Dhaka, Aug 12 (UNB) - Pandit Anand Mohan Zutshi Gulzar Dehlvi walks into the living room of his home in Noida, wearing a white sherwani-churidar, Nehru topi and a pearl chain with two lockets — one of Krishna and one with aayats of the Quran on it. He is frail, he is over 90. But once he starts talking, the practised performer, who has mesmerised millions at mushairas and nashists (literary meets) for seven decades, takes over. The voice is strong and his memory, razor sharp, reports The Indian Express.
Veteran Urdu poet Gulzar Dehlvi, was the editor of Science ki Duniya, the only science magazine the Government of India published in Urdu. The walls of his home are covered with photos of him onstage with big names from the world of literature and politics, in different periods and different countries. Dehlvi is a Kashmiri Pandit who spent his life working for Urdu and enriching it with his poetry. He’s a symbol of all that Delhi has stood for, and is in danger of losing — a multicultural identity, where languages and traditions of all the empires that ruled the city evolved from and merged into each other organically.
Dehlvi’s association with the freedom movement began early — when he was in Class IV, he says. In 1933, King George V and Queen Mary of England were celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary. In Delhi, engraved brass plates were being distributed, along with four annas to schoolkids to have chaat and pakaudas at Chandni Chowk. “I rounded up students of various government-run schools, and we boycotted the celebration. That is how Aruna Asaf Ali noticed me, and my association with the Congress began,” he says. “Most of the nationalist poetry during the freedom movement, such as those by Bhagat Singh, was written in Urdu, a language some today seek to discredit as un-Indian,” he says.
During the freedom movement and after independence, Dehlvi was a regular at Congress meetings and rallies, as a premier Inquilabi poet. In 1951, prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru sent him to USSR for an international conference, and he was selected as the second world youth laureate.
Dehlvi was born on July 7, 1926 in Old Delhi’s Gali Kashmeerian to Allama Tirbhoon Nath Zutshi “Zar” Dehlavi and Brij Rani Zutshi “Bezar” Dehlavi, both Urdu poets. Sitaram market in Old Delhi is named after one of his ancestors, he says. Apart from passing his MA exam from Hindu College, he also cleared the Adeeb Fazil and Munshi Fazil examinations (equivalent to high school and BA degree respectively across all Urdu boards) of Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu Hind in New Delhi.
Partition dealt a crippling blow to Urdu in India. Dehlvi says, “The Partition strengthened those who sought to establish the binary of Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan and Urdu-Muslim-Pakistan. After independence, there was a time when the biggest Urdu scholars in India were afraid to speak up for the language. Before 1947, I fought against the British. After that, I’ve been fighting for communal harmony and for Urdu conservation.”
To this end, he was instrumental in setting up Urdu schools across the country since 1970, and abroad, in later decades. Dehlvi also fought to publish the government’s science magazine in Urdu. “After independence, both Nehru and Maulana Azad (then education minister) would speak of inculcating scientific temper in their public speeches. I asked, ‘Maulana, how will this temper be developed if people don’t get scientific literature in their own language?’”
Permissions from Nehru and Azad came in 1957-58. “But many in the bureaucracy were anti-Urdu, and the magazine didn’t see the light of day for a decade. After Indira Gandhi became the prime minister, I badgered her, and, after helping resolve a workers’ strike at several CSIR labs, secured the organisation’s backing. The first bulletin of Science Ki Duniya came out in 1970, the full-fledged magazine was published in 1976.”
After 1990, Dehlvi says, “communal forces” gained political power like never before. “The Congress started weakening. Many strong leaders broke away to form their own parties. But the worst blow came from within — Narsimha Rao presided over the Babri Masjid demolition. This is when I began to withdraw from political life. Do you know, I was the one who introduced Rao to Indira? But after Babri, I met him at a party at the home of Syed Sibtey Razi (former MP, governor of Assam, Jharkhand). In front of 50 people, I told him, ‘From today I am dead to you and you to me’”.
Since 1990, Dehlvi says, Muslims are being pushed deeper into ghettos, “It suits the agenda of certain parties to portray Muslims as backward, opposed to change — a systematic campaign to alienate the community. Every day, there are reports of attacks on their diet, their livelihoods,” he says.
Does this mean that Urdu too faces a grimmer future? Dehlvi is optimistic: “In the past few years, many private organisations are running Urdu classes and holding literary meets. My fight for the language goes on, but there are more fighting alongside me.”
His other mission is to fight communalism. Is he equally optimistic there? Says Dehlvi, “I have seen and known Delhi under various rulers. My ancestors were called here from Kashmir by Shah Jahan. Today, a small gang of men are trying to define what the country is. India is like an elephant, too vast for those with a narrow vision to comprehend. People get hold of a leg, or the tail, and feel they have the whole of India in their hands. But, for all their efforts to demonise Mulsims, the BJP and RSS haven’t even been able to secure the support of all Hindus, let alone Sikhs or Jains.”
But, he’s quite particular about keeping his distance from the present government. “Invitations still come for government events, but I don’t wish to participate in any function hosted by a communal government,” says Dehlvi.
But, he’s open to discussions on India’s past with them. “I can’t work with them. I will be glad if, instead of harassing Muslims on the street, they come to me. I will give them history lessons — how the Vedas talk of rishis eating meat, how the first freedom fighters, long before the Congress was born, were Muslims.”
Unchecked communalism can leave lasting scars on India, he warns. “I am a post-holder in the oldest Ramlila committee of Delhi, and of the Hazrat Nizamuddin dargah. I observe Holi, Diwali, Janmashtami, Shivratri, and all three Eids. This is what India is, and this is the only way it can survive. Giving in to communal rhetoric will end up fragmenting India, just as the British had once fragmented it.”
Tijuana, Aug 10 (AP/UNB) — Lizbeth De La Cruz Santana returned Friday to the Mexican beach where her father entered the U.S. illegally before she was born, this time to put final touches on a mural of adults who came to the U.S. illegally as young children and were deported. Visitors who hold up their phones to the painted faces are taken to a website that voices first-person narratives.
There is a deported U.S. veteran. There are two deported mothers with children who were born in the U.S. There is a man who would have been eligible for an Obama-era program to shield people who came to the U.S. when they were very young from deportation, but was deported less than a year before the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, took effect in 2012.
The project blends Mexico's rich history of muralists with what can loosely be called interactive or performance art on the 1,954-mile (3,126-kilometer) U.S.-Mexico border. At the same Tijuana beach during an art festival in 2005, David Smith Jr., known as "The Human Cannonball," flashed his passport, lowered himself into a barrel and was shot over the wall, landing on a net with U.S. Border Patrol agents nearby. In 2017, professional swimmers crossed the border from the U.S. in the Pacific Ocean and landed on the same beach, where a Mexican official greeted them with stamped passports and schoolchildren cheered.
Last month, an artist installed three pink seesaws though a border wall that separates El Paso, Texas, from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
De La Cruz Santana, 28, conceived the interactive mural as part of a doctoral dissertation at University of California, Davis, in Spanish with a focus on literature and immigrant experiences. The faces are affixed with barcodes that link to audio on the project website. Her dissertation will include written arguments for DACA-style benefits to anyone who comes to the U.S. as a young child, without any of the disqualifiers like criminal history that former President Barack Obama included.
"Technology is one of the best ways and venues for people to tell their stories," said De La Cruz, whose parents obtained legal status through former President Ronald Reagan's amnesty law.
With a $7,500 grant, De La Cruz, who was born and raised in California, directed about 15 people who painted on polyester canvass at a Tijuana art gallery called "House of the Tunnel," which was once used to smuggle drugs in a secret underground passage to San Diego. She partnered with Mauro Carrera, a longtime friend and a muralist who lives in Fresno, California.
The project is also deeply personal for Carrera, 32, who was born in Mexico, crossed the border illegally as a toddler, and obtained legal status through his father, who had amnesty. He grew up with friends and neighbors in the U.S. illegally.
Carrera said the project aims to "see the people behind the politics." The deportees painted at least 80% of their own faces under his direction.
"I feel I'm right in the middle of the issue," he said as others rolled canvases over steel poles that were topped with coiled wire installed after Donald Trump became president.
Last year, many Central Americans in a large caravan of asylum seekers gravitated to the beach, which is downhill from a light tower, bull ring and restaurants. The U.S. side of the beach is usually empty, except for Border Patrol agents parked in their vehicles and occasional hikers.
De La Cruz Santana is struck by the lively atmosphere on the Mexican side and quiet in the U.S.
"If you look past this wall on the U.S. side, there's nothing," she said. "I wanted to erase the border."
Dhaka, Aug 10 (UNB) – The 95th birth anniversary of renowned artist Sheikh Mohammed Sultan (SM Sultan) is being observed in a befitting manner on Saturday.
The day is being observed in Sultan’s hometown Narail through a day-long programme jointly organised by SM Sultan Foundation and the district administration.
The programmes include Quaran Qwahani at the library premises, art competition, placing wreaths at the grave of SM Sultan, seminar, doa mahfil and prize giving ceremony.
On this day in 1924, the artist was born at Masimdia in Narail district.
Sheikh Mohammed Sultan (SM Sultan) is mainly known for his exquisite paintings and drawings mostly with nature and the hardworking rural population of Bangladesh as his subjects.
He won various awards for his art work including Ekushey Padak in 1982.
The Bengali avant-garde artist was declared the Man of Asia in 1982 by Cambridge University. Sultan died on 10 October, 1994 and was buried in the yard of his own house at Masumdia village in Narail.
New York, Aug 6 (AP/UNB) — Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton have teamed up for "The Book of Gutsy Women," honoring everyone from scientist Marie Curie to climate activist Greta Thunberg.
Simon & Schuster announced Tuesday that the book will come out Oct. 1. It's the first time the former secretary of state and presidential candidate has written a book with her daughter. Each has published several previous works, including Hillary Clinton's "What Happened" and "Living History" and Chelsea Clinton's children's book "She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World. "
"The Book of Gutsy Women" includes portraits of more than 100 women, including presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm, Saudi activist Manal al-Sharif, entertainer Ellen DeGeneres and author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The Clintons also will tell of heroines among their friends and family members.
"To us, they are all gutsy women — leaders with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done," Hillary Clinton said in a statement. "This book is a continuation of a conversation Chelsea and I have been having since she was a little girl, and we are excited to welcome others into that conversation."
Chelsea Clinton said in a statement that the women in their book "share a fierce optimism that their work and lives will make a difference in the world."
"We hope readers will draw strength from their stories as we have, because if history shows one thing, it's that the world needs more gutsy women," she said.
Financial terms for the book were not disclosed. The Clintons were represented by Robert Barnett, the Washington, D.C. attorney who has worked on book deals for Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton and former President Barack Obama.
Dhaka, Aug 6 (AP/UNB) - Bit by bit, Aleppo's centuries-old bazaar is being rebuilt as Syrians try to restore one of their historical crown jewels, devastated during years of brutal fighting for control of the city.
The historic Old City at the center of Aleppo saw some of the worst battles of Syria's eight-year civil war. Government forces finally wrested it away from rebel control in December 2016 in a devastating siege that left the eastern half of Aleppo and much of the Old City — a UNESCO world heritage site — in ruins.
The bazaar, a network of covered markets, or souks, dating as far back as the 1300s and running through the Old City, was severely damaged, nearly a third of it completely destroyed. Most of it remains that way: blasted domes, mangled metal and shops without walls or roofs.
But planners are hoping that by rebuilding segments of the bazaar and getting some shops back open, eventually they re-inject life into the markets. Before the war, the historic location drew in Syrians and tourists, shopping for food, spices, cloth, soap made from olive oil and other handicrafts.
The latest to be renovated is al-Saqatiyah Market, a cobblestone alley covered with arches and domes dotted with openings to let in shafts of sunlight. Along it are 53 shops, mostly butchers and shops selling nuts and dried goods. This souk had seen relatively less damage, and the $400,000 renovation took around eight months, with funding from the Aga Khan Foundation.
One butcher, Saleh Abu Dan, has been closed up since rebels took over the Old City in the summer of 2012. Now he's getting ready to open again in the next few weeks. He said he's happy with the renovation, which added a solar power electrical system, though he still needs to spend about $2,000 to fix his refrigerator and buy a new grill and meat grinder.
"I inherited this shop from my grandfather and father and I hope that my grandchildren will work here," he said.
The market's official inauguration is scheduled for later this month. But rebuilding is one step — bringing life back is another. Al-Saqatiyah is the third souk to be rebuilt in Aleppo, after the Khan al-Gumruk and the copper market.
A year after their reopening, both those souks still struggle to attract customers. Most days they are largely empty.
"I open for few hours a day but rarely sell anything," mourned the owner of a cloth shop in Khan al-Gumruk.
Many of the customers who used to throng the markets before the war have either left the country or got used to shopping in other parts of the city since business stopped in old Aleppo after rebels stormed eastern and central neighborhoods seven years ago, and tourism is non-existent. Getting into the opened markets in the souk today is still difficult as many of the alleys are closed and deserted.
Aleppo, Syria's largest city, was the country's main commercial center before the war. Reconstruction of its devastated eastern sector has hardly begun.
Basel al-Dhaher, the architect who led renovation of al-Saqatiyah market, said it will take tens of millions of dollars to rebuild the entire bazaar. Western sanctions that block money transfers to and from Syria are delaying work, he said.
He said al-Saqatiyah was chosen for renovation because the work could be finished quickly and inspire others to rebuild in other parts of the bazaar.
Some shopkeepers are hopeful that strategy can work. In the copper market, Ahmad Zuhdi Ghazoul used his hammer to gently tap an embossed decoration into a copper piece. Across the alley, workers were fixing the ceilings in two other shops.
"Thank God they are all coming back to renovate," said Ghazoul, who has been a copper worker for three decades. "Business will be stronger than before."