Ghulam Ali Or The Politics of Ghazal

Indian politicians, wedded to electoral opportunism, will not acknowledge this, but when ghazal is emerging as a form of electoral politics.

It is extremely sad that ordinary Pakistanis who want to visit the Khwaja Gharib Nawaz shrine in Ajmer or attend a literary festival in Jaipur are routinely denied visa by the intellectually bankrupt Indian diplomats, but Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali is given long-term and multi-city visa by the Modi government to serenade us with the high-voltage politics of ghazal.

Ghulam Ali has held concerts in Kolkata on 12 January, in Thiruvananthapuram on 15 January and in Kozhikode on 17 January – and in Lucknow last year.

In each of the three cities, the audiences were either politicians who were prominent on stage or those common masses who do not speak Urdu in their daily life. In fact, the way Mamata Banerjee uttered her Urdu sentences in felicitating Ghulam Ali at the concert in Kolkata, Urdu language died a thousand deaths and ghazal was murdered a million times. If Ghalib were on Twitter, he would be ROFLing – rolling on the floor laughing – on the state of Urdu poetry in India.

This article is not about Ghulam Ali, or the merit of his singing; it is about the phenomenology of Ghulam Ali.

The argument is not that Ghulam Ali should not be invited to enrich India’s literary life. Kozhikode has a tradition of inviting ghazal singers, says journalist Ullekh NP. However, it can be seen that the timing of Ghulam Ali’s concerts and official invitations from the state governments in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Kerala are meant to serve the electoral prospects of the ruling parties in these states.

The argument therefore is about the politics of ghazal and the behaviour of Indian politicians. Ghulam Ali, whose concerts in Mumbai and Pune were cancelled due to opposition from Shiv Sena last year for political reasons, would grasp this fact that ghazal is the politics of India and he is a political tool, at least in the ensuing election season.

mamataAfter the concert in Kolkata, Ghulam Ali dubbed Mamata Banerjee as Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of wisdom and music, stating: “I am grateful to her. She has done us a favour in the form of Saraswati.

Opportunism has its own tongue, but it will be hard for Indians to agree with his statement, especially at a time Miss Banerjee is being seen in open support of Islamists in West Bengal. Urdu has transformed into an official language in Pakistan and a language of opportunism in India; to cross-check, find out how appointments are made in Urdu departments of Indian universities.

For a vast number of people in South Asia, Urdu is a language of their backwardness, bereft of new thinking. If you study Urdu, there are no chances that you would become a space scientist, a chartered accountant or an airlines pilot.

Urdu has been political. It was a language of rebellion during the freedom struggle but after the Partition of 1947, it became the official language of the Pakistani state and is an instrument of cultural and political subjugation in the lives of Pashtuns, Balochs and Sindhis now.

Ghulam Ali will not get the mass adulation in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or Sindh that he gets in India. Having lost its rebelliousness in Pakistan, Urdu serves the ideology of the ruling Punjabi elite of Pakistan and acts as their extension in India.

It is now coming back as a type of domestic politics in India and intervenes in our national discourse. And politicians like Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal, Akhilesh Yadav, Oommen Chandy and MA Baby – all of them of the secular-communist alliance – grasp that Ghulam Ali could deliver them Muslim votes. Being Ghulam Ali is not merely about singing or ghazals; it is about politics. State assembly elections are due in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Kerala.

Ghulam Ali is politics. Ghazal is no longer ghazal. It treats Indian Muslims as captive audiences and mobilizes them into a communal electorate to serve the Left-of-the-Centre political parties.

The sponsors of Ghulam Ali’s concerts convey to Indian Muslims that Urdu is their heritage, even though they do not speak Urdu, at least in West Bengal and Kerala. We are seeing emergence of state-sponsored ghazal as a counter-patriotic force; the sponsors of such concerts view Indian Muslims as a counter-patriotic forces; these politicians will not host Indian ghazal singers.

So, Ghulam Ali has emerged as a tool of Indian politics. Ghazal has emerged as the ideology of ‘secularism’ – which is best described as sickularism, a form of bogus liberalism and political correctness rolled into one.

Indian politicians, wedded to electoral opportunism, will not acknowledge this, but when ghazal is emerging as a form of electoral politics, India’s youths must remain aware that ghazal is indeed politics – and artists are not immune from politics.

References:

Former BBC journalist Tufail Ahmad is the executive director of the Open Source Institute, New Delhi. Ahmad is the author of “Jihadist Threat to India – The Case for Islamic Reformation by an Indian Muslim.” He tweets @tufailelif
  • Anil Kumar Tandale

    Imposition of Urdu caused secession of Bangladesh. Urdu is disruptive, so also Ghazal. We do not need to patronize outsiders. Let them seek work permits like the European countries. Visa should be granted only if there is no qualified person available in India for the job.

  • Zohrab

    Ghulam Ali was in Kozhikode years back. He knows the Kozhikodan audience well. As an artist he doesn’t have to heed much about politics. But still, he is aware of the politics of Shiv Sena as well.

    “………. The sponsors of Ghulam Ali’s concerts convey to Indian Muslims that Urdu is their heritage, even though they do not speak Urdu, at least in West Bengal and Kerala. We are seeing emergence of state-sponsored ghazal as a counter-patriotic force; the sponsors of such concerts view Indian Muslims as a counter-patriotic forces; these politicians will not host Indian ghazal singers…………….”

    The above reveals the ignorance of the writer. Only in two states, where Urdu is not spoken by Muslims at home. It’s Tamil Nadu and Kerala where Muslims speak only Tamil and Malayalam respectively. Partially this is true to W Bengal too. Everywhere else Hindustani, a mix of Urdu-Hindi spoken by Muslims at home.

    Also, as per the NDTV link “……….He is in Kerala on an invitation by socio-cultural organisation ‘Swaralaya’ and the programmes were arranged in association with Grand Kerala Shopping Festival Directorate……………..”
    It is the usual practice that inviting outstanding artists to perform at the venues of the Grand Kerala Shopping Festival, every year, Ustad Zakir Hussain had performed before.
    May be the writer expecting a Padma as received by Anupam Kher for lobbying!

    • Zulfiqar Ali

      Bro read your 3rd para ” It’s Tamil Nadu and Kerala where Muslims speak only Tamil and Malayalam respectively. Partially this is true to W Bengal too.” isn’t that what Tufail is also telling “…They do not speak Urdu, at least in West Bengal and Kerala” and then you call him “ignorant”??

      And by comparing Ghulam Ali to Ustaad Zakir Hussain you have already shown how much Urdu and Ghazal you understand – Ghazal is a nuanced singing that requires reasonably good understanding of Urdu; For example the following line from a Hindi movie went un-understood by most people even in Pakistan

      Zihal-e-muskeen maqun ba-ranjish, Bahaal-e-hijra bechara dil hai
      Sunaai deti hai jisaki dhaDakan, Tumhara dil ya hamara dil hai

  • Jitendra Desai

    Right.This Gazal singer is being used as one more appeasing tool by the pseudos.It is up to Ghulam Ali to desist from being used as a tool.Hasn’t he got enough of fame and money?

  • Saffronwarrior

    I $hit on quran wipe my lily white a$$ with bibull jesus feces. You can do the same.

  • Saffronwarrior

    Prophet mohmad pi$$ & $hit be upon him the guy never existed no record no script no stone no monument no history nothing nada zer0 . BTW kaaba was an ancient Hindu Temple with 360 idols destroyed by barbaric unwashed tribal goatfucker$. They’re reaping what they sowed. Chrislamic cunt$ are suffering & dying worldwide it’s Hindu curse.

  • Rukmani Vijayaraghavan

    I dont htink he has been had. On the contrary, if I were an artist who experiences so much of distaste among one section, I will debate with them and win them over. Not immediately cuddle upto people of exactly opposite view, play victim and gather large audiences. I used to respect him long ago. But he has fallen and how!

    • Shubhangi Raykar

      Victimhood is a condition or a gimmick carefully cultivated by Muslims and other minorities in India. They have yet to learn the pride of fighting on equal footing. But Gulam Ali is not an Indian but that is the cultural heritage he has carried from Indian Muslims as his forefathers belonged here.

  • krishnakumar

    Wonderful article and hard hitting. Line by line, I enjoyed the contents of this article. I love urdu as well as ghazals. I would still love to listen to ghazals of Ghulam Ali. But Jenab Ghulam Ali as a human being has rolled down as many steps.

    \ In fact, the way Mamata Banerjee uttered her Urdu sentences in felicitating Ghulam Ali at the concert in Kolkata, Urdu language died a thousand deaths and ghazal was murdered a million times. If Ghalib were on Twitter, he would be ROFLing – rolling on the floor laughing – on the state of Urdu poetry in India. \

    balo.

    \ Urdu has been political. It was a language of rebellion during the freedom struggle but after the Partition of 1947, it became the official language of the Pakistani state and is an instrument of cultural and political subjugation in the lives of Pashtuns, Balochs and Sindhis now. \

    That leaves punjabis. Dukh ki bath hai. Punjabi Hindustanis like Jb Tarek Fatah Saheb too have complaints against urdu. For him too, In the baqi sthan which remains after vivisection of paki sthan, urdu is an occupying symbol of the false ideology of pakisthan, the language of mohajirs. For that matter, he does not even spare the greatest poets of undivided Hindustan like the punjabi mohammad Iqbal.

    \ We are seeing emergence of state-sponsored ghazal as a counter-patriotic force; the sponsors of such concerts view Indian Muslims as a counter-patriotic forces; these politicians will not host Indian ghazal singers. \

    momata di has slapped the pride of bengal.

    In the liberation movement of bengal, urdu was one among many of the issues of the local populace with their west pakistan occupying forces.

    LOL. what a downfall.

    Well, momata di’s greed to grab moslem votes on a communal angle is understandable. But still that could have been done with grace.

    She could have invited moslem sangeetkars from bangladesh like mohtarma runa laila or baul sangeetkars like tuntun shah or rusol shah. But poor people, they all sing in bangla. They would sing robindro sangeet or nazrul geeti or lalon geeti. And it is extremely difficult to portray them with a communal angle.

    Perhaps, the enough dosage of communalism one gets from politicising urdu one may not get so from other forms of Bangla sangeet. They were and are and will be captivating people cutting across religion.

    So was, is and will be urdu. But the more and more these hapless communal…….. anti national……… goons of HIndustani communal politicians identify urdu with moslems……….. they are robbing the language of its wide acceptance. By making these concerts look communal, they are demeaning the contribution of Hindus to Urdu literature and poetry.

    If their real idea was to promote ghazal, they could have invited Hindu or moslem Hindustani Ghazal gayaks. But their evil mindset makes them think that moslems of HIndustan are still somehow have sympathies to the western neighbour and that motivates them to harvest that by way of these concerts.

  • Salim Alvi

    Cultured Arabs do not use words like Aurat which means one with dirty stinking vagina, an organ of shame for Bedouins. Compare native Stree, which means one who harmonizes three Gunas (Satwa, Rajas & Tamas) to create beauty or Saundarya. Similarly native Mahila means one who rules over the material universe. Compare Native Vivah, Lagn with Bedouini Nikah or Persian Shadi. Nikah means contract, there are contracts for one night stand, one month stand… Shadi means pleasure. When Bedouins descended on cultured Persians and wiped out native Zorastrians & Boudhs, they wanted pleasure from Persian women. Native Lagn means Ascendance, spiritual and social ascendance of two beings. Vivah means special/Vishesh responsibility to be taken by two beings for the sake of this universe. Urdu itself means Turki Army Tent. First Urdu poem was written by Babar appreciating cheeky shiny bottom of his teen age love boy called Babri. Compare that to first Sanskrit poem of sage Valmiki which came out of anguish of pain suffered by a couple of birds when hunter shot the male bird. Where is the empathy for the birds of a sage and these barbaric hoards who created a language of exploitation. Urdu killed 2 Million people in 1947 and 3 Million in 1971.

    • Ashish

      Interesting Insights Salim

      • Jitendra Desai

        Well said Salimbhai.You are right about Urdu being the language that was instrumental in division of two nations – first India and then Pakistan.Is not Urdu a native Indian language evolved out of Persian,Khari Boli, Bhojpuri & Avadhi? Post partition, Muslims and Hindus were advised to switch over to common Devnagari script.Muslims refused ( hence Hindus also did not take the idea forward) – Result is this.18 crore Indian Muslims claim it as their mother tongue but not even 1 crore are proficient.And those who are proficient do have to learn their regional language,( Gujarati, Marathi,Tamil…) Hindi and English – to remain relevant.Tragedy.

    • Zulfiqar Ali

      Wallah! Sir take a bow, we Muslims are proud of you; I cant imagine even a priest to have this depth. But Urdu is sweetest language that I know; I love Punjabi and Kannada. Sanskrit as you have said above is a cherished and hallmark of purity. Take this from Kanakdhara Strotram from his holiness Adi-Shankracharya

      Ang gang pulak bhooshan maaa shrayati, Bhringang nev mukula bharanam tamaalam

      Which means – Hey goddess of wealth ( lakshmi), since when are you meant to be sleeping with the ornaments of a young girl, making her feeling proud and smiling OR being the loud sound of a coin tumbler of a greedy man.

      OR the following lines from Vishnu Sahastra Namam

      Shukl ambar dharam Vishnu, Shashi varnam chatur bhujam
      Prassann vad num dyaye sarv vighno prashantaye

      Which means – Adorning white clothes Vishnu looks like a 4 hand full moon, With a grin that shows he is cool about all the obstacles.

      When you talk about Urdu, we speak about Ghalib who says – Ghaalib chhuti sharaab par ab bhi kabhi kabhi, peeeta hun abre- roj shabe maaahtaab main.

      As Tufail says, it is not Urdu but the political use of Urdu that is bringing disrepute to the language and to the people.

      • Salim Alvi

        Urdu means Turki Army tent in Turkish. Urdu is a language of slavery, A language which was imposed on natives by debauched alcoholic and drug addict randibaaz barbaric phoreners