SIGNS OF THE TIMES
FARMERS of this country seem the saviours of the day. Yes, seeing their ongoing determination and focus to take on the existing third-class governance, there’s that hope that we might get rid of the rot that has more than intruded into the system, right into those manning the very machinery!
All of us who had given up hope of seeing some respite could sit back somewhat hopeful, after hearing the speeches of the leaders of the ongoing farmer agitation. I have been left particularly impressed with the clarity of thoughts and views and priorities in Yogendra Yadav’s speeches. He speaks out. Emphasizes on the togetherness of communities. He also lays tremendous stress on non-violence and peaceful talks and discussions. Maybe, with the farmers’ agitation ongoing in that determined way, there could be a change of scene, a restoration of sorts of those good old days where we could live freely, without constant threats of getting torn apart or threatened with the aftermath!
Whilst on restoration, diverting somewhat. Towards renovations. In the backdrop of the insensitive renovation of the Jallianwala Bagh, where the pain of that massive tragedy seems overshadowed by gaudy strains of the times we are surviving in, one is left wondering at the blatant insensitivity of the renovation cum restoration team and the men who had handed them this responsibility. They ought to be questioned. Also, there ought to be some level of accountability cum transparency.
I’m reminded of at least two other instances – two prominent Sufi dargahs of the Kashmir Valley – where restoration cum renovations had been done not along the original format. In fact, right from the 80s I had been visiting the dargah of the patron saint of the Kashmir Valley, Sheikh Nuruddin Wali Nund Rishi, at Charar-e-Sharif, about 20 miles from Srinagar city. In the mid-90s it was burnt down and damaged. After its renovation I had once again visited this dargah and was appalled and dismayed to see that in place of the pagoda styled peaked structure of this dargah, there had come up a huge concrete building which in no way resembled the erstwhile structure. In fact, let me also mention that nearly all the Sufi dargahs of the Valley were originally built in a simple pagoda style, perhaps, in keeping with the lifestyles and lives led by these Sufis.
Also, after the dargah of the Iraqi Sufi Dastgeer Sahib in Srinagar’s down town Khanyar was burnt and damaged in 2012, its restored or renovated form had upset the local Kashmirs, as there wasn’t much of the originality left intact.
Why have today’s administrators-planners-rulers become so insensitive. It’s not that historic structures of significance were not damaged or burnt in those earlier centuries but they were restored with great sensitivity. Here, let me point out that standing prominently on the banks of the Jhelum river in Srinagar city, is the khanqah (shrine) of Shah-i-Hamdan (the king of Hamdan, a small town in Persia), who left Hamdan to escape the wrath of Timur. Though the Shah-i Hamdan mosque was first built in 1395, it was rebuilt several times, and the present structure dates back to 1732…There has been one instance after another of structures getting re-built keeping intact their original patterns and layout.
Getting you back to the present day: There is much apprehension on the upcoming Babri Masjid structure in Ayodhya. Those initial reports relayed that the local population hasn’t been comfortable with the initial designs of the new structure of the mosque and the general outlying layout. Political designs seem webbed and inter-webbed in these horrifying surcharged times!
THE WELL- KNOWN WRITER, SAHANA AHMED, TAKES OVER AS PRESIDENT RURAL TOURISM COUNCIL WICCI (WOMEN’S INDIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY)
I wasn’t quite aware of the fact that there existed a specific field called ‘Rural Tourism’. Got to know of it and the various aspects to it, quite recently after the well-known writer Sahana Ahmed took over as the National President of the Rural Tourism Council WICC. She detailed that it is an initiative of WICCI (Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry).
Sahana and her team are already in that get-set mood, reaching out to citizens in the rural belts, by promoting tourism in those belts. She has come up with a long list of recommendations to the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India…Space constraints come in the way in detailing these very significant recommendations, so putting down only a couple of them: Travellers need to be educated on the local cultures to which they need to adhere. Any tourism intervention must stay authentic to the community’s place on earth and its unique history, culture and resources. Development of infrastructure at the rural level must be strengthened, especially internet connectivity and power. Creation of one single platform where all information is available.
In fact, after getting to know from Sahana all the finer details to Rural Tourism, I’m been amazed by its potential. If it picks up, our fellow citizens residing in our villages and qasbas (small towns) could benefit and there wouldn’t be any need for them to be uprooted, from the rural stretches to the urban cities.
LEAVING YOU WITH THIS VERSE OF SAROJINI NAIDU
In the backdrop of the controversy around the recent renovations at the Jallianwala Bagh, it gets significant to read aloud these lines of Sarojini Naidu , tucked in the volume – Jallianwala Bagh – Literary Responses in Prose & Poetry. Introduced and Edited by Rakhshanda Jalil. Published by Thornbird – An Imprint of Niyogi Books.
They relay the sheer intensity of the pain of that brutal massacre of our countrymen at the site:
How shall our love console thee, or assuage
Thy hapless woe; how shall our grief requite
The hearts that scourge thee and the hands that smite
Thy beauty with their rods of bitter rage?
Lo! Let our sorrows be thy battle–gage
To wreck the terror of the tyrant’s might
Who mocks with ribald wrath thy tragic plight,
And stains with shame thy radiant heritage!
O beautiful! O broken and betrayed!
O mournful queen! O martyred Draupadi!
Endure thou still, unconquered, undismayed!
The sacred rivers of thy stricken blood
Shall prove the five-fold stream of Freedom’s flood,
To guard the watch-towers of our Liberty.
Humra Quraishi is a Delhi-based writer-columnist-journalist. She is also the author of several books including Kashmir: The Untold Story. The views expressed here are author’s personal.