By Sayeed Mehran Shah
Prof. Khwaja Ekramuddin, happens to be one of the most distinguished and proficient litterateurs of Urdu language, who is currently serving as a professor in the Centre of Indian Languages (CIL) of the School of Languages, Literature and Culture Studies (SLL&CS) in Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
He has also served as the director of National Council for the Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL). Professor Ekramuddin is best known for promoting Urdu language in the foreign nations like America, Japan, Mauritius, Turkey, UAE, Egypt, Germany, London and many more. He extensively delivers lectures in these nations and acquaints the people dwelling in those countries with Urdu language and literature.
This is one of the major reasons that the number of foreign students coming to India to learn Urdu is increasing at a large scale. He is also serving as the chairman of World Urdu Association (WUA). This association aims at developing healthy relations among the Urdu speaking nations of the world and stresses upon imbibing the fondness for the language. Association also appreciates people for their commendable works for promoting Urdu language and literature.
Prof. Ekramuddin has authored numerous books in the field of research and criticism especially the books on Urdu Media, Urdu and IT etc. are considered as a valuable addition to the treasures of Urdu. The literary circles around the world accept his scholarship in the field of humanities and appreciate him for his eternal works.
Prof.Ekramuddin has a brilliant academic and literary record to his credit. Embedded with eastern culture, tradition and Islamic values, Ekramuddin was born on December 25, 1964 in a small village called Mokamoin Giridihdistrict of Jharkhand.
His ancestors were from Gaya, Bihar. His father, Mohammad ShamsuddinSuharwardi, was a teacher by profession and had a great image in society. He was known for his kindness, virtue and spiritual understanding. After the partition, he wanted to migrate to Pakistan but his spiritual master, Syed Ghaus Ali Shah, did not allow him to migrate so he moved to the rustic village of Mokamo, where he started calling people towards the message of peace and fraternity. Prof. Ekramuddin when asked about his father stated:
“My father belonged to a Sufi tradition and was a great moralist and preacher of his time. He was equally appreciated by Muslims as well as Hindus and was popular in both the communities. He devoted his whole life in spreading the message of peace and brotherhood among the masses.”
Prof.Ekramuddin started his educational career from Madrasa Shamsul Huda, Patna (Bihar) where he learned Islamic education but somewhere in the deep of his heart he had an urge of acquiring school education. Listening to the voice of his heart, he joined school and did his matriculation with good scores.
He then completed his intermediate securing 11th position in the state and got admission in Patna University where he did his Bachelors of Arts in Urdu and clinched second position in the university.In 1988, he moved to Delhi for further studies and got enrolled in Jawaharlal Nehru University and completed his Master of Arts in Urdu language and literature.
After completing M.A, he enrolled himself for research and wrote his M.Phil Dissertation entitled “Analytical Study of Rasheed Ahmad Siddiqui’s style”. This dissertation got great appreciation from the literary circles of Urdu. Though ample research works were done on Rasheed Ahmed Siddiqui but Prof. Ekramuddin’s work was outstanding in such a way that it was associated in curriculums of many universities in India and Pakistan.
In 1994, he submitted his Ph.D. thesis entitled “Critical analysis of Tazkiras of 19th century” under the supervision of Prof.Naseer Ahmed Khan. After completing his research work he was appointed for teaching and research of Urdu and Persian on temporary basis in department of Urdu, Delhi University where he served for almost five years.
In 1999, University Service Commission, Bihar appointed him as a lecturer in the Department of Urdu in Ranchi University but he did not work there for long as his alma mater called him back to Delhi and he joined Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2000 as an Assistant Professor of Urdu.
In 2007, he became Associate Professor and in 2013, Professor.He had unending love and fondness for JNU’s literary and cultural atmosphere where he not only succeeded in his literary voyage but also surrounded himself with some of his mentors and friends including Late Prof. Mohammad Hasan, Late Prof. QamarRaees, Prof. Ateequllah, Prof. Abdul Haq, Prof. Syed Anwar Pasha, Prof. Tauheed Khan, Prof Syed Akhter Hussain, Prof. Rizwanur Rahman and many more.
In 2012, the Government of India appointed Prof Ekramuddinas Director, National Council for the Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) and as many predicted, he accomplished his duties in a spectacular way.
He served there for three years and in his tenure did lot of notable works. He organized many international seminars, conferences and Mushairas across the country and acquainted Urdu to almost every part of the world. He established computer-training centres with Urdu as a mandatory language throughout the country so that people could reap the benefits of the course and shape their careers accordingly.
He raised the literary standard of the magazines like “Urdu Duniya”, and “Fikr o Tehkeek” and published one more magazine for children called “Bachon Ki Duniya”. Apart from these magazines, books based on criticism, fiction, poetry etc. were also published in his tenure.
He acquainted Urdu world with modern trends of information technology and started diploma courses in IT for people interested in this particular field. Besides this he started a diploma course to learn Kashmir’s Papier-Mache craft. He also launched and introduced many schemes and programs to promote and propagate Urdu language. Literary circles of Urdu across the world accept this truth that in his tenure of NCPUL, Urdu got developed in many ways and for his commendable job he is appreciated every time when one talks about NCPUL.
As far as Prof. Ekramuddin’s creative voyage is concerned, he started writing articles right from his Madrasa days. When he was in Madrasa Shamsul Huda, Patna, he wrote a book on religious beliefs of Muslims and it was admired by all the religious scholars of that time. The first article of this particular book was later published in Patna College’s magazine. His published works include “Rasheed Ahmad SiddiquikeUsloobKaTajziyatiMutaàla”, “Nawa e Azaad”,” Urdu Ki Sheri Asnaaf”, ”Taàruf o Tanqeed”, “Urdu KaAalmiTanazur”, “Urdu Safar Namon Mein Hindustani Tehzeeb o Saqaafat”, “Urdu Media”, “Deewaan e Shaani”, “Islami TareekhKeAhamShehar”, “Urdu Media”, ” Urdu ZabaanKeNayeTakneekiMasaayalAurImkanaat”, “Rasheed Ahmad SiddiquiKeMuntakhabMazameen”, IkeesvienSadi Mein Urdu; FaroghAurImkanaat”, and “IkeesvienSadi Mein Urdu KaSamajiAurSaqaaftiFarogh”. These works are seen with great respect and reverence in Urdu world. Professor Ekramuddin was conferred umpteen awards for his notable works in the field of humanities. These awards include HaiderTabatabai Award (Germany, 2018), Sufi Jameel Akhter Award (Kolkata, 2018), Iqbal Award (Germany, 2016), Safeer e Urdu Award (Denmark, 2016), Outstanding Achievement Award (Turkey, 2016), Nishan e Imtiyaz (Urdu Science Congress Aligarh, 2016), Qazi Abdul Wadood Award (Patna, 2016), Qazi AdeelAbbasiAalmi Award (Delhi, 2016), Maseeh e Urdu Award (Delhi, 2014), Fakhr-e -Urdu Award (Kolkata, 2014), Abul Kalam Azad Award (Delhi, 2013), Baba e Urdu Molvi Abdul Haq Award (Patna, 2012), Minaar e Urdu Award (Patna, 2012), Excellency Award (Japan, 2011), Delhi Urdu Academy Award (Delhi, 2008), Majlis e Adab Award (Patna, 1987) and many more. He is a distinguished scholar of present era. His enlightenment for the promotion of Urdu language has heralded the dawn of a new age in the contemporary world. He has also initiated an online website (www.onlineurdulearningonline.com) to make people aware of the new trends and fashions in the world of Urdu language and literature. This website also aims at making people aware of Urdu language in any corner of the world. He really is a maestro and a one man army who has devoted his life for the stability and development of Urdu language. At the end I quote the last lines of Robert Frost’s poem that depict Prof Ekramuddin’s dedication and hard works:
The woods are lovely dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep……
(The author is a Research Fellow at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Feedback at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
War or peace?
By Dr Akmal Hussain
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi on Sunday, April 7, in a press briefing in Multan, announced that the government had “reliable” information that India was planning another attack on Pakistan. He revealed that during a meeting of the Indian Cabinet Committee on Security, the three service chiefs had indicated that they were ready with plans of multiple strikes against Pakistan across a wide front and were awaiting a “political nod”, which was duly given by PM Modi during the meeting.
After the political boomerang of the failed Balakot strike, simple statistical theory would suggest to the military mind that the larger the number of strikes next time the higher the probability of at least one succeeding. The chances of partial success would increase if the air attack is across a wide front: the defending air force would have to spread itself thin and so the number of intercepting aircraft that could be fielded against any one group of attackers would be reduced.
Such a military adventure by India would not simply be a repeat strike after Balakot. It would be a precipitous escalation, fraught with the risk of full-scale conventional war that could quickly lead to a catastrophic nuclear exchange. When India suffered a setback in the Balakot engagement, they reportedly readied themselves for a missile strike against three Pakistani cities on the night of February 27.
There is no technology in existence that can determine whether or not incoming missiles have a nuclear payload. So Pakistan’s declaration that they would launch triple the number of missiles in retaliation, as soon as Indian missiles left their launch pads, carried the grim possibility of a nuclear war in the Subcontinent. If we had come so close to Armageddon soon after even a single abortive strike, imagine how much greater would be the risk of escalation to the nuclear level during a full-scale conventional war.
At present, and in the foreseeable future, two aspects of the structure of the India-Pakistan relationship create a hair trigger that can quickly and repeatedly bring the two countries to flashpoint. First, a popular freedom movement in Kashmir that, despite their protracted coercion, Indian security forces have been unable to suppress. It has instead produced a pantheon of martyrs and a new generation of militant youths willing to sacrifice themselves for freedom. Under these circumstances the internal dynamics of the Kashmiri movement can generate acts of violent rebellion against Indian troops at any time.
Second, on the other side of the border for many years non-state groups of militant extremists who have off and on received patronage continue to exist. The toxic mix of these two elements creates an environment in which spectacular acts of violence by Kashmiri youth could be blamed on “Pakistan-based terrorists” by India. This could intensify tensions, precipitating another military conflict. The past cannot be taken as a guide to say how it will end, whether in peace or nuclear war.
Given the firepower of modern conventional weaponry, significant loss of territory can occur during the initial onslaught that could escalate to the use of battlefield nuclear weapons. Once nuclear weapons are used on enemy troops, all-out nuclear war would follow. The recent history of India-Pakistan military conflict however has shown that even before a full-scale conventional war, a limited, localised battle can bring the two sides to the nuclear precipice.
For example, during the Kargil conflict in 1999 when the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif flew to Washington to ask the then US president Clinton to help end the conflict, he was shown satellite pictures of nuclear weapons being loaded onto F16s as evidence for a shocked PM of how close the two countries were to a nuclear war. Then again during the first two days of the February 2019 conflict involving limited Air Force engagements, nuclear missiles were reportedly readied on the night of February 27 for use by both sides.
So far these confrontations have induced timely intercession by the international community and peoples of the Subcontinent have survived by the skin of their teeth. But what a future confrontation will bring, whether we live or die in a nuclear war is inherently uncertain. Its probability cannot be estimated.
Some take comfort in the fact that seven confrontations in the past did not result in full-scale war as international pressure to defuse tensions worked. However, this 100 percent success in preventing war in the past cannot be used as a basis for saying it will not occur the next time around. This is because in society as much as in the relationship between states the averages of the past do not necessarily hold into the future. This is unlike natural phenomena where averages of the past as expressed in natural laws do hold into the future.
For example, take the law of gravity: if you had dropped an object and it fell to the ground yesterday, there is a high probability that it would fall again if you dropped it tomorrow. But in society, probability estimates which are essentially based on projecting the past into the future are not possible in principle. The pattern of social phenomena and human behaviour observed in the past can in the future be shattered by unique events or a combination of unique events.
As the preceding discussion argues, even a limited conventional conflict following a terrorist incident can quickly escalate to the nuclear threshold. It is vital, therefore, for the two countries supported by the world community to address the explosive structure of a situation that leads to repeated military confrontation.
Millions of citizens in both countries are mired in poverty, illiteracy and disease. Thousands of children are dying at birth every day; of those who survive birth, thousands die before they are five years old. Of the children who live beyond five years, millions are suffering from malnutrition, their bodies stunted, their brains dulled. Millions of children roam the streets and alleys, deprived of quality education, abandoned by society and state and living without hope. Instead of halting this massacre of innocents together, the two states are marching in lockstep to a nuclear catastrophe.
It is time for the leaderships of both India and Pakistan to reflect on the irrationality and inhumanity of using proxy wars or ‘surgical strikes’ as a means of achieving national security. The power of a nation lies not in following the course of mutual annihilation but pursuing the path of peace for the welfare of its citizens. The leaderships of the two countries should dip their cupped hands into their shared civilisational well-springs. Imbibe the sense of compassion and human solidarity to care for our children rather than killing them.
Rubbing salt on the wounds:
By Aleem Faizee
Another assault on the people of Malegaon – this is how a shopkeeper in Malegaon reacted to the news of the BJP fielding Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur from Bhopal against Congress’ Digvijaya Singh in this Lok Sabha election.
It’s like rubbing salt on our wounds, another Malegaon resident said.
For the people in Malegaon, the announcement of Pragya Thakur’s candidature has brought back the ghastly memories of 29 September 2008, when the city was rocked by a bomb blast. Thakur is facing trial in the case.
On the night of the blast, it was about 9.40 pm and people were about to finish Salaat-ut-Taraweeh – special night prayers offered during the month of Ramadan – when they heard a loud sound of explosion. At first, they thought it could be a cylinder blast accident. But it soon emerged that it was a bomb blast.
The blast spot was just metres away from the Ladies Fashion Market at Anjuman Chowk where a huge crowd of women and children were busy shopping for Eid al Fitr. There was chaos near Bhikku Chowk – the site of the blast. People carried the bleeding victims, more than a hundred, to hospitals using whatever means they could find.
The blast claimed six lives. One of them was 5-year-old Farheen Shaikh who was out to buy some snacks and was on her way back home to have Ramadan dinner with her grandmother.
Among the injured was Abdullah Jamaluddin Ansari of Shakeel Transport. The 75-year-old man, during initial investigation, had said he had noticed the LML Freedom motorcycle, which was later traced to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and led to her arrest, parked in front of his office since afternoon that day. He had also informed the police chowki, a stone’s throw away from the blast site, but claimed that no action was taken.
Javed Ansari, owner of a photocopier shop, was also injured in the Malegaon blast. It took him over three years to recover and resume work.
But for these blast victims, life has never been the same since that September night.
While Javed Ansari and the family of Farheen Shaikh left the locality after the blast, Shakeel Transport’s Abdullah Ansari died last year. Following the blast, Ansari often looked at the wall clock in his shop, which had stopped working at 9.37 pm – the time of the blast – and waited for justice.
One doesn’t know how he would have reacted to the news of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and contesting the Lok Sabha election.
By fielding Sadhvi Pragya, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wants people to believe that she and other accused arrested in various blast cases were ‘framed in fabricated cases’ and that ‘saffron terror’ is a myth.
But while doing so the, BJP has undermined the fact that Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur still remains a key accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case. As per court papers, the first evidence that led to her arrest was the LML Freedom motorcycle that was registered in her name and was used to plant the bomb. There are also some audio tapes and visuals too. Based on these evidences, the Bombay trial court judge had observed that there was enough ground to establish Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur’s role in the blast.
Ironically, while nominating Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur as the party candidate, the BJP did not think about the kind of message this would send to all the world leaders with whom Narendra Modi has often taken up the issue of terrorism.
The people of Malegaon, who had been hearing about the pressure on some officers and public prosecutor Rohini Salian ‘to go soft’ in the case, have almost lost all hope of getting justice. Wife of Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare – the officer who initially investigated the case – had turned down then-Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s monetary compensation after 26/11 attacks.
Therefore, the BJP’s decision to field Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur in this election is neither shocking nor surprising for most people in Malegaon. But it is painful, especially for the blast victims and their families.
Majboot Sarkars Overrated?
Prior to the 1990s, coalition governments in Indian politics were considered to be an aberration and not particularly desirable. The lack of coalitions in India was clearly tied to the one-party preponderance of the Congress. So, when the party sensed defeat in the 1989 Lok Sabha election, it tried to remind voters of how shambolic the 1977 Janata government had been.
The VP Singh-led National Front government formed in 1989 was perhaps the strangest political entity that people had witnessed in Indian politics. Propped up by the Left parties on one side, and the right-wing BJP that provided support with its 86 seats on the other – the government proved to be short lived.
The grand old party then supported the Chandrashekhar Singh government for four months, after which it decided to withdraw support and elections in 1991 brought back a Congress-led coalition government in the country. With that, the era of coalition politics was well and truly upon us.
Coalition governments were the new normal in Indian politics and would continue to be so until 2014, when the Narendra Modi-led government became the first in three decades since 1984, to win a clear majority.
In 1996, there was a short-lived Vajpayee-led BJP government for 13 days, followed by the rather soporific one led by HD Deve Gowda that lasted until 1997. After that, IK Gujral led the United Front coalition government that lasted from April 1997 to March 1998.
By then, the political scenario of the country was beginning to look a bit like a game of musical chairs. However, things stabilised with Atal Bihari Vajpayee returning in 1998, hanging on for a year and then getting re-elected in 1999 to finally last a whole term.
After that, with a full decade of the Congress led United Progressive Alliance leading the way, Indian politics developed a version of the two party system, rather, a two coalition system. Numerous political parties have coalesced around BJP and the Congress in the form of the National Democratic Alliance and the United Progressive Alliance, respectively.
Congress governments in coalition have brought about some of the most momentous and far-reaching changes. It was the Narasimha Rao-led government that introduced the economic reforms, which for better or worse, changed the country tremendously.
One simple indicator of the worth of coalitions is the fact that many thought that the UPA-I government was too hobbled by the presence of the Left, as it was a hindrance to the economic reforms associated with Congress governments since 1991.
The withdrawal of Left support, followed by the more emphatic victory that led to UPA-II in 2009, was supposed to bring in a more decisive and unfettered government. Yet, it is the UPA-I government that is remembered for the succession of rights-based legislation it introduced, while UPA II has come to be associated with crony capitalism.
Similarly, the NDA-I government of Vajpayee, with all of its coalition pulls and pressures ensured two things. First, the core and often contentious BJP issues, which are Article 370, Babri Masjid and Uniform Civil Code, were relegated to the back-burner.
Second, the Vajpayee-led BJP government could well and truly be said to have a fringe and a centre, with the fringe remaining where any fringe should belong.
However, the ruling BJP government of the day has once again brought the core contentious issues to the forefront. It has also ensured that the fringe encompasses the party uniformly, leaving no hint of nuance or differentiation.
What this suggests is that weaker coalitions may actually perform better. More importantly, coalitions are able to more naturally weave in the vital regional parties that act as breakwaters in the path of potentially elective despotism.
Are majority governments over-rated?
What have supposedly strong and stable majority governments been able to do? Have they taken decisive measures or brought about ‘big-ticket economic reforms’, untroubled by the petty pulls of coalition partners?
Take the 1984 Rajiv Gandhi government with its mammoth majority of above 400 hundred seats. In less than two years, it started playing communally divisive politics around the Babri Masjid and Shah Bano issues.
The Congress thought it was being cleverly even handed by dealing out both majority and minority communal cards. The drift in the Rajiv Gandhi government could be sensed right in the middle of its term when it lost badly in the Haryana assembly elections of 1987. It lost the hugely symbolic Allahabad by-election in 1988 to V.P. Singh, and the rest we are prone to saying, is history.
The question then is this: Could the supposed strength and stability provided by majority governments be overrated? What has the Modi government achieved on the back of its huge mandate? Has it squandered that majority much like the Rajiv Gandhi led government of 1984-89? Can Modi return to power? This has been a bit of a see-saw question.
When Modi’s government came to power with a huge landslide, or ‘tsunami’ if you will, conventional wisdom was that he was here to stay for at least two terms. The UP assembly elections in 2017 seemed to confirm this. After that, it has been more of a will he/won’t he guessing game. The jury is well and truly out on this one.
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