Friday, 23 December 2011

Lal Bahadur Shastri

Born: October 2, 1904
Died: January 10, 1966
Achievements: Played a leading role in Indian freedom struggle; became Parliamentary Secretary of Pandit Govind Vallabh Pant, the then chief minister of Uttar Pradesh; became the Minister of Police and Transport in Pant's Cabinet; appointed as the Railways and Transport Minister in the Central Cabinet; also held the portfolios of Transport & Communications, Commerce and Industry, and Home Ministry in the Central cabinet; became Prime Minister of India in 1964; led India to victory over Pakistan in 1965 war.

Lal Bahadur Shastri was the second Prime Minister of independent India. Though diminutive in physical stature he was a man of great courage and will. He successfully led country during the 1965 war with Pakistan. To mobilize the support of country during the war he coined the slogan of "Jai Jawan Jai Kisan". Lal Bahadur Sastri also played a key role in India's freedom struggle. He led his life with great simplicity and honesty and was a great source of inspiration for all the countrymen.

Lal Bahadur Shastri was born on October 2, 1904 at Mughalsarai, Uttar Pradesh. His parents were Sharada Prasad and Ramdulari Devi. Lal Bahadur's surname was Srivastava but he dropped it as he did not want to indicate his caste. Lal Bahadur's father was a school teacher and later on he became a clerk in the Revenue Office at Allahabad. Though Sharada Prasad was poor, he lived a life of honesty and integrity. Lal Bahadur lost his father when he was only one. Ramdulari Devi raised Lal Bahadur and her two daughters at her father's house.

There is a very famous incident regarding Lal Bahadur Shastri's childhood which took place when he was six years old. One day, while returning from school, Lal Bahadur and his friends went to an orchard that was on the way to home. Lal Bahadur Shastri was standing below while his friends climbed the trees to pluck mangoes. Meanwhile, the gardener came and caught hold of Lalbahadur Shastri. He scolded Lal Bahadur Shastri and started beating him. Lal Bahadur Shastri pleaded to gardener to leave him as he was orphan. Taking pity on Lal Bahadur, the gardener said, "Because you are an orphan, it is all the more important that you must learn better behavior." These words left a deep imprint on Lal Bahadur Shastri and he swore to behave better in the future.

Lal Bahadur stayed at his grandfather's house till he was ten. By that time he had passed the sixth standard examination. He went to Varanasi for higher education. In 1921 when Mahatma Gandhi launched the non-cooperation movement against British Government, Lal Bahadur Shastri, was only seventeen years old. When Mahatma Gandhi gave a call to the youth to come out of Government schools and colleges, offices and courts and to sacrifice everything for the sake of freedom, Lal Bahadur came out of his school. Though his mother and relatives advised him not to do so, he was firm in his decision. Lal Bahadur was arrested during the Non-cooperation movement but as he was too young he was let off.

After his release Lal Bahadur joined Kashi Vidya Peeth and for four years he studied philosophy. In 1926, Lal Bahadur earned the degree of "Shastri" After leaving Kashi Vidya Peeth, Lal Bahadur Shastri joined "The Servants of the People Society", which Lala Lajpat Rai had started in 1921. The aim of the Society was to train youths that were prepared to dedicate their lives in the service of the country. In 1927, Lal Bahadur Shastri married Lalitha Devi. The marriage ceremony was very simple and Shastriji took only a charkha (spinning wheel) and few yards of Khadi in dowry.

In 1930, Gandhiji gave the call for Civil Disobedience Movement. Lal Bahadur Shastri joined the movement and encouraged people not to pay land revenue and taxes to the government. He was arrested and put in jail for two and a half years. In jail Shastriji became familiar with the works of western philosophers, revolutionaries and social reformers. Lal Bahadur Shastri had great self respect. Once when he was in prison, one of his daughters fell seriously ill. The officers agreed to release him out for a short time but on condition that he should agree in writing not to take part in the freedom 'movement during this period. Lal Bahadur did not wish to participate in the freedom movement during his temporary release from prison; but he said that he would not give it in writing. He thought that it was against his self-respect to give it in writing.

After Second World War started in 1939, Congress launched "Individual Satyagraha" in 1940 to demand freedom. Lal Bahadur Shastri was arrested during Individual Satyagraha and released after one year. On August 8, 1942, Gandhiji gave the call for Quit India Movement. Lal Bahadur actively participated in the movement. He went underground but was later arrested. Lal Bahadur Shastri was released in 1945 along with other major leaders. He earned the praise of Pandit Govind Vallabh Pant by his hard work during the 1946 provincial elections. Lal Bahadur's administrative ability and organization skills came to the fore during this time. When Govind Vallabh Pant became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, he appointed Lal Bahadur Shastri as his Parliamentary Secretary. In 1947, Lal Bahadur Shastri became the Minister of Police and Transport in Pant's Cabinet.

Lal Bahadur Sastri was the General Secretary of the Congress Party when the first general elections were held after India became Republic. Congress Party returned to power with a huge majority. In 1952, Jawahar Lal Nehru appointed Lal Bahadur Shastri as the Railways and Transport Minister in the Central Cabinet. Lal Bahadur Shastri's contribution in providing more facilities to travelers in third class compartments cannot be forgotten. He reduced the vast disparity between the first class and third class in the Railways. Lal Bahadur Shastri resigned from Railways in 1956, owning moral responsibility for a railway accident. Jawaharlal Nehru tried to persuade Shastriji but Lal Bahadur Shastri refused to budge from his stand. By his action Lal Bahadur Shastri set new standards of morality in public life.

In the next general elections when Congress returned to power, Lal Bahadur Shastri became the Minister for Transport and Communications and later the Minister for Commerce and Industry. He became the Home Minister in 1961, after the death of Govind Vallabh Pant. In the 1962 India-China war Shastriji played a key role in maintaining internal security of the country.

After the death of Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964, Lal Bahadur Shastri was unanimously elected as the Prime Minister of India. It was a difficult time and the country was facing huge challenges. There was food shortage in the country and on the security front Pakistan was creating problems. In 1965, Pakistan tried to take advantage of India's vulnerability and attacked India. Mild-mannered Lal Bahadur Shastri rose to the occasion and led the country ably. To enthuse soldiers and farmers he coined the slogan of "Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan". Pakistan lost the war and Shastriji's leadership was praised all over the world.

In January 1966, to broker peace between India and Pakistan, Russia mediated a meeting between Lal Bahadur Shastri and Ayub Khan in Tashkent, Russia. India and Pakistan signed the joint declaration under Russian mediation. Under the treaty India agreed to return to Pakistan all the territories occupied by it during the war. The joint declaration was signed on January 10, 1966 and Lal Bahadur Shastri died of heart attack on the same night.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Lala Lajpat Rai

Born: January 28, 1865
Martyrdom: November17, 1928
Achievements: Popularly known as Lala Lajpat Rai; Founded the Indian Home League Society of America; became Congress President in 1920.

Lala Lajpat Rai was one of the foremost leaders who fought against British rule in India. He was popularly known as Punjab Kesari (Lion of the Punjab).

Lala Lajpat Rai was born on January 28, 1865 in village Dhudike, in present day Moga district of Punjab. He was the eldest son of Munshi Radha Kishan Azad and Gulab Devi. His father was an Aggarwal Bania by caste. His mother inculcated strong moral values in him.

Lala Lajpat Rai joined the Government College at Lahore in 1880 to study Law. While in college he came in contact with patriots and future freedom fighters like Lala Hans Raj and Pandit Guru Dutt. The three became fast friends and joined the Arya Samaj founded by Swami Daya Nand Saraswati. He passed his Vakilship Examination in Second Division from Government College in 1885 and started his legal practice in Hissar. Besides practicing, Lalaji collected funds for the Daya Nand College, attended Arya Samaj functions and participated in Congress activities. He was elected to the Hissar municipality as a member and later as secretary. He shifted to Lahore in 1892.

Lala Lajpat Rai was one of the three most prominent Hindu Nationalist members of the Indian National Congress. He was part of the Lal-Bal-Pal trio. The other two members of the trio were Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal. They formed the extremist faction of the Indian National Congress, as opposed to the moderate one led first by Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Lalaji actively participated in the struggle against partition of Bengal. Along with Surendra Nath Banerjee, Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurorbindo Ghosh, he galvanized Bengal and the nation in a vigorous campaign of Swadeshi. Lalaji was arrested on May 3, 1907 for creating "turmoil" in Rawalpindi. He was put in Mandalay jail for six months and was released on November 11, 1907.

Lalaji believed that it was important for the national cause to organize propaganda in foreign countries to explain India's position because the freedom struggle had taken a militant turn. He left for Britain in April 1914 for this purpose. At this time First World War broke out and he was unable to return to India. He went to USA to galvanize support for India. He founded the Indian Home League Society of America and wrote a book called "Young India". The book severely indicted British rule in India and was banned in Britain and India even before it was published. He was able to return to India in 1920 after the end of World War.

After his return, Lala Lajpat Rai,led the Punjab protests against the Jalianwala Bagh Massacre and the Non-Cooperation Movement. He was arrested several times. He disagreed with Gandhiji's suspension of Non-Cooperation movement due to the Chauri-Chaura incident, and formed the Congress Independence Party, which had a pro-Hindu slant.

In 1928, British Government decided to send Simon Commission to India to discuss constitutional reforms. The Commission had no Indian member. This greatly angered Indians. In 1929, when the Commisssion came to India there were protests all over India. Lala Lajpat Rai himself led one such procession against Simon Commission. While the procession was peaceful, British Government brutally lathicharged the procession. Lala Lajpat Rai received severe head injuries and died on November17, 1928.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Born: July 23, 1856
Died: August 1, 1920
Achievements: Considered as Father of Indian National Movement; Founded “Deccan Education Society” to impart quality education to India's youth; was a member of the Municipal Council of Pune, Bombay Legislature, and an elected 'Fellow' of the Bombay University; formed Home Rule League in 1916 to attain the goal of Swaraj. 

Bal Gangadhar Tilak is considered as Father of Indian National Movement. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was a multifaceted personality. He was a social reformer, freedom fighter, national leader, and a scholar of Indian history, sanskrit, hinduism, mathematics and astronomy. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was popularly called as Lokmanya (Beloved of the people). During freedom struggle, his slogan “Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it” inspired millions of Indians. 

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was born on July 23, 1856 in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra. He was a Chitpavan Brahmin by caste. His father Gangadhar Ramachandra Tilak was a Sanskrit scholar and a famous teacher. Tilak was a brilliant student and he was very good in mathematics. Since childhood Tilak had an intolerant attitude towards injustice and he was truthful and straightforward in nature. He was among India's first generation of youth to receive a modern, college education.

When Tilak was ten his father was transferred to Pune from Ratnagiri. This brought sea change in Tilak’s life. He joined the Anglo-Vernacular School in Pune and got education from some of the well known teachers. Soon after coming to Pune Tilak lost his mother and by the time he was sixteen he lost his father too. While Tilak was studying in Matriculation he was married to a 10-year-old girl called Satyabhama. After passing the Matriculation Examination Tilak joined the Deccan College. In 1877, Bal Gangadhar Tilak got his B.A. degree with a first class in mathematics. He continued his studies and got the LL.B. degree too. 

After graduation, Tilak began teaching mathematics in a private school in Pune and later became a journalist. He became a strong critic of the Western education system, feeling it demeaning to Indian students and disrespectful to India's heritage. He came to the conclusion that good citizens can be moulded only through good education. He believed that every Indian had to be taught about Indian culture and national ideals. Along with his classmate Agarkar and great social reformer Vishnushastry Chiplunkar, Bal Gangadhar Tilak founded “Deccan Education Society” to impart quality education to India's youth.

The very next year after the Deccan Education Society was founded, Tilak started two weeklies, 'Kesari' and 'Mahratta'. 'Kesari' was Marathi weekly while 'Mahratta' was English weekly. Soon both the newspapers became very popular. In his newspapers, Tilak highlighted the plight of Indians. He gave a vivid picture of the people's sufferings and of actual happenings. Tilak called upon every Indian to fight for his right. Bal Gangadhar Tilak used fiery language to arouse the sleeping Indians. 

Bal Gangadhar Tilak joined the Indian National Congress in 1890. He was a member of the Municipal Council of Pune, Bombay Legislature, and an elected 'Fellow' of the Bombay University. Tilak was a great social reformer. He issued a call for the banning of child marriage and welcomed widow remarriage. Through the celebrations of Ganapati Festival and the birthday of the Shivaji he organized people. 

In 1897, Bal Gangadhar Tilak was charged with writing articles instigating people to rise against the government and to break the laws and disturb the peace. He was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for one and a half year. Tilak was released in 1898. After his release, Tilak launched Swadeshi Movement. Through newspapers and lectures, Tilak spread the message to each and every village in Maharashtra. A big 'Swadeshi Market' was opened in front of Tilak's house. Meanwhile, Congress was split into two camps-Moderates and Extremists. Extremists led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak opposed the moderate faction led by Gopal Krishna. Extremists were in the favour of self rule while the moderates thought that time is not yet ripe for such an eventuality. This rift finally led to a split in the Congress.

Tilak was arrested on the charges of sedition in 1906. After the trial, Tilak was sentenced to six years of imprisonment in Mandalay (Burma). Tilak spent his time in prison by reading and writing. He wrote the book 'Gita-Rahasya' while he was in prison. Tilak was released on June 8, 1914. After his release, Bal Gangadhar Tilak tried to bring the two factions of Congress together. But his efforts did not bear much fruit. In 1916, Tilak decided to build a separate organization called the 'Home Rule League'. Its goal was swaraj. Tilak went from village to village, and explained the aim of his league to the farmers and won their hearts. He traveled constantly in order to organize the people. While fighting for people’s cause Bal Gangadhar Tilak died on August 1, 1920.

Dr B R Ambedkar

Born: April 14, 1891
Died: December 6, 1956
Achievements: Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was elected as the chairman of the drafting committee that was constituted by the Constituent Assembly to draft a constitution for the independent India; he was the first Law Minister of India; conferred Bharat Ratna in 1990.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar is viewed as messiah of dalits and downtrodden in India. He was the chairman of the drafting committee that was constituted by the Constituent Assembly in 1947 to draft a constitution for the independent India. He played a seminal role in the framing of the constitution. Bhimrao Ambedkar was also the first Law Minister of India. For his yeoman service to the nation, B.R. Ambedkar was bestowed with Bharat Ratna in 1990.

Dr.Bhimrao Ambedkar was born on April 14, 1891 in Mhow (presently in Madhya Pradesh). He was the fourteenth child of Ramji and Bhimabai Sakpal Ambavedkar. B.R. Ambedkar belonged to the "untouchable" Mahar Caste. His father and grandfather served in the British Army. In those days, the government ensured that all the army personnel and their children were educated and ran special schools for this purpose. This ensured good education for Bhimrao Ambedkar, which would have otherwise been denied to him by the virtue of his caste.

Bhimrao Ambedkar experienced caste discrimination right from the childhood. After his retirement, Bhimrao's father settled in Satara Maharashtra. Bhimrao was enrolled in the local school. Here, he had to sit on the floor in one corner in the classroom and teachers would not touch his notebooks. In spite of these hardships, Bhimrao continued his studies and passed his Matriculation examination from Bombay University with flying colours in 1908. Bhim Rao Ambedkar joined the Elphinstone College for further education. In 1912, he graduated in Political Science and Economics from Bombay University and got a job in Baroda.

In 1913, Bhimrao Ambedkar lost his father. In the same year Maharaja of Baroda awarded scholarship to Bhim Rao Ambedkar and sent him to America for further studies. Bhimrao reached New York in July 1913. For the first time in his life, Bhim Rao was not demeaned for being a Mahar. He immersed himself in the studies and attained a degree in Master of Arts and a Doctorate in Philosophy from Columbia University in 1916 for his thesis "National Dividend for India: A Historical and Analytical Study." From America, Dr.Ambedkar proceeded to London to study economics and political science. But the Baroda government terminated his scholarship and recalled him back.

The Maharaja of Baroda appointed Dr. Ambedkar as his political secretary. But no one would take orders from him because he was a Mahar. Bhimrao Ambedkar returned to Bombay in November 1917. With the help of Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur, a sympathizer of the cause for the upliftment of the depressed classes, he started a fortnightly newspaper, the "Mooknayak" (Dumb Hero) on January 31, 1920. The Maharaja also convened many meetings and conferences of the "untouchables" which Bhimrao addressed. In September 1920, after accumulating sufficient funds, Ambedkar went back to London to complete his studies. He became a barrister and got a Doctorate in science.

After completing his studies in London, Ambedkar returned to India. In July 1924, he founded the Bahishkrit Hitkaraini Sabha (Outcastes Welfare Association). The aim of the Sabha was to uplift the downtrodden socially and politically and bring them to the level of the others in the Indian society. In 1927, he led the Mahad March at the Chowdar Tank at Colaba, near Bombay, to give the untouchables the right to draw water from the public tank where he burnt copies of the 'Manusmriti' publicly.

In 1929, Ambedkar made the controversial decision to co-operate with the all-British Simon Commission which was to look into setting up a responsible Indian Government in India. The Congress decided to boycott the Commission and drafted its own version of a constitution for free India. The Congress version had no provisions for the depressed classes. Ambedkar became more skeptical of the Congress's commitment to safeguard the rights of the depressed classes.

When a separate electorate was announced for the depressed classes under Ramsay McDonald 'Communal Award', Gandhiji went on a fast unto death against this decision. Leaders rushed to Dr. Ambedkar to drop his demand. On September 24, 1932, Dr. Ambedkar and Gandhiji reached an understanding, which became the famous Poona Pact. According to the pact the separate electorate demand was replaced with special concessions like reserved seats in the regional legislative assemblies and Central Council of States.

Dr. Ambedkar attended all the three Round Table Conferences in London and forcefully argued for the welfare of the "untouchables". Meanwhile, British Government decided to hold provincial elections in 1937. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar set up the "Independent Labor Party" in August 1936 to contest the elections in the Bombay province. He and many candidates of his party were elected to the Bombay Legislative Assembly.

In 1937, Dr. Ambedkar introduced a Bill to abolish the "khoti" system of land tenure in the Konkan region, the serfdom of agricultural tenants and the Mahar "watan" system of working for the Government as slaves. A clause of an agrarian bill referred to the depressed classes as "Harijans," or people of God. Bhimrao was strongly opposed to this title for the untouchables. He argued that if the "untouchables" were people of God then all others would be people of monsters. He was against any such reference. But the Indian National Congress succeeded in introducing the term Harijan. Ambedkar felt bitter that they could not have any say in what they were called.

In 1947, when India became independent, the first Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, invited Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, who had been elected as a Member of the Constituent Assembly from Bengal, to join his Cabinet as a Law Minister. The Constituent Assembly entrusted the job of drafting the Constitution to a committee and Dr. Ambedkar was elected as Chairman of this Drafting Committee. In February 1948, Dr. Ambedkar presented the Draft Constitution before the people of India; it was adopted on November 26, 1949.

In October 1948, Dr. Ambedkar submitted the Hindu Code Bill to the Constituent Assembly in an attempt to codify the Hindu law. The Bill caused great divisions even in the Congress party. Consideration for the bill was postponed to September 1951. When the Bill was taken up it was truncated. A dejected Ambedkar relinquished his position as Law Minister.

On May 24, 1956, on the occasion of Buddha Jayanti, he declared in Bombay, that he would adopt Buddhism in October. On 0ctober 14, 1956 he embraced Buddhism along with many of his followers. On December 6, 1956, Baba Saheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar died peacefully in his sleep.

Annie Besant

Born: October 1, 1847
Died: September 20, 1933
Achievements: President of Theosophical Society of India; founded Home Rule League in 1916 and demand self rule in India; became first woman president of Indian National Congress.

Annie Besant was a prominent Theosophist, social reformer, political leader, women's rights activist, writer and orator. She was of Irish origin and made India her second home. She fought for the rights of Indian and was the first woman president of Indian National Congress.

Annie Besant was born as Annie Wood on October 1, 1847 in a middle-class family in London. She was of Irish origin. Her father died when she was only five. Annie’s mother supported the family by running a boarding house for boys at Harrow. As a young woman she traveled widely in Europe and this widened her outlook. 

Annie Besant was married in 1867 to a clergyman called Frank Besant. But the marriage did not last long. They legally separated in 1873. Annie Besant had two children from the marriage. After her separation Annie began to question not only her long-held religious beliefs but the whole of conventional thinking. She began to write attacks on the Churches and the way they controlled people’s lives. In particular she attacked the status of the Church of England as a state-sponsored faith. 

Annie Besant fought for the causes she thought were right, such as, women's rights, secularism, birth control, Fabian socialism and workers' rights. She became interested in Theosophy as a way of knowing God. Theosophical Society was against discrimination of race, color, gender and preached Universal brotherhood. To serve humanity at large was its supreme goal. It was as a member of Theosophical Society of India that she arrived in India in 1893. 

She toured the entire country of India. It gave her first hand information about India and middle-class Indians who were affected more by British rule and its system of education. Her long-time interest in education resulted in the founding of the Central Hindu College at Benares (1898). 

She also became involved in Indian freedom movement. In 1916, she founded Home Rule League which advocated self rule by Indians. She became the President of Indian National Congress in 1917. She was the first woman to hold that post. She started a newspaper, "New India", criticized British rule and was jailed for sedition. After the arrival of Gandhiji on Indian national scene, differences arose between Mahatma Gandhi and Annie Besant. Gradually, she withdrew from active politics.

Annie Besant died on September 20, 1933 at Adyar (Madras). As per her wish her ashes were immersed in Ganga in Benares.

Bismillah Khan

Born: March 21, 1916
Died: August 21, 2006

Achievement: Brought shehnai to the center stage of Indian classical music; Became the third classical musician to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour.

The legendary shehnai player, Ustad Bismillah Khan was one of India's most celebrated classical musicians. Bismillah Khan has been credited with taking the shehnai from the marriage mandap to the concert hall.

Bismillah Khan was born on March 21, 1916 at Dumraon, Bihar. His ancestors were court musicians in the princely state of Dumraon in Bihar. Ustad Bismillah Khan was trained under his uncle, the late Ali Bux `Vilayatu', a shehnai player attached to Varanasi's Vishwanath Temple.

Ustad Bismillah Khan brought Shehnai to the center stage of Indian classical music with his concert in the Calcutta All India Music Conference in 1937. He had the honor of performing at Delhi's Red Fort on the occasion of India's Independence on August 15, 1947. Bismillah Khan mesmerized everyone with his heart-touching rendering of Raga Kafi from the Red Fort on the eve of India's first Republic Day ceremony, on January 26, 1950.

Ustad Bismillah Khan was an icon of the composite culture of India. He was a worshipper of both Allah and Saraswati. Ustad Bismillah was greatly attached to the city of Varanasi and the river Ganga. Once, a rich American university invited Bismillah to be their musician-in-residence, and asked him to state his terms. Bismillah Khan replied, he would only come if he could bring his beloved Ganga with him. Ustad Bismillah Khan performed in various parts of the world. He performed in Afghanistan, Europe, Iran, Iraq, Canada, West Africa, USA, USSR, Japan, Hong Kong and almost every capital city across the world.

Ustad Bismillah Khan was a recipient of many honors and awards. These include: Padma Vibhushan (1980), Padma Bhushan (1968), Padma Shri (1961), Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1956), and Tansen Award by Govt. of Madhya Pradesh. In 2001, Ustad Bismillah Khan became the third classical musician to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour.

Ustad Bismillah Khan died on August 21, 2006 due to cardiac arrest.

Zakir Hussain

Born: March 9, 1951
Achievement: Considered as the chief architect of the contemporary world music movement; youngest percussionist to ever be awarded the title of Padma Shri

Zakir Hussain is a classical tabla virtuoso and the most famous tabla player in India today. His contribution in the field of percussion and in the music world at large is highly appreciated.

Ustad Zakir Hussain was born on March 9, 1951. His father Ustad Allarakha was himself an established tabla player. Zakir Hussain did his schooling from St. Michael's High School in Mahim and completed his graduation from St Xaviers, Mumbai. Zakir Hussain was a child prodigy and started touring by the age of twelve. He came to the United States in 1970 and started his international career.

Zakir Hussain is widely considered as the chief architect of the contemporary world music movement. He founded much historic collaboration. These include: Shakti, which he founded with John McLaughlin and L. Shankar, the Diga Rhythm Band, Making Music, Planet Drum with Mickey Hart, and recordings and performances with a number of artists such as George Harrison, Joe Henderson, Van Morrison, Jack Bruce, Tito Puente, Pharoah Sanders, Billy Cobham, the Hong Kong Symphony and the New Orleans Symphony.

In 1987, Zakir Hussain's first solo release, "Making Music," was acclaimed as "one of the most inspired East-West fusion albums ever recorded." In 1988, Zakir Hussain became the youngest percussionist to ever be awarded the title of "Padma Shri" by the Indian government. In 1990, he was awarded the Indo-American Award in recognition for his outstanding cultural contribution to relations between the United States and India. In April, 1991, Zakir Hussain was presented with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award by the President of India. Zakir Hussain is also the recipient of the 1999 National Heritage Fellowship, the United States' most prestigious honor for a master in the traditional arts.

Zakir Hussain has composed soundtracks for several movies, notable among them are "In Custody" and "The Mystic Masseur" by Ismail Merchant. Zakir Hussain has also played tabla on the soundtracks of Francis Coppola's "Apocalypse Now", Bernardo Bertolucci's "Little Buddha".

A R Rahman

Born - 6 January 1967
Achievements - AR Rahman holds the credit for totally overhauling the style in which music was being made in India. Though with a career spanning just over a decade, Rahman has already sold over one hundred million records world-wide and more than two hundred million cassettes. This has brought AR Rahman into the category of the world's top 25 all-time top selling recording artists.

Allah Rakha Rahman, who is better known as AR Rahman, is a world-class musician of India. Born as A. S. Dileep Kumar on 6 January 1967 at Chennai in Tamil Nadu, AR Rahman holds the credit for totally overhauling the style in which music was being made in India. Soundtracks and scores composed by him for Indian films have a strong impression of classical, folk, jazz, reggae, soft rock and other genres. Due to his creative brilliance, AR Rahman is often referred to as the Mozart of Madras by his fans in India and abroad. 

The biography of AR Rahman's career spans somewhere over a decade, but he has already sold over one hundred million records world-wide and more than two hundred million cassettes. This has brought Rahman into the category of the world's top 25 all-time top selling recording artists. Though AR Rahman is the undisputed leader in Indian contemporary music in the present times, he has seen his share of struggle in the professional life.

His father, R K Shekhar, who was a composer, arranger and conductor for Malayalam films died when Rahman was just 9 years-old and his family rented out musical equipment as a source of income. Later there was a turning point when Dileep Kumar decided to rechristen himself as A R Rahman. This incident happened when Rahman's sister was very ill once. A Muslim friend suggested if he prayed in a particular mosque, his sister would recover and so did happen. This caused the entire family to convert to Islam. 

The life history of AR Rahman's music career started scaling upwards 1991 onwards when began his own studio and started making music for advertisements, television channels and so on. Rahman got his very first break into the Indian film industry when film director, Mani Ratnam offered him a chance to compose music for his Tamil film, Roja at mere Rs 25,000. This movie turned out to be blockbuster hit and then there was no looking back for A.R. Rahman. 

Roja debut made AR Rahman bag the Rajat Kamal award for best music director at the National Film Awards. This was a historic moment as for the first time ever in Indian film industry, this award was being handed to a first-time film composer. There was no looking back for AR Rahman after this as film offers just started pouring in. There are now an impressive number of music tracks created by Rahman and all of them have sold like hot cakes across India and even abroad. He has made songs for super hit films like Rangeela, Dil Se Taal, Rang De Basanti, Bombay et al.

R D Burman

Born - 27 June 1939
Died - 4 January 1994
Achievements - R.D. Burman is considered the greatest of all music composers the Indian film industry's ever had. His musical brilliance is evident from the fact that the famous song 'Sar jo tera chakraaye' in Guru Dutt's film, Pyaasa was composed by him as a child. He has belted out some of the jazziest hits in the history of Bollywood music.

Rahul Dev Burman, who is more famous by the name of R.D. Burman, is considered the greatest of all music composers the Indian film industry's ever had. His entry into Bollywood saw the revolutionization of the way music was being composed here. Son of singer and music composer, Sachin Dev Burman and second husband of playback singer, Asha Bhosle, RD Burman is credited for injecting a fresh style and technique into the singing of yesteryears Hindi songs. Burman's melodious songs lack parallel even today. 

The biography of RD Burman continues here. Rahul Dev Burman was lovingly called Pancham da by industry insiders and friends because during his childhood, whenever he cried, it sounded in the fifth note 'Pa' of the Indian musical scale. Little Pancham was born at Kolkata in West Bengal state. He started taking sarod lessons from Ustad Ali Akbar Khan after shifting to Mumbai. RD Burman composed his first song 'Aye meri topi palat ke aa' at the age of nine, which his father used in the film 'Funtoosh' released in the year 1956. 

Infact, the famous song 'Sar jo tera chakraaye' in Guru Dutt's film, Pyaasa was composed by him as a child. RD Burman also played the mouth organ as a child in another famous song, Hai apna dil to aawara in the film Solva Saal released in the year 1958 starring actor Dev Anand. Pancham began his music career as assistant to his father. However, he began working independently as music director after the film Chhote Nawaab was made and thereafter, handled 331 films and 4 non-film albums on his own. 

Even though, RD Burman composed an impressive amount of songs, yet a number of them are yet to be released. These are songs from unreleased movies and a particular short phase when he had little work in hand. R D Burman also did playback for 18 movies and was famous for unique, grunting bass singing style. He even acted in films like Bhoot Bungla (1965) and Pyar Ka Mausam (1967). At times, his songs used to be inspired by western songs. For instance, song 'Mehbooba Mehbooba' was inspired by Demis Rusos's 'Say You Love Me'. 

Infact, RD Burman was India's most popular composer in 1970s. During this time, he teamed up with singers like Asha Bhosle, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar and others to belt out some of the jazziest hits in the history of Bollywood music. For example, there were musical hits like Amar prem, Buddha mil gaya, Caravan, and Hare Rama Hare Krishna. Amar Prem is remembered for its complex songs based on Indian classical music. RD Burman has also collaborated with Singer Boy George and other international artists.

Mahatma Gandhi

Born: October 2, 1869
Martyrdom: January 30, 1948.
Achievements: Known as Father of Nation; played a key role in winning freedom for India; introduced the concept of Ahimsa and Satyagraha.

Mahatma Gandhi popularly known as Father of Nation played a stellar role in India's freedom struggle. Born in a Bania family in Kathiawar, Gujarat, his real name was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (M.K. Gandhi). The title Mahatma came to be associated with his name much later. Before Gandhiji's arrival on the Indian political scene, freedom struggle was limited only to the intelligentsia. Mahatma Gandhi's main contribution lay in the fact that he bridged the gulf between the intelligentsia and the masses and widened the concept of Swaraj to include almost every aspect of social and moral regeneration. Paying tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his death, famous scientist Albert Einstein said, "Generations to come will scarce believe that such a man as this walked the earth in flesh and blood".

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, at Porbandar, a small town on the western coast of India, which was then one of the many tiny states in Kathiawar. Gandhiji was born in middle class family of Vaishya caste. His father, Karamchand Gandhi, was a Dewan or Prime Minister of Porbandar. His mother, Putlibai, was a very religious lady and left a deep impression on Gandhiji's mind. Gandhiji was a mediocre student and was excessively shy and timid.

Gandhiji was truthful in his conduct right from the childhood. There is a very famous incident in this regard. A British school inspector once came to Gandhiji's school and set a spelling test. Gandhiji spelled all the words correctly except kettle. The class teacher noticed the mistake and gestured Gandhiji to copy the correct spelling from the boy sitting next to him. Gandhiji refused to take the hint and was later scolded for his "stupidity".

Gandhiji was married at the age of thirteen to Kasturbai. He was in high school at that time. Later on in his life, Gandhiji denounced the custom of child marriage and termed it as cruel. After matriculating from the high school, Gandhiji joined the Samaldas College in Bhavnagar. After the death of Gandhiji's father in 1885, a family suggested that if Gandhiji hoped to take his father's place in the state service he had better become a barrister which he could do in England in three years. Gandhi welcomed the idea but his mother was objected to the idea of going abroad. To win his mother's approval Gandhiji took a solemn vow not to touch wine, women and meat and remained true to it throughout his stay in England.

Gandhiji sailed for England on September 4, 1888. Initially he had difficulty in adjusting to English customs and weather but soon he overcame it. Gandhiji completed his Law degree in 1891 and returned to India. He decided to set up legal practice in Bombay but couldn't establish himself. Gandhiji returned to Rajkot but here also he could not make much headway. At this time Gandhiji received an offer from Dada Abdulla & Co. to proceed to South Africa on their behalf to instruct their counsel in a lawsuit. Gandhiji jumped at the idea and sailed for South Africa in April 1893.

It was in South Africa that Gandhiji's transformation from Mohandas to Mahatma took place. Gandhiji landed at Durban and soon he realized the oppressive atmosphere of racial snobbishness against Indians who were settled in South Africa in large numbers. After about a week's stay in Durban Gandhiji left for Pretoria, the capital of the Transvaal, in connection with a lawsuit. When the train reached Pietermaritzburg, the capital of Natal, at about 9 p.m. a white passenger who boarded the train objected to the presence of a "coloured" man in the compartment and Gandhji was ordered by a railway official to shift to a third class. When he refused to do so, a constable pushed him out and his luggage was taken away by the railway authorities. It was winter and bitterly cold. This incident changed Gandhiji's life forever. He decided to fight for the rights of Indians. Gandhiji organised the Indian community in South Africa and asked them to forget all distinctions of religion and caste. He suggested the formation of an association to look after the Indian settlers and offered his free time and services.

During his stay in South Africa, Gandhiji's life underwent a change and he developed most of his political ideas. Gandhiji decided to dedicate himself completely to the service of humanity. He realized that absolute continence or brahmacharya was indispensable for the purpose as one could not live both after the flesh and the spirit. In 1906, Gandhiji took a vow of absolute continence. In the course of his struggle in South Africa, Gandhiji, developed the concepts of Ahimsa (non-violence) and Satyagraha (holding fast to truth or firmness in a righteous cause). Gandhiji's struggle bore fruit and in 1914 in an agreement between Gandhiji and South African Government, the main Indian demands were conceded.

Gandhiji returned to India in 1915 and on the advice of his political guru Gopal Krishna Gokhale, spent the first year touring throughout the country to know the real India. After an year of wandering, Gandhiji settled down on the bank of the river Sabarmati, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, where he founded an ashram called Satyagraha Ashram. Gandhiji's first satyagraha in India was in Champaran, in Bihar, where he went in 1917 at the request of a poor peasants to inquire into the grievances of the much exploited peasants of that district, who were compelled by British indigo planters to grow indigo on 15 percent of their land and part with the whole crop for rent. Gandhiji's Satyagraha forced British government to set up a inquiry into the condition of tenant farmers. The report of the committee of which Gandhi was a member went in favour of the tenant farmers. The success of his first experiment in satyagraha in India greatly enhanced Gandhiji's reputation in the country.

In 1921, Gandhji gave the call for Non-cooperation movement against the ills of British rule. Gandhiji's call roused the sleeping nation. Many Indians renounced their titles and honours, lawyers gave up their practice, and students left colleges and schools. Non-cooperation movement also brought women into the domain of freedom struggle for the first time. Non-cooperation movement severely jolted the British government. But the movement ended in an anti-climax in February 1922. An outbreak of mob violence in Chauri Chaura so shocked and pained Gandhi that he refused to continue the campaign and undertook a fast for five days to atone for a crime committed by others in a state of mob hysteria.

Gandhiji was sentenced to six years imprisonment but was released in 1924 on medical grounds. For the next five years Gandhi seemingly retired from active agitational politics and devoted himself to the propagation of what he regarded as the basic national needs, namely, Hindu-Muslim unity, removal of untouchability, equality of women, popularization of hand-spinning and the reconstruction of village economy.

On March 12, 1930 Gandhiji started the historic Dandi March to break the law which had deprived the poor man of his right to make his own salt. On April 6, 1930 Gandhiji broke the Salt law at the sea beach at Dandi. This simple act was immediately followed by a nation-wide defiance of the law. This movement galvanized the whole nation and came to be known as "Civil Disobedience Movement". Within a few weeks about a hundred thousand men and women were in jail, throwing mighty machinery of the British Government out of gear. This forced the then Viceroy Lord Irwin to call Gandhiji for talks. On March 5, 1931 Gandhi Irwin Pact was signed. Soon after signing the pact Gandhiji went to England to attend the First Round Table Conference. Soon after his return from England Gandhiji was arrested without trial.

After the outbreak of Second World War in 1939, Gandhiji again became active in the political arena. British Government wanted India's help in the war and Congress in return wanted a clear-cut promise of independence from British government. But British government dithered in its response and on August 8, 1942 Gandhiji gave the call for Quit India Movement. Soon the British Government arrested Gandhiji and other top leaders of Congress. Disorders broke out immediately all over India and many violent demonstrations took place. While Gandhiji was in jail his wife Kasturbai passed away. Gandhiji too had a severe attack of Malaria. In view of his deteriorating health he was released from the jail in May 1944.

Second World War ended in 1945 and Britain emerged victorious. In the general elections held in Britain in 1945, Labour Party came to power, and Atlee became the Prime Minister. He promised an early realization of self Government in India. A Cabinet Mission arrived from England to discuss with Indian leaders the future shape of a free and united India, but failed to bring the Congress and Muslims together. India attained independence but Jinnah's intransigence resulted in the partition of the country. Communal riots between Hindus and Muslims broke out in the country in the aftermath of partition. Tales of atrocities on Hindus in Pakistan provoked Hindus in India and they targeted Muslims. Gandhiji worked ceaselessly to promote unity between Hindus and Muslims. This angered some Hindu fundamentalists and on January 30, 1948 Gandhiji was shot dead by one such fundamentalist Nathu Ram Godse while he was going for his evening prayers. The last words on the lips of Gandhiji were Hey Ram.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Veena Malik

Veena Malik was born on 26 February 1978 in Bhakar, to Ali Malik, a Pakistan Army soldier, and his wife, Zeenat Malik. The family settled in Rawalpindi after her birth. Her grandmother named her Zahida, but her family insisted on keeping Veena as her first name. Her father often remained away from home, so she was brought up by her grandmother and mother until she was in her late teens when her grandmother died. Malik grew up expressing an interest in joining the film industry and her grandmother decided to encourage her. Her father however disliked the idea and pondered over his daughter's fate in an industry that was deemed unsuitable for girls in Pakistan and initially resisted his daughter's attempts to pursue a career in entertainment. However, she continued to receive support from her grandmother despite the disapproval of many family members.
Career (Films)
Veena, 4th from right, at the launch of her film, Mohabbatan Sachiyan at the Gulistan Cinema, Lahore.
Coming from a conservative Muslim family, she faced great adversity from members of her family, especially her father, on her decision to join show business. Before starting her career off as an actress, Malik worked as a comedian for several televisions shows and series. She made her acting debut alongside Shaan and Zara Sheikh in Askari's Tere Pyar Mein (2000), which did well at the box office. She played a supporting role in the film and was barely acknowledged. However, she appeared in a supporting role in Javed Sheikh's Yeh Dil Aap Ka Huwa (2002); the film was a commercial success.
In 2003, Malik appeared in Indo-Pak cross venture Punjabi film Pind Di Kuri which failed to do so well, however, the film turned out be the first Indo-Pak venture film with a budget of approximately 70 million rupees. She also appeared in Askari's Sassi Punno (2003) alongside Sana and Moammar Rana, however the film failed to do well at Lahore's cinemas and further screenings had stopped in cinemas after a week of its release. She then appeared in Rafique's Jageer, which was considered a flop at the box office.
In 2005, she appeared in Punjabi short film "Bau Badmash" (2005) which didn't garner any recognition due to the lack of big stars. She then appeared in Khan's Koi Tujh Sa Kahan (2005) which was a commercial success in Pakistan.
She continued to appear in many films such as Wapsi (2006), Packton Yaar (2006), Sozam Peh Angar (2006) and Anjaam (2007), however neither of these films made a mark in Pakistani cinema. In 2007, she won her first Lux Style Award for being the most stylish celebrity on the red carpet.
In 2008, Malik appeared in Rafique's Punjabi film, Mohabbatan Sachiyan, alongside ex-fiancee Babrik Shah and newcomers Maria Khan and Adnan Khan. The film went on to become a commercial success. The same year, she appeared in Raza's Kabhi Pyaar Na Karna in a supporting role, but the film was a flop. Her last film of 2008 was Altaf's Ishq Beparwah which also failed to impress the audience.
In 2010, she worked in Rafique's Main Jeena Tere Naal, and Beyg's debut comedy film Miss Duniya.
Malik has usually been cast as a supporting actor. It is unclear if she herself stayed clear of the leading roles or was denied them. Industry enthusiasts say that the only genre she was good at was 'comedy' and the directors failed to create a leading role around her acting skills. The criticism was taken well by her and she began to hone her skills even more in comedy.
In 2002, she was called by Prime TV to host a show called Prime Gupshup[3] for them ushering a new direction for her comedic skills and she improvised on the hour-long show occasionally mimicking actors. The show's format was such a great success added with the charisma that she brought with her, resulting in offers from various other channels as well. She hosted the Geo TV show Hum Sub Umeed Say Hain, in which she was hailed for her comedic parodies.
In 2007, she graced the red carpet event of the Lux Style Awards and was awarded as being the ‘most stylish celebrity on the carpet’.
Personal life
She currently resides in Karachi. Early in 2008, rumours of her suffering a heart-attack were revealed to be exaggerations, and she was diagnosed instead with a mildly serious form of tachycardia. In an interview, she described her turmoil during the time of her illness. It was subsequently reported that she prepared her will, and entrusted it to her sister.
In 2009, media reports revealed that Malik has married cricketer, Mohammad Asif in a court in London, England. However, this was denied by both of them, despite pictures revealing there affection towards each other. Later, Asif got married to Sana Hilal in Lahore on 2 March 2010.
Scandals and controversies
What appeared to be her nude pictures were being circulated on the Internet and became an issue of debate by the end of 2001. She repeatedly denied the accusations saying she never appeared in any photo shoots of such kind. The controversies were short-lived but boosted Veena's appeal in the industry.
She was accused in 2004 of being involved in indecent acts by one of her co-stars. After filming a cross-border venture with Bollywood named Pind Di Kuri, actress Sheeba Butt added, “That is what her real character is like. It is a matter of disrespect for us.” This came after Veena's comments that Sheeba's acting etiquette ‘had tarnished the image of Pakistan by causing a loss’ of 70,000 rupees to the Indian Punjabi producer Iqbal Singh Dhillon for which Veena claims she had to compensate for from her own pocket.
In April 2010, it was widely speculated in the media, that Malik provided escort services to cricketer Mohammad Asif in 2008, for which she demanded a large sum of around 13 Million PKR ($153,000) and wanted to escalate the claim to court. Later, she served a legal notice on Asif, after two cheques he gave her to settle the outstanding amount were bounced.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

India against corruption (IAC)

India Against Corruption (IAC) is a citizen's movement to demand strong anti-corruption laws. Lokpal bills were introduced several times since 1968, yet they were never passed by the Indian Parliament. After a fast by veteran social activist Anna Hazare and widespread protests by citizens across India the Government of India constituted a 10-member Joint Committee of ministers and civil society activists to draft an effective Jan Lokpal Bill. The primary focus of IAC movement is to ensure a strong Lokpal bill. The IAC is a strictly voluntary organization and its participants are bound by the IAC code of conduct.

The success of this campaign depends entirely on its volunteers — folks like you from all across the world who are willing to lend their time and their talents to free India of Corruption. You can choose your level of involvement based on the time commitment you wish to make.

Core Committee Members

Anna HazareKiran Bedi Arvind Kejriwal Justice Santosh Hegde 
Shanti Bhushan Prashant Bhushan Medha Patkar Arch Bishop of Delhi Vincent M Concessao 
Mayank Gandhi Manish SisodiaDinesh VaghelaSanjay Singh
Kumar VishwasPrithvi Reddy  Chandramohan - Representative of Chennai Team  Akhil Gogoi 
Darshak Hathi - Representative of Art of LivingArvind GaurDevinder Sharma Sunita Godara 
Naveen Jaihind Gopal Rai Maulana Shamoon QasmiSwati Maliwal

Important Links

1.Official Web site of IAC:
2.Official Face Book Page of IAC :
3.Official Google Plus Page of IAC :
4.Twitter :
5.Orkut Community: