Josh Malihabadi (b Malihabad1898 – d 1982; Rawalpindi, Pakistan).
Josh’s father and grandfather were both poets. He started writing poetry at an early age in spite of strictures placed against it by his father. Later, his father relented and enjoyed his poetry. He studied in Aligarh Agra, but was expelled from the University for political activity. He met Rabindranath Tagore during one of Tagore’s visits to Lucknow and was invited to join the faculty there. However, he could spend less than a year at Shantiniketan due to family commitments. He wrote fiery poems in support of the independence movement and was called “shaa’er-e inqelaab – Revolutionary Poet” because of it. He had a close personal relationship with Nehru who bent over backwards to keep him in India when he was considering migrating to Pakistan. Finally, he decided to migrate (1956), but appears not to have been very happy with his decision.
Josh worked at Osmania University, Hyderabad, in the Department of Translations for over ten years. During this time he enjoyed royal patronage and was relatively comfortable but he was expelled and declared persona non-grata because some of his poetry did not please the Nizam.
His work is very vast and covers a wide genre of Urdu poetry – nazm, Ghazal, rubaaii, marsia as well as linguistic styles including folk language and Persianized Urdu. He was known to love early morning walks and has written extensively about the beauty of dawn. His marsia – religious elegy, tends to be more universal than religious. He used Husain as a symbol of resistance to injustice, “speaking truth to power”. He wrote an elegy to Gandhi in style and content very similar to his elegies to Husain. He was never a member of the Communist Party but showed sympathies for the socialist movement. He was similarly associated with the Progressive Writers’ Association. He died in Pakistan in 1982.