Challenges galore: New govt must hit the ground running

The focus should be on the crucial issues of unemployment and poverty besides upholding the great diversity that this country was well known for, till the right-wing forces tried to trample on it  by  Humra Quraishi

Election results are out. And the new government has been formed at the Centre. Now what? Will any of the grim crisis situations facing us, the citizens of this country, get solved, or will those distractions along the communal lines carry on… all those  tactics that were put forth to gather votes by whipping up hatred for the other. Before I move any further, it gets significant to mention that there’s not a single Muslim in this newly formed Cabinet. Not really shocking. Perhaps, along the much expected lines, considering the communal stand of the Right-Wing who’s who.

In a democracy it doesn’t really matter if there are Hindus or Muslims or Sikhs or Christians at the helm of affairs but apprehensions do arise when the democracy is weakened with constant dents and the destruction of the basic foundation.

Getting back to the immediate wants: Employment! The situation is so very dismal that our unemployed youth are rushing towards Israel for jobs! The young are just too fed up and disillusioned. He or she wants to see a change. A change towards the positive. And this more than explains why they voted for the Congress, Samajwadi Party and for several regional political parties, whose leaders worked  non-stop, to try to reach out to the masses; giving them genuine assurances and that much-needed hope of jobs and livelihoods.

Also, destruction of homes and shops ought to come to halt. One of the reasons for the defeat of the several of the BJP’s top brass in Uttar Pradesh is connected to the mass bulldozing of homes in several towns and cities of the state. Yes, homes of hundreds of the residents were destroyed by the state machinery in Ayodhya and also in Benaras and even in Uttar Pradesh’s capital city, Lucknow! Paving way for broader roads, supposedly to do away with congestion and clutter, to make beautiful sites! But can any of the excuses be good enough to destroy survival structures of the poor and of all those who cannot even afford to provide their families two square meals a day!

Also, blatantly communal speeches of the rulers of the day ought to be banned. Never before one witnessed such a pathetic scenario; provocative speeches, directly or indirectly, paving way for those hateful divides! Why were those speeches allowed to carry on during electioneering …one speech after another loaded with the typical communal onslaughts against the largest minority community in the country.

And the farmers of the country need immediate attention. Don’t overlook the basic fact that the farmers have been  holding peaceful protests in recent years …sitting at the  borders, in the midst of the severe winters, amidst rains, in the scorching heat, asking the  sarkar for their rightful demands and dues. Yet the end result has been more than disappointing for them. For how long can their anger and frustration be harnessed? They can no longer be bypassed.

The masses seem awakened after a dreadfully long slumber. Yes, finally awakened! These election results are ample pointers to the fact that the average citizen has responded to the urgent need for grim ground realities to be tended to. It was reassuring to hear Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, Tejashwi  Prasad Yadav and their party men and women,  highlighting the real issues hitting us –   unemployment, poverty, hunger and homelessness. A focus should be on these crucial issues. Above all, upholding the great diversity that this country was well known for, till the Right-Wing forces tried to trample on it, doing their level best to make us suspicious of the other, if not hate and kill each other.

Rays of hope do stand out, after this rather tough fight the secular parties and their leaders and the masses of the country gave to the right-wing forces! Committed leaders and the hundreds and thousands of the men and women and teenagers worked endlessly in this heat and dust …trying to save this land from the grasp of those who spoke of hateful divides in those hate-filled speeches!

Shahryar and his lyrics

Akhlaq Mohammad Khan, better known by his takhallus, Shahryar, was born many summers back, on 16 June 1936…but till date his lyrics and shairi do hold out! 

I recall meeting the Aligarh based poet-academic Shahryar, in New Delhi. It   was around 2004 when I’d first met him…Incidentally, his family also belonged to my ancestral qasba, Aonla. Also, he knew my Aligarh-based younger sister Habiba.

 When I was  introduced to him as ‘Habiba’s sister’ he looked somewhat taken aback as my sister and I look very different,  and uttered rather too spontaneously, “You Habiba’s sister!”

“Yes, I am …she’s my younger sister.”

“But you look so different! She covers her head and you…” With that he gave a rather disapproving look towards that sleeveless shirt on me, “You two real sisters?”

“Yes, we are real sisters. “

“From the same father?”

“Yes, of course …”

“Same father?”

“Yes …yes …”

“Same father!”

“Yes …at least this is what amma has told us!“

With that he had a hearty laugh. Yes, he seemed to be equipped with a sense of humour, though he had suffered emotional pain after he’d gone through a messy separation from his spouse – after 23 years of marriage. Maybe, it’s that emotional pain and loneliness that emerged in the form of those haunting lyrics and verse …he did talk of those spells of  loneliness, that emotional vacuum he was  going through. He’d also sounded philosophical, “Whenever I felt I’m going ahead in life, Allah seemed to pull me down. His ways, so who can question them!  But one thing  is  sure that the minute you are going ahead towards  achieving success, hurdles come about …I  have seen this happen in my  life.”

And with that he also spoke at length on the difficulties that come about with the singleton status! And though there were several  stories doing the rounds of  his rather colourful lifestyle, whenever I spotted him at those various  dos,  he was  not  just  all  alone but also looked  all alone! Yes, he seemed to carry strains of loneliness, though tried to camouflage it by trying to be witty and talkativeHe carried a certain attitude…one of those blunt and outspoken sorts. Quite a contrast to those romantic songs he’d penned for the film Umrao Jan.

Last when I had spotted Shahryar at one of those receptions, he looked unwell but tried not to dwell on his ill health. He tried to put up a brave front right till the very end. He passed away on 13 February 2012.