there a desi work ethic?
Story of a man who gets fleeced in his bid to acquire some land. He goes to every avenue possible to get justice in this country but is still waiting for it
By Saadia Salahuddin
In March a cheque of Rs 815,625 bounced thrice at Bank AL Habib Limited, Peco Road branch, for lack of money in the account. The cheque number was 3334389. It was issued by chairman and director of Formanites Housing Scheme (FHS) whose office is in 8-Tipu Block, New Garden Town, Lahore.
These are the facts from an FIR No 117/08 dated 7.4.08 lodged with Lahore's New Anarkali Police Station. Behind the facts is a long story.
Muhammad Saleem, his brothers and friends bought 39 plots of 5 marla each and one plot of 10 marla in FHS at Kamaha Road which leads to Bedian Road, in 2005. When they had paid around 38 lakh, they asked the sellers to show them the land but they were told they will be shown the land once the development work is complete. The buyers made the request thrice but the sellers kept postponing their request, arousing suspicion among the buyers.
Saleem wrote a letter to Lahore Development Authority (LDA) for verification of the plots for which he, his family and friends had already paid Rs. 37,92,500 but were not being shown the site. The allotment letter issued by the FHS said the plots were in Q-Block, Phase II of the scheme. The LDA responded that there was no Q-Block in Phase II of FHS in a reply dated 19-07-06. This meant that the plots sold to Saleem, his brothers and friends were bogus. In a letter dated 30-9-2006 the LDA passed only 1191 kanal land of FHS in which there were only 126 plots of 5 marla each. The map Saleem received from LDA was different from the one on display at the scheme office and the two are different from the one approved by the LDA.
Upon receiving this reply from LDA, Saleem and friends asked the housing society to reimburse the amount they had paid. By then the office of the housing society had shifted from from 5-Tipu Block to 8-Tipu Block, New Garden Town, Lahore.
For months Saleem could not reach the owners of the scheme who did not give him time or receive his calls. One day Saleem received a message from director FHS who is also Nazim Union Council 117 to return ten files at a time and get the money back. The cheque he got was after deduction of 40 per cent of the amount. Ten files cost Rs 650,000 but the cheque that Saleem got was for Rs 4,06,250. The Scheme office said the payment will be made like this. This was not acceptable to Saleem, his brothers and their friends. They approached the then MNA Farid Saleem Paracha for help who hails from Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). Farid wrote a letter to the director FHS asking him to return the money immediately without any deduction but he didn't pay heed.
Saleem then wrote a letter to Amir JI, Qazi Hussain Ahmed for recovery of the money because the director of FHS belongs to JI. By now, one year and eight months had passed since the scheme owners had been using this money. Saleem, his family and friends demanded that the entire amount be returned with mark-up which would be Rs 42,42,500. They demanded from the JI Amir to take legal action against the 'cheats' because they were bringing bad name to the JI.
The JI wrote a letter to the chairman of FHS asking him to reply in writing about the allegation of fraud.
The aggrieved then wrote a letter to the then chief minister, Pervez Elahi. At the CM house, this letter was marked to the secretary local government who marked it to the zila nazim who marked it to the DCO.
"The DCO holds open kutchehry. He gave the director one week's time to return the money. Three dates came and passed but he did not appear. The DCO warned his lawyers that the scheme office will be sealed and the owners arrested if he did not appear on the next hearing. The next date also went without his presence. The DCO, after hearing all the cases which were more than 20, told us to come next week because he had to go to a meeting," says Saleem.
The accused were not arrested nor the scheme sealed.
"The scene changed on the next hearing. The director FHS was there with five lawyers. When everybody had gone, the DCO asked the director what complaint did he have against us? He said, we were not paying the instalments of the plots. The DCO scolded us for not paying the instalments. We were snubbed and not allowed to speak or show the documents -- dumbfounded at the turn the case had taken," Saleem goes on to say.
"The DCO asked the director to reimburse our money after 15 per cent deduction. Our friends said we should accept this payment. We were asked to submit all the files. The meeting ended."
"We submitted 20 files at one time and ten at another but did not get any cheque then. We demanded the money from the scheme staff reminding them of the DCO's decision at which they said: 'Then go and get the money from the DCO'," Saleem goes on to tell about the torture he has been going through in search of justice.
"We went to the DCO and complained about the treatment. He said, 'I have given the decision. Did you ask me before purchasing the files?' We asked the DCO to give his decision in writing which took him one month. We took this decision No H10/6129 Dt 16-04-07 to the scheme office. The staff at the scheme office threw the decision into the waste paper basket and told us to go to the DCO to get money. We felt absolutely robbed. The files were gone. We had nothing in hand. We felt lost.
"We again approached JI head office at Mansoora. They also said: 'Now you go to the DCO to get your money, why have you come to us.' It was very disheartening. I talked to the shopkeepers around me. There were people among them who were associated with the JI. Then I went to the CM secretariat, then secretary local government but nothing happened."
Saleem then wrote a letter to Supreme Court of Pakistan and to the President of Pakistan and sent it with complete documents. The Aiwan-e-Sadr marked Saleem's application to the DCO when Saleem had requested the president to hold an independent inquiry into the case as he did not get justice from any of the authorities he went to.
The Supreme Court called for a report from the registrar Cooperatives and the LDA. The Supreme Court (SC) sent Saleem a letter HRC No.2758/2007 with LDA's reply to the SC in this case. It said, "In the said approved scheme as alleged by the applicant/complainant there is no 'Q' Block."
Director General LDA said in this reply to the SC that "before purchasing plots in private housing schemes, the buyers should contact LDA to verify, amongst others the status of the scheme and plot sought to be purchased."
That the apex court did not take any action beyond asking for these reports, particularly grieved Saleem.
"Thereafter we got post-dated cheques of small amount. Only the last cheque was for Rs 815,625 which bounced every time we submitted it for encashment. Now its date has expired."
In two years Saleem went to every forum possible for justice in this country. "The extremely sad part is that nobody asked the director of the housing society how he could do what he was doing," says Saleem. "The JI partymen had said they would kick him out of the party but he was awarded ticket for MNA and MPA in this election instead. It is a different matter that the party announced not to participate in the elections."
If people come to return files at the scheme office they are told the file is 'do number' meaning not genuine (fake). If a person does not pay an installment, he is marked as defaulter and his membership is cancelled. Millions of people may have been robbed by such societies whose newsletters carry photographs of people in power, giving the simple, believing, common man the idea that the scheme is a safe investment.
Is this how real estate business has bloomed in the big cities of this country? This story makes one ponder.
by Quddus Mirza
If Dr Hasnat Ahmed got world fame because of his relationship with Princess Diana, his sister also achieved something remarkable: Making Mrs Qazi smile -- when she was studying drawing at Alhamra Art Centre. Naseem Hafeez Qazi was one of her tutors. It was an unimaginable task, because both in classroom and outside, Ms Qazi appeared to be a serious, stern and solitary person.
These traits seem to have a wide and lasting effect, if seen in connection with her art. The exhibition of her work, currently on display at National Art Gallery, Islamabad, (after its display at Alhamra Art Gallery, Lahore) confirms the artist's peculiar personality which is somehow reflected in her canvases. Her subjects range from the depiction of female at work or leisure, children at play, old men, still life, city scenes and academic drawings.
The exhibition brings together works from different periods of Ms Qazi as well as offers a comprehensive reading of her art. True to its title 'Rediscovering', it reminds the forgotten name of that illustrious teacher and presents the works of Naseem to an audience which is not normally familiar with her existence as a tutor or as an artist.
Looking at her work now, after her pupils hardly remember her, one locates many aspects of her personality as the majority of canvases appear to have a minimal palette, with whitish and chalky paint laid on the surface. Even though she applied a number of colours, her choice of hues and her preferred method of applying the paint reflect a cold, calculated and constrained hand/mind. Notwithstanding, if it is an arrangement of bottles and fruit, or kids in the street, or an old gardener at Lahore College - all subjects are depicted in a seemingly dispassionate manner. Besides, the meticulous way of building appropriate tones and careful scheme of composing figures in a familiar setting signified Qazi's grasp on her craft.
The effort to resurrect the art of Qazi defiantly has a sentimental value, but one is also aware of this endeavour being a sensible activity. To collect and display the work of an artist who has taught for many years, is relevant for its historical significance, but if compared with the art of her time and with whatever is happening now, one needs to re-evaluate Qazi as an important artist of our society.
Usually it is difficult to decide, or even ponder on a question/query like that, mainly because if an artist has ceased to exist, his/her work is considered beyond any value judgment. Since no being has the capacity to pass an -- objective comment on the work, any such attempt is often considered impolite, cruel and needless.
However, the artist may be dead, the artwork produced by him does not perish. It can always be examined in relation to its age or in the context of present times. In that light, the art of Naseem Hafiz Qazi suggests a singular person's peculiar taste. Her limited subject matter portrays her world that was of a woman painter arena. Typical still life compositions and ordinary views of city (both of Lahore and towns in Europe) indicate the artist's adherence to traditional topics and formal issues. In her exhibition, a number of drawings, depicting the male bodies in various postures, also affirm her academic ability and vigorous training.
Actually the art of Naseem did not move away from her academic concerns. For her, painting was a means to demonstrate her skill as well as to record her surroundings. Thus, the women reading or writing, group of children and old men, all fulfill her world, but the method of rendering these subjects was not much different from the way objects of still life or sections of city and landscape were painted. One observes a detached hand busy in documenting the world from its surroundings.
This manner of painting a subject, regardless of its importance or human significance suggests a modernistic mind that treats every image as a combination of forms, shapes, colours and textures (and an occasion to study visual vocabulary).It seems that Ms Qazi followed the similar ideas and, for her, all the imagery provided excuses to experiment with the formal language.
However, in her selected range of images, one comes across a humanistic attitude as well. The way Naseem looked at her subjects, especially the young girls and kids (street urchins), indicate a passionate personality. Although she attempted a distanced and formalistic approach, her gaze at her models was loaded with warmth (even though the warmness was limited to the choice of subjects only, as it was not translated or communicated through the application of colours).
Her application of colour, in a restrained manner was not peculiar to Ms Qazi only, since majority of artworks from that period were created with a similar sensibility. The calculated brush strokes and premeditated tones are the special aspects of the works produced before 1980s. Majority of painters -- who have discovered and established their styles in that period (like Khalid Iqbal and Colin David) have been working in a refined manner. The grip on the brush in the case of these two painters becomes a creative characteristic, but for a number of other artists it leads to ordinary and boring canvases.
Probably the preference for a restricted palette and controlled brush movement, painters' trait from an early generation was an outcome of the social training. Individuals were taught to contain their emotion, curb their instincts and acquire proper behaviour (all of which led to a reaction, in the form of extravagancies of 1960s, and hippies in the West!).
Young people were expected to follow a decent dress code and a proper mode of public conduct. All these societal norms were instrumental in adapting a careful way of painting as well. So it is not odd to see canvas after canvas by Qazi, which are prepared with a careful handling of brush and paint. A feature that made her work restrictive and repetitive. And one wonders if Ms Qazi would have been more of an expressive person, laughed loudly like an extrovert, then perhaps her work offered a variety, interest and excitement ñ especially to the viewers who are not familiar with her lonely figure nor with the children, girls and old men that populate her paintings.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, as the sun finally set on the feudal monarchial Mughal Empire, the changing conditions necessitated a paradigm shift in all spheres of life including music. The whole nature of pedagogy also changed, transforming itself into a more formal system of education, replacing an informal familial set-up. Universities and colleges were established where education became a matter of learning for a certain number of hours before the students returned home and prepared for the next day at school or college compared to the indigenous system where students almost lived with the ustad as part of his household.
The process of education was totally tied up with the whole lifestyle of the ustad or the guru and was not supposed to be bifurcated from it. The transmission of knowledge too was highly personalised, dependent upon the ustad or the guru and it was essentially to remain in his good books.
There were very few venues other than the persons who were the true repositories of knowledge. It was thus not very unusual that the knowledge was retained within families and transmitted from one generation to the next. This had more the character and nature of a closed door activity with a very high premium placed on it.
As academies and schools were set up in the later half of the nineteenth century, the need for textbooks and other material was felt. In the case of music, textbooks were non-existent as the entire body of knowledge in music in the oral tradition was safely locked up in the minds and memories of ustads and gurus. It was only transmitted in sung form to the next generation -- there was no concept of transmitting mere theory or theoretical knowledge. For, without music as sung or played, theoretical knowledge was just words signifying nothing.
A whole movement started to liberate musical knowledge from the person. The same trend of impersonalisation of knowledge in music was also being enforced as Bathkhande and V.D.Paluskar led the charge of this new change and an entire industry sprang up which way transferred on to book. 'Maraful Naghmaat' was written in Urdu by Thakur Nawab and then many more books were written about surs, raags, thaats with bandishes notated within a rhythmical structure more with the intention of instruction. A whole lot of people, almost all from non musical backgrounds, in their curiosity to explore the magic and mesmerising power of music, also took to this literature. Probably during the medieval period the sign of an educated person included an adequate knowledge of music but with the decline of Mughal Empire for the new middle class being the product of new education system music there remained a curiosity or something terribly decadent but essentially outside the pale of being an educated civilised person.
In Pakistan, this transition never took place. Most of the people considered the personalised transfer of musical knowledge to be the most suitable method for music education and decried the establishment of the impersonal method in schools and colleges. They may have had a very valid point but then nothing was done to preserve and sustain the personalised method in very changed circumstances. The medieval-style patronage had vanished and the new patronage had no sensitivity for such ancient forms and no patience for a long haul.
Khalid Malik Haider has been living in Peshawar and has been consistently contributing to the worthy cause of music. In his early days he played the bansuri and then became a composer and worked on television and radio.
He also decided to write on music. 'Sur Singhar' seems to be his latest contribution in this respect. This is also a kind of a compendium to the knowledge of music as it should be sung. It has a number of raags which have been notated with the important notes and the method of exploring those notes, the nature of musical progression are all stated.
Then there is the composition in that raag. Most of the raags are well known but few are achoob raags which are not commonly sung and perhaps peculiar to one ustad or gharana.
What Bhatkhande did in the early part of the twentieth century was to notate the raags and the bandishes that were sung in his times. After him many others have arrived on the scene with their own bandishes and compositions. In this book too the bandishes are not mustanad or certified in the sense these being composed by a famous ustad and sung over a period of time but are new and seem to have been composed by the author himself.
With the book is a CD in the MP3 format which contains a wealth of recordings. Most of these recordings are of the phase when only 78rpm discs were cut and contain bandishes of some of the greatest names in classical music of that period. These recordings are there as examples or illustrations of the raags that have been mentioned in the book so that raag as sung also becomes evident. The CD also contains his previous book 'Urdu Mausiqi', the second volume of 'Maraful Naghmaat' and piano chords dictionary in GIP format.
Marking its 50th anniversary NCA organises Sarangi Festival...
National College of Arts (NCA) last Saturday organised Sarangi Festival at Shakir Ali Auditorium in which many artists gave sensational performances.
The festival was arranged by Department of Musicology. The performances of Allah Rakha, Faqir Hussain, Akhter Hussain, Mazhar Umaro Bundo Khan, Kanwar Hussain, Shafqat Ali, Zohaib Hussain, Gul Muhammad, Tamiur Khan and Ali Zafar won applause of the audience present there. Many dignitaries, artists, performers and students attended the festival. . The NCA was also marking its 50th anniversary, as it was established in 1958
Due to variety of its form and widespread use, sarangi is believed to have originated form folk instruments. Modern day sarangi is the modified and improved form of chikara and dada, which are basically folk instruments of rural India, along with the sarinda of Utter Pradesh and charatara of Rajasthan.
. Very little is known about folk music generally before the sixteenth century. There are several opinions as to how and when sarangi came into being; some of them have mythological origins. Most of the Hindu sarangi players usually mention Ravana as the inventor, but most Muslim sarangi players give credit to a learned hakim, which saw a dried monkey skin and intestine hanging from a tree in a jungle, and came up with the brilliant idea of making a sarangi. Other musicians say that it is an import from the outside world, may be Greece or Central Asia.
The musical knowledge and theoretical expertise of sarangi players is not considered great, and usually they are not recognized as authorities on music. Most musicologist of the twentieth century did not take interest in sarangi players, and there is hardly any musical literature available on them. The impression being created was that they were second rate musicians and only fit to accompany courtesans. This is far from the truth because many sarangi players were excellent instrumentalists, vocalists and composers, with a deep and profound knowledge of the classical music of subcontinent. In addition they were the foremost teachers of female singers.
-- Naila Inayat
The question of whether or not we desis are capable of having a work ethic has been bothering me for years, but it is increasingly on my mind as I observe desi work practices versus those of, for example, many of the east Europeans who are now coming to Britain.
Desis can work hard, but do they have the conscientious principles that constitute a work ethic? I mean, do we do things because we feel they are our duty or merely because somebody has ordered us to? Do we put in all the hours we are required to because we feel it is our responsibility or merely because somebody has hinted that they might be monitoring us? Alas, I think that Desis do not subscribe to the concept of a work ethic.
Not subscribing to a work ethic means that you are unconcerned about punctuality, cleanliness, efficiency or productivity. The desi worker will do the same work as, for example, the European worker, but will not bother to clean up after himself. Leaving dirty tea and sugar stained cups lying about is not an issue, nor is tidying up. Notifying colleagues or bosses in case of lateness or absence is also not an issue. And when it is done, it is mostly not out of consideration, but of fear of retribution or loss.
I see this across the board: It happens at the lower, worker class level as much as on the yuppy white collar level. People are lazy, inconsiderate and irresponsible. However, this is not for lack of talent or energy. One thing I have found that Desis excel in is intrigue and vicious workplace politics. A great amount of energy is used on party bazi and saazish activities with the most vicious snakes in the workplace painting themselves as the 'mazlooms'.
Why do we seem to be this way? Why do we not take pride in work, whatever sort of work it might be? Why do we not believe in the dignity of labour and why do we not have the humility to do any sort of work? I have an irrational dislike for Americans and American life but the one thing I greatly appreciate about them is their commitment to the principle of work. Students are expected to work over the holidays no matter how rich or affluent they might be. And they won't just be working in cushy office 'internships' arranged for them by their parents, they will take any job: I know affluent ivy league students who have worked summers on building sites or cleaning buildings because to not work would be far worse than to do any sort of work.
In Pakistan, however, people have all sorts of attitudes about what jobs are or are not acceptable to them. They also think that regardless of their social status, they must have one or two lackeys at a lower rung that they can boss around. They will consider it an insult to clear up after themselves, if they can order somebody else to do it for them. The President of the country will want lackeys to boss around as much as the lowest peon or sweeper will want somebody to lord it over and abuse.
It is all a big power trip, and it is a real pity that this is our mentality. I believe that we should feel pride in doing any sort of work that is required of us, whether it is cleaning toilets or carrying our own bags. At the end of the day, we need to feel pride in work -- any work, and we need to realise that all work has an inherent dignity in it. A more socialist and egalitarian outlook would help to build our national character considerably.