Despite hailing from a small town in Uttar Pradesh, 23-year-old junior scientist Khushbu Mirza has made Amroha proud. She is associated with the Chandrayaan-I launch on Wednesday, reports Vikas Pathak. The spacecraft and its payloads.india Updated: Oct 24, 2008 00:54 IST
Leaving NH-24 at Atrasi, about 40 km before Moradabad, a bumpy 10-km drive along a rough, dusty road leads to Amroha, where Khushbu Mirza stays.
The 23-year-old junior scientist is the pride of Amroha.
She is associated with the Chandrayaan-I launch on Wednesday.
The locality where her family stays, Chahgori Mohalla, is just about accessible by car. The lane is narrow, and flanked by old concrete houses with Urdu nameplates. In this traditional Muslim locality, one sees women in burqas and men in skullcaps. The town’s population is evenly divided between Hindus and Muslims. It is called Aman Ki Nagri (town of peace) — as a local Muslim puts it — with no riot having ever broken out here.
The family is proud of its secular achievements, but concerned about “stereotyping” of Muslims. Khushbu’s brother Khushtar Mirza, a product of Jamia Millia Islamia, feels many paint Islam as anti-progress.
“We are a family of educated, modern Muslims, but we still follow our traditions, which are perfectly compatible with modernity,” he says. He is also concerned about the “stereotyping” of Jamia. “Immediately after the Batla House encounter, police went to the University and stopped classes, as if the institution is a terrorist one.”
A telephonic chat with Khushbu reveals the same alienation. “I am a modern Muslim. I am an engineer, I wear western clothes, but I also read the namaaz five times a day and fast during Ramzaan. I see no incompatibility between these,” she said.
“Our family has been an educated one. Delhi Minorities Commission chairman Kamal Faruqui is our relative. Khushbu’s aunt taught at Welham Boys school at Dehradun. Her cousin Shabana Khan teaches at Mississippi University,” said Farhat Mirza, her mother.
Khushbu’s rise apart, the town lacks a quality education system. People generally send their children to Aligarh or Delhi to study. But the winds of change have begun to blow.
New English schools and degree colleges for boys and girls have come up. Property prices have gone up with land being acquired for government buildings. “Many have sold their mango groves, as prices have gone up. There are also new shopping centres, showrooms and marriage halls,” said Khushtar.
Another reason for some rise in prosperity is the coming of the cotton-waste industry in the last 10-15 years.
The city is slowly growing, but has a long way to go. “For more Khushbus, the best bet is to send children to bigger cities for education,” said Khushtar.
Khushbu, however, believes it is necessary to improve the schooling system of this town, as “early schooling is the foundation for the future”.