Stories about Gandhi

Divided by politics 70 years ago, India and Pakistan are still united by the cancer of rape

Imagine being a young woman who steps out of her house late at night. You hang around with friends, partake in merrymaking that stretches deep into the night, and then safely return home in the morning. There isn’t an ounce of worry in your mind as you go about this. Being wary of your surroundings never crosses your mind, and looking out for unwanted stares doesn’t either. You feel secure, safe and sound. If you’re living in modern day India or Pakistan, this scenario would never happen. Divided by politics 70 years ago, they are still united by the cancer ...

Read Full Post

Viceroy’s House is a British director’s flawed re-imagination of the 1947 Partition

We have seen Gandhi and we have seen Jinnah. Now, here comes another contender that demands viewing with the same veneration, if not more. But the problem is, I was less than thrilled watching the Viceroy’s House, not wanting to keep this adaptation of the 1947 Partition beside the previous two classics directed by Richard Attenborough and Jamil Dehlavi respectively. In her latest flick, the Bend It Like Beckham director, Gurinder Chadha bends the truth just enough to prove Lord Louis Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville) an angel, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Denzil Smith), an egotistical villain. She portrays Jinnah as if he were single-handedly responsible for the carnage and bloodshed ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan and India should celebrate independence from the British – not from each other

Sometime back I ran into an elderly man at work. Since I live in an area of Canada that is densely populated with immigrants from Indian Punjab, I knew the gentleman was from India. After I was done helping him out, he looked at my name-tag and asked me what part of India I was from. I told him I was from Pakistan, not India. A wide smile appeared on his face, and he asked me what city of Pakistan I belonged to. After I mentioned that I was from Lahore, his smile grew even wider as he got teary-eyed. ...

Read Full Post

How many of our 23-year-olds even know the struggles of 23-year-old Bhagat Singh?

As the nationalistic fervour of Pakistan Day following March 23rd dies down, one cannot help but notice that there is a criminal lack of commentary on an event that took place exactly nine years prior to what would come to be known as Pakistan Day – the execution of Indian revolutionist Bhagat Singh in Lahore on March 23, 1931. One of the first Marxist thinkers from South Asia, Bhagat was sent to the gallows after being found guilty for the murder of John P Saunders, Assistant Superintendent of Police. Bhagat and his fellow Hindustan Socialist Republican Association members including Shivaram Rajguru, Sukhdev Thapar, and Chandrashekhar Azad, originally planned to assassinate Superintendent of Police, James A Scott to ...

Read Full Post

Nehru and Jinnah had the same problem – their daughters loved men they did not approve of

Nehru and Jinnah had the same problem. Their daughters loved men they did not approve of. Children of ambitious fathers, Indira and Dina, both, carried their fathers’ hopes and lived with their mothers’ pain. They were daughters who were raised in the mould of the young English ladies their fathers had gone to school with. Jinnah’s daughter, Dina was born in Britain and, like Indira, went to school there. What the girls did not know was that it was all fine and dandy to wear modern ideas but you don’t go to bed in them. Both girls crossed the line and ...

Read Full Post

There is no freedom of speech in India, it’s a myth

During one of his court hearings, legendary writer Saadat Hasan Manto told a judge, “A writer picks up his pen only when his sensibility is hurt.”  I am appalled by the senseless murder of one of the most noted and progressive thinkers and scholars of Kannada, MM Kalburgi. Verily, as I write this, my heart bleeds and tears trickle down my cheeks, for yet another sane voice has been silenced by the religious fascist forces in the world’s largest democracy. Yet another rationalist and good human being has been gunned down for speaking his mind. Septuagenarian Kalburgi was shot dead by two na maloom afrad (unidentified men) at ...

Read Full Post

A Kashmiri Indian in Pakistan: “It is a magical land of freedom”

It is said we were born twins at the stroke of midnight long ago, when brows were wet with the anticipation of liberation. A 100-year-old subjugation was coming to an end. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world slept, we opened our eyes in horror. In a sudden cry, the veil of fantasy fell down to a novel reality of madness and chaos. Our birth was not a surprise, it was professed by soothsayers of all kind and they knew our fates very well. The umbilical cords got tied and in the darkness of the background, the ...

Read Full Post

Rajinder Singh Bedi: Film-making is not child’s play

September 1st marks the birth centenary of Rajinder Singh Bedi, one of the most gifted and greatest fiction writers of the 20th century, completing the quartet whose membership also extends to Saadat Hasan Manto, Krishan Chander, and Ismat Chughtai. Bedi was a son of Punjab, born in Lahore. While his output was not as prodigious as his three aforementioned contemporaries, his stories are memorable, chastising ancient beliefs and superstitions which keep the ordinary person ignorant and the women oppressed. He was not a doctrinaire blinded by ideology as many of his contemporaries were, but rather than giving us the heady slogans of revolution, he preferred ...

Read Full Post

When ‘Aisi Taisi Democracy’ meets its neighbour, ‘Aisi Taisi Hypocrisy’

It’s been seven decades since the Partition of Indian sub-continent in 1947, but the governments on both sides are still struggling to manage peace between the two so-called rival nations. The recent complicated dialogue process between India and Pakistan may have been revoked in the middle of the reciprocal accusations as officials argued over the core base of talk-itinerary. However, the public opinion of both nations contains the spirit of peace – and this will remain until reconciliation, tranquillity and good neighbourliness prevails in their respective motherlands. On August 15th, India’s Independence Day, Indian rock band, Indian Ocean presented a satirical song called Mere Saamne Wali ...

Read Full Post

End of silence: A woman’s narrative of the 1947 Partition

Many of us born to families who migrated across borders during partition grew up hearing whispers of events from that time. The end of the British Raj in India saw the subcontinent dissected into two – Pakistan and India. This led to the largest migration in history and caused widespread communal violence. My nani (maternal grandmother) narrated tragedies of madness raging the land without adequate police or troops to maintain law and order. One of my nani’s friends narrated how her father had told all the women in their family that should the train they were on be stopped and boarded by rioting mobs, they should commit ...

Read Full Post