Tughlaqabad Fort: Glorious past with a mourning present

Despite the legal restriction of not constructing any structure within 100 meter radius of the monument, some houses are constructed which are clearly within this radius. The area is occupied by shop owners, and other small vendors, who have no intention to leave this place. The Supreme Court had also barred in 2003 construction activities around this protected monument.
According to the Arvind Kumar residents have filed a petition in Supreme Court on September 28, 2011 and in October 12 the ASI decided to go ahead with the demolition. However, due to protests, the demolition in this area stopped, but now ASI again sent notices to such violators to demolish their constructions.
When we asked the Director of the monuments, he said that the ASI is following court’s orders. “Issue is under scanner since 1995. ASI got this land after Land Reforms Act, from that time issue is continuing. Last year, when the demolitions were planned, villagers started the protests and went to the High Court and got a stay orders. After that the matter was brought to the Supreme Court’s notice after S N Bhardwaj, a Supreme Court lawyer, filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP). Now we are following court’s orders.”
According to the ASI, in the year 1995, total 2,661 bighas of land around Tughlaqabad Fort was handed over to ASI, of which the authorities found that 351 bigha of land was already encroached. In the year 1997, ASI recovered 50 bigha land from the encroachers, but in year 2000, after a survey conducted by ASI, they found encroachment area had extended upto 928 bighas.
Tughlaqabad Fort
Ghiyasu’d-Din Tughluq (1321-25) built the fortified town of Tughluqabad, the third city of Delhi. With its slanting walls on desolate hills, its position gives it a natural advantage, Tughluqabad was raised as a stronghold rather than as an architectural enterprise. It is in two parts, the citadel and palaces along the southern walls forming one unit and the city to the north the other. On plan it is an irregular rectangle with over 6 km. Tughalaq also built Qutub-Badarpur Road, which connected the new city to the Grand Trunk Road. The road is now known as Mehrauli-Badarpur Road.

How Amla Ruia revived 100 drought-inflicted villages of Rajasthan 

Amla Ruia originally hails from Mumbai, but the plight of people in Rajasthan drove her to move here and take up a cause. “I was aware about the alternate solutions provided by the government to people. Government used to provide water through water tankers, which was not a sustainable solution. I had an idea in my mind that I knew would change the face of affected area,” said Amla Ruia.

She decided to construct check dams in this area to make water flow better and to provide almost equal amount of water to entire village. She explained: “Rajasthan farmers are among the poorest in the country. Using rain water harvesting technology to alleviate the situation seemed like a good choice. It was important to involve the local community and engage them to make our model more sustainable.”

She founded a group called Aakar Charitable Trust to build check dams (temporary dams) for villages to provide regular water. With these dams, water was stored in large dam, but the entire process was more cost effective. Her first success project was in the village of Mandawar, where two check dams were constructed, which provided water to the villagers on a regular basis.

Her first project in Mandawar village showed great success and the farmers managed to earn as much as Rs. 12 crore within a year with the help of two check dams constructed by the Trust. After that there was no looking back. Aakar Charitable Trust has constructed 200 check dams in 100 villages of Rajasthan so far, which has helped more than 2 lakh people to lead a comfortable life. The water availability has helped them earn a combined income of Rs. 300 crore per year through their farming, animal husbandry, dairy and other related works.

The water from the dam is sufficient to supply regular irrigation to crops for an entire year. The farmers, who could barely grow one crop a year, are now able to grow even three crops. “For the first time, villagers managed to grow rabi crop along with a few vegetables,” she adds
With no drought, villagers are having better harvests with the irrigation facilities and have also started to indulge in animal husbandry. Today many people are keeping cattle in their houses as they have enough water and fodder for animals. With all these positive changes, the per capita income has also increased in these villages. People now have more money to buy milk, ghee and whoa, which was till now considered  to be luxurious product.

With their active participation in regional economy, state government is also looking at providing better facilities like roads, electricity, mobile towers etc. Every household has a motorbike and few of them have also purchased tractors.

Biggest issue of the country is migration; and this area has proved that migration can be stopped if facilities are being provided at the door step.  “Regular availability of water has controlled migration to cities like Delhi and Lucknow. Now, we have facilities that an urban family would dream of. All this was not possible without support of Amla didi,” a villager expressed.

What’s next

Amla and her team want to expand their efforts to other states as well. Much work has already been accomplished in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The organisation is now extending its efforts in the backward Dantevada district in Chhattisgarh.

Salman Khan acquitted in Chinkara poaching case- No one killed the animal

Just like how no-one killed the people sleeping on the pavement of Bandra, nobody seems to have killed the mute Blackbuck in Rajasthan too. Since the court verdict has come in the favour of Salman Khan, now he can breath easy by giving out the message that celebrities indeed are above the law.
Salman Khan will always remember the year 2015-16 as the golden years of his life. This is not just because he had the most successful movies in these years, but, all the long-pending cases against him concluded in his favour.
The Rajasthan High Court in Jodhpur has acquitted Salman Khan in two cases of poaching Chinkara. This has come as a surprise for many as the ruling has overturned a lower court verdict in the case which was pending for the past 17-years. The actor had challenged the lower court’s orders that had handed him one and five years’ imprisonment in the two cases. The High Court on May 13, reserved the decision after completing the hearing in the matter.

The actor had spent eight days in the Jodhpur central jail in 2006 after being found guilty. But, the ruling has clearly acquitted him in the case.  The verdict has come as a huge relief after he the court gave a verdict in his favour, last year, in the hit-and-run case.
Chinkaras, or Indian gazelles, are a protected species and hunting these animals is banned. Moreover, in Rajasthan it is one of the revered species and the local tribes in the area were up in the arms when Salman was found shooting the animal. This was in the year 1998, when Salman and seven others from the film fraternity including  Neelam, Tabu and Saif Ali Khan were accused of killing a blackbuck and a chinkara in two separate incidents. One of the animals was killed at Bhawad on the outskirts of Jodhpur on September 26, 1998, and the other at Ghoda Farms on September 28, 1998. At that time, all these actors were shooting for Sooraj Barjatya’s family drama, ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’.
The actor was shooting for the film Hum Saath Saath Hain at that time. Two cases against Khan – black-buck hunting and possessing illegal arms – are still being heard by trial courts in the state. But, with this verdict it is clear now that Salman is now a free man.

Swechha- an honest attempt to save Yamuna river  

Director Vimlendu Jha says, “We have been working as non-profitable organization for the betterment of pitiable state of Yamuna in the capital since 10 years. We started with our first campaign, ‘We for Yamuna’, it was an awareness campaign about the dying river. In its early days, in year 2000, we got amazing response from the youth of Delhi. The much better thing was chief minister announced, a 5 days ‘Shramdaan’ a voluntary clean-up drive of river at eight different locations after our initiative.”
What makes Swechha different from other NGOs, “We have three cross cutting core areas- environment and education, youth and civil society and active citizenship that sets us apart from the rest of other NGOs,” adds Vimlendu. In last 10 years Swechha has tied up with 60 leading schools all over India for different environment issues. Vimlendu says, “We are advocating coexistence of both development and environment and that is thing what we are trying to tell the young generation.”
“In earlier days when most of us were undergraduate students came together to take a solid action on pitiable condition of Yamuna. We were just amateur activist’s group and didn’t know what to do and how. One day, we were sitting near Dilli Haat and decided to form a youth led group later we finalized the name ‘Swechha’. We did street plays, pamphlet distribution, awareness campaigns and lots of other odd jobs to promote the cause and issue.” Vimlendu recalls. He told that since team of volunteers visiting authorities for assistance, they had to encounter rowdy people.
Swechha is opposed the encroachments of the Yamuna bank with concrete structures. Now, they are planning to work as pressure group to compel government to formulate policies against encroachment of river. They have also started a volunteer driven community programme called ‘Pagdandi’ that focuses on human contribution to save environment. On world environment day, volunteers organize cyclthon to spread awareness about clean energy and save environment.

Urdu Ghazal For The Modern Age: Lucknow’s ‘Pure’ Poet

By Vikas Datta 

Urdu Ghazal History

Every poetic tradition has one great exponent, traditionally and popularly embodying and representing its identity and characteristics. Most are historic figures, though relatively new, or revived languages may see those from the recent past or even contemporary times. As vital but considerably less-celebrated or even remembered are those who enable the tradition to survive and flourish by facilitating its transition from its ‘golden age’ to the modern era. Like this Lucknow poet did for Urdu.

Allama Syed Ali Naqi Zaidi past history & Bio-

In his time, Allama Syed Ali Naqi Zaidi “Safi Lakhnavi” (1862-1950) was among the standard-bearers of ‘Dabistan-e-Lakhnau’ (the Lucknow School of Poetry), was termed “Lissan-ul-Qaum”, or the prominent spokesman of the people, and still figures on the syllabus of Urdu literature courses in universities but has virtually disappeared from popular consciousness. It is a sad fate for one who not only enriched Urdu poetry but also took it forward, with one of his most famous couplets well announcing his intention: “Ghazal usne chheri, mujhe saaz dena/Zara umre rafta ko awaz dena”.

Born in a prominent Syed family of Lucknow, Safi was the son of Syed Fazal Husain, who had been a tutor to Prince Suleiman Qader Bahadur, son of Avadh’s penultimate ruler, Nawab Amjad Ali Shah. Educated both in Persian and Arabic, he then went for a modern education in Canning College (later the Lucknow University) and subsequently, worked in the provincial Revenue Department.

Poetry was a leisure activity, but an old and abiding pastime, since he was composing since the age of 13. According to most accounts, he never even had an ‘ustad’ (guide) while some others hold Ali Mian Kamil guided his early attempts but later in life, Safi always disavowed having ever been his ‘shagird’ (protege).

In his own time, Safi however himself had plenty of ‘shagirds’, prominent ones being Mirza Hadi Ruswa (the author of “Umrao Jan Ada”), Mirza Muhammad Hadi “Aziz Lakhnavi” and Nawab Jafar Ali Khan “Asr Lakhnavi”. His prominent works, besides his diwan, are “Aghosh-i-Madar”, and “Tanzeem-ul-Hayat”. As a poet, Safi belongs to Urdu’s ‘Neo-Classical’ tradition and his verse, characterised by the simple, common language he always used, blended tradition and modern sensibilities but was reformist in tenor.

He was adept in all forms of poetry – ‘masnvis’, ‘qasidas’, ‘marsiyas’, ‘qitas’ and ‘ruba’is” – but it is in the realm of ghazals that he became most famous and continues to be held in high regard. And, in the form, he could cover a lot of ground, both old and new, but with his own distinct and innovative approach.

Be it that old staple – coquetry in love and its fateful consequences, he turns them on their head by the unexpected way of narration as in: “Janaza rok kar mera voh is andaaz mein bole/Gali ham ne kahi thi, tum to duniya chore jaate ho”, or maybe: “Meri laash ke sarhane voh khade yeh keh rahe hai/Aesi neendein na aati agar intezar karta”.

He could do the same with the uncertainties or challenges of love: “Ghair ki bazm mein darkaar hai saghir ke liye/Gardishen kam na padhen mere muqaddar ke liye”, the impatience it engenders: “Dekhe baghair haal ye hai iztirab ka/Kya jaane kya ho parda jo uthe naqab ka” or for that matter, its healing power: “Kya poochte ho dard kahan se kahan nahi/Rakha tha tumne haath jahan par vahan nahi”.

But it was not always love for Safi, who could also envisage when sentiments and appearances fade – or even the power of poetic description: “Kal hamne aine mein rukh ki jhurriyan dekha kiye/Karvaan-e-umr-e-rafte ka nishan dekha kiye”, or “Khatam ho jaate jo husn-o-ishq ke naaz-o-ada/Shayri bhi khatam ho jaati nabuwwat ki tarah”. And even in the first stirrings of love, he could also project life’s inevitable and uncomfortable result.

Take the ghazal that begins “Dard-e-aghaz-e-mohabbat ka ab anjaam nahi/Zindagi kya agar maut ka paigham nahi”, and then – in his version of a much-rendered but most-ignored advice, tells us: “Yehi jannat hai jo haasil ho sukun-e-khaatir/Aur dozakh yehi duniya agar aram nahi” and and ends: “Shayar-goi ke liye bas vahi mouzun hai ‘Safi’/Jis ko juz fikr-e-sukhan aur koi kaam nahi”.

He also made his own nature clear in his verse: “‘Safi’ rehte hain jaan-o-dil fida karne pe amada/Magar us vaqt jab insan ko insan dekh lete hai”. His final years didn’t see him lead a very pleasant life, being much disturbed by the attacks on Urdu and the climate of polarisation and hate being created. But he once said: “Hasti ko mita de jo sada mehr-o-wafa mein/Ta hashr voh be nam-o-nishaan ho nahi sakta”, and we must not let his word be untrue.

Vikas Datta can be contacted at vikas.d@ians.in

Air pollution reducing life expectancy of Chinese

By Gaurav Sharma

Worsening air pollution has reduced the average life expectancy in China by over two years, said a report released here this week.

The report, launched by the International Energy Agency, also stated that outdoor pollution could be the cause of as many as one million premature deaths while air pollution was claiming a total 1.2 million lives every year in the country.

“Average life expectancy in China is reduced by almost 25 months because of poor air quality,” said the report released on Monday.

The report pointed out that nearly half of China’s population was living in areas where air quality targets were still not met.

It warned that deaths due to outdoor air pollution and household air pollution could soar up to 1.5 million and 1 million, respectively, if air quality does not improve.

“Growth in energy demand has gone hand-in-hand with economic transformation and social development, but there has been a high cost for the environment,” observed the 266-page report.

It lamented that “only 8 of the 74 major Chinese cities that are currently subject to air quality monitoring met the national standard for clean air in 2014”.

Air pollution is one of the biggest problems in China. Unchecked growth of industries and factories over the past two decades has led to massive pollution in the country.

Beijing is one of the most polluted cities in the world. Its neighbouring province Hebei, which accounts for 25 percent of China’s steel production, is heavily polluted.

In 2015, China issued 97,000 administrative orders, shutting down 20,000 polluting plants and recovered $654 billion in fines — an increase of 34 percent over 2014.