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If Fascists retain power


The battle has begun from Kolkata. With the battle-ground shifting next week to New Delhi, there could be several offshoots. Foremost, Mamata Banerjee would come centre-stage! Fierce - or shall we say fiercer and shriller - will be those cries and counter cries. In fact, she is one of those leaders who don’t ever spare any of the BJP and RSS wallahs.

It's an absolutely frontal attack on the Yogis and Modis and Shahs of the day.  She is sure to list out the exact failures of the government of the day, together with the killings and hounding taking place.  She could also take up the EVM issue, after all, the entire opposition is well aware of the fact that all their  combined efforts to halt the fascist forces could  get  reduced to  a near- nil if the EVMs  turn faulty or are fiddled with…As  I  have  been writing all along,  the entire controversy vis – a- vis the  EVMs are saddled with  facts, yet the Election Commission insists on discarding pleas to get back to the  ballot paper  before the 2019  elections. Why not the ballot paper! Its been  one of those traditional ways to the entire electioneering process, so why  don’t we stick to this safer option and  not to  go for any of the  hi- tech ways in the  midst of  the  prevailing political  climate,  where the  rulers of the day are said to be in that mood to  manipulate and control power.

Needless to stress that these upcoming 2019 elections are going to be absolutely crucial. I f the Right-wing comes to power, it will be nothing short of a disaster. Already those deep divisions, that dangerous polarization is writ large. An emergency staring out there, a partitioning taking place which might hit us on a large scale.

Have you wondered what future awaits us if the Right Wing comes back to power?  We might not remain intact.  We could witness the further destruction of the very remains of the democratic fabric.  We could become riddled with further factions and fractures. We and our voices could be silenced as never before. And all those trying to put up a fight could be arrested on  various  charges and dumped  to languish in the  jails and detention and  interrogation centres.

Are we, on a collective level or even individually, taking on the enemies  flourishing well within the confines of the country? No, we aren’t. Either we are  so very  occupied trying to  feed ourselves that  there’s little time left  to think of what tomorrow could hold out.  Or else, political gloom has come to gnaw, hitting nerves and the very psyche.  Another obstructing factor could be the  various distractions thrown in way.

The counters to the growing anarchy could be  in the form  of  screenings of the  award-winning film  ‘Hotel Rwanda’  - which portrays  the sheer disasters  unfolding in  Rwanda when civil war overtook and with the  two  warring tribes/communities killed and raped  each other. Or else  read aloud -  Khushwant  Singh’s  book  End  of  India ( Penguin )  where he  writes in great detail  of the disasters that the  fascist  Right-Wing will heap on our country and on us. Or else go around and spread out details of the  realities of the day:  obscene corruption, growing joblessness, crumbling  structures-  human and  otherwise, government’s hold on the very  independence of  institutions, fake political  promises and  the sheer illusions thrown about…The  list is long.




Born in 1924, in Lucknow, singer Talat Mahmood, would have turned 95 this February 24… though I also hail from Lucknow but had never met him, nor his immediate family.  But I did  manage to  gather  several details of  him from Rafia  Hussain, the late  cuisine expert of  Avadh who had settled  down in New Delhi. 

Interestingly, she was related to both, Begum Akhtar and also to Talat  Mahmood.  She was  the  niece of  Begum Akhtar’s  husband  barrister  Ishtiaq  Ahmad  Abbasi, and  Talat  Mahmood  was  her  mother’s  first cousin, so with that  connection he was her mamu/maternal uncle. “There was a difference of  about 20  years  between us.  And those pre-partition days he’d lived  with his  family on Lucknow’s  Batashe  - Wali -  Gali.  Our  families met regularly, visited each other’s homes very frequently...His  father, Manzoor  Mahmood, owned an electric  fittings-cum-gramophone shop  in Lucknow, and  he  was  better  known as the  one who  sang  Iqbal’s   popular tarana ‘Chino  Arab  hamara/ Hindoostan  hamara …’. He sang it  at  every Muslim League  function…later our  meetings lessened and  then stopped,  as his  family  migrated to  Pakistan.”

When I had asked  Rafia  why Talat Mahmood did  not  migrate to  Pakistan when his  entire  clan shifted there, she  had this to say  - “ I think at the time  of  the  Partition  Talat  mamu  and his elder  sister  were in Calcutta.  And though his  entire   family did  migrate  to Pakistan, he  and his  elder   sister opted to stay back  in  India.”

I  had also asked  Rafia -  were personal upheavals  in  his  life  and  marriage the  cause  of his ill health?

“Foremost, I must say  that contrary to all   those   reports  he was  happily  married. Though his  wife Nasreen  comes from a  different  background  and she is a  Christian,  they were  compatible and  till the end  she really cared for him. She was warm to his relatives who visited them.”

Then why that emotional pain in his voice?

“Temperamentally he  could  not  adjust to the ways of the film world. Also, that  initial shock that  his entire  family had  migrated to a  new country  and  would  be settling down there for  ever, had affected him to  a certain extent  …he  was  far  too sensitive, he’d  internalized that pain. But  till the  very end  he  was sure that  he  would  never  leave  his home country …after all , he  had  opted to  stay back at  any cost.”

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