Saturday, March 28, 2015

Re-probe of Hashimpura carnage case
Syed Ali Mujtaba

The conspiracy of silence among the political parties of UP regarding Hashimpura judgment that has acquitted the accused for want of evidence is intriguing. More intriguing is the silence of the social activists and intellectuals baring a few.

There is hardly any reaction from the left parties on this issue. It appears an
d the Samajwadi party, and Bahujan Samaj party has joined hands with the perpetrators of the Hashimpura crime. By maintaining silence they have given a clean chit to them.This is something disgusting. How can they claim to be the well wishers of the minority community? If not for the Muslims, they could at least have spoken for sake of humanity.

The fact remains, that the clod blooded murder has taken. The murderers have been acquitted by the court. There is no dismay no protest on this. It appears everything is being brushed under the carpet because the victims happen to be Muslims. This face of Indian democracy is never being debated in the media. The social media too turns a blind eye.

Everyone knows the culprits were the members of the provincial armed constable PAC. There is huge material evidence to establish the identity of the murderers. All what is needed was to produce the duty chart of the constables that were on duty and had committed the heinous crime. There is nothing to absolve the people responsible for the crime. All what is needed was a speedy trail to nail the criminals. This never happened.

The judicial system allows the process to be drag on for 28 years. In the end it dishes out botched up judgment, letting down the victims who had high hopes. This is travesty of justice in every sense.
In contrast to this take the cases like Mumbai bomb blast, Parliament attack, Mumbai attack, in all of them, the trail was speedy and the accused were nailed.

However, when it comes to the victims of communal riots like Hashimpura, the judiciary turns blind eye towards delivering a fair judgment. The trial goes on indefinitely to tire the aggrieved party to lose interest in the case. This gives them a handle o side with the accused and let them go for want of evidence.

Does, the judiciary wants the victims to dedicate their life for getting a fair judgment. The fact remains that they have trusted the judiciary for impartial judgment as being aggrieved party. However, such trust let down and proved to be based on false hopes and high promises. What does all this points out? Very simple, laws are meant for punishing the weak, those who are mighty, law remains a smoke screen to them.

The judicial system of the country has lost its face by this judgment. The faith of the minority community has defiantly been shaken by this judgment. There should be fresh investigation for the Hashimpura carnage. Leaders of political parties must demand re-probe in this cold blooded carnage. While those responsible for Mumbai blast of 1990 have been booked, the culprits of Hashimpura massacre could not be booked for want of evidence. While Nirbhya case disposed in a year or so, Ajmal Kasab is hanged in smaller trial span, the Hashimpura case has lingered in for 28 years.

Who is responsible for the delay in this case the government or the judiciary? Justice delayed is justice denied and that has happened in this case.  When the 19984 riots can be probed and re probed, why the culprits of the Hashimpura massacre left off the hook.

It’s bolt on India’s democracy that the murders of Hashimpura are let out for want of evidence. There is hardly any hue and cry, local and international pressure being built for re-probe. The evidences are abundant, it needs to pieced together and bring it for the judicial scrutiny. Re-probe of Hashimpura carnage alone can instill confidence among the
minority community in the country.
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Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Bihar education system in dire straights

Bihar education system in dire straights  
Syed Ali Mujtaba

The amusing picture of mass copying done in a high school b oard exam conducted in Bihar has attracted eyeballs all over the world.  The picture graphically shows, the relatives of the students writing the exam, climb to the window of the exam halls and provide them hand written answer chits to copy in the answer sheets.

The image that went viral in media has triggered a debate the way examination is conducted in the state. Bihar’s Education Minister P.K Sahi, reacting to the media reports expressed his government’s helplessness in controlling the situation. He said ‘freeing board examination of cheating was impossible in the state without the support of the society.’

His comments attracted the wrath of Patna High Court. The Court observed that Minister’s comment was ‘unfortunate and shameful’. The High Court converted the report of malpractices in the media as public interest litigation.     

The red faced Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, in a damage control exercise, has directed the top officials to take steps to ensure fair examination in the state. He said, ‘action will be taken against policemen and magistrates on examination duty if they were found abetting cheating.’

Nonetheless the damage has been done. The graphic picture pulls the state back to the jungle raj of the RJD regime. The adage that Bihar remains in the news all the time for wrong reasons keeps on haunting its image.
The education system in Bihar has collapsed long time ago. In fact the decline was sent in since the late 70s soon after the national emergency of 1975. The students who came out of the class room in protest of the emergency never were tamed back into the classrooms again.

The mushrooming of private tuition and coaching centers became the order of the days since then. It continues even today. The teachers went to schools not to teach but only for the attendance sake. They took to coaching and started making pots of money. Commercialization of education began on massive scale. 

This resulted in mass exodus of the students from Bihar.  The tide started in 80s continues till date. Add to it was the reason of perennial power shortage in the state. Student had to burn the proverbial midnight lamp that was lit on kerosene to prepare for the exam. 

In fact, I was moved to New Delhi to pursue my education precisely for these reasons.  It was an irony of sorts in my family; my father had to go to Calcutta, just for the opposite reasons. In those days education system in Bihar was very tough. Only few can pass the high school exams.  Getting First division was a rare feat. Those who got second rank were seen with awe, third division was the general rank. Many students went to Bengal to clear high school exam because of lenient marking and no one failed there.

Even during the 70s, the high school was tough nut to crack in Bihar.  I know someone who right now works as manager in Punjab Bank failed a record seven times in the high school exam and only in his eighth attempt managed third division.

Ever since then, continuous decline in education system was witnessed in Bihar. Whatever, that was left in the system was finally pulled down during the 15 years of the RJD rule. Mass cheating became the order of high school exam in Bihar.

Quite a few parables were in circulation about cheating during exams. One such was the answer chits were passed on to the student by writing on backside of the doctor’s prescription. Instead of copying the answer, the dumb student actually copied the names of the medicines prescribed by the doctor! 
Another story is, once a person standing on the window started dictating the student to write ‘I know.' The student asked him back, whether it is 'no' or ‘kannoow’!

In fact, the joke during rounds was soon Bihar will be short of educated people and in that case parents have to import them from outside the state for copying in the  high school exam. 
The silver lining to the development of Bihar came only when Nitish Kumar took over the reins of Bihar in 2005. He put the state on the recovery curve and in the first five years of his rule his government did exceptionally well to rebuild the state from ground zero.

In fact, Nitish Kumar almost streamlined the decrepit education system in Bihar. There was rule 144 promulgated on all the examination centers during the board exams in the state. No one was allowed venture near the exam premises except the student. With the deployment of huge contingent of police force, the exam centers were highly guarded place. 

The answer sheets were sent to a centralized location for correction. The results were published on time. Education department functioned like well oiled machine. There were frequent inspections of the schools. The negligent teachers were taken to task.
It was after long time the education system was put back on track and malpractices in the exam were completely checked.

Even as all this was sinking and appeared that Bihar is marching ahead to catch up with the rest of the states of India, the damaging image of malpractice at high school exam has come to limelight. After seeing the picture, the joke that there will no more be educated people left in Bihar certainly seems to become a reality. 
The picture gives a sorry account of the state of affair of education system in Bihar.

It pains and angers seeing such a shameful thing happening once again in Bihar.  It appears, Bihar is going back to the jungle raj of the RJD rule. The uneasy feeling is while Nitish Kumar reigns, Lalu rules.

Checking malpractices in examination is an administrative job. There has to be zero tolerance shown towards such unethical practices. The government has to tighten the nuts and bolts of the education department to get rid of malpractices in the conduct of examination in Bihar.   The passing of the buck has to stop at the Chief Minister’s table.

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Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He belongs to Bihar. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com

















Thursday, February 12, 2015

Discarded Batteries Can Help Light Up India

Discarded Batteries Can Help Light Up India 
Syed Ali Mujtaba

India is power starved country. There are ways and means being searched to get round this problem. In the high profile visit of the US president Brack Obama, Prime Minister Narander Modi told the nation that a breakthrough in nuclear energy has been made. The   Civil -Nuclear deal with the US is soon on anvil and India will become a power surplus nation.

There was all round applause and clap from the countrymen on this achievement. But soon it turned out to be a case where the distance between the cup and the lip has to be traveled. Soon the energy euphoria paled into oblivion.

Unfazed by such hype and hoopla about creating alternative to power shortage, a band of researchers from IBM India has demonstrated a low-cost solution to solve the problem of unavailable electrical power in the country.

The researches have demonstrated lighting solution using discarded laptop batteries and claim their device “UrJar” can lighten urban slums and rural areas for about four hours each day. UrJar has the capacity to last for more than a year.The researchers found that 70 percent of discarded batteries had enough power to keep a LED light lighted at least few hours in the night everyday.

The IBM group, working with a hardware Research and Development firm RadioStudio, opened the discarded laptop battery packaging and extracted individual storage units called cells.They tested 35 cells individually to pick out the good ones and recombined them to form refurbished battery packs.

After adding charging dongles as well as circuitry to prevent overheating, the researchers gave them to users in Bangalore city who lived in slums or operated sidewalk carts.

Three months later, the street vendors that used the light powered refurbished battery cells, said the battery packs were working very well. Similarly, other users too extolled the performance of the device and were happy about its usage. However, the main request from all them was, to have rat-resistant wires and much brighter bulbs. The IBM team is now testing on the revised setup and coming up with new refurbished Urjar devise.

The IBM team that created the device UrJar, uses lithium-ion cells from the old batteries to power low-energy devices such as a light. The combination of LED lights with solar panels and rechargeable batteries using discarded batteries has made the device much cheaper. The researchers estimate that if UrJar is made in large volume, it can be priced at about 600 rupees per unit.

UrJar provides a cleaner and potentially cheaper alternative than burning kerosene.  Using discarded batteries is cheaper than the existing power options. This could be the cheapest means to meet the lighting requirements because the most costly component is the battery, and here it’s taken from trash that is free.

UrJar provides a means to utilize the latent residual capacity in laptop batteries, which would otherwise be wasted. It helps deal with the mounting electronic-waste problem in the country.  UrJar has the potential to channel e-waste towards the lessening of energy poverty.

E-waste is a major problem particularly in the developing country like India. With a booming IT market, India is generating huge amount of e-waste of its own. This is estimated to be around 32 tons a day. Apart from this, India receives a lot of e-waste from other countries.

Many of the estimated 50 million lithium-ion laptop batteries discarded every year could provide electricity storage sufficient to light homes of the poor in the country.

In India alone, about 400 million people lack grid-connected electricity. Millions of batteries discarded with computers have more than enough life to solve the problem of lighting home in the country.

IBM is not considering this as a business proposition but says the technology could be offered free to poor of the country living in slums and other places.

Indians cannot wait for Civil – Nuclear deal to fructify. Now they have options in hand. UrJar only needs a bit of government support.  Can Prime Minister Narander Modi adopt this made in India invention in his Make in India vision? If he does so, it may be quicker way to lighten homes in the country.

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Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com



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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bihar’s Capital should be shifted out of Patna

Travelogue 

Bihar’s Capital should be shifted out of Patna 
Syed Ali Mujtaba

Just back from the ‘republic of Bihar,’ visiting its capital Patna, in the freezing winters of the Christmas holidays of 2014. Very great feeling to be back home and nostalgia and fond memories of childhood haunted all through my stay there.

 I have been visiting Patna since 70s, when there existed ‘Soda Fountain,’ D Paul and the lush green lawn called Gandhi Maidan.  Over the years the city has changed exponentially. I see both good and bad things prevailing and it is hard to choose between them.

As far as positives are concerned, the city has become the bazaar or the marketplace for the whole Bihar. You name the brand, it exists there. There are large numbers of shops of all around the city. The old Patna market is just a brick on the wall. There are malls and other shopping complexes that have sprung up. The hawkers have taken over the pavements. The wealth of the city is reflected through the goods being sold there.  It appears that the whole city is a shopkeeper’s paradise.

The second noticeable thing is the variety of cars seen on the city road. You name the car and its there on Patna roads. It appears Patna from no angle is the capital of India’s one of the poorer state. There is enormous amount of wealth concentrated in the city. This facet is glaring.

The high rise residential complexes are another startling feature. The old houses have given way to multi-stories housing flats.  The way cities residential area has expanded suggests that a huge migration rural population has taken place over the recent years. The real estate prices are booming almost on par with the metropolis of India.

This whole city is buzzing with life. Patna is no more what the Mughals had left or what the British had developed. The city is crossing all the boundaries. The urban boundaries are redrawn many times and are still expanding. Anyone who is visiting the city after a long time maybe surprised about the gigantic developments taking place.

The flip side of Patna is, it’s bursting at its seams. A sea of humanity seems to be swamping all over the urban space. Patna junction and ‘Ashok Raj Path’ are chocking points and remains overcrowded areas in most part of the day.

 The ‘Patna lawn’ or Gandhi Maidan, in the middle of the town, once known for a huge green space, now looks like a ‘Thar’ desert. As a child I still remember seeing polo matches being played there. Now it is a place for political rallies and public protests.

Patna traffic system is appalling. The stick wielding British era vintage policemen regulate the chaotic traffic system there. They do not have any bacon lights and no one heeds to their hand signals.  There are no traffic rules in this city. The red light signals do not work. With pavements  being over taken by the hawkers; people have no other option other than to walk on the road.

The roads which were meant for 4-5 lakh people are now being used by more than 50 lakh persons. There are cars, lorries, peddle rickshaw, auto rickshaw, cycle, pedestrian, all using the same road. The two way traffic in that shrinking space is a nightmare. The road from Patna to Patna city is a classic example of traffic chaos.

Traffic jam is common feature on Patna roads. Its daily mayhem there and road outrage often becomes bloody. Recently, someone I know died due to road accident. His auto-rickshaw over turned near Gandhi Maidan. He was traveling from one part of city to another doing his daily mundane chorus of life.

The filth and garbage is littered all over Patna. There is no mechanism for garbage collection. The garbage invariably is littered on the city roads. With flies and mosquitoes, pigs and cows wading in that garbage, the foul stench prevails all over the place. Men urinating in that garbage are not an uncommon sight in Patna.

The much touted ‘Sulabh Shauchnalay’ or ‘public toilets’ which the state has given to the world is nowhere seen operational in the city. The adage “India is moving anarchy” figuratively comes true   in Patna in its personified form. This city certainly is the dirtiest capital in the entire country more than any other place needs “Sawatch Bharat Abhiyan.”

There are few categories of people who caught my attention while I roamed in the city for a week. Bihar is a politically charged state and politics is the favorite pastime there. First of course  were those who looked like politicians. These Netas sitting inside the big car SUVs in shotgun Sinha style were the eye catchers. There were then party workers roaming aimlessly on the streets. With such people dwelling in the urban space,  public protest, procession, rallies are daily routine in Patna.

The second category was the ‘Doctors.’ I was amazed to see the astronomical numbers of private hospitals, nursing homes springing up in the city. This phenomenon was much marked on the new bypass road where the new bus stand has come up. Someone told me that Patna doctors have amassed huge amount of wealth that may match corporate income. Come rainy season and disease proliferates, they make killing out of the sick people.  Someone told, after the rainy season’s earning, Patna doctors leave to Europe or America for holidaying.

The third category was those running educational coaching institutes.  The Bari Path, once a quite lane has become synonymous for this business. I know someone running coaching centers is minting money in this trade. He often goes to Europe and there he drives a car traveling to various countries.  I have overheard him saying how he had put his car in the ferry when traveled from Italy to France. He has many such stories to tell about his driving stint in Europe. There is always an audience to his parables.

The other thing that caught my fancy was the ad campaign of the coaching center on the Patna roads. Huge cutouts of the coaching institutes with the trainer’s pictures were displayed on the auto rickshaw tops.  The achievements of the institute and its trainer are announced on loudspeakers. This looked more like film publicity campaign with the trainers donning the hero’s role.

Along with the coaching institutes, there is a plethora of educational institution from primary to higher education operating in Patna. The Director of Higher education gave me a summary of the growth of educational institutions in Bihar, impressing the idea of achieving literacy target.

Patna seems to be bubbling with students. It looks like all the students of Bihar have descended in its capital. There are any number of hostels, lodges both for girls and boys in the city. Mostly the students roam around the Ashok Raj Path searching competitive bookshops or on Bari Path which has many coaching centers. Some act as Romeos looking for their Juliet to sit on their flashy bikes.

The last category is the common man. A visit to Patna is recommended if any one likes to have a glimpse of the real common of India. The poverty and hunger on many faces is glaring there. I was approached by one such person, saying he had no food since the morning. When I gave him 20 rupees, his brimming face suggesting relief on from hungry that is something I cannot describe in words.

Any description about Patna cannot be completed without the mention of Patna city. Patna is divided between Patna city and Patna. City is the older area of habitation and Patna is an extension to it. Patna city is essentially the place where Muslim landed aristocracy once resided. Still there are remains of huge palatial buildings that tell the story of the Muslim splendor.

I visited one such Haveli, in Patna city which is still in spic and span condition. It is near “noon ka chowraha.” Its occupants are elderly couple who are run an English school in their premises. With the money earned, they seem to be maintaining their ancestral dwelling. Their children live in the US and the couple abhors the idea of their house being dismantled or sold. There are many such 'havelis' that still survives in Patna city.

Patna city has now become Patna Sahib. With coming up of the grudawara, it’s now a Sikh pilgrimage center. There is a sizable Sikh population there mostly Partition immigrants, occupying Muslim evacuee homes. Nonetheless, Patna city still maintains its old charm. With its narrow lanes and by lanes life moves on in this overcrowded Muslim enclave.

Patna has quite a few landmarks; one such is the “Golghar,” the granary built by the British during World War II. It has circular shape with stairs to climb on its top. As a child I remember seeing entire Patna from that vintage point. Now very little could be seen from “Golghar,” number of high-rise buildings are sore point for the eyesight.

The other landmarks are the Museum; Secretariat, High Court, Khuda Bux Khan Library, Tu Tu Imam’s mansion, St Xavier, St Michael and Mount Caramel schools etc. All remains the same as it was some 40 years ago. Later additions are Patna zoo, Golf club, Moniul Haq stadium, Birla planetarium and Buddha Park etc.

There is an urgent need to de-congest the Patna in order to bring sanity to the madness there. No amount of urban planning like building flyovers or artery roads or metro rail project or even creating satellite towns will de-congest Patna.

The only remedy to ease the human pressure from Patna is to shift the capital elsewhere from its present location. The entire administrative paraphernalia has to be relocated. This could be the only way to make the people of Patna breathe easy.

A suggestion would be that the new capital can be built at Rajgir which not far from Patna. Rajgir is prominently located and connected with the roadways and railways. It’s very close to the famed Nalanda University. The place has a picturesque hills and rope ways of ‘Johnny Mera Nam’ fame.

A Chandigarh kind of township could be a feast for landscape developers. The new capital if equipped with all modern facilities could be bait for all those who have migrated out of Bihar in search of livelihood and modern day’s comfort of life. A true “Ghar Vapasi,” or return home, for such sons of the soil.
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Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He hails from Bihar.  He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

India- Palk dialogue- How soon is the question?


India- Palk dialogue- How soon is the question?
Syed Ali Mujtaba

Prime Minister Narandra Modi reading newspaper while Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif going to the podium to deliver his Saarc speech in Kathmandu tells million words.  It was in Dulikhel retreat, the reluctant Indian Prime Minster offered the handshake to his Pakistani counterpart that saved the summit; courtesy Nepalese hosts who did not wanted to sour the broth.

PM Modi was giving the impression that there may be no Indo-Pak dialogue as long as he is in power. His opinion remains entangled in the cobweb of terrorism and Kashmir issue.

He is nursing the dream that Pakistan will forfeit its claim on Kashmir and relinquish terrorism once and forever. Every Indian says Insha-Allah to it and hopes and prays that such dream may come true.

However there are many disagreeing souls in the country who feel that stonewalling Pakistan is the biggest blunder that Mr Modi is making. In the process he may be inviting another HUDHUD whose consequences may be hard to control.

It is therefore in the interest of the country to engage Pakistan as it is the only way forward. And for this Indo- Pak dialogue has to happen sooner than later.

Everything is not lost as far India –Pak dialogue is concerned. Overtly, there may be posturing by the Prime Minister, but covertly Modi has given his consent to keep alive the track -2 diplomacy.

An India-Pak delegation was recently allowed to have an informal meeting in New Delhi. Indian side was represented by Mani Shanker Iyer and Salman khurshid and Pakistani side was led by its former foreign minister. There were 15 members on each side. This kindles hope of the revival of Indo- Pak talks.

The other indication is Modi has not ordered the discontinuation of the Aghaz- e – Dosti initiative by Delhi based NGO Bhartiyan Mission. They young Turks continue to silently do their job, connecting youngsters from India and Pakistan.

Recently, they had video conferencing and the students from both sides interacted freely with each other.
The third indication is; Modi has not ordered to take off from the air, the TV Channel Zindagi that brings Pakistani TV dramas to the Indian homes. The channel is a big draw in India and the Indian Ad content during the serial suggests its popularity among Indian viewers.

These factors suggest that even before the so called international community nudges Modi, to shun his posturing, it is likely the dialogue may resume soon. How soon is the question, the answer is wait and watch.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Memoirs of Mysore and Srirangapatanam

Memoirs of Mysore and Srirangapatanam
Syed Ali Mujtaba

Here is my travelogue of the Mysore visit on 19th November 2014. This is my fourth visit to Mysore and the historical places around it but it was most memorable of them all because it was with Hena, my wife and Ismail, my son.
My first stop was at Karnataka State Open University where I had official work. The new building that has opened recently was the place where I spent some time in meetings and negotiations.

Then we headed to Srirangapattam and went to the tomb of Hyder Ali, his wife and Tipu Sultan . It has a magnificent Gumbaz or dome and that has a great art work. The place has a mosque where 5 times prayers are held daily.  It has lots of graves of the family members of Tipu sultan.
After the fall of Srirangapattam fort, members of the Tipu family were killed and brought here and buried in the courtyard outside the tomb and beyond.

Hyder Ali who was commander-in-chief to Krishnaraja Wodeyar wrested power from him 1761 and became independent ruler. After his death in 1784, his son Tipu ruled Mysore till 1799. After the fall of Tipu, Wodeyars, returned power and ruled from Mysore under British protection. Mirza Ismail Beg was the famous Diwan, of the Wodeyars and credited to have built the dam over river Kaveri and famous Brindaban garden by its side.      

The next stop was Daria –Daulat palace or the summer palace of Tipu Sultan. Tippu Sultan built this palace in 1784. The palace is built in the Indo-Sarcenic style in mostly made of teakwood. The most stunning feature of the palace is that all the space available on the walls, pillars, canopies and arches have colorful frescoes in the style of Mysore paintings.

The building is a nice structure with ornate and intricate work.  It’s a museum now and has various artifacts at display. It has a collection of Tippu memorabilia, European paintings and Persian manuscripts.  There are paintings on the wall that depicts the procession scene.

Then we headed to the Srirangapatanam fort, a massive place, which is now taken over by the local people who have built their houses and living there. The exterior has the entry gate to the fort, and some of its parapet is still intact reminding of the structure that may have stood 200 years ago. Now it’s a thriving locality with a sizable population.

The only remaining memory of Tipu Sultan is the Jama Masjid inside the fort of Srirangapattam fort. It has more south East Asian features then the mosques of north India. Instead of four minarets, it has two minarets starting from the ground level and going up high. The ground floor of the mosque has Madarsa and the first floor has the prayer chamber with the usual dome. It’s a magnificent structure that survives the day.  


Inside the fort there is the exact spot where Tipu Sultan’s body was found dead. He was killed during the battle, dismounting from the horse and indulging in sword fight.

The historic Ranganathaswamy Temple inside the fort is other great structure that survives to this date. It’s built of Nagra style and resembles many south Indian temples. There was a beeline of local tourist visiting the temple.

While inside the fort of Srirangapatanam, a stream of thought flew into my funnel. My first brush with Srirangapatnam was reading the history lesson in the school. Then it was reading modern Indian history at Irfan Habib’s class in AMU, Aligarh. Gidwani book on Tipu Sultan gives a graphic description of the siege of the fort of Srirangapatnam the British that took months to finally breach it and that too by the internal connivance of the insiders.

During my visit to London museum, I saw a separate gallery on Tipu Sultan, which has his horse stirrup, cloths, sword and the tiger, his symbol. The museum has the famous painting "Storming of Srirangapattanam" an oil painting by Sir Robert Ker Porter made in 1800. This historical painting depicts the final fall of Srirangapatana on 4 May 1799. Tippu's men are seen giving stiff resistance to the British army and many British officers are clearly visible in the painting.  The military might of the British that rested on Indian foot soldiers were on full display in the canvas. There were other paintings that depicts the final moments of Tipu sultan. It is in this fort that Tippu died fighting the British.

I was trying to compare that huge canvas of Srirngapatnam fort with the latest structure on the ground right. There are only remains of it left today. The British looted and destroyed all the structures inside the fort. Tippu's Palace, the Lal Mahal lies in ruins and there is no trace of it.    

My next halt was Sailm Ali Bird observatory. It is a nice place and the birds are placed in its natural habitat. We had a boat ride and saw the birds sitting on trees and flying around. There were crocodiles in the lake but were at a distance and did not disturbed anyone.  It’s a very scenic environment and the company of birds made it chipper.

We returned back to Mysore city and headed to the historic Chamundi hill shrine that is over 3000 feet from ground. Mysore city view from the Chamundi hill was amazing. One can see the entire Mysore city from the hill top. The famous Dassarah procession that starts from Mysore palace every year concludes in this hill shrine. I found a plaque depicting Muslim names that has contributed to the building of some structure in the
shrine complex. This was something amusing.    

We then visited St. Philomena's church, a Catholic church built in honor of St. Philomena. It was constructed in 1936 using a Neo Gothic style and its architecture was inspired by the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. It is a very impressive structure indeed.

Our last stop was Mysore palace also known as the Amba Vilas Palace. It is the official residence and seat of the Wodeyars — the Maharajas of Mysore.  The palace houses two durbar halls and incorporates a mesmerizing and gigantic array of courtyards, gardens, and buildings. The palace is in the central region of inner Mysore, facing the Chamundi Hills eastward. Mysore Palace is now one of the most famous tourist attractions in India, after the Taj Mahal, and has more than 3 million visitors annually.

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Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com –

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Unending story of Hyderabad State

The Unending story of Hyderabad State
Syed Ali Mujtaba

The annexation of the Princely state of Hyderabad which took place amidst high drama on 17th September 1948 continues to hog limelight even today. Every year the communal forces in Hyderabad rake up this issue of the ‘Liberation Day’ to tease the Muslim community which is now in its third generation.

Normally, this day is celebrated quietly in party headquarters but this time it was planned at differently. This is because it was the first Telangana Liberation Day after formation of separate Telangana state. The Telegu Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) government which currently rules the new state had rejected the demand of the BJP and the Communist parties to officially celebrate the day.

However, communal forces tried to breach the peace. Tension prevailed at the Golconda Fort as police arrested some activists of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) trying to hoist the national flag to celebrate Telangana Liberation Day on September 17.

The TRS government had denied permission to the BJP to unfurl the national flag at the historic fort. Police prevented BJP workers from entering the fort with the national flag and foiled the attempt to spread communal hatred in the city.

The response from the BJP leader Kishan Reddy, was pithy to this. In an obvious reference to Muslims of Hyderabad, he said that "Telengana Chief Minister should decide whether he wants razakars or people of Telangana."

This statement was rebutted by the Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC), which fought for the new  Telangana state  cautioned the people
against those who were trying to distort the Deccan history and make September 17, an issue to spread communal hatred. It called upon people to observe the day as merger to Indian union and not view as victory of people of one faith over those of other and give it a communal color.

It was on September 17, 1948 that then princely state of Hyderabad merged with the Indian Union following the ‘police action’ of the Indian army against Nizam's army and Razakars' (volunteers) came to an end. There are some people in Hyderabad who still recall the terror unleashed by Razakars and thugs like Qasim Rizvi and they say their atrocities were unimaginable.

There is no denying the fact that the razakars or volunteers which sprung up from nowhere in the high noon of princely states in India to defend the Nizam’s rule in Hyderabad was quite a menace. However all the Muslims of Hyderabad were not razakars. There were Muslims in all sorts of organizations that were present at that time. A large of Muslims had nothing to do with the developments of the princely state and they were mere fence sitters.

The statement of BJP leader Kishan Reddy, equating Razakar with Muslims is nothing but hate mongering. What he actually was trying was sowing communal seeds and brainwashing the current generation by making such outlandish statements. It is such kind of people who are poising the minds of current generation that should be dealt with utmost firmness.

The stories what Razakars did and the revenge carried out against them after the fall of Hyderabad are equally chilling. The Sunderlal report is testimony to these fact (http://www.countercurrents.org/mujtaba290913.htm)  At this point of time what purpose does it serve debating whether the atrocities of razakars or that of the Indian army were gorier. How can we grade those crimes, the crime of razakars or the Indian army, who scored over whom?

Does such debate serve any purpose in 2014? We should bury all these tales as dead. History good or bad is behind us and there is no purpose to glorify its wrongs.  In the general good of the society anything that disturbs communal peace should never be encouraged.

The last ruler of Hyderabad Mir Osman Ali Khan was a person born to rule a kingdom. He was like any ruler of the 565 Princely states that existed in the country. Many say, Nizam VII was a secular ruler who extended financial aid to many Hindu temples. However, there were forces that were working against him during the end of his rule and he tried to cling on to power as long as colonial ruler presided over his suzerainty.

The seventh Nizam was actually a ceremonial head of the biggest princely state of India who had all responsibilities but no powers. He had long ago lost all his powers of governance to the British residency stationed in Hyderabad.

Some allege that during the last days of his rule, he was financing the Razakars. This is a controversial point and historians agree to disagree on this.

The princely ruler’s entire life should not be judged with his conduct of last days of rule that was engaged to prevent its fall. In a sense of desperation 1945, the ruler even contemplated buying Goa from the Portuguese and wanted Muslim population of Hyderabad to shift to Goa. If this would have happened the act of Muhammad bin Tuglak may have been repeated.

However, the Muslims of Hyderabad whom the BJP leader has calls as razakars refused to entertain any such idea and wanted to live and die in Hyderabad. A similar comment about Indian Muslims is made by Narendra Modi, the current ruler of the country.

A caveat to this development was the incident of 1932, when Muslim league leader Mohmmad Ali Jinnah came to meet him in Hyderabad.  The ruler shouted at the top of his voice and asked ‘Qaid’ to leave at once and not to show his face. Obviously he did not like to entertain any separatist ideas.

It is another story the same ruler in 1947, transferred 10,07,940 pounds sterling and nine shillings in the name of then Pakistan high commissioner in London H.I. Rahimtoola in the National Westminster Bank, which is now called Royal Bank of Scotland.

India raised an objection to the transfer, saying the Nizam was not an independent ruler and prevailed upon the bank to freeze the account. Since then the matter is hanging fire. The money is now estimated to have multiplied to 30 million pounds (Rs.3 billion).

There are many tales to tell about the princely rule of Hyderabad but to wrap this discussion, in the interest of the society, sometimes it’s better to forget past history and build a future where each one can live in perfect harmony with their religion, caste and creed intact.    

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Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com