At Crossword Book Awards


When Salman Rushdie came calling…

It says a lot about an awards function when the performers — called to take on the role of fillers between announcements — manage to be a lot more interesting than the awards themselves.

But that is precisely what the Hutch Crossword Book Award 2005 managed to do: give us an evening of more credible performances than winners.

Seema Anil Sehgal, the ghazal singer from Jammu and Kashmir, and Rehaan Engineer, theatre personality from Mumbai, were the ones who deserved the applause. Seema Anil Sehgal, for her moving rendition of works by Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Bulleh Shah; Engineer, for his powerful reading from Salman Rushdie’s novel, Shalimar the Clown.

Seema began her recital with a haunting Dogri folksong aptly titled “wails from the mountains” in which she sang the agony of a newlywed whose husband is far away earning livelihood by working in the king’s army. Her in-laws burden her with the taxing chores and neglect her health and comforts.

“Let the mountains be burnt. I no longer wish ti live there,” she laments addressing her mother. This haunting melody in “raag Pahari” left many an eyes wet in the auditorium.

She next sang a poignant nazm (free verse) by legendary Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, titled Lahoo Ka Surag (Trace of blood). It aptly describes a situation where the murders take place in broad daylight and yet there is no trace of blood to nab the culprits! The obvious reference is to the murders of Priyadarshini Mattoo and Jessica Lall.

Most writers didn’t show up, of course. After all, this was an award initiated to honour ‘Indian writers in English’. Which meant most nominees weren’t in the country.

Text: Lindsay Pereira. Photograph: Jewella

Dainik Jagran, New Delhi

Dainik Jagran, New Delhi

सीमा अनिल सहगल सुर से सम्मानित

जम्मू :
अपने संगीत के माध्यम से राष्ट्रीय अखंडता के क्षेत्र में उल्लेखनीय योगदान देने वाली जम्मू-कश्मीर की सुप्रसिद्ध गायिका सीमा अनिल सहगल को प्रतिष्ठित हाकिम खान सुर पुरस्कार से सम्मानित किया गया।

उदयपुर के सिटी पैलेस में आयोजित एक प्रभावशाली समारोह में महाराणा प्रताप के वंशज श्रीजी अरविन्द सिंह मेवाड़ ने सीमा अनिल सहगल को पुरस्कार स्वरूप 25,001 रुपये नगद, चांदी का प्रशस्ति पत्र और दुशाला प्रदान किया।

मेवाड़ फाउंडेशन उदयपुर की ओर से अभी तक इस प्रतिष्ठित पुरस्कार से जिन प्रमुख हस्तियों को सम्मानित किया गया है उनमें स्वर कोकिला लता मंगेशकर, बौद्ध धर्म गुरु दलाईलामा, हिंदी कवि हरिवंश राय बच्चन, अभिनेता सुनील दत्त आदि शामिल हैं।

साहित्य अकादमी पुरस्कार से सम्मानित डोगरी कवि यश शर्मा की सुपुत्री सीमा अनिल सहगल विश्व की इकलौती ऐसी गायिका हैं जिनका एलबम सरहद पूर्व प्रधानमंत्री वाजपेयी अपने लाहौर दौरे में नवाज शरीफ को राष्ट्रीय सौगात के रूप में देने के लिए ले गए थे।



The poetry of Poets

Prachi Pinglay

A message of peace and harmony

Mumbai: It is difficult to estimate the effect of her singing when you meet Seema Anil Sehgal, ever so quiet. Hailing from Jammu and Kashmir, she has been singing the poetry of poets such as Kabir, Iqbal, Faraz and Nida Fazli to spread the message of peace.

On March 5, she will receive the Hakim Khan Sur Award from the Mewar Foundation instituted to honour an individual who has made a lasting contribution in the field of national integration, for the album ‘Sarhad’ dedicated to Indo-Pakistan amity. Released in 1998, it is the first ever on the poetry of Ali Sardar Jafri.

The award will be presented at a function at the City Palace, Udaipur. It will be followed by a concert by Ms. Sehgal. Lata Mangeshkar, Sunil Dutt, the Dalai Lama, Asghar Ali Engineer, Teesta Setalvad and Harivansh Rai Bachchan are some of the earlier awardees.

Ms. Sehgal’s peace efforts began when they were not yet acceptable. “When I first presented my concert a month before Godhra happened, people used to say, what is she doing? But when the riots happened, people realised the significance of the peace message,” Ms. Sehgal says.
Her husband Anil Sehgal adds: “In fact in 1998, to talk about Indo-Pakistan peace meant being labelled as anti-national or pro-Pakistani. At that time she took this message of peace from one place to another.”

Logical step

For Ms. Sehgal, it was only a logical step after getting degrees in music. “I belong to Jammu and Kashmir and I have seen people suffer. Music is my medium and I am trying to do whatever little I can do using my music. Some people say they do not read newspapers or watch television because it is all sad and depressing. On the contrary, I feel one must be aware of what is going on and do something to change the situation.”
Her husband adds: “For many years the Hindu- Muslim divide has surfaced in different ways. Be it Partition, be it riots… It is amazing how what a poet wrote a hundred years back still makes so much sense. It is very relevant today as well.”

A story

The Sehgals realise that building peace is not easy. Mr. Sehgal says: “We tell a story before the concert begins. Once there was a massive forest fire. When the whole jungle was burning, one sparrow took a long flight to a lake and got a drop of water and put it in the fire. She kept doing it till a lion asked her what was the point of putting a small drop of water. She replied, I know I cannot douse the fire by myself but if all the sparrows in the jungle put one drop each I am sure there will be some relief. Just like the sparrow, we are doing what we can. We know very well that we cannot change the world but we can do our bit.”

Peace concerts

Since January 2002, Ms. Sehgal has been singing her especially devised Peace Concerts, titled ‘Lahoo Ka Rang Ek Hai’ (the colour of blood is the same), in different parts of India to promote national integration by bringing different communities, especially Hindus and Muslims, closer together.
Across the country audiences respond to poems, which she carefully picks from a wide range of poets. The poetry could date back hundreds of years or could be as recent as the 21st century. “I study the poems very well. If I do not understand the meaning of the poems, then how will I convey it to the listeners?” she asks.

With her husband, son and daughter, Ms. Sehgal is planning to travel by road from Mumbai to Kashmir. En route they will hold concerts, talk to people and spread the message of peace and communal harmony.

© Copyright 2000 – 2006 The Hindu

Date:05/03/2006 URL:

The Kashmir Times, Jammu

The kashmir Times, Jammu

National award for
Seema Anil Sehgal

Mumbai based renowned singer-composer from Jammu & Kashmir, Seema Anil Sehgal, has been conferred the prestigious Hakim Khan Sur Award for the year 2005-2006, for her ‘lasting contribution in the field of national integration’ through her music.

Lata Mangeshkar, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Sunil Dutt, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and social activists Asghar Ali Engineer and Teesta Setalvad adorn the roll of honour for this prestigious national award.

The award instituted by the Maharana Mewar Foundation, Udaipur, in 1986, carries a cash prize of Rs 25,001/-, a silver citation and a ceremonial shawl.

The Chairman and Managing Trustee of the Foundation, Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar will present the award at a special function to be held at the Manek Chowk, The City Palace, Udaipur, on Sunday, 5 March 2006.

Seema is the only singer in the world whose voice has been presented as a national gift. It may be recalled that Prime Minister Vajpayee created history when he presented Sarhad, a music album sung and composed by Seema, as a national gift, to his erstwhile Pakistani counterpart during the historic Lahore Summit, in February 1999.

She was later felicitated at the prestigious Harvard University, Boston, USA, and is the only singer from India to receive such honour.

Seema has effectively employed her music with meaningful poetry to establish peace and communal harmony in the immediate Indian society and world at large.

Since January 2002, she has been singing her especially devised Peace Concerts, titled ‘Lahoo Ka Rang Ek Hai’, in different parts of India to promote national integration by bringing different communities of India closer; especially the two estranged communities Hindus and Muslims.

Hakim Khan Sur, in whose name this national award has been instituted, was a Pathan (from the North West frontier), who came to Mewar from Hyderabad, his city of domicile. He became a general in Rana Pratap’s army and fought to uphold the freedom and beliefs of his adopted home. He fought in the epic battle of Haldi Ghati (1576 AD) against the invading Mughal army of Emperor Akbar.

This was the first recorded instance in which the Mewar army was led by an outsider, and not one of it’s own sons. Despite being a follower of Islam fighting against his blood brothers, Hakim Khan Sur was the first to lay down his life in battle, and uphold the freedom and honour of Mewar. Even in death no one could part him from his sword, and so he was buried with full honours – sword in hand.

His sacrifice is symbolic of the supremacy of ideology over religious and communal considerations. He was committed to the principles of Manav Dharma.


The Statesman, Kolkata

Musical reward

She has been heard quite often in Kolkata regaling listeners with ghazals and other songs in programmes presented by the Manik Shahani Art Foundation.

At these programmes it was clear Seema Anil Sehgal was building bridges between people of similar cultures but separated by geographical boundaries.

Now a real reward has come for the singer-composer from Jammu and Kashmir in the form of the Hakim Khan Sur Award for the year 2005-2006 for “making a lasting contribution in the field of national integration”.

The award will be presented at a special function to be held at the City Palace, Udaipur on 5 March followed by a live concert by Seema. Lata Mangeshkar, Sunil Dutt, the Dalai Lama, Asghar Ali Engineer, Teesta Setalvad and Harivansh Rai Bachchan are some of the earlier awardees.

Widely recognised in Kashmir and other parts as the “peace singer of India”, Seema’s voice has been presented as a national gift to listeners in Pakistan.

The former Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, presented Sarhad, a music album by her, to his Pakistani counterpart during the Lahore summit in February 1999 and it was said to have left a remarkable impression and strengthened musical bonds between the two countries.

She has performed in different parts of India and has been felicitated at Harvard.