City Notebook – 172nd Birth Anniversary of Annie Besant

I found Jamshed Memorial hall full of people despite reaching there five minutes prior to the invite. Jamshed Memorial Hall has been a regular stop during my tours and I have been quite used to empty corridors and rooms. This was a welcome change, I thought to myself and settled in one of the chairs. There were some distinguished gentlemen sitting in the front row. Their grey hair, formal attire and cultured conversations made them appear from a different time. A lot of parents whose students study at Theosophical Order of Service (TOS) schools were there as well. The occasion was 172nd birthday of Annie Besant.

Annie Besant was a British born activist, educationist and writer who fought for Irish and Indian self-rule. After her work as an activist and writer in Britian, she got interested in Theosophy and later traveled to India in its pursuit. It was not long before she also got involved in politics in subcontinent and founded Home Rule League in 1910 as forum for the struggle of independence of Indian subcontinent. She later became president of Indian National Congress. Her activism did not subside and she worked for the welfare of labor and prisoners. As an educationist she helped build schools and universities during her time in India. She visited Karachi, Hyderabad, Larkana and Quetta and gave lectures. There’s a Besant Hall in Hyderabad still!

The session started with Dr. Mubarak Ali’s keynote. He was giving the lecture from Lahore but his voice was clear and his lecture fluent and informative. He highlighted that Annie Besant was born to Irish parents and had witnessed British exploitation of her people. Situation became so bad that the people survived merely on potatoes and this struggle has been immortalized in Irish poetry and literature. This played a role in Annie Besant’s disposition to activism. However at the same time her interest in education and theosophy helped her see that revolutions can be non violent, something which later appealed to Gandhi and Jinnah both.

There were some performances by the students of the schools of TOS which certainly made parents proud in the back seats. These kids looked confident and inspired.

I took a break and walked out toward the library. Few assistants had setup some refreshments on neatly setup tables. This part of the Jamshed Hall has always looked surreal considering present day Bunder Road. I felt privileged to be there. I have always did.

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Categories: City Notebook

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One Comment on “City Notebook – 172nd Birth Anniversary of Annie Besant”

  1. October 12, 2019 at 3:55 am #

    Thank you Karachiwala for making us a part of Karachi’ cultural scene.

    Especially those of us who are now not physically present in Karachi feel particularly
    grateful that you bring us the news of cultural happenings in Karachi.

    The fact there still are people in Karachi with a keen awareness of their cultural heritage and the knowledge of Karachi’s history is so reassuring.

    Those who organized this event to celebrate Annie Bessant’s birthday are remarkable people who deserve to be treasured by all of us who have a special place for Karachi in their hearts.

    Thank you Karachiwala , once again. You are doing a tremendous service to the people of Karachi by documenting this everyday cultural history in the making.

    On my next visit to Karachi I would make a point to meeting you to personally congratulate you and thank you.

    Wish you all the best.
    God bless you.

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