Bangalore is touted as the silicon valley of the east, the fasted growing metropolis, the best city in the country (relatively) speaking for quality of life, etc. These positive superlatives unfortunately do not filter down to the Shia Itna Ashari population of the city or its hinterland and the evolution and progress seemed to have stopped outside the bubble that we live in, permeation seems impossible. May I add that these thoughts (Maan ki baat) are purely those of the author but honestly please look around and the palpable difference is plain to see. The only element that permeates through this otherwise impregnable shell is the plague of factionalism & divisive politics (national pastime)
The population of 12000 approx. (we don’t have data, several attempts made all ended inconclusively) demographically comprises of settlers that came to the city to better their prospects. The original inhabitants on record seem to the Iranian immigrants families of Humza Hussain, Aga Ali Asker, Karam Khan, and their entourage that came with them, later arrived a branch of the Khaleelis of Madras, and Agha Pooya from Rampur, and settled down in Richmond Town/ Langford Town. Thus the central vista was established in Richmond town with Masjid-E-Askari, Azakhana’s and Cemetery.
The Iranians were joined by Khojas from Mumbai (Nassur Family), the Kanodaris from Gujarat, who came to establish commercial enterprises. The swell grew with the migration of the Shias from Mysore, Narisipura, Potenhalli, who riding on a wave of education garnered employment in the state bureaucracy, police, revenue department etc. They established their homes based on a convergence driven by filial connections, commercial considerations in the localities of Austin Town, Neelasandra, Yashwanthapur and then pockets forming in Jayanagar-BTM, Bhoopsandra, Fraser Town. The inhabitants of Alipur came to establish their business homes in Bangalore straddling between here and Alipur. Yashwantapur & Neelasandra now have their own Masjid & Azakhana whilst Yashwantapur-Bhoopsandra have a cemetery in addition to the Masjid & Azakhana. A small but significant posse of youngsters from other parts of India moved in to encash on the IT boom making Bangalore their home and adding a new segment to the social fabric here. This then is the demographic background of Bangalore the hub of Shia community of Karnataka that maybe 50,000 strong scattered across the state of Karnataka as per the table below.
|Distance||180 Km||70 Km||90 Km||80 Km||200 Km||40 Km|
|Number of Homes||700||4000||550||615||975||20|
Our biggest failing, and one that continues to hinder our progress. Let’s view Bangalore and the mufassil areas just in just 3 generations (30 years per generation). The first, being the pioneers who came to establish a base and settle in the city. These were those who found employment in the government machinery, clerical jobs in business establishments, a few took up legal profession whilst the doctor and engineers fi any could be counted on the fingers. They strived and gave their children education, this was the coming of the 2nd generation, but the level of education ended at high school, lesser number completing PUC by which time the middle east was beginning to bloom and the lucrative jobs, and the financial pressures at home with growing families was the choice of the hour. However, education beyond the 12th standard drew only a minuscule percentage spread across the humanities, accounts, with a handful opting to attempt engineering & medicine considering the hurdles of CAT, fees, etc. This applies for the boys, the number is far less amongst the girls for whom matrimony is the graduation to aspire for, maybe not by choice but by circumstances and social pressures…so the population just continued to grow faster in the same environment saddled with the same socio-economic pressure compounded by the prevalence of the single most debilitating disease (before Covid) dowry. In my opinion, education has stagnated albeit numerous schools set up by “educators” within the community purely as commercial enterprises…so where do the children play?
The 2 humungous wakfs established by the Iranians are embroiled in litigation fueled by vested interests leaving the ‘golden geese” to grow old and be forgotten leaving an entire community in penury, with no pathway to higher education, medical aid etc.
The pandemic hit us and hit us hard in both phases. The 1st wave took away the revenue and the 2nd is taking away lives. Lives being lost to ignorance, fear, lack of means and poor medical practices for just not being able to implement anything.
SO WHAT DID WE DO?
Few duly recognized and acknowledged in the community as reasonably good momins came together to create the Joint Action Committee (JAC) by selling the idea to the already established idaras & Anjumans, of pooling in resources, raising funds, channelizing action, managing people and money and using our network to reach sustenance to the deserving needy through a validated process of verification to reduce duplication.
That which we have done is outline in the newspaper article.