Archive for January 6th, 2009


January 6, 2009

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


It started with M. J. Akbar writing his Sunday sermon in the Times of India. While branding Union Minister for Minority Affair, A. R. Antulay, the Simi Garewal of Indian politics, he made a side-swipe on Urdu press, for taking up the cue from Antulay and persisting on spreading the conspiracy theory, that ATS Karkare’s death was too convenient for Hindutva Parivar to be brushed aside as an act of foreign terrorists. Since the day, Karkare started bringing in names of Sangh Parivar protagonists like Sadhvi and Purohit, BJP’s top leaders were calling for his head. Advani did not miss a day not making headline news about his extreme displeasure with Karkare bent on exposing “Hindu terrorists”. Poor chap was heading towards wherever the evidence was leading him. That was not the done thing for the political parties run by High Caste oligarchy. They wanted all such evidence to be covered up, just like former ATS Chief Raghuvanshi had buried the Nanded blast incident, in which RSS members were killed and injured while making bombs. Does not Akbar give any importance to the fact that Karkare’s widow turned down Narendera Modi’s and now openly questioning Sangh Parivar, why they become so silent now —- now that Karkare is dead.

It is still an enigma, why M. J. Akbar should be so interested that any mention of Karkare and his convenient death should be treated as a ‘negative’ investigative journalism and he felt that Urdu Press is guilty as charged. For that indiscretion of his, I called him the Simi Garewal of Indian Journalism. The debate about Urdu journalism restarted in cyberspace and an NRI group had a very robust discussion on all aspect of Urdu journalism, though it remained confined to a select circle of friends and mainstream Urdu media did not pick up M. J. Akbar’s swipe.

M. J. Akbar, probably incensed by the criticism of his stand against Urdu Press, next week found another topic which he thought should have been taken up by the Urdu Press. Times of India’s sister publication, Mumbai Mirror published a table showing how Maharashtra’s government under the Chief Ministership of Vilasrao Deshmukh, had underperformed and was not able to spend even budgeted amounts in the fiscal year that will be ending next March. In that table, an item of Rs. 167 Crore was shown earmarked for Minority welfare. The punch-line was that not a single rupee from this budgeted amount was spent for the welfare of the Minority community. M. J. Akbar took that up and exhorted Urdu Press that rather than pressing on untenable conspiracy theories, they should have highlighted the utter neglect of the Vilasrao Deshmukh government.

M. J. Akbar’s suggestion was taken up in right spirit by Inquilab, Mumbai, which highlighted Vilasrao Deshmukh utter neglect of the community, while his party, The Indian National Congress, presided over by Sonia Gandhi, has been bending over backwards, in trying to spread the fiction that Muslims have been the most preferred voter group by her party.

In this connection, when Inquilab’s correspondents, Mubashir Mushtaq and Mukhtar Adeel, questioned State Minister for minority affair, Haji Anees Ahmed, he was enraged and publicly blurted — ‘shut up’ to the two press persons. Inquilab headlined the encounter on its front pages and it was this campaign that forced the Haji Anees Ahmed to call on Inquilab office in the dead of night, to offer his apologies for his unparliamentarily outburst. He further made out that since he has taken charge only a fortnight back, he will see to it that the budgeted amount is fully utilized for minority welfare.

Inquilab’s next day front page headline reported how the cabinet meeting was completely silent on the issue of Minority Fund. Inquilab further reported in detail about the how the Principal Secretary for Minority affairs, F. T. Thakekara, put the blame on the Government, which has failed to come out with any scheme for minority welfare.

In another development, Urdu Times commentator, Farooq Ansari, wrote a Special Report on how Muslims are discriminated against when, even in budget, their puny allotment of 167 Crores is compared to that of other backward communities’ budgeted amount of 4000 Crores. Urdu Times has lashed out on narrow-minded communal officers and proposed a 21 point list of measures that they should take up for a holistic approach to Minority welfare.

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

PS. Times of India’s Mohammed Wajihuddin did find time from his entanglements with liberal/fundamentalist ideological polemics and has belated turned his attention to the ongoing debate on the money matters that should matter most to Muslims at any moment in time. Report follows.

Minority dept holding on to funds

6 Jan 2009, 0519 hrs IST, Mohammed Wajihuddin, TNN

MUMBAI: An Urdu poet once described the dole thus: `Tammannaon mein uljhaya gaya hoon/ Khilone de ke bahlaya gaya hoon’ (I have been lured by

promises/I have been fooled by toys). The couplet aptly describes the minority welfare department set up by former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

Under intense pressure to stem the alienation of the minorities, especially Muslims who are around 13% of the population in Maharashtra, Deshmukh founded the minority department on February 21, 2007, with a handsome fund of Rs 167 crore at its disposal. Shockingly, almost one year after the department’s inception, its investment has been zero.

Deshmukh launched the department with much fanfare and a plethora of promises ― it was to be a nodal agency that would approve and implement schemes to help arrest the numerous ills facing the minorities. Scholarships to poor and deserving students, girls’ hostels in Muslim-dominated districts, and strengthening the Maulana Azad Financial Corporation, Urdu Academy and Minority Commission were some of the plans. All of them today remain on paper, thanks to the lackadaisical attitude of bureaucrats and politicians who refused to take the department seriously.

“It’s unfortunate but true that not a single paisa from the Rs 176 core has been spent. It shows that officials are not sincere when it comes to clearing files concerning the minorities,” alleges Naseem Siddiqui, chairman, State Minority Commission. His deputy Abraham Mathai is equally critical, alleging that certain officers deliberately delayed the files and stonewalled the schemes.

T F Thakekra, principal secretary, minority department, told TOI, “Since schemes were not approved, the funds remained unspent.” She refused to elaborate on the reason why the schemes remained unapproved and hung up on this reporter.

That the Vilasrao Deshmukh government had treated the minority welfare department as just another tool to assuage the frayed feelings of the minorities was clear from Day One. Without developing a proper infrastructure, Deshmukh integrated several wings of the government like the Urdu Academy, the Minority Commission and the controversy-riddled Waqf Board into it. “Even in the central government, the development of Urdu comes under the HRD ministry. But here it became a minority subject, and the government reiterated the stereotype when it treated Urdu as a language of Muslims alone,” says Abdus Sattar Dalvi, the Urdu Academy’s executive chairman.

The government was also criticised when it set up a study group, headed by Mehmoodur Rahman, chief of Bombay Mercantile Bank, to recommend remedies for Muslim backwardness in the state. The committee was seen as a diversionary tactic since the Sachar Committee had already identified the reasons for Muslim backwardness and had also suggested several remedies.

Interestingly, the Mehmoodur Rahman Committee submitted its second and final report only on Monday and a six-member sub-committee, headed by minority affairs minister Anees Ahmed, has been set up to study it. “I have just been appointed minister for minority affairs. On Monday, we had a three-hour meeting. We hope that the schemes will be fast-tracked and money spent before March 31, 2009,” Ahmed told TOI.

That’s what we call hoping beyond hope.

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