Sunday, October 24, 2010

Journalist reaches out to Indian martyrs' neglected descendants

Published: Sunday, Sep 19, 2010, 14:10 IST 
Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI

Proceeds from a new book will help Jeet Singh, the surviving grandson of freedom fighter Udham Singh, who avenged the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre by assassinating General Michael O'Dwyer.
Compiled by journalist Shivnath Jha and his wife Neena, the 444-page pictorial coffee-table book "Indian Martyrs and Their Neglected Descendants:1857-1947" will have information and pictures of freedom fighters killed by Britishers during this period but have been forgotten over time.
Jeet Singh, presently works as a daily-wage labourer in Sangrur in Punjab. His two children also work - Jaspal the elder son works in a cloth shop while his only sibling Bobby assists at a printing shop.
"Former President Giani Zail Singh had assured Jeet Singh of doing something for his family but years later, Jeet Singh continues to live a miserable and unknown life," Jha told PTI.
"The family feels sad due to the fact that despite its ancestors dying for the country the Government even after more than more than 60 years after the independence continues to ignore them," he adds.
According to the book, the adopted son of the legendary Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, Damodar Rao did survive the first war of independence of 1857 in which his mother died.
Today Rao's third generation descendants are living in anonymity in India.
"Damodar Rao lives on as a small footnote in history of India and in popular imagination as a little boy tied to a fearless heroine's back, and the historians also ignored finding out about his next generation.
He lived the rest of his days in penury begging the British government to restore to him some of his rights without avail," says the book.
To be released in November, the book comprises the 35 descendants of martyrs from 1857 to 1947, including Rani
Laxminbai, Tatya Tope, Thakur Durga Singh, Azimullah Khan,
Jaipal Singh (who fought with Babu Kunwar Singh in Bihar),
Mangal Pandey, Jabardast Khan, Surendra Sai, Udham Singh,
Khudiram Bose, Bhagat Singh, Ras Behari Bose, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Ram Prasad Bismal, Madan Lal Dhingra, Rajguru, Surya Sen, Batukeshwar Dutt and Baikunth Shukla.
"We have the example of Chapekar brothers of Pune, where all three brothers were killed by the Britishers. Nobody knows what their families are doing for a survival," says Jha.
The coffee table book is the fourth in the series launched by the "Andolan Ek Pustak Se" movement, which began in the year 2007 under which the husband wife duo aimed to publish one book per year in order to honour and help "those who have brought laurels to the country."
The series began with a "Monograph on Ustad Bismillah Khan," that was aimed at drawing attention to the plight of the ailing shahnai maestro. Other books in the series include one on former Union Railway minister Lalu Prasad, - "Lalu Prasad: ..India..'s Miracle," and "Prime Ministers of India: Bharat Bhagya Vidhata."
It will be the third attempt by the author to rehabilitate descendants of the forgotten freedom fighters from the proceeds of the books.
Earlier, he helped Vinayak Rao Tope, the fourth generation descendant of frontline leader of 1857 mutiny Tatya Tope and Sultana Begum, the great granddaughter-in-law of India's last emperor and commander-in-chief of the 1857 mutiny Bahadur Shah Zafar.
His earlier efforts have helped the families of freedom fighters in a big way.
"We collected Rs2 lakh for the marriage of Sultana Begum's daughter and railway minister Mamta Banerjee has agreed to give her a job in the railways," says Jha.
"Pragati and Tripati, greatgrand daughters of Vinayak Tope got jobs in the Container Corporation of India. Vinayak Tope has received Rs5 lakh and efforts are on to make a railway station in his name in Bithoor," he adds.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Indian Martyrs & Their Descendants

Where are the descendants of the legendary Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi? Historians and artists of the period immortalised the young heroine of the first war of independence of 1857, who fought valiantly against the British on the horse while tightly strapping her adopted son Damodar Rao to her back. While Laxmibai was martyred, there was no recorded account of whether Damodar Rao survived the war or not?

However, researchers working on more than 400-page first ever pictorial coffee-table book “Indian Martyrs & Their Descendants – 1857-1947,” claimed that Damodar Rao did survive the war and they even traced Rao's third generation descendant’s living in anonymity in India.

Manikarnika Tambe, a daughter of priest in court of Peshwa Bajirao at Bithoor married Raja Gangadhar Rao of Jhansi and became Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi. When Gangadhar Rao died, the British annexed Jhansi Estate under the Doctrine of Lapse and aggrieved by this, Rani Laxmibai joined the rebels in the first war of independence in1857 and was martyred in the struggle and immortal in history.

Damodar Rao lives on as a small footnote in history of India and in popular imagination as a little boy tied to a fearless heroine’s back, and the historians also ignored to find out his next generation. He lived the rest of his days in penury begging the British government to restore to him some of his rights without avail.

The book, compiled and edited by
Delhi journalist couple Neena Jha and Shivnath Jha, is being published under the aegis of “Andolan Ek Pustak Se” of Bismillah:The Beginning Foundation to rehabilitate Jeet Singh and his family. Jeet Singh is the third generation descendants of martyr Udham Singh living in anonymity and penury in Sangrur district. The family is engaged in a construction company for their livelihood.

Shaheed-e-Azam Sardar Udham Singh had killed 76-year-old General Dwyer at Caxton Hall in London in March 1940 to take avenge of the Jallianwala massacre in which hundreds of innocent, helpless and unarmed people including women and children were killed.
The book comprises the descendants of more than 35 martyrs of 1857 and 1947 martyrs, including Rani Laxminbai,  Tatya Tope, Thakur Durga Singh, Azimullah Khan,, Jaipal Singh (who fought with Babu Kunwar Singh in Bihar), Mangal Pandey, Jabardast Khan and Surendra Sai during 1857 mutiny and Udham Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose, Matangini Hazra, Ashfaqukkah Khan, Khudiram Bose, Bhagat Singh, Satyendranath Bose, Ras Behari Bose, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Ram Prasad Bismal, Madan Lal Dhingra, Rajguru, Surya Sen, Batukeshwar Dutt, Baikunth Shukla, Bal Mukund, Avadh Behari, Amir Chand, Basant Biswal, Kushal Knowar, Bhaga Jatin, Chapekar brothers, Mahadev Ranade, Bazi Rout and others who laid their lives during the wars of independence (1857-1957).

Besides others, the grandson of Jatindranath Mukherjee alias Bagha Jatin, the founders of the Anushilan Samiti in 1900, and leader of Jugantar group of revolutionaries, Dr. Prithvindra Mukherjee has written a piece on his grand father. Dr. Mukherjee, who lives in Paris, also sent several priceless pictures for the book.

It will be the third attempt of the couple to rehabilitate descendants of the forgotten heroes from the proceeds of the books. Earlier, they have identified, rescued and rehabilitated Vinayak Rao Tope, the fourth generation descendants of frontline leader of 1857 mutiny Tatya Tope (who were virtually begging on the street of Bithoor in Kanpur) and Sultana begum, the great granddaughter-in-law of India’s last emperor and commander-in-chief of 1857 mutiny Bahadur Shah Zafar living in a slum in Howrah.

Monday, April 19, 2010

ANDOLAN EK PUSTAK SE: BOOK

ANDOLAN EK PUSTAK SE: BOOK

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Prime Ministers of India book released





Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Prime Ministers of India:Bharat Bhagya Vidhata-1947-2009


NEW DELHI, April 1: Living in a slum for than two decades, Sultana Begum, the great granddaughter-in-law of India’s last emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, has found an unusual saviour – a coffee-table book on all the past and present prime ministers of independent and sovereign India.
Releasing the book “Prime Ministers of India:Bharat Bhagya Vidhata-1947-2009”, at a function held at India Habitat Centre in the national capital here on April 1, 2010, the Union Minister for Corporate Affairs who is also holing the charge of minority affairs, Mr. Salman Khurshid called upon the intelligentsia, corporate houses and heads of other private sector undertakings to join the movement “Andolan Ek Pustak Se” and come forward to protect the ‘human heritage’
Mr Khurshid also stressed the need to bring the ashes of Zafar from Rangoon to India to fulfill his last wish.
The book, has been compiled, edited and published by Neena Jha and Shivnath Jha under the aegis of Andolan Ek Pustak Se, to raise fund to rehabilitate Sultana Begum, the 56-year-old widow of Bedar Bakht, great grand son of India’s last emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar – the commander-in-chief of India’s first war of independence 1857 mutiny.
A poor widow of Bedar Bakht with four daughters and a son, lives in a slum of gold panners - an impoverished community from Bihar which sifts waste water used by the goldsmiths to produce traces of the metal – and sells tea in a kiosk in Shibpur in Howrah, a semi-urban township of Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal.

Friday, February 26, 2010


This is not an ordinary book. It is a book with mission, says critique Amitabh Srivastava in Sahara Time magazine

Saturday, February 20, 2010


MAN BEHIND THE MISSION:Union Minister for Corporate Affairs, Mr. Salman Khushid receiving the first copy of pictorial coffee-table book Prime Ministers of India:Bharat Bhagya Vidhata-1947-2009 published to rehabilitate Sultana Begum, the great grand daughter-in-law of India’s last emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar who is living in a slum in Howrah. Book has been compiled, edited and published by Neena Jha and Shivnath Jha under the aegis of Andolan Ek Pustak Se.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

JOURNALISM WITH A DIFFERENCE

JOURNALISM WITH A DIFFERENCE


K G Suresh*





Ram Gopal Varma’s ‘Rann’ has been run down by the media, particularly electronic, no end. The Amitabh Bachchan starrer has been rubbished as a figment of RGV’s imagination with an exaggerated story line and unreal characters. Yet, the fact also remains that even highly acclaimed movies such as ‘Three Idiots’ suffer from these very shortcomings – a technical person handling a pregnancy with an improvised suction and the new born responding only to a song ‘All is Well’ in a miraculous climax. Or for that matter, the Oscar winning ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ where an excreta enveloped Jamaal shakes hands with the Big B. But the media did not condemn the movies as they did with ‘Rann’ because RGV touched a raw nerve, rubbed where it hurt the most.



In a world where Rakhi Sawant and Raju Shrivastava are prime time and television ratings thrive on ghost stories, where trivia has become mainstream and professional ethics mere lip service, it is but natural that Varma becomes enemy number one for stating the unpalatable truth. The truth is that sensationalism rules the roost and paid news has become a harsh reality. The Indian Media Centre and its publication ‘Media Critique’ were the first to highlight this syndrome, which was later picked up by The Hindu and subsequently the Editors’ Guild of India. Yet, surprisingly, the Guild’s statements have been published extensively by none other than The Hindu.



Once upon a time, newspapers had the courage and conviction to publish even the counter point but today they have become a self-righteous lot. To cite a recent personal experience, the highly over rated The Hindustan Times recently published an article outrightly condemning former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda terming him as the worst Prime Minister India has ever had. Having covered Mr Gowda extensively as Prime Minister, I knew for certain that he may not have been among the best but was certainly not the worst. I have mentioned his contributions already in these columns earlier. I wrote a small piece for The Hindustan Times enumerating the contributions of the former Prime Minister in response to the critique. Forget its publication, they never bothered to even acknowledge its receipt.



It’s not just about self-righteousness but also vengeance of the highest order. CNN-IBN’s orchestrated campaign against Shiv Sena in the party’s spat with King Khan was apparently and evidently a response to the Sainik’s vandalisation of their studios last year. Whither objectivity? Agreed, Bal Thackeray is no paragon of virtue but SRK too is no messiah. He did not take a Pakistani player in his own Kolkata Knight Riders and painted the town red with his rhetoric generosity towards Pakistani players, ensuring in the process the success of My Name is Khan across the border and courtesy a self righteous media, we had the entire Mumbai police who could not prevent 26/11 protecting the commercial interests of Messrs Karan Johar and Khan.



Silver Lining among Dark Clouds



However, all is not dark and dingy. There are honest and committed journalists around who believe that they have to play the role of catalysts in a society where as per Government’s own figures 77 per cent of the population earn less than Rs 20 a day and for all you know that could even be Rs 2 or 5.



What a tragedy that in an agriculture dominated economy, we have only one P Sainath to boast of. Journalism in this country was born in the cradle of freedom struggle. Journalists were more of missionaries and less of mercenaries. While much water has flowed down the Ganga since then, ilsome of those missionaries are still around. Shivnath Jha is one of them.



The newspaper vendor turned senior journalist along with his wife educationist Neena have brought out a first ever compilation ‘Prime Minister of India – Bharat Bhagya Vidhata’. Nothing great except that proceeds from the sale of the coffee table book on the 14 prime ministers, would go to rehabilatate Sultana Begum, last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah's great grand-daughter-in-law who currently ekes out a living selling tea on the streets of Kolkata.



The 444-page hard bound 12x 12 illustrated book enlists the performance of the leaders as well as their achievements and the controverises they survived, starting from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to Manmohan Singh.



It is the fourth book in the "Andolan Ek Pustak Se" movement, which was launched by the duo in the year 2007 to publish one book per year aiming to honour and help "those who have brought laurels to the country."



"Sultana Begum runs a tea stall in Cowies Ghat slum in Bengal's Howrah district. She lives in dirtiest of conditions and earns a living to support her family. We hope we can help her through the royalty we earn from the book," says Jha.



The "Andolan Ek..." series was begun with a "Monograph on Ustad Bismillah Khan," to draw attention to the plight of the ailing shahnai maestro. Other books in the series include one on the then railway minister Lalu Prasad, "Lalu Prasad: India's Miracle," as well as "India calling -to commemorate India entering 60th year of Independence."



Jha had earlier used the sale proceeds of the book on Bismillah Khan to rehabilitate Vinayak Rao Tope, the great grandson of Tantya Tope, a front line leader of the 1857 uprising.


The book which is priced at Rs 8000, includes writings by eminent personalities including noted historian Bipan Chandra. Your truly too had the privilege of contributing a write-up.



Kudos to Shivnath and Neena for rediscovering that extinct Dodo called journalism with a mission in an era of commodification and commercialization of Media. One sincerely hopes that this modern day classic would inspire the media fraternity to come out of their ivory towers and work for the Sultana Begums and Kalavatis, lost and waiting for redemption in the dusty streets, lanes and bylanes of Hindostan.



(*The author is a Delhi-based senior journalist and Editor of Media Critique)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Change MAKER


Change MAKER

The proceeds of Shivnath Jha's new book will go towards the rehabilitation of Sultana Begum, the great-granddaughter of Bahadur Shah Zafar, says SHAILAJA TRIPATHI in The Hindus' Metro Plus on February 11, 2010

They are literally the words of change; “Prime Ministers of India: Bharat Bhagya Vidhata”, the 534-page coffee-table book compiled and edited by the husband-wife duo of Shivnath and Neena Jha, is meant to transform the life of Sultana Begum. The great-grand daughter-in-law of India's last emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, Sultana Begum lives in a pitiable condition in Howrah, West Bengal. Covering Nandigram for a newspaper, Shivnath stopped over in Kolkata for a day to meet his friends and that's how he met Sultana, who lived selling tea on the streets of Kolkata. Adding to the Moghul heiress' stress was the impending marriage of her youngest daughter.

“There are thousands of publishers to print different kinds of books but I wanted to bring out one which could change somebody's life,” says Shivnath. The exhaustive compilation boasting contributors like Bipin Chandra, Inderjit Badhwar, Sunil Shastri and Salman Khurshid looks at the performance of the 14 Prime Ministers of the country — Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru to Dr. Manmohan Singh — who have held the prime position so far. The proceeds generated from the sales of the book will go towards helping Sultana Begum.


The trigger

It was the sad plight of the legendary Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan which coaxed the pair to kick off the initiative “Andolan Ek Pustak Se: Bismillah The Beginning Foundation” in 2002. Under the aegis of the foundation, they envisaged a monograph on the virtuoso's life. The proceeds from its sale were used to fulfil his dream of educating his grandchildren and revamping his ancestral home in Bihar. “When I couldn't fulfil his last wish to perform at India Gate, I took a resolve to induce a change in the lives of the people who contributed to making India what it is today,” says Shivnath, who followed up it up with “Lalu Prasad: India's Miracle” with a view to help Vinayak Rao Tope, the third-generation descendant of Tantya Tope, a significant leader of the 1857 Uprising.

“Bahadur Shah Zafar was the Commander-in-Chief of 1857, when we fought the First War of Independence. A freedom fighter's daughter-in-law living in slums is a sad commentary on our society,” says Shivnath, explaining why Sultana Begum qualifies for help. “Anybody else who I thought deserved it would have also got the same treatment,” adds Shivnath, who now plans to take up the case of a sportsperson fallen on bad days.

The money generated from the sale of the book has ensured money for Sultana's daughter's marriage. Besides the amount of Rs.5 lakh to be deposited in her account, there are plans to get her a one-room flat in a decent colony in Kolkata and a job with a Government school, which will fetch her a monthly salary of Rs.6,000. “Young well-settled Indians from Kuwait, the U.S. and other places wrote to us offering to marry Sultana Begum's daughter without taking a single penny,” says Shivnath.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010






The Union Minister for Heavy Industries Mr. Vilas Rao Deshmukh (former Maharastra Chief Minister) reading the purpose of bringing out the first-ever pictorial coffee-table book Prime Ministers of India:Bharat Bhagya Vidhata-1947-2009 which is dedicated to Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and victims of terrorists attacks in Mumbai.

A Good Teacher, a human being

Yesterday, I got a surprise call followed by a mail from Ms. Sahiba More, an Assistant Professor in Mumbai University after watiching Lok Sabha TV's programme on Andolan Ek Pustak Se:


Dear Shivnath ji
congratulation

As I spoke to you I am so glad to have talked to you. Believe me I could never in my wildest imagination thought that I could get through the phone in the morning , I am glad we poke. Shivnathji we need people like you ,going thruogh your profile I am came to know that what a difficult life you lead both oppourtunity wise and monetorily too. What a job are you doing! I must say that "sahee mann mein jeevan to aap hee jee rahe hai.kisi aur ke liye jeena ab tak sirf kitaboon mein dekha tha padha tha aaj pratyakhsha dekha!" I cant do much but whenever you are in Mumbai do give me a call. Let me know if you need anything I will help you in which ever way I can.

Just to tell you aboout me I am asst professor in mumbai university for last 20 years. I love my country unconditionally, and am ready to do anything to make my country a better place . I also want to remove religious misunderstanding amonst people. I write poetry, dramas, write ups as and when I get an opputunity. if I can write somewhere else do let me know. I was born in UP and have travelled the length and breadth of country due to my fathers transferable job. Have lived in metros and small town both. I am a theatre buff love to see drams and can speak hindi marathi urdu punjabi and gujrati with ease.

Thanks for sending the sms of course we are friends
sabiha more"

Monday, January 11, 2010

हमारा महानगर says



Monday, January 4, 2010

बहादुर शाह जफर के वंशजों की मदद के लिए पत्रकार की पहल


नई दिल्ली, 4 जनवरी (आईएएनएस)। अंतिम मुगल शासक बहादुर शाह जफर की पौत्रवधू सुल्ताना बेगम आजाद हिन्दुस्तान में आर्थिक तंगी के चलते पश्चिम बंगाल में चाय बेचकर जीवन यापन करने को मजबूर हैं। अभी तक इनकी सुध लेने वाला कोई नहीं था लेकिन अब एक पत्रकार ने इनकी मदद के लिए एक अनोखी पहल की है।


पत्रकार शिवनाथ झा और उनकी शिक्षिका पत्नी नीना झा देश को गौरवान्वित करने वाली महान हस्तियों के वंशजों को समाज में यथोचित स्थान दिलाने के लिए 'आंदोलन एक पुस्तक से' के नाम से आंदोलन चला रहे हैं। इसी श्रृंखला में फिलहाल वे मुगल शासक बहादुर शाह जफर की पौत्रवधू सुल्ताना बेगम को गुमनामी से बाहर निकालने के लिए अभियान चला रहे हैं।

अखबार बेचकर करियर की शुरुआत करने वाले वरिष्ठ पत्रकार झा 'द प्राइम मिनिस्टर्स ऑफ इंडिया-1947-2009: भारत भाग्य विधाता' नामक कॉफी टेबल बुक के जरिए सुल्ताना बेगम के लिए धन इकट्ठा कर रहे हैं ताकि देश के अंतिम मुगल बादशाह के वंशजों को गुमनामी के अंधेरे से बाहर निकाला जा सके।

सुल्ताना बेगम फिलहाल कोलकाता के हावड़ा ेकी एक झुग्गी-बस्ती में चाय दुकान चलाती हैं। झा ने आईएएनएस से कहा, "जब मैं वर्ष 2008 में कोलकाता गया था तो मैंने सुल्ताना बेगम को वहां एक झुग्गी बस्ती में चाय बेचते देखा। जिसके वंशज देश पर राज करते थे उसकी मौजूदा हालात को देखकर मैं अचंभित हो गया। सुल्ताना बेगम के पास कुछ भी नहीं है।"

झा ने कहा, "सुल्ताना बेगम की सहायता के लिए मैंने अब तक पांच लाख रुपये इकट्ठा कर लिए हैं और उन्हें बैंक में जमा कर दिया है। कोलकाता स्थित एक विद्यालय ने भी उन्हें नौकरी देने का वादा किया है। वहीं एक कंपनी के मालिक ने उनके लिए घर देने का भी वादा किया है।"

झा ने कहा कि सुल्ताना बेगम की छोटी बेटी की शादी मार्च में होगी, जिसमे ं'आंदोलन एक पुस्तक से' आर्थिक सहायता करेगा।

'द प्राइम मिनिस्टर्स ऑफ इंडिया-1947-2009: भारत भाग्य विधाता' पुस्तक में प्रथम प्रधानमंत्री पंडित जवाहर लाल नेहरू से लेकर वर्तमान प्रधानमंत्री मनमोहन सिंह तक की उपलब्धियों का जिक्र किया गया है। पुस्तक में कई यादगार तस्वीरों और स्केच को शामिल किया गया है।

झा इससे पहले 'आंदोलन एक पुस्तक से' के जरिए 1857 की क्रांति के क्रांतिवीर तात्या टोपे के परपौत्र का पुनर्वास करा चुके हैं। उन्होंने अमर शहनाई वादक बिस्मिल्लाह खां की सहायता कर 'आंदोलन एक पुस्तक से' की शुरुआत की थी।

इंडो-एशियन न्यूज सर्विस।

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A coffee table book in aid of Bahadur Shah Zafar's descendants

NEW DELHI, Jan 4 (IANS): Sultana Begum, the great granddaughter of the last Mughal emperor of India, Bahadur Shah Zafar, has found an unusual saviour - a coffee table book on the former prime ministers of India.

The book, 'The Prime Ministers of India - 1947-2009' has been compiled by journalist Shivnath Jha and his teacher wife Neena Jha to raise money for Sultana Begum's rehabilitation. Sultana Begum, a poor widow with four daughters, sells tea in a kiosk in Shibpur, a semi-urban township, 80 km southwest of Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal.

When I came across her in 2008, the 56-year-old woman who lives in a slum of gold panners - an impoverished community from Bihar which sifts waste water used by the goldsmiths to produce traces of the metal - looked like just another squatter, Jha told IANS.

Her 8 ft by 8 ft dwelling in the slums of Cowies Ghat belied the fact that her forefathers once ruled the subcontinent. She had nothing left. I decided to help her make a better life, Jha said.

The journalist and his wife, who had earlier helped raise funds for shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan and legendary Maratha freedom fighter Tantiya Tope's descendants Vinayak Rao Tope, hit upon the idea to profile the prime ministers of India with a group of like-minded friends and politicians.

I intend to raise Rs.500,000 for her and deposit it in a bank so that she has a steady income. A school in Kolkata has also agreed to give her a job and the owner of a pharmaceutical company will donate an apartment to Sultana Begum, Jha said.

Her youngest daughter will be married in March with the money raised by the benefactors.

The book chronicles regimes of Indian prime ministers, including Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, V.P. Singh, Chandra Shekhar, P.V. Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, H.D. Deve Gowda, I.K. Gujral and Manmohan Singh, through texts and photographs.

The text throws light on the personalities of the prime ministers, their achievements and political developments during their rule.

The photographs were shot by Vijender Tyagi and several other photographers.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Prime Ministers of India


A 448-page hard bond (12” x 12” size) pictorial coffee-table book, first of its kind, is dedicated to Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, world’s second and India’s first PM late Smt. Indira Gandhi, India’s youngest and dynamic PM late Sri Rajiv Gandhi who laid their lives for the sovereignty and integrity of the country and victims of terrorists attack in India in the post-independence era, more importantly in Mumbai
Why This Book?
The first time that I came to know about Sultana Begum and met her in real pitiable conditions in Howrah was in January 2007. I was on an official visit to West Bengal to report the violent protests against the setting up of a car manufacturing unit in Nandigram, about 80 km southwest of Kolkata in Purba Medinipur district of West Bengal. At least 14 villagers had been gunned down by the state police there in the first week of January 2007.

After covering the tragedy, as I moved to Kolkata, I came across Sultana Begum – the 56 year old woman – who could easily pass off as just another slum dweller who runs a tea-stall to earn a living. Yet, she was not just another person.

Sultana Begum is the great great granddaughter (from Howrah line) of the last Mughal emperor and the hero of the 1857 mutiny – Bahadur Shah Zafar. Her 8ft X 8ft dwelling in the slums of Cowies Ghat at Foreshao Road (Shibpur) shockingly belied the fact that her family once ruled Indian sub-continent for over three centuries from the rampart of the Red Fort, and that Taj Mahal was erected as a mausoleum for one of her great great aunts, the astonishing beauty - Mumtaz Mahal.

Today there was absolutely nothing in the room in the name of her household goods. She had lost her husband Mirza Bedar Bakht in 1980. He was the son of Jamshid Bakht and grandson of Jawan Bakht. He had died in penury. After his death, the West Bengal government provided an accommodation for the family. It was near the Red Light District. Little wonder therefore that soon thereafter the local goons forcibly occupied the house by throwing a hapless Sultana Begum and her children out of the house.

Her misery brought tears to my eyes. Coming back to Delhi, I discussed her condition with my wife Neena, a teacher in St. Thomas School, Indirapuram and 12-year-old son Aakash and decided to visit her again to chalk out a rehabilitation plan for her. It was at this point that we decided to compile and edit a pictorial coffee-table book on the makers of India’s destiny, the Prime Ministers, to provide her a dignified life and perform marriage of her 33-year-old daughter Madhu from the proceeds of Prime Ministers of India:Bharat Bhaagya Vidhaata-1947-2009.

Only this could have been a way to express our humble tribute to Bahadur Shah Zafar – the last great Moghul and a prominent architect of India’s destiny and promote secular philosophy of Shehnai maestro Bharat Ratna late Ustad Bismillah Khan.

Bahadur Shah Zafar, was born in 1775 at Delhi and placed on the throne in 1837. He was last in the lineage of Mughal emperors. During Zafar’s emperorship the first War of Independence (1857 mutiny) was fought. Zafar was the Commander-in-Chief in the fight against the British. He was exiled to Rangoon (now known as Yangon in present day Myanmar) in 1858 where he lived his last five years and died in 1862 at the age of 87.