Monthly Archives: December 2015

117 Muslim meritorious students from across India felicitated, AFMI Bhopal convention concludes


[Topper meritorious students with their medals, Certificates of Excellence and scholarship cheques posing with MP Chief Minister and other dignitaries]
[Topper meritorious students with their medals, Certificates of Excellence and scholarship cheques posing with MP Chief Minister and other dignitaries]

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan seeing in flesh and blood the rich crop of talent in Muslims on parade when meritorious students from all over India, which had amongst them a 100 per cent achiever in Higher Secondary Board examination, were being felicitated was so much overwhelmed and elated that when addressing the gathering he expressed his delight and pleasure in an unambiguous manner.

Chief Minister Chouhan, who was floored at the spectacle of overflowing talent in Muslim students, spontaneously announced Rs.10,000/- each honorarium for all the 117 meritorious students in the country who were to be feted by AFMI (American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin).

The occasion was the inaugural function on the opening day of the two-day 24th International Convention on Education and Gala Award Programme of AFMI (American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin), which concluded here on December 27, 2015 in the central Indian state capital Bhopal, in the walled city at Four Seasons Lawn, Ahmadabad Palace.

The 2-day convention on December 26-27 was held under the aegis of Association of Indian Muslims (AIM) Bhopal. Next year it will be the Silver Jubilee celebrations of AFMI and the 25th International Convention on Education and Gala Award Programme would be held in New Delhi in the last week of December 2016.

100 pc Achiever Saima Rasheed
Amongst the meritorious students was Saima Rasheed, with unique achievement of having garnered 100 per cent marks in Std. XII in Punjab Higher Secondary Board examination 2015. The topper, who aspires to become an IAS officer, was the cynosure of all eyes at the felicitation programme. She gave all credit to her parents and teachers who guided her to achieve this great success. She received a gold medal, Certificate of Excellence and a special cheque of Rs.10,000/ on the occasion to a thunderous applause.

The AFMI had selected 117 talented students for felicitation during the two day convention from 22 states viz. Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, New Delhi, Gujarat, Odisha, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Assam, Bihar, Kerala, Karnataka, Jammu-Kashmir, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. All the students were honoured with gold, silver and bronze medals along with Certificate of Excellence and scholarships as per their performance in the X and XII Board examinations.

Local MLA Syed Arif Aqeel, Vice Chancellor of Bhoj Open University Dr. Tariq Zafar, former Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University Padma Shri Dr. Mahmood-ur-Rehman (IAS retd.), convocation’s Chairman Owais Arab, parents of meritorious students and distinguished citizens attended the function. While the Chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University, (MANUU) Zafar Sareshwala, who was to be guest of honour, was conspicuous by his absence on the occasion.

Speaking as chief guest on the first day Chouhan said that education builds human beings. Education is very necessary. The Madhya Pradesh Government has provided necessary assistance and facilities in education sector without any discrimination. Scholarship schemes have been implemented for poor students belonging to minorities, weaker section and general category. The scholarships are being given to 1,60,000 students in the state. Economic assistance worth Rs.15 lakh is also being provided for study in foreign countries. Cycles are given free of cost to students who go outside village to study. The students who are not able to get benefits of these schemes are provided higher education loans on guarantee of state government, he added.

He said girl students securing over 60 per cent marks in examinations are given benefit of “Gaon Ki Beti” scheme. Earlier, only a couple of students used to get selected in prestigious national institutes, this year 1700 students of the state have achieved this distinction through proper guidance and extension of facilities.

Souvenir released
Turning philosophical, Chouhan said that life becomes meaningless without brotherhood. India has given message of love and brotherhood. Everyone is respected and loved in India. He said that “Mazhab NaheeN Sikhata Aapas Mein Bair Rakhna, Hindi HaiN Hum Watan Hai HindostaN Hamara”. Therefore, festivals of all religions are held at Chief Minister’s House with utmost joy, fervour and honour. The Chief Minister released a souvenir “Clarion The Unity” on the occasion.

Dr. Mahmood-ur-Rehman, a retired IAS and former Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University (1995-2000), who presided over the inaugural function, stressed to provide quality education to Muslim children and youth not just for jobs alone but to mould their character in their formative age so as to become responsible citizens. He expressed concern over the fact that Muslim students are unable to go to good schools due to prevailing poverty in the community and as such are devoid of quality education.

He lamented over the fact that only about 2.5 per cent of Muslims population appear in the IAS and allied services examinations and as such their selection in these prestigious services is also in the same minimal ratio. If percentage of participation in these examinations is high then their selection would also increase and thereby give the community the much needed self confidence and then it can hope to look up and not be looed down upon, he added.

[Saima Rasheed, who accomplished unique achievement of having garnered 100 per cent marks in Std. XII in Punjab Higher Secondary Board examination 2015, being presented gold medal, Certificate of Excellence and a special cheque of Rs. 10,000/- by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan at the AFMI Internation Convention in Bhopal.]
[Saima Rasheed, who accomplished unique achievement of having garnered 100 per cent marks in Std. XII in Punjab Higher Secondary Board examination 2015, being presented gold medal, Certificate of Excellence and a special cheque of Rs. 10,000/- by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan at the AFMI Internation Convention in Bhopal.]
Dr. AS Nakadar, the founding trustee of AFMI, welcomed the Chief Minister and other distinguished guests present on the occasion. He thanked Owais Arab, president of AIM, who was the chairman of organising committee, and his entire team of dedicated volunteer force and Aziz Bhai of AFMI office in Gujarat.

Dr. Nakadar, who is an alumna of Bhopal-based Gandhi Medical College, informed that the first medals were awarded by AFMI in 1993, with a modest start of 46 students who had demonstrated high academic achievement from five different states. Beginning was then made by rewarding students securing over 90 percent marks. As this practice of awarding meritorious students of Board examinations continued the cut off percentage continued to increase over the years with percentage of marks even as high as 99.9. However, this year it has been has been unique when a Muslim girl from Punjab Board scored cent per cent marks. AFMI will take care of entire education of this girl’s education, he declared.

He pointed out that analysis shows that competition has become so keen that the difference of marks between a gold medallist and a silver medallist is hardly 0.1 per cent (1/10th of 1 per cent) and in some states students receiving 96 per cent don’t even get a bronze medal. Motivation theory recognizes the importance of extrinsic motivation from rewards and recognition for performance. Accordingly, this leads us to believe that an award system encourages students to be more competitive and, therefore, perform better at the exams. Hence, it is reasonable to conclude that AFMI’s medal program has contributed positively to student achievement at the Board Exams, he added.

Turning his attention to the meritorious Muslim students on the occasion Dr. Nakadar said: “We are honoured in celebrating your achievements. You are joy, pride and our future. Don’t think what you are but think what you want to be”.

Be bold and courageous
Dr. Nakadar advised students not to be intimidated but to be bold and courageous in solving the problems in life. When you enter into real life you will realise that real life is not what you learnt in the college. It is tough and merciless. In real life you will face different kinds of multiple problems. Meet these problems with courage, compassion, love and hope.

Continuing, he urged students not be afraid of these problems. Discard fear because it is your worst enemy. There are various kinds of fears you will come across. Fear of what you are; Fear of your beliefs; Fear of failures; Fear of rejection, Fear of not knowing what is next and so on.

To conquer all these fears remember one cardinal principal: Refuse to be afraid and meet these problems and challenges with courage, Dr. Nakadar opined. He said: “Be positive in your approach and towards life if you do that then be rest assured you will conquer peaks after peaks”.

Talking to the assemblage Dr. Nakadar said it is our duty to see India not only survives but gets to the top of the world by adhering to the principles of pluralism, justice and equality. “We know that pluralism is the Achilles Heel of our society’s foundation. And it is this ethos that has led our social, economic and political progress in a democratic setup. We must adhere to this ethos and propagate it. Our fight is an intellectual fight and for this we need to empower ourselves with quality education”, he remarked.

India which is Bharat, he cautioned, is going through a very difficult period and some people in Bharat and the West have questioned the survival of Bharat’s beautiful pluralistic mosaic. “Remember, you are a vital part of Bharat and make sure that the vital part is not weak. If you are weak, then you weaken the whole body of Bharat. It is the duty of all of us to see that Bharat prospers”, Dr. Nakadar concluded.

On the second day of the convention Prof. Akhtar-ul-Wasey, National Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities, New Delhi, who presided over the inaugural function, lauded the efforts of AFMI for nearly two-and-half decades to banish illiteracy from the Muslim Ummah and uplift it educationally so that it is at par with others in all walks of life. He praised the dedication and sincerity of Dr. Nakadar and his entire team leaving no stone unturned to achieve their target.

Prof. Wasey reminded that there is no differentiation between “Deen and Duniya” (Religion & worldly affairs) in Islam as both are entwined together and are complimentary to each other. A perfect balance between spirituality and materialism is the key to success to life here and Hereafter which the Almighty has ordained, he pointed out.

During the two days lectures on Emerging Trends in Academic Fields were delivered. The speakers and their topics were: 1. Ayub Khan (Toronto-Canada), on “Technology and Internet Resources for students”; 2. Dr. Hussain Nagamia (Tampa-Florida-USA), on “Emerging Trends in medical education”; 3. Er. Shafi Lokhandwala, (Livonia-MI-USA), on “Emerging trends in Technological field”; 4. Dr. Khutbuddin, (Indianapolis-Indiana-USA), on “Psychological strategies for youths to achieve goals” and 5. Ali Qureshi (Albuquerqui-NM-USA) on “Progressive way on Model education with limited resources”.

Wing Commander (Rtd.) Dr. Ashraf, Dr. Mohsin U Khan of Zaheer Science Foundation-(New Delhi); Mrs. Darakshan Khan (Chicago-IL-USA); Mrs. Husena Ponawala (NY-NY—USA); Siraj Thakore (Toronto-ON-Canada); Tayeb Poonawala (NY-NY-USA); Afroz Ahmed, Member (Environmental and Rehabilitation) Narmada Control Authority, Shameem Tariq from Mumbai etc. also addressed the gathering with a focus on students to motivate them to unravel their hidden talent and achieve great heights in life.
Prof. (Mrs.) Tahira Abbasi spoke about the aims and objects of Association of Indian Muslims, (AIM), which hosted the function, and its activities over the years.

The two-day programme was compeered jointly by Dr. Afaq Nadeem, Lecturer in CTE of MANUU, and Mrs. Rushda Aejaz with aplomb. (

source: / / Home> Education & Career / by Pervez Bari, / Thursday – December 31st, 2015

Gandhian Hakim Quadri passes away at 114

Kolkata , WEST BENGAL :

He accompanied Mahatma Gandhi on his Dandi March and later spent several days with him in a prison in Cuttack. In 2007, he was conferred with the Padma Bhushan for his fight against the British in the freedom movement.

Late on Monday night, Syed Mohammad Sharfuddin Quadri, who was affectionately referred to as hakim sahab, passed away three days after celebrating his 114th birthday. His family had moved to `Calcutta’ in the mid-1930s.

Quadri, a renowned Unani practitioner, who was instrumental in founding the Unani Medical College and Hospital in Abdul Halim Lane in central Kolkata, was born on December 25, in 1901 when Kolkata was still the capital of the country and Mahatma Gandhi had not returned to India.

“My father was imprisoned with Gandhiji by the British in Cuttack. He would accompany him everywhere during the Civil Disobedi ence Movement,” said son Manzar Sadique in the family’s home in 849 Rippon Street. “In October, abba had travelled to Lucknow where he was the chief guest at a conference of Unani practitioners. Chief minister Ak hilesh Yadav had invited him over to his house,” in forms Sadique.

Hakimji He began his day with Fajar (the morning namaaz) at the break of dawn followed by his visit to his chamber, Swadeshi dawakhana on Haji Mohammed Mohsin Square, where patients would already be waiting for him. He would examine more than 100 patients everyday at free of cost, says son Sadique.

The centurion who specialized in treating infertility would never miss his customary walk after work. “He suffered from arthritis which is why he took special care of his fitness,” said Quadri’s son.

Hakim told his followers that he learned the secret to remain fit from his father who lived till 121.

source: / The Times of India / News Home>  City> Kolkata / by Zeeshan Javed, TNN / December 31st, 2015

Meet Swimming Champ Moin Junnedi, The Boy With Over 100 Broken Bones and a Will of Steel

Image courtesy: Facebook
Image courtesy: Facebook

Belgaum, KARNATAKA  :

Moin Junnedi, is not your average 18-year-old, he has won seven national gold medals and one international level in para swimming competitions.

Moin suffers from osteogenesis imperfect, a brittle bone disease which makes him prone to fractures. Nevertheless, he has a will of steel that inspires every one of us. The Karnataka government honoured him on World Disability Day.

Moin’s daily struggles include that he cannot eat with his hands as both of them are turned backwards. His legs are weak and fused together. Initially, Kausar, Moin’s mother lost all hope after knowing his incurable disease, but the lost hope was recovered thanks to Umesh Kalaghatag. Umesh is a swimming coach for the disabled.

Image courtesy: Facebook
Image courtesy: Facebook

‘One should learn to never give up, no matter what the situation is. I do not feel I am disabled or have any sort of shortcoming. I love swimming and I want to be the best swimmer in the world,’ says, a visibly enthusiastic Moin.

He trained Moin for the past seven years which made him win a lot of laurels for our country.

Image courtesy: Facebook
Image courtesy: Facebook

Moin is also a hardcore fan of Shah Rukh Khan and even the Bollywood Baadshah met the boy and spend time with him.

Image courtesy: Facebook
Image courtesy: Facebook

Mushtaque Junnedi his father told Times of India, “We never felt ever that Moin is disabled and never imagine house without him. He is a friend, elder and motivational force to everybody in home. All this happened thanks to his coach Umesh Kalaghatagi.”

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Nation / by Online Desk / December 30th, 2015

SYNCRETIC TALES – Why Mumbai police detectives are lining up at the tomb of a 14th-century Sufi saint this week


Makhdum Ali Mahimi, who is buried in the popular Mahim dargah, is the patron saint of the city police.

A constable in plain clothes holds his arms out to be whipped.
A constable in plain clothes holds his arms out to be whipped.

The Mumbai police was out in full force on Friday to mark the first day of the Urs or death anniversary of Makhdum Ali Mahimi, the man to whom the famous Mahim dargah in the central part of the city is dedicated.

Makhdum Ali Mahimi was a 14th-century Sufi scholar remarkable in many ways, but perhaps the most remarkable is that he happens to have been the patron saint of the Mumbai police since its roots as a citizen’s militia in the 17th century.

Once a year on Mahimi’s Urs, thousands from around the city, not least the Mumbai police force, come to pay their respects and seek his blessings. The Mumbai police force has the privilege of laying the first chadar, or decorative tomb covering, of the Urs in Mahimi’s respect.

The Mahim police station, about 200 metres away from the dargah, has been built on the site where Mahimi is said to have lived. A green steel cupboard in the Senior Inspector’s room is said to contains the saint’s possessions. During the ten days of the fair held each year to honour Mahimi, the office is thrown open for devotees.

“The full Mumbai police follows Makhdumi Baba,” said Basheer Baba, 55, who is among the dargah officials overseeing the festivities. “Nobody can break that bond. There should be more chances like this of Hindu-Muslim love.”

In the rooom that holds Mahimi's possessions
In the rooom that holds Mahimi’s possessions

An ancient tradition

On hearing that a journalist was in the vicinity, a series of constables in festive plain clothes ushered this reporter in to a small building off the main compound where the retired senior police inspector organising festivities this year, sat with his team of ten constables.

“I was in the papers today,” the inspector said, taking a small, neatly folded rectangle of paper out of his pocket. “See, that’s my name, LB Shaikh.”

Shaikh, as the Times of India said in its three-paragraph note of the procession’s timings, happened to join the police force in 1979 on the very day of Mahimi’s urs. His first posting was at the Mahim police station. This, he said, gave him a special attachment to the holy man.

“He was not a saint – he was our guide,” Shaikh said. “He was a very scholar person, a spiritual and qualified man. Police used to take advice for unsolved cases and he would help us. This is a long tradition of 500 years.”


Scholar and judge

It is in fact slightly longer than that. Mahimi is thought to have died in 1431, 584 years ago. He was born in 1372 to a family of intellectually inclined Arab immigrants called nawaits. He lived in Mahim his entire life.

Abdus Sattar Dalvi, in a brief history of the Mahim Dargah which is dedicated to Mahimi, writes:

“The figure of Makhdum Ali Mahimi has commanded respect for his unquestioned devotion to his mother, his generosity, his liberal outlook, and his achievements as a Sufi and a scholar.”

As a spiritual and intellectual person, he became a member of an unaffiliated group of Sufis called Uwaysi. He was also renowned for his scholarship, particularly for an early incisive commentary in Arabic on the Quran. Mahimi’s legal excellence, Dalvi notes, was such that Sultan Ahmad Shah of Gujarat made him a qazi for the Muslims of Thana district.

An arch declares the Mumbai police's attachment to Makhdoom Ali Mahimi.
An arch declares the Mumbai police’s attachment to Makhdoom Ali Mahimi.

It was perhaps this appointment that led him to be so closely linked with the Mumbai police. The East India Company formed Bombay’s first militia in 1669, soon after the Portuguese had handed over the group of seven islands to the British in dowry.

The constabulary at that time was drawn largely from conscriptions of land owners, but excluded Brahmins and Banias for a fee. Most of the early recruits were from the Bhandari community of toddy tappers, who were among the original inhabitants of Bombay.

As remained the precedent until Independence, the organising officer of the motley group was a European. It was one of these officers who was said to have worshipped the saint and sought his help for cases.

“A Portuguese sergeant at the time used to worship him and seek his advice a lot,” Shaikh said. “In that way he solved many cases. So at the time of his last illness, he said that after he died, only the police would do Makhdum Shah Baba’s seva.”

Faith runs deep

And so it is today. The Mahim police station was built in 1923 over the site of the saint’s accepted abode. Among the thousands of civilians who lined up on Friday for a chance to seek his blessings, were uniformed members of the police force – traffic police in white, the main force in khaki, and even the red of the police band.

The procession on Friday began, as usual, in the afternoon from the Mahim police station. It ended at the Mahim dargah 200 metres away only at around 11 pm.

Three vans, all blaring deafening music, marked the procession lines. One, a group called Shaikh Master Brass, had as its star singer a man from Mazgaon whose claim to fame was being one of the qawwali singers in Deewani Mastani from the film Bajirao Mastani.


A woman dressed in decidedly non-festive clothes and looking as if she were on a mission clutched a decibel meter. When asked which organisation she represented, she wordlessly pointed with an air of doom at its measured 104 decibels and set off once again into the din.

Children and adults alike clambered up to line the boundary walls of residential buildings for a better view as the regular events of an urs proceeded in the centre – devotees swirling incense towards themselves, young men whirling blades to cut their backs, children getting their ears pierced.




Sania Qureishi, 8, was a tough customer. When asked what she liked best about the fair, she pursed her lips and said, “I don’t know yet. I will have to wait and see before I can decide.”

A man for Mumbai

Other places in the city also bear Mahimi’s name, notably the colloquially named JJ Flyover that was until a few years ago the longest in Mumbai. In records, it is called the Qutb-e-Kokan Makhdoom Ali Mahimi Flyover.

Nor is he just the saint of the Mumbai police force. Aspiring actor Ramesh Kumar credits his moderate success in films to him.

“I am a Hindu, but I have faith in Baba,” Kumar said. “Hum jaat ko nahi manta, kalakar hai.”

Kumar, or Junior Johny Lever, as he prefers to be known, said that he has been seeing the procession since he was a child growing up in Mahim. Two years ago, he began to perform comedy and anchor small events at the station. He also got a role as extra in two films. This he credits to the intervention of the saint who he began worshipping six years ago.

Said head constable Chandrakant Salve, “See, the way Mount Mary [in Bandra] and Siddhivinayak temple [in Prabhadevi] are both parts of Mumbai, in the same way even Makhdumi Baba is Mumbai’s only. There is no race or religion here – Hindus, Muslims, Christians, they all believe in him. So do I.”

Behind the optics of the grand gesture, though, some problems remain. Muslims form about 1% of the Maharashtra police force, lower than the national average of 4%, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. That’s the kind of structural imbalance offering a chadar to the saint won’t be able to remedy.


source: / / Home> Syncretic Tales / by Mridula Chary / Photos by Mridula Chary / December 26th, 2015

Waste picker gives tips to end city’s woes

Bengaluru,  KARNATAKA :

Follow your class 5 moral science lesson on cleanliness, take steps to rein in the garbage mafia and find a solution to sanitary waste -these are not the words of an urban planner but a humble waste picker’s advice to Bengalureans. Mansoor Ahmed, 33, whose hard work fetched him a seat at the Paris climate conference, is back in the city, enlightened and overwhelmed. Still in awe of the French capital, he aims to make Bengaluru the Paris of India.

Mansoor, a waste picker from ward no 198, Jayanagar, collects dry waste from more than 1,000 houses. The passionate worker who spoke about low carbon strategies in the waste sector at the Paris summit has set a threefold agenda for Bengulureans: Keep your surroundings as clean as your house, keep a vigil on the garbage mafia by equipping each ward with cameras and find a way to effectively dispose sanitary waste.

While this is his vision for the city , Mansoor wishes to have a uniform for waste pickers, so that they feel as respectable as any other civic worker. “I have a team of 12 waste collectors and the job we do is exhausting. We show up at people’s doors at 5am and I don’t know how many residents even remember our faces. A uniform will make us feel better about ourselves,” said Mansoor.

The waste picker who doesn’t charge a single paisa for his contribution (he’s not paid by BBMP either) earns a living through his “donate dry waste project”.He collects around 25 tonnes of dry waste in a month and sells it to recycling companies, making enough money for his daily expenses.

“We still don’t have a solution for sanitary waste. We know what to do with dry waste and wet waste but with sanitary waste, we have no option but to burn it.Also, where does all of it go? Even I’m clueless. “I am not educated but still I’m passionate about keeping mine and others’ houses clean. Only if the literate follow what they have been taught in school, their education won’t go waste,” said Mansoor, signing off on a hopeful note.
Needed: A change in attitude

Asked what is the simplest thing he learnt from Paris conference that can be replicated here, Mansoor Ahmed said: “If people’s attitude changes, things will automatically change.When when we go to collect waste, residents are only bothered about the muck getting out of their homes. Whether it lands on the road or in a garbage dump is nobody’s concern. The garbage mafia is our biggest enemy; we should see that after the waste is picked up from a particular ward at 5am, no one uses it as a dumping ground.This can done only if the residents are vigilant and cameras are installed in wards”.

source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Bangalore / TNN / December 11th, 2015

Testimony to efforts !



Hyderabad , TELANGANA :

Mir Alam Tank is a fresh water tank in Hyderabad, located in the southern part of Musi River. It had been a primary source for drinking water to the city before the construction of Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar.

The tank was named after Mir Alam Bahadur, the then Prime Minister of Hyderabad during the reign of Asaf Jah III, the third Nizam of Hyderabad State. Mir Alam Bahadur is believed to have laid the foundation for the tank on July 20, 1804 which was then completed in a period of two years and declared open on June 8, 1806. It was from the share of the treasure he got from Srirangapatnam that he built this tank.

It is indeed a treat to watch this engineering marvel that was built by a French engineering company, which comprised of 21 semicircular arches spread across one mile. It was reportedly planned by General Michel Joachim Marie Raymond, popularly known as Monsieur Raymond, the French Military General to whom Hyderabad’s Raymond Tomb has been dedicated and is the founder of Gunfoundry in Hyderabad.

Mir Alam Tank is a testimony to the efforts of Hyderabad’s erstwhile rulers who have used the topography of Deccan plateau to build vast water bodies. The boating facility is popular with tourists where one gets to enjoy the pleasant breeze and a refreshing experience. The cruise facility is available at an affordable price and the tourism department has introduced modern boats as well. During the peak time of Mir Alam Tank’s utilisation, historians say that the water of the tank was so sweet and pure that people carried them in containers to their home towns.

Nehru Zoological Park lies adjacent to this tank and boats are operated on the lake. It is a perfect tourist spot in Hyderabad. One can choose mechanised boats, steering boats or speed boats. With changing time patterns of the day, the lake acquires different hues. Several migratory birds make the precincts their home during different seasons while the dense vegetation of the Nehru Zoological Park at one side offers a tropical feel.

Compiled by Jaya Vellampalli

(This column features strikingly beautiful, yet lesser-known gems of Hyderabad, which have some intriguing tales related to them.)

source: / MetroIndia / Home> LifeStyle> Places / by Jaya Vellampalli / December 27th, 2015

City Waste-Picker heads to Paris for COP 21

Mansoor Ahmed (left) transporting garbage
Mansoor Ahmed (left) transporting garbage

Bengaluru, KARNATAKA :

by: Preethi Ravi

While the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) plans to introduce stringent measures in the city to ensure proper waste segregation by Bengaluru’s citizens, 33-year-old Mansoor Ahmed, waste-picker from the city, will be in Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP (Conference Of Parties) 21, scheduled to be held from November 30 to December 11.

His hard work and vision in spreading awareness about waste management among the citizens has led him to Paris to present a talk to participants from across the world.
During his visit to Paris, he will talk about the importance of waste segregation and how he was able to create awareness and convince 75 per cent of his customers to segregate waste at source.

Mansoor speaks three languages: Tamil, Hindi and Kannada. He admits he cannot utter a single sentence in English. “English is not a problem as long as my work talks for me. I’m genuine and there is sincerity in my work which will speak for me. Besides, I will have a translator. As part of my talk, I will be narrating my journey from a seven-year old rag-picker to what I’m today,” he says. He has a team of 12 members at the Jayanagar DWCC who manage an inventory of 10-12 tonnes of dry waste every month.

Mansoor’s talk will be translated by Kabir Arora, who coordinates Alliance of Indian Waste-pickers (AIW) – an informal network of organisations, cooperatives, and companies working on waste management with the help of waste-pickers. Hasiru Dala, which is a coalition member the AIW and an organisation of waste-pickers and waste workers, is sponsoring Mansoor’s 10-day trip.

“The team from Hasiru Dala asked me if I was interested in going to Paris for a conference. I was elated and immediately said yes. My passport and visa had to be made,” says an excited Mansoor. He flew to Delhi from Bengaluru on Monday and will reach Paris later in the day.

Mansoor operates the Dry Waste Collection Centre (DWCC) (recyclables and inorganic waste aggregation and sorting unit) in ward 168 of Jayanagar in. He went door-to-door in the area around the centre to encourage residents to segregate their wastes and drop it at the DWCC.

The daily collection of the DWCC is about 120 kg from waste-pickers. The DWCC receives one tonne of waste from apartment collection. Mansoor uses a rotating fund of `3,000 to buy wastes from the apartments.

He will be part of a joint delegation of Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) and Alliance of Indian Waste-pickers (AIW) for COP 21.

The IYCN is a network uniting Indian youth and youth-oriented organisations who are concerned about climate change and environment issues. The network works to generate awareness about and establish consensus on what role India should play in the global debate of climate change and how it should address its domestic issues.

Mansoor was just a seven-year-old when he began helping his parents collect waste by sorting it. At that time, he used to manage around 500 kg of waste every month.
He attended a small government school near his home but had to drop out of school in Class 5 when his father passed away.

He is the oldest among nine siblings (he has six sisters and two brothers), and the burden of responsibility to take care of them brothers and sisters feel upon his young shoulders.
He joined the informal waste sector with his mother to help supplement the family income.

They ran a small scrap shop near their home where all the waste-pickers from their slum would bring their daily collection. They would manage around 500 kg of waste every day.
Working with waste has therefore been the only job that Mansoor has known, but it has provided for him and his family. Thanks to the use of technology and people his people-management skills, Mansoor has been able to scale new heights.

He says he is eager to learn the concepts of solid waste management followed in Paris and will find ways to implement it at his centre too.

From the conference, he wants the countries to pursue the agenda of recycling (Waste to energy) in their climate action commitments as opposed to incineration of waste — which is currently being proposed as a climate solution by many governments. Incineration is being perceived as a threat to Mansoor’s and many other green entrepreneurs’ livelihood.
For his visit, he was asked to buy a pair of thermal wear as Paris would be freezing at this point of time. “I didn’t know that we could find thermal wear here. I was asked to buy them; but one pair costs `2,000. But it’s going to keep me warm when I land there. I have already purchased my formal wear two months ago. I am too excited about my trip. It all feels surreal,” he says.

With his contagious smile he has been easily able to build excellent relationships with his customers to whom he provides waste collection services. The last few days he has been flooded with congratulatory messages from them for this prestigious trip.

Today, with the Paris trip materialising, he feels his hard work has paid off although he claims never to have imagined that he would be able to visit a foreign country. “This is my first visit to a foreign country…and in an airplane. I’m feeling ecstatic and proud. Never in my life had I imagined that I would get such an opportunity. This would not be possible if it were not for the people who supported me throughout my life. I really want to thank my well-wishers, friends and relatives,” says Mansoor, who has three children: two boys and a girl.

He has enrolled his children in Oxford School in JP Nagar. And his aim now: To give his children a solid education … and the freedom to follow their dreams.

source: / Bangalore Mirror / Home> Bangalore> Civiv / Bangalore Mirror Bureau / November 30th, 2015

MEMOIR – Of places called home

East African Asian society was complex and contradictory as any truly multicultural society needs to be, and perhaps as only Indians can make it

Toronto,  CANADA  :

It is amusing to contemplate that if an Indian man, one afternoon in March 1498, had been able to swim, he would have escaped capture by Vasco da Gama off the Mozambique coast, and the world might have been different. The Indian, whose companions had managed to swim away, was called “Davane” by his captors; he was from the Gujarati city of Khambat (Cambay). Davane gave advice to da Gama on local matters and even assisted him in outwitting the local sultan, so that the Portuguese ships eventually anchored safely in Malindi, up north in present-day Kenya. Here he took a pilot, who was possibly a Gujarati, and reached the Malabar coast.

Portuguese sailors plying the Indian Ocean thereafter often wrote about the presence of Indians and Indian ships in Kilwa, Mombasa, and Malindi. Around 1500, Captain Duarte Barbosa observed, “These ships of Cambay are so many and so large, and with so much merchandise, that it is terrible to think of so great an expenditure of cotton stuffs as they bring.” The trading connection between India and East Africa is actually even older, as the carving of a giraffe on a wall of the Konark sun temple indicates.

The arrival of Indians in South Africa by boat. / The Hindu Archives
The arrival of Indians in South Africa by boat. / The Hindu Archives

It was in the nineteenth century, however, that Indians began arriving in numbers to trade and settle in Zanzibar, which was by then a major metropolis in the Indian Ocean with international connections, and home to the ruling Omani sultans. The more enterprising men ventured off to the small towns dotting the mainland coast. Most Indians arrived penniless from their drought-prone villages in Kathiawad and Kutch, and remained modest traders, but a few of them went on to become veritable merchant princes with spectacular wealth. Among them were Jairam Sewji, Ladha Damji, and Tharia Topan, to whose firms the sultans farmed out their customs collection and to whom they were often in debt.

Generation of tycoons

With the advent of British and German colonialism in the early twentieth century, Zanzibar’s commercial power and political influence waned, while the interior of East Africa opened up with new infrastructure and increasing trade. As a result, the Indians spread out all over the mainland, which now consisted of the three colonies of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanganyika. (In 1964 Tanganyika and Zanzibar joined to form Tanzania. The Indians went on to be called “Asians”.) The new generation of tycoons included Sewa Haji Paroo, whose caravans went from Bagamoyo (near Dar es Salaam) all the way north to the Kilimanjaro region. His apprentice, Allidina Visram, topped him to become “the uncrowned king of Mombasa,” supplying the dukas (shops) that had sprung up from Mombasa to Uganda, and further in eastern Congo and southern Sudan. In 1890 A.M. Jeevanjee, a Bohra from Karachi, arrived in Mombasa and made his fortune supplying goods (and workers) to the Uganda Railway. Much of early wood-and-iron Nairobi was constructed by his firm; the city’s Jeevanjee Gardens was his donation.

By the mid-twentieth century every small town in East Africa had the characteristic Indian strip of shops, and in even the smallest village you would find an Indian family branch running the solitary Indian shop. The Asian population totalled 366,000, with the highest number, 176,000, in Kenya with its total population of around 9 million. Unlike elsewhere, Indians had settled in East Africa as communities; there were Bhatias and Khojas, Jains, Shahs, Patels, Lohanas, Sikhs, Bohras, Memons, Kumbhads, and others. In the cities, the larger communities like the Khojas had their own primary and secondary schools for girls and boys, hospitals, dispensaries, and community halls. Dar es Salaam, with roughly 100,000 people at the end of the 1950s, had at least five Asian cricket teams. Abject poverty was rare, and even the most straitened household could afford three simple meals a day. For us growing up in East Africa, it was India that was poor and backward, as revealed to us in the newsreels and Indian films of the period.

Complex and multicultural

East African Asian society was complex and contradictory as any truly multicultural society needs to be (and perhaps as only Indians can make it). Asians tended to live close to their own communities; caste discrimination persisted, as did Muslims sectarian differences. Yet by the standards we see today in the world, East Africans were largely tolerant. It was understood that you did your thing. The azaan would go off in the mosques, the Khoja ginans would blare out over loudspeakers from their jamat khanas, a temple procession would block a road, the Diwali fatakdas would explode in the Hindu sections (and elsewhere). There was hardly any inter-communal violence, and nothing to compare remotely with the communal and caste slaughter that seems so routine in India.

Undoubtedly the Asians were racist — looking up to the “Europeans” and down on the Africans, by whom, as middlemen, they were often resented. Intermarriage between communities and races was a taboo that was just beginning to yield as I emerged from my teen years. Because the poorest people were among the Africans, it has been broadly claimed and often in Shylockian language that Asians were their exploiters. Asian liberals like to wallow in self-guilt. I have often retorted that my widowed mother worked from eight in the morning to ten at night, running her small shop, barely making ends meet while raising five children; whom did she exploit? Today many Tanzanian African women run small businesses similar to my mother’s. We often forget the wealthy and sophisticated African peoples who owned land and cattle; and while many Africans had homes in their villages, most Asians in Africa did not. If Asians did not marry Africans, the Africans, with ancient traditions of their own, had their own taboos; to imply that they panted to lay hands on Asian women is itself racist.


At the end of the 1960s

Be that as it may, around East Africa’s independence, in the early 1960s, there was a thriving community of Asians who saw themselves as Africans. In Tanzania most would speak two Indian languages plus Swahili and English. Among the elite there was excited talk of the “new African Asian” identity. There were Asian politicians and budding writers — Wole Soyinka’s Poems of Black Africa (1975) includes, significantly, three young Asian poets from Kenya; Africa’s most influential and exciting literary magazine of the 1960s, Transition, was founded and edited by Rajat Neogy of Kampala; and Amir Jamal, Tanzania’s beloved minister of finance for many years, was elected in African constituencies. At the end of the 1960s, there was no doubt in my generation that Africa was our home and we were in the vanguard.

The first set of Ugandan refugees to arrive at Stansted Airport near London after then Ugandan President Idi Amin ordered them on September 18, 1972 to leave the country. / The Hindu Archives
The first set of Ugandan refugees to arrive at Stansted Airport near London after then Ugandan President Idi Amin ordered them on September 18, 1972 to leave the country. / The Hindu Archives

And yet in the 1970s it all fell apart. Kenya’s Asians who had not renounced their British citizenships in time had to leave en masse. In Uganda, Idi Amin had a dream and expelled all the Asians in another “Asian exodus”. In Tanzania, in spite of Nyerere’s enlightened policies, his socialism, combined with the Idi Amin scare, drove out many Asians. What remains of the Asians today is a somewhat insecure and aggrieved population, though most appear dedicated to where they live. Racism of the old sort is gone; intermarriages do happen. At crowded kabab and bhajia restaurants in Dar es Salaam, it is truly pleasing to see Indians and Africans squeezed together at the tables. Indian cuisine has made a big headway especially in Tanzania; country bus stops often have a stand making chapatis; “pilau,” “biriyani” and “sambusa” are Swahili words. What thwarts complete integration is the Asians’ distinct features and cultures, often reinforced by their religious traditions.

A new crop of young Indians has started to arrive. When I see them, they seem foreign and lost. At times I get xenophobic — what are they doing here? do they even speak the language? — when I myself am now Canadian, but also an African Asian.

(M.G. Vassanji is the author of A Place Within: Rediscovering India, and most recently, of And Home Was Kariakoo: A Memoir of East Africa. He lives in Toronto.

source: / The Hindu / Home> Opinion / by M. G. Vassanji / December 27th, 2015

Tipu’s feared rockets fly into oblivion

The Sangeen Jame Masjid at Taramandalpet in Bengaluru.— Photo: Bhagya Prakash k
The Sangeen Jame Masjid at Taramandalpet in Bengaluru.— Photo: Bhagya Prakash k
Bengaluru, KARNATAKA :
In the congested old market area of the city, where vehicles and pedestrians jostle for space on narrow lanes, lies a tale of Tipu Sultan’s ingenuity that time seems to have forgotten.

It is in this small clearing, now flanked by a sprawling masjid, that thousands of workers had gathered nearly 300 years ago to cut metal, roll gunpowder into barrels and attach sharp metallic pieces to make the once-feared ‘Bangalore Rockets’.

All that remains now of this ingenious machinery that sustained Tipu Sultan through four wars against the British is the name assumed by the few buildings in the area — Taramandalpet , or roughly, the market of the constellation of stars, a name that refers to the pattern of mid-air explosions of these rockets that then rained shrapnel on an unsuspecting enemy.

Residents — primarily shopkeepers and staff of the masjid and madrassa — seem unaware of the place’s rich history that once fuelled Indian rocketry.

“Workers would prepare these rockets that proved very effective against the British. This would then be transported to the armoury at K.R. Market, which still exists,” says Suresh Moona, a historian.

The entire street was a sort of military laboratory, a fact seen in the unearthing of two cannons during the metro construction work between 2012 and 2015.

Much of these signs, however, have disappeared. Activists point out this irony: while the government announced celebrations of the Mysuru King’s birth anniversary — which ended in violent protests — recently, symbols of the Sultan in Bengaluru and even his birthplace near the swanky International Airport on the outskirts continue to fade away.

Syed Shafiullah, vice-president of the Tipu Sultan Publicity Committee, says: “One armoury that we saw is now just piles of thrash and shops. It is a shame that all of it is going. We have been persuading the government to preserve these areas, or at least, to highlight it. It should be a pride that the technology of the British army came from Karnataka,” he says.

source: / The Hindu / Home> National / by Staff Reporter / Bengaluru – December 27th, 2015

Bengaluru scientists find drug which could cure malaria with one dose

Bengaluru, KARNATAKA :

The Bengaluru solution - Triaminopyrimidine (TAP) comes with many advantages over existing drugs
The Bengaluru solution – Triaminopyrimidine (TAP) comes with many advantages over existing drugs

Bengaluru :

Three scientists from Bengaluru, who led a team of global reserchers looking for an antimalarial drug, have found a fast-killing solution.  After completing some tests, it’ll go in for clinical trials on humans. That this drug has the potential to cure the dreaded disease in one dose makes it more attractive to healthcare providers.

The Bengaluru solution — Triaminopyrimidine (TAP) — comes with many advantages over existing drugs. Vasan Sambandamurthy, one of the senior authors of the research paper, said: “It’s a fast-killing and long-acting antimalarial clinical candidate. TAP acts exclusively on the blood stage of Plasmodium falciparum (the stage responsible for clinical symptoms) in a relevant mouse model. This candidate is equally active against causative agent Plasmodium vivax.”

He added, “The compound has shown good safety margins in guinea pigs and rats. With a predicted half-life of 36 hours in humans, TAP offers potential for a single dose combination.”

The rapid spread of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite which causes malaria in humans, has left nations battling it with a weakened arsenal and coping with thousands of deaths every year. This parasite has gradually become resistant to available medication.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 3.2 billion people in 97 countries, including India, are at risk of being infected with malaria. In 2013, WHO reported an estimated 198 million cases and the disease was responsible for an estimated 5.84 lakh deaths, including 4.53 lakh children less than five years old.

Every person infected with malaria has to deal with millions of parasites and existing drugs have a limited effect in humans. “The half-life, which isn’t more than 2 hours, means it allows parasites to bounce back. Existing drugs are not fast-killing, which means that not only does a human need more doses but each dose is capable of only killing a few parasites,” he said.


Besides, a potential side-effect of existing drugs is liver damage. “This doesn’t happen all the time, but the possibility does exist. Also, the parasites have become resistant to these drugs. With TAP, there are now known side-effects and the parasites are unable to develop resistance at the same pace as they do for existing drugs,” he said.

TAP was discovered by a team at pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. “The main research happened in its R&D centre in Bengaluru between 2011 and 2014, which has since been shut down. It took us three years of rigorous work by teams across the globe. Today, we confidently nominate TAPs as a clinical candidate to treat drug-resistant malaria,” Vasan said. Shahul Hameed and Suresh Solapure were the two other team leaders.


Times View
The discovery of a malaria drug, yet again, highlights Bengaluru’s leadership in scientific research. The promise that the new medicine can kill the virus in a single stroke and act for a long time is good news for malaria patients. While the scientists deserve compliments on working towards a remedy free of side-effects, the companies that will eventually massproduce the drug should look at making it affordable to the aam aadmi. For their part, public health administrators must renew their battle to prevent vector-borne diseases, which cause untold suffering.

source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Bangalore / by Chetan Kumar, TNN / April 01st, 2015