Category Archives: Arts, Culture & Entertainment

Bollywood actress Shakila passes away


Actress Shakila passed away on Wednesday evening after a heart attack at the age of 82. The funeral was held on Thursday morning at the Mahim cemetery in Mumbai.

Actress Shakila passes away at the age of 82. (Photo: Express Archive)
Actress Shakila passes away at the age of 82. (Photo: Express Archive)

Yesteryear Bollywood actress Shakila, best known for her roles in ‘Aar Par’ and ‘CID’, passed away on Wednesday evening after a massive heart attack. She was 82.

Shakila’s nephew Nasirr Khan took to Facebook to share the sad news. He wrote, “With a heavy heart I have to inform you all that my maternal aunt (my moms older sister) Shakila Aunty has passed away. She was a star in her own right in the 50s and 60s. Babuji dheere chalna, pyaar mein zara samhalna. Please keep her in your prayers. May Allah grant her Jannat. Aameen.”

Talking to, Nasirr, who is veteran actor Johnny Walker’s son, said, “Because of her age, she had kidney problems. She was diabetic. Recently, she had some cardiac problems also. All these things led to her demise. She passed away last night. As we can’t wait too long for funeral in Islam, the burial happened today early in the morning.”

He also added, “She was a very jovial person, and because she and my dad worked together in Aar Par, they would talk a lot about cinema. On the film’s set my dad met her younger sister Noorjahan, and the two got married. Shakila aunty was very happy with the work she did, and was a content person. We will miss her much.”

The funeral was held on Thursday morning at the Mahim cemetery in Mumbai.

Some of Shakila’s other popular films include ‘Shriman Satyawadi’, ‘China Town’, ‘Post Box 999’, ‘Dastaan’, ‘Sindbad the Sailor’, ‘Rajrani Damyanti’, ‘Aagosh’, ‘Shahenshah’, ‘Raj Mahal’, ‘Armaan’, ‘Alibaba Aur Chaalis Chor’, ‘Lalpari’, ‘Roop Kumari’, ‘Hatim Tai’ and ‘Al-Hilal’.

She was last seen in 1963 film ‘Ustadon Ke Ustad’.

She is also fondly remembered for performance in hit songs like “Babuji Dheere Chalna”, “Neend Na Mujhko Aaye” and “Ae Mere Dil Hai Nadaan”.

source: / The Indian Express / Home> Entertainment> Bollywood / by Express Web Desk / New Delhi / September 21st, 2017

Restoration of Humayun Mahal to begin soon

Chennai, TAMIL NADU :


Estimate to be presented in 2 weeks

The Public Works Department (PWD) has set the ball rolling for the restoration of the historic Humayun Mahal on the Chepauk palace complex. It is set to submit a detailed estimate of the work necessary to renovate the structure in a fortnight.

After the successful restoration of Kalas Mahal, which will house the National Green Tribunal, Southern bench, from September 2, the PWD is now focussing on renovating the structure located next to it. This is the first structure that the new Building Centre and Conservation Division, formed by the PWD, will restore.

Constructed in 1770, the single-storey structure was once the residence of the Nawab of Arcot. Spread over 66,000 sq. ft., the building also has a connecting corridor to Kalas Mahal. Officials said nearly 50% of the roof has collapsed and needs to be rebuilt. “The estimate we will present will have details on the type of special materials needed, their availability and the special rates for renovating heritage structures,” an official said.

Unlike the other buildings, separate rates have to be arrived at for sourcing special construction material, such as limestone and flooring tiles. “We also need to collate data on places, such as Karaikudi and Virudhunagar, where these materials would be available. Once the estimate is prepared, we will be able to arrive at a uniform rate for the restoration of heritage structures,” the official said.

Based on the work taken up in Kalas Mahal four years ago, the renovation of Humayun Mahal is likely to cost at least ₹35 crore. The dilapidated structure once hosted various government offices, including those of the Agriculture Department, Social Welfare Department and the Directorate of Tamil Development.

Removing rubble

One of the main challenges is to remove the heaps of paper and rubble inside. Besides suffering the impact of the fire that ravaged Kalas Mahal in 2012, a portion of Humayun Mahal was affected due to a roof collapse and a minor fire in 2014. The search for funding is also delaying the project. Once the tie-up for funds is finalised, restoration work can begin in two months, the official added.

Meanwhile, the PWD is coordinating with various government departments to collate data on heritage buildings across the State.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / bu K. Lakshmi / Chennai – August 30th, 2017

Sahitya Academy Award winner Ameer writes on Urdu poetry


Urdu poetry has always been very special, writes Ameer Imaam.

Though all the poetries of world are special in a way for poetry is the mother of the fine arts, but despite that Urdu poetry has some features that make it unique among the world literature.

We find a glittering galaxy of literary personalities in Persian and English literature too and the names like Wordsworth Keats, Hafiz and Urfi are the never ending traditions and stand as the ever lasting impressions on the world literature but I couldn’t come across the any name of these languages, make me correct if I am wrong, that can be mentioned as the poet of present age. By this day, to the best of my knowledge, English poetry is synonymous with the literary stalwarts like Wordsworth Keats etc. Same is true with Persian poetry but this is not the case with Urdu. There was a time when Urdu poetry was meant to be Ghalib, Zauq, Anees etc. There is a time when Urdu poetry is meant to be Iftiqar Arif, Saqi Fatuqi, Jon Alia, Itfan Siddiqui and Farhat Ehsas. The urdu poetry is growing and has not been exhausted by it’s literary immortals, but these legends seem paving the way for the upcoming generations .

This walk of literature has another unique feature that is Mushira, a gathering where poets are supposed to recite their poetries for the audience. In these gathering, the poetry gets connected with every soul, who is present there in a different way. But this very speciality of mushaira gives birth to a problem. Some poets start coming with some extra efforts to maintain this connection. Most of the time these extra efforts appear a desperate attempt to camouflage the week ness of the works that turn mushaira into a sort of political rally and hooliganism.

Mushaira had not been like it since ever. All the big guns of literature of classical era shot to fame through mushairas and in those days it was the only bridge between a poet and the masses. There was a time when the reader was a listener first. So what we’re the circumstances that drove mushaira to this slogan raising, face making and,,,”the raised up hands should be there to the last row if you really appreciate it” sort of begging. To answer this question is not easy but it is not tough as well. This question too is standing in the que of the questions that have been demanding their answers since partition. The Exodus that was not of the people but was of the culture as well. The feudalism breathed it’s last and gave way to the industrialization.

Despite various demerits, feudalism was not the demerits only and was with some shiny patches like the dark ones of industrialization. Feudalism was stagnation, old fashioned, obsolete but a system of values and it could be anything but business. Industrialization was a flow, modernity, need of the hour but a business and it could be everything but a system of values and commitment.


The industrialization established the new monies of society and it changed not only the political but cultural scenario as well. He who pays the piper calls the tunes and with the new class of payers came a new class of pipers. The mushaira became a business and business is about making quick money only. Mushaira took a turn in that direction and the pipers were about not only making quick money but quick fame too. The post independent era was dotted with a series of communal riots and mushaira of that time exploited the situation quickly and became a wailing wall for a particular community. Though it kept masquerading so but it was no more an intellectual venture. It turned to be sensational and poetry, if it was poetry, based upon double meaning jokes, got a way to the podium. This melee left the pure literary poets like Mohd Alvi, Zeb Ghori and Musawwir Sabzwari far behind and they all we’re shrunk and cocoon to some journals and the collections of their poetry. They braved the boastful declaration of Bashiir Badr with silence when the later announced

Kaaghaz me dab ke mar gaye keedey kitab ke
Dewana bin parhey likhey mashhuur ho gaya

The book worms met a bookish, crushed between the paper death,
While a careless wanderer shot to fame without exploring the books.

Partition divided the Indian Urdu poetry into two sections. The one was for the audience and the other was for the readers.

But like every thing this mushaira too reached it’s saturation point and a new mushaira started itself stretching up to it’s height. A mushira that was different from the mushaira of last thirty to forty years.

Rekhta came as a whiff of fresh air. But there were some individual attempts too. The mushaira that has annually been organized by Tariq Faizi under the banner of Urdu Press Club falls into this category. It provides a platform to the poets who are known enough and the poets who are ascending the ladder of fame step by step. In this mushaira both the sections are supposed to come with quality poetry and they do. Javed Akhtar can compose Dard e disco for Shahrukh Khan but here he appears as the true grandson of legendary Muztar Khairabadi with his couplet

Woh shakl pighli to har shai me ghul gayi jaise
Ajeeb baat hui hai use bhulaney me.

Having melted down that face has mingled with everything here,,
Strange is the process of forgetting him.

Shariq Kaifi belongs to the city where once an ear ring was lost. He is a critically acclaimed poet and his collection of poetry, apney tamashey ka ticket, should be taken as an addition to the Urdu nazm but both the mushaira and the discussed poet had long been alluding to each other for in traditional mushairas there was no space for him or he couldn’t see any scope for his poetry there. Such a pleasant surprise it was to find him on the podium of Dubai Mushaira after his appearance in Jashn e rekhta. Two other invites were Kashif Husain Ghaiir and Zulfiqar Adil from Pakistan whom I happened to meet first in the Mushaira of Pakistan Arts Council Karachi. Kashif bhai, quite an introvert person, gave me his collection of poetry and what a fine poetry it was. The same was true with Zulfiqar Adil, another accomplished poet from the same land. Besides being an exceptional poet kashif bhai proved himself exception in another way for he appeared one of the few poets who could listen the poetry of others without reciting a single couplet of him. One of his couplet goes on like,,

Ham aise log zyada jia nahi kartey
Hamarey baad hamara zamana aata hai.

The people like us are bound to early death,
Our age dawns after our departures.

The couplet shows the agony of these cornered poets. We should be happy that he ,with his contemporaries, is witnessing his age dawning through his own eyes.

Once someone asked me about the challenges of young generation. I replied that being young in the literature is the biggest challenge before the young generation. The vultures hover upon the dead bodies, and if you are alive, you have to be a toothless, grey haired, or bald headed poet to win some recognition here. But the air is blowing in a changed direction and I am happy that it is going to prove me wrong soon. Vipul Kumar got a chance to be on the stage with the great stalwarts like Sahar Ansari. The young Turks like Abhishek Shukla and Muiid Rashidi too were introduced to the literary world on the same podium before.

The pure literary poets like Azhar Faragh, Anwar Shauur, Liaqat Ali Asim .Irfan Izhar .Ambreen Haseeb Amber and Farhat Ehsas have not only been invited here time to time but have been applauded as well.

Yes we are living in a changing world. Congratulations Tariq!

(The writer is Sahitya Academy Award winner)

source: / Okhla Times / Home> Local / by Okhla Times / August 01st, 2017

Mangaluru : While on this bus , learn how to file IT returns

Mangaluru, KARNATAKA :

Ibrahim Thabreez, 23, has equipped his bus with WiFi and offers free tax consultation
Ibrahim Thabreez, 23, has equipped his bus with WiFi and offers free tax consultation

Owner of a private bus in Mangaluru encourages people to file IT returns by offering information and free consultation

After offering free Wi-Fi services on a private city bus, a Golden Line bus that runs between Mangaluru city (State Bank of India Bus Stand) and Hoo Hakuvakallu near Konaje will offer free consultancy services on several issues such as GST, linking PAN with Aadhaar, filing IT returns and how to go about it.

Ibrahim Thabreez, a 23-year-old MBA graduate working as an export executive at Sharief Marine Product Private Limited decided to spread awareness on the subject. Thabreez‘s family is into transport business and they own about three city buses.

Speaking to Bangalore Mirror, Thabreez said, “People panic when they hear the word tax. Now, with GST, the panic has only increased. I am campaigning so that people come forward and file their returns. I explain to them the benefits of filing returns and how to go about it. For this, I have pasted posters inside the bus. I thought this is the right time to spread awareness as there are few days left to file returns for the last financial year. I addition, I am helping people with getting a PAN card, as well as linking it to their Aadhaar cards and bank accounts,” he said.

The non-salaried class often try to avoid filing returns. “I have provided my mobile number on the posters on the bus. While I guide them for free, in case they want me to take it further and get them a PAN card, I will do so only by charging a fee prescribed by the government. Regarding IT returns, I can guide them on the taxable amount and how to go about filing e-returns. In case they insist that I file it for them, I can provide the services at my office at a reasonable fee,” he said.

When JIOFi was launched earlier this year, Thabreez saw to it that a device was placed inside the bus so that people could use WiFi for free. Though the free offer has ended, they use upto 5 GB data in the bus every day.

source: / Bangalore Mirror / Home> News> State / by Deepthi Sanjiv, Bangalore Mirror Bureau / July 27th, 2017

Srinagar girl plays Aamir’s daughter in ‘Dangal’

Srinagar, JAMMU & KASHMIR :

Zaira Wasim seems intelligent beyond years. The 15-year-old student of a missionary school in Srinagar owes her new-found confidence to her recent acting stint in Bollywood. She plays the wrestler daughter of actor Aamir Khan in his upcoming movie ‘Dangal’.

Zaira is back in Srinagar after six months in Mumbai, playing the childhood of Geeta Phogat, the Commonwealth gold medallist wrestler.(HT Photo)
Zaira is back in Srinagar after six months in Mumbai, playing the childhood of Geeta Phogat, the Commonwealth gold medallist wrestler.(HT Photo)


Zaira Wasim seems intelligent beyond years. The 15-year-old student of a missionary school in Srinagar owes her new-found confidence to her recent acting stint in Bollywood. She plays the wrestler daughter of actor Aamir Khan in his upcoming movie ‘Dangal’.

Zaira is back in Srinagar after six months in Mumbai, playing the childhood of Geeta Phogat, the Commonwealth gold medallist wrestler. Phogat is the first woman wrestler from India to have won the gold in the 55 kg freestyle category at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Aamir plays wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat, who trained his two daughters in the sport.

“The experience has been life-changing,” Zaira says. “I was a normal teenager with a lot of anxiety but have been able to overcome that in the past six months,” she tells Hindustan Times.

Daughter of a banker father and a teacher mother, she was selected from among hundreds of girls who auditioned for the role. Zaira was spotted by the casting crew as she had featured in an advertisement for a cell phone. “I got a call for the role in April. It was a big decision for the family as Bollywood is not really looked up to in our society,” she says.

After initial resistance from her family, it was her aunt who supported her decision. “She asked my parents to give me a chance to realise my dreams,” she adds. “Like other Kashmiri parents, mine were concerned about what people would say. But my aunt handled the situation well.”

The decision did have its fallout, though. “A lot was said about me in the social media. But Aamir Khan and the rest of the crew supported me,” she says. “Eventually, I learnt not to pay attention to negativity,” she adds. “I realised you are as good as your thoughts and there was nothing I was ashamed of. I want to tell people that it’s a beautiful role about dignity and empowerment of women,” she adds.

The role required hours of rigorous training in wrestling, body-building and swimming. “I suffered injuries and the one in my shoulder was nasty. But I learnt to bear the pain,” she says. The only thing she regrets is cutting her long hair for the role.

Zaira is all praise for her co-star. “The first day of shooting wasn’t difficult as I had met Khan before. The day I met him first, he never had the air of a star and made me comfortable.”

Having resumed her studies now, the class 10 student says, “I take life as it comes. If another film offer comes my way and doesn’t affect my studies I will take it up.”

source: / Hindustan Times / Home> Entertainment> Bollywood / by Toufiq Rashid, Hindustant Times / December 08th, 2015

Good Samaritans with an abiding passion for books

Kochi, KERALA :

Two teachers set precedent by promoting reading habit among students

Kochi :

The tale of Totto-Chan, a girl who has come to symbolise unorthodox learning, is among the best-selling books published by NBT in Malayalam. Translated by poet and film-maker Anwar Ali, the book has been flying off the shelves like no other.

But besides the big purchasers, there are dedicated souls like Ramanunni, a retired teacher from Palakkad who set up a non-profit book selling venture. He has also played a key role in popularising books among school students and teachers.

T.N. Gopalakrishnan Nair
T.N. Gopalakrishnan Nair

Another compulsive book promoter is T.N. Gopalakrishnan Nair, a resident of Kallara near Koothattukulam, who retired as a government high school Malayalam teacher in 1994. “He comes with an autorickshaw to ship books for sales exhibitions,” says NBT assistant editor Rubin D’Cruz. “Considering that NBT books are heavily subsidised, leave alone profit, he ends up spending money from his own pocket in popularising these books.” Sure enough, Mr. Nair’s tryst with books began back in the 1980s during his association with the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad. He saw before his eyes his son becoming a bookworm and excelling in studies and co-curricular activities alike. “This brought me closer to books big time. Subsequently, I found myself sourcing rare volumes for parents and teachers alike and began to extensively travel between Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode for books which were in short supply those days,” he says. Over time, Mr. Nair carved a niche for himself by single-handedly organising book exhibitions, which grew in scale with publishers, NGOs, schools, and like-minded individuals coming on board.

Recuperating from a medical condition, Mr. Nair is concerned about not being able to host a few exhibitions he had promised at schools in Kottayam this month.

“I should be active, hopefully from the second week of August, and I have committed book exhibitions at three spaces already. I have enough books with me now to hold five such. Fortunately, there is an auto driver who helps me out in transporting books,” says Mr. Nair.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / July 09th, 2017

Palmyra of the Deccan

Vijayapura (formerly BIJAPUR ) , KARNATAKA :

A view of Gagan Mahal in Vijayapura.
A view of Gagan Mahal in Vijayapura.

The Adil Shahis made Bijapur (now Vijayapura) a city ahead of its time in terms of infrastructure development and security. This well-planned city had two fortifications, one around the principal Adil Shahi administrative and residential buildings, and a larger one around the rest of the city. Both were roughly circular and had moats and several gateways. To further strengthen the defence of the city walls, the Adil Shahis built many bastions and about 96 gigantic cannons were placed on them. Only a dozen of these canons exist today. Most of them are placed in the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) museum housed in the Nagaad Khana in front of Gol Gumbaz and some of them still sit atop the surviving bastions.

First line of defence

The fortifications have crumbled due to neglect and the moats are overgrown with thorny shrubs and in some places, they are filled with sewage and garbage. The only gateway that the citadel still has is on the south. This was the principal gateway into the citadel but now wears an abandoned look. Just inside this once splendid gateway are the remains of guardrooms constructed entirely of pillars from Hindu temples mostly belonging to the Vijayanagara period.

One of the surviving bastions is the Sharza Burj or Lion Bastion which is also the largest bastion in the city. It is famous for housing the cannon Malik-i-Maidan or Lord of the Plains, which was a war trophy won after the defeat of the Vijayanagara Empire at the Battle of Talikota. The cannon is made from a special alloy and can fire not only cannon balls but also metal slugs and copper coins.

Nearby is Haidar Burj which is the highest gun platform in Vijayapura and is a very conspicuous solitary structure.

It is also called the Upri or Upli Burj by the locals. It was built in 1583 by Haidar Khan, a general during the reigns of Ali Adil Shah I and Ibrahim Adil Shah II. A spiral stairway leads to the top which houses two long cannons. The tower was most probably customised for the guns which needed to be fired from a height so that they can have a long range.

The Adil Shahis wanted to transform their capital city to match the Mughal cities in the North by building imposing courtly structures, gardens, wells, waterways and granaries. While most of the structures have fallen to ruin, some have been converted to government offices and only a handful are open to tourists. The Gagan Mahal was built by Ali Adil Shah I as a palace and an audience hall. Only its structural skeleton remains today. A short walk from the Gagan Mahal is the Sath Manzil (Seven Pavillions) or Haft Manzil built by Ibrahim II as a pleasure pavilion. Only a few storeys survive now and there is no way to go inside. Just opposite this is Jal Mahal or Water Pavilion that has been decorated exquisitely and is crowned by a dome. It is set in the middle of a square pool which is now dry and filled with garbage. Again, there is no way to go inside.

Reservoirs & stepwells

Water was and is a precious resource for Vijayapura and the Adil Shahis built a complex hydraulic system to bring water from distant sources into the city and supplemented this with reservoirs and stepwells. Only a few stepwells and reservoirs survive today and the system of aqueducts and horizontal wells are lost. The Taj Baoli is the biggest stepwell in Vijayapura and was built by Malik Sandal, a Persian architect, in honour of Taj Sultana, the wife of Ibrahim Adil Shah II. Sadly the well, its gateway and the gallery around it are in a very bad state. It won’t survive for long if no action is taken immediately.

Another well-known stepwell present here is the Chand Baoli. The stepwell was built by Ali Adil Shah I in honour of his wife Chand Bibi and it served as the model for Taj Baoli. Chand Bibi is best known for courageously defending Ahmednagar and Bijapur against the attacks of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. She was the regent of both Ahmednagar and Bijapur and was known to be a good warrior, musician, linguist and artist. The structure is now completely cordoned off from the public. One can only see it through the grill gate.

Present-day Vijayapura would have benefited if the administration had preserved the hydraulic system of the Adil Shahis and used the many stepwells and reservoirs instead of letting them turn into garbage dumps. Waking up to this, the Minister for Water Resources, M B Patil announced in April that starting with Taj Baoli, around 20 wells in Vijayapura will be rejuvenated at the cost of Rs 4.25 crore. As a part of the rejuvenation process, the dirty water present in the wells is being pumped out, the garbage is being removed, and the well is being desilted. Additionally, there are plans to repair the structures around them. When fresh water accumulates, it will be pumped and stored in tanks, from which people can collect water for domestic purposes apart from drinking. This will ease the water scarcity the city is facing to a certain extent.

Unless people surrounding these monuments understand their historical importance and realise that a clean baoli can help face water scarcity, all efforts to revive the heritage structures will be futile.

source: / Deccan Herald / Home> Supplements> Spectrum / by Rijutha Jagannathan / July 04th, 2017

An 800-Year-Old Piece of Indian Heritage in Jerusalem


The Ansari family in front of their house in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
The Ansari family in front of their house in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)


Did you know that there is a corner of Jerusalem that has a distinct Indian stamp to it and its various residents wear their Indian origin like a medal?

Next to the Al-Aqsa mosque in the city there is the Indian Hospice in Jerusalem. The hospice is managed by the Ansari family and has a centuries-old connect to India.

The Indian Hospice in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
The Indian Hospice in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

Indian pilgrims to the “holy city” of Jerusalem, can stay at the ‘Indian Hospice’ and pay homage to the Indian Sufi saint Baba Faridudding of Shakar Ganj, who visited the place 800 years ago.

Seen here, celebrated Indian chef Samjeev Kapoor at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
Seen here, celebrated Indian chef Samjeev Kapoor at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

The Indian Connection Through Baba Farid

The year is 1200, a little over a decade after the armies of Saladin had forced the Christian Crusaders out of Jerusalem. And an Indian Sufi saint from Punjab named Baba Fariduddin of Shakar Ganj travels to the war torn city.

The victory of Saladin against the Crusaders. Balian of Ibelin surrendering the city of Jerusalem to Saladin, from Les Passages faits Outremer par les Français contre les Turcs et autres Sarrasins et Maures outremarins, c. 1490. (Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia)
The victory of Saladin against the Crusaders. Balian of Ibelin surrendering the city of Jerusalem to Saladin, from Les Passages faits Outremer par les Français contre les Turcs et autres Sarrasins et Maures outremarins, c. 1490. (Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia)


Sufi saint Baba Farid (Photo Courtesy: Seeker of Sacred Knowledge)
Sufi saint Baba Farid (Photo Courtesy: Seeker of Sacred Knowledge)

It is said that Baba Farid swept the stone floors around al-Aqsa mosque as a mark of devotion. He is also known to have taken up fasting in the silence of a cave nearby.

Long after he went back to India, Muslims from the sub-continent who passed Jerusalem on their way to Mecca stopped at this spot in memory of Baba Farid. It became a sort of temporary residence for the pilgrims.

Ansaris Deputed To Care For Baba Farid’s Legacy

In early 1920s, Jerusalem’s Supreme Muslim Council requested the leaders of the Khilafat Movement of British-ruled India to nominate someone to care for the hospice. The Khilafat leaders honoured the request of the Supreme Council then headed by Arab nationalist Mohammed Amin Al-Husseini. That is how in 1924 Sheikh Nazir Hasan Ansari – who was also part of the Khilafat Movement – was chosen to go to Jerusalem to take charge of the hospice.

Sheikh Nazir Hasan Ansari (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
Sheikh Nazir Hasan Ansari (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)


Sheikh Munir Ansari who now heads the place, seen here as a boy. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
Sheikh Munir Ansari who now heads the place, seen here as a boy. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

His son Sheikh Munir Ansari now heads the place. The two have during their respective years as administrator of the hospice, persuaded the rulers of several Indian Muslim states, including Hyderabad, to make contributions for the upkeep of the hospice. Munir’s son Nazeer proudly explains the glorious history of the place.

Not only pilgrims, but Indians from all walks of life who visit Israel like to meet the Ansaris. They are amazed by the way the Ansaris care for that piece of India in the land of Arab-Jewish confluence. Past visitors include famous journalists, presidents, Indian politicians, celebrities and commoners.

The Ansaris have been gracious hosts to many Indian journalists. Seen in this picture, among other journalists is Suhasini Haider of The Hindu. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
The Ansaris have been gracious hosts to many Indian journalists. Seen in this picture, among other journalists is Suhasini Haider of The Hindu. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)


Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar at The Indian Hospice. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar at The Indian Hospice. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)


President Pranab Mukherjee too visited The Indian Hospice in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
President Pranab Mukherjee too visited The Indian Hospice in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

The Ansaris value the responsibility that comes with the inheritance of the heritage. Their FB page says:

Maintaining and protecting an Indian institution in Jerusalem’s old city is no easy task. But Sheikh Munir has accomplished the impossible with delicate diplomacy and extreme tact.

The Indian Hospice

The Ansaris on a visit to India. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
The Ansaris on a visit to India. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

The Ansari family has been a steady presence in Jerusalem ever since and they all still carry Indian passports.

source: / The Quint / Home> News Videos / by Kirti Phadtatre Pandey / July o4th,2017


Balancing the act

Hyderabad, TELANGANA :

It’s indeed possible for sports personalities to workout, while fasting for Ramadan.

Shaik Khalid
Shaik Khalid

Is it possible to stay fit, while fasting for 30 consecutive days, and train as hard as any other day, during the holy month of Ramadan?

Yes, there are people from the sports fraternity in the city who are balancing their religious sentiments and fitness with equal élan. “The month of Ramadan started as usual with me fasting with my family members. But, now that I am travelling from China to India to attend a coaching camp, I will have to see my schedule and then decide if I can fast or not. I am keeping an open mind, if I can I will or else not,” says 18-year-old Shaik Jafreen, who had represented India and won various International Deaf Tennis Championships. She is now prepping up for her next big assignment — the Deaf Olympics — to be held in Turkey in July.

Syeda Falak
Syeda Falak

Syeda Falak (popularly known as the Golden Girl of Hyderabad) who has created a name for herself in Karate globally, says, “Usually I alternate the time of training and fasting during Ramadan. Either I workout before breaking the fast, that is early morning, or after breaking the fast with a few dates. It’s not advisable to work out after eating a lot as you will fall sick for sure. So, it is better to munch on some dates and finish a light workout and then eat properly.”

Shaik Jafreen
Shaik Jafreen

For Syeda, a proper diet and rest is of importance, as workout sessions during Ramadan can tire people out easily. Agreeing with her is Shaik Khalid, the General Secretary of Telangana Association of Mixed Martial Arts (TAMMA) and a coach for many aspiring fighters.  He says, “During these 30 days, our training schedule changes. We don’t train during the day, and instead, do it from 10 pm to midnight. But again, following a proper diet is very important in our field and to recover from the effects of fasting, we eat a lot of dates and fruits and only then train.”

source: / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Lifestyle, Viral and Trending / by Reshmi Chakravorty, Deccan Chronicle / June 02nd, 2017

From Fergana to Delhi



A Babur-focussed Uzbeki cultural project is using a common heritage to create a dialogue.

In July 1501, the great-great-greatgrandson of Timur (Tamerlane), Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur — the founder of Mughal empire — left his home in Fergana Valley in present day Uzbekistan. Five hundred years on, the Uzebki government is tracing his journey to India and his Indian connections as part of Cultural Legacy of Uzbekistan in Art Collections of the World project which began last year.

An effort to piece together the country’s history, researchers are connecting with international museums documenting the antiquity and artifacts connected to them. Till date, the Uzebki government has released 10 volumes and several short films on the cultural legacy of Uzbekistan with the help of information from leading museums in Russia, North America and Australia. “What they are doing is a first. They are not raising a dispute or demanding return of any antiquity. Instead, they are taking a holistic approach — using the common heritage to create a dialogue instead of stoking controversy,” says independent commentator Shashtri Ramachandaran, who participated in a two-day congress on the study organised by the Uzbek government.

An average Indian will be more familiar with United Kingdom, having followed their parliamentary and administrative methods or would be familiar with the cultural milieu of the United States, having developed an appetite for American TV shows. But barring academics, few are aware of the shared heritage between India and Uzbekistan that spans across centuries. A team of researchers from Uzebkistan visited the National Museum this April to piece together this lost history. “Their aim is to document material related to the Mughal era primarily. Once they present a formal proposal which is vetted by the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Culture, they can start documenting work,” said Dr BR Mani, Director General, National Museum, who met with the Uzbekistan’s Ambassador last week to discuss the project.

The Uzbeki interest in the founder of the Mughal dynasty comes at a curious time, given that Babur’s successor Aurangzeb’s name was removed unceremoniously off Delhi’s roads for being an “invader”. Union Minister V K Singh even suggested that his grandfather Akbar should meet with a similar fate. In February this year, the BJP-led government in Rajasthan backed a proposal to rewrite history taught at the university level to attest that Rajput warrior-king Maharana Pratap won the Battle of Haldighati against Akbar’s Mughal army led by general Man Singh, despite historical evidence suggesting otherwise. In the same vein, RSS ideologue Indresh Kumar recently suggested that Babur and his army general Mir Baqi should be tried in court for destroying Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

History suggests that Babur lived in India for only four years and died at the age of 47 in 1530 after successfully ousting Ibrahim Lodhi (in the Battle of Panipat in 1526). But his legacy lived on. The Babri Masjid demolition in December 1992 triggered the campaign to decry the Mughals as invaders. “Labeling the Mughals as “invaders” is bogus, historically. But Hindu nationalists do not use this label as a historical claim,” says Professor Audrey Truscke, who received severe backlash over her recent book Aurangzeb: the Man and the Myth. She adds that maligning Mughals is only a means to fuel “anti-Muslim sentiment in the present”. “It is a shameful business, especially at a time when vigilante violence against Muslims is on the rise,” she adds.

Babur was not Indian, even less an Uzbeki. He tried at least thrice to win Samarkhand but failed. “Babur took Samarkand one last time with help from the Safavids of Persia in 1513. However, as he had to publicly acknowledge his support for Qizilbash Shiism, his subjects turned against him,” explains Professor Ali Anooshahr from the History Department of the University of California.

During his time in India, Babur influenced architecture, culture, warfare and even introduced Indians to the sweet melons of Fergana. When Babur reached India, he was disappointed that the only fruit available was mango. It is said that he personally monitored planting of watermelons and musk melons. “In Babarnama, Babur writes about the apricots and pomegranates of Marghilan, fruit trees of Isfara, the melons of Bukhara, and the apples of Samarkand. He also recalled with pleasure, the various flowing rivers and brooks in that region,” adds Prof Anooshahr.

At the museum, the Uzbeki experts are particularly interested in manuscripts of the Holy Quran, scribed in Uzbekistan, which were presented to the Mughal emperors, as is evident from the royal seals on the cover page. Also of interest are 15 illustrated folios of the Baburnama. He wrote his autobiography in Chagatai language, the spoken language of the Andija-Timurids. It was during the reign of Akbar that the work was completely translated in Persian. According to Prof Anooshahr, the most comprehensive copy of the original is the Hyderabad manuscript. “Although I do not know where exactly that copy is located right now,” he adds.

The Uzbeki researchers are now looking at sources beyond the National Museum. “It is gratifying to realize that the culture of such a great country is connected with ours. We are planning to publish a couple of albums in India, depending on the results of our work,” said Professor Andrey Zybkin, the Uzbeki project coordinator.

Few sites of the Babur era have stood the test of time. Some of them include, West Delhi’s Babur era mosque, the Babri Masjid and Ram Bagh in Agra. But it is not just the Mughal era that is of interest. India and Uzbekistan go as far back as the Kushan Dynasty. The Kushan Empire, spanning an area of 37 lakh kilometres, extended from Bihar to southern Uzbekistan. It was an era when the Indian sub-continent saw extraordinary exchange of art and ideas. “At present we do not have first-hand information on the Kushan period artifacts found in Uzbekistan. It will be interesting to see how the pottery, social behaviour and culture changed from Fergana valley to Mathura,” Dr Mani added.

Apart from the Mughals and Kushans, there are other points of convergence between the two nations. Gujaratis had close trade ties with Uzbekis, so did Parsis and Armenian Christians. Professor A K Pasha from JNU explains that somewhere this search for their history is part of a “resurgence of old identity”. “For years, the Uzbeki culture was subjugated and overpowered by Russians. The Islamic feeling is growing which is why they want to resurrect their old identity,” explains Pasha.

source: / Mumbai Mirror / Home> Others> Sunday Read / by Sobhana K Nair, Mumbai Mirror / June 18th, 2017