Shabana Azmi’s Erudition

It’s now the wife’s turn. To say the same things. On an occasion it was uncalled for.

Versatile Bollywood actress and social activist Shabana Azmi on Friday depricated as unjust and untrue the tendency of equating Islam with terrorism as she received the prestigious International Gandhi Peace Prize…

I reckon her celebrity status gives her the right to say inappropriate things on inappropriate occasions: a sentimental speech about the urgent need for peace, defence of Islam, Hindu fundamentalism (well, she has thankfully refrained from using that exact term), clash of civilizations, problems of Indian women, Gandhi, Bush, Iraq, Gujarat… the array of topics simply stuns the senses. Amid this deluge, one doesn’t notice the absence of logic. For example:

“terrorism is being equated with Islam – This is both unjust and untrue. Myths are being perpetuated in the name of religion.”

Another jewel:

Islam, she said, is not a monolith. “Islam resides in more than 50 countries in the world and takes on the culture of the country in which it resides. So it is tolerant in some, liberal in some, extremist in others.”

If Mad Mullahs holler in India, blame Indian culture for their behaviour. If France plans to ban headscarves, yell that the French are intolerant because Islam “takes on the culture of the country in which it resides.” That however, doesn’t explain Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.

And then there’s also that other Big Myth:

In India, we earned our freedom through non-violent passive resistance…

Not entirely: non-violence was simply one of the–albeit the most popular one during that period–methods. Thousands of non-non-violent freedom fighters were tortured and killed while a prominent non-violent leader spouted nonsense about discovering India from the hallowed portals of luxurious jails. On the topic of freedom struggle, Azmi curiously doesn’t mention the almost-forgotten monstrosity called the Cellular Jail. The lucrative industry of Milking Gandhi till Eternity is in no hurry to fade into the sunset.

Before we close, Shabana overflows with praise on a certain Vanessa Redgrave.

I am truly overwhelmed and humbled to receive the covetous award. My joy on this occasion has been doubled because Vanessa Redgrave, who has been my hero for many years, both as an actress of immeasurable talent and a woman of tremendous courage who has stuck her neck out of for her political convictions and issues of human rights and social justice, has consented to give me the Award.

I’m sure Vanessa Redgrave has made a positive difference to a lot of people. But her profile also throws up some uncomfortable facts:

In 1977, Redgrave funded and narrated a documentary film on the plight of the Palestinian people….


…showed her in a PLO training camp, dancing as she waved a rifle over her head. (Doing the fedayeen two-step?) In accepting an Oscar for Julia (1978), Redgrave railed at the “Zionist hoodlums” (an expression Soviets propagandists applied to those protesting the treatment of Russian Jews).

In 1980, Redgrave proclaimed, “The State of Israel must be overthrown, there is no room for such a state.” In December 1981, she told the publication Arab Perspective, “The Zionist state is the cause of conflict and violence in the Middle East.”


In December 2002 Redgrave paid £50,000 bail for Chechen separatist Deputy Premier and special envoy Akhmed Zakayev, who had sought political asylum in the United Kingdom and was accused by the Russian government of aiding and abetting hostage-takings in the Moscow Hostage Crisis of 2002–in which 128 hostages lost their lives–and guerrilla warfare against Russia.

These sterling acts of courage make her a hero in Shabana’s eyes: sticking to political convictions and all. Neither is it surprising; the two share a lot in common.

It doesn’t take too much to win a Gandhi prize today.



4 comments for “Shabana Azmi’s Erudition

  1. Nisha
    November 27, 2009 at 11:34 AM

    I commend you for the factual analysis. And totally agree with you. Most educated people in fact voice similar sentiments. Unfotunately Indian masses are fed so much crap by the paid media they cannot decipher facts from fiction and hence such analysis would help their starved brains.

    Shabana Azmi, Barkha Dutt, Arundhati Roy and even Shobha De are all hypocritical, self serving bytches who think they can use their smarts to outsmart everyone. They are a menace to Indian society and have fabricated their way all through out life through manipulation. None of them deserve even 1/100th of the fame or wealth they have amassed. They are a disgrace to India. Arundhati’s support and sympathies for the Naxalites is well known. Shabana’s support and sympathies for Muslims and Pakistan is well known. Barkha Dutt’s fat attempts at portraying herself as some erudite journo falls flat with her disgraceful and utterly partial attitutde towards Modi, towards the progress Gujarat has made and towards anything Hindu. She is a Muslim appeaser and a staunch paid Congress supporter like her brother Rajdeep Sardesai and his shrill voiced ranter wife Sagarika Ghosh. Not to mention Shobha De – she pretends to be this changed social diva from a sex obsessed sl*t she ceases to remain genuine on any count. But the media will glorify these byches amply even if they sneeze either because they are paid directly by the proponents or by the organizations they speak for. They are women without a conscience. They think by knowing English and yapping away in the language, by borrowing thoughts or quotes, and by making up a facade of being intellectuals they actually become so. But people know the truth. Those who dont will know the truth sooner or later.

    But I am glad there are people like you who call a spade a spade and do not carried away by media frenzies.

  2. November 7, 2006 at 6:58 AM


    November 4, 2006 at 6:52 AM

    i dont understand whethere these freakin leftist of india are IQ challenged or they are tryin to earn a few brownie points.If its the first case i think they need counselin if its the second case tehy need severe beating.but i still feel azmi is much better(doenst mean i admire her as a matter of fact i hate her) than burka “b****” dutt or Arundhati “S***” roy

  4. Sanjay Choudhry
    October 28, 2006 at 4:12 PM

    Well, the lady in her early days of “social activism” started off well, publicly taking on Shahi Imam Abdullah Bukhari in a TV debate. He thundered: “I don’t want to talk to a singing and dancing nautch girl.” (Mein nachne gane walion ke moo nahin lagta.)

    The lady got a crash course in the ground realities and quickly learned appropriate behaviour — don’t take on any issue related to Islam, keep your focus on “Hindu fundamentalists” and social problems of Hindus — female infanticide, sati, emancipation of strictly Hindu women, and so on.

    Now, she is not bothered about issues of her own religion. She is just bothered about Hindus and worldwide Muslim causes. The liberals and communists applaud and give her their approval. She is showered with awards by the four Christian countries (UK, US, Australia and Canada) for taking on Hindu fundamentalists. (These countries are on the forefront of raising profile of everyone in India who is opposed to native nationalism.)

    The drama continues.

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