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Poet Nirmala Sitharaman quoted: Kashmiri, Leftist, close to Abdullah

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman quoted a verse from ‘Myon Watan (My Country)’, a poem by renowned Kashmiri poet, late Dina Nath Kaul ‘Nadim’, to emphasise that “everything the government does is for this beloved country”.

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar |
Updated: February 2, 2020 10:43:26 am
Budget 2020, Nirmala Sitharaman 2020 Budget, Nirmala Sitharaman Budget speech, Budget speech Sitharaman 2020, Indian Economic slowdown, Business news indian express Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman gestures during her Budget speech. (Video screengrab)

Beginning her Budget speech, Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman quoted a verse from ‘Myon Watan (My Country)’, a poem by renowned Kashmiri poet, late Dina Nath Kaul ‘Nadim’, to emphasise that “everything the government does is for this beloved country”.

Sitharaman quoted the verse:
Soun watan, gulzar shalimar hyu (our country is like a blossoming Shalimar Bagh)
Dal manz phalwun pamposh hyu (like a blooming lotus in Dal lake)
Nuwjawnan hun roshan khumar hyu (like the warm blood of its young)
Myon watan, choun watan, soun watan, nundboon watan (my country, your country, our country, the beautiful country).”

“The poem was actually written about Kashmir. There are many such poems that he (Nadim) had written,” historian Mohammad Yousuf Taing said.

Kashmiri Pandit scholar B N Betab said: “You can interpret any piece of art, any piece of literature, in a different context. I think Nirmala Sitharaman had in her mind…I was watching it, she said (it) because she was presenting the Budget and saying something about the development that the government is going to give to Kashmiris.”

Longest-ever Budget speech had poetry and history too

So who was Dina Nath Kaul ‘Nadim’? A Leftist, a self-admitted “fan” of the scholar and the agnostic person in Jawaharlal Nehru, and a close associate of National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, whose son and grandson — Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar Farooq Abdullah and former J&K CM Omar Abdullah, respectively — have been detained by the government.

Born in Murran village in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district in 1916, Nadim first emerged as a poet when he recited two poems at Mujahid Manzil, the headquarters of the National Conference in Kashmir.

In an interview with a Jammu-based English daily days before his death in 1988, Nadim had said that after he recited the poems at a public gathering, Sheikh Abdullah raised him in his arms and said, “Look, here is our poet…” He recalled that it was the day Muslim Conference was converted into National Conference by Sheikh Abdullah.

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Nadim was a senior member of the Progressive Writers’ Forum and had said in an interview that he was part of the Cultural Front, an underground communist organisation. In 1971, he was conferred with the ‘Soviet Land Nehru Award’. Sixteen years later, he was honoured with the Sahitya Akademi Award.

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Nadim used ‘Makhmoor’ as his pen name in his earlier writings but changed it on the insistence of Prem Nath Shala, a contemporary. On Saturday, the Finance Minister called him Dina Nath Kaul and omitted the pen name.

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