Poet Javed Akhtar today said that the country would be richer today if it seeks inspiration from the universal values embodied in the poetry of Kaifi Azmi.
Addressing a national seminar on Kaifi Azmi at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Akhtar said that his poetry and lyrics inspired an entire generation with his passionate commitment to the values of nationalism, social justice, humanism and freedom of speech.
The seminar was organised jointly by the National Sahitya Academy, New Delhi and the AMU.
"Market forces and globalisation may have made society more selfish and self centred but no human society can thrive if it fails to heed the call for justice to all sections, especially the marginalised, poor and down trodden," he said.
Akhtar said that Kaifi Azmi was a torch bearer for all these values which were manifested in the spirit of the Progressive Writers' Movement of 1930s.
He said that the man who ultimately became his father-in-law, was his true mentor and from him he had imbibed the values which taught him the importance of the "right to dissent" and the "right to freedom of speech."
He said that it was sad that in the present world when a person speaks out against "injustice" committed by society, most people tend to dismiss such utterances as "propaganda".
Earlier, addressing the inaugural session of the seminar, noted film personality and social activist, Shabana Azmi recalled that till his last breath, her father was deeply rooted in the soil of his tiny native village in district Azamgarh.
She said that it was her father's passionate commitment to the cause of Hindu Muslim unity and the values of secularism which still prompts her to speak out whenever these two values are under threat in the country.
Among those who addressed the Seminar were Professor Irtiza Kareem, Director, National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language, New Delhi and Dr KS Rao, Secretary, Sahitya Academy, New Delhi.
Welcoming the guests, the Director of the Seminar, Professor Shafey Kidwai said that by honouring Kaifi Azmi, the AMU was in fact paying a tribute to the values which he embodied and which are still of great relevance to Indian society today.