Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Cows are holy in India not Harjans

Cows are holy in India not Harjans

Traveling in a passenger train from my native place Shiekhpura to Gaya in Bihar last Saturday, I found some Harijan folks boarding the compartment at Nawada station, well there is Naveda in Texas too!

They were actually 6 of them, three men, three women and I think 6 or 7 kids, all below ten years of age. They sat on the floor of the compartment not because there was no seat but m
ore I guess because of their habit of squatting on the floor.

The kids stood on the widow, looking for the passing scenery enjoying the train ride. These folks were escorted by a contractor who was taking them to Ayodhya to make bricks.
 I was watching these people and hearing the foul language of the contractor who was loud and abusive at them.  The way he was talking, it seems that, these bunches of people were not human but herds of animal whom he owns.

I was tempted to talk to my fellow passengers and found that the contractor was representing some brick kiln chimney in Ayodhya and he was taking these laborers from Bihar on contract to work there to make bricks.

These folks will be put up in makeshift shed and have to toil day and night to make bricks. I saw a complete despondency on the faces of these folks, telling me about their uncertain future.

There are many promises being made by this contractor and we hope that we get enough food to eat and some place to sleep, said one of the laborers. While the adult were in a state of uncertainty, the faces of the children were brightly lit.

Looking at the passing meadows mountains and rivers, the kids with blowing noses were giggling and discovering the world. They seem unaware of their situation and just wanted to enjoy their travel.

I asked one of the folk, which caste they belong, one answered majhi, another answered mushar, the lady summed it up we are Harijan. I asked which caste the contractor belongs, Rajput was the reply.

The caste equation has not changed even, 68 years of independence and the lives of the Harijan remains the same.

A procession of memories was jogging in my funnel. I was recapping the Gandi vs Ambedkar debate and the Poona pact of 1932. I was contemplating, had Ambedkar left Gandhi die, perhaps the lives of these folks may not have been the same!

Well, I felt pity at the fate of my fellow travelers but at the same time I was incensed at the behavior of that contractor. In a country where Cows are made holy, human being are treated even worst then cattle.

My travel experience comes at a time when, government of the day has passed a bill on the atrocities against Harijan amendment bill 2015 in the Parliament. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Narendra Modi is no more a 'Holy Cow'

Narendra Modi is no more a 'Holy Cow'

Syed Ali Mujtaba

Prime Minister Modi’s personal human character has come to fore on the silence of the killing of the Kannada writer, scholar and rationalist Dr MM Kalburgi (77), the Dadri beef incident, and blacking of the face of Sudheendra Kulkarni, a BJP luminary and LK Advani’s aid, in Mumbai.

The tech savy PM who shouts loud from his back mouth through his twitter handle, chose to shut it up for a long time on these many issues of Indian concern.

He tried to break silence after a very long time expressing regret but that was too little and too late. Perhaps it was the fear of the backlash that may dent his popularity prompted him to do so and made him open his gob.

It seems to Mr Modi, his Hindu identity is more important than his human identity. He tacit support to Hindutva zealots is explicitly clear in many cases. His seem to condone their blood thirsty activity and prefer to soft paddle them, when they are on prowl. He has done this during the Gujarat riots and is doing this again.

The question is raised do we need insensitive, inhuman Prime Minister who acts blind to the assaults being made on the very idea of being an Indian?

It seems a silent campaign is built in the country that is questioning Modi being a holy cow that needs not to be worshiped blindly. Some are even thinking about him as an unholy cow that has stopped giving milk, and is left with only its excreta value.

This campaign is led by the independent writers who are returning their awards in hordes feeling ashamed to see India going down the gutter with Hindu communal forces ruling the roost.

There are two narratives at work right now in India. One led by Nrander Modi who is talking about development, foreign investment and building global image of the country taking it to the Security Council with veto power.

The other is the forces among the Hindu religious identity who are shaming India and have become the enemies of peace and development of the country.

The current government is vocal of the first idea but at the same time it is giving the impression that it is tacitly supporting the activities of the Hindu zealots.

The two narratives appear to go hand in hand. The daily newspaper is the best place to have an account of them that they are running in tandem. It appears a huge effort is being made to make the twain to meet.

The question remains how both these forces can coexist? How can development take place in a country when there is internal turmoil?

India has become a global shame with the recent chain of communal events in the country. First, killing of a rationalist, then lynching of a Muslim over beef eating controversy, and then blackening of the face of Sudheendra Kulkarni, playing host to a ex Pakistani Foreign Minister.

Where all this will end up? Where our Prime Minister Mr Modi is taking our country? His hype of development that is built by the media remains in paper only and the ground reality is quite different.

How can India grow at 7.3 percent, when its agriculture sector is in peril? More than 50 percent of the Indians are directly associated with agriculture which contributes 15 percent to the economy.

There is utter neglect by the current government of the farm sector. Cotton crop in Punjab is gone to dust due to whitefly and spurious pesticides. Farmers are committing suicide in Punjab.

In Maharashtra it is Nana Patekar and Akshey Kumar, who are coming to the aid of the farmers and not the government.

Modi’s ‘make in India’ is a non starter, his skill development project is ridden with corruption, and his Swatch Bharat campaign is just a talk shop and has not found its feet.

With two consecutive monsoon failures, the agriculture sector slowing down India’s growth rate, the diehard Modi followers are in a soul searching mission, asking, are they worshiping a "hawabazz."

The captains of Indian industry who all along have been backing Modi for his out of box economic solutions are rethinking their stand.

With external economic factors restricting the FDIs flow into the country, there is all probability that the 7.3 per cent growth rate is not going to hold ground and may slip still further down, in such case the "baniya" logic ruling roost, why to worship a false god who can give no money!

The writing on the wall is clear. The countrymen have to make some hard choices. Whether it may like to sacrifice their core values of the very idea that makes them an Indian?

Whether they may like to sell the core Indian values for few crumbs of material gain and move ahead in the path of development.

Or whether they want pluralism and inclusive growth, even if it means having to live with the Hindu growth rate, till the country regains its inner strength.

These are the battle of ideas that is embattling every Indian. It’s a mental game in which every sensitive Indian is engaged in right now.

As choices for getting narrower, their resentment is growing louder that Modi is not a holy cow.

[The writer is a senior journalist based in Chennai can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com]

Why Bihar Election is Important for the Country

Why Bihar Election is Important for the Country

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Since the day Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi announced the date of the Bihar assembly elections and called it as “mother of all elections,” the entire country is keenly watching the developments in this poll bound state.

There are solid reasons for the anxiety because according to the reports, investors, both domestic and foreign, have pumped in more than Rs 70,000 crore in the next six months following the landslide victory of Nrander Modi in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.

This was probably the highest ever investment for any government in six-months after general election results in India. It’s reported that since the Delhi assembly results in February 2015 this cash flow has slowed down.

The other indicator, Sensex, the benchmark index of BSE had gained about 17 per cent to touch 28,000 marks in the next six months after Modi’s victory. This has now nose-dived to 25,602.03 where it currently stands.

Market experts say, Bihar election results may have an impact of five per cent on the Sensex at either side.

The other highlight is Bihar election is, whether the Modi government still enjoys popular mandate. After the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Modi wave swept the country and NDA notched up string of victories in several states.

However, in the Delhi assembly election in February 2015, Nrander Modi’s political juggernaut was stopped by the Aam Admi party. Since then Modi’s popularity has never been tested on a political turf.

So, Bihar election is also keenly watched to judge Modi’s popularity graph. This may have impact on his leadership’s within the BJP and his influence over NDA partners.

Bihar poll is a referendum on the politics of secularism and inclusive development and those of communalism that excludes minorities. It’s Bihar that upheld the flag of secularism when the entire country was burning in Ayodhya Fire. The elections results may have impact on the nature of direction of change on the political outlook of the country.

The duel between the politics of caste and religion will be another aspect in Bihar election to be watched. The JDU, the RJD, all owes it existence on its caste constituents and profess to be champion of the backward caste. The BJP too has aligned with Paswan and Manjhi to woo the backward castes.

However, for the BJP its very difficult to break the stereotype of a party that epitome of representing the Tilak (Brahmin) Tarazoo ( Baniya) and Talwar ( Rajput), the three symbols of oppression since time immemorial.

Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the two states were responsible for thumping victory of the BJP in the 2014 polls. These two states added about 100 seats to the NDA’s kitty making the total tally of 336 seats.

Arithmetically, the NDA got thirty one percent of vote share in the Lok Sabha polls. This translated into an overwhelming number of seats because the opposition then was fragmented.

Since then the electoral map has considerably changed in the country. The opposition at center looks united flexing its muscle in the Lok Sabha and Modi government is backtracking on several issues. The 2015 political scenario is quite different from the 2014, when Modi’s ascendency was at its height.

In such situation will the BJP repeat its 2014 Lok Sabha performance in Bihar? The forecast is, even if does so, it will be difficult for it to have a majority in Bihar assembly. The only way is to give much better performance than the last Lok Sabha results.

The other forecast is, if the BJP looses Bihar election, then it is certain that there will be a new government at Center in 2019.

Broadly, there are two political formations in Bihar. One is the BJP-led NDA with the Lok Janshakti Party, the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party and Hindustani Awam Morcha as its partners. This formation looks broadly united at the moment.

On the other side is; JD (U), RJD and INC combine, led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has come together to form a Third Front.

It appears that the opposition to the BJP is in total disarray. They are united only on the surface, but behind it have lot of bickering. The anti incumbency factor is working against the ruling party. This gives the BJP some advantage and hope to win the battle royal of Bihar.

With optimism and pessimism ruing neck to neck, political fortunes can tilt either side in Bihar. It is in this context, Bihar is likely to see a very interesting political contest.

The other interesting aspect of Bihar poll is, if BJP led NDA comes to power, it will improve on its tally in Rajya Sabha, where it is currently in minority. NDA currently holds 60 seats in the 245-member upper House.

Bihar election is important because, before BJP’s current term ends in 2019, it can get 11 Rajya Sabha seats after re election from this state. This will vastly improve NDA’s position in upper House. It will push the reform agenda of the Modi government currently stalled due to lack of strength.

If the BJP looses Bihar, it is certain that its reform agenda at the center may go for a toss. The apprehension is a Delhi-like debacle for BJP in Bihar may have its ominous portents. The back counting Modi government may begin from November 8.

So, what is the most important for Bihar is to have a stable government that lasts five years term. A dramatic improvement in state-level governance is the cry of the people of the state. They want industrialization of the state at the breath neck pace. Bihar needs investments to push up industrialization efforts. It’s only a stable government that can bring large scale investment to the state.

So, one has to look at the Bihar election beyond the win or loss of the BJP led NDA. The election results should not have any bearing on the long term strategy of the state, irrespective of the political formation that comes to power. Even for the country its growth should not get stifled due to election results of a particular state.

The Election in Bihar would be held in five phases the dates of which are, 12 October, 16 October, 28 October, 1 November and 5 November. The results will be counted on November 8.

Bihar is divided into 9 divisions and 37 districts. There are 243 Assembly constituencies, out of which 47 are affected by left-wing extremism. The Election Commission has made adequate preparations for a free and fair election. Central paramilitary forces have been deployed, Election Voting Machines, carrying the photographs of the voters will be used. Political parties have started their fierce campaigns. It is definitely going to be ‘mother of all elections.’

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a Senior Journalist

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 syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com

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 syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com

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 syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com          

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 syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com                                                                          

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 syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com

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.
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.

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.

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


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bihar’s Capital should be shifted out of Patna


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