Did Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi have any value for Indian Muslims?

We all feel sad at the demise of Mansoor Ali Khan (Nawab Pataudi) the illustrious cricket player and gentleman. Aside from being an elite Indian he did help some poor people by holding charity events etc. He was a good man.

But as a Muslim did he have any value for the Muslims of India? He married movie actress Sharmila Tagore, another very fine person, who is a Hindu. His son and daughters are planning to marry Hindus. So with Pataudi's passing away his family now ceases to be anything but marginal Muslims in name only.

In his lifetime Pataudi was very aware of the extreme poverty and backwardness of his community, the Muslims of India, but it never mattered to him. He never identified himself as a Muslim. He never spoke about it or made any appeals to government or made any effort to utilize his tremendous popularity and resources (he had inherited by default the assets of the Nawab of Bhopal as the only direct heiress had chosen to migrate to Pakistan) to raise funds to build say one college or one hospital in any poor Muslim mohalla anywhere in India. That could have helped a few poverty stricken Muslims. Why was Pataudi's kind heart never moved by the grinding poverty of Muslim slums? Why he never felt the urge to do anything for his own community that is his own extended family?

However, about a decade ago he ran for Parliament from Bhopal (which has sizeable Muslim population) on Congress ticket. In the campaign he toured Muslim mohallas of Bhopal wearing the Muslim kurta-pajama-sherwani. He stopped at some mosques to offer namaz. But soon after the election was over he was never seen again in Bhopal and those mosques again.

So today that he has died are we Indian Muslims supposed to feel any special pang that someone from our community has died? Or the only feeling we have is that a well known Indian personality has died; no more?

There are many such Muslim star personalities in India who are so detached from their community and who have such total absence of any feeling for their community (eg., Azim Premji), that for Indian Muslims they have almost NO value. Sorry if I sound crass.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 October 2011 on page no. 12

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