Concept and the list of Speakers:
India and South Asia are passing through turbulent times. The rise of fundamentalist terrorism is holding most of the countries of South Asia to ransom. The global situation is aggravating the problem and India is at the receiving end.
The situation in neighbouring Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh is a matter of concern. Religious fanaticism born in religious institutions like madrasas is contributing in a big way to the problem. Hence, there is a need to build up a massive campaign against the dubious and anti-social role of the fanatics and to reinforce secular-democratic values.
When we talk of the country’s composite culture we mean the unity in diversity which has brought India into being. There are many forces working today to wreak this unity by preaching sectarian and fissiparous ideologies that divide the people and pit brother against brother.
The present situation calls for reiteration of our national heritage and our composite culture. In this regard Urdu has played an important role to contain and detoxify the poison being spread by vested interests both within the country and from outside.
The need of the hour is to have healthy discussion and discourse to counter all kinds of anti-national, anti-secular, anti-democratic and fanatic ideas. A seminar on the country’s composite culture, therefore, will go a long way in providing fodder to secular forces to work as a bulwark against divisive forces.
Urdutahzeeb.net has been playing this role for the last few years. It has become a platform for secular values and modern outlook. Through a rich fare of text and visual material the portal has been propagating the composite culture of India of which Urdu has been a sort of focal point.
Urdu has a rich tradition of secular non-religious writing and poetry. It has been the literary vehicle of social rebels and those who professed change and modernity. This has been the language’s spirit over the centuries. Right from Amir Khusro to Ghalib and from Prem Chand to Faiz Ahmad Faiz, and from Rajinder Singh Bedi, Saadat Hassan Manto to Qurrat-ul-Ain-Haider, Urdu literature has been one of the most enlightened literatures of the world.
There is a need for discussion on what should be done to improve the lot of the people, particularly, the minorities. We have organised a series of seminars and debates to discuss their conditions and threats to the very fibre of secularism, it is important to take the matter to the people in general.
For this purpose, we are having a seminar in Mumbai on 28 February, 2010 at Crystal Room, Taj Hotel, Mumbai from 9.30am to 5.30 pm. The topic of the seminar is Terrorism & the Response of Our Composite Culture. Following are the speakers:
1. Mr Najeeb Jung, VC Jamia Milia Islamia, Delhi
2. Baroness Emma Nicholson, sitting peer, London
3. Dr Ajai Sahni, executive director, Institute of Conflict Management, Delhi
4. Javed Akhtar, renowned writer and poet
5. Sultan Shahin, Editor, NewAgeIslam.com
6. Shabana Azmi, actress and social activist
7. Kumar Ketkar, editor Lok Satta
8. Dr Asghar Ali Engineer, renowned scholar
9. Chaman Lal Chaman, broadcaster from London
10. M A Madni, renowned Islamic scholar
11. Praveen Swami, associate editor, the Hindu
12. Mahesh Bhatt, film maker
13. Prof A A Fatmi, Allahabad University
Also, Padma Bhushan Jagjit Singh is organising a musical evening on the same subject for Urdutahzeeb.net at Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi, Dadar, Mumbai at 7.30pm on 28 February 2010.