Urdu Poets Unite Against Child Labour
By Kulsum Mustafa
LUCKNOW, India, July 17: Moradabad, 167 km from the national capital, Delhi is famous for four things, its brass ware, child labour, polio and its poetry. Moradabad exports $ 20 billion worth brass and crystal ware a year and employs, according to official statistics 57,000 children including 17,000 girls.
This brass city of India is also known for its Mushairas or night long poetry sessions where Urdu poets from all over India regale the audience with renderings on passion, love, wit and sarcasam.
On a scented June night Moradabad played host to India’s first mushaira on child rights. For the first time the Urdu poets, 25 of them including 11 women devoted their talent to raise questions on the plight of these working children. They dedicated their poetry to the 20th anniversary of CRC.
An entire generation relegated to cycle of poverty
So common is child labor in Moradabad and in such abundance that the local population here seems to have almost become insensitive to the social and economic costs of a relegating an entire generation to the vicious circle of poverty and illiteracy.
The poetic symposium ( Mushaira) held in response to a UNICEF appeal worked like magic in this world renowned Urdu poet, Jigar Moradabadi’s home town. The much awaited annual Azeem- o-Shaan Mushaira organized by the district farm development and cultural festival acquired a greater social dimention when nearly two dozen pan India poets, participated in the symposium.
Each poet endorsed their deep concern for the welfare of the children, through their eloquent verses. Some poets condemned the employer of these children, calling them cruel and heartless
Bacchey na rahey hogay kabhi who shayad, Bachoo ko jo mazdoor bana detey hain (They may never have been children themselves who employ children as laborers)
Others made a passionate appeal against this malice by saying
Bachpaan ko andhero ki tarf modr na dena Badertey masoom kadam tood na dena (Do not turn childhood towards darksness, and break down the innocent steps going towards development.
Sar jahah per jhookaey gaey Hum waha tak sataey gaey Expressing the plight of children who are crushed under the weight of work one poet said they cannot stoop any lower with burden.
The huge crowd whose enthusiasm did not wane till the wee hours of the morning appreciated the poetic gems churned out on disadvantaged children
Message by poets relevant for any place in India
Appreciating the “novel and practical way of condemning this inhuman practice, Urdu poet and HoD, Urdu department, Jamia MilliaUniversity, New Delhi said, “I am delighted to be part of this social drive. The venue maybe Moradabad but our message is for any place in India which has child labour.” For poetess Khushboo Sharma of Muzaffarnagar it was “an unforgettable mushiara that she will always cherish.”
“Poets are sensitive souls they therefore are the best communicators on children issues,” said Mr Augutine Veliath, UNICEF Communication specialist, guest of honour at the mushaira. Appreciating the “positive poetic approach” towards a major issue like child labor he said UNICEF, which works for children with the government always welcomes ideas which take the issues of right of children into the hearts and minds of people.
Kashish Warsi the convener of the mushaira was happy that such a platform was used for the welfare of disadvantaged children The event supported by Osama Talha Society for Culture and Mass Communication and Media Nest, both all India media bodies.
While primarily working for the welfare of media persons and their families in the true spirit of sharing concern of fraternity and community these organizations also do charitable and social work in the field of education, sports and culture.
“There could not be a more powerful way of creating awareness on the issues of deprived children then through poetry” said Ms Mustafa, senior journalist and secretary general of Media Nest.
The candle of the function was lighted by Member of Parliament, Dr Shafiqur Rehman ‘Barkh’. Punjab Police Academy chief, IPS Mohd Faiyyaz Farooqui presided.The chief guest was Moradabad mayor. Dr S T Hasan.Hamid Gusawali (Maharashtra), Rais Nizami (Ujjain), Zia Tokwi (Madhya Pradesh), Javed Azshi (Indore), Sikander Hayat Gadbad (Roorkee), Tahir Sahri (Nainital), Khalid Zahid (Muzaffarnagar), Zameer Khairabadi, Hamid Bahraichi, Mahinder Singh Ashk, Waseem Alvi, Rustam Rampuri, Jamal Azaar, Ana Dehalvi, Khusboo Sharma (Muzaffernagar), Savita Aseem (Delhi),Taranum Naaz (Fatehpur),Noor Parveen, Hina Arzoo, Nighat Amroohvi, participated in the night long mushaira.