Nothing seems to be going okay …not right!

In fact, in these recent years we have witnessed less of governance and more of  distracting tactics — surgical strikes, war cries, setting one community against the other, new names for cities and townships, un-spared even the roads! 

No matter how hard I try to view from the glass half- full angle, but just can’t. As nothing seems to be going fine.  No sudden eruption, but an ongoing decline right the summer of 2014.  In fact, we have reached such a hopeless situation that nothing really shocks. Perhaps, in these recent years we have been witnessing too many perversions, deprivations, human disasters.

In fact, soon after the Modi government took charge, the masses awaited miracles to take off, as promised in the speeches at the political rallies, but only severe setbacks and bigger disappointments held out. Correct me if I’m wrong but 2016 will be remembered as the year of ‘notebandi’ (demonetization). One of the biggest setbacks for the citizens of this country was demonetization. And in 2017, Mahatma Gandhi was ‘removed’ from the charkha and his place ‘taken’ by Narendra Modi. Shots of Khadi Udyog’s new-year calendar had hit many and public outcry followed: Even Mahatma Gandhi not spared in these fascist times!

And even as the establishment continued to come up with those hollow development slogans, anger had started spreading out. In 2017, for the first time in the recent history of India, farmers travelled from the far flung regions; reaching New  Delhi, squatting right in the midst of the capital city, focusing on their plight…Today, of course, our farmers are protesting at the Delhi borders and in several states of the country. The farmers are upset and angry with the very passage of the three Farm Bills.

In fact, in these recent years we have witnessed less of governance and more of  distracting tactics — surgical strikes, war cries, setting  one community against the other, new names for cities and townships, un-spared even the roads!

The deterioration continues, with unemployment and the economic crisis overtaking everyday life. Communal violence has been accelerating as never before.

And in the midst of fears and apprehension, displacements have been taking place. In these recent years I have been interacting with those displaced from the rural stretches of North India. Mind you, forced shifts in the rural belts are pointers to bigger disasters. After all, when communal politics reaches rural stretches and hits the poor, it reeks of eerie build-ups. Yet, today, entire families are getting uprooted from their base! With the State standing as a mute force or as a collaborator!

And with hunger and deprivation on the rise, the masses do not want to hear any of those stale speeches. Enough! Only freshly made daal–rotis will do. But where are those everyday survival basics? Nowhere in sight!

Unless civil society moves in and tries to rescue the hopeless situation, our young face a very  bleak future. Hunger, deprivations, injustices are hitting the  young as never  before. With the future holding out little respite.

In fact, in certain regions, the so termed conflict regions, the young haven’t seen a single day of peace. There’s been only violence and counter violence, where locals and as well as non- locals, from all possible communities, get killed.

Nah,  I am  not going to wait till 10 December, World  Human Rights Day, to detail the  horrific human rights violations ongoing here, in our country , in these current times. Where the actual or the official killers are seldom caught and nailed. It’s the un-official ones and those labeled ‘sympathizers’ who get hounded and  harassed to such an extent that they sit ruined for  generations to come.

Mind you, the prime accused killer in the Lakhimpur  Kheri  killings couldn’t really flee because of the  tremendous  pressure put forth by the Opposition leaders and also by the farmer leaders; otherwise Ashish Mishra and his father, Ajay Mishra, who happens to be  MOS  Home, had come up with all possible alibis and false  narratives for  his son’s non-involvement in those killings.

With this  in the  background it is  no  mathematical quiz to not   comprehend the  basic crucial ‘why’  the  crime rate is  on a  huge  high, where the  culprits roam about freely and all too unperturbed about  arrests.

‘Five novellas about women’

The well-known writer and commentator, Indira Goswami, passed away exactly ten years back. Winner of India’s highest literary award, the Jnanpith (2001), as well as the Sahitya Akademi Award (1983), and the Principal Prince Claus Laureate (2008), she was also an editor, poet, professor, and scholar, best known for her novels such as The Moth Eaten Howdah of the TuskerPages Stained with Blood and The Man from Chinnamasta.

Publishers Niyogi Books have recently launched Indira Goswami’s novellas. Titled, ‘Five Novellas About Women’( translated from Assamese by Dibyajyoti  Sarma). I am looking forward to reading this latest translated work of Indira  Goswami, more so as I had  met and interacted with her on several occasions.

This was about twenty years back, when she was teaching at the Delhi University and residing on the campus. A simply done-up, neat home with an abundance of warmth. In fact, two aspects stand out to this day, even whilst I’m keying in. Her pet dog was always kept far away from guests and visitors, as she would  tell us that she doesn’t  believe in inflicting or  imposing her pets on visitors. No matter what time or day  one landed at her place the dog  wasn’t  allowed to enter the drawing room…The other aspect was that  tea and snacks and sweetmeats were served on a  tray or platter and she would insist  that we don’t  go back hungry from her  home. There was something genuinely  sincere about her and the  minute  one entered  her home she would  greet with a smile, followed by tea and snacks, and then our  talks would go on …nah, she  wasn’t  inquisitive nor curious, but then as our talks  would take off there’d be much of the offloading. You know the conversation would go on …endlessly along the outpouring strain.

Calling a spade a spade

Do listen to what Shatrughan Sinha has to say about Aryan Khan….and  the entire case!

I do make it a point to watch and hear news on NDTV.  It is far away from the Godi media news, and so comes across as genuine and real news!

Just a couple of days back, watched this bold cum frank interview of Shatrughan  Sinha with NDTV’s  Manoranjan Bharti, where the veteran actor said whatever he could say and comment on Aryan Khan and the  drugs case and the general scenario spreading out. He said all that he could possibly say in his typical bold fearless style. No, none of the Khans would have said so much, so very openly!

Shatrughan Sinha does carry a personality. I had  interviewed  him  just once and  that was  several years  back when he was fighting elections, pitted  against  Rajesh Khanna for the  New Delhi seat. I  recall it  was tough  tracking down exercise but once that got over, the rest  wasn’t too difficult … it  had  taken me  five  days  to  find out  where  Shatrughan Sinha  was  putting  up in New Delhi and together with that, his  contact telephone  numbers. And  finally  his brother, Dr  Lakhan  Sinha, had  given the  time for the interview, at their apartment at the erstwhile controversial building, The White House ( then  situated  close to  the Mandi House complex).

And  as I arrived  there at the  appointed time, I could meet Shatrughan Sinha in the  lift itself …the  lift  taking us upwards to the  eleventh  floor  where  his apartment was situated. And when  the  interview finally  took off, it was a longish interview with our differing views  making it  even longer but  it was all very civil. No, I wasn’t apprehensive of  getting thrown off from the  eleventh floor because of  my repeatedly questioning him for  fighting  on the  BJP ticket.

When I had asked him why he’s with  a political party which had been  bringing along divisions amongst the masses he said, “ I’m not communal…I don’t  believe  who is a  Hindu or  who is a Musalmaan or a Christian…just  believe in Insaniyat. I have been telling my party workers to treat all communities equally.” He had even gone on to detail his friendships with Muslim families in the country and elsewhere in the world.

And as the interview went ahead, we had arguments on the BJP’s stand on the Babri Masjid and on several other sensitive issues. And even when I  openly disagreed with his views or view-points, I knew I was interviewing a gentleman, who  wouldn’t shriek or shout or stab  or abuse!

Fabindia pulls ‘Jashn-e-Riwaaz’ ad

Well, the ground reality has turned so very pathetic that the popular outlet Fab India had to withdraw its ad – Jashn-e-Riwaaz!  Why?  Because some of its clients or buyers or the communal characters around, didn’t quite okay the Urdu sounding Jashn-e-Riwaaz!

This is the dark reality of the day. So well seeped in is the communal poisoning that even a Urdu sounding word or term is phrase is not to be tolerated by the  Right-Wing men and all those characters who are following  them rather too blindly…The stark reality of the  day is that this ‘connecting language’, Urdu, lies crushed and deadened in the midst of the communal virus spreading out as never before.

Around 2005, I had met a researcher, Valerio Pietrangelo at the Jamia Millia  Islamia. I was a visiting professor at that university and he  was  pursuing  advanced  study  of  Urdu and  Arabic from the University of Rome  and  had travelled  to Jamia Millia Islamia as  part of his  research work  on ‘Partition Literature in Urdu, Written  by Women.’ With  that in the  backdrop, I’d asked  him  to comment on  the Indian  Muslims he’d  been  meeting and also his  comments on their  mother tongue, Urdu. Valerio  was forthright, “As my  main concern has always  been Urdu  language and literature,  my contact with the Muslim  community in  India  has always been  filtered  by  my perception  of the language  issue. My impression is that Muslims are in a certain sense a backward community, at least many of them. As I met Muslims, I realized how dramatically they are shifting to Hindi and other Indian languages since  government is not promoting Urdu language and literature. I think language is an essential element of group identity, therefore, I feel that Muslim identity is threatened.”

And  Khushwant  Singh minced no words, detailing the slow death of this language, “Urdu  is dying a  slow death  in the land where it was born and where it flourished. The number of  students  who take it as a subject in schools and  colleges is dwindling…Apart from  Kashmir, where  Urdu  is taught from the  primary to the post-graduate levels, in the rest  of  India it  is the second or third  language. With the passing of years it has come to  be dubbed as  the language of the Muslims, which is far from the truth.”

Khushwant would recite these verses of Urdu poets Rashid and Khurshid Afsar Bisrani, focusing on the near-death of Urdu.

Rashid’s verse:  Maangey Allah se bas itni dua hai Rashid /

Main jo Urdu mein vaseeyat likhoon beta parh ley.

 (All Rashid asks  of  Allah  is just  one  small  gift/  If  I write  my will  in  Urdu,  may  my son  be able to read  it.)

Khurshid Afsar Bisrani’s verse: Ab Urdu kya hai ek kothey kee tawaif  hai /

Mazaa har ek leta hai,mohabbat kaun karta  hai.

(What is Urdu now but a whore in a whorehouse / Whoever wants has fun with her, very few love her.)



In today’s India, Urdu stands reduced to such lows that knowledge of Urdu cannot ensure employment; nor the basic means to survival. This treatment meted out to a language that carries the  subtle power to heal and control emotions and much more long the strain – A study  conducted by the Lucknow-based  Centre for  Biomedical  Researches  (CBMR) published in an edition of  international  journal  ‘Neuroscience  Letters’ states that  reading  Urdu  script  and  Urdu couplets  helps  in brain development. This report, based on  extensive  research,  goes to  prove that  learning and reading  Urdu  couplets  helps in controlling   emotions,  coping   with  stress, delaying  dementia. It could also be helpful for children with learning disabilities.

I can say with much confidence that another positive is this — Urdu  couplets, dripping with romantic strains, carry the ability to distract one from the dark realities of the day.

Perhaps, this particular verse of Sahir Ludhianvi relays the stark dark truth of the hypocrisy ridden times we are surviving in:

The same cities where once Ghalib’s voice resounded

Now have disavowed Urdu, made it homeless

The day that announced the arrival of freedom

Also declared Urdu a cursed and treacherous language

The same government that once crushed a living tongue

Now wishes to mourn and honour the dead

The man you call Ghalib was a poet of Urdu

Why praise Ghalib after suppressing his language.