3rd Annual Mehfil-e-Hyderabad Held in Mississauga

June 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Ayub Khan, TMO

Hasan Chishti Receiving the award from Bob Dechert.

MISSISSAUGA, CANADA—The 3rd Annual Mehfil-e-Hyderabad, cultural extravaganza & awards night organized by the Hyderabad Deccan Foundation of Canada (HDFC), was held at Versailles Banquet Hall in Mississauga on June 18th. The event has become the largest gathering celebrating Hyderabadi culture in North America and attracted over 700 attendees from cities across Canada and the US. Catering to every taste and persuasions the event featured awards for high achieving Canadians and Americans of Hyderabadi origin, speeches on the culture & history of Hyderabad, a musical program, and a raffle draw for two tickets on Etihad Airways.

Mr. Bashir Beg, HDFC chairman, in his speech highlighted the multicultural character of Hyderabad and its relevance in today’s globalized world. ‘Founded more than 400 years ago on the banks of the Musi River our composite culture was ‘multicultural’ in the truest sense, even before the word was coined. Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, Christians, Jews, and people of many other ethnicities, castes, and creeds made Hyderabad their home and forever adopted its synthetic culture… It was a true representation of the multicultural Mosaic that everyone is aspiring to in a globalized world.  Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, had described Hyderabad as a ‘miniature India.’ In retrospect it would be more correctly described as ‘miniature globe,’ he said.
Explaining the goals of HDFC Mr. Beg said that the organization has been formed to unite the diaspora Hyderabadi community and promote and preserve its unique culture.  In this regard HDFC is planning to build a Hyderabadi Community which will serve as a hub for the promotion of arts, literature, music, language, and the values of Hyderabad. Mr. Beg urged the large Hyderabadi community of Canada to become active members of the organization and further its cause.

Mr. Bob Dechert (Member of Parliament), served as the chief guest of the function, and stated that he was deeply impressed by the vitality of dynamism of the Canadian Hyderabadis. He praised their contributions to the Canadian society in diverse fields. He supported the idea of the Hyderabadi Community Centre and offered his help towards its fruition.

Dr. Taqi Abedi (physician, poet, critic, and author of 35 books) in his spell bounding speech, in chaste Urdu, provide a historical overview of Hyderabad’s heritage and its contemporary relevance. Uncovering the aspects of the Hyderabadi dialect of Urdu he stated that it is a true amalgam of various cultures.

Mr. Goldy Hyder, a public relations expert and General Manager at Hill & Knowlton Canada, spoke on how his values have helped him in excelling and integrating in the mainstream. He advised the youth to be proud of their heritage while navigating their respective career paths. He asked them to be value the importance of parents and grandparents as they are the pillars who bring stability and serenity in the society.

This year five awards were given to five outstanding Hyderabadis from Canada and the US:

1.      Goldy Hyder (Ottawa), Political & Public Affairs
2.      Asif Saeed (Chicago), Business Entrepreneurship
3.      Hasan Chishti (Chicago), Urdu Literature
4.      Dr. Shehla Burney (Kingston), English Literature
5.      Quader Bin Sayeed (Toronto), Mountaineering

(Full biographies are at the end )

An exquisite fashion show was also staged with bridal and party dresses from India, conducted by Dream Couture fashion studios.

The musical program was conducted by HDFC director Rafat Alam whose crooning enthralled the audience. Other performers included Geeta, Chandrima, Tahira, Rahmat Khan,  Asad Siddiqui, and Kaiser Bhai.

Two raffle draws were conducted during the musical segment by Zahir Kaiser, Zehra Beg, and Ahmer Beg. Among the winners, two lucky winners won one Etihad ticket each to Hyderabad, courtesy Zahir Kaiser.

A richly illustrated souvenir, compiled by Mr. Fazal Siddiqui and Mr. Sardar Ali, featuring top quality articles was also unveiled at the event.

Zehra Beg, Salman Ansari, Hamdan Yar Khan and Khadija Mahmood served as the comperes.

For more information please contact Mr. Bashir Beg at 905-826-0407

HDFC Awardee Bios

Goldy Hyder

Mr. Goldy Hyder is a General Manager and Senior Vice President at Hill & Knowlton, one of Canada’s leading communications and public relations company. Mr. Hyder is sought after expert and commentator on a range of issues including political communications and strategy. Mr. Hyder works with a wide array of industries including banking, insurance, energy, pharmaceuticals, international trade, transportation and US-Canada relations, to name a few.  He is a seasoned expert on mergers and acquisitions having worked on numerous transactions in a variety of industries from energy to mining to technology.

Earlier, Mr. Hyder served as the chief of staff to Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark.

He holds holds a Master of Arts degree from The University of Calgary in public policy with a specialization in policy making during times of crisis. Goldy is on the Board of Governors at Carleton University and the Chair of its Community Relations and Advancement Committee, an Executive Member of the Canadian Club of Ottawa where he served as President 2005-2006, a member of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, a Lifetime Member of the India Canada Ottawa Business Council, and a member of the Albany Club of Toronto. In 2008 he was recognized by the Indo-Canada Ottawa Business Chamber of Commerce for his achivements and contributions to the community.

Mr. Asif Sayeed

Mr. Asif Sayeed is a businessman and entrepreneur who has remarkable achievements to his credit in the health care field. He was president & CEO of Management Principles Inc., Vital Home & Health Care Inc. and Smart Medical Buildings Inc., and American Health Care Providers Inc. The last company was ranked as the fifth largest health care company Illinois by Crain’s Chicago Businesss.  He is the recipient of several awards including outstanding service award from the Chicago Jaycee’s.

Mr. Sayeed supports various charitable and community organizations. He has contributed to several charitable projects in Illinois, Indiana, Arkansas, and in India.  His philanthropic work focuses on hunger eradication, education, and health care.

An avid sportsman he has played cricket since his school days. He represented India at the International University Games along with Cricketing legend Sunil Gavaskar.  Over the years he has diversified his sporting talents. Most recently he won the prestigious Sectional Golf Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club.

Hasan Chishti

Mr. Hasan Chishti is a pioneering figure in the promotion of Urdu language and literature in North America. His services to Urdu language span three countries (India, Saudi Arabia, and usa) close to half a century.  Born in Hyderabad and educated at Osmania University he was associated with the literary world from an early age. He was the editor of the ‘Akash,’ ‘Pasban,’ and several other Urdu journals in Hyderabad. He moved to Chicago in 1986 and ever since has been actively promoting Urdu language through a host of activities. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Community Leadership Award of  the Federation of Indian Associations of America, Alami Urdu Award, Haji Mohammad Award of the Urdu Writers Society (California), Outstanding Achievement Award from the All Saints Alumni Association, etc. A poet of rare distinction he is widely praised for his ghazals. He has also compiled and edited four volumes of noted humorist Mujtaba Hussain’s works.

Dr. Shehla Burney

Dr. Shehla Burney, associate professor at Queen’s University’s Faculty of Education, is a distinguished academic whose work in the area of cultural studies has been critically acclaimed. Over the years she has made key contributions on subjects as varied as ethnicity, identity politics, drama, postcolonialism, and interculturalism. She has worked on a mission for the United Nations Development Project in Crimea, Ukraine at the UNO School in Simferpol on on the retrieval and reaffirmation of cultural identity of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people who were deported during World War II and have recently been repatriated to their homeland.

Dr. Burney received a PhD from the University of Toronto with a citation for her dissertation from the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, New York.

Dr. Burney was also the recipient of two gold medals for receiving the highest marks in BA and in BEd. She also received a Distinction in her “Cambridge University School Leaving Certificate”. She has held SSHRC doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships, research grants and a Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute fellowship. Her research articles have been published in top ranking peer-reviewed journals and books  including the The Harriman Review, The Canadian Journal of Higher Education, etc. She had also contributed an article on Hyderabadis in the Encyclopedia of the People of Canada, published by the University of Toronto Press.

Quader Bin Sayeed

Hyderababad born Quader Bin Sayeed had accompanied the Austrian Karakorum Expedition to Broad  Peak,26650 feet above sea level. He is the first Hyderabadi to go on a  Moutaineering Expedition and went up to 21650 feet without any use of artificial oxygen. He was on the mountains for five months and remained on top of snow with  four Austrian mountaineers for three months.

During this expedition,  one of the members, Herman Buhl, lost his life due to severe weather, heavy snowfall and poor visibility. Quader Bin Sayeed did not have any  mountaineering experience and was selected due to his extraordinary physical   fitness,willpower and determination. More details on Mr. Sayeed can be obtained from www.broadpeak.com.


BJP’s Political Strategy: Singh’s Expulsion

August 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS) India Correspondent

NEW DELHI: It is still too early and too simplistic to view the internal crisis faced by the BJP as a sign of the party heading towards a collapse. In the last week the BJP has been hitting headlines over expelling senior party leader Jaswant Singh and the resignation of party activist Sudhendra Kulkarni. The party expelled Singh for his book, Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence in which Singh claims Mohammed Ali Jinnah was not solely responsible for partition and the formation of Pakistan. In Singh’s opinion, Jinnah has been unnecessarily blamed for this, as India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru and Home Minister Sardar Vallabhai Patel were also responsible. Taking strong exception to the stand taken by Singh, at its brain storming session in Shimla, the BJP decided to expel him August 19. And before the dust over the issue had settled, Kulkarni announced his decision to break his ties with BJP.

Reacting to the BJP’s decision on expelling him, Singh said: “I didn’t think that the party is so narrow-minded, so nervous about Jinnah and Patel to get so riled at what I have written. I have a feeling, which I voiced also, that perhaps my former colleagues had not really read the book when they passed the sentence.”  On Kulkarni’s resignation, Singh said: “He (Kulkarni) has been persuaded to resign.”

Claiming that his resignation from BJP had nothing to do with Singh’s expulsion, Kulkarni said that he had decided to resign earlier. “I have, after 13 years of being a full-time activist of BJP, decided to end my active association with the party. I continue, however, to be its well-wisher,” he said. “I have concluded that I cannot make any meaningful contribution to the party anymore, as I have ideological differences with it as it stands today. I want to have the freedom to express my views and be sincere to my convictions. At the same time, I respect the discipline of the party and, therefore, I have stepped out,” Kulkarni said.

The ironical similarity between what led to Singh’s expulsion and Kulkarni’s resignation cannot be de-linked. If Singh faced the ire of hardcore party members because of his book, Kulkarni also faced their wrath on account of several points he made in recent articles. Kulkarni, a journalist, strongly criticized the manner in which former cabinet minister Singh was expelled from the BJP at its Shimla conclave. Earlier, following the BJP’s defeat in Lok Sabha polls, Kulkarni was highly critical of the party’s election campaign strategy, hate speeches of Varun Gandhi–and he also blamed Sangh Parivar for its interfering in BJP functions.

Singh’s expulsion and Kulkarni’s resignation are also suggestive of both being made to walk out of the party because the hardcore party members, strongly associated with the saffron brigade, felt uncomfortable with their writings, which went against the code the BJP is expected to adhere to. There is also the possibility of the entire political drama having been deliberately staged to judge the reaction that it would have on the people, political circles and in the media. There is no denying BJP leaders having acknowledged that its negative image has contributed to its defeat in Lok Sabha polls. The internal report deliberated on at the Shimla conclave listed projection of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as future PM, and Varun’s hate speeches as responsible for the BJP’s poll debacle. Ironically, neither Singh nor Kulkarni have been accused by the party or its allies as responsible for their poor performance in the parliamentary elections. Amid this backdrop, Singh’s expulsion and Kulkarni’s resignation may well be a short-term political strategy being worked upon to study whether the BJP would gain from distance from the views in their writings. Or whether it is time that the party stepped out of its dependence on extremist views entertained by Sangh Parivar and gave greater importance to views such as those projected by Singh and Kulkarni.

Now, Singh’s expulsion is being linked primarily only with his views favoring Jinnah. What has been sidelined is that Singh has also pointed fingers at Nehru, holding him more responsible than Jinnah for the country’s partition. This amounts to Singh painting a negative image of the Congress party, regarding the partition.

Singh’s expulsion from the party has attracted more attention to his book. It is to be watched as to for how long does this political drama last and whether it has been deliberately staged as an attempt to project a dark side of the Congress’ past to the country. If this is the real political plan, than Singh and to a lesser degree Kulkarni are being used as pawns by the BJP against its rival- the Congress. Only time will tell as to what strategy is BJP trying its hand at to gain a political edge over the Congress in the near future!


Varun In Jail: His Communal Strategy For Political Gains Misfires

April 2, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, MMNS India Correspondent


Policemen clear the way for the police van in which Varun Gandhi, great-grandson of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and scion of a family dynasty, is sitting after he was arrested in Pilibhit, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, March 28, 2009. Police in northern India on Saturday arrested Gandhi over allegations he made inflammatory comments against Muslims. 

REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

NEW DELHI: Political drama and media-hype raised over highly communal and inflammatory remarks allegedly made by Varun Gandhi while campaigning in Pilibhit as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate for Lok Sabha polls carry a far more significant message than apparent. Undeniably, a primary motive behind the entire drama staged by Varun and his political patrons is to push him and the party into political limelight. Besides, Varun allegedly made provocative comments targeting the minority communities (including Muslims and Sikhs) to create a polarization of votes along religious lines in Pilibhit to attract the majority Hindu community to BJP’s side. Clearly, Varun tried his hand at the old-tainted communal card, which had incited public to the stage of riots over Ayodhya-issue, pushing BJP to the center stage as a national party from late 1980s onwards. The political novice apparently remained oblivious of the hard reality that the Indian voter has matured a lot over the past two decades. It cannot be ignored that 2002 Gujarat-carnage played a major role in pushing the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government out of power in 2004 elections. The anti-incumbency factor played a key role in helping Congress return to power, leading the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. Varun has also given little importance to the hard reality that BJP does not have as strong base in UP as it did earlier, which is responsible for Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati winning the state assembly elections in 2007 with a sweeping majority.

The situation would have been different were the national and/or UP government led by BJP. There is no denying that with her eye on capturing the prime ministerial position, UP Chief Minister Mayawati has no intention to agitate the minority community in UP and elsewhere. Hype raised by Varun’s political colleagues over his arrest and charges framed against him have ironically not played the part they probably aimed for. Nothing else can be a stronger indicator of this than the fact that neither Varun’s comments nor the subsequent developments aroused any communal frenzy to the stage of riots in Pilibhit. Yes, law and order in Pilibhit was put to risk when Varun allegedly made the inflammatory comments and when he courted arrest. The clash, the day he courted arrest (March 28) was between the saffron brigade activists and the police. This certainly defeats the logic exercised by Varun and his supporters to try inciting communal frenzy in Pilibhit.

If Varun assumed that by courting arrest for a few hours or days, he would return to the political field as a hero for his radical supporters, he has been proved wrong. This is marked by UP government slapping the stringent National Security Act (NSA) against Varun, which can keep him behind bars till elections are over. Thus, dismissal of the case filed against him on violating model code of conduct and grant of bails on other charges slapped on him spelt only a minor relief for him (March 30). He was granted bail on sureties of Rs 20,000 each in two cases – one related to allegedly causing breach of peace through inflammatory speeches and the other on charge of violating prohibitory order. The NSA was invoked against him the preceding day (March 29) for making inflammatory speeches at public meetings at Dalganj and Barkhera in Pilibhit on March 7 and 8 and for giving an aggressive speech at the court gate on March 28, because of which his supporters turned violent and clashed with the police. The decision to charge him under NSA was taken at a high level meeting, presided by Mayawati. Clearly, this move signals that BJP’s rivals in UP seem prepared to counter attempts made by Varun and his supporters to incite communal frenzy for gaining political mileage by polarization of votes along religious lines.

A three-member advisory committee, comprising of one acting High Court judge and two retired judges, has been set up by Allahabad High Court to examine whether the NSA imposed on Varun is correct or not. The committee is expected to submit its report in three weeks. Till then, Varun cannot appeal against the NSA, which means that the political novice may have to contest polls from behind the bars.

While BJP leaders, including Varun’s mother Maneka have strongly criticized invoking of NSA, majority of other party leaders think otherwise. Blaming Congress and BSP for conspiring against Varun, Maneka said: “Misuse of such powerful laws is unjust to Varun and to the country. The BSP and Congress are desperate for votes. They put pressure on the authorities.” BSP’s key rival in UP, Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Mulayam Singh Yadav considers the NSA against Varun as a “tactic” of BJP and BSP to “generate sympathy” towards him. “If the BJP-BSP are not having any sort of tacit understanding, then why was Varun not arrested before the road-show?” he asked.

In the opinion of left bloc and the Congress, NSA against Varun is justified. “A very strong, tough message needed to be sent that no hate speech will be tolerated against any community and it has been sent,” Brinda Karat (Communist Party of India-Marxist) said.

“Those who break law to get votes, do divisive politics with open eyes…. They should have courage to face the law if they break it,” Congress party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said. On whether invoking NSA in Varun’s case was correct, he replied: “If the state government is of the opinion that there is a threat to public order, it (NSA) can be used…. Can there be more threat to public order?”