Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Al-Hilal Celebrates 100TH Year

Among the older publications during the long fight for freedom, Maulana Azad’s Al-Hilal has made great contributions. It is a pity that the present generation of Indians is almost ignorant about this whistle blower journal. July 13TH 2012, marked the 100TH year of launch of Al-Hilal, the Urdu weekly journal published by veteran freedom fighter Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. It is upsetting that the day passed without many of us even realizing that it was the 100TH birth anniversary of Al-Hilal. Started in 1912, Al-Hilal was not just a weekly journal of the likes we see today. It was not supposed to be a tool of accumulating wealth. Instead it was launched for a mission: to invite Muslims to become a practical example of Islamic teachings in particular and to prepare Indians mentally for fighting against the British imperialism in general. At a time when there was a tendency among people of repute to enslave their thoughts and propagate to common men to live under slavery, for some honours and financial & political interests Maulana Azad did not sell his self to British powers. Lamenting the writers who long for donations and gifts from wealthy people and accept it under various pretences Maulana Azad wrote that such people had better quit journalism. He says if they remain in journalism they should put them on auction to be bought as “useful editor” by prosperous people. Before launching Al-Hilal Maulana worked with various publications but quit them as he could not agree with their policies. During the time, however, he gained experience in the field and understood the complexities and niceties of journalism. He also learnt that journalism is not merely about informing people about day-to-day happenings. He believed that journalism could be used for a larger purpose. Maulana realized that journalism had power to shake the foundation of British Raj in India as well as it could effectively bridge Hindu Muslim gap. According to Maulana, the academic and ideological articles not only create awareness among people but also give a positive and constructive direction to their thoughts. Al-Hilal served as a platform from where Maulana experimented all these aspects of journalism. He ventured into journalism in 1899 with starting a magazine “Nairang-e-Aalam” which unfortunately stopped after six issues. In 1900 he edited “Al-Misbah” which also stopped publishing after some days. Then he contributed some articles for “Makhzan”. In 1901 he joined “Ahsan-ul-Akhbar” and in 1902 he edited the prose part of “Khadang-e-Nazar” Lucknow. It was the time when important magazines of the country published his write ups. On November 20, 1903 Maulana started yet another journal “Lisaan-e-Sidq”. Then he joined “An-Nadwa” and became known as a respectable writer all over India. In 1906 he was appointed editor of “Al-Wakeel” published from Amritsar. And in July 1908 he joined Kolkata newspaper “Dar-us-Saltanat” as its editor. Then in 1912 he launched his own weekly Al-Hilal. Writes Abdul Wasey, professor at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi that Maulana started Al-Hilal on 13TH July 1912 in Kolkata. However, he had sketched its details six years ago. “The main aim behind establishment of Al-Hilal was freedom from British colonialism which would be achieved through Hindu-Muslim unity. Maulana Azad believed that if there were any party that would challenge the existence of Muslims most, it was none but British rule. He advised Muslims to shake hands with non-Muslim brethren of India to fight the menace. In this context he found in the agreement of Prophet Muhammad with pagans a good example,” says Wasey. “If Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi got light from Gita to blow the spirit of freedom among majority brethren, Maulana Azad referred to Qur’anic teachings to inspire Muslims. They all told Indians that in the traditions of every religion freedom, equality and justice occupy prominent place. So, it was imperative upon them to raise voice collectively against imperialism,” he adds. Al-Hilal would openly attack British policies while at the same time exploring the challenges facing common people. It talked about Indian nationalism and encouraged young into fighting for independence and Hindu-Muslim unity. Al-Hilal discussed the problems an Indian faced in political life and showed the way out. Among other topics it also focused on Muslims’ social issues. Through serious articles it nurtured people’s thought and boldly presented the religious education as a solution to problems. So acceptable was the journal that people would wait for its next publication. Speaking in a programme held in Lucknow to celebrate the 100TH year of Al-Hilal Malik Zada Manzoor, renowned litterateur and critic, said, “Al-Hilal in journalism is like a minaret of light. Through Al-Hilal, Maulana Azad not only created awareness among people but also inspired them to fight for the freedom of India. It covered both national and international issues. The chapter of freedom struggle would be incomplete sans mention of Al-Hilal.” Al-Hilal founded a new pattern in journalism. Besides inspiring its readers for freedom fighting Al-Hilal covered topics related to politics, the society, literature and religion. It introduced a new dimension to Urdu journalism; translation of useful material into Urdu. Al-Hilal would publish news with photos about Middle East, the struggle of mujahideen in Africa and Balkan war. At the time Urdu media did not publish foreign news on this pattern. Through investigative reporting he tried go down in the depth any issue. Al-Hilal, however, was banned in 1914. With the onset of World War I, the British stiffened censorship and restrictions on political activity. So, Azad's Al-Hilal was banned under the Press Act. Its last issue was published on 18TH November 1914. On November 12TH 1915 Maulana Azad started a new journal, Al-Balagh. It was in fact an extension of Al-Hilal. This weekly too supported for nationalist causes and communal unity. In the meantime, he became active in his support for the Khilafat agitation to protect the position of the Sultan of Ottoman Turkey, who was the caliph for Muslims worldwide. Azad took this opportunity to energise Indian Muslims and achieve major political and social reform through the struggle. With his popularity increasing across India, the government outlawed Azad's second publication under the Defence of India Regulations Act and arrested him. Al-Balagh was published only for six months before being closed on 3RD April 1916. In 1927, again there was an effort to revive Al-Hilal. But Maulana Azad had less involvement with it; he only shared its ownership and the editor was Abdur Razzaq Maleehabadi. Maulana contributed very little to it. So the real period of Al-Hilal journalism spans from 1912 to 1914. Maulana’s article published over this period of present him as a great journalist. On September 1913 when a bond of Rs. 2,000 was sought from Al-Hilal under Press Act, Maulana wrote extensively about freedom of expression and explained what the freedom of press is. These thoughts of Maulana about freedom of expression gradually changed into the foundation of Indian Press Association. On October 2, 1913 a meeting was held in Indian Association Hall, Calcutta under the presidency of Surendra Benerjee. So, a case of bond became the cause behind establishment of a strong institution to protect the freedom of press. In short, through Al-Hilal Maulana wanted to free Muslims from inferiority complex and bring them into the mainstream. He tried to replace the disappointment and fear among Muslims post 1857 with expectations of a promising future. He extended the course of journalism which was limited to just reporting to an effective tool to shape ideology. Maulana was against the partition of India. He always exerted efforts for Hindu-Muslim unity. One of the main aims of Al-Hilal was to promote unity among Hindus and Muslims. Today, the section of the media that plots fissures among Indians on religious grounds should borrow the tolerance spirit of Al-Hilal in terms of striving for unity among Indians. By A. Hameed Yousuf (With inputs from two Urdu articles by Prof Abdul Wasey and Dr. Umair Manzar.)

Has the RSS Put Aside Hindutva?

With the changing time the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has also changed itself. Materialism has affected the sincerity of this organization too, points out the writer. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was founded by Maharashtra’s famous Brahmin Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in 1925. The foundation was laid when the sun of British Empire seemed to be setting. At that time the question as to whom the British would hand over the reins of India was being asked. The effort to restore the Mughal Empire in 1857 was sent in exile to Rangoon where it slept forever. The basic features of Gandhi’s Congress too were not evident. In this situation some planned to transform India into a Hindu Rashtra after freedom. They were the people who like Hitler’s Nazi party believed in supremacy of Aryans over other communities. Their symbol too was that of the Nazi’s: Swastika. Then the slogan “Hindu, Hindi, Hindustan” was invented that defines itself. Interestingly none of the three words has its origin in Sanskrit or any other Indian language. They are Urdu words and are borrowed in Urdu from Arabic. These words are still used in Arabic dictionaries. The word Hind relates to black or dark brown. Like in India black or brown skinned babies are named Shyam, Shyama or Rajni, in Arabia they are named Hind, Hinda or Laila. So, Hind and Hanadi are still popular names among Arabs. In fact, this could be a topic of research whether RSS founders knew they were Arabic words or they had simply imagined that many would not realize it. Anyway, RSS came into existence and started working under the philosophy that is today known as Hindutva. After its involvement in Gandhi’s murder it was impossible for RSS to transform into a political organization. It confined itself to a cultural organization. After many years of independence Shyam Prasad Mukherjee resigned from Nehru cabinet and floated Jan Sangh Party. RSS volunteers joined the party in folks. Jan Sangh undoubtedly was a political party but it was greatly influenced by the RSS philosophy “Hindu, Hindi, Hindustan”. Jan Sangh traversed a long journey to become Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP, despite its claims of being a public party, could never detach itself from Hindutva philosophy. Its main philosophy remained unchanged. Change began when under veteran leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee a coalition government was formed in centre. After assuming power it dawned upon BJP leaders that to stay in power and win elections they needed wealth more than popularity and high moral values. This was the beginning of game. Late Pramod Mahajan emerged as its most expert player. In this article, however, we do not intend to analyze change in the BJP. Instead, we want to unveil the secret that this trend is not limited to BJP. The circumstances suggest that this change has engulfed also RSS. This has been revealed not by any anti-RSS political leader or journalist. Rather it was revealed by Anand Moonje in an interview to an English weekly. Anand is grandson of DR. B.S. Moonje, who is among the founding members of Hindu Mahasabha. Anand also disclosed that this change to the RSS was introduced by very late Pramod Mahajan. Mahajan was a known RSS member and dear to Sangh. Before that, RSS would be an organization of the volunteers leading simple life away from worldly pleasure. They would wear khaki chaddi, white shirt & black cap and carried a stick in their hands. Most of them did not even marry. There was common perception about Swayamsevaks that they did dream of Hindu Raj but they did not long for wealth or power. Even those who opposed their philosophy would appreciate their simple life. Changes occurred when the BJP ascended to rule in many states and then in the centre. At this point, the RSS started penetrating its men in the government hoping that it would not let the BJP governments deviate from the path of Hindutva. But after testing power, the mouth taste of the volunteers also changed. Pramod Mahajan told the Swayamsevaks that philosophy and rules aside, there could be no work without money. RSS was indeed an inflectional organization but it was not a wealthy. It had great influence over bureaucracy and a reference to RSS would do in favour of the aspirants. But when multi-national companies flooded India the volunteers lost interest in becoming a Swayamsevak and wielding lathi in encroaching sun. They though it to be a wastage of time. Now, the youth did not look for government jobs. They preferred jobs in multi-national corporations. According to an estimate, during the last ten years enrolment for RSS declined by 42%. By the time RSS, however, had spread its network to a large area. There it required money. As Anand Moonje would put it, this problem was solved by Pramod Mahajan. Then everyone could see the change. The present scenario is that a leader as sincere and devote to Hindutva philosophy as Lal Krishna Advani is ignored, the faithful Swayamsevak like Sanjay Joshi is sidelined and bounties rain on Narendra Modi. Because Modi has power and he has control over large resources of wealth. This is despite that Modi does not care for RSS leaders. One more example in this context is that of Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar. The relation of Shettar with illegal mining mafia is an open secret. Yet, RSS helped him to become CM saying that he is an old Swayamsevak. Old Swayamsevaks say that the BJP had a reason not to always abide by the Hindutva philosophy. According to the BJP leaders, they have to collaborate with the political parties that do not believe in Hindutva philosophy because they have to run NDA in the centre. But the reason why RSS is putting aside its philosophy is beyond perception. The Hindutva was its main aim. One of reasons may be that RSS is now bereft of the likes of Nanaji Deshmukh who spent his entire life in social service, who never ever knocked the door of power and who during his last days too continued working for public welfare from an Ashram in Gorakhpur. Today, those running RSS are not that committed nor are they averse to woman, wealth and power. Add to this the fact that unlike in the earlier days the devout and sincere Swayamsevaks are discouraged. The example of Sanjay Joshi is before us. On Modi’s wish he was sacked from the BJP and humiliated. RSS did not do anything except a light agitation. Perhaps, gone are the days when RSS would challenge ‘disobedient’ ones like Modi. As a result, the oral claim by the RSS that it still abides by the commitment to establish Hindu Rashtra is not convincing for many. A common perception has emerged that now RSS is not an organization of Hedgewar, Golwalkar and Sudarshan, but it is an organization of Swayamsevaks who have succumbed to worldly pleasures. By Hasan Kamal

The Muslim Convention Of JD(S)

In the view of the Karnataka assembly elections due next year the Janata Dal (Secular) held a Muslim Convention in Bangalore. As apparent from its name the convention was organized to woo the Muslim community. It was for the first time that a political party has organized a convention for a certain community. This politically correct move is absolutely incorrect when we see that the fabric of Indian society is secular. Holding of conventions in the name of religion should better be left with the non-political leaders of the respective community. A political party is representative of all communities hence it does not suit to see it practicing discrimination. The stated aim of the convention among others was creating awareness among Muslims about their underrepresentation in government and various job sectors while at the same time seeking an effective remedy for it. This initiative was taken by a party which allegedly played politics to defeat a Muslim candidate in the state Legislative Council elections held in June. As of now among the total 26 MLAs from JD(S) there is only one Muslim face. The issues raised in the Convention by JD(S) national president H.D. Deve Gowda, its state chief H. D. Kumaraswamy and its leader B. Z. Zameer Ahmed Khan are ground realities. Muslims are backward educationally, economically and socially and in proportion to their population have less representation in various sectors. But the professed commitment of the Janata Dal (Secular) towards solving the issues remains doubted. The party has the credit to facilitate 4% reservations for Muslims in Karnataka. But now everything is not as is being portrayed in the party. Ex-MLC of the party Abdul Azeem who recently quit the party has labelled serious allegations against Kumaraswamy. According to Azeem, Mr. Kumaraswamy and Mr. Zameer conspired to defeat Mr. Saradgi fielded by the Congress in the MLC elections. Mr. Azeem was very active for the cause of the minorities and the poor section of the society. A former police officer Azeem would immediately consult the respective management authorities whenever there was a communal disturbance. When his tenure as MLC ended this year the JD(S) did not nominate him for the second time. Mr. Azeem has alleged that there is no discipline in the party and that he was continuously ignored by Kumaraswamy who did not like the emergence of a disciplined and honest Muslim leader. One of the unstated motives of the Muslim Convention was to pacify the anger of the community which did not like Mr. Azeem being replaced by any other candidate. Azeem’s successor Syed Mudeer Aga is not believed to be as active for the cause of the community as was Azeem. Aga, reportedly was nominated only after JD(S) learned that he was trying to contest for assembly polls on a Congress ticket. Muslims should not be so gullible as to be fooled by promises made in a convention. Kumaraswamy has promised to field 15 to 20 candidates in the next assembly polls which in proportion to Muslims’ 12% population would be less if JD(S) contested on all 224 seats. This, however, will be a decent number provided the Muslim candidates are not fielded in the constituencies where there are little hopes of JD(S) victory. are not fielded in the constituencies where there are little hopes of JD(S) victory.

Media And Sexual Exploitation Of Women

The mainstream media should be praised over its campaign for females’ rights. In the past civilizations women would be treated as lesser human beings, the source of sins. So, it is of course a great achievement that we have not only started considering women as much human as men but also trying to give them equal rights and opportunities in day-to-day life. It is hoped that we will not end up making women a source of sexual satisfaction to be used and thrown when it loses charm. In this context, the role of media cannot be ignored. So crazy is the media when it comes to rights of women and providing security—it should be considered why only women are in need of security against sexual exploitation—to them that it does not even care what message it is conveying and how. Few days ago, the Indian wife of a French Consulate official Pascal Mazurier accused her husband of raping their young daughter for years. This is a serious allegation. The media duly condemned it. Pascal denied the charges of his wife and maintained that he could not have done this. However, in the meantime the media used the words like “demon father” and “child rapist” to describe Pascal. It even gave prominent place to the news that one activist protesting against the rape slapped Pascal. Not to take a stand for Mr. Pascal, but it should be accepted that an accused is innocent as long as his guilt is not proved through legal process. But the media accustomed to disgrace any one it wants went uncontrolled so much so that the wife, Suja Jones Mazurier, had to write to the media demanding to be fair to her husband. According to news appeared in The Hindu she appealed to the media to not use “harsh adjectives” such as “demon/monster father” while referring to Pascal. In a letter, Suja asked: “Can you imagine what my children will go through when they grow up and read such words describing their own father?” She said she hopes the trauma faced by her family “will not be converted into a race issue by any of your journalists or the Indian or French public”. She also said that it pained her to read harsh words against Pascal. “I am the complainant in this case but I still love my husband and it is very difficult for me to read such words in the press.” She was saddened to read that someone slapped her husband when he was being arrested. In another incident related to women the media exhibited its craziness overemphasizing some points while completely ignoring some others. On July 12, the leaders of some 36 clans gathered in Asara village of West U.P. to ponder upon how to check the cases of females’ sexual exploitation. There they decided that women under 40—the age after which sexual desires of females almost vanishes and they do not have any charm to lustful men—should not visit the market unescorted, should not use personal mobile phones and when out of their homes should cover their faces. Besides, they sought a complete ban on love marriages, restriction on boys from taking photograph of girls on mobile phone –to check its misuse—and restriction on using ear phones while walking or driving, because it can lead to accident. They also decided to punish the boys found guilty of eve teasing. The decision was taken after a consensus was reached among those present in the meeting and it was ostensibly to safeguard young girls and women from “teasing” and keep them safe from “roadside Romeos”. The panchayat, as reported in the media, was called after growing incidents of teasing in the village market and some cases of teenage girls eloping with boys. When this incident was known to the media it was reported as Taliban-inspired diktat to suppress women and their freedom. It presented it as if the elder male Jats have treated their women like the Greek and European civilizations would do some time ago. Reacting to the diktat the union home minister P. Chidambaram quite clearly said that “these kind of diktats by khap panchayats, fatwas, dress codes, according to me, they have no place in a democratic society.” He also asked UP government to ensure that such "illegal" orders were not enforced. On the other hand Uttar Pradesh Minister Mohd Azam Khan said that it is an internal matter of the concerned society. According to him, people have freedom to express their views but the government will act in case there is any violation of law. "It is not a fatwa. If people sitting in common village say something is not a diktat...Anyone can say anything....We have freedom of speech and how can you prevent from them from this, but if any force is used or it comes in the way of the law of the land then for that there is the government and there is law." Besides some other organizations the All India Jat Arakshan Samiti (AIJAS) have also supported the ban with its President Yashpal Malik slamming Mr. P Chidambaram for calling khap panchayat and their decisions undemocratic. He alleged that a section of media is painting khap panchayats in bad light. “We are also opposed to dowry system and female feticide but it is not being highlighted. Instead the decision we take for orderliness in the society in accordance with our traditions are dubbed as 'Talibani'," he said. The decision taken by the panchayat in Asra was an 'advisory' and not a 'diktat'," said Malik. In another incident related to the khap panchayat— which the media had earlier called undemocratic and termed as running a parallel system—the media endorsed the decision of a Khap panchayat in Haryana's Jind district. The decision is about taking a strong stand against female foeticide and dowry system. It was decided during a grand gathering of over 150 khaps representing Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan. They demanded an amendment in the law to book perpetrators of foeticide for murder. At present, foeticide is punishable by imprisonment for maximum five years. As regards the rights of women and the freedom they should also enjoy, it has been a point of high controversy among religious elites and the so-called liberals of today. The ethical rulings which restrict actions of not only women but also men, set some codes of conduct to be followed in order to build a balanced and anarchy free society. They ask women to be more cautious as they are always on the receiving end of any sexual harassment. There have been questions as to why should only women and girls always adjust in a society and why not men? Why should only women observe veils and not men? These questions do raise a point but they do not solve the problem. In the societies where, as per the media or common perception, women have complete freedom and enjoy their rights the cases of rape, molestation and harassment are reported by women not men. The torment of free sexual relations which results into undeclared polygamy is borne by women not by men: women have to bear the side effects of abortion, single mothers have to care for the children when live-in-partners desert them to chose another girl and it is again women who are teased and molested by trusted boyfriends. In the name of freedom we can urge a woman scantily dressed to wander among men, who are naturally attracted to beauties, and that too at midnight but if she falls prey to animal extinct of men we will not be there to bear the physical and mental trauma she suffers. Sitting at a safe place we can only express oral sympathy. We can condemn the criminals in the strongest words possible. We can put the responsibility on the security officers. Will all this lessen the suffering of the victim? Security to women must be ensured. But the security measures should not be confined to vigil and sensible behaviour of the police. Even police sometimes could turn molesters, as is seen in many of the cases, because they are among the human beings. So the security measures should be extended to the precautions a woman adopts in order to decrease the possibility of occurrence of any sexual abuse. Stern punishments can do the trick. But why let the crimes occur in the first place? Ours is a stand similar to that of a Bangalore traffic police who stands at the other end of a narrow and meandering one-way lane to spot the drivers who have violated the traffic rule. After the violation has taken place the police are there to impose the law. Had the policeman been there to stop the drivers from entering in the wrong one-way lane there would have been no violation at all. Similarly, if we check the causes of eve teasing, rape and harassment in the very first place we can successfully curb these crimes against women. But if we insist on increasing the causes and expect that crimes figure comes down at the same time it will be too foolish an expectation. By A. Hameed Yousuf