'Cultural exchange must continue despite Indo-Pak tensions'

Last Updated 15 April 2017, 09:58 IST
Amid spiralling Indo-Pak tensions, eminent Urdu poets believe cultural exchange between the two countries and visits of artistes must be kept away from the purview of politics. Many Urdu poets expressed this desire on the sidelines of the 'Jashn-e-Bahar Mushaira' here last evening.

A galaxy of poets, including Javed Akhtar, recited their poetry at the 'mushaira' (symposium) to a packed house. In its 19th edition, this was the first time the Urdu poetry symposium had no representation from Pakistan amid growing Indo-Pak tensions.

However, Kamna Prasad, the founder of the non-profit Jashn-e-Bahar Trust that organises the event, attributed the absence of Pakistani Urdu poets at the event to "mathematics" of how many poets can be invited and the Trust's aim to get poets from places where interest in Urdu was rising. Poets at the event strongly pitched for cultural exchange between India and Pakistan despite tensions.

They also agreed that inviting poets from Pakistan could be troublesome for any event in the current scenario. "When Pakistani poets used to come, it used to be a great congregation. If they are called now, there will be an uneasy atmosphere, people will come opposing it," Syed Aijazuddin Shah, famous as 'Popular Meeruthi', told PTI on the sidelines of the event.

Echoing Shah's views was Hussain Haidry, a young Urdu poet from Mumbai, who said culture and politics must be kept separate. "When 100 people stand up and say why poets and artistes from Pakistan cannot come, 10 people who are currently opposing their coming will go away," the 31-year-old said. Songs like 'Purani Jeans' or Atif Aslam's numbers are loved on both sides of the border. Artistes have no religion, no country, for them art is everything, Haidry said.

Politics and culture should remain completely separate, poet Minu Bakshi said. Naseem Nikhat, a poet from Lucknow, said, "We must call them (Pakistani artistes) as we are known to be soft-hearted and welcoming. We must be open-minded. Barring cultural exchanges will yield no results." However, poet Mansoor Usmani said Indo-Pak relations were very sensitive and caution needs to be exercised.

Their remarks came amid growing Indo-Pak tensions over the death sentence handed down to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav by a Pakistani military court. The grounds of Delhi Public School, Mathura Road, were abuzz with verse and 'waah- waah' as the mushaira captivated nearly 5,000 poetry lovers present at the venue. Among the poets who enthralled the audience with their couplets and ghazals was So Yamane, a Japanese professor from Osaka, Japan.

Other poets who recited their poetry were Abdullah Abdullah from New York; Jawaid Danish from Toronto, Basir Kazmi from Manchester, Shahjahan Jaffery from Kuwait City and Aziz Nabeel from Doha. It was Akhtar, who drew the loudest cheers from the crowd for his couplets and 'nazms'.

Prasad exuded confidence that Urdu's future was bright with young people still enamoured by the beauty of the language. "The young generation, when they send sms they send it in Roman script but couplets are still in Urdu. If you want to learn Urdu, be in love and if you want to be in love, learn Urdu," she told PTI.

In her opening remarks at the event, Prasad strongly condemned the trend of 'hate poetry'. Among the eminent personalities present during the evening were Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla, former Union Minister Farooq Abdullah and former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar.

Member of Parliament and actor, Shatrughan Sinha, who was the Chief Guest at the event, said, "Indian film industry owes its existence to Urdu. All our immortal dialogues and songs are heavily dependent on Urdu."

"This trend continues till date and shows that Urdu is the lingua franca of India," he said. The event was presided over by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, leading Urdu poet and critic. Amarendra Khatua, Director General, Indian Council for Cultural Relations, was the Guest of Honour at the poetry symposium. Among the Indian poets, Aqeel Nomani, Nusrat Mehdi and Aalok Shrivstav also participated.
(Published 15 April 2017, 09:20 IST)

Follow us on