Society en Wed Aug 25 14:33:18 IST 2021 recreating-city-of-joy-in-the-netherlands <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A slice of Kolkata in Europe! That’s how Indians in the Netherlands are going to celebrate Durga Puja.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is the sixth year 'Anandadhara', a Bengali club in the north European country, is celebrating Durga Puja. The theme selected for this year is 'Ek tukdo Kolkata'—the depiction of Kolkata and its surroundings. A wooden Howrah Bridge over the Hooghly river, created using lights, along with greenery of the City of Joy would be the main attractions.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Not only Bengalis, but all Indians settled in the country would be part of the grand celebration, the organisers say.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The celebration is organised at a big ground in Amstelveen. Flowers and banana tree leaves are being flown to the city by air. The idols of Duga and her sons and daughters have already been sent by Kumartuli’s famous idol maker Prashanta Paul.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The finishing touch for the celebration is going on. We, mostly IT job holders, will be on leave for five days during Durga Puja and are going to engage ourselves totally in the grand celebration,” said Sudipta Laskar, an IT professional and one of the organisers.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Laskar hails from Hooghly, a neighbouring district of Kolkata. The river Hooghly flows through most part of his district.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There will be cultural programmes in the evening of each day of Durga Puja. “The highlight of this year's cultural performances is Rabindra Nath Tagore's dance-drama Chitrangada, which will be performed by our in-house dance troupe Ananda Taranga,” said Laskar.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dinpanwita Mukherjee, who is in-charge of the show, also shared her excitement. &quot;Our troupe performing in front of over 500 audiences makes me both nervous and excited. We do rehearsals every alternate day despite our busy schedule with family and office. During Durga Puja, we are endowed with additional energy to make it all happen. Looking forward to the D-day,&quot; she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Other performances include classical dances like Kathak, Odissi and Bharatanatyam by professional dancers, besides folk and cinematic dances. Musical shows, including vocals and instrument recitals, as well as recitation of Bengali poems have also been included.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Various games and contests have also been arranged targeting the youth. There will also be a contest to find out the best dressed couple—Shriman-Srimati—which was a hit last time, say the organisers.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Covid-19 will have nominal impact this time with almost all restrictions being lifted. “Nevertheless, we have ensured that there will be no overcrowding and safe distance can be maintained,” says Nabanita Sarkar, who hails from Asansol.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;But yes, finally we don't have to wear masks with our saris! Covid has lost its importance as it has become just a glorified 'cold',” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sujit Mondal, who hails from Durgapur, is the theme artist this year. He is engaged in creating the gigantic replication of Howrah Bridge.</p> Wed Sep 28 10:24:38 IST 2022 why-this-scholars-english-translation-of-kalacakra-tantra-is-strategically-important <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>This is a made in India original. The last major Buddhist text to be written in India—<i>The Kalacakra</i>—has remained locked, lost in translation. Till now.</p> <p>Niraj Kumar—a scholar based in Delhi—has spent the past few years grappling to translate all the 1,047 verses of the <i>Kalacakra Tantra</i> into English. <i>The Kalacakra Tantra: Translation, Annotation and Commentary</i> is the first of its kind. “Several attempts were made by Western scholars in the early 19th century to translate the full text,’’ says Kumar. “This is yet to be achieved.”</p> <p>It is a massive enterprise. Kumar's first volume of this text—that is very much an amalgamation of complex mathematics, philosophy—makes Vikram Seth's<i> The Suitable Boy</i> look skinny. And this is only the first volume. The first Indian translation of <i>Kalacakra </i>was the <i>Vimalaprabha</i>, which was made in 11th century. It is this version of the text that Kumar has chosen for the translation. But it has not been easy. Like all tantra texts, it is not just a simple translation of text. “Tantra is a corpus of systemic knowledge,’’ says Kumar. There are other realms—complex mathematical formulas, algorithms, planetary philosophy, cosmology as well as astrology. For Kumar, the text was more than an academic exercise and it became not only an obsession—but also a calling. It was a path littered with mystical experiences.</p> <p>More than just a spiritual text, this translation of <i>Kalacakra</i>—which refers to three realms, the outer world; the inner world and the other world—is also essential for strategic reasons. Ask Kumar, why translate <i>Kalacakra</i>? “This Tantra was the last major work in Buddhist philosophy,’’ he says. “There has not been any other such work after this, especially in Sanskrit.” It is the text that travelled across Mongolia and Tibet. And with China laying claim on Buddhism, this is Kumar's attempt at reclaiming it back.</p> <p>In 2016, China facilitated a <i>Kalacakra</i> ceremony in Tibet under the Panchen Lama. So, Kumar's translation provides the perfect weapon—of thought—to fight this war.</p> <p>Excerpts of interview with Kumar:</p> <p><b>Why is <i>Kalacakra Tantra</i> significant today?</b></p> <p>The <i>Kalacakra Tantra</i> was the last major Buddhist tantric text written in India during the early 11th century. Tantra is a corpus of systemic knowledge. This text was monumental and combined Indian knowledge traditions of its time in a structured way.</p> <p>It is very complicated; it delves into astronomy, Eurasian geography, alchemy, aromatics, midwifery, armament technology, dramaturgy, aesthetics, the erotic, contemplative subtle neuroscience, medicine, mathematics, linguistics, coding, science of respiration, and so on. This encapsulates the Nalanda tradition. It has been rightly termed the King of Tantras. It created a philosophical basis for tantric rituals and practices too.</p> <p>Unlike majority of the world religions that claim monopoly over truth, <i>Kalacakra</i> philosophy though steeped deeply into Buddhist philosophy, propagates grand synthesis of divergent world-views and celebrated “Evam” i.e. ‘similarity”, “thusness”, “fusion”, as its leitmotif.</p> <p>In a world where there is increasing violence, instability and scarcity of resources. The <i>Kalacakra Tantra</i> envisions a planetary Shambhala—a place of abundance.</p> <p><b>Buddhist philosophy being in geostrategy by China.</b></p> <p>China is pursuing its dream of Chinese Buddhism- Zhongguo Fójiào by bringing in Chinese characteristics. For China, Buddhism is the soft power to bring together hearts and minds of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.</p> <p>India is the birthplace of Buddhist philosophy. Indian Buddhism spread India’s influence across the world.</p> <p>India was central to Buddhism. Chinese emperors would erect a memorial for forefathers at Bodhgaya. When the Forbidden City in Central Beijing , the imperial palace of China was built by the Ming Emperor Yongle, the abbot of Bodhgaya, Sariputra was present during the ceremony. Sariputra blessed the enthronement of the fourth Ming Emperor, Hongshi in 1425 and again the Fifth Ming Emperor Zhu Zhanji in 1426 AD.</p> <p>Today, China has more than 300 million Buddhist followers. Thailand, Myanmar, Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Mongolia, Singapore and Bhutan have a more substantial Buddhist population. There are Buddhist republics like Buryatia and Kalmykia in the Russian Federation. Buddhism can be the glue to bind these countries.</p> <p><b>How do you see China using Buddhism?</b></p> <p>China has the largest Buddhist population. During the 19th century, when the Taiping rebellion was finally crushed in Nanjing in 1864 AD, China pursued a policy of revival of Buddhism. For the last few years, there has been a shift. China is pursuing the wider policy of Sinicization—transforming religious beliefs and faith in accordance with Chinese culture and society—of religions. In 2016, it became part of the State’s official policy.</p> <p>Buddhism's Sinicization focuses on Chinese characteristics like the ancient court system and unity with Chinese socialism. The Chinese claim that during the Tang and Sui dynasty, Chinese Buddhism decoupled from Indian Buddhism.</p> <p>Tibetan Buddhism is treated as part of wider Buddhism with Chinese characteristics. China wants to use Buddhism to serve as the bridge between people’s hearts and minds to promote economic and trade exchanges and regional economic development. As Confucius Institutes failed to take off, China believes Buddhism can be glue instead.</p> <p><b>One of the aspects of the book has been that you have found the location of Shamala, the spiritual kingdom. As well, as you have discovered the author of the </b><i><b>Kalacakra</b></i><b>?</b></p> <p>I have authoritatively established Naropa, who was an Indian Buddhist master of the author of the <i>Kalacakra Tantra</i>. This is a big discovery. I have established using calculations that Oddiyana where Padmasambhava (the eighth-century Buddhist master who is credited to have spread Buddhism to Tibet) was not in Swat, Pakistan. I have also deduced the location of Shambhala in Southeast Asia near the border of India.</p> <p>I have separated each word of the Sanskrit text to provide an explanation, which is very helpful for scholars. It is a first. Great explorers and thinkers like Hungarian Csoma de Koros, Helena Blavatsky, Helmut Hoffman, Nicholas Roerich, Rahul Sankrityayan had wished to decipher this text. It could be done by me. This is a small contribution in reowning Buddhism, that, too, Sanskrit tradition of Buddhism which does not fit into the Chinese narrative.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Sep 24 14:41:06 IST 2022 saree-run-how-women-broke-social-barriers <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The fifth edition of Saree Run held at Malleshwaram 18th cross ground turned out to be a celebration of camaraderie and togetherness; a race where everyone won.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Anyone can run irrespective of the attire,” said Jaya Sanjay of Jayanagar Jaguars, popularly known as JJs. Over the past eight years, JJs, India’s oldest and largest running group with over 30 centres in five cities, has trained over 7,500 men and women in running. “While many women have broken social barriers and become ardent runners, there is still a section that is hesitant to take up this activity because of the belief that one needs to wear running attire to run,” she said. Saree Run has been a launchpad for such reluctant runners.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dr Richa Negi, one of the run ambassadors at Saree Run, had no qualms in admitting that she took a friend’s help to drape sari. “It took us about 15 minutes to drape it,” said Negi, a dermatologist and dancer. But the experience of running with 1,700 women was well worth it, said the 27-year-old.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Negi loves running as much as looking at her collection of sarees and admiring them. “My favourite saree is the one my mom gifted me. It was her old saree and I absolutely love it. Sadly, it is back at home and so, I couldn’t wear it for the event.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I feel saree makes me look elegant. It is the best ethnic outfit to wear,” she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Being a woman should not stop you from chasing your dreams, said Kanchan Dinakar, an associate Partner at BSR &amp; Co, as she finished 5k, brimming with a sense of accomplishment. Dinakar finds running liberating and empowering. The highlights of her day included a selfie with RJ Shruti of 92.7 and a chance meeting with her childhood buddies Pratima and Rachna.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Prathibha Rajesh from Malleshwaram, an architect and interior designer, also had a great time bonding with her friends. “I urge more women to step out into the fresh air and run for fitness,” said Rajesh, who has taken part in Pinkathon and Bengaluru Marathon earlier.</p> Wed Sep 21 21:46:06 IST 2022 there-is-no-one-saviour-of-journalism-while-we-watched-director-vinay-shukla <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The 2016 documentary, 'An Insignificant Man', tracked the spectacular political debut of Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal like a thriller. It released in theatres after winning a difficult censorship battle and ran successfully for nine weeks straight, an unheard-of achievement for a documentary in India where the format still struggles to find a theatrical release.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The docu-feature first premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to a standing ovation. The makers of 'The Insignificant Man' are back with yet another suspenseful drama - a TV newsroom thriller. 'While We Watched', featuring Ravish Kumar, won the ‘Amplify Voices Award' at the Toronto International Film Festival where it had its world premiere last week. Titled ‘Namaskar! Main Ravish Kumar’ in Hindi, 'While We Watched' intimately chronicles the working days of a broadcast journalist as he navigates a spiralling world of truth and disinformation. In a phone conversation with THE WEEK, director Vinay Shukla (who co-directed 'An Insignificant Man' with Khushboo Ranka) talks about how his second documentary is essential viewing for anyone who cares about journalism or their news consumption. And why there is no one saviour for the profession. Edited excerpts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ How did you convince Ravish Kumar to get on board this project? And, how difficult was it to gain access into a major newsroom and be a fly-on-the-wall for two years?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A/ It was an organic process. I have always been a fan of newsroom dramas. But when I watch the news today, it makes me angry. I feel lonely and isolated. My friends all over the world have stopped watching the news because they say it's not good for their mental health. The news is a major source of public information. It is supposed to make our lives better and yet we were cutting ourselves off from it. And I began to wonder if the people making the news are going through the same sense of isolation. Ravish is very different compared to other news broadcast people we know. Firstly, he speaks in Hindi and commands a huge audience. He does a 40-minute piece to camera while everyone else is filling up their slots with panel discussions with four to 15 guests. In his monologue, he's doesn't make claims that this is the number one debate in the country right now. What I found interesting was how he seemed like a tired hero. He was somebody who was questioning his own relevance in a new world and the new media landscape around him. He is also someone who seemed lonely. And that's when I approached him. I asked him if he would be open to me shooting and just capturing his process. And because he was going through that kind of introspection in his life, he was like, 'yeah, do whatever you want as long as you don't come in anyone's way'. So, when I came around with my camera, it was a moment when somehow things just added up. We started shooting in 2018, but it's not so much about the time. It is the story of journalists, the story of people who go against whatever the mainstream culture is. This film is applicable to people who have startups, it is applicable to people who are trying to build anything from the ground up. When you disagree with people around you, that's a lonely journey.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ How does it feel to have this film out in the world at such a crucial time when the news organisation in your film is in the middle of a takeover bid? Were there hints in the film about this?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A/ I made a film about how difficult it is to believe and continue fighting in a world where everything seems to be going against you. I wasn't necessarily interested in what the business side of NDTV was vis-à-vis takeovers. I don't have visibility on that. I was chasing a very personal story of Ravish's struggle and what it means to do journalism today. Of course, by some fluke, the film is coming out at a time when NDTV itself seems to be going through a lot. But I always keep requesting people that as long as we keep thinking about one person, one institution or one government, we will always think that there is some short-term problem that needs to be solved today. Instead, this film is a cry for building better systems. How do we make sure that there can be more news organisations, more journalists, better rights, better representation, better forums. We need to build systems that allows for a fairer, more healthier dialogue. There is no one person who is the saviour of journalism. That has never been true.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ Your previous film had to battle censorship in India before it released in theatres. What kind of opposition are you expecting for 'While We Watched'? Are you expecting a bigger backlash?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A/ Not really. I think very often we overestimate the risks. The last film was not so much about Arvind Kejriwal or Aam Aadmi party or Yogendra Yadav, as much as the fact that they were characters in a film about the Indian political system and how we can make our politics better. It was a dialogue around what happens when new people come into politics and are faced with challenges. It was a very real depiction and facilitated a richer understanding of Indian politics. And that's why it got a censor certificate. 'While We Watched' is my effort towards building better news. I don't see any problems with people disagreeing with me. We are living in polemical times. All of us disagree very passionately as we rightfully should. But I believe that we are all trying to build a better system. We are trying to build a better country, a better time, a better future for all of us. And for that, it's very important that we have a dialogue. I am hoping, aspiring, for a better dialogue, just like I had with my last film. So, I have a very healthy precedent to go by. And I am really looking forward to it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ On social media and drawing rooms, it's very cool to dismiss journalists and media organisations who cave in to pressure or are not as &quot;intrepid&quot; as other role models. Seeing the many contradictions, conundrums and ethical choices that are made in a newsroom today, how has your view changed about journalists or the profession? How do you feel you stand corrected?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A/ I completely agree. And I think it's very, very short-sighted of people to dismiss individuals and organisations in this manner. News again, as I said earlier, is a system of public information and it has to represent the diversity of opinions. So, I am in no hurry to dismiss people because I disagree with someone or because I agree with another. But where is the system? What systems do news organisations have within themselves? Even if you want to present a monolithic view, how is it being decided? Is it being decided by just one person and what they feel? Fantastic, but what is the level of dialogue that they have within their teams? How diverse are their teams? We need a realistic assessment of these things. We have to think long-term, we have to think in systems. Again, this film is not about one organisation. It is not about some sort of saviour complex because that is a self-defeating idea. All saviours go through their own crisis, all saviours fail after a while. But systems are fantastic. In India, we have great public institutions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ You have described 'While We Watched' as a docu-thriller. Can you tell us about the narrative techniques employed to show the madness of a TV newsroom?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A/ It's a classic newsroom thriller.There are a bunch of people within a newsroom who are trying to see how to make the news better. And they are struggling. My films, they flow like any other Bollywood film. I make films for my parents, cousins, friends, my family. And India has a huge film-consuming culture. So, my films speak to them in the same language that the film-consuming audiences here are used to. Just like it was with 'The Insignificant Man'. These are observational docs. There is no voiceover and there are no interviews. The idea was to get into the mind of Ravish Kumar and try and chart his inner journey and fears in the newsroom that he was in. It was an aspiration to try and track the inner life of journalists today who are working on various sides of the political spectrum or even the news spectrum. And the idea was to make it as friendly to the masses as possible.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ Are there other newsroom thrillers that you would like to cite as examples or inspiration?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A/ There's a bunch of newsroom dramas or thrillers that I really like. There's Aaron Sorkin's 'The Newsroom' and Tom McCarthy's 'Spotlight'. Also, the 2019 Romanian documentary film by Alexander Nanau called 'Collective . And then this other fantastic film which I saw in my childhood called 'Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani'.</p> Tue Sep 20 23:48:07 IST 2022 who-was-annabhau-sathe-whose-statue-unveiled-fadnavis-moscow <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A statue of writer-activist Annabhau Sathe was unveiled by Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in Moscow on Wednesday. Sathe’s oil painting was also unveiled by Fadnavis in the Indian consulate in the Russian capital.</p> <p>Annabhau Sathe is known as Lok Shaheer in Maharashtra. Lok Shaheer means people's balladeer. His writing was influenced by communism and, more so, Russian revolution.</p> <p>Sathe was born in 1920 in Wategaon village in Satara district in south Maharashtra in a Dalit family. His family moved to Mumbai around 1930 and Sathe learned writing and reading only after he came to Mumbai. The family lived in Matunga labour camp and Annabhau went to work every day as a porter and as a helper in the cotton mills of Mumbai.</p> <p>Annabhau read Marathi translations of works by great Russian authors Lok Maxim Gorky, Tolstoy and Chekhov. He was greatly influenced by their writing.</p> <p>One of his early ballads is the famous Spanish Povada dedicated to the Spanish civil war of the late 1930s. He formed a troupe of Dalit activists that would perform outside the gates of cotton mills in Mumbai. He soon became a member of the progressive writers association and Indian Peoples' Theatre Association (IPTA)</p> <p>Sathe’s most famous literary work is the novel <i>Fakira</i>. He wrote more than 30 novels, 10 collections of short stories, plays and 11 ballads . His other famous ballad is <i>Stalingrad cha Povada</i>, dedicated to the Russian fighting spirit during the battle of Stalingrad in the Second World War.</p> <p>Sathe was a member of the Communist Party of India and he was among the few Indian writers whose works have been translated into Russian. Sathe died in 1969 in Mumbai at the young age of 49. The literary work that he has left behind continues to interest activists and scholars alike.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Sep 16 12:49:42 IST 2022 photo-portraits-frieda-kahlo-diego-rivera-celebrated-couples-mexican-art <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>When Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera married in 1929, her parents reportedly called the couple &quot;the elephant&quot; and &quot;the dove.&quot; Rivera, one of the most consequential figures in Mexican mural art, was 20 years Kahlo's senior and weighed at least three times her size.</p> <p>Both the artists painted each other and it is widely accepted that their tempestuous relationship—with its string of extramarital affairs and miscarriages, divorce and remarriage—is more than easily mirrored in their haunting portraits.</p> <p>The Embassy of Mexico in India, in association with the National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature (INBAL) of Mexico and Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo have curated a photo exhibition titled ‘Diego &amp; Frida: Life Chronicles’. The exhibition of 60 photo reprints is being displayed for the first time in India. The original photographs from this collection are on permanent display at the Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo in Mexico. The prints will be on view at Bengaluru’s gallery g until October 10.</p> <p>Both Kahlo and Rivera helped to establish a movement which would have a definitive influence on the cultural life of 20th century Mexico. Together for almost 25 years (from their marriage until Frida's death), their relationship was defined by a myriad of events and failed encounters which transcended the realm of the private to become part of the public domain.</p> <p>The all-consuming nature of their union brought together intellectuals, politicians, and celebrities. Their home was a place of gatherings, deliberations, and intrigue within the social and political life of Mexico. The intermittent periods during which they lived in the United States, due to commissions Rivera received, helped to shape their views on capitalism, progress, and revolution, but it was also a breaking point in their personal relationship.</p> <p>Their return to Mexico marked another turning point: the couple separated towards the end of 1939 only to marry again one year later in San Francisco. This was a time of great activity and enthusiasm: Rivera was instrumental in the Mexican government's decision to grant León Trotsky's final asylum. Furthermore, the time both spent with André Breton, the founder of Surrealism, resulted in the promise of an exhibition which would take Frida Kahlo to Paris in 1939. Over the years, they created a network of artists and intellectuals who would become part of the modernising forces of the country.</p> <p>The photo exhibition is a collection of photographs of famous artists who were friends and colleagues of the couple, among them, Guillermo Kahlo, Guillermo Zamora, Vicente Contreras, and Ernesto Reyes. The images depict important moments in the lives of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. They also reflect the pain and physical deterioration of Kahlo, her political activism, including the last photograph taken of her in a politic demonstration, days before her death in July 1954.</p> Fri Sep 16 12:34:10 IST 2022 rear-seat-belt-culture-india-road-safety <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Some seven years ago, I was gently chided for a question on seat belts. &quot;Why did you book a cab without a seat belt in the back?&quot; asked an American news editor I was assisting for a story in Uttarakhand. I was amused and appalled in equal measure. Haven't you worked here long enough to know that people hardly use seat belts in the backseat? I had wanted to retort as a comeback. But I swallowed my pride and dismissed the episode as yet another instance of &quot;white privilege&quot;.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Seeing the renewed focus on rear seal belts as national news in the wake of former Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry's death in a car accident, I can only remember the backseat belt incident with a touch of embarrassment. Mistry's fatal accident took place on a precarious stretch of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway route in the afternoon of September 4 when his speeding Mercedes-Benz crashed into a road divider in Palghar district. A 54-year-old Mistry and his friend Jahangir Pandole were seated in the back and they both died on the spot. The other two occupants in the front, with seat belts on—Anahita Pandole who was driving and her husband Darius Pandole—sustained injuries and are undergoing treatment in a private hospital. The luxury car Mercedes-Benz, properly equipped with advanced safety features, had seven airbags overall, including in the back.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;There's one mind-blowing thing I did not know. The seat belt actually activates the airbag. I always thought that the airbag automatically opened in the event of an accident. It is Mr. Mistry's car accident which has pointed that out for me,&quot; says K. Manmohan, an active car enthusiast in Delhi. At 75, he says he has driven every single model of car launched in the last 15 years. Even so, he did not know that it was already mandatory for all occupants in a car to wear the rear seat belt in India (138[3] of the Motor Vehicles Act), forget about knowing that airbags get deployed only when seat belts are worn. Manmohan worked in sales and marketing for an MNC before he retired and he often helped the top management in his workplace buy high-end cars. Back then he was always impressed with their safety features. &quot;My fundamental point is that if it can happen in a Mercedes, what happens to middle-class families with cars in the lower end of the price spectrum?,'' asks Manmohan who floated a petition on the same day that he heard the news of the accident. Titled &quot;National Awareness Campaign and Heavy Fines to Ensure Seat belts are worn in the backseat too&quot;, it has garnered over 5,000 signatures.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A day after the accident, the central government decided to impose a penalty on those who don't wear a belt in the rear seat. &quot;There will be a siren (or beeper that will go off in the vehicle) if the people at the rear seat don’t wear belts like in the front seats. And if they don’t wear belts, there will be a fine,” said Nitin Gadkari, union minister for road transport and highways in an interview to NDTV. Traffic fines already actively exist if a driver and co-passenger are caught not wearing a belt. Early this year, the Centre had already made the three-point seat belts system mandatory for all cars with front-facing passenger seats.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2017, Indian automobile manufacturer Maruti Suzuki India Limited had conducted a survey called &quot;Seatbelt Use in India&quot;, covering 17 cities and some 2,500 drivers and passengers. According to the results, cities in the south fared the worst when it came to wearing seat belts. Mumbai had the highest level of adherence, followed by Jaipur and Chandigarh. But while these results applied to front seat passengers, the usage of rear seat belts was as low as 4 per cent. The death of union minister Gopinath Munde in 2014 had also ignited debate on wearing the rear seat belt when his car was hit from the side by a motorist. The health ministry had decided to kick off a campaign on road safety measures. &quot;Most people think that the rear seat belts serve only a decorative purpose. In fact, wearing them is as necessary as wearing the seat belt in the front seat. They can save lives in the event of an impact. The damage to the human body is often greater when the victim is not ejected from the vehicle. Scientific tests have proven that wearing seat belts gives them a hope of survival,” then union health minister Harsh Vardhan had said in 2014.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Akshay Kumar in a latest advertisement, tweeted by Gadkari, is shown pulling up a father for sending away his just married daughter in a car with only two airbags. The ad has been universally panned for promoting dowry. While the practice of giving dowry continues even though it is a punishable offence in India, one wonders if attempts at creating awareness on wearing backseat belts and imposing fines for non-compliance is likely to yield rule-abiding behaviour anytime soon by car passengers who find rear seat belts a source of much discomfort.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Not wearing a rear seat belt is a punishable fine almost all across the developed world, says auto expert Meraj Shah. In some Japanese brands like Lexus, the siren for not wearing the backseat belt becomes a continual drone, rising in intensity unless the call is heeded. Some of the Volvos won't even drive and will keep switching off or throw fits if the rear seat belt is ignored. &quot;Culturally in India, we started wearing seat belts in the front much later than others. But now it has become a habit. It's time the rear seat belt was taken seriously by bringing in the penalties. Because people sitting in the back hardly anticipate danger like the ones in the front do and hence get less time to react in advance. The shock is greater,&quot; says Shah. &quot;Even the front seat belts, when it came out, people complained it was claustrophobic and uncomfortable. But it is only a matter of time before people get used to it.&quot;</p> Tue Sep 13 22:44:42 IST 2022 delhi-contemporary-art-week-a-look-at-the-standouts <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Seven spiffy galleries in Delhi, working on the frontlines of the contemporary art scene, came together to showcase a commendable harvest of new wave works. At the fifth edition of the Delhi Contemporary Art Week (DCAW), which concluded on September 7, connoisseurs and enthusiasts alike got a peek into the zeitgeist in moving, poetic, mystical expressions. Blueprint 12, Exhibit 320, Gallery Espace, Latitude 28, Nature Morte, Shrine Empire and Vadehra Art Gallery - incidentally all helmed by women - presented an exciting line-up of artworks and walkthroughs at Bikaner House. THE WEEK highlights a selection of standouts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>1. Baaraan Ijlal</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hostile Witness: Grant Road Bombay</p> <p>Acrylic, Archival Ink, Wood frame: Moonis Ijlal</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ijlal's meditation on cities and their stories is part of a group exhibition curated by Meera Menezes, titled &quot;Legal Alien”. It explores the notion of alienation and looks at the possible factors that could lead to it. Is it the rapid march of technology? Or is it the city and the anonymity it bestows on its denizens that creates this estrangement? Artists in the group-show ponder and interpret alienation in several different ways.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>2. Jagannath Panda</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Balancing Act</p> <p>Acrylic, fabric and glue on canvas</p> <p>Vadehra Art Gallery</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Panda's works home in on the disjuncture that exists in our contemporary understanding of nature. His works emphasise nature's own mind and muscle to establish itself over a degenerate, man-made world. In The Balancing Act, two parrots support each other in their pursuit of a nest which looks like a turbine - intrusive and artificial rather than nurturing. The parrots end up being each other's true resting place.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>3. Divya Singh</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Slowly/Drift</p> <p>Oil on canvas</p> <p>Shrine Empire</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Slowly/Drift is also a part of the group show Legal Alien and the canvas deftly captures the essence of a journey to be undertaken alone. Divya Singh translates her memories of isolation into a poetic rendition through her paintings. She navigates the dark void within every human being that lies between the outside world and their perception. Her series 'Do You Know How The Sun Laughs?' extends this introspective dialogue about human agency within nature and society through moments of spiritual awakening experienced during solitude.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>4. Anupama Alias</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Island of Curiosities</p> <p>Mixed media on paper</p> <p>Latitude 28</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Alias depicts women at a transitional and vulnerable time in their lives, specifically the middle years. Her work focuses on people, transitions, identity and the &quot;in-betweenness&quot; of existence. The intriguing reason behind how Eve was made from Adam's rib became the genesis of her work whereby she began exploring human anatomy. The ribcage became the spine of Alias's works which allowed her to examine other body parts, something that helped her embark on a metaphysical journey of self-discovery.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>5. Praneet Soi</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Untitled</p> <p>Acrylic on Canvas</p> <p>Vadehra Art Gallery</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Soi draws his inspiration from the Progressive artists of the mid-20th century, particularly in the way they marry figuration and formalism. His open-ended narratives contend with a return to materiality.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>6. Rashmi Mala</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Companion Plants</p> <p>Natural pigment with casein, cyanotype and touch of gold leaf on paper</p> <p>Gallery Espace</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rashmi Mala's plant drawings reference colonial botanical representations and are overlaid with elements drawn from historical texts and art-making processes. Her series &quot;Companion Plants&quot; is a metaphor of the minor, the unseen and the unheard of plants that surround us. &quot;Growing plants and painting plants go hand in hand,&quot; says the artist.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>7. Kingsley Gunatilake</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Red cross on blue</p> <p>Old book, Metal</p> <p>Blueprint 12</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kingsley explores artist’s books which focus on the long and terrorised history of Sri Lankan civil war that lasted for over three decades, leaving a trail of dead memories and empty bullets amidst promises of reconciliation by politicians in its wake. Gunatilake questions the aftermath of war and the rationality left in their inheritance. The spine of his book practice is inspired from the burning of the Jaffna Library in 1981, which is reiterated through a meditative practice of burning and cutting; an act of remembering and that of a witness.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>8. Kumaresan Selvaraj</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Untitled</p> <p>Mixed Media</p> <p>Exhibit 320</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Selvaraj’s approach is modernist in nature, incorporating local and regional elements to create what he terms a ‘national modernism’. His use of different kinds of paper, in layered forms, represents various facets of human existence. He arranges multiple colors of paper into tightly compressed layers. The sculptural arrangements almost always appear to be on the brink of overflowing, and as a result imbued with dynamic energy.</p> Sat Sep 10 18:43:41 IST 2022 opinion-compassion-solidarity-and-pragmatism-the-guiding-stars-of-humanitarianism <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Some people and some faces never fade from our memories, especially when we meet them in crisis settings.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Last October, when a hunger crisis was unfolding rapidly in Ethiopia, I had the honour of travelling with Aynalem Bizuayehu. She has been working with Plan International in the Amhara region for over 10 years. Her work is both unique and critical: she is a member of our frontline team responding to the hunger crisis. Aynalem told me that she always wanted to help children. Every day she moves our teams and relief materials to where their support is needed most, most of the time remote villages. There are days she travels over 400km across all terrains and in all weather. The hunger crisis and the conflict have only made her work more challenging, and her days longer. Without her contribution, there is no movement for our relief teams and relief materials.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>August 19 is World Humanitarian Day, a global celebration of people helping people. This day was designated in memory of the August 19, 2003, bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq, killing 22 people, including the chief humanitarian in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly formalised the day as World Humanitarian Day.</p> <p>It is a moment to recognise the amazing work of humanitarians like Aynalem. It is also a moment to reflect on the big idea of humanity and the three guiding stars at the core of humanitarian action: compassion, solidarity, and pragmatism. These are universal values at the heart of our shared human experience: I have seen them in action across borders, embodied by people of all ages, genders, religions and backgrounds, all guided by a steadfast belief that we are one humanity and as such, we must support each other.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Compassion </b>is our first guiding star to advance humanity in crisis settings. Without compassion, which literally means ‘suffering together,’ we would not be able to put ourselves into each other’s shoes, or see a crisis through the eyes of a child and realise that other human lives are worth saving, sometimes by taking risks. Every day, humanitarian workers make the world a more caring and compassionate place by putting other people first: for them, the human call is loud and clear. This gives me hope.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Solidarity </b>comes next. Countless times I have seen solidarity shape into a collective force to do good. Solidarity does not always have to be heroic: sometimes, it can mean giving voice to the powerless, protesting injustice, or not letting others suffer alone. Other times, it can make the difference between life and death.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The world is living through an unprecedented hunger crisis with millions of children going to bed hungry every night - a crisis made worse because of conflicts, climate breakdown and the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic. By the end of 2021, 89.3 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced. Of these, over 27 million were refugees. The escalation of the conflict in Ukraine has further increased these record-high figures, adding 5.8 million more refugees.</p> <p>And yet, we have seen bursts of solidarity in the form of coordinated assistance to refugees with governments opening borders and ordinary people opening their hearts and homes. I am thinking of Turkey, Colombia, Uganda, Pakistan, Germany and Poland - some of the countries hosting the largest number of refugees. It is a simple truth that we have more in common that binds us as a single humanity than our differences. When we open ourselves and our borders to others, it has the power to create magic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The third guiding star of humanitarian work is <b>pragmatism</b>. It is there to provide a mindset and solid anchor to compassion and solidarity; it is also what enables us to ‘make things happen’. In wars, disasters and emergencies, there are a hundred jobs to be done, and it is natural that we may get paralysed. For example, in a cholera outbreak setting, dehydration can kill a child in six hours. A battle against dehydration is often a race against time. Neither blind optimism or eternal pessimism helps - instead, pragmatism and a ‘possibilist’ approach, quick decisions and momentum can often stop a cholera outbreak in its track. Another example: Aynalem in Ethiopia told me that her main concerns are not the enormity of an unprecedented hunger crisis or the violence of the conflict, but much more practical challenges, such as a flat tire or fuel shortage that may delay movement of relief items and teams.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pragmatism of volunteers and local and grassroot agencies often help us reflect on why the humanitarian sector exists and how we can stay relevant.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A village is a good starting point</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“It takes a village” is the theme for this World Humanitarian Day. Caring and supporting people who are caught up in wars, disasters and disease outbreaks is not something any single team or organisation can do on their own—it often takes a village, perhaps the whole of humanity to make a meaningful difference in crisis settings.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Everyone has a role to play in such settings – let it be drivers, nurses, teachers, nutritionists, mental health and protection experts, communicators, artists, and translators and all the other anonymous superheroes amongst us. We are all part of the same ‘village’—and no single role is less important than the other.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Celebrating all anonymous superheroes</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The world’s ability to respond to disasters and wars has always depended on local people, who are the first responders during an emergency. Over the last couple of years, while living through a pandemic, lockdowns, and travel bans, we have also learned that sometimes local volunteers are the <i>only</i> responders.</p> <p>For every crisis in the spotlight, there are several underreported and underfunded emergencies. And for every high-profile humanitarian professional, there are thousands of humanitarians like Aynalem – ordinary people who became “superheroes” when they found themselves amid a crisis.</p> <p>They are on the ground rolling up their sleeves, setting up a community kitchen or a safe place for children, transporting relief workers or materials, or digging deep into the rubble to rescue people with their bare hands after an earthquake or missile strikes. Thanks to them, the world is a safer, more just, compassionate, and caring place.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Dr Unni Krishnan is global humanitarian director, Plan International. Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organisation that advances children’s rights and equality for girls.</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of THE WEEK.</i></p> Fri Aug 19 22:10:06 IST 2022 opinion-shouldnt-we-create-a-culture-where-compliance-becomes-habit <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The death of former Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry in a road accident has thrown the spotlight on the usage of seat belts and airbags in automobiles. There have been advertisements by actors like Akshay Kumar advocating six airbags in a vehicle, and articles saying that additional airbags cost only Rs 6,000 and, hence, will cause a monthly EMI increase of only Rs 120, and so on.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I used to work for a large conglomerate till about a year ago. Our car travel agents were informed that their drivers should be instructed not to start the vehicle unless the passengers, including the ones in the rear, had not put the seat belts. It became a habit for most of us. But, if an employee does not wear his or her seat belt, could the driver do anything really?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Our division was a small client of the travel agent contributing to less than 5 per cent of his passengers. Many of his other clients were multinational companies and large corporates in Pune and some in Mumbai. So, the drivers and vehicles which were used by us were also used by other companies. What I had observed was that the rear seat belt used to be very tight and not sufficiently flexible to use properly. Since the drivers were a familiar set of people, I used to ask them the reasons why are they so tight; the response in almost all cases was that apart from our division, all other clients never or rarely used the seat belts while being seated in the rear. While I had no means to check the validity of the statement, I am assuming that this was the case as many drivers said the same thing and on multiple occasions and in multiple vehicles. The travel agent’s big chunk of business was from transporting the employees of many MNCs to and from Mumbai International Airport and Pune. A large number of international arrivals and departures from Mumbai are at night, and so, more trips at night and on the Mumbai Pune Expressway. The largest number of accidents on the Expressway happen at night. Do these companies not have a safety policy? Obviously yes, but why was this policy not 100 per cent implemented? Many of the passengers in these cars are foreigners, who I am sure would follow the rules in their own country on seat belts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I no longer work for the conglomerate and now travel from Mumbai to Pune in an Uber or an Ola or a car provided by a client. I try to use the seat belt while sitting in the rear seat, but most often, especially while travelling in a sedan, the rear seat belts are non-functional. The female socket of the seat belt is not visible. The standard answer from the drivers is that no one uses it. If asked to get the socket out for use, they struggle as due to non-use it is not reachable. The seats would have to be removed to make the seat belts functional again. So, more often than not, I try and if not possible, give up wearing the seat belt while seated in the rear.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There is a speed governor (there are workarounds employed by some to skirt around this) on most commercial vehicles which limit their speeds to 80kmph, but there are no speed limits for private vehicles, and on Mumbai Pune Expressway, most private cars travel at over 120kmph. Some years ago, the highway police had started tracking the time between two toll booths for a vehicle and fine it if it has come faster that the limits set. But, in the last few years, I do not see this happening regularly at least. When the fine was slightly rigorous, many car owners would check their watch and then to avoid the fine, stop at the food court just before the toll post, for a toilet or tea break and arrive at the toll post within the limits.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On Mumbai’s JJ Flyover, there is a camera installed at a point which captures the speed of a vehicle crossing it and if it is over the designated speed on the flyover at specific point, sends a notice to the vehicle owners with details. Those who are unaware of the camera, have got an instant fine notice on their mobiles. But what do the regulars do? They know exactly where the camera is installed and hence few metres before the camera, they slow down to the prescribed limit and as soon as they cross the camera, the accelerator is back on! Once I was travelling with a senior executive in his chauffeur-driven Mercedes and the driver slowed down before the camera and then sped up. The driver was not questioned by the senior executive; it was “normal” and okay to do so probably.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are laws and the government is making efforts to ensure compliance to the same, but there are workarounds that we are used to. We can call it <i>jugaad</i>, but who does it help and who is the loser? Will the same set of foreigners and Indians not comply when they drive in Singapore or the US or several other countries?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some years ago, I was travelling with a colleague of mine, his wife and their 2-year-old daughter in the hired car from Mumbai to Pune. Before we had started our journey, at a meeting in the office, he had asked how do we differentiate between compliance and culture for a survey he was designing for a company. I did not have answer then. We got into the car and I sat in the front seat next to the driver. He had his daughter seated first before he and his wife got in. Even before he or his wife had sat, his daughter told him to put her seat belt. It was rather unusual for a 2-year-old to say so. I immediately told my colleague that compliance would be when the father or mother would put the seat belt around the child and culture would be when the child asks for the rear seat belt on her own.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Should we Indians wait for compliance to be enforced or create a culture where compliance becomes a habit?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While there is a lot of debate over six airbags, we need to remember the car in which Mistry was travelling had seven airbags probably. As per NHSTA, a US government agency, buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash and air bags are designed to work with seat belts, not replace them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of THE WEEK.</b></i></p> Wed Sep 14 00:09:43 IST 2022 actress-harshala-tamboli-speaks-about-her-favourite-genres-and-her-desire-to-work-in-content-driven-films <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>While there are multiple film genres, the audience has a variety of options when it comes to watching films or series. And an artist is known for the art of work which the audience gets to see on the big screen. Former model and debutante actress Harshala Yogesh Tamboli has been residing in the limelight for her upcoming works including an untitled music video and a Marathi feature film 'Rajmudra'.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier it was reported that the music video is an emotional ballad with a power-packed concept. On the other hand, Tamboli will also feature in 'Rajmudra' starring debut actor Abhijit Patil. Moreover, the film will also mark Abhijit's directorial debut. 'Rajmudra' is a social-drama film with a blend of entertainment, action, comedy and a powerful message for today's youth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are rumours about Tamboli essaying a negative shade in the film. However, it is still not officially confirmed by the makers. On the contrary, Harshala is an avid fan of romantic and comedy film genres. Commenting about it, she said, &quot;As an audience, I feel that films are about entertainment. I have been a hardcore fan of romance and comedy genres. Being an artist, these genres challenge the potential as we have to emote different expressions on screen.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Besides this, Harshala Tamboli has worked on different projects including fashion shows, TV commercials, print shoots and brand collaborations. Other than her passion for acting, Tamboli is a brilliant entrepreneur and a loving homemaker. A mother of two, she not only manages household chores but also has two distinct business ventures which include a travel company named Harshu Tours and Travels and a restaurant named Hash Kitchen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The former model has walked the ramp for different brands and was a finalist in the Diadem Mrs India Legacy 2021. Apart from this, she has been a judge for several fashion shows and fashion events across Maharashtra. Based in Mumbai's Panvel region, Tamboli is adamant about raising the bar of the Marathi film industry with content-driven films and shows.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With having the best of everything in life, Harshala has never forgotten to give it back to society. The actress has frequently taken a stand for social causes and has been a part of different charitable activities. &quot;I would want to utilize my potential and be a part of films that have a strong message for society&quot;, the actress concluded.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Sep 30 17:17:12 IST 2022 ratan-tata-unveils-start-up-goodfellows-to-senior-citizens-make-friends <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Start-up developers thinking of modern ways to address the unmet needs of the elderly in India haven't made much headway beyond medicines, ailments and shopping on smartphones. There are e-commerce websites for &quot;senior-centric products&quot; and apps which offer disembodied personal assistants for timely reminders on medications. An all-new company, backed by none other than Ratan Tata, hopes to make a more meaningful impact in elderly care by being a &quot;senior companionship start-up for intergenerational friendships.&quot;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Called Goodfellows, the for-profit start-up employs young graduates after vetting their emotional maturity, empathy and commitment to the task of forging bonds with their older clients as friends. With seed funding from the chairman emeritus of Tata Sons<i>,&nbsp;</i>the subscription-based company launched on 16 August.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Over the past 6 months, “Goodfellows” completed beta and will now be available in Mumbai with Pune, Chennai and Bangalore as the next target cities. During the beta testing phase, Goodfellows received a positive response with over 800 applications from young graduates looking to be employed at Goodfellows of which a shortlisted cohort of 20 provided companionship to the elderly in Mumbai. Senior citizens can avail of the services by signing up on&nbsp;<a href=""><u></u></a>&nbsp;or can give a missed call at +91 8779524307 or check out their&nbsp;<a href=""><u>Instagram handle</u></a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The start-up for the elderly aims to recognize loneliness and mental health issues as real public health concerns in India by making a Goodfellow work like a grandkid. There are 15 million elderlies in India living alone, either due to the loss of a partner, or families moving away for unavoidable work reasons. While many of them have caregivers or start-ups for utilitarian needs such as e-commerce, the issue of loneliness or lack of company has been the primary reason for deteriorating mental and physical health.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The company is founded by Shantanu Naidu, general manager in the office of Ratan Tata. Naidu has also penned his friendship with Tata in a book called “I Came Upon a Lighthouse&quot; (HarperCollins), which was released early last year. Tata became Naidu's mentor after the octogenarian invested in the entrepreneur's new venture on saving stray animals from speeding cars. Naidu's new company for senior citizens now has support from Tata to help form bonds between the two generations. “The start-up emphasizes that companionship means different things to different people. To some, it may mean watching a movie, narrating stories from the past, going on a walk or having quiet company sitting around doing nothing together, and we are here to accommodate it all. In its beta phase, we discovered how organically the Grandpals bonded with the Goodfellows,&quot; said Naidu in a press statement.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;Goodfellows also hosts monthly events curated for Grandpals who participate with their Goodfellows, with the hope that the bonds become deeper and enjoyable in a different environment. This allows the Grandpals to meet each other as well as more young graduates, building a sense of community.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The business model of Goodfellows is a freemium subscription model. The first month is free with only the goal of having the Grandpal experience this service since it’s hard to understand the concept without actually going through it. The second month onward is a small subscription fee that has been decided based on the limited affordability of pensioners.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;To give the young graduates dignified, respectable salaries, this is a paid service. This also ensures that chosen goodfellows are retained, groomed and have a career ladder while giving back to society. The subscription model also ensures that when the seniors bond with the goodfellows, they do not keep rotating the graduate visiting them since that does not allow enough time or emotional attention to form an authentic and real bond. Several non-profit models in this space have failed since volunteering happens as per the availability of volunteers and no one invests enough time with one senior.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Goodfellows offers short-term internships as well as employment to graduates looking to find a job. In the near future, Goodfellows will offer travel companions for seniors holding back from making trips due to lack of security or company, and also plans to extend its services to the handicapped community facing similar or more challenges.</p> Wed Aug 17 16:16:43 IST 2022 zooropia-maya-rao-aigars-liepins-works-magic-in-mundane <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Maya Rao and her husband Aigars Liepins need not go far for inspiration. Peepletree, their art gallery is surrounded by ferns, shrubs and wild trees. A mother cat and her new born kittens enliven the private garden. The artist couple draws heavily on the natural world.</p> <p>“When the lockdown happened, it was quite amazing. The environment was very quiet and our garden was full of birds. Kingfishers would come and catch fishes in our pond. Doves would roost in our garden,’’ says Liepins who is originally from Latvia.</p> <p>Zooropia, an exhibition of works of Liepeins and Rao that is currently on display at Peepletree, make you smile, laugh and think. The acrylic, mixed media and collage works transport you to a make-believe world wherein kangaroos enjoy a cup of tea peacefully and cats fly to the moon.</p> <p>Sometimes Liepins and Rao go on bike rides and explore the world outside. “ Once we went to North Karnataka on the way to Goa. Over there we saw those sunflower fields,’’ says Rao pointing to one of her paintings. Instead of taking photographs, Rao stayed there and absorbed that image in her mind and came back and painted like a woman possessed. “The windmills behind the sunflower fields, from a distance, looked like huge flowers swaying in the wind,’’ she recalls.</p> <p>Rao studied architecture before pursuing her passion. She is more inclined towards landscapes and plants and Liepins gets inspired by animals and birds. He observes and cherishes the little things in his garden. Nature is full of drama, says Liepins. “Once a monkey was sitting on our fence and a dog was barking like crazy. The monkey just ignored the dog.” The action packed moments in the garden is depicted beautifully in one of his paintings.</p> <p>Rao loves bright colours. Her work titled 'Flame of the Forest' was inspired by a wildfire in Bandipur. “On the hill, a huge fire was burning. There were no leaves. Everything had turned into ash.” Liepins turns the mundane into magical. When one of his favourite silk shirts started to disintegrate, he used it to cover the canvas. He creates art out of even worn out duppattas and old denim jeans.</p> <p>“Are you able to make a living out of this?,” I ask. “I’d say not consistently,” quips Rao. “But you can if you are persistent. Sometimes you have to find the right collectors who resonate with your kind of work. When you build up a relationship with them, then it becomes obviously much easier,” she adds.</p> <p>Rao looks out of the window even as she talks to me. She is worried about one of her kittens that disappeared two days ago. “ This is the life of stray cats. I don’t know whether they were run over or bitten by other cats,” she says with a heavy heart.&nbsp;</p> Sat Aug 06 12:06:41 IST 2022 survivors-of-trafficking-strive-for-financial-independence <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>For a survivor of human trafficking, a major battle begins once they return to their home communities and take the decision to restart their lives. The barriers that they are met with in finding a source of livelihood and leading a life of dignity is multi-layered. Many survivors have been unable to finish education, or do not have any viable skills to earn a livelihood; a number of them do not also have documents which have been taken away by their traffickers. In such a situation, when the survivor returns to their community without any resources to restart their lives, it multiplies their vulnerabilities and increases their chance of being re-trafficked.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The role of financial independence and financial inclusion towards reducing vulnerability to trafficking and re-trafficking and also allowing survivors to lead safe and dignified lives is an underexplored area. One of the primary ways in which financial independence can be achieved for grassroots communities is through Self Help Groups (SHGs). SHGs, which owes its origins to the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in the 1970s, became one of the pillars of the rural economy in 1992 under the leadership of NABARD and RBI. Since that time, SHGs have sprung up and have been organised under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM), paving the path for millions of rural women to gain financial security and autonomy. The impact of SHGs have been felt by several grassroots anti-trafficking organisations as well, who are now working along with survivors to form SHGs for their financial empowerment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, for survivors of trafficking, forming SHGs and beginning the journey towards financial empowerment was not an easy one. As the survivors wanted to create SHGs which were free from stigma, it meant that they would have to create the group with survivors living in entirely different blocks, which is not how SHGs are usually formed. In order to convince government officials, the survivors and social workers helping them had to visit different office bearers regularly for a period of around 6 months for each SHG to form. After a long battle, some survivor collective members in North 24 Parganas have started their SHGs in their respective areas, with more being formed. While the SHGs began to be formed, there was another roadblock which was faced by the survivors- many of them did not have bank accounts and were not part of the formal financial system of our country. The role of financial inclusion takes utmost importance here - the lack of inclusion of survivors in the formal banking system acts as barriers towards accessing several financial benefits of the banks as well as of welfare schemes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The SHGs approached business formation in a very organic manner. They looked at their own needs and their skills so that they can provide for themselves and their community. Prarthana, a survivor leader from North 24 Parganas district says, “Most of us are good at cooking, so we thought why not start something around that.”</p> <p>Similar was the journey of Tina and Arani, survivor leaders who operate an SHG selling organic turmeric powder, who felt the need for this business from their own household’s struggle to get spices and vegetables which are free of adulteration.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Coming from extreme poverty and also battling stigma arising from being survivors of trafficking, these women faced the brunt of misogyny and gender bias from their communities, neighbours and even their own families.</p> <p>As Prarthana says, “When we first tried to start a business, the local businessmen told us that they had seen many SHGs starting a business, and then failing later. Additionally, as a woman, I also had to face questions from my neighbours for returning late after a long day of work.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Reema, a survivor who is part of a SHG running a crop storage business, pointed out, “Our business is something typically done by men. Creating a space for us in this business was tough but every problem has a solution.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Through the resilience of these women as well as through the support from each other, the SHGs in this district have now been able to successfully launch their businesses and have started earning profits. The impact of these SHG groups is not just in the earnings that the survivors are able to make, but it has contributed towards changing their lives significantly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“More than the money, it has been the confidence that we have gained. The community looks at us with awe and respect and that is our major gain,” say the survivor leaders who are aspiring to become successful entrepreneurs someday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One thing is pretty evident that these survivor leaders are now one of the happiest groups not just because they could manage to do something for their living, but because of the fact that they have been able to break the patriarchal mindsets of their community and their notion that these are helpless and hapless victims. They are also very happy because they are now able to focus on their own self, their leadership and they started believing that they could do anything on their own. They, in fact, lead the way for many other survivors.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>Anwesha and Srabastee are social workers and gender rights activists associated with the Leadership Next programme</b></i></p> Thu Jul 28 23:08:42 IST 2022 meet-stephania-morales-the-travel-fashion-influencer-techpreneur-and-inspiration-for-gen-z <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The new Instagram sensation, Stephania Morales is a fashionmonger, globetrotter, and technopreneur who never fails to amaze her followers and win hearts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Stephania carries an equal blend of beauty, glamour, ambition, charm, and excellence.</p> <p>She is an adventuresome lady who energetically travels in her unique style.</p> <p>She is passionate about traveling, that too, in her flawless style. Without which, her journeys are incomplete.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The emerging celeb publishes content related to travel, fashion, and lifestyle on her social media handles. She posts pictures, reels, and videos of her travel updates, preferred outfits, and brands, general life updates, experiences, and more on Instagram.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You will keep scrolling her reels for hours owing to their exceptional quality and the visual-aesthetic pleasure they provide.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Her feed is a go-to place if you are looking for ideas on how to dress, what fashion choices to pick, and where to have the perfect luxury vacation of your life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Moreover, she shares valuable tips on efficient travel, tricks to convert even your boring outfits into snazzy ones, and different groovy poses for better pictures.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Her high-spirited personality, exquisite picture settings, and noteworthy fashion approach leaves a jaw-dropping impact on the viewers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Stephania, who was born in Colombia, has gained massive global popularity on social media. Her reels and pictures earn a ton of views and likes.</p> <p>In her native country, she has been the winner of numerous beauty pageants and awards.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition, she has also established a name for herself in the high-life circle of Miami. This achievement is the result of her fresh, authentic, and impressive approach to fashion.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Side by side, she is working as a techpreneur and striving for success. She is unstoppable.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Stephania says she has no idea she would be shown such adoration and reverence. She considers that to be her most priceless blessing. Her enormous fame and fan base on social media are only a benefit. And she appreciates all of it.</p> <p>Find her on Instagram at @stephy_morales.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Traveling, in Stephania's opinion, provides fresh perspectives and opportunities.</p> <p>She aims to inspire the youth to travel and adopt a styling sense.</p> <p>Every voyage changes the person; they are no longer the same. Every youngster needs to travel in order to discover not just the world but also themselves.</p> <p>Style, on the other hand, is a personal preference that you choose to represent yourself. It's an approach to life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Sep 26 14:40:19 IST 2022 how-india-uk-ties-are-set-to-soar-in-the-season-of-culture <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Jana Sanskriti: Centre for Theatre of the oppressed, is based in Madhyamgram in West Bengal. And Graeae Theatre Company, a disabled-led enterprise, exploring the “aesthetics of access,” is from London. The east is east and the west is west and the twain shall meet in a touring theatre performance across Kolkata, Sundarbans and Purulia in December as part of the India/UK Together Season of Culture. Theatre makers Sanjoy Ganguly, Jenny Sealey and Tim Wheeler will seamlessly merge their craft to explore the possibilities of theatre among the D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent in a piece inspired by TS Eliot’s 'The Waste Land' with elements from Mahabharata woven in. It will be live streamed.</p> <p>'Wasteland-A Journey' is just one of the many projects that India will see this year from a landmark programme that marks India’s 75th anniversary of Independence and celebrates the bilateral relationship between India and the UK. At a time when an Indian-origin British MP, Rishi Sunak, is one of the leading contenders to become the next prime minister of the UK, this season of culture certainly seems opportune. Jonathan Kennedy, Director Arts India at British Council and Rowan Kennedy, Deputy Director of the British Council in India, spoke to THE WEEK about one of the biggest collaborations in culture and education between the two nations.</p> <p><b>Why is 2022 special for India-UK ties?</b></p> <p><i><b>Jonathan:</b></i> The anniversary year of India's 75th year of Independence is really an important one, for marking the deep bonds that exist between the UK and India. And as we look to the future through our programmes that partner in the UK together and the Season of Culture, we are also marking those deep ties and celebrating the relationships, the strength of the creative economy, and the ingenuity of the artists who will form part of the season and culture. We have projects happening in Mumbai and Delhi, Ahmedabad, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Guwahati, and from across the UK, in Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. So, we are really looking to include many representations of partnership projects, and reflect our values of equality and inclusion, including, for example, work with the The Queer Muslim project in India, and also young people from Kolkata as part of our project with the Victorian Memorial Hall, and also really importantly, (we are) looking at the emerging artists working alongside established artists from both India and the UK. All of them together is what exemplifies the relationship between the countries now, and we hope it will continue to be after the season.</p> <p><b>Some 1,400 artists are set to showcase their collaborations to audiences across India, Britain, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Is this the largest ever cohort of artist-exchange between the two countries in a given year? Which key disciplines in the arts are most ripe for collaboration at this point?</b></p> <p><i><b>Jonathan:</b></i> It may well be. (What was) really important is when we were doing other things like our research called 'Taking the Temperature' during Covid-19. We were trying to understand the impact of the pandemic on artists and arts companies. And what that research confirmed was 88 per cent of the arts sector in India, from micro, small to mid-scale enterprises, were badly affected. So when we include 1,400 artists, it is also to empower them to work together. So, we think it may well be the largest number of artists who are collaborating.</p> <p><b>Who are some of the more prominent UK artists we can hope to see in India this year?</b></p> <p><i><b>Jonathan: </b></i>We have our Season of Culture ambassador A.R. Rahman, who of course is Indian, but he transcends in terms of his profile in the UK. In terms of the artists collaborations that we have from the UK as well, it is a combination principally of the emerging artists because that has been our big focus while learning from our Temperature research—to strengthen artists who are in the early part of their career because they will become more established over the longer term. We have some really established organisations who are working together to support those young and emerging artists. For example, we have from the UK the British Library, working with the CSMVS in Mumbai, an exhibition that will have photographers capture the contemporary interpretation of India's archaeological heritage in collaboration with ASI. Then we have the Manchester Museum working with Indian Music Experience in Bengaluru. And they are creating a festival looking at the music traditions of Carnatic music. Another example is Delhi's working with Celtronic Festival in Northern Ireland in Derry; they are bringing EDM artists from India to the UK to perform live. Northern Irish artists are also set to perform in India.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><b>India has been one of the largest contributors to the UK’s higher education system. This year the largest UK delegation came to India to discuss opportunities in transnational education. What kind of mutually beneficial educational collaborations are set to take off this year, especially in light of NEP 2020 allowing more &quot;internationalisation&quot; of education in India?</b></p> <p><b>Rowan</b>: The vision laid out in the National Education Policy (NEP) focuses on the internationalisation of higher education, which in turn, supports India and the UK’s mutual priority to strengthen transnational education (TNE) opportunities between our countries. The recent Higher Education Delegation visit was a catalyst for driving conversations on developing innovative models to support higher education like dual degrees, semester exchanges, short-term study abroad programmes and more. Two MoUs were signed to address reforms in curriculum, content and structure between Indian and British universities (Delhi Sports University with University of East London, and Manipal Academy of Higher Education with Nottingham Trent University). The education departments in both countries are working together to achieve a framework for mutual recognition of academic qualifications (MRQs) which will pave the way for deeper collaboration between India and the UK allowing for more exchange of knowledge and ideas. At the British Council, we are working closely to strengthen the India/ UK educational partnership. Last year, we launched the Going Global Partnerships, with an aim to encourage and facilitate transnational education partnerships between India and the UK. An intuitive response to the TNE potential between our two countries, we now have 107 Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) in India and the UK working together to create joint courses, teaching collaboration, and more. One such partnership, for example, will result in creation of a framework for master’s degrees in disaster-resilient infrastructure.</p> <p><b>British Council libraries have been a mainstay in promoting a reading culture in Indian metros. What are some of the new initiatives being taken to make it a more dynamic space?</b></p> <p><i><b>Rowan: </b></i>The British Council Digital Library offer was launched in 2017, to address the demand for our library memberships from cities where physical centres weren’t present. Our Digital Library members can access over 3,000 magazines and 8,000+ e-newspapers from 100 countries. Members can read and download over 2,000+ journals from JSTOR, 15,000+ from ProQuest Central and access 3,00,000+ resources on EBSCO. We also continue to engage our members through regular events for young adults such as management workshops, storytelling and creative writing courses, lively Reading Club and Conversation Club sessions. Our digital library app – My LOFT (My Library on Fingertips), launched in 2020 for Android and iOS, offers a seamless and interactive customer journey that pulls together our content in one place and allows members to build their own library collection.</p> <p><b>Can you shed some light on the economic impact of activating these soft power assets in the Season of Culture this year?</b></p> <p><i><b>Jonathan:</b></i> If I may just maybe take us back a step in terms of our thinking behind the Season. The key thing is mutuality, the benefit to both the arts organisation and the artists who are part of the season in both India and the UK. Last year, when we announced our plans for the programme, we did a call out for applications and had over 115 applications, principally from those in India to partner with organisations in the UK. We now have 40 partnerships that form part of the Season from there, and 1,400 artists who will be working on different projects. And really, that is the important part of it. It is the relationships, the work that they create together, whether it is exhibitions, theater, festivals, crafts, music or films, the relationships have deepened the understanding of each others' cultures. And the credit economy flows from that. When we think of the &quot;Creative Economy&quot; in the longer term, we hope that these key partnerships will go beyond the Season. It is how the cultural relationships are forged, formed and developed as a catalyst from the Season.</p> Sun Jul 17 13:33:50 IST 2022 bhavya-aneelam-decodes-the-importance-of-youtube-in-the-era-of-digitalization <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>It won't be wrong to say that, most likely, almost every individual browsing online has wasted an afternoon watching pointless videos on &quot;Youtube.&quot; Although YouTube has been a source of entertainment, it also asserts itself as a crucial tool for new-age influencers. Statist&nbsp;ically speaking, in fact, more than 55% of business owners also use Youtube as a component of their overall marketing plan. T&nbsp;he reason is that the platform beholds more than two billion active users globally, and one-quarter of internet users view videos for 10 hours or more each week. In addition, the platform is greatly comprehensive, and 76 different languages can be used to access it. As a result, YouTube is not only where any brand's audience is, but it also serves as the second-largest search engine on the internet.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This red and white play button has given rise to a new profession, The YouTuber, as the world becomes more and more digital and as smartphone use increases. Numerous Indian YouTubers and channels, including Superwoman, MostlySane, Bhuvan Bam, Sherry Shroff, AIB, TVF, Komal Pandey, and Shirly Setia, to mention a few, are among the most popular on the web. But, ever questioned what they do or how they got started in it? Bhavya Aneelam, who is the founder of &quot;<a href=""></a><a href="">&nbsp;<u>Desi Chal Chitra Studio</u></a>&nbsp;Sets in Delhi, possesses &quot;a one-of-a-kind&quot; environment that has developed from a love of movies, a desire to create, and a desire to give also work to provide support to these young budding influencers and YouTubers by providing them the right sets. This air-conditioned, multi-studio set may be completely customized and is an intrinsic part being everything here is recycled, refurbished, repurposed, and reused.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>To help decode the same, the founder of &quot;</b><a href=""></a><a href="">&nbsp;<b><u>Desi Chal Chitra</u></b></a>&nbsp;<b>,&quot; Bhavya Aneelam, shares his insight:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the most promising careers nowadays is YouTubing. It is a field with a lot of room for expansion as well as advantages like job flexibility, freedom of expression, chances to show off your creativity, and a chance to become well-known and well-liked. Even though it might not be a full-time choice right away, with time and effort, you can become a professional YouTuber like the many others who came before you. However, it would take a lot of effort and persistence on your part to start a channel and make it successful. Making a living off of YouTube takes rigorous content development, distribution, and advertising to be sustainable; it is not enough to create one popular video and instantly become famous.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b><i>The intent of the channel</i></b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is a crucial stage since it will guide your decision on the kind of material you will produce and represent the message you want to convey to the general public. It can be anything, from humor, gaming, and technology to beauty and fashion.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b><i>Establish Your Voice and Style</i></b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Even channels from the same genre on YouTube are different from one another. The creator(s) of the video and the channel's voice/style make the distinction, not just the material. The aesthetic of your channel will frequently be a mirror of your character and distinct individuality. It can originate from your speech patterns, your opinions, any catchphrases or taglines, how you dress, or even the causes you support.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b><i>Construct and polish Input from You</i></b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Every YouTube video's heart and soul is its content. Your video needs a solid substance to support it; it cannot survive on presentation alone. So it's crucial that you take your time conceptualizing your ideas, crafting the material or script, and editing it to make it flawless. Make sure it is concise, exact, relevant, and catchy.</p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p><b><i>Utilize the Proper Equipment</i></b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Poor audio or video quality gives the user the impression that not much effort was put into creating the information. Consequently, it is strongly advised that you get a nice camera (DSLR or point-and-shoot), as well as good lighting and sound equipment (microphone). However, you can borrow it from friends or use a high-quality smartphone camera with a tripod if you want to test the waters first and don't want to immediately invest in pricey equipment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b><i>Getting the right location</i></b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the end, the last concern is getting the right location for shooting the video. Earlier, YouTubers used to generally shoot within the four walls of their rooms, but since now the quality and credibility of youtube content have increased extensively, more and more content creators prefer more genuine places to shoot in. But due to the lack of set locations, it was difficult for them to see a hospital, courtroom, or police station in a particular scene. However, this issue has been remedied in recent years thanks to the development of studio sets.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With Desi Chal Chitra's premium quality sets that have exquisite interiors and are also environment-friendly, they are currently the most opted studio people look for to produce more short films in Delhi for their YouTube Channel. Moreover, with a committed group of young people, a link between classic Bollywood films and contemporary web series, and a modern &quot;Desi&quot; vibe thanks to its MahaVastu certification, this studio set exudes friendliness and positivity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With up to 2 billion monthly users, YouTube is the most popular site for social media that primarily features videos. You may access a sizable audience base by starting a YouTube channel and uploading videos. However, you can still accomplish a lot by only making videos on this platform. One of the most exciting and adaptable forms of content consumption is videos. However, if you use the appropriate strategies, you'll get started on the right foot.</p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Sep 20 17:47:17 IST 2022 artist-tahire-lal-explores-light-physically-and-philosophically-in-latest-work <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Tahire Lal’s collection of installations and wall works ‘Phototroupe’ is layered with meanings. Lal explores light “physically and philosophically”. She considers humans as beings of light in a world surrounded by darkness and raises pertinent questions about human agency and interdependence from a feminist point of view.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In an interview with THE WEEK, Lal talks about how living in a countryside made her fall in love with nature.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Phototroupe is currently on display at Chitrakala Parishad, Bengaluru.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Excerpts from the interview:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>You moved to Assam eight years ago. How has living in the countryside impacted you as an artist?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Living in the countryside has given me more of an appreciation for our position in the world and the ways in which we are sustained by the earth. These ideas tie into posthuman and feminist philosophies explored with and through the work.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Tell us about Phototrope and your tryst with light.</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Phototrope is the coming together of different strains of thought and experience pertaining to human life. Drawing from observations of light in natural and built environments, this body of work thinks of our affinities, humans as beings of light in a universe held by darkness. I explore light physically and philosophically.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>You have used a lot of different materials in your installations. Are there materials you have gathered from around your own neighbourhood? Do you enjoy sourcing and gathering materials?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The inspiration for the use of materials is drawn from my immediate environment. Initial experiments are usually done with whatever I can get my hands on. Ultimately to generate artwork that takes on a more formal quality of expression, I source materials both locally and industrially. I enjoy the processes of thinking through material abstractions and their philosophical implications.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What does art mean to you?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To me art is an extrusion that stems from engaging with ideas and the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Which is your personal favourite in this collection?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I am going to go on a slight tangent here. It is not one work per se, but when I think of how the installation of the works in galleries 1 and 2 of Chitrakala Parishath has come together, that’s my favourite part. The works relate to each other and their configuration in space helps to underscore this. It took the care and expertise of different groups of people to craft each piece on display and I like them all.</p> Fri Jul 08 19:03:04 IST 2022 how-sapa-is-helping-build-a-systematic-music-curriculum-in-indian-schools <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Research has proven that music training helps strengthen cognitive and visual-motor skills. Unfortunately, music teaching in Indian schools is mostly seen as an activity, not a subject. It lacks a structured curriculum around it, added to the absence of proper availability of instruments. The music teacher in our schools may not be the busiest, brainstorming on a syllabus. When noted singer-songwriter Bindu Subramaniam and ace violinist Ambi Subramaniam – children of Dr L. Subramaniam and Kavita Krishnamurti - started Subramaniam Academy of Performing Arts (SaPa) in 2014, they set out to correct exactly this: to change music period as a training ground for singing in the school assembly or annual day function. In a conversation with THE WEEK, Ambi and Bindu talk about how SaPa has sought to make music education a more constructive part of the Indian school curriculum.</p> <p><b>You have been around since 2014. How has the music curriculum in schools evolved since then?</b></p> <p>The early debate was largely around the need for music education in schools - every music period is a period that isn't maths or science or another &quot;core&quot; subject. Having said that, we've been very fortunate to work with some visionary leaders in education from the beginning. Schools and educators who have wholeheartedly supported quality music education in schools and understood the value of what we were trying to do. Once we had the program running for a little while, we started getting a lot of positive feedback -- a private school principal told us that teachers want to sit in the back of the music class while grading papers so they could listen in. Government school principals started telling us that attendance would spike on SaPa class days. That sort of validation meant a lot to us.<br> </p> <p>Over time, we've constantly worked to be on the cutting edge of music in schools globally, trying to push the curriculum and learning outcomes a little further each year. Up-skilling our teachers regularly, forming a community. We work hard behind the scenes so that children can think that they are just having a lot of fun and don't even have to worry about what they are supposed to learn. We now teach Indian and global music (children learn songs in 15 languages and cultures from around the world), inter-disciplinarity (the relationship between music and social change, or between music and physics), social-emotional learning, music theory, production, music technology, song-writing and much more.</p> <p><b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Globally which countries have adopted the most progressive music learning curriculum in their school system?</b><br> </p> <p>Around the world, many countries have strong foundations for community music and music in schools. In particular, the Norwegian, UK and Australian systems seem robust. The unfortunate situation in the US is that many public school arts programs have been de-funded. Norway has been at the forefront of global music in classrooms and even has a system in place for students to have access to two concerts by professional musicians a year.<br> </p> <p>The opportunity in India is great right now, with the new National Education Policy, and some states coming up with State Education Policies. Since we have a largely blank slate, we can learn from the best in the world, adapt to our local context, and create something unique and extraordinary. In fact, over the last few years, we've been fortunate to present case studies about the SaPa in schools program at different research conferences across the world.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What kind of instruments and vocal languages are most popular among music students in Indian schools?</b></p> <p>I think if you catch them young enough, children don't really have an inherent bias. They all have a fondness for languages that they understand of course, but beyond that, all languages are fun and exciting. The same goes for instruments. Very small babies like drums and xylophones - things that make noise easily when you tap them and don't require too much skill. Then they grow to appreciate slightly more complex instruments. I think it's important for children to be exposed to a variety of musical styles, languages and instruments as early as possible. It makes them more receptive and open-minded.</p> <p>When you speak about high schoolers, they are heavily influenced by pop culture and they prefer pop music, so we try to integrate things from what is relevant in their daily lives into what they experience in the classroom.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Tell us more about how you plan to integrate music pedagogy in the National Education Policy 2020?</b><br> </p> <p>We were fortunate to give input to the brilliant team who drafted the NEP and some of our recommendations have found their way into the final report. The NEP gives music and arts their due importance at all levels, from pre-primary to university level. If the implementation is in line with the policy, there will be a tremendously positive influence on the lives of children in schools.<br> </p> <p>The NEP outlines that all school children from K-8 should have access to music education, and can choose it as a track from 9-12 and beyond this is great. The Delhi government is already taking action in some schools, and I understand other states are working on the same. Many private schools are also implementing recommendations, and there is generally a lot of positivity and excitement around it.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What ails music education in Indian schools? How are they missing the mark?</b></p> <p>I see a great opportunity in schools across the board in India. The NEP talks about quality, and how to achieve it. I think it's time to look beyond learning, marks, maths/science, and see what skills are required to make children lifelong learners. Music is an integral part of holistic development, in building 21st-century skills and global citizenship. Music isn't just something that can happen for 40 minutes a week-- it's a great opportunity to open students' minds and have broader conversations. Subjects can't be taught in silos.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What are some of the newest initiatives by SaPa?</b></p> <p>We're always adding new things because it's an ever-evolving field. In the last couple of years, we've put a lot more emphasis on Social Emotional Learning (which is a need we felt strongly during the pandemic). We also moved to a completely online model with our own Learning Management System and Gamification. We launched a number of self-paced, celebrity-led courses with artists like Dr L. Subramaniam, Kavita Krishnamurti Subramaniam, Usha Uthup, Pankaj Udhas, Anup Jalota, Samir, Corky Siegel, Russ Miller and others.</p> <p>Now, as things are opening up, we are moving back to a hybrid model of education where students have the benefit of in-person education and the convenience of anytime online access.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br> </p> Fri Jul 01 18:10:14 IST 2022 harry-potter-25-when-illustrator-thomas-taylor-drew-history <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The year was 1996. Thomas Taylor was only 23 and fresh out of art school. It was probably the spontaneity of the age which made him walk into the London office of Bloomsbury Publishers and drop off some sketches of dragons.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A week later, he got a call from Barry Cunningham, the publisher, with an offer to do the cover for a book by a certain J.K. Rowling. And the book? <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone</i>, which completes 25 years today. A quarter century since history was made in the world of fiction writing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A red steam train with HOGWARTS EXPRESS written on the front on platform 9 3/4, and purple smoke billowing out of it. A bespectacled boy with a lightning scar on his forehead taking it all in wonder. Taylor's illustration on the cover would go on to become one of the most iconic images in the world. Cunnigham had told Taylor that he wanted to show Harry Potter boarding the Hogwarts Express, on the cover. What sounded simple, wasn't so when Taylor started sketching.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Naturally I was quite excited,” Taylor wrote later. “My first illustration job – Yay! I expect I bought some new pens to celebrate, and maybe a moderately-priced bottle of Belgian beer. There was an incomplete manuscript to read, roughs to do, and then the painting. The final image — a pencil sketch, painted with concentrated watercolour and then outlined with a black Karisma pencil — took two days, and all things considered I was quite pleased with it. I think I delivered it by hand.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Interestingly, the amazement around the world wasn't restricted to the boy phenomenon on the front cover. An unknown wizard which Taylor painted on the back cover intrigued readers. He wore a wizard's hat, pin-striped trousers, had a pipe in his mouth, a book tucked in his arms and a bulge in his right pocket. Readers, reportedly, demanded to know who it was. Taylor knew the answer – the wizard was modelled on his father, who used to dress flamboyantly! But finally, upon Bloomsbury's request, it was replaced with an illustration of Albus Dumbledore in later editions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>What's baffling, however, is that Taylor didn't buy the book when it was first printed, as the publishers were supposed to send him a signed one! He could have made a fortune, if he had – a first edition was, reportedly, recently sold for $471,000. Despite designing the cover of a book with phenomenal sales, Taylor said that he did not make a lot of money, as it was a one-off payment without any royalties. He continued to work in Heffer’s Children’s Bookshop in Cambridge.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Even more surprising was that fact that Taylor wasn't really a Potterhead, though he loved the books. The overnight success did more harm to his creative career than good, he admitted later.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone </i>one was the only Harry Potter cover he made, as Bloomsbury turned to the more experienced illustrator Cliff Wright once the books took off.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Taylor has moved on, with a successful fantasy fiction book series for children called <i>The Legends of Eerie-on-Sea</i>. But, guess what? He did not design the covers for the four books!</p> Sun Jun 26 09:20:02 IST 2022 5-reasons-to-use-megafamous-to-buy-instagram-likes <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Engagement—that's one thing your can't do without If you want to see results on Instagram. Likes are a popular form of engagement that all brands and creators are dying to have more of. So, rather than stress themselves trying to get likes organically, most Instagrammers just&nbsp;<a href=""></a><a href=""><u>buy instant Instagram likes</u></a>&nbsp;fast.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Likes are invaluable. They help to establish connections and show that your content is valuable and pertinent to your audience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But as easy as it sounds, buying Instagram likes can be challenging. First, not all sellers are genuine and trustworthy. Besides, they may not be able to provide real Instagram likes and may even end up making things worse for you.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you've been searching for the best place to buy instant likes, this article will put an end to your search. MegaFamous is an Instagram growth service where you can purchase certain metrics to boost your engagement. On their website, you can buy not only Instagram likes but also followers and views.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In this article, we discuss 5 reasons megafamous is the best place to buy quick Instagram likes.</p> <p>Why you should use MegaFamous to buy Instagram likes.</p> <p>When purchasing Instagram likes, it's only wise that you get the best deals available. MegaFamous is the growth service that you need, and below are 5 reasons to use them</p> <p>1. Get real likes from real people</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Getting real likes is one major concern Instagram users have when they want to purchase likes. Many Instagram growth services deliver likes from bots or fake accounts. This can get be detrimental for your account.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you're familiar with how bots work, you'll know that likes from bot accounts will do nothing to grow organic engagements. They won't be able to provide other forms of interaction like comments. And Instagram is rather good at sensing malicious bot activities, which means that your account could be banned.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>MegaFamous will provide you with likes from real Instagram accounts that will engage with your content, increase your popularity and grow your page.</p> <p>2. The safety of your account is guaranteed</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The worst nightmare for an Instagrammer is losing an account they have worked hard for. However, the sad truth is, many people still wind up losing their accounts after using unreliable growth services.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When buying Instagram likes, it is important that you choose a trustworthy provider. Megafamous has a track record of reliability, safety and security. Your account will not be in jeopardy when you buy likes from them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some sites can pose a threat to your account once you give them your account details. They can even expose your account to hackers. This means that jumping off the boat to patronise just any growth service could ruin your efforts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With MegaFamous you can be sure of the safety of your account. They provide a safe service that puts your securit&nbsp;<u>y</u>&nbsp;first.</p> <p>3. Buy Likes at an affordable price</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>MegaFamous aims to help Instagram users grow their accounts and achieve their Instagram goals. To help their customers, they provide a list of cost-effective services at different budgets. You can purchase likes on any package at an affordable rate and still get quality service.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Here's a list of the affordable Instagram likes packages available on MegaFamous:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>50 likes - $1.47</p> <p>100 likes - $2.67</p> <p>250 likes - $4.99</p> <p>500 likes - $6.99</p> <p>1,000 likes - $12.99</p> <p>2,500 likes - $24.99</p> <p>5,000 likes - $44.99</p> <p>10,000 likes - $88.99</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you can't afford the higher packages, you can go for the smaller ones and you'll still get results. They offer free Instagram likes to new customers. Consider it a tester that will let you in on the amazing experience they provide.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Additionally, you can make the purchase easily using your credit card. They don't retain any sensitive information about your credit card, which is one reason they're safe to use.</p> <p>4. Quick delivery of likes</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Getting engagements on Instagram may take a long time, especially if you are a newbie. To make matters worse, when people buy likes, some Instagram growth services take days to deliver, thus leaving customers unsatisfied.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Megafamous knows that not everyone can wait, and they made it a mission to address that issue. If you're looking for quick likes, MegaFamous is your one-stop shop.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You will get your likes within an hour of purchasing them. They work with a system that delivers likes instantly with a natural increase.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another interesting benefit that comes with MegaFamous is that you can buy likes and spread them across multiple posts. You don't necessarily have to pump your purchased 5,000 likes into a single post. You get to spread them to other posts and instantly boost your engagements all around.</p> <p>5. Free replacement of likes if there is a drop.</p> <p>Instagram sometimes removes dormant or erring accounts. Usually, when an account is dropped off by Instagram, its engagements are lost throughout the platform. If this happens, MegaFamous has a policy of replacing the likes from dropped accounts with real likes at no cost. You get to enjoy this feature if there is a drop in the number of your likes within 30 days of your purchase.</p> <p>Bonus reasons</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>MegaFamous provides plenty of value and we just can't keep them to ourselves, so here is a bonus reason for you.</p> <p>24/7 Customer Service</p> <p>Megafamous care about their customers' satisfaction and are willing to sit round the clock to provide help. If you need Instagram likes in the middle of the night or are stuck with any issues, you can contact them there and then.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Frequently Asked Questions</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Before you finally purchase your likes, there sure will be a ton of questions on your mind. Here, we have answered some of these questions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Will people know that you've bought Instagram likes?</b></p> <p>Not at all, people will not be able to tell that your likes are bought.</p> <p><b>Can you buy Likes for Instagram comments?</b></p> <p>Yes, you can. More likes on your comment helps to push your comments to the top and increase your visibility.</p> <p><b>Does MegaFamous offer gradual delivery of Like?</b></p> <p>Yes, they do. You can get gradual delivery of your purchased likes over a period of time.</p> <p><b>How can I buy Instagram Likes for my post?</b></p> <p>First, open an account with MegaFamous and log in. While you are logged in click the &quot;Get Likes&quot; button. Choose the Instagram post you want to boost. Select a suitable package and proceed to make payment.</p> <p><b>How long does delivery take after purchase?</b></p> <p>As mentioned earlier, delivery can begin within an hour after your purchase. However, the package you purchase will determine the duration of delivery.</p> <p><b>Will I get a ban for buying Likes?</b>&nbsp;</p> <p>Unless you violate Instagram's community guidelines, you will not get a ban. Moreover, MegaFamous provides real Instagram likes and not likes from bot accounts. So your account will be safe.</p> <p>In Conclusion</p> <p>Instagram likes can spell out the difference between a successful Instagram account and one that is not. The more likes you get, the higher your engagement rate and visibility.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thankfully, you don't need to lose sleep over your like count when MegaFamous is right in the corner. They will give you instant and affordable real Instagram likes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With them, you have no fear of losing your account because they are trustworthy and secure. Plus, if you need them at any time of the day, you are sure to get a response. Head over to their website and get your own likes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Sep 19 16:09:09 IST 2022 honble-supreme-court-directs-state-of-haryana-to-reinstate-1300-primary-school-teachers <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><b><u>New Delhi</u></b></p> <p>In a long-drawn litigation spanning over 10 years, the Supreme Court finally ended the controversy between competing candidates of Primary School Teachers by directing the State to accommodate them.</p> <p>The issue started in 2012 when the State of Haryana issued an advertisement for 9780 posts of primary school teachers. An essential qualification per the said advertisement was the Haryana Teacher Eligibility Test (HTET) qualification. However, the State did not conduct the said test until 2013. However, the State later clarified that the 2013 test was HTET 2012. This led to litigation between candidates who cleared HTET before 2012 (First List) and those who cleared 2013 (Second List).</p> <p>The first judgment came in Antim Kumari Vs. the State of Haryana in 2015, whereby the State acknowledged the right of the candidates who passed the HTET in 2013. However, once a combined merit list was prepared according to an interim order of the High Court in May 2017, the qualifying number of candidates exceeded the vacancies, thereby leading to the First List candidates being removed in favour of the more deserving candidates of the Second List.</p> <p>Finally, the High Court decided the petitions on merits on 20th July 2022, whereby the claim of the Second List candidates was entirely set aside. The Second List candidates challenged this in the Supreme Court.</p> <p>“The Supreme Court has passed an extremely magnanimous order, doing justice to all the teachers involved who have been going back and forth for almost ten years. At the heart of this order is the consideration that the education of young students should not suffer. The Supreme Court heard the matter for nearly two hours and even discharged its board for the day, showing that its only priority was putting this long-drawn litigation to rest.” said&nbsp;<b>Somesh Tiwari, Managing Partner,&nbsp;</b><a href=""></a><a href=""><b><u>Vardharma Chambers</u></b></a></p> <p>“I extend the heartiest congratulations to the litigation team of Advocates Kartika S. Sharma, Shashank Bajpai, Kaveesh Nair, Vidula Mehrotra” added Somesh Tiwari.</p> <p>The Bench of Hon’ble Justices Aniruddha Bose and Vikram Nath heard the petition filed by Vardharma Chambers. The team from Vardharma Chambers, comprising Advocates Shashank Bajpai, Somesh Tiwari, Kartika Sharma, Vidula Mehrotra, and Kaveesh Nair, was led by Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi. In addition, a connected petition by similarly placed candidates was filed, led by Senior Advocate PS Patwalia. Advocate Shreeyash U. Lalit also represented similarly placed candidates.</p> <p>After thoroughly appreciating the matter, the Bench exercised its powers under Article 142 and directed the State to accommodate all the teachers. The Bench was mindful of the State’s support for the candidates and the vacuum of qualified teachers.</p> Thu Sep 15 18:18:15 IST 2022 biker-sachin-s-shetty-on-how-he-keeps-himself-safe-during-high-altitude-rides <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Sachin S. Shetty is a Mangalore-born cinematographer, the owner of Shutterbox films, who is also a fantastic rider. He set and broke his own records while riding a bike for extended periods of time alone. Sachin rides a Royal Enfield Himalayan, among other bikes, until he is content and delighted.</p> <p>Several months ago, Sachin and his buddies accomplished a remarkable feat. They all went on a journey via the Indo-China border's Himalayas. Sachin and his friend rode their motorcycle up a mountain at the height of 15,3000 feet to unflur the Tulunadu flag. The riders set out from New Delhi, stopping along the way to see sights like Chitkul Village and Hikkim. A few years back, Sachin rode his bike from Kanyakumari to Ladakh, covering the 11000 km journey in 37 days.</p> <p>Social media, particularly Sachin's Instagram page, provides a clear insight into his interests and travels. He desires to ride his favourite bike around the country and climb as many hilly regions as possible. Shetty wants to travel to every region, document it, and encourage others to follow their dreams like him.</p> <p>High-altitude motorbike riding is thrilling but sometimes terrifying. It's crucial to take care of your health. When asked how he stays safe and healthy when travelling such lengthy distances, Sachin responded, "You have to be physically fit and strong to continue forward at such high elevations. I've been practising yoga and taking oxygen tablets as breathing assistance. Complete protective equipment is necessary. I also got to experience how brutal nature can be."</p> <p>Sachin S Shetty says that he plans to travel more on his motorcycle in the next few weeks. His production house, Shutterbox Films, also has some exciting projects. Shetty and his friends are looking forward to monsoon adventures in mountains and green places.</p> <p>Take a look at Sachin's Instagram</p> <p><a href=""><u></u></a></p> Fri Jul 08 22:21:20 IST 2022 delhi-gears-up-bloomsday-celebrations-special-exhibition-james-joyce <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In James Joyce's novel, <i>A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man ,</i>the protagonist Stephen Dedalus is disciplined for not doing his lessons at school. The cruel teacher does not believe Stephen when he explains that he broke his glasses and hence could not see. This episode from the book was taken straight from the life of the Irish novelist who from 1917 to 1935 underwent 25 different eye operations. He often depended on friends to take dictation to meet deadlines. One of the reasons it took him long to finish his books was because of his poor eyesight.<br> <br> After seven years of labouring over his 1922 masterpiece <i>Ulysses</i>—which parallels Homer's <i>Odyssey </i>in its design—Joyce had a case of glaucoma.</p> <p>On the 100th year of Ulysses' publication, Joyce's lifelong struggle with his vision is mounted as a reminder in a special travelling exhibition on the novelist at the Delhi Public Library. Held in collaboration with the Embassy of Ireland, the exhibition takes viewers through a swirl of information on Joyce's life and legacy, from his family life to his influences in college to his wanderings in Trieste, Rome, Zurich and Paris and the importance of <i>Ulysses</i>. The modernist classic follows the encounters and engagements of an advertising canvasser Leopold Bloom over the course of an ordinary day in Dublin on 16 June 1904, its narrative arc stretching over 700 pages. T.S. Eliot once described Ulysses to be “the most important expression which this present age has found,” and a “book to which we are all indebted, and from which none of us can escape.”</p> <p>Since the day of its publication, June 16 is celebrated the world over by Joyce enthusiasts as Bloomsday. Joceans honour the memory of the author on this day with readings and re-enactments, decked-out in Edwardian gear with britches and braces. They relish Irish delicacies inspired by the book with a spread that often includes "thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart."</p> <p>As 2022 Bloomsday coincides with the centenary year of the publication of Ulysses, the exhibition at DPL assumes special significance. Some 100 copies of books written by Joyce, including Dubliners and <i>A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man </i>apart from Ulysses itself will be given away to interested readers across branches of DPL.</p> <p>"One of the reasons why we decided to partner with Delhi Public Library is because, as you say, it is open to a very wide range of people from all social, educational and income categories. And we're making about 100 of Joyce's books available to participants and visitors to the library this week. So we hope it will be well received," said Brendan Ward, the ambassador of Ireland to India while inaugurating the exhibition with Subhash Chander Kankheri, chairman of the Delhi Public Library.</p> <p>Set up in 1951, Delhi Public Library has more than 35 branches and over 150 mobile service points spread across the national capital region. With an annual membership fee of Rs 100, the library has a total collection of 16,84,000 books, 50 percent of which are in Hindi and the rest in other different languages like Punjabi, Urdu, etc. There are 10,000 English literature books across all units of DPL which is a very popular space for students preparing for their public service examinations. "Joyce's greatest works, his major novels like <i>Ulysses</i> and <i>Finnegans Wake</i>, are probably not the easiest reads. But some of his other works such as <i>Dubliners</i>, or his early semi-autobiographical novel, <i>A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man</i> are both fairly straightforward and enjoyable to read," said Ward on the occasion of combining Bloomsday festivities and Ulysses centenary celebrations this year. "Bloomsday is an event for all Joyce enthusiasts. It doesn't have to be an Irish event. It doesn't have to be run by the Irish embassy or the consulate. Anyone with an interest in literature can themselves organize an event. And they'll get lots and lots of ideas by just looking online at the other events which take place around the world."</p> <p><i>The International James Joyce Exhibition and Book Giveaway </i>is on view till June 14 at the Delhi Public Library</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Jun 11 14:36:18 IST 2022 an-art-book-for-the-blind-starring-a-modernist-who-struggled-with-his-vision <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>One of the greatest modernists from Bengal, Benode Behari Mukherjee, could never take his vision for granted. An illness in childhood rendered him blind in one eye and myopic in the other. Then, at 53, in 1957, his lost his eyesight completely after a failed cataract operation. Undeterred, he went back to work soon enough, this time reinventing himself by relying on touch and memory to produce paper-cuts, sculptures and drawings when it became impossible to paint.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Picasso once said, 'painting is a blind man's profession', perhaps implying how colours and the visible light spectrum are subjective things. So, when the Kolkata Centre for Creativity (KCC) released The Art of Benode Behari Mukherjee—the first in a series of braille books on art—at the recently concluded India Art Fair, it seemed like a long overdue effort.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Published in collaboration with Access For All, the book provides an introduction to the art and life of Mukherjee, enlivened through five paintings which have been converted into tactile artworks (with permission from Mrinalini Mukherjee Foundation) and an accompanying essay in braille by his student, friend and fellow modernist, K.G. Subramanyan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Art books, most of which are exhibition catalogues, are more often than not written and consumed by the Anglophone. As a result, we do not even have art books in regional languages to bridge the divide between the privileged anglophone and the rest, let alone enough books in braille that discuss art and culture," says Richa Agarwal, chairperson at KCC. "Realising this need, we have committed to creating at least one braille book each year on an artist who can inspire one to engage with the arts if not convince them to pursue it," says Agarwal, who plans to honour another master from Bengal in the next braille book that comes out of KCC. The book has a non-braille English text too, printed in a larger font keeping in mind the partially blind.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is indeed hard to produce an art book in braille which truly appeals to and benefits the visually impaired adult. Verbo-visual prompts never fully convey the transformational power of a work of art. Arctic Circle: A Tactile Graphic Novel For Blind Readers (2016), made possible by a grant from the Finnish institute Kone, has the artist Ilan Manouach construct an entirely new language as part of his "conceptual" comic book about a pair of climatologists in the North Pole. "To make comic books accessible to the blind, Manouach devised an entire new language composed of sculptural, touchable symbols and patterns, which are pieced together to tell a story...," writes a reviewer in the online arts magazine <i>Hyperallergic</i>. "The result is Shapereader, a system of tactile ideograms, or “tactigrams:” haptic equivalents for objects, actions, feelings, characters, and other features of any story. They're raised shapes on wooden board, and have more in common with Chinese pictograms than with braille letters or the Roman alphabet, in that they're textural depictions of what they represent."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In India, we are yet to see innovative art books which are so thoughtfully produced for the blind or the partially impaired. "While a number of blind schools and braille presses are active, making visual arts and artists accessible to the visually impaired has remained a low priority. KCC's Braille Books on Art series attempts to bridge this gap by converting two-dimensional artworks into tactile artworks that could be felt and experienced physically," says Agarwal.&nbsp;</p> Fri Jun 03 22:55:40 IST 2022 travel-influencer-val-cortezs-instagram-feed-motivates-us-to-go-on-an-excursion <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Travel! Trip! Tour! These three words gush tremendous energy through our veins. Don't you too wish to take delight in the beauty of marvellous scenes? If you said no! You probably need a lot of motivation, and we have the best travel vlogger for that. Presenting Val Cortez, also known as @val.aroundtheworld</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This travel enthusiast's stories will push you to take a leave, pack your back, and go on a long trip. Her feed is a dish of delight for people who like travel content. Speaking of which, Val Cortez recently posted pictures of herself in sizzling bikinis from a beach day in Bol, Croatia. In another post, she was seen posing in front of a waterfall in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Val's feed is just so vibrant, colourful, and full of jaw-dropping sceneries.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In her travel journal, you will find images of different statues, structures, streets, and societies. She has left her traces in countries like Croatia, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Argentina, Peru, Malaysia, Czech Republic, Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam, Istanbul, Serbia, and many more countries.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Val Cortez started travelling years ago. Going back in the timeline, we would highlight that the initial story of this influencer wasn't about exploring the world. In fact, she was an entrepreneur and owner of a thriving lash company. Val has tasted multiple luxuries of life, but she found solace in travelling. And now, look at her; she is one of our most illustrious and admired solo travellers!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Speaking of her journey as a travel influencer, Val Cortez says, &quot;I have just started checking off the countries on my bucket list and still the list is long. Travelling has helped me understand the beauty of nature and, most importantly, it has helped me to recognise myself.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Val Cortez's Instagram account is widely followed. She has more than 1 million followers who keep their eyes peeled for her next travel dump. Her channel delivers a great variety of information on travel and trips. Feel free to draft your itinerary by taking leads from Val's trips.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Aug 25 10:39:00 IST 2022 khone-do-is-your-sign-to-follow-your-dreams-says-international-artist-kanika-patawari <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Riding high on the success of her successful EP Currents, Kanika Patawari has no plans to slow down. The international musician-entrepreneur opens up about her hit song Khone Do, the artist culture in India and defining global music.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>‘Khone Do’ has a beautiful video. Tell us more about your inspiration behind the vibe?</b></p> <p>When I was building the song, it reminded me of growing up in Belgium. It was so normal to spend evenings out with your friends filled with music and dancing. I wanted the video to capture that memory of being carefree and living in the moment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>In the spirit of ‘Khone Do’, what do you wish most people would let go off?</b></p> <p>I think a lot of us hold back fearing judgements and opinions. We need to stop letting what others think about us get in our way and go after what we want fearlessly. I still struggle with this sometimes, but I do know a lot of musicians struggle with self-doubt and carry the weight of opinions on their shoulders. I’m on my own journey of letting go and in a way, this song is my way of telling myself the same.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What change is India yet to see in the music space?</b></p> <p>Our incredible film industry has given an amazing foundation to the Indian music industry. But the challenges arise when artists struggle to share music beyond films. Even internationally people generally think about Bollywood when the topic of Indian music comes up. There is less awareness of the artists and artist culture of India, which is where we need to scale up. That being said, exciting things are happening, and times are changing. There are cross collaborations starting to come about, and it will only be a matter of time that we manage to have a major hit on a global chart.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Tell us more about your plans, what are you currently working on?</b></p> <p>More music is on its way. Exploring different sounds and genres. Beyond this, my initiative MusicRecycle is working hard on building that connection between both industries and raising awareness on sustainability.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Aug 22 18:14:14 IST 2022 international-booker-prize-to-geetanjali-shree-boosts-confidence-of-indian-language-writers <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Geetanjali Shree became the first Indian writer to win the International Booker Prize, awarded for a book that is translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland.&nbsp;</p> <p>Her novel - ‘Tomb of Sand’ - an English translation of her Hindi novel “Ret Samadhi” bagging the coveted award has sure enthused Indian language authors who feel the recognition for the translated work is an acknowledgement of the richness of the literary tradition in the Indian languages. It is a sentiment shared by the awardee too, as Shree said, “Behind me and this book lies a rich and flourishing literary tradition in Hindi and other South Asian languages. World literature will be the richer for knowing some of the finest writers in these languages.”</p> <p>Shree's 725-page novel translated by US-based Daisy Rockwell is a family saga that chronicles the India partition. And it is the nativity in both content and style that sets the Indian language literature from the works of Indian English writers, say experts.&nbsp;</p> <p>While India has several writers writing in English, translations of Hindi, as well as Indian language books into English, have been picking pace only in recent years. To name a few, Vivek Shanbhag’s ‘Ghachar Ghochar’ (translated by Srinath Perur), Jayant Kaikini’s ‘No Presents Please’ (translated by Tejaswini Niranjana) and S. Hareesh’s ‘Moustache’ (translated by Jayasree Kalathil) have bagged awards.&nbsp;</p> <p>“IBP is an important award as I feel it will bring more attention to the Indian literary world. When our work gets known outside our language, it is not just the title or the writer who gets the recognition but our tradition, aesthetics, linguistic culture and a different world view,” said Kannada writer Vivek Shanbhag, who’s first translated work ‘Ghachar Ghochar’ was included by The New York Times in their listing of the best books of 2017 and it was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the International Dublin Literary Award.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>“This award has boosted the confidence of Indian language writers. I hope every year our Indian books make it to the shortlist. This news thrills me as I look forward to my book now. The IBP is a recognition of not just Ms Geetanjali Shree's novel, but the Indian language books. But not many Indian vernacular writers have published in the UK (England or Ireland). In Karnataka, only a couple of writers have published their books in the UK. Except for Jayant Kaikini, Vivek Shanbhag and U R Ananthamurthy (Samskara), no other writer has published his book in the UK,” said Kannada writer Vasudhendra, whose hugely popular Kannada title - ‘Tejo Tungabhadra’ is being translated into English and is likely to be published in September.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Maithreyi Karnoor, author of Sylvia: Distant Avuncular Ends (Tranquebar 2021) and translator of ‘A Handful of Sesame’ and ‘Tejo Tungabhadra’ (forthcoming) hopes the award acts as a catalyst and kindles interest in Indian literary work globally.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Back in the day when The International Booker Prize was given to authors for their entire oeuvres rather than for one title, U R Ananthamurthy came close to winning it in 2013. Now, history is made with the first Indian novel in an Indian language winning the coveted prize. Ideally, that should translate into greater interest in the literature of Indian languages. And goodness knows it is about time!,” said Karnoor.&nbsp;</p> Thu Jun 02 17:06:42 IST 2022 tomb-of-sand-is-a-mahabharat-of-the-indian-joint-family <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Rajkamal Prakashan in the heart of the narrow streets of Daryagunj is in a celebratory mood. For the original publishers of the new Booker prize winning writer Geetanjali Shree—the day has been sweet. Metaphorically too. There was cake, and mithai.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“We cut a cake in our warehouse,’’ said CEO Amod Maheshwari. Geetanjali Shree’s winning the coveted Booker Prize has finally put on the sheer diversity India has in terms of writing on the world map. It is also special, as it is a translation and the first from Hindi, a language that is dominated by harsher aspects of politics rather than soft literary reasons.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“This is not just about me, the individual. I represent a language and culture and this recognition brings into larger purview the entire world of Hindi literature in particular and Indian literature as a whole,’’&nbsp; Geetanjali Shree has been quoted as saying after winning.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The attention the prize has brought is welcome. To Hindi, as well as the world it comes from.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“It is important that we should start using Hindi in our daily spaces,’’ says Ashok Maheshwari, the managing director of Rajkamal Prakashan who is in London. “The problem is that when something is everybody, sometimes no one pays attention to it. A bit like a barat arrives, everyone rushes to welcome it and the groom finds himself alone in a crowd.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A quiet book—which is deep—with an 80-year-old woman protagonist who travels to Pakistan to make peace with partition, <i>The Tomb of Sand</i> is about relationships and family.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The book is a Mahabharat of the Indian joint family,’’ says Maheshwari. “It has everything. If you say the Mahabharat is the source of every story. <i>Ret ki Samadhi </i>has every familial relationship reflected in it—the relationship between a mother and a daughter, a brother, father everything.’’</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For the Tomb of Sand, one of her bestselling books—over 10,000—the Booker prize has certainly helped boost sales. There was a spate of sales after it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the win is only likely to ensure more sales. But more than sales—and catapulting the Hindi on to the literary stage, the win is ultimately about the writer. Over 60, Geetanjali Shree not on social media, and takes her writing seriously. “In an age where everyone posts on social media and gets people to retweet, Geetanjali Shree is a serious writer,’’ says Maheshwari. “She is a real writer.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri May 27 21:10:01 IST 2022 tattoo-artist-robert-pho-embarks-milestone-through-his-art <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>‘Art’ is one of the most subjective topics as it has different purposes and meanings to different people. Art is often open to interpretation and the meaning can depend on various factors such as emotional sentiments, cultural values, historical significance and much more. If we look around then everything is an art, from writing to dancing to making machines to tattoo making. The art of tattoo making is present for ages and holds strong historical importance. With time the art got blended with a contemporary touch and became people’s way of personal expression. Tattoos are something that stays for a lifetime, therefore, the artist has to be capable enough for taking charge. Over the years, many tattoo artists have emerged but pioneers remain, pioneers and one such talented person is Robert Pho the owner of Skin Design Tattoo Inc.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With over 30 years of experience in tattoo making Robert Pho has established a strong foothold in the industry. He opened his tattoo studio called Skin Design Studio in the year 1998 and in today’s date people fly from all around the world just to get their tattoos done by him. Pho takes each day as a new learning lesson and evolves with every new industry trend. With his determination and perseverance, Skin Design Tattoo studio has also touched remarkable heights. At present, the studio is one of the top tattoo shops and has seven shops in six different states. Even when there was a recession in the year 2008 and a global Pandemic in the year 2020 then also Skin Design studio kept acing in the field.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Robert Pho's life may appear flawless to those who observe it now, but they are blind to the obstacles he overcame along the road. He was forced to emigrate to France at the age of two from his birthplace, the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. After that, in 1980, he and his family relocated to Los Angeles, California, where he encountered a lot of bigotry. Later, he started getting inclined towards tattoo designing and inked the name of his group as his very first tattoo.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Talking about the art of tattoo making, Robert Pho shares, “Tattoos are something that is extremely important for people. So as an artist I feel that it is our responsibility to give the best to our clients and me along with the whole team at the Skin Design Studio aspire for the same. My tattoo shop is unquestionably my happy place, and I want it to continue expanding. In the near future, I want to widen the presence of my Studio across international borders and establish a solid reputation for it in the world market.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Robert Pho has accomplished many milestones throughout his career, including being featured in numerous reputable print media since 2000 and having his story covered by numerous reputable websites. Several awards have also been given to him in honour. His tattoo and he has been offering individuals any type of tattoo they want. Pho wants to write a book and produce a reality programme or documentary in the future.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Aug 22 15:18:14 IST 2022 international-booker-daisy-rockwell-american-translated-geetanjali-shree-hindi-novel-english <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>On Friday morning, Indians were looking up names of two women on the internet—Geetanjali Shree and Daisy Rockwell. Shree, a writer, had scripted history by bagging the International Booker Prize for her novel <i>Tomb of Sand. </i>Originally<i> </i>published as <i>Ret Samadhi </i>in Hindi, the book was translated into English by<i> </i>Rockwell<i>,</i> making it the first in any Indian language to win the prestigious award.</p> <p>“We were captivated by the power, the poignancy and the playfulness of <i>Tomb of Sand</i>, Geetanjali Shree’s polyphonic novel of identity and belonging, in Daisy Rockwell’s exuberant, coruscating translation. This is a luminous novel of India and Partition, but one whose spellbinding brio and fierce compassion weaves youth and age, male and female, family and nation into a kaleidoscopic whole,” the jury remarked while announcing the winner on Friday.</p> <p><b>Who is Geetanjali Shree?</b></p> <p>Hindi novelist and short story writer Shree, 64, was born in Uttar Pradesh's Mainpuri, and is currently based in New Delhi. A recipient of several awards, her works have been translated into several other languages like French, German, Korean and Serbian. Her novel <i>Mai </i>was shortlisted for the Crossword Book Award in 2000. <i>Ret Samadhi, </i>published in 2018, is her fifth novel. She has also been the recipient of the Indu Sharma Katha Samman award, according to reports.</p> <p>The book's 80-year-old protagonist, Ma, to her family's consternation, insists on travelling to Pakistan after the death of her husbnad, simultaneously confronting the unresolved trauma of her teenage experiences of Partition, and re-evaluating what it means to be a mother, a daughter, a woman and a feminist.</p> <p>“There is a melancholy satisfaction in the award going to it. Ret Samadhi/Tomb of Sand is an elegy for the world we inhabit, a lasting energy that retains hope in the face of impending doom. The Booker will surely take it to many more people than it would have reached otherwise; that should do the book no harm,” she said in her acceptance speech. “But behind me and this book lies a rich and flourishing literary tradition in Hindi, and in other South Asian languages. World literature will be the richer for knowing some of the finest writers in these languages. The vocabulary of life will increase from such an interaction,” she said.</p> <p><b>Who is Daisy Rockwell?</b></p> <p>Rockwell, a painter, writer and translator living in Vermont, US, described the novel she described as a “love letter to the Hindi language”. Rockwell started being interested in translation in graduate school, when she began her doctorate in South Asian studies. And by now, Rockwell has translated some of Hindi literature's finest works into English, besides Shree's novel. Rockwell is the translator of<i> Hats and Doctors</i>, a collection of short stories by the Hindi writer Upendranath Ashk, as well as of Ashk’s famous novel, <i>Girti Diwarein.</i></p> <p>Speaking to <a href="">THE WEEK</a> about a passage that took her the longest to translate in Shree's <i>Ret Samadhi,</i> Rockwell said: “It's a passage in which the human brain is compared to a jalebi. It was just so unimaginably hard because it's written in this kind of fun, breezy way. There's sort of a vague way in which connections are made. I can make it sound vague, too. But I have to know what's underlying it. And so Geetanjali and I had to go back and forth, again, and again, and again.”</p> <p>When asked about how differently both of them approach the same language, she said: “I don't believe that what her Hindi book feels like would sound the same if I just made it sound the way she sounds in English because we don't always speak the same way in different languages. If you translate it into very standard Indian English, you can lose a lot of the simplicity or the intimacy of the original language.”</p> Fri May 27 15:50:03 IST 2022 geetanjali-shree-becomes-first-indian-to-win-international-booker-prize <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Author Geetanjali Shree's novel <i>Tomb of Sand, </i>which is translated from Hindi, has become the first book in any Indian language to win the prestigious International Booker Prize.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At a ceremony in London on Thursday, the New Delhi-based writer said she was completely overwhelmed with the “bolt from the blue” as she accepted her prize, worth 50,000 pound and shared with the <a title="There is no interest in Indian translations outside: Daisy Rockwell" href="">book's English translator, Daisy Rockwell</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Tomb of Sand</i>, originally <i>Ret Samadhi</i>, is set in northern India and follows an 80-year-old woman in a tale the Booker judges dubbed a joyous cacophony and an “irresistible novel”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I never dreamt of the Booker, I never thought I could. What a huge recognition, I'm amazed, delighted, honoured and humbled,” said Shree in her acceptance speech.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“There is a melancholy satisfaction in the award going to it. <i>Ret Samadhi/Tomb of Sand</i> is an elegy for the world we inhabit, a lasting energy that retains hope in the face of impending doom. The Booker will surely take it to many more people than it would have reached otherwise; that should do the book no harm,” she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Reflecting upon becoming the first work of fiction in Hindi to make the Booker cut, the 64-year-old author said it feels good to be the means of that happening.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“But behind me and this book lies a rich and flourishing literary tradition in Hindi, and in other South Asian languages. World literature will be the richer for knowing some of the finest writers in these languages. The vocabulary of life will increase from such an interaction,” she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rockwell, a painter, writer and translator living in Vermont, US, joined her on stage to receive her award for translating the novel she described as a “love letter to the Hindi language”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Ultimately, we were captivated by the power, the poignancy and the playfulness of <i>Tomb of Sand</i>, Geetanjali Shree's polyphonic novel of identity and belonging, in Daisy Rockwell's exuberant, coruscating translation,” said Frank Wynne, chair of the judging panel.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“This is a luminous novel of India and Partition, but one whose spellbinding brio and fierce compassion weaves youth and age, male and female, family and nation into a kaleidoscopic whole,” he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The book's 80-year-old protagonist, Ma, to her family's consternation, insists on travelling to Pakistan, simultaneously confronting the unresolved trauma of her teenage experiences of Partition, and re-evaluating what it means to be a mother, a daughter, a woman and a feminist.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Booker jury were impressed that rather than respond to tragedy with seriousness, Shree's playful tone and exuberant wordplay results in a book that is engaging, funny and utterly original, at the same time as being an urgent and timely protest against the destructive impact of borders and boundaries, whether between religions, countries or genders.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The author of three novels and several story collections, Mainpur-born Shree has translated her works into English, French, German, Serbian and Korean.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Originally published in Hindi in 2018, <i>Tomb of Sand </i>is the first of her books to be published in the UK in English by Tilted Axis Press in August 2021.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Shree's novel was chosen from a shortlist of six books, the others being <i>Cursed Bunny</i> by Bora Chung, translated by Anton Hur from Korean; <i>A New Name: Septology VI-VII</i> by Jon Fosse, translated by Damion Searls from Norwegian; <i>Heaven</i> by Mieko Kawakami, translated by Samuel Bett and David Boyd from Japanese; <i>Elena Knows</i> by Claudia Pieiro, translated by Frances Riddle from Spanish, and <i>The Books of Jacob </i>by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft from Polish.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This year, the judges considered 135 books and for the first time in 2022, all shortlisted authors and translators will each receive 2,500 pound, increased from 1,000 pound in previous years, bringing the total value of the prize to 80,000 pound.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Complementing the Booker Prize for Fiction, the international prize is awarded every year for a single book that is translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Fri May 27 08:40:07 IST 2022 an-exhibition-honours-memory-cartoonist-anirban-bora <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>His cartoons turn the mundane into the magical. Such was his talent that with a few strokes, he could make his art extraordinary.</p> <p>Anirban Bora, a much-loved cartoonist and illustrator who succumbed to Covid-19 last year left behind a huge legacy. ‘The World of Anirban Bora’, an exhibition being showcased at the Indian Cartoon Gallery on M.G. Road in Bengaluru gives us a peek into his creative universe. As many as 90 works of Bora, including 12 caricatures and 10 food-themed works are on display at the exhibition. The exhibition is on till May 28.</p> <p>Bora’s work featuring a night market in Bangkok catches my fancy. Bora loved night walks, recalls his wife Sirattiya Bora. A foodie to the core, Bora explored local flavours, and came up with ideas for his art during his culinary journeys.</p> <p>He worked like a man possessed during the pandemic. One of the works in his series titled 'Borialis' depicts a man pedaling a cycle that has wheels that resemble the coronavirus. Another work in the same series depicts Mamata Banerjee popping a pill. Cartoons that deal with issues like children being homebound during the pandemic and how it affects their mental health, and the migrant labour crisis also form part of the exhibition.</p> <p>V. G. Narendra, managing trustee of the Indian Institute of Cartoonists is a huge fan of Bora. ‘’I absolutely loved his cartoons published in <i>The Economic Times</i>,’’ says Narendra. “He was a down to earth man with extraordinary talent,” he recalls. As a cartoonist and illustrator, Bora stood out from the crowd. He found his own unique style, adds Narendra, a cartoonist himself who trained under Shankar.</p> <p>An alumni of the London School of Communication, Bora had worked with <i>The Economic Times</i> and <i>The Indian Express</i>. Being in the media industry made him more aware of the social and political realities. When the onion prices hit Rs 100 per kg, he responded with a powerful cartoon. Bora believed art can be an agent for change in many ways. A cartoon depicting Modi practicing Singhasan and asking Baba Ramdev for feedback makes you laugh and think.</p> <p>Bora shared a deep connection with Kolkata where he was born. Floods in Kolkata are a recurrent theme in his works. A TV reporter in a flood hit car asking a man neck deep in water where can one get the cheapest Sandesh in Kolkata makes you laugh out loud.</p> <p>Mario Miranda’s influence on his cartoons is almost palpable. Like Mario, Bora liked to portray crowded cityscapes. He created magic by animating double-decker buses or and cars with a few extra lines and a splash of colour.</p> <p><i>Indica Gastronomica</i>, Bora’s column on food that used to appear in <i>The Economic Times </i>was hugely popular. In one issue, he featured Goan cuisine which is “multi layered much like the celebrated Bebinca.” A hardcore foodie, he offered a virtual feast to food lovers, with tantalizing descriptions and illustrations of vindaloo, palm toddy and crab curry. It also contained a spicy note on chilli, the most significant contribution of the Portuguese to the Indian culinary history.</p> <p>Sirattiya misses Bora dearly. The 45-year-old who was an art teacher in Thailand met Bora on Yahoo Messenger at an art chat room. They dated for five years before taking the plunge.</p> <p>Sirattiya, a Thai home chef is now on a mission to preserve memories of the 42-year-old artist who died way too young.&nbsp;</p> Mon May 23 14:17:21 IST 2022 personal-archive-of-a-resistance-fighter-enlivens-a-quiet-chapter-in-tibets-history-of-independence <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Camp Hale, once a US army training facility in the Colorado mountains, also served as a top secret spot for Tibet operations, code-named STCIRCUS where the CIA trained around 250 Tibetans in spycraft and guerilla warfare in the 1950s and 60s. Recent refugees from Tibet, the trainees would eventually be parachuted back to Nepal and Tibet as resistance fighters. In an exhibition titled 'Shadow Circus', as part of a parallel event of the recently-concluded India Art Fair, several unseen records, documents and images were showcased from a turbulent chapter in the Tibetan independence movement, including artworks from Camp Hale.</p> <p>The Tibetan trainees at Camp Hale were addressed with names like Pete, Rocky, Lou and Larry. Apart from radio operations, guerrilla warfare and intelligence gathering, the trainees were also given lessons in photography, parachuting, geography, mathematics, political science and art. The refugees fell in love with the place and shared a bonhomie with their CIA trainers.</p> <p>"They had art classes, which were designed for psychological assessment purposes, but which the trainees took to with pleasure. Many of them loved to draw, and created several charcoal and crayon drawings that recalled their homes and the traumatic events they had recently fled from. The CIA took advantage of their artistic skills to create numerous propaganda cartoons that were disseminated both among the exile community and in Tibet to keep morale high and maintain public sentiment against the Chinese occupation," reads an exhibition note, right next to the crayon drawings and cartoons drawn from the voluminous personal archives of one of the resistance fighters, Larry, or Lhamo Tsering.</p> <p>Several other artefacts from this fascinating period in Tibetan history were on display at the India International Centre in New Delhi till May 1.</p> <p>The inaugural version of 'Shadow Circus' was curated by Natasha Ginwala and Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung with assistant curator Krisztina Hunya. It was also shown at the 69th Berlinale in 2019. This was the first time that 'Shadow Circus' was on view in India.</p> <p>Archive-based art exhibitions are crucial to revisit history which is rarely a straightforward narrative with clearly designated winners and losers, friends and enemies. Individual archives offer a deeper look at the inner struggles and contradictions which fail to manifest in public records. This recent exhibition, driven by the personal archives of a key figure in Tibetan resistance against Chinese occupation, enlivened a now forgotten chapter in Tibetan history. 'Shadow Circus' thoughtfully revisited a period of Tibetan armed struggle which ended quite abruptly in the 1970s and took a more non-violent turn.</p> <p>After the Communist Chinese invasion of 1949 and its subsequent takeover in 1959, Tibet has been a country under occupation. But little is still known of the guerrilla war that was fought from the mid-1950s to 1974, right in the middle of the Cold War when thousands of Tibetans took up arms against the invading forces of China. The CIA involvement in the two-decade long anti-Chinese covert operations to train and parachute Tibetan resistance fighters is given a more nuanced reading in 'Shadow Circus' as it brings to the fore the personal archives and artefacts of Lhamo Tsering, a member of Chushi Gangdruk, the Khampa Tibetan guerrilla group and a key intermediary between the CIA and members of the resistance. Serving as chief of operations, Tsering oversaw the activities of the resistance and at the same time, maintained an incredibly detailed archive of photographs, documents, letters and maps.</p> <p>Filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, who is Tsering's son, have researched this story for years and also made a documentary in 1998 for the BBC, called <i>Shadow Circus-The CIA in Tibet</i>. In the exhibition 'Shadow Circus', they re-evaluate the audiovisual material they have gathered over the years, including Tsering’s personal archives, and present a re-edited version of their 1998 documentary to create a more complete and complex mosaic of this still largely obscure story. "My father and the Dalai Lama come from the same part of Tibet, which is in Amdo province. But he came from the far borderlands in an area that was already overrun by Chinese settlers, even when my father was a child. And so when Dalai Lama's elder brother Gyalo Thondup came to Nanking in China to study, my father also happened to be there as a student. And being from the same part of Tibet, they immediately gravitated towards each other. In that part of Tibet, they speak their own dialect which is not Tibetan, it's actually a kind of a Chinese dialect. My father then became his closest aide, his secretary, and accompanied him ever since. So when the CIA started this whole involvement of resistance, Gyalo Thondup appointed him to take charge of the operations and be the liaison between the CIA and the resistance," said Sonam during a walkthrough at the exhibition, recounting how his father got involved.</p> <p>"This is something I always find amazing because my father came from this remote, distant part of Tibet where they already lost their language, were barely holding on to their cultural identity. And then found themselves for the rest of his life actually fighting for Tibetan independence," said Sonam who was born in 1959 in a hospital in Darjeeling. Growing up, he would often see his father go away for secret missions for long stretches of time.</p> <p>The exhibition included snippets from long video interviews conducted with former CIA trainers who were tracked down by the filmmakers from several sources, including organisations like the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, found listed in the yellow pages in Washington DC. One of their video interviews played on loop.</p> <p>There is the image of a shriveled cyanide pill which survived years of incarceration in Chinese prisons and later in exile in India with a fighter who preserved it. "We know that the fighters who were dropped into Tibet were all given a cyanide pill. And the idea was that these people wouldn't want to be captured live and tortured by the Chinese. They could pop it to defend their lives," said Sonam who vividly described how in the initial years his father received instructions in Kolkata's Park Street, full cloak-and-dagger style, as he always waited with a newspaper near Park restaurant for the taxi to arrive at 9 am sharp.</p> <p>The audience were treated to incredibly detailed contour maps of Tibet, printed on silk alongside images of an abandoned intelligence-gathering radio device retrieved some four years ago from Nepal. There were letters Sonam's father would receive asking for details as mundane as account-keeping for day-to-day operations, apart from the actual recorded message of the Dalai Lama sent to the fighters in Mustang in Nepal to surrender their arms.</p> <p>In 1970, the CIA abruptly announced that they were going to pull out of the operation. It was at the time when secret talks were underway in China, with the then US president Richard Nixon's national Security Advisor Henry Kissinger carrying out a new policy toward Beijing. And STCIRCUS was just not a convenient thing for them to be supporting. As Tsering said in an interview shortly before his death, “In my opinion, I don’t see our armed struggle as something that was helpful only at a certain point in our history, something that is finished. I believe we should look at it as one chapter in our continuing struggle for freedom, one that still has some meaning.” Tsering died in 1999 in a New Delhi hospital.</p> Tue May 17 19:31:26 IST 2022 dr-m-revamps-the-concept-of-spiritual-awakening-in-a-conversation-with-adi-shankaracharya <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Dr. M, a pioneer of the &quot;Beyond 100&quot; philosophy and a leading global thought leader, spoke with the current&nbsp;Shankaracharya to get the answers to your spiritual questions.&nbsp;Dr. M, the creator of the Global Citizen Forum and a prominent global business figure, traces Saint Sri&nbsp;Adi&nbsp;&nbsp;Shankaracharya's journey across India and the background of the&nbsp;Sharda&nbsp;&nbsp;Peetham in Srinagar, Kashmir, during the event. Additionally, he discussed the effects of three essential parts of life—&nbsp;Advaita, God, and&nbsp;Punar&nbsp;&nbsp;Janam.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Although a spiritual awakening is frequently referred to as a journey, it is not always a voyage of physical travel or pilgrimage; instead, it is a process of expanding your horizons and moving forward in your evolutionary development. Few experiences in a person's life can be as profound and changing as a spiritual awakening. A paradigm shift of the highest level occurs when you identify with and immediately experience your divinity. In keeping with this idea, Dr.&nbsp;M, a proponent of the &quot;Beyond 100 ideology,&quot; recently spoke with the reigning Shankaracharya&nbsp;to gain some understanding of the spiritual path.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Adi&nbsp;&nbsp;Shankaracharya developed the idea of the supreme soul and the soul's existence. His philosophy focuses on the relationship between humans and God.&nbsp;Dr. M, a multibillionaire global wellness leader, promoted his vision,&nbsp;groundbreaking approach, and the principles the world needs to know at the&nbsp;Adi&nbsp;&nbsp;Shankaracharya private screening. During the event,&nbsp;Dr. M relates Saint Sri&nbsp;Adi&nbsp;&nbsp;Shankaracharya's travels around India and his well-known&nbsp;perspectives on spiritual health. The conversation's main topics revolve around fundamental ideas such as Advaita&nbsp;, God, and Punar&nbsp;&nbsp;Janam&nbsp;.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The yatra&nbsp;also aims to raise understanding of Advaita&nbsp;philosophy, which Adi&nbsp;&nbsp;Shankaracharya&nbsp;advanced. Dr.&nbsp;M will present roughly 150 seminars all over the world. The&nbsp;<a href=""></a><a href=""><u>&quot;</u>&nbsp;<u>Adi&nbsp;</u>&nbsp;<u>Yatra''</u></a>&nbsp;itinerary was planned by the Modi&nbsp;&nbsp;Mandir&nbsp;and is now complete. The Gangotri&nbsp;, Yamunotri&nbsp;, Kedarnath&nbsp;, and Badrinath&nbsp;stops during the first leg of the yatra&nbsp;are now over. The second phase will also be held in South India.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Because of his unique methodology and approach, the global leader has successfully established himself as a pioneer in India's wellness and healthcare sector. During their talk, Dr.&nbsp;M and the current Shankaracharya&nbsp;touched upon three significant spiritual issues: Punar&nbsp;&nbsp;Janam&nbsp;, Advaita&nbsp;, and God. In addition, Dr.&nbsp;M has won multiple awards for his work with international organizations like the UN and his efforts to go &quot;beyond gender&quot; and &quot;beyond religion,&quot; including recognition from the US Congress.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Talking about his understanding of spiritual awakening, Dr.&nbsp;M stated, &quot;If we talk in simple words, then, there is a word in Sanskrit, avidya&nbsp;, which means 'incorrect understanding.' Due to this veil of ignorance, their actual essence is hidden, which also keeps you&nbsp;functioning at lesser levels of consciousness. One of the most potent forces in the cosmos leads the evolution of consciousness, creating a forward pull and momentum toward growth, transformation, and change. Spiritual enlightenment propels you out of the constricting gravity of ignorance and toward the ultimate goal of cosmic self-realization, much like a spaceship gaining escape velocity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The corporate tycoon Dr.&nbsp;M is bringing about a change in the country with his groundbreaking&nbsp;ideas. He began a joint venture with the Italian computer manufacturer Olivetti because he comes from a well-known Indian business family. In addition, he collaborated with Uber&nbsp;to drive an electric car in Singapore to achieve his environmental sustainability objective. Spiritual health recognizes the need for a life of greater significance. A spiritually healthy person feels more connected to the supreme soul and those around them. Dr.&nbsp;M, a pioneer in global wellness, ensures that everyone has access to a divine power to live happy, contented lives.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jul 29 18:09:51 IST 2022 how-covid-19-has-spurred-demand-for-indian-agarbathis-abroad <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The psychoactive effects of burning incense is well known. Religious leaders and scientists alike have attested to the tranquilising power of a fragrant dhoop. Back in 2008, researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University expounded on how &quot;burning frankincense (resin from the Boswellia plant) activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety or depression&quot;. Yoga, aromatherapy, meditation, chanting, spa sessions or as room freshner, each one of these wellness routines tend to incorporate incense sticks to aid and enhance their healing experience. Would it come as a surprise then that our good old agarbathi saw an uptick in usage during the pandemic?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With Covid-19 strengthening the case for wellness and associated lifestyle changes, the Indian agarbathi, too, is witnessing a surge in demand, thus spurring exports. According to the latest report by All India Agarbathi Manufacturers Association (AIAMA), established in 1949 for redressal of grievances of the agarbathi manufacturers, the United States of America, United Kingdom, Malaysia, and Nigeria are the top four countries importing and using agarbathis. Additionally, with the pandemic still prevailing, yoga and meditation have become an important aspect of one's emotional wellness, which has further triggered the demand for agarbathis in the international markets.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Established in the year 1949 as MOMA (Mysore Oodabathi Manufacturers’ Association) by seven founding members and later renamed as AIAMA in the 1980s, it is the oldest agarbathi manufacturing and advocacy collective of its kind in India. Currently, more than 800 agarbathi manufacturers across India are life members with AIAMA.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to data available from the Union ministry of commerce and industry, the segment on Agarbatti and Odoriferous PRPNS, registered a growth of 20.51 per cent between April-Feb 2021 to April-Feb 2022, with export revenues rising from Rs 96,261.62 lakh to Rs 1,02,725.23 lakh.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;There are several popular incense manufacturers in the world. Especially from Thailand, Japan and the Middle-East, where they are called bakhoor. But Indian agarbathi is the only kind that is exported to almost 140 countries because being the oldest form, it is more widely accepted,&quot; says Arjun Ranga, president of AIAMA, highlighting how the product has transcended religion to become a more potent expression of spiritualism. The predominant hubs of making agarbathis in India are Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, with several set-ups in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Bihar. Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh is also part of the current map on agarbathi-making in India. A labour-intensive cottage industry, it employs a good percentage of rural women who roll the bamboo sticks at home or in clusters nearby.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Aroma trends and fragrances are inclined towards floral flourishes and cosmetic notes such as aqua, lavender, oudh, mogra, rose, champa, lavender, lemon, citronella essential oils. Sandalwood, Ailanthus malabaricum (which yields halmadi) and other natural ingredients are used to make these special agarbathis. Some Mysore agarbathis that used only locally available material were given Geographical Indication status in 2005 after the AIAMA proposed registering Mysore Agarbathi for the GI tag. Recently, special covers were also released by the Karnataka Postal Department to commemorate the GI status of Mysore Agarbathis.&nbsp;</p> Mon May 09 23:05:00 IST 2022 satire-suffering-from-hindi-phobia-heres-help <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Home Minister Amit Shah is an Hon’ble, honourable man (pun intended). At the 37th Meeting of the Parliamentary Official Language Committee earlier this month, Shah weighed in (no pun intended, this time) on the side of India’s official language. He suggested that whenever people from non-Hindi speaking states converse with each other, they ought to speak in Hindi rather than English.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As everyone who has heard him will know, Shah’s Hindi is nothing to drool over. Clearly, he is no Amitabh Bachchan or Amin Sayani whose magical voice and crystal diction have done more to popularise Hindi in south India and the northeast than a shelf-load of government fiats. And yet, despite that heavy regional accent, despite that strident intonation of a stockbroker making a bid outside the Bombay Stock Exchange, Shah is suggesting that more people speak a language in which he himself is not proficient. That’s what makes him so honourable, and that’s why I say ‘Three cheers’.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But my cheers are being drowned by fears. Leaders from the south and the northeast are having sleepless nights, worrying about how they will ever manage to converse once Shah’s whim becomes a command. Well, I am here to help. Here is a primer that should help overcome the Hindi phobia. After careful observation, I have realised that there are only a few words of the official language that you really need to know, and here they are:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Achhe Din</b></p> <p>Achhe Din is Hindi for the life you see around you right now. Open any page of a newspaper and you will see excellent examples of how achhe the din is – scalding prices, soaring inflation, rampant unemployment and even your favourite IPL team is not performing as expected. Not everybody understands this. As recent state elections have proved, people who speak Punjabi and Bengali could not grasp the true meaning of the Hindi words. I hope this primer is an eye-opener.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas</b></p> <p>This is a long expression but don’t get intimidated. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just like those sounds made by singers to help a song along. Bob Dylan did it often. So did Manna Dey in his ‘Laga Chunri Mein Daag’ and Mohammed Rafi in the immortal ‘Madhuban mein Radhika’. Perhaps the best example is Kishore Kumar’s yodeling. The vocal acrobatics just needs to sound nice. And ‘Sabka saath…’ certainly does.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Sadbhavna</b></p> <p>This term conveys the goodwill that we have towards the others who make up the mosaic of our land. What’s goodwill, you ask? Let me give you live examples. It’s the sentiment that you see when religious processions stop enticingly in front of a house of worship, and wait for the action to begin. Sometimes, carried away by the spirit of the occasion, participants playfully throw stones at each other and set alight whatever combustible objects they find. Well, we didn’t tell you the outcome is happy. As the word suggests, it is sad.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Swear words</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The official language has many swear words, but two of them are most popular. Here they are:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Mehngai</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It literally means expensive. In the heat of the moment, you may hear many people using this term while reacting to the price of petrol. But it’s a four-syllable word not to be used in polite company.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Hinsa</b></p> <p>It stands for violence, and is another coarse term which you should never use. If nobody speaks about it, it won’t exist.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There’s actually another swearword that has suddenly become out of bounds – Bulldozer. Use it loosely and they will come after you.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Nehru ka kasoor</b></p> <p>Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things don’t go as per script. That’s when you need an explanation. The new Hindi lexicon gives you just the term you are looking for – it’s ‘Nehru ka kasoor’. This catch-all phrase can bail you out of every mess you make.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Finally, if even this primer doesn’t help, just be patient and wait till Hindi grows on you. It’s a beautiful, marvelously adaptable language that is sure to win the hearts and minds of everyone in the land – if only the netas would leave it alone.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of THE WEEK.</b></i></p> Sat Apr 23 20:32:58 IST 2022 new-portal-explore-india-festivals-talks-economic-impact <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Did you know there is an online Ballet Festival of India? Started in 2017 by Mumbai-based ballet teacher Ashifa Sarkar Vasi, the festival is a great exposure to the Western classical dance form as leading practitioners from the Indian ballet community come together to showcase their craft and devise ways to make it more affordable and accessible. Visitors can take classes or attend seminars or watch films in this biennial event which is slated to return in July. Or how about a boutique music festival called Bloomverse, held in April right on the edge of Guwahati in Assam, featuring some of the finest independent acts in the country? In February, every house in the village of Naya in Pingla (part of the paschim Medinipur district of West Bengal) comes alive as an exhibition space for the works of Patuas or scroll painters in a festival called POT Maya.</p> <p>Several other noted and lesser-known festivals are now listed in the newly created platform Festivals From India, an India-UK initiative for arts and culture. The digital platform has been created to showcase hundreds of Indian arts and culture festivals for culture-seekers across the globe. Initiated by British Council, and designed and developed by ArtBramha (a sister concern of the Art X Company) the platform went live on April 20. Festivals From India hosts festivals from across a range of genres including arts and crafts, design, dance, film, folk arts, food and culinary arts, heritage, literature, interdisciplinary and/ or multiarts, music, new media, photography, theatre and visual arts amongst others, across locations and languages.</p> <p>From the India Art Fair to Chennai Photo Biennale, Jaipur Literature Festival to the Dharamshala International Film Festival, festival audiences will find easy access to India’s key cultural experiences across urban and rural locations with updates on artist line-ups, locations, facilities and information to know before leaving for their destinations. The platform also hosts a range of hidden gems, select LGBTQIA+ festivals as well as online versions of festivals live streamed for audiences worldwide. Guided by research, the new platform is also aimed at festival organisers, curators, artists and arts managers to find jobs, assemble resources and seek information. The last two years of the pandemic saw several independent and emerging festivals from the creative industries take a major hit by losing more than 50 per cent of their income. The platform is launching at a time when the arts and festival sector is reopening for physical events around the world.</p> <p>The launch of the platform was also accompanied by a report on the business of arts festivals within a larger framework of cultural economies. "In India, there's such limited work happening on cultural economics. There's little understanding of the sector. So while let's say there are 85 books on the history of Indian art, you will find practically nothing on the history of the Indian art market. And that's where the big gap lies. We have also got a section on the needs of the festival sector," says Rashmi Dhanwani, partner at ArtBrahma, and founder and CEO at Art X Company, citing impact analysis studies of festivals like JLF, Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa and the Durga Puja in West Bengal in the way they fire up the tourism industry of the respective states.</p> <p>The platform will provide festival professionals with reading resources including industry research, news and opportunities. Festivals From India will also host a series of events, workshops, and speed networking sessions with the UK and beyond under their 'Festival Connections' banner. The portal will also host free online business skilling courses. "We've mapped about 800-900 festivals, of which we've got 161 already listed on the site. It'll take another six weeks to upload the rest," says Dhanwani.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> Sat Apr 23 16:23:08 IST 2022 a-prestigious-french-literary-award-selects-student-jury-members-from-india-for-the-first-time <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Senegalese author Mohamed Mbougar Sarr's fourth novel<i>&nbsp;La plus secrete memoire des hommes</i>&nbsp;(<i>The Most Secret Memory of Men</i>) is about literature and writing, about Africa and the West. "The book has literally everything in it. It is like reading one more book within a book," exults Vrinda Vaz, an MA student in French from Goa University. </p> <p>"The book &nbsp;is about an African writer who goes missing after writing one of the most compelling books in France, his first and last, a literary masterpiece. The reading public then absolutely couldn't take it that such an astonishing piece of work could be written by an African writer. In <i>The Most Secret Memory of Men</i>, another African writer discovers the book and unspools the story of this missing man in the most mesmerising way,"says Vaz about the intriguingly-titled book which won the Prix Goncourt last year, France's own Booker. Prix Goncourt is awarded to the “best and most imaginative prose work of the year.”</p> <p>But Vaz did not know about Prix Goncourt or Sarr's novel until she was chosen as a jury member for Goncourt Choice of India Award. Her professor in college chose her along with three other students to participate in an international literary exercise which seeks to democratise the process of awarding authors in the Francophone world. Last year, India joined the international family of the Choix Goncourt (Goncourt Choice) where students in 27 countries select their Goncourt choice after reading the four shortlisted titles in two intense months. After completing these books, they meet, interact and discuss to select their preferred title. &nbsp;</p> <p>Mohamed Mbougar Sarr won the first Goncourt Choice of India Award for his book <i>La plus secrète mémoire des hommes</i>.</p> <p>The first edition of the award in India, as part of the ongoing Bonjour India festival, &nbsp;was supported by 10 institutes comprising the network of Alliances Françaises and nine universities across India, including Delhi University, Rajasthan University, University of Mumbai, Savitribai Phule University Pune, University of Goa, Pondicherry University, and English and Foreign Languages University of Hyderabad. Forty-seven students in these 10 institutions formed 10 local juries of the Goncourt Choice of India. Vaz is one of those students. </p> <p>For Vaz, who loves dabbling in French literary texts, it was one of the best opportunities to apply her analytical acumen and come to the capital to present her point of view. "It was a very healthy discussion. I mean, initially, we thought we would be pouncing on each other. But it was nothing like that. It was a really mature and healthy conversation. Everyone was given a chance to speak. And, of course, it will definitely add a feather to my cap," says Vaz who was one of the presidents of the 10 juries who gathered in a room at the Residence of France to decide the laureate of the Goncourt Choice of India. </p> <p>The contenders included <i>Le Voyage dans l'Est</i>&nbsp;by Christine Angot, <i>Milwaukee Blues</i>&nbsp;by Louis-Philippe Dalembert, <i>La plus secrète mémoire des hommes</i>&nbsp;by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, and <i>Child of a Bastard</i>&nbsp;by journalist Sorj Chalandon.</p> <p>Vaz will now participate in an international Contest of Literary Criticism launched by the Académie Goncourt. The 47 &nbsp;jury members from India will have two months to write a 3,000-word critique on the winner in French. The contest jury will be composed of a French publisher, a French literary critic, and an academic. The winner will win a trip to Paris to attend the prestigious Goncourt Prize ceremony in November 2022. Vaz is hoping she can make it to Paris in November. </p> <p>Speaking about the award, Dr Christine Cornet, Attaché for Books, Debates &amp; Ideas, Embassy of France, said “College and university students in India have access to many great books in English. Indeed, many such works are originally written in French before being translated into English. What makes the Goncourt Choice of India Award so exciting is that it gives bright young Indian minds new literary genres to explore in their original language. The thoughts penned in French are distinct from those penned in English. By reading the works of contemporary French writers, readers find a new worldview and discover unique answers to some of life’s most pertinent questions."</p> Thu Apr 07 21:59:13 IST 2022 the-lost-city-of-kyiv-in-pictures <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>"Never knew any friend who travelled there, no one recommended it and there was just one reason for going - it felt like she should." This is how Avantika Meattle describes her visit to Ukraine in January, just a month before Russia launched a full-scale invasion of the "country with a flag that is about its sunflowers on the ground and a blue sky above".</p> <p>When Meattle, a leading photographer with a practice spanning 20 years across multiple genres, visited a freezing Ukraine, Omicron was ravaging most of the world and a Russian army was already sending out belligerent vibrations at the border. But Meattle was mesmerised by the vibrant country with its illustrious history, imposing monuments, the people, food and culture - a heady mix of Nordic, European, Russian and Ottoman history.</p> <p>Recently, she collected her photo documents into a three-day exhibition, ‘Ukraine Untold Glimpses as a Travelling Photographer’, which was inaugurated by Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor in New Delhi in the presence of SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh - the airliner had helped evacuate Indian citizens from war-torn Ukraine.</p> <p>Presented here are snapshots of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, a shimmering, majestic city now battered and bruised for years to come.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Apr 01 00:39:20 IST 2022 fashion-world-goes-phygital-with-bitliberte <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Last 2 years have boosted the adoption of NFTs across the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Brands like Adidas, Dolce &amp; Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, and MAC have dipped their toes to introduce their NFT collections.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Continuous adoption by major brands and companies still lacks one major thing in the NFT world, which is bringing phygital elements together.<br> <br> Phygital refers to issuing NFTs with tangible assets like clothing, furniture or even fractional ownership of physical stores.<br> <br> We have come across one such small startup called Bitliberte that is working towards the goal to revolutionize the fashion industry with their DAO based ecosystem of NFTs, physical fashion deliverables and metaverse assets.<br> <br> Anyone owning bitliberte phygital NFTs becomes the owner, getting super power to vote on-chain to take vital decisions of virtual and real world actions of the entire company.<br> </p> <p>Bitliberte is bringing its own manufacturing units and ecommerce platform to allow the consumers participate in the protocol without control of any centralized authority of the company.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This complete ecosystem is called ‘FashionFi’ which aims to bridge the gap between the fashion and finance world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It aims to give fractional ownership in the hands of consumers by using NFTs because NFTs align well with human demand for ownership and authenticity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For young phygital fashion innovators at Bitliberte, solving fashion industry problems is a very big deal, consumers get absolutely nothing for being loyal customers, designers get underpaid and there are a lot of issues associated with the fast fashion ecosystem which would get resolved with commencement of FashionFi ecosystem, says Bitliberte CTO and Founder, Juveria Rasool.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jul 29 18:16:01 IST 2022 ice-hockey-in-the-peak-of-summer-for-delhiites-thats-a-yes <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>An arabesque in ice skating entails extending one free leg behind the body so it reaches the height of the hip in a straight line. &quot;Death spiral&quot; has two partners spin each other, taking turns to lower themselves onto the ice. In a &quot;shotgun spin,&quot; a free leg is help upward by the ankle; it almost looks like pointing a gun. And let's not forget all the delicate footwork with a sequence of edges, turns and hops.&nbsp;</p> <p>Ice skating has an elegant library of terms to identify its many glistening moves. Watching skaters effortlessly glide down the rink in perfect self-possession cutting the cleanest circles on ice is pure poetry-in-motion. American poet EE Cummings once wrote on Skating, &quot;Gleam of ice, and glint of steel, Jolly, snappy weather; Glide on ice and joy of zeal, All, alone, together.&quot;</p> <p>On a sweltering Sunday in late March, you'd least expect to think about these terms when you enter a large, busy mall in Gurugram. But such is the oasis that is iSkate by Roseate in the middle of a dust storm that is summer-ready Delhi-NCR.&nbsp;</p> <p>Trainers dressed in black smoothly glissade down a giant ice rink inside Ambience mall where iSkate is perched on the 6th floor. Imagining a state-of-the-art ice skating rink inside a mall, used by both serious athletes and shoppers, might seem a little far-fetched at first, but iSkate by Roseate is India's only all-weather indoor ice skating rink, and also the largest one on natural ice at about 15,000sqft.&nbsp;</p> <p>It is leading the pack in promoting winter games like figure skating, speed skating and ice hockey. And iSkate also promises to be one of the best bets to cool off this summer beyond indulging in ice packs and cold showers.</p> <p>Since it reopened in October last year—fully kitted out with a co-working space and a plush cafe-patisserie, Roasted by Roseate—iSkate will now offer ice hockey training to anyone who might be interested to pick up the sport.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;This is a one-of-a-kind programme in India. You don't get to learn ice hockey easily. Especially if you live in the plains. It is not a common sport in India and it is very tough to find ice hockey training throughout the year. But iSkate is the only venue in India where you can find ice hockey training all through the year. And this summer, aside from the ongoing training programmes, we will open it out to people who may be interested in ice hockey just so they can begin playing,&quot; says Karan Rai, business head at iSkate by Roseate.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;The training will be imparted by national-level coaches and former players associated with the Ice Hockey Association of India,&quot; says Rai. Prices are likely to start at Rs1,200 per session.&nbsp;</p> <p>iSkate has already been hosting events like the National Figure Skating Championships, selections and trainings, and frequently invites Olympian coaches from countries like Korea, Austria, Canada, Australia and Russia to teach the basics of figure skating, long stead and short stead skating.</p> <p>&quot;Winter Games are still something which has a huge potential, but it requires constant growth. By being situated in a mall, the recreational, as well as the community aspect of an ice skating rink, is met. You are in a setting where you have the footfalls and get people more interested in the sport. This is not possible in a standalone rink,&quot; says Rai, highlighting the reason why setting up the rink in a mall makes complete commercial sense considering the high costs of maintenance.&nbsp;</p> <p>The iSkate rink, a unit of Bird Hospitality Services, is 30 meters by 80 meters. It can accommodate up to 150 ice skaters at any given time. A typical day at iSkate sees a footfall of 400-500 people on weekdays and 700 on weekends. An hour of ice-skating costs Rs800 per person.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;We have been running iSkate since December 2011. It was shut for renovations in the pandemic, during which time an Indian team worked on rebuilding the ice-skating rink. Otherwise, we usually have experts coming in from Canada and the US,&quot; says Rai, who has been at the forefront of building winter games infrastructure in India for over a decade now.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;It is very hard to maintain an ice skating rink in India because it is very hot. There's a lot of humidity, which forms clouds that rise up, hit the ceiling and fall as rain. The rink is then spoilt. So there is a perfect balance required between the air and the refrigeration unit. It is a complete ecosystem inside,&quot; says Rai. He wants to build world-class ice skating rinks in other metropolitan cities, too, to tap into the wealth of winter sports enthusiasts.</p> Fri Apr 01 15:59:55 IST 2022 Award-Winning-Urdu-Poet-Mujahid-Ali-Khan-Shares-His-Success-Story <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Poetry isn't something anyone can take up and be a master of it &amp;&nbsp;<a href=""></a><a href=""><b><u>Mujahid Ali Khan</u></b></a>&nbsp;<b>&nbsp;</b>exemplifies it. The modern Urdu poet is someone who was gifted with this talent however instead of taking it for granted, he worked his fingers to the bones to ensure he makes the most out of his talent, worked hard, and became one of the most prominent personalities in the world of poetries.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mujahid has always been inclined towards poetry since he was a child. He believes that his mother's prayers are the reason for his success. He says, " Since I went for an unconventional career path, it was obvious that I didn't get much support. Whenever I wanted to give up, my mother's prayers as well as the immense support from my fans became my motivation."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mujahid enjoys a tremendous amount of fan following on social media. On asking about his ever-growing fan following he says, " I believe that the reason behind people loving my work is because my poems were something people were able to relate to."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mujahid started putting out his feelings via words on&nbsp;<a href=""></a><a href=""><u>Facebook</u></a>&nbsp;. Gradually people started liking his poems &amp; started following him for his incredible way to express himself. Today he has not only been awarded the first prize by Infosys Got Talent but he was also recognized for his poem Maayi. It was also sung by the legendary singer Imran Sehar and that was a life-altering moment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mujahid is a very sensitive poet who uses immense feelings and emotions in his poetry. He is on a mission to touch people’s hearts through his beautiful renditions of poems.</p> <p>Currently, he is working on a book that is yet to be launched. When&nbsp;<b>Mujahid Ali Khan</b>&nbsp;was asked to tell us more about the book ‘Ansuni Khwahishein', he said, “All the lyrics in my upcoming book ‘Ansuni Khwahishein' have been penned down from the bottom of my heart. I hope people will love it and most importantly relate to it. “</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mujahid is still striving hard to level up his game and come up with more verses that will leave an impact on people for good. There have been hard times in his life, especially when people didn't believe that he had all the skills to emerge victorious and become an inspiration to all the youth out there. His upcoming times are surely not going to be any easier for him since the competition in every domain is increasing significantly. However, with the immense love from people he gets on a daily basis and with the amount of wisdom he has gained over the years of experience, one can say that no matter what comes, Mujahid is not going to stop at any cost.</p> Fri Jul 15 14:33:56 IST 2022 the-future-of-producing-music-is-at-home <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>If you close your eyes and try to think of what a music producer looks like, you’ll likely picture someone with expensive headphones on, sitting in front of a complex control pad in a soundproof recording studio of some sort. That’s the typical image that we’ve seen plastered across magazines, newspapers, and other popular media. It’s the quintessential stereotype of how music gets made.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>However, in today’s world – that picture is changing rapidly.</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The reason that the recording studio was so central to music production was that the barriers to entry were so high and if someone could centralize all that equipment, expertise, and more importantly – networks, it would make for a very powerful value proposition.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But as astute producers have realized, these reasons don’t hold the same weight they used to anymore. Marilou Audrey Burnel, otherwise known as <a href=""><u>Machi</u></a>, is a producer who sees this future rather clearly. She’s been talking about this shift since 2013 and only now are her predictions starting to get the credence they deserve. She talks about how the proliferation of the internet has created the space for at-home producers to compete with those who have access to studio time.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li><p>Firstly, the actual knowledge itself on how to get started has been democratized by the internet. No longer are the keys to the kingdom held behind high walls, you can now take your education into your own hands. This has encouraged many more people to explore music production and this increased interest has in turn spurned a vibrant home producing ecosystem.</p> </li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li><p>Secondly, this ecosystem has to live somewhere. And that’s where social media and other online communities have stepped up to normalize this trend and provide support to those who are producing music at home. This ability to network and learn from each other has more than compensated for the spontaneous connections you might make hanging around a studio space.</p> </li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li><p>Lastly, we started to see labels take your online audience as a key indicator that you had something special. They started to offer producers like OMFG, Alan Walker, and others contracts on the back of their engaged online communities. This showed aspiring producers that they could create their own music, find an audience online, and then transition into traditional success without ever stepping into a studio. You didn’t have to be associated with a music association or use an expensive PR firm or anything like that. Your music spoke for itself.</p> </li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It's for these reasons that Machi believes that home production is the future of the industry. And it’s hard to disagree with her. She’s a living example of what this new creator looks like and there are undoubtedly thousands of others who are following in those footsteps.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It’s a very exciting time for the industry as these doors are flung open to all those who want to be a part of it. As a listener, we’re going to be treated to a new era of music in our video games, films, and all other areas of entertainment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The old status quo is disappearing before our very eyes.</p> Sat Apr 02 17:49:45 IST 2022 Kashish-Jain-is-all-set-to-for-her-visit-to-USA-for-the-bridal-makeup-tour <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Bridal makeup has become a major part of a marriage and getting it done professionally has become even more important for the bride. Indian bridal makeup is a huge trend on social media and every bride now wants to try something new for their bridal look. Kashish Jain alongside her mother Priya Jain has been leading the makeup industry for years now. They have been part of many major events and workshops helping many individuals to educate on makeup techniques. Their academy PK has been organizing major makeup seminars and workshops to empower people to find their passion.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Priya Jain has been in business for years and Kashish intended to carry forward the profession of a makeup artist. Her video tutorials are helping women become the next-gen entrepreneurs in the makeup industry. Her online presence has reached over 400 plus subscribers making her famous across the globe. She even got an opportunity to fly to Mexico alongside her mother to create a bridal look for a marriage event. PK makeup academy has delivered many amazing bridal looks in the past and happens to reflect a lot of confidence through their makeup.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kashish Jain mentions, "This is a global opportunity for me and my mom because we always wanted to break through the barrier to travel across the globe helping our clients achieve their look. This new client from the US was extremely happy with our past bridal creations and she wanted us to fly to Cancun, Mexico to help her with the bridal look. I am so proud to see how clients no longer have to come to us instead we go to them in a foreign land to deliver their looks for the big day of their life. I hope that we keep being part of such opportunities as it shall give Indian bridal makeup a new success."</p> Wed Jul 20 17:25:49 IST 2022 redefining-dystopia--with-gautam-bhatia <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>The Burning Question is a column that tackles some of the biggest questions in the intersection of science, technology, geopolitics and culture that shape the world as we know it. The column will soon be expanded into a newsletter, and you can subscribe&nbsp;</i><a href=""><i>here</i></a><i>. Subscribers will receive updates via email, Telegram. Write to&nbsp;</i><a href=""><i></i></a><i>&nbsp;with comments, suggestions and questions.</i></p> <p>Even as Russia rained devastation down on Ukraine, a different kind of war was underway on social media forums. It was an information war, a battle for supremacy in propaganda—fought on multiple vectors.</p> <p>The world looked on curiously as US President Joe Biden invited 20-something TikTok influencers to enlist them in the battle against&nbsp;Russian disinformation. Then, there was concern writ large among foreign diplomats when big tech and 'multi-national' firms based in the West adopted overtly political stances, censoring information freely in super-highways that were under their control. Uncomfortable questions lingered in the air—who was to say that, one day, the lens wouldn't turn their way?</p> <p>On the other side, thousands of Twitter and Facebook bot accounts in support of Vladimir Putin cropped up almost overnight, fluently conversant in the&nbsp;praxis of decolonisation and&nbsp;Western empire overreach in languages as varied as Tamil, Hindi, Urdu and Zulu—spread across South Asia and Africa.</p> <p>A wonderful breakdown of the propaganda network is available in this&nbsp;<a href="">Twitter thread</a>.</p> <p>Boundaries broke down, unnatural alliances were formed (India, China and Pakistan were all in one corner in the global diplomatic forums), the concept of truth was completely kneecapped and overwhelmed, and a sense of liminality—global disorientation—hung thickly in the air.</p> <p>It has also sparked a renewed interest in the concepts of totalitarianism—how it has changed over the years, and what new forms it can take. In a world that is, for the first time in millennia, truly multipolar—with different power structures now vying for supremacy at every level of human governance structure—what would totalitarianism look like? In line with the main theme of the 21<sup>st</sup>&nbsp;century, will it also be 'decentralised'?</p> <p>And that is where legal scholar, and speculative fantasy and fiction editor Gautam Bhatia's new series of speculative fiction [SFF] novels 'The Chronicles of Sumer' comes in. Through&nbsp;<i>The Wall</i>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<i>The Horizon</i>, Bhatia introduces us to the world of Sumer, surrounded on all sides by a giant impregnable wall. The people of Sumer know nothing of the world outside it, though the&nbsp;<i>smara&nbsp;</i>(subconscious yearnings) lurks deeps inside their souls. The story revolves around a group of youngsters calling themselves Tarafians—after revolutionary poet Taraf—and their attempts to convince Sumer that the world outside the wall should be explored. On the other side of the political divide in Sumer are forces like the Shoortans—a quasi-religious group whose job is to keep the boundaries of the Wall intact and sacrosanct.</p> <p>The series is an exploration of a lot of fascinating motifs. How can a civilisation like Sumer exist within a bounded space? Sumer, fed by river Rasa, is divided into 15 concentric circular <i>mandalas</i> (the mandalas are divided on labour differences—and class connotations are implied). Population control is another aspect, enforced by child caps and marriage licenses. In essence, it is a circular city, trapped in an imaginary circular time, divided into circular classes. As Bhatia describes it, Sumer is not a dystopia in the traditional sense of the term. Every natural resource is limited, but there are no times of real hard-hitting scarcities. Sumer has lived through wars and conflicts, with each side raising the banner of 'freedom'. Even though there is a division of mandalas, there is no segregation in the traditional sense—marriages between mandalas are not banned, but carries heavy economic disincentives. Homosexual relations are glorified as ‘pure love’. There is freedom of speech (in a flawed, yet familiar way). There is no all-encompassing power structure. Shoortans themselves are divided, with a faction aligning with revisionist Tefnakth and his Coterie. There is noisy democracy, with different factions including progressive leaders like Council Elder Sanchika. An elite group called The Select spreads science and scientific appreciation amongst Sumerians.</p> <p>Bhatia eschews the pop portrayals of overdone Orwellian or Huxleyan dystopias, and instead gives us something far more familiar, rooted and hard-hitting. A world where the citizens are incentivised to keep the power structure intact—with the 15 mandalas, almost everybody is above somebody else, and has interest in maintaining the system.</p> <p>The more institutional powers, meanwhile, are caught in something akin to a Mexican standoff; an unending jostle to impose their definition over the most premium commodity of all—truth and freedom.</p> <p><i>The Wall</i>&nbsp;explores Mithila and the Tarafians attempt to scale the wall and explore the world outside. In&nbsp;<i>The Horizon</i>, the stakes are much, much higher, with black clouds of unrest and disaster looming over Sumer.</p> <p>Bhatia speaks to THE WEEK about some of the motifs in the book and the changing definitions of totalitarianism<i>&nbsp;</i>in the current political climate.</p> <p>Edited excerpts:</p> <p><b>Q/ Is Sumer inspired from the Mesopotamian civilisation?</b></p> <p>Actually, it has nothing to do with Mesopotamia. It is inspired from Meru—the Meru mountains [believed to be] in the centre of the world. I realised only later the association that people would make with Mesopotamia. The inspiration came from Meru.</p> <p><b>Q/ Is Sumer actually set in the past, or in the future? Maybe a [post-techno world after] something akin to the Butlerian jihad, as portrayed in <i>Dune</i>?</b></p> <p>It is set in the far future—given the existence of builders who created the world, and the existence of structures that come from a different technological time. It is like a post-technological civilisation, and some incident has pushed everyone to an early modern way of living.</p> <p><b>Q/ If it is indeed in the future, have we moved from a post-scarcity world to one of scarcity?</b></p> <p>I don’t think we are post-scarcity now. We are still very much in scarcity. What the two novels try to do is show you a world where scarcity is contingent—it is artificially created. In our world, scarcity is a function of political decisions. In the world of Sumer, scarcity is a function of a literal Wall. And it doesn’t need to be that way.</p> <p><b>Q/ In the book, you show circles as motifs (mandalas, the wall, the horizon), or cages that people have to break through to get to freedom. Was it a conscious decision?</b></p> <p>There are a couple of reasons for it. So, the first is that the idea of circular time is a non-capitalist idea that has been there in all these old cultures. It would make sense for Sumer to have circular time. It is not necessary that every society, whatever its vertical economy, would think of time in the same way. It was broadly to do with that. It is also, as you say, that these concepts become cages, and to attain freedom, you have to break out of the contextual cage you are in—whether it is circular time, whether it is not being able to see the horizon. So, it is part of that broader idea.</p> <p><b>Q/ For me, your two novels best defined dystopia from a real-world perspective, compared to everything I have read in the recent past. There is a functional political system, and not really an overwhelming want for anything. In this current milieu, how would you define dystopia?</b></p> <p>I don’t think the duology [The Wall, the Horizon] is dystopia. In the science fiction tradition, dystopia is the opposite of utopia, right? It is where suffering is kind of the defining feature. It can be post-apocalyptic, where land is ravaged, there is no society, and you are struggling to survive. Or, you are in like <i>1984</i> [George Orwell] or <i>Brave New World</i> [Aldous Huxley], where societies are absoluted in political tyranny. That is kind of a near hopeless world. I was consciously avoiding creating a dystopia. I think my novel genre is best defined as an ambiguous utopia. You think things are fine, but you scratch beneath the surface and you find a lot of issues. Ambiguous utopia, for me, is more interesting.</p> <p><b>Q/ At the point of time, with the atomisation of society, all of us experience dystopia in different and highly personalised ways. For some, dystopia could be primarily induced by the social media. For some, it could be the government. For some workers, it could be corporations. Is there a need, specifically for science fiction writers, to redefine dystopia?</b></p> <p>I don’t think we need new definitions per se. Personally, I don’t find dystopic writing all that interesting. I find works which induce ambiguity into classical dystopia far more fascinating. I think a good example is S.B. Divya’s recent book <i>Machinehood</i>, set in the near future where the economy is completely gig-ified. Everybody has to do gigs in order to survive. It is not this gruesome kind of dystopia, where you are under surveillance all the time, and every moment is one of terror. People still get on with their lives. People still negotiate their way through it. Books that acknowledge the dystopic element of our world, without completely succumbing or dissolving into the dystopia, that is the kind of work I like to read more. That is not to say that dystopic writing is not important. It has always been very important. It is just a matter of personal taste.</p> <p><b>Q/ One motif your book explores is the nature and cost of freedom. If you think of society as an equation of who gets hegemony over freedom (we had single agents in the past, like states, which had monopoly over money, territory and so on—which is not the case now), which of these terms need redefinition?</b></p> <p>In the two books, there is a real physical impediment to freedom in the form of the wall. Of course, the wall can stand in for many things. There is a point at which the scientists tell the people that they can vote on any decision in the city, but they can’t vote against the Wall because it is a part of nature. A lot of debates on freedom stem from what society has decided as natural, and it is a debate on what can’t be changed versus what can be changed. Aristotle, for instance, once wrote that slavery was a condition that some people were born with. For centuries, there were struggles to redefine it and outlaw it. I think [the story of freedom is] the history of trying to shift the needle on what we accept as natural, and what we think of as humanly created and hence need not accept.</p> <p><b>Q/ In the book, you write about the system [of mandalas and restrictions] as being propped up by the people themselves, because someone would always be above the other. What of this nature of distributed oppression do we not understand?</b></p> <p>I think every system of oppression is propped up by the people, and by a range of interests. Oppressive systems work because, at any point, there are enough interests propping it up, and they are able to exercise hegemony. Caste system is a classic example of that. Of course, Sumer has nothing to do with caste system, and there is no relation to it. But, there is this [growing] idea that oppression is always distributed. In a lot of fantasy novels, you see one tyrant, one dark lord, that has to be overthrown. I think oppression is a lot more granular and a lot more distributed. I think one of my attempts with the two books was to show how both oppression and struggle for freedom are ultimately distributed struggles—not featuring one hero and one dark lord. It is much more complex, and people have their motivations which you can’t always classify as good or bad.</p> <p><b>Q/ Where do you stand on tech utopianism vs tech dystopianism?</b></p> <p>I think they are equally flawed, in that technology is not a recipe for either utopia or dystopia. It depends on how you use it. At any given time, you will have elements of both utopia and dystopia. Think face recognition or deep learning. On one hand, it has great uses. On the other, it can be used for deep fakes, fake news, and so on. A lot of it depends on how tech is designed to be used. I think it is a political question. I think tech utopia and tech dystopia are simplifications of how tech is embedded in our politics.</p> Sat Mar 26 10:57:55 IST 2022 amir-rashid-wani---young-founder-of-mooj-kasheer-welfare-trust <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Amir Rashid Wani an engineering student by profession and the youngest recognized philanthropist from the summer capital of Jammu and&nbsp;kashmir, srinagar.He Started his own organization and got the volunteerism and support of more than 25 young volunteers who stood by for the cause he has started working for. The Trust namely “Mooj kasheer welfare trust” which is Amir’s finest works so far had already done a tremendous job in the field of free ration distribution, event sponsorship and marriage assistance to the economically deprived girls of kashmir.</p> <p>Amir Rashid Wani, founder of Mooj Kasheer Welfare Trust, started his journey on October 16, 2019. After the revocation of Article 370, when Jammu &amp; Kashmir was cut off from the rest of the world due to blockade of all the communication systems. During that time many Kashmiris were stuck in other states of India who had no source of connection with their families and friends in Jammu &amp; Kashmir. Due to the this many Kashmiri students who were stuck outside J&amp;K were facing lot of problems. During that time, Amir Rashid, 22, who was pursuing his Bachelors of Engineering (BE), in Chandigarh, stood up, supported and helped his people and the students in distress and this is how he started his welfare organization.</p> <p>Mooj Kasheer Welfare Trust is a non-government and non-profit organization, whose aim is to serve the humanity and work for the upliftment of the poor and deprived communities, Amir said.</p> <p>This organization helps and supports the education of poor, provides food kits to the poor families and helps poor and orphan sisters in their marriage expenses, he added.</p> <p>During COVID-19 he worked as volunteer, when many of the doctors resigned for the safety of their loved ones, he started distributing essential supplies to the people.</p> <p>Along with regional and national magazines he has been featured in some international newspapers, magazines and online news portals. At present his organization Mooj kasheer welfare trust is Jammu and Kashmir’s one of the largest organizations and their work is known to all of us over there.</p> <p>Marriage Assistance Initiative is one of finest works of Amir and his team. His volunteers are from Uri of Kashmir province to Kathua along with some presence in Chandigarh as the organization was formally launched from the Chandigarh city. Volunteers identify the girl who is going to get married and drop them marriage assistance kit. This initiative has been widely appreciated by the people of kashmir.</p> <p>“It is well said that parents are the first school of a child, he has been inspired by his father, when once he took Amir along with him to help some poor people,” Amir Rashid Wani said.</p> <p>“There are over 80 members in this organization who are working with me from last two years. We have visit to many villages and provide moral and financial help to the poor and needy people”, he added.</p> <p>“There is a huge support from the public and the help they provide to the needy is really appreciable. Due to their support Mooj Kasheer Welfare Trust recently has brought an Ambulance that will be given in the service to help the deprived”.</p> <p>Amir’s message to youth: “The foundation of every nation is it’s youth, and together we can build strong nation by helping others to our best capacity. Make your life useful, honorable and compassionate by helping others and making a good difference in their lives.”</p> Thu Jun 02 17:32:19 IST 2022 a-birds-eye-view-of-the-city-of-joy-kolkata <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In 1983, when I was 10, I first set foot in Calcutta (now, of course, Kolkata) holding my father's hand. I remember taking a double-decker bus, crossing the Howrah Bridge and entering the city from Howrah. Sitting by a window on the upper floor of the bus, I watched with wonder as my father gave me a guided tour of the city, telling me the history and background of each the sights we saw. Seeing Calcutta for the first time was a thrilling experience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Decades passed. Times changed. Like my father, I started commuting to Kolkata daily for my job. I came closer to the beautiful city which gradually engulfed me, and I fell in love with it. I was fascinated by the colonial-era buildings. Already passionate about photography, I had by then turned it into my profession. Its iconic landmarks such as Victoria Memorial, Shahid Minar, Raj Bhavan, Eden Gardens and many others captivated my lens.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Time has had its effect on the city. Its character has changed, in keeping with the shift around the globe, and so has its skyline. High-rises have mushroomed everywhere. Eye-catching contemporary architecture has ensured the city’s passage into the modern world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Many of the parameters of my profession, too, have changed. We are now in the digital age. The drone camera is a marvel of our times. This camera shows us an aspect of an image that is remarkable because of its hitherto-unexplored angles. As a photojournalist, I had often toyed with the idea of taking a camera to a high location as a human drone to shoot some of Kolkata’s iconic structures. And, almost as if to fulfil my dream, a magnificent construction came up in central Kolkata – a stone’s throw from the Brigade Parade Ground and Park Street – to tower over the entire city. An idea slowly took shape in my mind, that if I could capture the iconic places of Kolkata from atop this building, it would be an enjoyable experience for our readers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It was with this objective in mind that I took pictures of Victoria Memorial Hall, Howrah Bridge, Eden Gardens, St. Paul's Cathedral and Raj Bhavan from the tallest building in eastern India, a 62-storey edifice, whose name – The 42 - is derived from its address on the historic Chowringhee.&nbsp;</p> Tue Mar 22 10:01:59 IST 2022 olive-oil-can-be-dangerous-and-other-cynical-life-lessons-the-godfather-offers-us <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Had production gone according to plan, <i>The Godfather</i> would have been the big Christmas release of 1971. But as fate would have it, unforeseen delays pushed its world premiere in New York to March 14, 1972—to the eve of Easter.</p> <p>We now know that it was a stroke of serendipity. As brought to screen by director Francis Ford Coppola and author Mario Puzo, <i>The Godfather</i> was a remarkable artistic achievement that resurrected not just American filmmaking, which had been wallowing in crises throughout the 1950s and 1960s because of <a href="">a variety of factors</a>, but also spawned cult-like fan clubs of filmmakers, technicians, students and general viewers across the world. In the 50 years since its release, the film has inspired not just numerous remakes and retellings (the Malayalam hit <a name="Bheeshma Parvam review: This Mammootty-starrer walks the talk, in style" id="Bheeshma Parvam review: This Mammootty-starrer walks the talk, in style"></a><i><a title="Bheeshma Parvam review: This Mammootty-starrer walks the talk, in style" href="">Bheeshma Parvam</a></i> being the most recent), but also obscure cinematic references and delightful Easter eggs in films that are vastly different in tone, texture and theme (<a href="">the new Batman movie, for instance</a>).</p> <p>It is fair to say that <i>The Godfather</i> has so broken barriers that it has become a global cultural touchstone. What is not as apparent, though, is whether people have really come to fully appreciate its continued worth as a delightful primer to the philosophy of cynicism. To be sure, the film’s plot and most of its main characters convey an almost doctrinal distrust in people and their motives and actions, and some of the characters even justify their existence—which they understand is grotesque to others—in words that are both detached and oddly accurate, but also designed to provoke. <i>The Godfather</i> is, if anything, a rich and varied album of characters and moments that offer valuable lessons in putting cynicism to practice.</p> <p>Case in point: the conversation between Michael Corleone and Kay Adams as they go for a stroll after being finally reunited. By this point in the film, Michael is in line to succeed his father, Don Vito Corleone, as the head of the crime family, and he is trying to explain Don Vito’s motives and deeds with a straight face to his future, non-Italian wife. “My father is no different than any other powerful man,” explains Michael. “Like any man who is responsible for other people—like a senator or a president.” Kay smiles—she appears both indulgent and dismissive—and says, “You know how naive you sound, Michael? Senators and presidents don’t have men killed.” Silenced momentarily, Michael cannot but gaze at her intently before he says, “Who’s being naive here, Kay?”</p> <p>There are moments in <i>The Godfather</i> that can well be compiled into an enjoyable, even if trivial, guidebook to leading a very happy life as a stone-cold cynic. Here is presenting five of them, in honour of the five decades that the Corleones have graced our screens. These are lessons on offer that, well, you can’t refuse.</p> <p><b>1. Beware having the fruits of your labour</b></p> <p>Sombre blacks, greys and browns dominate the palette of <i>The Godfather</i>. The most prominent among the few bright objects that occasionally liven up the film’s moody canvas are oranges. Big, bright and shiny oranges that dominate entire shots sometimes.</p> <p>The vibe they exude throughout the film, however, can hardly be termed salubrious. Bright oranges roll across a wintry street as Don Vito collapses after being shot multiple times. Another character unknowingly imperils himself as he negotiates a deal while sitting on a dining table dominated by a big bowl of oranges. And, an orange rind is the last thing the don puts in is mouth before he dies of heart attack.</p> <p>Lesson: The fruits of your labour can be delicious; they can also be deadly.</p> <p><b>2. Go to church, become a good gangster</b></p> <p><i>The Godfather</i> has a masterfully symbolic denouement that shows two very different kind of baptisms. The first is the Catholic kind, in which Michael stands in solemnly in a cavernous church as godfather to his sister’s son. The second is a baptism by bloodbath, in which Michael’s henchmen riddles his enemies with bullets. “Do you renounce Satan?” the priest asks Michael. Shots of people being murdered are intercut, before Michael replies, “I do renounce him.”</p> <p>The vital role that the church plays in the plot mechanics of <i>The Godfather</i> cannot be overstated. The crime empire of the Corleones is shored up by both blood relationships and an intricate web of social contracts consecrated by the church. The baptism sequence underlines this—at the end of it, Michael has not only become a godfather to a child, he has become <i>the</i> Godfather of his people.</p> <p>Lesson: The difference between organised religion and organised crime is bridgeable.</p> <p><b>3. The proof of the Italian pudding is not in the eating</b></p> <p>A lot of wining and dining goes on in <i>The Godfather</i>. But most of the dining, at least, is presented as strangely mirthless. Throughout the film, Corleone’s men are shown consuming loads of spaghetti and ravioli as they wait to make their moves during the bloody gang war. A cannoli is carefully retrieved by a <i>caporegime</i> for later consumption from beside a dead body. Michael and Kay have a silent, ominous dinner together in a hotel room before they abruptly part ways. Even the restaurants in the film appear foreboding. Two of them become scenes of violent, pre-meditated killings.</p> <p>The wining, too, is hardly pleasant. “I like to drink wine more than I used to,” says Don Vito nonchalantly, right after informing Michael that he will be assassinated at a meeting that would ostensibly be called to broker peace between the warring families.</p> <p>The one playful scene involving Italian food in the whole picture is when the cannoli-loving <i>caporegime</i> busies himself in the kitchen, teases the idling Michael about his girlfriend, and then gives him a demonstration on how to cook for 20 people. “You start with a little bit of oil,” he says. “Then fry some garlic. Then you thrown in some tomatoes, tomato paste, you fry it and make sure it doesn’t stick. You get it to a boil; you shove in all your sausage and your meatballs. Add a little bit of wine, and a little bit of sugar… and that’s my trick!”</p> <p>The brief tutorial dies with the entry of Michael’s hot-headed elder brother Santino, who says, “Cut the crap.”</p> <p>The lesson, which <i>The Godfather</i> may not have intended to offer but still ably demonstrates, is that the complicated work involved in preparing an Italian dish can be more enjoyable than actually eating it. Risotto, anyone?</p> <p><b>4. Women at the wheel can wreck your peace</b></p> <p>Michael would not have become a mafia boss had he not made the grave mistake of teaching his first wife how to drive. “It’s safer to teach you English!” cries Michael after letting his Sicilian wife, Appollonia, drive round the house. Later, Michael orders his aide Fabrizio to get the car ready for a long journey. “Are you driving yourself, boss? Is your wife coming with you?” asks Fabrizio. Michael says no, so Fabrizio goes on and plants a bomb in the car. As he prepares to start the journey, Michael figures out that Fabrizio had crossed over to the enemy side, and that getting into the car and turning the ignition on would kill him. The person who ends up dying in the blast is the adorably carefree Appollonia, who had been waiting at the wheel to take Michael by surprise by driving him to his destination.</p> <p>Just as it painfully dawns on Michael that the car is a death trap, Appollonia spots him waiting, honks the horn happily and turns on the ignition. And blown to smithereens is the peaceful life Michael had built in Sicily.</p> <p>Lesson: Even feared gangsters can be ruined by wives who love to drive.</p> <p><b>5. Olive oil can be dangerous</b></p> <p>Fact: As much as 80 per cent of Italian olive oil exports is dodgy, mainly because of Corleone-like mafia rings who relabel cheap olive pomace oil as the more expensive ‘extra-virgin’ variety and then ship it to foreign markets. It’s a scam that the police in Italy regularly deals with even today. And historically, the growth of Calabrian and Sicilian mafia are inextricably linked to the olive oil trade.</p> <p>As Mario Puzo wrote, Don Vito himself made his fortune by setting up the Genco Pura Olive Oil Company in the 1920s, which served as both legitimate business and a useful front for his criminal activities. “The Corleone family is thinking of giving up all its interests in the olive oil business and settling out here,” says Michael in the latter half of <i>The Godfather</i>, in which he struggles hard to extricate his family from the oily New York underworld and replant it in the arid gambling paradise of Nevada. His plan: Make the Corleone fortune fully legitimate by laundering and investing it in casinos in Las Vegas. It is the big move that leads up to in the baptism-bloodbath in the end.</p> <p>Lesson: The next time you visit the supermarket and see extra-virgin olive oil at discounted prices, remember why Michael wanted to exit the business. And remember that you are about to gamble.</p> <p>There are, after all, offers you can refuse.</p> Fri Mar 18 22:24:09 IST 2022 your-hunt-for-the-biggest-nightlife-events-and-acts-is-fulfilled <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A party with flashing strobe lights, rumbling music, and a cosmic number of waving hands is the dream of a million people. Tell us, don't you want to get there too? Well, if you are searching for such events that rigorously follow the aforementioned words, Team Innovation will fulfil your every wish. 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