Monday, September 7, 2015

Caste Census 2011- Another Mandal Agitation Waiting to Happen

Caste Census 2011- Another Mandal Agitation Waiting to Happen 

I am really wondering how the caste census data of 2011 that is likely to be released by the government will be received by the people.

The ballot box democracy based on electoral roll calls has generated huge interests in symmetry of primordial loyalties and caste matrix provides as readymade glue for such alignment of identities.

To put it in simple words, the census data may reveal how many Brahims, Rajputs and Bhumiyars etc are there in our country? What is the level of their development and where they stand in social order today?

If that may be the case, this data may be something really startling and eye opener for the countrymen. It may lead to realignment of castes and set a new paradigm of electoral arithmetic in the country.

Living in Tamil Nadu, I have come across a person, who said, he belongs to the Yadav community and was lamenting his caste’s poor presence in the state. He said while in Bihar and UP this caste is ruling elite, it has no voice in TN.

Well this caste matrix in India is a huge puzzle and to peel each of its layers will generate its own allied layers. I really don’t know how the data will be interpreted by the countrymen.

Will the Kashmiri Brahmins, will be on the same page with Bhadralok or Aiyers and Ayangars?

According to reports the central government is waiting for the Bihar elections to open up this Pandora box. When they do so what will happen in the country?

I feel there is going to be a huge churning out process in the social matrix of the country. The whole country will be on boil engaged in solving the puzzle “Bule ki Jan Main Kaun.”

Being a student of India’s freedom struggle, I can say with some clarity that the British in the 1930’s wanted to organize India on the basis of its castes.

In their scheme of things India is made of jumble mumble societies a graveyard on nationalities and it’s the castes that make up India. Hence the development of caste categories can really develop India.

In their vision they wanted the caste identity to be solidified and the caste groups be allowed to be cemented into the electoral block for their real development of the people of the country.

Our freedom fighters negated this idea tooth and nail. They said any such ideas negated the Indian identity. There were some forces who differed from this idea and had their own interpretation of India. Well that’s another story.

The story in hand is how the caste census data of 2011 if and when released, will be taken up by the countrymen. How the politicians are going to use it for their own purposes.

My feeling is another round of Mandal agitation is waiting in the wings to happen with the release of census data on caste. It has all the ammunitions that can take team Indian ship in the mid ocean and ignite the fire on the board.

The Patel agitation in Gujarat has given a wakeup call on this issue. India is sure to burn at different places when the revelation of the caste identity is really known to the categories of the people.

In such case what will happen to vision and mission of our great Prime Minister His vision of Ram Raj.

Monday, August 31, 2015

WEI Event Lay Stress on Women Empowerment

WEI Event Lay Stress on Women Empowerment

Tiruchirappalli Aug 27: The swan song, women empowerment, left a huge impression at a women entrepreneurship seminar at Kolakkudipatti village, some forty five kilometer from this southern city.

The mega event was organized by Women Entrepreneurs International (WEI), an initiative of ROKITT Inc, a US-based tech startup. This was done in collaboration with Gramalaya, an NGO engaged in micro-financing for women.

It was an occasion for women from nearby villages to turn up in large numbers, to attend this day-long event.

Many started gathering since early morning. First they registered at the WEI stall, then sat under the huge tent or ‘shamiyana’ to watch the cultural show.

All eagerly waited to listen to the WEI top brass, who had specially flown in from US as well as from different places in India to attend this seminar on women entrepreneurship.

The WEI officials engaged the women participants, telling them the aims and objective of WEI and how this global initiative can change their lives through digital technology.

“Women Entrepreneurs International intends to expand the women’s empowerment’s initiative on a very large scale,” said Rohit Mahajan, the CEO and founder of Rokitt Inc.

 “WEI supports women in launching and running businesses and create a global market place for them” said Oksana Sokovlsky, President of Rokitt Inc.

“WEI offer services like how to build an effective business plan, securing funding, registering a company, legal and accounting services, launching a website, networking and many such initiatives that goes into able entrepreneurship,” she added.  

Mahalakshmi Sarvanan, WEI Head, India Chapter said ‘WEI benefits are numerous.’
‘We provide online tutorials, ‘how to do business,’ ‘webinars’, a tool to interact with industry specialists, ‘skills workshops’ on business subjects and specific crafts and many add-ons.’

The women entrepreneur seminar provided a platform to local women entrepreneurs to showcase their products.

Many locally produced products were put on display to attract their attention of the participants who were seen moving from one stall to other.

The objective of the seminar was to promote WEI commitment to creating jobs and income generation initiatives for women and making them financially independent.

It was also an occasion to champion social cause like, creating awareness about breast cancer, campaigning for toilets for women and their issues related to sanitation and hygiene.

Women Entrepreneur International (WEI) that aspires to empower more than one million women in next few years, used this occasion for its membership drive.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Army Dogs and Horses are Killed at Retirement

Army Dogs and Horses are Killed at Retirement
Syed Ali Mujtaba

Indian army shows no mercy at the dogs and horses that have dedicated their lives to serve them with distinction. The minute these animals grow old or fail a fitness test, they are simply shot and killed. However, the say they use euthanasia.

For years these animals were killed in secrecy, but now a Right to Information Act query has blew the lid off the army’s inhumane methods.

Army dogs are trained since they are puppies. It’s used in critical areas like explosive detection, guarding bases, and finding disaster victims. These brave animals regularly save citizens’ lives.

However, after a lifetime of saving lives, when these animals grow old, instead of being given service benefits they are awarded death sentences.

The law only allows killing animals under very ra
re circumstances such as an incurable disease.  But these army-owned animals are not covered under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act -- which is why the army gets away with their murder.

The logical reason Army gives is that the upkeep of such dogs with the kind of facilities they enjoyed while in service is too expensive and that they are exposed to severe sensitive locations while in service makes it unsafe to leave them in civilian hands.

The canines after a month of being declared unfit to work are euthanised as it is considered unsafe to leave them in civilian hands, say army sources in response to the RTI query.

"Army horses and dogs are evaluated for their fitness with respect to the performance of duties. The animals which are considered unfit for one month active service are disposed of by humane euthanasia," the army said in its response.

Many feel that these innocent and loyal animals who serve the Indian army day in and day out should be given a decent shelter once they are old and unfit and be cared rest of their lives.  These animals deserve the affection of individual soldiers who have served the nation and should not meet such sadistic fate.

This cruel and senseless policy, a legacy of colonial rule and need to be amended. Now when this fact is finally in the open, efforts be made to ensure these animals are treated well.

'Animals cannot be tossed away like empty ammunition shells. It is unfortunate that the dogs are euthanised,' says Poorva P Joshipura, PETA India CEO.

Indian Army mainly uses Labradors, German Shephard and Belgian Shephards for security services.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Bajrangi Bhaijan – A celebration of Humanity

Bajrangi Bhaijan – A celebration of Humanity 

Syed Ali Mujtaba

Seeing movie Bajrangi Bhaijan made a stream of ideas flow from my funnel. I need to pen them as it may escape the mind and the commentary on a meaningful film will be lost forever. There are many stories within the film
and each need to be narrated to highlight the achievements of this film.

The first theme is all about India- Pakistan relations. The movie shows how similar the two countries. The idea of people to people contact dispels many misgivings. There is an explicit message that the hatred that exists in India against Pakistan and in Pakistan against India is meaningless and its burden has to be shed.

The dialogue that hatred sells and love don’t sum it all. This movie is a genuine attempt in building India Pakistan relationship. It will stand out as a master piece in such genre of movies. Raj kapoor’s ‘Hena’, too has been on similar lines.
This movie also touches about the core problem of South Asia. This is the Kashmir issue that has been the bone of contention between India and Pakistan for last sixty five years or so. The division of Kashmir as dealt in the film shows how this piece of land is so near yet so far for people living in that divided space of land.

How the two countries are playing for the possession of this beautiful land. How the innocent people living there are the victim of this divisive politics. All these ideas come out very boldly in this film.

The movie tells the story of South Asian Islam. It shows how Islam in part of the world is based on syncaretic traditions, the blend of Sufi tradition that has common shared culture. How Saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulyia of Delhi is revered in Pakistan.

How the lyrics of Amir Khusro is sung in India and Pakistan even after eight century when it was orginally written by this illustraious disciple of Hazrat Nizamuddin.

How, Islam and Hinduism exist side by side in old Delhi area adjoining Jama Masjid. How, Muslims and Hindus enjoy the Sufi Qwalli, which is sung in the praise of Islamic saints in such hospice.

This is a movie about Hinduism or Sanatan Dharma. Bajrangi Bahijan who is a Brahmin and a Chaturvedi cannot accept any one other than a Brahmin or at bes a Kastriya. He is ready to accept Munni within two caste categories. He cannot view anyone beyond these two upper caste.

Nothing more exposes to the world this world view of Hinduism or Sanatan Dharma. This hard reality is portrayed very innocently in this movie.

The movie is about Bajrang Dal and Sangh Privar. There common behavior of being intolerant against Muslims and Christians. The movie tells them that humanity is higher than their religious faith.

A true Hindu cannot be intolerant or fascist is the deep message of this film. The movie shows how Maulana Om Puri and Bajrangi Bhaijan are on same page when it comes to helping the people in distress.

All praise for the director Kabir Khan, who grew up in Delhi and studied at DU and Jamia. He knows how Hindu temple and mosque exists side by side. How dargah and Hanuman temple is common landscape.

The journalist in him is portrayed in Chand Nawaz character, comes out very well. He has meticulously built this character and actor Nawaz Siddique has given a life to it. No wonder he has been applauded across the screens all over the country.

Finally, Salman Khan has moved from playing Romeo or doing dishum dishum as an action hero. He is now moving to do the character based role that suits his age. In this Salman is being nurtured his father Salim Khan, of Salim- Javed fame. It seems the elder Khan and a master of pen has a big role to play in shaping Salman’s future.

Salman Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijan and Amir Khan’s PK, both the movies fall in the same genre of films. Both are a satire on contemporary India and a bold attempt to question the realities of India.

These two films Bajrangi Bhaijan and PK compel Indians to think differently about things that so common around them. The message of both these films is to shed the misgivings about others and act as normal human beings.

The success of these two movies suggests that Indians are ready to move beyond love story, sex and dance, fight and hate stories. The triumph of humanity in the Bajrangi Bhaijan and PK, epitomizes that India is changing and so are many Indians.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Debate on Colonialism Remains Inconclusive 
Syed Ali Mujtaba

This is never ending debate; the colonial argument is that British rule has helped India in many ways. The progress and development of the country is due to foreign rule. Imagine India without colonial rule.

India was exposed to science and technology, English language, discovery of its past, railway, telecom, newspapers etc all due to colonial rule. The argument that colonial rule was benevolent is unending.

On the contrary the nationalist argue that colonial rule symbolized a master slave relationship it was a tyrannical rule. Whatever British did to develop India was for their own selfish purposes and there was no sympathy towards the development of the country.

To put the nationalist argument succulently through an  Urdu couplet “ wo karam unglion pe ginte hain, zulm ka jin ke khoi hisab nahin.”  It can roughly be translated as; ‘they count their generosity on fingers, whose deeds of atrocities are account less. Well this debate is unending.

I have a footnote to it. The British came as colonizers, they left as friends. Even with all the ill will as acts of colonialism, there is hardly any animosity against them in the country.

Contrary, to this, the so called Muslim rule in India are seen with disdain. The so called Muslim rulers virtually got assimilated in the Indian milieu and were never colonizers in any sense.

However, the genesis of the souring Hindu- Muslim relationship and the hatred of Hindus against the Muslims are traced to those historical past.

There is an argument that communal relationship was not all that bad during the Muslim rule and the communities lived in peaceful coexistence. However, in independent India, there are not many takers to this line of thought.

In this debate goes an argument that it was divide and rule of the British rule that polarized the religious community in India.

If that is the case, the benevolence of the colonial rule is steeped into deceit, because the seeds of hatred they have sown have left a huge negative impact on the country.

No amount of persuasion of unity in diversity and peaceful coexistence can pacify the polarized communities. This is the ugliest legacy of colonial rule in India.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at          

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Rokitt Women Entrepreneurs International Launched

Rokitt Women Entrepreneurs International Launched

Rokitt Women Entrepreneurs International (WEI) launched its city chapter at Shailendra Tech Park office in Whitefield, Bengaluru, on July 23:, 2015.

Aspiring women entrepreneurs joined the ranks of successful women entrepreneurs, to showcase their creative products and expand their communication lines, besides supporting other women entrepreneurs.

The participants also networked with WEI mentors to get legal assistance, financial support, training and mentoring.

R. Harani of Vibha Education Services said, “Women still like to be in comfort zone, they always think of family first, I say you come out from your cocoon, explore there are lots of things to do. I am happy to be at the Women Entrepreneurs International (WEI) event. It’s a wonderful opportunity to network.”

Another participant, Rajani, a freelance writer says, “it’s her first experience to meet wonderful people, for the past twenty I have been confined to my own world, meeting very select number of my family and friends. I am happy to see women coming out and learning about how to do business, I was looking forward for such events for a long time.

Women Entrepreneurs International (WEI) is a global initiative aimed at developing and promoting women entrepreneurs. It focuses on tangible services to help women launch, run and expand their businesses.

WEI offers specific services such as building a business plan, securing funding, registering the company, legal and accounting activities, launching website and promoting their products.

WEI support includes educational tools, skills workshops, and legal and accounting services, marketing and web development support.  

Networking opportunities and skills workshops that allow women to connect with and learn from industry experts.

Social responsibility commitment, with a focus on increasing women’s safety and wellness through providing self-defense training, fitness boot camps and continued education, are other key elements of WEI initiatives.

Speaking on the occasion, Rupa Boddu Head US Chapter WEI said, “I am convinced that with real tangible support, women will be sufficiently enabled to start and expand their businesses and become more independent and empowered.”

“WEI has established key partnerships with vendors to scale up it services and deliver tangible results,“ she said, adding “Our goal is to equip women with the skills and resources that will allow them to become successful entrepreneurs in a global economy.”

Mahalakshmi Saravanan, Head of WEI India Chapter, spoke on latest marketing trend. “Transparency is most important tool of marketing,” she said and emphasized on the use of technology in running successful business venters.

Rokitt Inc develops digital products for consumers and also drives solutions for enterprises to enable more efficient technology delivery. It implements solutions that empower its customers to solve the problem at hand and make it possible to move on to the next level of transformation.

Women Entrepreneurs International WEI is a key drive by ROKITT Inc to expand the women’s empowerment initiative globally, targeting to impact more than 1 million women over the next few years.


 This report is prepared by Syed Ali Mujtaba. He currently works with Rokitt Inc, based in Chennai. He can be contacted at                                                                          

Friday, April 17, 2015

“One Size Fits All” Criteria for Media Teaching Needs Review

“One Size Fits All” Criteria for Media Teaching Needs Review
Syed Ali Mujtaba

India saw media boom since 1990, when the country’s economy opened up and several media outlets were started to keep pace with the communication revolution that taking place around that time in the world. The demand for media professional created
opportunities and those who aspired to join media profession came from all hues of educational background.

In the media industry degrees were just piece of paper sans any weight. Irrespective of the educational background, people were taken into media industry based on their abilities and merit. Survival of the fittest remained the thumb rule in media industry.

The huge demand for media professionals in 1990s necessitated educational institutions to set up media studies departments. At this stage, teachers were taken from the media profession to train the media professionals.

In my case, I had UG, PG, MPhil, PhD, and NET in History; because of the easy availability of employment. I joined the media profession because it was the most happening thing that was happening at that point of time. Frankly, job in History department was not so easy and I got fed up looking for jobs.

In the media profession, when I reached a mid-career level, Colleges in Chennai called me to teach media modules as their regular teachers were unable to handle them. That’s how my journey to teaching media courses begun.

When I was working with a local TV channel in Chennai, Manipal University called me to teach Television Journalism. They preferred me over regular teachers as they wanted their students to get trained professionally and become job ready.

Similarly, the Chancellor of the VELS University appointed me as the Director of the School of Mass Communication to establish media departments.

The SSS Jain College Chennai bended its rules and took me in this Women’s College to teach Visual Communication. The Madras University took me in their panel to correct copies of BSc Visual Communication.

The rule of same subject specialization came for appointments of teachers. It was not a ‘one size fits all’ rule but it was mindlessly followed. It clearly specified that those with proven abilities in media field and with high academic degree in any field can be considered for teaching media courses.

However, academic institutions started blindly following ‘one size fits all” criteria for appointing media teachers as well. They had little understanding of the scope and purpose of media studies. This criterion barred the media professionals from teaching profession. This prompted appointments of teachers with relevant degrees and no media exposure.

As a result of such criteria, a great injustice was caused to the student community aspiring to join media industry. They became bereft of teachers having high degree of media experience.

A realization is now coming about the futility of ‘one size fits all’ criteria, when students are moving to private institutions where media professionals are teaching media courses. They are scornful of appointing media teachers and rejection of media professionals.

Students prefer professionals because media is a vocational course and those with vast exposure to media industry can only do justice to this course. It is also because the scope of this course is multi- disciplinary in nature.

As far as I am concerned, the same degree criteria came to haunt me some time ago. This prompted me to get a degree in Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication to fulfill the criteria. However, those with fixed mind set still demand UG, PG, MPhil, PhD degrees in same subject. This was becoming problem for me as I was ineligible as media teacher. Now at this stage, I cannot go back to get those degrees to qualify the eligibility.  So I moved to the position of ‘Principal’ National College of Design.

I am enjoying teaching media courses and training students to become media professionals. That is for me the way out to survive in the media teaching profession.

However, I feel it’s high time that “One Size fits All” criteria should be relaxed for media professionals to teach media courses. A mix of faculties should be there as it will help the students to be trained by the right people media and make a mark in the media profession.

So I call upon those sitting in judgment to appoint a media teacher to consider appointment of media professional of high academic caliber in to the media department. A stand alone criterion can be made for media professionals.  Those with proven media skills with high academic degree should be encouraged to teach media courses.  Insisting on media degree for teaching media is in fact doing disservice to the student’s community.

“One Size fits All” criteria should be reviewed for teaching media courses.

Syed Ali Mujtaba works as Principal’ of National College of Design, Chennai. He is a senior Journalist and can be contacted at