Mera abai watan, my ancestral home, the place to which I belong, is Lucknow. Lucknow is ‘my city of joy’; and for me Lucknow’s identity derives from ‘old Lucknow.’ The newer part of the city is a creation of barely thirty to thirty-five years and bears little reflection of what Lucknow otherwise stands for.
There can be little conceptualization of Lucknow’s legendary culture, its tehzeeb, without any imagination of ‘old Lucknow’. As an instance of how deeply this tehzeeb had percolated into society, I still recall, on a few occasions that I happened to accompany my maternal uncle to the Raqabganj sabzi mandi, the hawkers would attract buyers for slender and delicate kakdis (skinny cucumbers) with the poetic call – ‘lijiye – lijiye, laila ki ungliyan, majnu ki pasliyan’ (‘Come, get these delicate fingers of Laila, Majnu’s slender ribs’, referring to the legendary star-crossed lovers Laila-Majnu).
Old Lucknow’s lanes and by-lanes, its busy bazaars, the Chowk – famous for chikan embroidery and zari work; Prakash ki kulfi in Aminabad (a popular market in old Lucknow); the early morning doodh malai and jalebi stalls; the horse-driven ikkas and the tangas; the masjids and their aazaans; the Siddhanath Mandir next door to our house; burqa clad women and the Muslim men wearing dupalia topis, headgear sometimes worn by Hindu men too, especially on Holi; Chaar Bagh railway station; Hanuman Inter ‘Kalej’ and ‘Quins Kalej’ (colleges from where my mother and father matriculated respectively; in the Awadh area of Uttar Pradesh ‘college’ would typically be pronounced as ‘kalej’); and of course how can one forget the mangoes – all of these shall forever be etched as a part of my childhood memories.
“Zafar Agha was replaced by ex-MP and senior Journalist Santosh Bharatiya. However, M Saleem claimed that Sanjeev Bhatt could not attend the programme due to time constraint and the award may be given to him some other time. While referring to Santosh Bhartiya, being awarded in place of Zafar Agha, M. Saleem said that he has been nominated for the award and nobody has been replaced for the same. The organizer kept totally mum about both Zafar Agha and Jagdish Tytler. ” [Link]
On 3 December, an open letter signed by some of us, and posted here on Kafila, had appealed to seven distinguished individuals to not accept the Maulana Mohd. Ali Johar Award, to be given on 10 December at the India Islamic Cultural Centre. We had reasoned that since the eighth awardee was Jagdish Tytler, they should not share an award and a platform with someone accused of organising mass murder of Sikhs in Delhi in 1984.
Yesterday evening, the general secretary of the Maulana Jauhar Academy, M. Saleem, emailed one of the signatories, Mahtab Alam. The email contained a scanned copy of a letter sent by Jagdish Tytler to M Saleem, which said that Tytler would not attend the award ceremony so as to not embarrass the the other awardees and the organisers, because of this boycott campaign. He, however, stressed on his innocence in the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom, and, notably, did not say that he would not accept the award. He would only not attend the ceremony. M. Saleem has also not announced whether he is withdrawing his decision to give the award to Mr Tytler. For more details on what has transpired in the last few days, please see Mahtab Alam’s article, Beware of the Sarkari Musalmaan.
Faculty members chose to remove two summer economics courses at the Summer School taught by Subramanian Swamy, a controversial Indian political figure. Over the summer, Swamy published an op-ed that advocated for the destruction of hundreds of Indian mosques and the disenfranchisement of non-Hindus in India.
Chief Information Officer for the University Anne H. Margulies concluded the meeting by updating faculty on the newly-created Harvard University Information Technology system and its future vision, which included greater collaboration with the library and further digital pedagogy. [Link]
In the current issue of the English fortnightly, Milli Gazette (1-15 December), it is reported that on 10 December 2011, former union minister Jagdish Tytler will be awarded with seven others in a function at India Islamic Culture Centre, Delhi, by Maulana Mohammad Jauhar Ali Academy. The other names were those of Dr. S Y Quraishi, Chief Election Commissioner of India; Sanjeev Bhat, Indian Police Service officer (Gujarat); senior journalist Zafar Agha; Mohd. Najeeb Ashraf Chaudhri, chief income tax commissioner; Maulana Mohd. Haseeb Siddiqui, chairman of the Deoband Nagar Palika Parishad; Nusrat Gwalliori, a Delhi-based Urdu poet, and Begum Rehana AR Andre, a social activist and educationist based in Mumbai.
The award has been named after Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar, a key figure of the Indian freedom movement, a leader of the Khilafat movement and one of the founders of Jamia Millia Islamia, a prestigious central university in Delhi. The award is given on his birth anniversary every year. Though the reasons for honouring these people were not mentioned in the Milli Gazette report, the Academy’s general secretary explained that every year, the academy honours individuals in recognition of their extra-ordinary contribution in the field of journalism, politics, social service and so on. This year they chose Jagdish Tytler for his contribution to politics! Continue reading Beware of the Sarkari Musalmaan: Mahtab Alam→
A few days ago a friend asked me if I knew someone who had the ability and inclination to help out a certain department of the central government with using social media. My friend did not name who the prospective employer was, but clearly, with even Digvijay Singh on Twitter, the Congress party is worried about social media. No surprise that this should happen in a year when the UPA government’s popularity has taken a nose-dive.
The New York Times revealed on 5 December that Kapil Sibal summoned Facebook officials and showed them a Facebook page that allegedly maligned Congress president Sonia Gandhi and said that this was unacceptable. While HRD officials refused to reveal much in that NYT copy, they must have realised that shit has hit the fan, because the next morning’s Indian Express the spin doctoring was clear: there was now a mention of allegedly derogatory pictures of Prophet Mohammed along with the Prime Minister and the Congress President (who are no doubt as sacred in his books as Prophet Mohammed).By the time he held his press conference yesterday, it became about things that Hurt Our Religious Sentiments. On the 19th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, it is very interesting to see a Congress minister using religion to cover up power politics. Continue reading What Kapil Sibal does not understand: the internet→
You can add your name to this appeal in the comments section.
Delhi, 3 December 2011
According to a news report in the Milli Gazette of 1 December 2011, Jagdish Tytler, an accused in the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984, will be awarded the Maulana Mohd Ali Jauhar Award on 10 December 2011 at the India Islamic Cultural Centre, New Delhi. Seven others will share this award. The undersigned appeal to the other seven awardees to not accept the award as a mark of protest against honouring Mr Tytler, whose contribution in the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom has been recorded by several fact-finding reports, including those by PUCL and PUDR.
Here’s a crime: February 27 2002, 59 people killed when a train is set on fire in Godhra. 90+ people are arrested and accused of the slaughter. Bail is denied to them all. The trial takes nine years, the trial verdict acquits 63 of them, finds the other 31 guilty. The judge sentences 11 of those 31 to death, the other 20 to life in prison.
Here’s another crime: February 28 2002 (the next day), 69 people killed when a building called Gulberg Society is set on fire and its residents attacked in Ahmedabad.
Muharram, the month of epic action, has announced its arrival. Black banners symbolizing grief are fluttering around. A pall of gloom has descended. 1500 years later, the lessons of Karbala continue to be the beacon of inspiration for strugglers of truth and righteousness. Muharram, contrary to perception, is not an event, episode or chapter in history. It is a philosophy, a concept, a movement. As centuries roll by, the great uprising of Husain(as), the beloved grandson of Holy Prophet (saww), continues to drive believers to hurl defiance at the forces of evil. The final call Imam gave to humanity still lingers in the minds of millions of Muslims around the world. It teaches that notwithstanding the inadequacy of numbers, if you run down the gauntlet backed by the staunch faith in the Almighty, triumph will be yours. Continue reading Sinister designs behind Muharram ban in Kashmir: Zafar Mehdi→