comprises graduates.

Is it because of the discriminatory policies of the Indian state towards the Muslim community? Or is it because of other social and political factors?

Instead of completely blaming the Indian state for the ills of Indian Muslims, there is a need to analyse other internal factors.

Ghetto mentality

One noteworthy issue is the prevalence of a ghetto mentality among the majority of Indian Muslims. Muslims in India have failed to take advantage of opportunities that have unfolded because of the internalisation of a self-depreciatory image of themselves. This image has largely been created by the Muslim political and religious elite in order to present themselves as the representatives of an otherwise internally divided community.

Thus, despite the objective conditions available to compete in the public services as equal citizens, India’s Muslims exert themselves mainly in business. They are largely self-employed, paying little attention to higher education. This has provided opportunities to so-called defenders of minority rights to provide a political undertone to the issue by playing up the card of a suppressed and oppressed minority. This hardly highlights the underlying problems responsible for the marginalisation of the community in India.

It can only be hoped that Indian Muslims free themselves of the divisive politics of their leaders and follow more constructive and goal-oriented politics. This hope does not seem unreasonable given the rise of a sizeable Muslim middle class and its growing power. Though there already existed middle classes among India’s Muslims before, this class has undergone significant changes in the past 50 years; it has moved from being a traditional landed elite to a class of salaried employees, intellectuals, businessmen and traders. Many of them might well share the feeling, imaginary or real, that they are excluded from the mainstream and are discriminated against. But they would not agree to resolve their grievances through violent means. The new middle classes are less religiously-oriented yet ideologically committed to reformist Islam. They are not swayed by emotional politics and religious zealots; instead they prefer to send their children to public schools or convents.

Contributing factors

These transformations in the Indian Muslim middle classes are taking place because of a number of reasons such as the rapid growth of the Indian economy, the rise of literacy, and the migration of Muslims to the Gulf states and other countries for jobs.

Historically, there always existed moderate and reformist Muslims, albeit with a muffled voice. However, only during the last ten years have these reformist elements come into the mainstream. They are determined that the discourse on Islam must no longer be hijacked by radicals or the so-called defenders of Islam. This is quite evident from the fact that the politics of fatwas is losing its significance. India’s Muslims are gradually becoming more individualist in orientation. Not surprisingly, contrary to the fatwa issued by the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid to vote for the BJP in the general elections of 2004, Muslims rightly voted for other secular parties.

Thus, faced with grievances, they prefer to resolve them through democratic means rather than taking to arms. It is their faith in institutional and democratic means that has kept them away from reactionary politics even in the wake of the worst killings of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002.

Looking at all these positive developments, one can only hope that the recent controversy will die naturally with India’s Muslims choosing to engage with more important issues of literacy, economic and political development.

Taberez Ahmed Neyazi is a Researcher in the South Asian Studies Programme, National University of Singapore. He will join the East-West Centre, Honolulu as a visiting fellow from February 2010.

The original article is at this site:

http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/what-do-india-s-muslims-want-1.528446

This is another email forward that I just had to share.God,I love these guys(and gals) who take the trouble to write all this stuff down.Thank you to whoever wrote this blaster down.

Here’s how the Indian TV news channel NDTV 24×7 reported about Jack and Jill. [All names (except those of Jack and Jill), are fictitious].

Prashant – TV Anchor

Two persons have been injured in a freak climbing accident. Jack and his companion Jill had gone up a hill to fetch a pail of water when Jack fell down and broke his crown. Jill came tumbling after. Live from the hill, our reporter, Amrita Shah, takes up the story.

Amrita Shah

Thank you Prashant. Well, as you say, two persons – Jack and Jill – had gone up a hill to fetch a pail of water. Suddenly, Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after. Prashant.

Prashant

Thank you Amrita. What do we know about the hill?

Amrita

Not too much. Jack was going up the hill to fetch a pail of water when he fell down and broke his crown. Jill came tumbling after.

[Headline appears at the foot of the TV screen: “hill breaks crown of pail-boy Jack”]

Prashant

What news of Jack and Jill?

Amrita

Prashant, it seems that Jack had gone up the hill to fetch a pail of water. We know nothing about the pail, or how heavy it was but it seems that Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after. I have here with me, an eyewitness to the accident, Mr Shahid Trivedi. Mr Shahid, tell us what you saw

Shahid Trivedi

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.

[Headline appears at the foot of the TV screen: “Boy and girl tumble down hill. Water spilled”] type=”text/javascript”>

Amrita

Jack and Jill. What do we know about them? Are they brother and sister? Are they married? Just what were they doing on the hill together?

Shahid Trivedi

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail a water.

Amrita

And what happened next?

Shahid Trivedi

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail a water.

Amrita

And what happened next?

Shahid Trivedi

Jack fell down and broke his crown

Amrita

Go on.

Shahid Trivedi

And Jill came tumbling after.

Amrita

Prashant, there you have it. Two people innocently going about their business to fetch a pail of water when one of them falls down, breaks his crown, and the other comes tumbling after. Back to you in the studio Prashant.

[Headline appears at the foot of the TV screen: “Water errand ends in tragedy”]

Prashant

I have with me in the studio now, Professor Chandrashekar Belagare from the Indian Institute of Applied Hill Sciences. Professor: a hill; Jack; Jill; a pail of water. A tragedy waiting to happen?

Professor

Well that depends on the hill, the two persons, the object they were carrying and the conditions underfoot. Let us look at the evidence so far.

Jack and Jill

Went up the hill

To fetch a pail of water.

Jack fell down

And broke his crown

And Jill came tumbling after.

Clearly, one would suspect that if Jack’s fall was severe enough to break his crown then the surface of the hill must have been slippery or unstable. But I think we’re overlooking something quite fundamental here. Who was carrying the pail? Jack fell down and broke his crown and – this is the key – Jill came tumbling after. If Jack and Jill had been carrying the pail together, would they not have fallen at the same time? The fact that Jill came tumbling after suggests that Jack lost his footing first and perhaps knocked Jill over as he slipped.

Prashant

Professor thank you very much. So there we have it, two persons – Jack and Jill – went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after. Later in the programme, Osama bin Laden was said to have been captured in Afghanistan, President Obama says ‘rent-boy menage-a-trois’ was “just a brief lapse of judgement”, and Pakistan is reported to have launched nuclear warheads against key Indian cities. But next up, join us after the break for a studio discussion about hills, boys and girls and whether water-fetching, hill climbing trips should be properly supervised. We’ll be right back….. don’t go away.

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