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Secularisation will break caste barriers

It is a creed with Left-oriented intellectuals to ascribe the conspiracy angle to any act of the ruling class. True, primary and secondary education have not had the desired profile but paradoxical though it may seem, it is because the intellectual climate at the time of Independence spawned the leviathan called public sector, which guzzled the resources that could have been utilised in the neglected sectors. This led to the end of societal distortions and proved, thereby, Simon Kurnet’s inequality-equality hypothesis.

While it is true that considerable caste prejudice exists even today, it is preposterous to suggest that the supposed non-representation in power structure of low castes is owing to a predestined bias. Existential presence of caste-centred parties on the other hand points to another reality. Increasing secularisation is bound to affect caste-barriers. In fact, sociologists like Andre Beterie opine that caste is breaking.

Supposing the ruling class’ instinct is in someway based on caste, it will nevertheless have to deliver according to the requirement of rising castes; that gives the lie to representation of reservations in terms like “crumbs”.

Akhilesh, Birampur (Hoshiarpur)

A distinguished poet

Ghalib’s couplet, quoted by Amarjit Chandan, as Safeena chaheeye iss bahr-e-bekran ke liyey, neqadrey zafar nahin hai ye tungnayey ghazal in his write-up ‘An evening with Ahmad Faraz’ (Spectrum, November 16), is actually Baqadr-e-shauq nahin zafar-e-tangnaaey ghazal, kuchh aur chaahiye vus’ at merey bayaan key liyey (The narrow bounds of the ghazal are not adequate for my passion to write verses. These should be wide enough to contain my lofty thoughts).

Safeena chaahiye is baihr-e-bekraan key liyey is the second line of Varq tamaam huaaur madah baaqi hai. It is one of the five laudatory verses about Tajammul Hussain Khan, the then Nawab of Farrukhabad. There is no pun on baihr. Safeena (vessel) and bekraan (shoreless) clearly show that baihr means ocean only in this couplet and not metre also, as mentioned by Chandan.

I do not agree with the remarks that ghazal had become stale and that Josh Malihabadi and Noon Meem Rasid were weak ghazal writers.

Josh and Rashid wrote poems. Yet their ghazals were remarkable. However, some literary critics dubbed Rashid a pessimist, defeatist and mental patient with carnal desires. Josh Malsiani, Firaq, Jigar, Yagaanah, Qateel Shifaai, Adam, etc were not progressive. Yet they were great ghazal writers. Faiz wrote amatory verses. Subsequently, he became progressive. He was the king of metaphors and similes.

Faraz was one of the distinguished poets of his time. He delineated the contemporary realities in his verses, showing his concern about the decay in politics and social life. He vehemently criticised Pakistan’s rulers and politicians, who, instead of ameliorating the lot of the poor masses, indulged in self-aggrandizement. He incurred the wrath of the authorities and, therefore, returned the Hilal-ek-Imtiyaz (Crescent of Distinction) awarded to him for his literary achievements.

Because of his fondness for wine, which he swigged and never sipped, crooning his verse Ley uda phir koi khayaal hamein, saaqia saaqia sambhaal hamein, some fanatic mullahs threatened to declare him kafir.

I am reminded of Nazeer Akbarabadi’s verse: Kaafir na koi sahib-e-Islam raheyga, aakhir vohi Allah ka ik naam raheyga. I remember Faraz in his words: Jin key dam sey theen bastiaan aabaad, aaj voh log hain kahaan aabaad.n

Bhagwan Singh, Qadian

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi

It is a great occasion for music lovers to rejoice and celebrate the awarding of the most prestigious Indian award, the Bharat Ratna, to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. He now occupies an honoured place in the galaxy of music greats. The earlier recipients of the award were MS Subbalakshmi (1998), Pandit Ravi Shankar (1999), Ustad Bismillah Khan and Lata Mangeshkar (2001).

In fact, he is the first vocalist of the Hindustani classical music to receive this honour. Although much has been written on Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, recently (Dec 21) a documentary on him produced by eminent film director Gulzar and telecast on the Lok Sabha channel sheds light on some interesting aspects of his life, not covered in the article ‘A living legend’ by Shoma A Chatterji (Spectrum Dec 7), which I would like to share with the readers.

Kirana gharana, the school of music of which he is the living chief exponent, derives its name from the village of the legendary Karna of the Mahabharata.

In his search for the gurus, he landed at Rampur, where he learnt the khayal gayaki from Ustad Mushtaq Hussain Khan and thumri singing from Begum Akhtar, Rasoolan Bai and Sidheshwari Devi at Lucknow, before finally joining Swai Gandharva in Gadag, who moulded him in the Kirana gharana gayaki. He lived with his guru, serving and learning for five years, till the latter fell ill and was unable to sing.

Besides his guru, he admired the singing of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Ustad Amir Khan.

The two accompanying tanpuras, over 100 years old, originally belong to his dada-guru Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, the founder of the Kirana gharana.

He does not come on the stage with a pre-planned raga but decides it just before when finely-tuned tanpuras are in drone. Of course, in a music conference he sees to it that his raga does not conflict with that of his predecessor. His favourite musical accompanists are Tulsidas Borkar (harmonium) and Nana Mulekar (tabla).

In the field of music, generally it is the son who takes over from his father to carry forward the tradition, but in his case his son is not interested in music and is a commercial artist by profession. However, his daughter learnt from him systematically. Among his disciples, who are serious about music, he mentions the name of Srikant Deshpande and Madhav Gudi.

The eminent playback singer Manna Dey, who sang with him a duet, Ketki gulab juhi, in film Basant Bahar which became a hit, admitted that he couldn’t match him in rendering the intricate passages of the song.

Bhimsen Joshi believes that there is no shortcut to learn music. It is a 24 X 7 business for which the traditional guru-shishya method is the only way to ensure quality.

V. K. Rangra, Delhi



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