IN the history of the Indo-Pak subcontinent, some rebellious movements will all be remembered for successfully mobilising the masses and leaving their mark both politically and socially. Telangana rebellion was one such movement. It took place in the southern Indian region of Telangana between 1946 and 1951 and is often mentioned, especially in Marxist writings, as an example of the power that common people can wield once they are untied and rise for their rights.
In those days, Telangana was part of Hyderabad State. The princely state of Hyderabad (Deccan) was ruled since 18th century by monarchs called Nizams, that is, until British took over in 1857. Later on, it became part of British Crown under a system called suzerainty. As opposed to sovereignty, in suzerainty states have only limited autonomy.
Hyderabad State already had a patrimonial system of governance. Patrimonialism is a system wherein all power and authority is held by a ruler, either directly or indirectly. In Hyderabad State, among other problems, the people of Telangana suffered from a tyrannical system run in connivance with bureaucracy and feudal lords. It ultimately gave rise to the rebellion.
In English, there are a few books describing the background and the course of events that took place during what is known as Telangana rebellion. But in Urdu, there is hardly any work that comprehensively covers the rebellion. Now Syed Mazhar Jameel has published a book that determines the causes and role played by some well-known figures in organising people of Telangana in the rebellion.
Noted poet of Urdu Makhdoom Mohiuddin was one of those figures. Just published by Karachi’s Academy Bazyaft and titled Mughanni-i-Aatish Nafas and subtitled ‘Makhdoom Mohiuddin Aur Telangana Tehreek’, the book analyses the state of affairs at former princely state of Hyderabad as well as Makhdoom’s life, works and his role in the movement.
As Mazhar Jameel has mentioned, Makhdoom Mohiuddin was a poet, essayist, playwright, short story writer, political activist, trade unionist and Marxist intellectual. His real name was Abu Saeed Muhammad Makhdoom Mohiuddin Khudri and he was born on Feb 4, 1908, in a village in district Medak, Telangana. While capturing Makhdoom’s early life, his education and troubles he had to face earlier in his career, Mazhar Jameel has painted a vivid picture of Makhdoom’s bringing his personality traits to life and presenting the defining moments in the making of a poet and activist that Makhdoom was.
The author has devoted an entire longish chapter to capture the Telangana rebellion, detailing the history of lands endowed upon the feudal lords over the centuries, the plight of the starving farmers, the exploitation, communist party of India’s struggle, the progressive literature, resistance movement and the ultimate victory for the farmers after a long-drawn battle with exploiters.
A chapter narrates Makhdoom’s literary career, his early poems, his popularity, and ghazals. Makhdoom’s prose works, printing history of his books and his selected poetry have also been included in the book. An index at the back of the book, a rarity in Urdu books, makes it easier for the reader to trace certain topics.
Makhdoom Mohiuddin died on Aug 25, 1969, in Delhi, where he had gone to attend a mushaira.
Now a few words about the author, veteran scholar: Syed Mazhar Jameel’s ancestral hometown is Gurgaon, near Delhi, but he was born in Nagpur, CP, on March 9, 1936. Migrating to Pakistan in 1949 and settling in Sukkur, Sindh, Mazhar Jameel was deeply interested in social and political activities and actively participated in 1954 student movement. He did his MA (Urdu) and LL.B from Sindh University and began his law practice in Sukkur in 1973. Later on, he joined a bank in Karachi as law officer and after retirement from a senior management post, he resumed his practice.
Though deeply interested in literature and already acknowledged as a established critic having published a couple books, Mazhar Jameel shot to fame as a researcher and critic of Urdu with his notable work Aashob-i-Sindh Aur Urdu Fiction ( 2002), analysing Sindh’s political and social issues as reflected in Urdu literature.
Another remarkable work by Mazhar Sahib that won him accolades as well as awards is Jadeed Sindhi Adab: Mailanaat, Rujhanaat, Imkanaat (2007). He has to credit other works, too, that have been received quite well in literary circles include Sobhogyan Chandani: Shakhsiat-o-Fan (2007), Zikr-i-Faiz (2012), Alice Banaam Faiz (2018) and some others.
The book under review is a valuable addition to Urdu’s critical and research works as it fulfils a yawning gap about Telangana rebellion, its Marxist background and Makhdoom Mohiuddin.
Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2021