A rare poet of his time, Kaifi Azmi is the man behind the transformation that is Mijwan. A man who not only empowered this village in Eastern UP where he was born, but also left a tradition that encourages a change for a more powerful and educated India.
From his tireless commitment to the betterment of his village, rose his passionate determination to ensure a right to education for every child. He believed India could only make real progress when the girl child is placed at the centre of development guaranteeing her equal opportunity to education, health and employment.
Shabana Azmi has been carrying forward her father’s dream with her goddaughter Namrata Goyal to take this pledge farther. Together they are working towards transforming Mijwan, a village once frozen in time, into a model village by building it on the foundation of Kaifi Azmi’s legacy.
On the NGO’s website, Shabana Azmi writes, “Mijwan Welfare Society (MWS) is an NGO founded by my father in 1993 that works for the empowerment of villagers in a small village, Mijwan in Azamgarh UP where he was born. My father believed that India’s remarkable economic progress can only be meaningful if it reaches out to rural India, where 80 percent of the population lives but is denied access to opportunity.”
MWS which started on a humble note, now runs, Kaifi Azmi High School for girls, Kaifi Azmi Inter College for girls, Kaifi Azmi Computer Training Center and Kaifi Azmi Sewing and Tailoring Center.
Azmi recalls an anecdote from her life which has stayed with her for long. It has been an inspiration for her. She writes, “Once when I asked him. ‘ Abba don’t you get frustrated when change doesn’t occur at the pace you want it to ?’ he answered with equanimity, ‘bete when you are working for change, you should build into that expectation the possibility that the change might not happen in your lifetime. But you must have the conviction that if you carry on working with dedication then the change is bound to occur – even if it happens after you’. His prophetic words have become my mantra in the work that I do with the weak and the dispossessed…”
Mijwan has got help from the film and fashion fraternity. Anita Dongre and Manish Malhotra have been working, alongside Shabana Azmi, to make this village a model village. Young brigade of Bollywood, Ranbir Kapoor, Imran Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Prateik Babbar and Chirangada Singh have stood up in support of MWS.
When Manish Malhotra adopted the Embroidery Centre in 2010, they started with 1 centre. Today this legacy has expanded to 10 centres across Uttar Pradesh. It is only befitting that the theme of the 5th year of the Mijwan fashion show by Manish Malhotra is MIJWAN – THE LEGACY. Epitomizing the continuing realization of Kaifi Saab’s vision, on 4th April, the show will see Jaya Bachchan and her son Abhishek Bachchan, Anil Kapoor and his daughter Sonam Kapoor along with Javed Akhtar and his son Farhan Akhtar walk the ramp for the empowerment of the girl child.
Kaifi Azmi would have been proud to see how far the legacy of his Mijwan has come today!