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Pakistan Press (07 Nov 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Remembering Dina: New Age Islam’s Selection 07-11-2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

November 7, 2017

Of victims and perpetrators

By Anita Turab

Compiled by New Age Islam Edit Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/remembering-dina--new-age-islam’s-selection-07-11-2017/d/113137


Remembering Dina

By Akbar Ahmed

November 7, 2017

Neither Indians nor Pakistanis quite forgave Dina Wadia for being Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s daughter; the former made her life miserable through a protracted, mean-spirited grab for her father’s house in Bombay and the latter ignored her as an embarrassment who dared to marry a non-Muslim in defiance of her father’s wishes. She was further isolated because unlike other Indian and Pakistani leaders whose offspring have gone on to take part in affairs of the nation as prime ministers, senators and ambassadors — for example, M K Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Z A Bhutto — Jinnah’s daughter, Dina, chose to stay out of politics and the limelight.

As I set out in the 1990s to complete the Jinnah Quartet, consisting of two films and two books on Jinnah, I knew I had to interview Jinnah’s only child in order to confirm some facts of Jinnah’s life and obtain a sense of the man through the daughter. Thanks to some friends and Dina’s son Nusli, a thorough gentleman, I was fortunate to have had several telephonic conversations and meetings with Dina in the late 1990s in New York and succeeded in getting her to agree to be interviewed for the documentary film Mr Jinnah — the Making of Pakistan.

In this article, I will share her own words on a number of topics from quotes and passages which are excerpted from the documentary and the book Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity — The Search for Saladin. Those interested will find the film online and the book published by Oxford University Press.

I found Dina at first somewhat brusque in manner, cold and distant, but she warmed up as our conversations continued and by the end I found her charming, intelligent, sharp and affable. She was overjoyed to receive the beautiful Swati embroidered shawl and shalwar-kameez set my wife had sent for her and asked me to thank her several times.

She had agreed to come out for tea with me to a restaurant that she had chosen. As the two of us talked, I felt profoundly humbled and honoured to be with her and to be able to glimpse her father who I admired so much. In her style of speaking and mannerism, assertive and clipped, sharp features, light complexion and fastidious dressing she bore a striking resemblance to her father. My sense was of a naturally shy person who valued her privacy and deliberately kept away from India-Pakistan issues. She avoided the media like the plague.

Dina on her father

[On Jinnah growing up]: “He grew up and, it would be 16, then he wanted to go to England. He came from a very well-off family and they were merchants and he didn’t want for anything. His father decided it perhaps he should send his son to England for further education. He wanted to go but his mother was not very happy. She was very upset.”

[On Jinnah being asked by his father to come home and support the foundering family business]: “And he said no, he didn’t want to go back. He wanted to finish everything and finish his education and so on. And he did.”

[On Jinnah and the relationship with Gandhi]: “When Gandhi came from South Africa, my father was already an established politician. I think the original thing that was in common was how to get the British out — you know, how to get India independent.”

[On Jinnah’s religiosity]: “He was not a religious man, but he wasn’t irreligious either. There was no big religious thing.”

[On Jinnah and his view of the two communities]: “If Muslims got ten rupees they would buy a pretty scarf and eat biryani whereas Hindus would save the money.”

[On life in London]: She recalled that in the early 1930s Jinnah lived in a large house in Hampstead, London, had an English chauffeur who drove his Bentley and an English staff to serve him. There were two cooks, Indian and Irish, and Jinnah’s favourite food was curry and rice. He enjoyed playing billiards. She remembers her father taking her to the theatre, pantomimes and circuses.

[On Jinnah’s reaction to her marriage to a non-Muslim]: “He wasn’t too happy because I think it was that crucial time all around. He was very disapproving, and we didn’t speak for a few years.”

[On attempted assassination on Jinnah]: “He fought off the man. What happened was that this man came with a knife, and my father was struggling with him, and so the knife cut him. His chauffeur, his driver was in the driveway in a van, and he was a big Pathan, and he just cut him off.”

[On Jinnah’s decision to split from India]: “He never really wanted to break away. He thought everybody could live together and come to terms with the Congress party or the Hindu government or whoever was going to be in charge. And, as history tells us, it wasn’t to be.”

[On learning about the creation of Pakistan]: “I was in Bombay at my house, and he phoned and he said, ‘We’ve got it.’ I said, ‘Got what?’ and he said ‘Pakistan.’ I said, ‘Well you’ve worked hard for it.’ And then we had a personal conversation and that was it…I never saw him again because he was in Pakistan.”

[On Jinnah’s funeral — Dina’s first visit to Pakistan]: “Oh, it was massive. I’ve never heard so many people cry — I mean most, but in the mourning and crying and flowers, there were thousands and thousands of lakhs of people, but that was to be expected. Remember that Pakistan had only been going for a year or something, so it was very emotional.”

[On relations with her father]: Father and daughter had fallen out when Dina announced that she planned to marry Neville Wadia, a Christian who had once been a Parsi. At the time, Jinnah had just become the leader of Muslims of India and was therefore highly conscious of his role. In an angry exchange between father and daughter, Jinnah told her that there were millions of Muslim boys in India, and she could have anyone she chose. She replied that there were millions of Muslim girls and he could have married one of them, so why did he marry her mother? Inevitably there was a break in relations. Dina married Neville Wadia in 1938 and they had a daughter and son, but the couple separated a few years after partition.

Jinnah’s relationship with his daughter is widely misunderstood. He is depicted as a cold and unfeeling father who ordered his daughter out of his house because she married against his will and he never spoke to his daughter after she married. This information is incorrect. Dina confirmed to me that when she heard her father had almost been assassinated in 1943 she telephoned to ask if he was safe and said she would like to see him. “Of course,” he replied. Immediately she rushed over to his house.

There is written evidence of the affection between Dina and her father in the last years of Jinnah’s life. A letter uncovered a few decades ago sent by Dina from Bombay to her father on hearing the news about Pakistan on 28 April 1947 reads:

My darling Papa, First of all I must congratulate you — we have got Pakistan….how hard you have worked for it…I do hope you are keeping well — I get lots of news of you from the newspapers. The children are just recovering from their whooping cough, it will take another month yet. I am taking them to Juhu on Thursday for a month or so. Are you coming back here? If so I hope you will drive out to Juhu and spend the day if you like. Anyway I have a phone so I will ring you up and drive in to see you if you don’t feel like coming out. Take care of yourself Papa darling. Lots of love & kisses, Dina



Of victims and perpetrators

By Anita Turab

November 7, 2017

Harassment is common. Most women have learned to take it in their stride within the workplace. Some succumb to pressure when stakes are high and yet others are confronting the harasser and raising alarm. In rare cases, a less empowered victim requests a more empowered sister to deal with the matter. This is not recommended as it can cause a spectacular divide for and against the harassed individual, the gladiator sibling and the alleged harasser (who is now also a victim).

Despite sufficient attention in media, the poking and prodding, lewd jokes and intimidation continue unabated for a majority of women who do not have a choice (voice). Media trial of the rich and famous mute the reality where women face gross harassment every single day. There are unending debates on definitions, masculine norms, powerful men versus timorous girls, ambitious exploitative women and generally what is termed “the way of the world”.

Harassment allegations have flooded Hollywood. Lecherous and non-lecherous men have been named and shamed in the media. Penalties are swiftly imposed after instant social media trials without much room for defence. Victims are scarred for life and celebrities are facing certain death in their careers. Some allegations date back several decades, however, they sound credible enough for public outrage. The American people are shocked at these revelations; the shock is surprising since sexual indiscretion and exploitation are common elements in Hollywood. Politics is also not too far behind in this respect.

It is the year 1998 and President Bill Clinton is in deep trouble. The 49-year-old US president indulged in “improper physical relationship” within office premises with a 22-year-old intern at the White House who was barely 20 at the time of their association. The president expresses considerable remorse and squarely blames his lies on grave misunderstanding of what comprises “sexual activity”. According to Clinton, “acts performed on him” are within given boundaries and distinct from “acts performed by him”. The first lady looks visibly upset, at least when in the public eye. Both victims (wife and intern) write books about the affair and the latter makes considerable monetary gains from televised talk shows.

Abuse of power, harassment and exploitation are clearly lost in semantics as the association between the two is seen to be based on consent. Clinton finishes his second term with the highest approval ratings and the Lewinsky scandal is nothing more than a trifling episode in US history. Public perceptions tolerate the president’s indiscretions despite the enormous gap in age and power dynamics between Lewinsky and Clinton. Moral boundaries of the American people are firmly intact.

The year is 2016 and numerous allegations have surfaced against presidential candidate Donald Trump. In his own words (later described as locker room talk), he boasts of groping married women without hesitation. The campaign is smeared with accusations by harassed women ranging from recent to distant past. Ironically, he is facing Hillary as his opponent. Trump is elected with a majority that appears comfortable with his bad behaviour. Women who claim to have been harassed by Trump are forgotten.

What are the boundaries between harassment and inappropriate behaviour? Can current limitations regarding harassment be applied retrospectively when suchlike conduct was common? And it appears to be common from the large number of victims coming forward now. Do apprentices often sexually entice powerful men to get ahead in their careers? Can grownup adult men be enticed at all? Do victims often fall victim because this is the only way forward in a vicious cycle of ambition and exploitation? Why is Trump so popular despite being a confirmed perpetrator?

Harasment today is as grey as smog-filled air in a world clearly divided between men and women. Victims and perpetrators exist on both sides and occasionally within the same individual. And harassed women will continue to suffer while the debate rages on.


URL: http://newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/remembering-dina--new-age-islam’s-selection-07-11-2017/d/113137


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