27 Dec 2014
Mirza Ghalib (Photo tribune.com.pk)
If alive, Ghalib would have turned 217 today. The BJP government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has declared to confer Bharat Ratna award on late freedom fighter and Hindu ideologue Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Shiv Sena, an ally of the Modi government, has demanded the honour for its late founder Bal Thackeray. On the occasion of 217th birth anniversary of the great Urdu poet, former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju, known for his love for the Urdu language and poetry, has made an emotional pitch for the country’s highest civilian award for Mirza Ghalib.
“When several years back I appealed for award of Bharat Ratna to Mirza Ghalib, many people called me crazy. Obviously Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh thought Sachin Tendulkar more suitable. Even the present government does not think Ghalib to be deserving,” wrote Katju on his Facebook page and further argued in favour of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, who is often described as Shakespeare of Urdu.
“Some people said that if we award Bharat Ratna to Mirza Ghalib why not to Gautam Buddha and Ashoka? I explained that Ghalib was a modern figure, not an ancient or medieval one. Many people have got Bharat Ratna posthumously, e.g. Dr. Ambedkar and Sardar Patel. So why not Ghalib?”
After quoting a few couplets that another Urdu poet Sahir Ludhianvi had said at Ghalib’s death anniversary function in Agra in 1969, Katju made an emotional appeal for Bharat Ratna for Ghalib.
Jin Shehron Mein Goonji Thi Ghalib Ki Nava Barson
Un Shehron Men Ab Urdu Benaam-O-Nishan Thehri
Azadi-E-Kaamil Ka Ailan Hua Jis Din
Maa'toob Zubaan Thehri, Ghaddar Zubaan Thehri
Jis Ahad-E-Siyasat Ne Yeh Zinda Zubaan Kuchli
Us Ahad-E-Siyasat Ko Mehroomon Ka Gham Kyun Hai?
Ghalib Jise Kehte Hain Urdu Hi Ka Shayer Tha
Urdu Par Sitam Dhaa Kar, Ghalib Par Karam Kyun Hai?
Katju, who has recently retired from chairman of Press Council of India, said he would continue to demand Bharat Ratna for Ghalib till his last breath.
“I will keep appealing until one of two things happen: the award is given to Ghalib, or I die.”
Ghalib’s Agra Forgets Him on Birthday
Agra: Mirza Ghalib, whose contribution to Urdu literature was perhaps as significant as that of Shakespeare to English, was born here on this day over 200 years ago. The Taj city Saturday not only forgot to celebrate his birthday but also does not have a decent memorial to the poet, activists said.
Despite repeated demands to name a road or an auditorium after the famed poet, the municipal corporation has not responded and Agra University has turned down a demand to set up a Ghalib chair to promote research and work in Urdu literature.
Syed Jaffrey, director of the Mirza Ghalib Academy, wants better facilities and support from the government to promote research in Urdu literature.
"Agra, which has given so much to the Urdu culture, should have a decent memorial for the poet. The municipal corporation has proposals pending to name a street after the poet but there has been no follow-up," he said Saturday.
The Haveli in Kala Mahal area where Mirza Asad Ullah Khan 'Ghalib' was born in 1796 is now a girls' inter-college. The mansion has no memorial to the poet.
The Uttar Pradesh tourism department had at one time planned to take over the Haveli and convert it into a memorial, but the plan was shelved for some reason.
Ghalib moved to Delhi where his poetic talent blossomed and found new expression at a time when Bahadur Shah Zafar was the Mughal emperor.
Sandeep Arora, a member of the city's hotel and restaurant association, said when foreign tourists ask to be taken to Ghalib's birthplace, Agra citizens feel "very embarrassed".
"The central and state governments should jointly build a fitting memorial and a library in Agra for Urdu poetry lovers," he said.
Surendra Sharma of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society said Ghalib's house "should be converted into a national memorial" for the poet "whose contribution to Urdu literature has been as significant as that of Shakespeare to English literature".
--- With inputs from IANS