Issue :   
September 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         September 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:August' 2018


Of the deprived

Humra Quraishi

What happens to our 40 lakh human beings! In the latest draft of Assam’s National Register of Citizens, their names are not included. That is, a huge 12 per cent of Assam’s population has been left out! Though those excluded from the NRC are given a chance to prove their Indian citizenship, this in itself raises pertinent questions - Does the government expect the socially and economically deprived to have their paperwork all intact and updated? With frequent shifts and displacements and also because of the flood fury that Assam is infamous for, a large percentage of these families do not even have cooking utensils or adequate clothing on themselves. So what to talk of adequate documents to prove their ancestral backgrounds? Their children and grandchildren are born in shanties and not in hospitals, so birth certificates are not in their clasp. They are not sure of the next meal. So what proofs can they gather to prove that they or their parents and grandparents lived or died in this country? Can we expect socially and economically deprived to prove that they are Indians? After all, it’s the marginalised who are worst affected by this crisis. Today not just chaos and confusion but also communal divide is spreading out in Assam. Lakhs and lakhs of Bengali Muslims and Hindus , living in Assam for generations, are getting branded Bangladeshi immigrants, thrown in the 'outsiders' category. Tomorrow, if the NRC were to open its ‘branches’ in other States of the country, havoc could spread out… Where are we heading towards ? At least , during the Partitioning phase of the 1940s , the displaced knew where to head, which boundaries and borders to cross, where camps and shelter could be expected, but today if lakhs of human beings were to be un - accepted as Indian citizens , then what happens to their lives ! Of course, there is a historical and political backdrop to this entire crisis. But what about the humanitarian aspect! Are we going to deport lakhs because they cannot prove that they belong to this land. Should human forms get thrown into the sea or into the jungles because he or she cannot prove that he or she belongs to the politically set parameters and boundaries! Because he or she cannot prove that his or her parents or grandparents ventured into Assam much before the 1971 war!

Eyes that relay poetry !

Gulzar Poet Gulzar Saab celebrated his birthday on August 18. Its rare to come across a poet whose eyes relay poetry. Look towards Gulzarsaab’s emotion - laden eyes , there’s poetry dripping from those eyes Yes, there’s something about his eyes, his very personality that strikes and leaves an impact.
I’m left amazed by the expanse of his works; that sheer emotional sensitivity laden in his verse and short stories. He has the capacity to offload an entire philosophy through the simplest of ways and last evening as I sat re-reading his verse, I kept thinking of the very first time when I had met Gulzarsaab. It was an experience in itself.
I had first met him around the summer of 2005, for an interview for a national daily. He was putting up at the New Delhi situated India International Centre.
So it was decided that I meet him over breakfast at IIC’s tea lounge . And there was something about his eyes that struck. Nah, no ordinary eyes but laden with emotions. Within the next couple of minutes as our conversation moved towards the Kashmir Valley, tears trickled down … Gulzarsaab was crying and getting emotional.
Telling me , “ The Kashmir Valley always fascinated me to such an extent that Raakhee and I had decided to go to Srinagar for our honeymoon …Raakhee and I often tease our daughter Bosky that she was conceived there … And Gulzarsaab is one of those Bollywood personalities who till date writes , reads and converses in Urdu.With that in the background I’d asked him - In the times we are living in, is it tough to be Urdu speaking ? Did you ever suffer from a complex on account of this?
“No, never. I have always been very comfortable with Urdu .In fact, the only time I’ve suffered from a complex was from the fact I couldn’t complete my graduation. For a long time this bothered me as in those days a degree meant a lot, but I couldn’t complete my graduation because of financial conditions /constraints. And, perhaps, to make up on that front I took to reading and writing .In fact, reading has been my passion right form childhood.”

A class dancer

Vyjayantimala Bali The legendary dancer Vyjayantimala Bali celebrated her birthday on August 13. I interviewed Vyjayantimala Bali just once. Thereafter, on the couple of occasions, when she’d spotted me, she made it a point to say a warm hello and we’d chatted for a while … As a shy five year old she had performed Bharatnatyam for the Pope in Rome . Her dance performance caught the attention of the producers of AVM production . Her very first film ‘Bahaar’ had left the audience spellbound, which , of course, her other 54 or more films continued to do , till she’d opted for marriage. As she’d quipped, “ thereafter I did not retire but relinquished films .”
Several years later, she made inroads into the political sphere and as an Member of the Parliament she’d represented the South Madras constituency .
On her political career she told me – “Well , my husband thought that I had the makings of a politician ,so he wanted me to join politics. In fact, it happened slowly - in the beginning we toured Tamil Nadu and saw the chaos spread around and how funds were being misused and people’s disillusionment with the administration. Wherever we toured we saw for ourselves another reality : how people loved Mrs. Indira Gandhi. So when we visited New Delhi, we met Indira Gandhi and told her the state of affairs ,and even told her about my own inclination towards joining politics ..She’d smiled encouragingly …so that’s how I entered the political scenario and was accepted very spontaneously by the masses ….
People knew I was / I am a very serious person .It wasn’t that I was just about hopping from one profession to another …After all , I quit the film industry in 1968 and I entered politics years later – in the early 1980s. Nor was I party jumper , people knew about my integrity….But, yes, it is very tough for a woman to survive in the political scenario.”

The queen of acting !

Meena Kumari The month of August was also the legendary actress Meena Kumari’s eighty- fifth birthday. Born on August 1, 1933, she passed away on March 31, 1972…dying young, leaving behind a heap of un-answered queries to the melancholy that hovered around her.
I had once interviewed her step daughter, Kamal Amrohi’s daughter Rukhsar-e-Zehra. And she was rather candid to all my queries. When I’d asked her about the family’s initial reaction, after they heard that Kamal sahib was re-marrying, and too the then top- star Meena Kumari, she’d detailed ,
“No doubt my father was a romantic person. Much before his crush on Meena Kumari, he was involved with Madhubala. They were about to get married, but one sentence from her – ‘Kamal sahib, leave your wife and kids and I will give them four lakh rupees – finished it all….And my father, whom I’d called baba jaani, had told Madhubala that he does not buy or sell relationships, and severed all ties with her…
Zehra had also detailed that her father had loved Meena Kumari right till his end. “My father really loved her. Several years later, when I asked him if he still loved her, he said, ‘Yes.’ ”