Society en Wed Nov 16 12:48:48 IST 2022 israeli-shawarmas-are-the-best-chef-shaul-ben-aderet <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Shawarma, falafel, and hummus are some dishes that have become extremely popular on menus across the globe. However, little is talked about their origins. “Shawarmas have become popular all over the world. We have Turkish shawarma, Lebanese shawarma, Indian shawarma but I think Israeli&nbsp;shawarmas&nbsp;are&nbsp;the best,” says renowned Israeli chef Shaul Ben-Aderet, who flew down to India to present a traditional Israeli spread of cuisines to mark the 76th Israel Independence Day.&nbsp;</p> <p>On Indian versions of shawarmas, he says they are very different from the Israeli ones. “The spices and serving styles are entirely different.” The chef also has a vegetarian shawarma in his menu for vegetarians. “I make it from red cabbage, celery, beetroot and slow cook it for 2-3 hours. But I use the same spices as I use in the chicken shawarma, hence it tastes better than the meat shawarma,” says the chef.&nbsp;</p> <p>Ben-Aderet, along with a team of six chefs, presented more than 25 traditional Israeli dishes for a guest list of 1,000 people at the Independence Day celebration by the Embassy of Israel in India. Frikase, spinach&nbsp;bourekas, fish shawarma, corn polenta, kugel, hummus, ptitim, shakshuka, chraime, beetroot salad,&nbsp;okra, were some Israeli preparations by the chef for the event.&nbsp;</p> <p>He says, “We Israelis love a good fresh salad in the morning. We chop all vegetables and add some lemon juice and olive oil to it.” He adds shawarmas are his personal&nbsp;favourite&nbsp;too. The chef says it took him around three days to prepare the dishes for the event and that they sourced ingredients and some sauces from Israel to retain the local flavours including the sweet date sauce called silan and za’atar, a herb mixture used in various dishes.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>This is not the first time he has been to the capital city. The chef recalls having visited Delhi 15 years ago but calls it a “mysterious experience” as he did not understand the markets and the local areas. “Delhi has changed in these 15 years. It is a lot more modern now but it is also hotter.”&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> Wed May 22 16:59:23 IST 2024 tamil-nadu-depressed-mother-of-viral-infant-who-survived-fall-dies-by-suicide <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The footage of an infant who miraculously survived after getting stuck on roof sheets after falling from the fourth floor of an apartment building in Tamil Nadu's Avadi had shocked the internet in April. While the kid was saved, tragedy has come back to haunt the family as the mother of the baby, a techie, died by suicide on Saturday.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The woman was under immense mental trauma as she was trolled and character assassinated by online trolls who pinned the blame for the baby's fall on her. The mother should have taken care of the child and if she was vigilant enough, the child wouldn't have fallen from the apartment, netizens and fake accounts who targeted the mother had claimed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The child reportedly fell down while being nursed by the late woman. According to reports, she was found dead in Coimbatore. The family had moved to the border district, the hometown of the young mother as she was suffering from depression after the incident.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Following the fall from their residence on the fourth floor of the building, the eight-month-old baby named Harin Magi survived as she got stuck on the tin roof on the second floor. Although people prepared the ground below for the imminent fall of the child by spreading beds, a man made a brave climb from the floor below to drag the infant to safety, the viral video showed. The rescuer reached the girl child from the first-floor window and caught hold of her by standing on the railing before passing her to the safety of an apartment nearby.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While the internet hailed the courage of the rescuer, there was not much sympathy for the mother.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It was the police who reportedly said that they suspected it was a case of suicide.&nbsp;</p> <p><b><i>Discussing suicides can be triggering for some. However, suicides are preventable. In case you feel distressed by the content or know someone in distress, call Sneha Foundation - 04424640050 (available 24x7).</i></b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon May 20 22:22:52 IST 2024 how-to-make-summer-vacation-productive <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Summer break, the long-awaited respite from school, is often enjoyed by sleeping in, lounging on the beach, and spending quality time with friends. While summer is indeed a time to relax, it is also important to stay productive. These months serve as a crucial recharge before school reopens.</p> <p>Additionally, summer offers the opportunity to explore new hobbies, engage in outdoor activities, and pursue personal interests. Whether it is learning a new skill, volunteering in the community, or embarking on an adventure, there are countless ways to make the most of this time off. By balancing relaxation with productivity, you can return to school feeling refreshed, inspired, and ready to tackle new challenges. Here are some ways to make your summer break productive and interesting.</p> <p><b>1. Take up a new hobby</b></p> <p>Summer break is the perfect time to explore new hobbies—something you have always desired to do (playing an instrument, learning dance, gardening, skating, etc.) or something that you used to love but stopped doing. Engaging in activities that ignite your passion not only brings joy but also enhances your overall well-being. Whether it is strumming the strings of a guitar, mastering a new dance move, tending to a garden, or gliding gracefully on skates, the summer break provides ample opportunities for self-discovery and personal growth. These experiences not only enrich your present but also lay the foundation for a fulfilling life in the years to come. So, seize the moment, embrace new challenges, and let the journey of exploration begin!</p> <p><b>2. Enroll for online courses</b></p> <p>Take advantage of various online learning platforms and enroll in courses that align with your interests or future career goals. By dedicating time to enhance your knowledge and develop new skills, you can ensure that you always have an edge over others in your professional life. Whether it's mastering a new programming language, honing your marketing skills, or delving into project management, continuous learning is essential for staying relevant and competitive in today's rapidly evolving job market. Moreover, the flexibility of online courses allows you to customize your learning experience and progress at your own pace. So, seize the opportunity this summer to invest in your personal and professional growth, and unlock new opportunities for success!</p> <p><b>3. Learn to cook</b></p> <p>In today's fast-paced world, mastering the art of cooking goes beyond mere sustenance; it empowers individuals to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives. By cultivating culinary skills, both boys and girls can become self-sufficient and creative in the kitchen, capable of preparing nutritious meals tailored to their tastes and dietary preferences. Moreover, cooking fosters a deeper appreciation for the efforts of family members, especially mothers, who tirelessly work to ensure the well-being and satisfaction of their loved ones through food. Embracing cooking as a fundamental skill not only promotes independence but also strengthens familial bonds as meals become moments of joy, connection, and shared experiences. So, let us roll up our sleeves, sharpen our knives, and embark on a culinary journey that nourishes both body and soul.</p> <p><b>4. Provide water &amp; fodder to the birds during summer</b></p> <p>We are fortunate to have all the resources to protect and survive against the heat, but we must also consider the plight of innocent birds and other animals. As human beings, I believe it's our responsibility to make efforts for their survival as well. Feeding them and providing water during summers is one noble deed we can perform. Additionally, creating shaded areas or placing shallow dishes of water in our gardens can offer relief to wildlife during scorching days. By showing compassion and care for the creatures around us, we contribute to creating a more harmonious and sustainable environment for all living beings.</p> <p><b>5. Spending time with parents and grandparents</b></p> <p>Spending time with parents and grandparents is invaluable, especially during summer vacations. It's disheartening to observe that for many, summer vacations have come to signify endless hours spent on mobile phones, TVs, WhatsApp, Instagram, and other social media platforms. We have become so deeply entrenched in these digital comforts that we often neglect meaningful interactions with our elders. Instead of engaging in conversations and bonding with family members, we retreat to our digital bubbles, missing out on the wealth of knowledge and life experiences our parents and grandparents have to offer. Summer vacation presents the perfect opportunity to reconnect with our roots, listen to their stories, and learn from their wisdom. By prioritising family interactions over screen time, we can forge stronger bonds and create lasting memories that enrich our lives.</p> <p><b>6. Start a passion project&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Summer vacation is not just a break from school; it is a golden opportunity for dreams to take flight. It is the season where you can turn your aspirations into reality and make strides towards your passion projects. With the vast array of resources and tools available today, there is never been a better time to test your skills and pursue what sets your soul on fire.</p> <p>Too often, we get caught up in the routines of daily life, leaving our dreams on the back burner. But during summer vacation, the hustle and bustle of everyday obligations fade away, leaving room for creativity and innovation to flourish. Whether it is launching your own YouTube channel to share your unique perspective with the world or diving into app development to solve a problem you're passionate about, now is the time to seize the moment and make your mark.</p> <p>Remember, standing out means daring to be different. So, don't be afraid to take risks and think outside the box. Whether you are creating captivating content or designing groundbreaking technology, your authenticity and originality will set you apart from the crowd. So, embrace the summer sunshine, harness your creativity, and let your dreams soar higher than ever before.</p> <p>You have numerous opportunities to make your summer vacations incredibly fulfilling. Kickstart your days with invigorating morning exercises, setting a healthy rhythm for your routine. Make sure to wake up and go to bed at consistent times to optimize your energy levels and overall well-being.</p> <p>Moreover, why not embark on an exhilarating adventure by planning a trip to a destination renowned for trekking and exploration? Venturing into the great outdoors offers not only physical challenges but also the chance to connect with nature and create unforgettable memories.</p> <p>Instead of opting for crowded tourist spots, consider seeking out hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path destinations. These lesser-known locales are often teeming with charm, authenticity, and the thrill of the unknown, promising a truly immersive and enriching experience.</p> <p>So, seize the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone, embrace new experiences, and make the most of every moment this summer. Happy summer vacations!</p> <p><b>The author is the Secretary of Indian Public School Conference and the Principal of LK Singhania Education Centre in Gotan, Rajasthan</b></p> <p><b>The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of THE WEEK.</b></p> Fri May 17 16:49:34 IST 2024 trending-news-chandigarh-diesel-paratha-row-dhaba-owner-blames-blogger-for-viral-video-asserts-use-of-edible-oil <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A Chandigarh dhaba had shocked Indian netizens after a staff was seen making parathas using &quot;diesel&quot;. In the viral video, the man making parathas, a staple Indian bread, was recorded pouring a large amount of oil on the paratha. He claimed that it was not any regular kitchen oil, but &quot;diesel.&quot;&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After the video kicked up a row, demanding action against the eatery, the owner of the establishment has come out with an explanation. The owner, identified as Channi Singh, questioned the absurdity of the allegation, asking how can people be made to consume diesel. He blamed a blogger who made the &quot;video for fun&quot; for the controversy. The video now stands deleted and the blogger has apologised, Singh said.</p> <p><b>CHANDIGARH 'DIESEL PARATHA' | WATCH THE VIRAL VIDEO HERE:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;We neither make any such thing as 'diesel paratha' nor serve any such thing to customers. A blogger had made that video just for fun. It is common sense that nobody would consume a paratha prepared in diesel nor is it cooked like that. I didn't know that the video was going viral, I came to know only yesterday. The blogger in question has deleted it and apologised to the people...We use only edible oil,&quot; Channi Singh told ANI on Wednesday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;We provide hygienic food to people here. We also supply langar from here...We don't play with people's lives...,&quot; he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The blogger mentioned by Singh was Amanpreet Singh, who goes by the name 'oyefoodiesingh' on Instagram. Confirming the dhaba's claim, an apology was found posted on Amanpreet's handle on Tuesday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The food blogger confirmed that the dhaba used normal cooking oil to make the parathas. &quot;Chandigarh Administration, the gracious people of Chandigarh, and the entirety of India, I humbly extend my sincerest apologies. I deeply regret the content of my recent video and acknowledge the distress it may have caused. I am profoundly sorry for any offense taken. Your understanding and forgiveness would mean a great deal to me,&quot; the caption accompanying the video read.</p> Wed May 15 20:00:07 IST 2024 gender-jackhammer-mary-kerala-woman-who-defied-gender-roles-in-the-60s-passes-away <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Back in 1962, when the work of Kerala's Idukki Hydro-electric project was in full swing, hundreds of labourers from different parts of the state arrived at the rural hamlet of Moolamattam. One of them stood out. Dressed in pants and boots, Mary Paily instantly caught everyone's attention, for she was one of the few who could then operate jackhammers.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Decades after she defied gender roles by operating jackhammers, Mary Paily a.k.a Jackhammer Mary passed away on Tuesday at her hometown in Kerala's Idukki.&nbsp; She was 90.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In an early interview, Mary recalled those eventful days. Six pits, each 10 feet deep, had to be dug to install the transformer. Mary, who was working for George and George's company then, was one of the few who could operate a jackhammer. She had learnt how to operate the device in Ponmudi where she was involved in the construction of Ponmudi Dam.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The handheld heavy-duty electro-mechanical tool, that combines a hammer directly with a chisel, works by delivering rapid blows, making it essential for tasks like breaking up roads or demolishing buildings. In the 60s, even male workers needed assistance to operate the tool. But, not Mary who singlehandedly crushed rocks using it, doing her valuable bit for the installation of the transformer.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Her skill earned her a lot of fame and more. She remembers how she was given gifts by foreign officials who worked at the site. Mary was also given a starting wage of Rs 3 when other labourers were paid Rs 1.15!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The dexterity with which she operated the machinery impressed the then-District Collector and project coordinator D Babu Paul in 1962 so much that he gave her the moniker 'Jackhammer Mary'. Babu Paul even mentioned Mary in his service story.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Her adventures do not end there. Mary was one of the workers who protested seeking better wages at the construction site. All protesters were sent to prison and Mary, who was heavily pregnant at that time, gave birth to her fifth child in the prison.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She was also among the few labourers who worked with the machine hanging from a rope during the work of Ponmudi Dam.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, fame did not guarantee a job for herself or her family members at KSEB, which was one of her biggest wishes and regrets of her life. Even when those who worked at the plant were hired, Mary was excluded from the provision.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite all that, Mary’s spirit shone through. &quot;If something makes me challenge my abilities, I feel like I have to do it.&quot;</p> Wed May 15 17:21:16 IST 2024 viral-now-internet-explodes-over-angry-woman-photo-found-at-bengaluru-vegetable-market <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A picture of a woman hanging at a vegetable market in Bengaluru went viral after it was shared online. The woman, with her big round eyes, bulged out, seems like staring at the screen while the photo was clicked. The unusual expression, gave the photograph an element of fun to it, despite the lady's angry stare.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The photo of the &quot;angry woman&quot; became an instant hit after it was tweeted from a handle called Niharika (@Niharika__rao) on May 10, Friday.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;I am so glad I stepped out today,&quot; the profile captioned the X (formerly Twitter) post that shared multiple snaps of the woman's photo hanging above several boxes of tomatoes. Other fruit and vegetable carts in the background confirmed that the photo was taken at a market.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Reacting to a reply, Niharika said that the photo was taken from the vegetable market near the Kathriguppe water tank. Kathriguppe is situated in the Banashankari neighbourhood of Bengaluru.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The post, which was viewed by over 100.6K people during the time of compiling this report, created some funny reactions. &quot;Boeing should paste this on the nose of their aircraft,&quot; one user wrote in reply to the post. &quot;This is exactly how I feel about tomatoes as well,&quot; another wrote.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hinting at the scare factor in the woman's look, another user commented, &quot;My doctor is going to reach out to you for my lack of sleep in the next couple of days. Thanks.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Amidst the fun fest, some users pointed out that the photo was used to ward off evil eyes. Multiple replicas of the woman were copied and used by other shops in the market as well. Some even managed to post photographs of the same image being used in other parts of the city.</p> Sun May 12 17:03:00 IST 2024 opinion-justice-markandey-katju-women-of-indian-subcontinent-i-salute-you-mothers-day-2024 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Today, 12th May, is Mother's Day.<br> </p> <p>On this occasion, I salute the brave women of India, whom I regard as our true heroes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Most people hero-worship famous political leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Lenin, or brilliant military commanders such as Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon. I, too, admire many of them.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, my greater heroes are those who remain anonymous. In particular, I salute the brave women of the Indian subcontinent who selflessly and anonymously dedicate themselves to feeding their families and managing their homes on the modest incomes of their husbands or their own earnings. These women perform back-breaking work all day long, including washing clothes, cooking, caring for children, and keeping their homes clean. Additionally, some supplement their family’s income with outside work.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is estimated that about 57% of Indian women are anaemic, which indicates they do not get enough to eat.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite this, they often choose to feed their children and husbands before themselves. Should we not admire them? I regard them as our real heroes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As I stated in an article, IQ tests have demonstrated that women are intellectually equal to men.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yet, they are often oppressed and discriminated against. It is the people’s revolution, which I foresee occurring in 10–15 years, that will establish a social and political order where our women will be truly emancipated.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I conclude by quoting verses from the great Tamil poet Subramania Bharati, who wrote around 1908–1910, advocating powerfully for women’s emancipation — a time when the concept was virtually unthought of globally, placing him far ahead of his time:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>“Gummiyadi Gummiyadi Nadumughudum Kulungida thaikotti Gummiyadi”</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Dance, oh friend, dance; let playing dandiya shake and wake this entire Nation. Celebrate our emancipation from the ghosts binding us for centuries. Those who believed educating women would harm society are gone! Those strange men wanting women locked inside have tasted downfall! So, friends, let’s celebrate the emancipation of women by playing dandiya.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>“Pudhumaip Penn” (The New Woman)</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“This world will excel in knowledge and wisdom by treating men and women as equals. Valiant women will soon eradicate the tradition of seclusion in homes.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>“Pengal Viduthalaik Kummi” (Women’s Liberation Song)</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Those who deemed it sinful for women to touch books have perished; The absurd men who wished to confine women inside now hang their heads in shame.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>From “Murasu”</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Blinding one eye spoils your vision; similarly, hindering women’s education impairs the world. Educating women will automatically dispel the backwardness engulfing this world.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>“Pattankkal Aazhvadum Sattankkal Seivathum Paarinil Penkal Nadatha Vanthom”</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Women are now attaining degrees, legislating, and ruling the world. Women of the Indian subcontinent, I salute you.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b><i>Justice Markandey Katju retired from the Supreme Court in 2011.</i></b></p> <p><b><i>&nbsp;</i></b></p> <p><b><i>The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of THE WEEK.</i></b></p> Sun May 12 13:24:08 IST 2024 mother-s-day-2024-facts-history-and-trivia-everything-you-need-to-know <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Mother's Day is a special day dedicated to remember, honour and celebrate mothers worldwide. As a wise saying goes, ‘You don't have to give birth to a child to become a mother.’ This day is about cherishing the mother figures in your life who nurtured, protected and unconditionally loved you. This day is for all the mothers who never hesitated to give up on their comfort and happiness to bring a smile to their young ones' faces. Today, let’s give a big hug to all the mothers in our lives and tell them how much they mean to us. Let the smiles of all the mothers shine this Mother’s Day!<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A bit of history...</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the early 20th century America, social activist Anna Jarvis sought to create an official day dedicated to mothers. In honour of her beloved mother, Ann Jarvis, who worked tirelessly to unite the mothers during and following the civil war, she held a memorial service in 1907. This act sparked a movement across the states in the US and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday of May a national holiday to celebrate Mother’s Day. Jarvis’s vision of Mother’s Day was a day of sincere and genuine appreciation of mothers, symbolised by a white carnation flower.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Global traditions of honouring motherhood</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Long before gifting flowers and greeting cards, civilisations around the world held festivals in honour of mothers and mother goddesses. The Phrygians, an ancient Anatolian group, celebrated Cybele, the Great Mother of the Gods, associated with fertility and nature. Similarly, the Greeks held festivals honouring Rhea, the Titan goddess who birthed the Pantheon of Olympian gods. These celebrations reflected the deep respect and love for motherhood, ingrained in many cultures around the world.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b><a href="" target="_blank">ALSO READ | Motherhood on screen: 5 Bollywood movies to watch on Mother's Day</a></b></p> <p>Fast forward to the Middle Ages in Europe, a tradition emerged during lent, on Laetare Sunday, when people returned to their home parishes, often to reunite with their family. This came to be called ‘Mothering Sunday’ and it became a time for people to visit their mothers and express their love and gratitude.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In India, Shakti or power is worshipped as a goddess or the universal mother. Most of the festivals like Durga puja, Lakshmi puja and Navratri revolve around honouring and celebrating mothers in the form of goddesses.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, today, while commercialisation might overshadow the original intention, it's still a day used by many of us to express our love and appreciation to the mothers and mother figures in our lives. The true spirit of Mother’s day lies not in the grandeur of gifts and celebration, but in the quiet moments of deep connection and gratitude.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>10 Facts to Remember about the Evolution of Mother’s Day Celebrations:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>1. </b>Mother's Day doesn't fall on the same date every year, but it is on the second Sunday of May.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>2.</b> Juliet Calhoun Blakely of Albion, Michigan, pioneered Mother's Day in the 1800s. She and her sons observed the day annually and encouraged others to join them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>3</b>. Greeting Cards are consistently popular Mother’s Day gifts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>4. </b>Determined to make Mother's Day a national holiday, Anna Jarvis formed the Mother's Day International Association.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>5</b>. Durga-Puja, a ten-day festival held in India, around October, is a significant celebration honouring and celebrating the mother goddess, Durga.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>6</b>. Julia Ward Howe, a prominent American peacemaker and poet, is recognized for her contribution in marking Mother’s Day with her work &quot;Appeal to Womanhood Throughout the World,&quot; which later became known as the &quot;Mother's Day Proclamation”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>7. </b>Anna Jarvis used carnations to honour the mothers in her church, and the tradition blossomed into the official Mother's Day flower. Today, the colours hold significant meaning: red carnations celebrate living mothers, while white ones honour those who have passed away.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>8.</b> Disheartened by the commercialisation that overshadowed the holiday's original sentiment, Anna Jarvis actively fought against it. She even criticised the First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt for using Mother's Day as a fundraising platform.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>9. </b>Mother's Day holds the record for most phone calls made in a single day in the United States.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>10. </b>Many mothers opt to dine out and enjoy a celebratory meal on Mother's Day, making it the busiest day of the year for restaurants.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Let’s celebrate this Mother’s Day by appreciating the profound impact that mothers have on our lives. Their unwavering dedication, love, and strength are the cornerstones of every healthy and thriving society.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To all the beautiful mothers, who get up everyday with the greatest lifetime responsibility-motherhood- one that never becomes less demanding and never leaves you, no matter how much time has passed or how grown your children have become, you have no retirement from this role. Thank you for being the greatest warriors who lead us in our path of life, whose hold tightens whenever we are about to fall, who carry us when we are tired of our responsibilities.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To the amazing woman who buried her needs, fears, discomfort and was reborn to become a mother, who taught us the first letter, who was the proudest with our first step, who cried with us on the first day of our school, who stood by our side at each milestone covered, thank you for being our home and we are proud of you. Happy Mother’s Day.</p> Sat May 11 21:27:56 IST 2024 artist-t-v-santhoshs-works-unravel-the-horrors-of-war <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A glance at artist T.V Santhosh’s latest works reminds one of US singer Edwin Starr's chartbuster song: &quot;War, What is it good for? Absolutely nothing&quot;. Only that the mood here is sombre and poignant, unlike the uplifting beats of Starr's classic track.</p> <p>An exhibition of the artist's works, recent and from the past several years, was recently held at Durbar Hall Art Gallery in Kochi.</p> <p>Inquisitively titled 'History Lab and The Elegy of Visceral Incantations', the works, both paintings and sculptures, throw up questions on the nature of violence, its commodification, and its impact on lives. Especially so in a world which has gotten comfortably used to violence.</p> <p>Symbols of war, prosthetics, flags, and recurring motifs of human skulls and limbs feature in almost all of Santhosh’s works, adding a sense of morbidity to the paintings. But, there is also an antidote to all the violence that unravels in the forefront; the cleverly juxtaposed flora in the backdrop. Beyond raising rhetorical questions, his art also offers potential solutions to the chaos.&nbsp;</p> <p>Though he hails from Kerala, many observe that Santhosh's works have nothing Indian or Keralaesque in them. In a conversation with film critic C.S. Venkateswaran, Santhosh answers that his works are more cosmopolitan than tied to a specific place.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Questions like 'Who is the real enemy?' or 'Who is trapped?' can be applied in any context, place or time and still be relevant. This idea of the enemy can be highly problematic at times and could be addressed from various points of view. Politics, in my case, is not intentional, it may be there as part of a larger humanist worldview,&quot; the artist adds.&nbsp;</p> <p>In his series of paintings 'When The World Enters Your Home', Santhosh presents a powerful narrative wherein the mundane setting of a household collides with the harsh realities of violence. Through paintings depicting TVs playing visuals of houses burning or a bullet-riddled door, he vividly portrays the traumatic impact of violence on families, as if urging us to confront the unsettling intersection of the personal and the political.&nbsp;</p> <p>Covid also makes an entry in his paintings;<i>&nbsp;'</i>Protagonist and His Clock of Apocalypse', and 'When World Was Gasping For Its Breath', both featuring a man in a white PPE kit. The 'protagonist' has an elongated clock in the former while in 'When World Was Gasping For Its Breath', we see the main character balancing a child, a teddy bear, and a crutch while sitting.&nbsp;</p> <p>Most of them have the same template; a yellow background giving a graffiti-like look to the paintings.</p> <p>While Santhosh’s paintings may not have a regional element, his sculptures do. The wooden sculptures of gigantic 100 and 5-rupee notes behind wooden bars analyse the distance between the public and the state. Behind it, he deftly carves a list of a multitude of taxes that dictate the state’s relations with the public.</p> <p>Santhosh also breaks the notion of watercolour being an inferior medium. &quot;It’s a tightrope walk. I wet the paper completely so that there is an adequate amount of moisture. The rainy season is when it's best to paint watercolour. So I wait for the rains,&quot; he adds.&nbsp;</p> <p>He wants the viewer to engage with art not only as a visual experience but also as a catalyst for introspection and dialogue. The series of paintings 'Jumbled Monologue' or the title piece 'The Elegy of Visceral Incantations' enable this communication, sometimes as a soliloquy, other times as a politics that shouts at your face. 'Jumbled Monologue' has writings on it, which Santhosh says are partially autobiographical and partially based on accounts by victims of war.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;I do not want to amplify the violence; the more you talk about violence the more it gets amplified. I’m stating that it’s there and that it’s a part of reality. The pain and suffering are there, but I do not wish to exaggerate it. I wish to put the question there,&quot; he remarks.&nbsp;</p> Fri May 10 17:16:26 IST 2024 body-shaming-up-calss-10-board-exam-topper-prachi-nigam-breaks-silence-on-cyber-bullying-facial-hair <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Prachi Nigam has finally broken her silence. The Class 10 UP Board examinations topper, who scored 98.5% marks, was ridiculed by a section of people online over her looks. At a time when she was supposed to get only appreciation and gifts, a sect took an unappreciated path of cyberbullying. And when the teenager finally responded to the development, it was short yet spot-on. &quot;My marks matter, not my facial hair...&quot;&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Prachi Nigam and toxic cyberspace</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After Prachi Nigam was identified as this year's Class 10 topper from Uttar Pradesh, some people initiated an unwanted discussion over her physical appearance. The trolls focused on her facial hair and only stopped after the sensible cyber population came together in her defence. Prachi's intelligence and effort mattered and it was the time to congratulate her, they pointed out.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Prachi, it doesn't make a difference if the trollers stop targeting her or not. The bright teenager is also aware that she is not the first person in the world to be body-shamed. To assert her point that great minds are often targeted, she told NDTV, &quot;Even Chanakya was trolled for his appearance and looks, but it didn't affect him either.&quot;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, she was not completely untouched by the uncouth trolling. Media reports quoted her as saying that she could have escaped the unpleasant situation if someone else had topped the exams. &quot;A few lesser marks in exams wouldn't have made me popular on social media. And I wouldn't have faced such trolling,&quot; Prachi reportedly said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Her parents Chandra Prakash Nigam and Mamta Nigam reportedly throw their weight behind their daughter. They said they are proud of Prachi's achievement which is no menial feet. The Uttar Pradesh Board result was declared on April 20</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sun Apr 28 19:42:18 IST 2024 viral-video-watch-take-that-chief-pune-man-celebrates-quitting-toxic-office-by-dancing-before-boss-with-pals-on-last-day <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&quot;In a toxic work environment, even the most dedicated employees can become disengaged,&quot; goes the viral LinkedIn post.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Leaving a toxic workplace is worth celebrating, people in white-collar jobs often say. However, despite brimming with happiness, most make the &quot;happy exit&quot; sans celebrations. The best most get to do is to cut a cake or distribute some other form of sweet with their colleagues on the final day.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For, Pune-based Aniket, that wasn't enough. According to news reports coming from Maharashtra, Aniket wanted his relief in leaving his job known to the public so much that he arranged a dhol band and danced as if nobody was watching! Among the spectators of his &quot;celebration&quot; to mark his last day at the organisation was his boss, reports said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to reports, the people who beat the dhol and danced alongside Aniket were his friends who knew how harsh the workplace was for him. The crew waited for his superior to walk out at the end of the day to start the revelries.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During his three-year-long stint with the said organisation, he hardly received any pay hikes or promotions and was overlooked by his superiors. Lack of respect at the workplace forced the youngster to look for other opportunities, the reports claimed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The video, which was viewed by over a million people on Instagram, also showed Aniket's boss losing his cool over the band and dance.&nbsp; He was seen shouting and pushing people who joined his ex-employee.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;I think a lot of you are going to relate to this. Toxic work culture is so prominent these days. Lack of respect and entitlement is quite common. Aniket is ready to begin with his next step. I hope this story inspires people,&quot; anishbhagatt, a verified Instagram handle that shared the video wrote.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>WATCH THE VIRAL VIDEO HERE:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The video also added that Aniket appreciates any leads to finding a better job in Pune.</p> Sun Apr 28 16:41:19 IST 2024 goa-is-not-just-a-beach-destination-it-has-huge-potential-for-eco-tourism <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Earlier this month, P.S. Sreedharan Pillai, the governor of Goa and an eminent author who has so far penned 230 books held a symposium on the traditional trees of India at the Raj Bhavan in Goa. Well-known experts from across India participated in the symposium and presented their valuable study papers on India's rich natural heritage. Under his governorship, the Raj Bhavan is taking steps to promote Goa's lesser-known historical and cultural heritage, especially through the governor's widely circulated books, including, 'Heritage Trees of Goa', 'Discovery of Vaman Vriksha Kala' and 'Heavenly Islands of Goa'.</p> <p>The governor’s writing career began in 1973 with articles, stories&nbsp;and&nbsp;poems. Speaking about Dr Pillai, Goa CM Dr. Pramod Sawant&nbsp;in&nbsp;an earlier occasion, said, &quot;His first book came to be published in 1985 bearing the title 'Rent Laws of Kerala.' The pace of his writings then picked up and he attained the first milestone in his career when his Malayalam book 'Pazhassi Smriti' was released in 2010 by the then President of India, Pratibha Patil.&quot;&nbsp;</p> <p>The governor's 100th book – ‘Dark Days of Democracy’—was released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018. The next 100 books have incredibly come in a short span of 5 years. In an exclusive interview with THE WEEK from Raj Bhavan in Goa, the governor speaks about his interests and more.&nbsp;</p> <p>Excerpts from the interview:</p> <p><b>Tell us about the symposium on traditional trees of India. What was the idea behind it?</b></p> <p>We are bound to promote constitutional provisions mentioned in&nbsp;chapters&nbsp;of Directive Principles and Fundamental Duties.&nbsp;i.e&nbsp;Chapter IV and Article 51 A. Our&nbsp;mother land&nbsp;Bharatvarsha, from time immemorial, expounded that plants are sentient beings, though their faculties are dormant, dull&nbsp;and&nbsp;stupefied. The Rig Veda and Atharva Veda note consciousness in plants. Our ancient findings on plant consciousness are now accepted by the world as true. Jagadish Chandra Bose,&nbsp;the Indian&nbsp;scientist, discovered over a century ago that plants possessed a nervous system similar to animals. Bose became the first to use the term ‘Plant Nerve’. Before him, Augustus Waller from London claimed that he had reported ‘the phenomenon of vegetable electricity’. Bose’s first experiments went to proving plants had life. He invented the machine ‘crescograph’ - (A crescograph is a mechanical device that measures plant&nbsp;growth,&nbsp;and was invented by Bose in the early 20th century) and through&nbsp;it&nbsp;he convinced the world&nbsp;the&nbsp;screams of agony of a fresh cabbage while it was being boiled in water. He demonstrated it before the Royal Society of London in 1901. Nobel Prize winner George Bernard Shaw – (Irish playwright), who was a vegetarian, is said to have wept while witnessing the screams of agony of a fresh cabbage while it was being boiled in water by J.C. Bose. Now, the world accepted the theory put forward by Bose about one century ago. Why did Western scientists and Indians overlook the details of&nbsp;Shri.&nbsp;J.C. Bose’s detailed experiments in full vigor is a question that requires an answer even now.</p> <p><b>You say you have a reverence for trees. You have even penned a book titled 'Heritage Trees of Goa'.</b></p> <p>It was in Mizoram that I first&nbsp;learnt&nbsp;about my&nbsp;own&nbsp;fascination for trees. Before coming to Goa, I was the governor of Mizoram for almost 2 years. In the National Index of Happiness, Mizoram is ranked No. 1. Its forest cover is 89&nbsp;per cent&nbsp;in terms of percentage vis-à-vis geographical area. You look at Finland. In the World Happiness Index Finland is ranked as the happiest country on the earth. Its forest cover is 74&nbsp;per cent. So, you see there is a definite correlation between happiness and forest cover. You all know when trees breathe they take in the carbon dioxide that we breathe out and they release out the oxygen that we breathe in. So, you can then imagine the huge quantum of pure fresh oxygen that is available to all these fortunate people and how much it has contributed to their overall well-being. In terms of other benefits, trees absorb cosmic healing energies from the sun and moon and gently radiate them toward the earth's living beings for their health and well-being. Trees shelter thousands of creatures of all kinds. Every single part of a tree is useful, either as food, medicine, fuel, timber, or as source material for building various things. Therefore, we as human beings must understand and appreciate their indispensable and invaluable existence on the planet.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>You have highlighted Goa's vast green cover and have promoted it for tourism</b></p> <p>After I took charge as governor (of Goa) in July 2021, I visited Partagal Mutt in Canacona Taluka to pay my respects to His Holiness. Swamiji informed me about the existence of thousand-year-old a banyan tree in the sacred precincts of Partagal Mutt. It was then I decided that one day I would return to the Partagal Mutt to worship this great banyan tree. About a year later, I began the&nbsp;Saimik&nbsp;Daiz Yatra (journey to learn about natural heritage trees of Goa) by worshipping the thousand-year-old banyan tree in the divine presence of His Holiness and then went on to see and learn about 30 more heritage trees all more than 100 years to 500 years old spread out over the length and breadth of Goa. There were some amazing trees that I discovered on the premises of&nbsp;the temples and churches like Shidam, Satvin, Baobab (an African tree known as&nbsp;'Tree&nbsp;of Life'), Maddi&nbsp;and&nbsp;Hudo. These trees reflect the deep spiritual and cultural bonds of local communities with nature and have been worshipped and protected by the people over the centuries. These trees also constitute an integral part of the folklore and socio-cultural association of the people with nature and the environment. The yatra resulted in the writing and publication of 'Heritage Trees&nbsp;of Goa' which was released by the governor of West Bengal. The main purpose of this book was to let the country and the world know about the unique eco-cultural heritage of Goa and to promote the state as an eco-tourism destination.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>You have also authored a book titled 'Vaman Vriksha Kala' based on the art of Bonsai and created a Bonsai garden in the Raj Bhavan to further promote this art. Tell us more about it.</b></p> <p>‘Vaman Vriksha Kala’ is a monograph focusing on the&nbsp;specialised&nbsp;subject of ‘Bonsai’ i.e. potted trees.&nbsp;In fact,&nbsp;the name of the book means 'the art of miniature trees.' The prime intention of the book is to firmly establish the fact that Bonsai is originally an Indian art, as against the widely held belief that it belongs to China and Japan. In the book I have provided sufficient evidence from ancient Sanskrit texts to establish this claim that the art of Bonsai has its roots in India, and why our ancestors reduced trees to potted size.</p> <p><b>Then there is this book on Kaavi Art, a type of stencil technique with red soil and lime, most often found in coastal Maharashtra and Karnataka. How did you come to write a book on it?&nbsp;</b></p> <p>I was fascinated with Kaavi Art as it is Goa's only native painting technique and it happened during my visit to Bicholim when I witnessed the restored Kaavi artworks at the Shree Hanuman temple at Advalpale. Later, we had a four-day workshop at the Raj Bhavan in Goa to promote this art. I truly believe that Aaavi Art is a masterpiece of Goa's cultural heritage. It is also important to note that Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned the importance of Kaavi Art in his 'Mann Ki Baat' episode in 2021. I am sure it will bring nationwide attention to this ingenious art form.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>It will be four years since you assumed charge as Governor of Goa. What do you think are the aspects that still require a change in the state?</b></p> <p>The first and foremost change is required in the mindset that Goa is a beach-only destination. There is so much more to this state that needs to be talked about. Goa has a huge potential as an eco-tourism destination, with a rich historical and cultural heritage. At the Raj Bhavan that has been my single-minded focus so far and that is how I have highlighted varied aspects of Goa through numerous books that I have authored over the last four years.&nbsp;</p> Fri Apr 26 17:04:57 IST 2024 k-c-verma-ias-my-wife-s-kitchen-in-the-palace-patna <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>One comes across ‘Sita Maiyya ki rasoi’ at many places of pilgrimage where, it is believed, Sita Ji set up her kitchen while wandering over hill and dale for 14 years of ‘vanwas’ with Lord Ram. Sometimes I wonder whether the many places in which my dear wife has set up her kitchen and cooked for me and our children will ever get to be as famous. The one that most deserves such recognition is the one that she set up immediately after we got married.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I was posted in Patna in 1975 and, towards the end of that year, I took leave for a couple of weeks to get married. When I returned with my new bride, I learnt that I had been transferred to Darbhanga as commandant of an armed police battalion. My friends in Patna informed me that the commandant’s house was a large bungalow of the Darbhanga Raj, with a sprawling compound. It was common practice in the 1970s for officers living in such bungalows to let out the land for sharecropping to a ‘bataidar’ and earn a good amount from sale of the crop. But agriculture is hardly ever of great concern to newly married couples.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After an overnight train journey to Darbhanga, my wife and I drove to the commandant’s bungalow, which was indeed very large. But we were disappointed to learn that the family of my predecessor, Mr. Sinha, was still living in the house. My predecessor had left a message that they would stay in the house for some more time and that he had arranged for us to stay in the guest house of the local Postal Training Centre. So my wife and I proceeded to the Postal Training Centre, which we were delighted to find was housed in the Bela Palace of the Darbhanga Raj.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This small palace had been constructed for a scion of the royal family and was acquired by the Postal Department sometime in the 1960s, along with all its fittings and furniture. The building was said to have been inspired by the palace in Versailles. It had similar intricate balustrades, sweeping staircases and fine Carrara marble flooring. The original master bedroom, with a huge bathroom, had been reserved as a guest room for visiting officers. We were escorted to this room, while two attendants followed with all our worldly possessions - three steel trunks, two suitcases, one holdall and one deal wood box containing the camp kitchen of my bachelor days.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The guest room was magnificent! It had heavy drapes and a regal four-poster bed with gossamer-thin mosquito curtains. There was what looked like a Chippendale writing bureau and two faux Loius XIV chairs, upholstered in slightly moth-eaten gingham.&nbsp; But no other furniture! So, we arranged the steel trunks and suitcases on the floor, leaving sufficient space so as not to scuff the walls.&nbsp; Notwithstanding its opulence, however, the bedroom alone could not be used as living quarters for an extended period because there was no kitchen. My wife looked at the huge expanse of immaculate marble and decided to set up the very first kitchen of our wedded life on the floor in a corner of the bedroom. I had to admit that the pots and pans and a ‘Janata’ brand kerosene stove, painted in garish red, green and yellow, did not much enhance the beauty of Bela Palace.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Initially, there was a quaint novelty about the situation – a newly married couple, the wife lovingly preparing dinner and the devoted husband peeling potatoes, without even changing out of his police uniform on return from office! But the charm wore off very quickly. After all, how long can cooking utensils be washed in a queen-sized bathtub? Living out of a suitcase is fine for a day or two, but not much longer. And certainly not when one must wear a well-ironed uniform every day.&nbsp; But Mr Sinha’s family showed no inclination to vacate the house that was now rightfully ours. I broached the matter politely with Mrs Sinha, who said that they would vacate the house as soon as their son’s examinations got over. A week passed. Nothing happened. I then telephoned Mr Sinha, who said that he needed a few more days because some delicate negotiations for his daughter’s marriage were to be concluded. Another week passed. Still, nothing happened.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Then one fine morning, the quartermaster Subedar of the battalion informed me that the house would be vacated that day. He requested me to visit the house after office to see if any repairs were needed. I asked him whether the child’s exams were over, and if any match had been finalised for the daughter. The Subedar coughed delicately and looked away without answering. I understood his reticence that evening when I visited the bungalow. The house looked quite different, and I wondered why. And then it struck me! The place was bare! The paddy that had been standing in the vast compound had been harvested!&nbsp; Obviously, Mr. Sinha had not vacated the house as he was waiting for the crop to ripen. In fact, I would have gladly let him reap what he had sown if only he had mentioned the matter. Instead, my wife and I had to suffer the comforts of living in a magnificent palace.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But the experience was not a total waste because I got one lasting benefit. Over the past almost fifty years that we have been married, I have not been a paragon of virtue, nor the ideal husband. My wife has been annoyed, exasperated and just plain angry with me on more occasions than I care to remember. But whenever she complains that I do not value her enough or that I treat her as anything less than a queen, I gently remind her that after we got married, I had carried her away to live in a palace!</p> Wed Apr 24 20:39:04 IST 2024 bhopal-tea-vendors-decade-old-free-food-initiative-feeds-the-needy <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>There are evenings when Gajraj Choudhary, 48, is quite a dejected man. These are evenings when Gajraj hasn’t been able to find any manual labour job to do throughout the day and thus he has nothing to take home to feed his three motherless children. Also, these are the evenings that Gajraj’s feet automatically turn to Nadra Bus Stand in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh.</p> <p>Here, in front of a modest kiosk selling special ‘namak&nbsp;wali chay’ (salted tea) of Bhopal, stands a modest metal table. On the table are packets of hot food. And most of the time, Gajraj can simply pick up packets as required and walk off, without having to ask or say anything. Of course, he doesn’t have to pay anything either.</p> <p>For, the small table serves as the serving tray of the ‘Langar-e-Aam’ of ‘Maqbool Bhai’ – a small free food initiative for the needy that has been run for the past decade.</p> <p>‘Maqbool Bhai’ is Maqbool Ahamed, the owner of the tea kiosk, who without fail puts up about 100-125 packets of hot food before his stall every evening at 8.00 pm.</p> <p>From then till midnight, poor, destitute, travellers with little or no money and other needy people pick up the food packets and go away with a smile and a blessing for Ahamed.</p> <p>“I lost my son, lost interest in life, developed an infection in my foot, stopped working and have no choice but to stay on the footpath here. But for food provided by Maqbool Bhai, survival would have been tough as I don’t beg,” Jaswant Lodhi, 40, who is a regular at the Langar-e-Aam says.</p> <p>Binno Bai and Tara Bai, two elderly destitute women were offered the food packets by Ahamed with great respect and affection. The women were reluctant to speak, but their smiles said a lot about their happiness at getting the fresh, hot food.</p> <p>What made Ahamed start this small but significant initiative? “From my tea kiosk set up in 1990, I was witness to travails of the homeless, destitute,&nbsp;poor&nbsp;who stayed or visited the bus stand. I saw people fall ill and die, often starved. This shook me up and though I did not have much budget to spare, I decided to start this Langar (community kitchen) for these needy people in 2013. And by the grace of almighty, I have been able to put out the food&nbsp;everyday&nbsp;for the past more than 10 years. I feel that offering needy people the opportunity to survive with some dignity – where they do not have to beg at least for food – is the best service to humanity one can do,” Ahamed, 58, says.</p> <p>He mentions that though he never sought any support for his initiative from anyone, some of his friends and associates who came to know about it, voluntarily contributed in the form of raw material – rice, flour, vegetables or oil. Some continue to do so even now.</p> <p>“There was a time before the COVID-19 pandemic when every evening almost 300-350 persons would come for food. After the pandemic, however, the number has reduced to around 100-125,” Ahamed says.</p> <p>Yet, he bears a cost of about Rs 1,000 per day to keep his modest initiative going. Normally, the Langar-e-Aam serves chapatis and seasonal vegetable curry thrice a week and on other days, items like daal and rice, matar (peas) pulao, sometimes khichdi (porridge) or similar simple vegetarian stuff.</p> <p>The main focus is that the food should be fresh and hot. So during winters, packets are put up in batches so that food can be heated up for those coming later. This correspondent tasted a little of chapati and potato-brinjal-tomato curry served on the evening of her visit and found it very tasty.</p> <p>Earlier in the evening, Devendra Singh, a conductor on an inter-district bus running from the Nadra Bus Stand, had escorted two poor families who had come to look for work in Bhopal to the Langar-e-Aam.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I heard their discussion on the bus about having no money to buy dinner for all of them. Since I am a regular at the bus stand, I remembered about Maqbool Bhai and when the bus reached here, I asked these persons to get the free food from the Langar. I too got blessings along with Maqbool Bhai,” Singh says with a smile.</p> <p>These blessings are what have kept Ahamed’s resolve strong for the past decade. “I have faced some opposition from a few jealous people around my kiosk. They try to create hurdles. But as Hazrat Ali (Islamic religious leader) said – the work that does not face hurdles does not get accepted as good work. So I live by this principle and keep doing my work.”</p> <p>Will the initiative keep running? “Till my death at least,” says Ahamed. He says that all his three children – two daughters and a son – have completed their education and are doing good jobs in Bengaluru.&nbsp;</p> <p>“My wife and the kids always supported me in this work and they will continue to support me, though they might not be able to continue the Langar physically after me. Maybe my brothers could carry on. But at least till I am alive, I will continue with this,” he says.</p> <p>“I feel it is almighty who helps me on my tough days through Maqbool Bhai. So I do not thank him. I thank the almighty and I urge the almighty to keep Maqbool Bhai and his family happy and healthy always,” Gajraj Choudhary says as he starts to move away with the food packets.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Maqbool Ahamed smiles and nods – his eyes silently speaking of the satisfaction he gets out of helping out fellow human beings.</p> Tue Apr 23 21:29:44 IST 2024 happiness-brigade-of-abhinav-malhotra-honours-unseen-heroes <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>There is an Aesop’s fable about Androcles and the lion. In this story, Androcles, after escaping enslavement, comes across a lion with a thorn stuck in its paw. Androcles remove the thorn and relieve the lion from great pain. Later, both are captured and Androcles is sentenced to be “thrown to the lions”. As it happens, he is imprisoned with the lion he saved, who merely licks his hand in greeting. The moral of the story: Gratitude saves lives.</p> <p>Abhinav Malhotra, 37, who founded the ‘happiness brigade’ or Rab Shukran in 2019, would know this first-hand. He and his team hand out gratitude cards and flowers to those whose work goes unseen and unappreciated. “We talk about the mental health of corporates and others in high positions,” he says. “But what about the ambulance drivers, traffic policemen, rickshaw drivers…. Nobody is talking about their mental health.” They are the ones who are the backbone of society; they make everything work. And what are we&nbsp;really&nbsp;doing for them, he asks.&nbsp;</p> <p>Rab Shukran means ‘God’s thank you’, and Abhinav, based in Delhi, came up with the name because he believes that you don’t need to go to temples or churches to find God. He is right there in the form of the person who is standing before you. If you help that person, you find God.</p> <p>It all began three years after Abhinav graduated from college when he lost his father. While sitting by his sick father’s hospital bed for 12 days he prayed hard that God would heal him. When he did not get better, Abhinav gave up religion and grew angry and frustrated with life. Which then settled into a dark period of grief. “Although we loved each other, we never used to express it much,” he says. “There were a few occasions when my father shared his worries and struggles with us. Now when I look back, I wish I had offered him a hug. He would have accepted it. That has always been a regret.”</p> <p>That is when it struck him how uncertain life was. His father, who worked in the textile industry, had always worked hard to provide for his family and educate Abhinav and his elder sister. He gave up many privileges and luxuries in&nbsp;life,&nbsp;and spent long hours in the office. When he lost him, Abhinav realised that none of us would know what was going to happen in our lives the next day or the day after that. He decided he would make the most of each day, contribute something to society, and live in the present moment.&nbsp;</p> <p>Around this time, he also discovered Buddhism, when his friend took him to a Buddhist meeting. It helped him answer some of the questions which he had been grappling with. His Buddhist mentor, Daisaku Ikeda, taught him how peace could not be attained by participating in long discussions or joining the UN. It starts from where you are. Whatever peace you have attained in your own life, you can bring it to someone else as well. That was the core thought behind Rab Shukran.</p> <p>That&nbsp;time, there was a lot of news in the media on intolerance and petty fights and murders over things as small as a pack of cigarettes. Abhinav brainstormed with his friends on what they could&nbsp;do,&nbsp;and came up with the idea of gratitude cards. So, one Sunday morning, they made and distributed the cards with personalised messages. For a traffic policeman, for example, they would have a message about how they were thankful to him for standing in the scorching heat or rain and directing traffic, which, they wrote, had not gone unnoticed.&nbsp;</p> <p>“These would be the thoughts going through the policeman’s&nbsp;own&nbsp;mind, that he was standing there without even a washroom break, and what thanks was he getting from the people, who were more likely to abuse him than show gratitude,” says Abhinav.</p> <p>Rab Shukran today includes hundreds of volunteers and has distributed over 15,000 cards. They are mostly self-funded, and other than distributing cards and flowers, they hold workshops and make kindness calendars, where they allot days to smile at strangers or take out a slum kid. During the pandemic, they connected those who needed money for ration with those who were willing to provide it, through services like Grofers.&nbsp;</p> <p>There are many instances Abhinav can recall when the cards made a difference in someone’s life. He remembers once handing cards to BSF soldiers standing outside PM Narendra Modi’s house. After half an hour, one of them called Abhinav to thank him. He was in tears and told him how he had been posted in different places in his career, and although he was proud of his job, no one before this had appreciated the sacrifices he made or the long&nbsp;stretches of time&nbsp;he had to go without seeing his family. There are few times when people even look at us, the soldier told him. We see hundreds of cars passing us, and no one even smiles at us. What you did had a huge impact on me.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Seeing these men in their 50s crying and thanking us made a big impression on me,” says Abhinav. “When I was young, I was bullied and slapped. Children used to make fun of my clothes and my haircuts. I was never able to express what I was feeling to anyone. Nobody ever came to me to ask how I was doing or whether there was anything that troubled me.” And now he hopes to do for others what he wishes someone had done for him.</p> Tue Apr 23 21:16:39 IST 2024 dubai-diary-exploring-the-city-where-culture-meets-modernity <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>It has been a mixture of relief and shock as I grappled with the idea of Dubai inundated with unprecedented rains. To think that I was right there on Sheikh Zayed Road walking with my friend and being driven all over the beautiful sites of the city just a couple of weeks ago seems unbelievable when I see the pictures of a multitude of cars caught up in endless traffic jams. The whole city’s landscape seemed to have changed in a matter of a few hours.</p> <p>So, here I am with my experiences of a city which has been one of the most favourite of all places I have ever been to, partly because I went there to be with my longstanding friend Nidhi Keswani, a proud advertising professional who is between work assignments and had plenty of time to spare and show me around the city she moved to back in 2021.</p> <p>The first place I visited was in the old part of Dubai popularly known as Bur Dubai. The place was called Al Seef which houses a magnificent recreation of old Dubai in the form of beautiful mud houses, antique shops selling old utensils, jewellery, lamps and so many knick knacks. I was enraptured by the waves of water flowing close by and the abras (small boats) floating in it with the backdrop of colourful lights recreating magic in the cool breeze. This wasn’t the Dubai I had heard about; it was culture, food (we feasted on roasted water chestnuts) and beauty in the form of antiquity.</p> <p>The next evening, we visited the fabulous Global village fair on the outskirts of Dubai which is a huge extravaganza displaying the beautiful pavilions of various countries to showcase their handicrafts, fabrics, artifacts, food and other lifestyle products and cultural displays. Thanks to the enthusiasm of my friend, I experienced a whole bunch of pavilions like Japan, Egypt, Africa, Pakistan, India, Turkey and Iran. We enjoyed fresh fruits, saw some live singing and even managed to relax on the beautifully manicured lawns. There was a huge crowd but the venue was spacious enough to accommodate the local and the tourist population.</p> <p>My next stop in Dubai was the iconic Burj Khalifa which is built in a way that the visitors enjoy shopping in Dubai Mall and then go up the elevators to see the view from ‘At the top’. Shopping at the beautiful and mesmerising Dubai mall was an exhilarating experience—the shiny stores, the legendary brands, the gorgeously dressed women. Trying out dresses and outfits in the fitting rooms was amazingly satisfying! I ended up using my forex much more than I thought I would. The evening ended with the beautiful Burj Khalifa and although the queue was never ending, the final view from the top more than made up for it! The cherry on the top was the lovely lunch at the Cheesecake Factory where Nidhi made me relish every bit of the roasted and grilled cheesy corn sticks and the lovely pink sauce pasta. It was delicious with generous portions and the dessert melted in my mouth and my heart both literally and metaphorically. I guess the child in me is still alive.</p> <p>The next day we went to the Miracle Garden which couldn’t have been named more aptly. It is huge housing an infinite variety of flowers, trees, shrubs and greenery that is extraordinary and amazingly aesthetic. Animals, birds and Hobbits, complete with their houses, dancing damsels all made with flowers. I was mesmerised by the sheer beauty of the canopies made with upside-down umbrellas and the castle made right in the centre of it. The lovely breeze, great company and my friend happily clicking pictures…all of this coming together took my breath away that evening and it was with heavy steps that we bid adieu to the inimitable Miracle Garden.</p> <p>It was another exciting day when we started for another adventure in the heart of Dubai. Our first destination was the Deira city mall where we shopped for ethnic wear, had saffron tea at a cute café, left from there to go to Meena Bazar which houses a spice souk and of course a Gold Souk (market). I haven’t seen so much gold jewellery ever in one place and it was only my sane self that kept my shopping instincts in check. We had the best ever falafel sandwich from a street vendor and satiated our hunger pangs. The most amusing were these shady looking young men who kept whispering ‘Gucci’ and ‘Prada’ when we were within earshot. My friend explained that Dubai is widely known for its grey market of imitations of branded bags and clothes. I was surprised to know that the copies of branded bags were probably a more thriving business than the original!</p> <p>My next stop was the Bluewater’s Island which is man-made and boasts of Ain Dubai, a huge giant wheel with pods from where one can enjoy an aerial view of Dubai. The entire area is built around the seaside, a beautiful bridge taking you right up to the other side called Dubai Merina, an outdoor mall with beautiful shops and cafes and lush green lawns with a heavenly breeze blowing right through. We went to this cute little shop called Mumuso where I bought a few random knick knacks and a pair of shades recommended by Nidhi. The most beautiful moments were watching the sun set right in front of our eyes while enjoying the view and sitting in one of those cute little benches meant for young people like me…oh, what I would give to relive that precious moment!</p> <p>My penultimate day in Dubai was a surprise organised by my hosts Nidhi and her husband. We went to a place called the Chinese Bistro for an early dinner, the food was fantastic and then came the cab ride to the ‘Surprise’ which turned out to be a beautiful theatrical extravaganza called ‘La Perle’ located next to the busiest business and entertainment district of Dubai. For the next two and a half hours, we were transported to the world of lights, drama, acrobats, stunt artists, gymnasts, bike riders accompanied by the best of songs and music. It was awesome and literally an out of the world experience. I loved every minute of it. Then we visited the famous Habtoor palace, a five-star hotel, took a lazy stroll along the canal, watching the still waters and the skyline reflecting its lights in its waves. The evening ended with a lovely dessert at the very popular Home Bakery.</p> <p>The last stop in my Dubai trip was the famous Atlantis hotel as viewed from the Pointe mall located in the posh Palm Jumeirah area. It was a beautiful drive to the outdoor mall, palm trees lit up through the entire road, an evening which was unforgettable. We had started from home after an early dinner and so all we did was walk along the beach and enjoy the panoramic view.</p> <p>These beautiful ten days that I spent in Dubai were imprinted in my mind and after getting back when I read about the devastating rains and the flooding of this beautiful city, my heart kept going back to this city which is not only modern and beautiful but also has a culture of its own. The people are courteous and follow rules, the cabs are easily available and the cab drivers polite. My friend told me that the security is so strict that if you forget your wallet or belongings in a cab or a restaurant, you will certainly get it back or hear from the owner soon enough. The infrastructure and the civic sense of the people, traffic rules being followed religiously and the polite culture of the place all make Dubai one of the best places to live in. Reading about how hard people are trying to get the city back on track made me grateful for the indomitable spirit of the people of this city.</p> <p><b>Gauri Mishra is a professor in Department of English, College of Vocational Studies, University of Delhi.</b></p> Tue Apr 23 19:15:55 IST 2024 meet-the-navy-veteran-who-chose-to-be-a-clown-to-see-ailing-children-smile <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>There was nothing remarkable about the day that Lieutenant Commander Pravin Tulpule’s telephone rang, 23 years ago. It was just another day of drills and duties in the Indian Navy, and he had no idea that his life was about to undergo a seismic shift. The lady on the other end was an old friend, and she asked Pravin whether he could do a few magic tricks – his speciality – to some kids she knew that weekend. Further, she suggested he wear a clown costume, which would be a novelty for the children.&nbsp;</p> <p>He was not surprised by the request. Throughout his 17 years in the Navy, he had always been the “funny guy”. Whenever there was a function or party, his friends would ask him to entertain the children, while they would amble to another corner of the room. Initially, he resented being a “glorified babysitter”.&nbsp;</p> <p>“But now, I see how those functions trained me for what I am doing now,” smiles Tulpule, 62.&nbsp;</p> <p>When the weekend approached, he informed his commanding officer and drove to the site. Even before he got out of the car, he could see the children through the parted curtains of a window. All of them were wearing hospital masks, and some were wearing caps. For the first time, he realised that he was about to perform for sick children. “I was not sure if I could emotionally take on the challenge,” he says. He had two options: he could either drive away or he could keep his promise to his friend. He asked himself what was the worst that could happen if he decided to go in. His show might flop and everyone would think he was an idiot. “But one thing was certain. This battle that I was about to fight would not kill me,” he says.&nbsp;</p> <p>So, he went into the noisy pack of cancer kids in the room with a nervous smile on his face. The show was a huge success and the kids had a whale of a time. But the one person who remained in his thoughts afterwards was a small boy of five who tailed him wherever he went. He would rummage in Pravin’s magic bag and boldly reach into his pocket to see whether he was hiding a dove or a rabbit there.&nbsp;</p> <p>A couple of days later, he saw a newspaper article about his visit to the children with a small black-and-white picture of him with the boy. He rang up his friend to ask whether he could speak with the boy to thank him. In a subdued tone, the friend informed him that the child had died a while ago. Pravin was shocked, even more so when she told him that one of his last wishes had been to meet a circus joker. “Thanks to you, perhaps he experienced the happiness he was looking for before his death,” she told him.&nbsp;</p> <p>That experience shook Pravin, leading to the decision to quit the Navy and become a professional clown for sick children. Thus was born his alter ego – Happy, the Medical Clown. If he had only stayed in the Navy for two-and-a-half years longer, he would have received his pension and medical benefits. But the pull within him was too strong, and he could not wait. Today, he has no regrets, even though he loved his stint as a naval officer. He says the Navy does give you a window to return if you leave prematurely the way he did. But it did not even occur to him to do so.&nbsp;</p> <p>Some of his friends questioned his decision to leave, but most of them were supportive. He is especially grateful to his family for accepting his decision wholeheartedly, especially as his income was about to take a drastic dip. “To most people, as for me, your family’s opinion is what matters the most,” he says. “Because clowning is not about your face, makeup, or costume. It is about what is in your heart. Makeup only aids it. Once you are in your costume and your face is painted, it takes guts to come out of your bedroom and face your spouse and children. Are they going to be proud or are they going to ridicule you? Are [your children] only going to play with you in your drawing room, or will they go down the lift and step into the lobby with you? If you can break these barriers, you are a winner.”</p> <p>With his bushy beard and booming laugh, Pravin looks the part of the Santa Claus he is about to become in malls and hospitals this Christmas. All he lacks is a pair of half-moon glasses and a Santa hat. Throughout our Zoom conversation, he gives humorous asides and punctuates his anecdotes, even serious ones, with jokes. Even when out of costume, the clown within him occasionally peeps out. Clowning, for him, has become an attitude more than an activity.&nbsp;</p> <p>Some scientific data shows that humour can truly aid healing. According to the Mayo Clinic, it can stimulate many organs, soothe tension and, in the long term, improve your immune system and relieve pain. There are studies on patients in nursing homes showing a decrease in symptoms of dementia over 12 weeks of clown visits. Clowns, another study claims, reduced anxiety in children awaiting surgery.&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Pravin, clowning is about accepting that people will laugh at you and willingly becoming a target. He compares a clown to a soldier on the border ready to take a fall for you. “Likewise, the clown is there to take the fall for you, so that people will laugh at him and not at you.” Being a self-trained clown is not easy, he says. Because many people will take you for granted. They won’t think twice before slapping you on the backside or making faces at you. But the joy of eliciting a genuine laugh makes up for all of it. In a hospital, children lose their identity, privacy, and self-respect. They become non-entities in a hospital gown, waiting for the doctor to come and take their vitals or for a nurse to draw blood or change the bedsheet. When a clown goes with bubbles and toots to that child, he is not just entertaining him, he is giving him a reason for being.&nbsp;</p> Mon Apr 22 18:42:21 IST 2024 kerala-news-y-junction-angamaly-accident-meet-satheeshan-the-guardian-angel-of-kerala-s-kancor-junction-lottery-seller <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>T.K.Satheeshan, dressed in a shirt and white dhoti, serves as a guardian angel at the Kancor Junction on Angamaly-Manjaly Road in Kerala. Over the past six years, this 58-year-old lottery seller has played a crucial role in preventing numerous accidents at the hazardous Y-junction. His mere presence ensures an impeccable safety record, achieved solely through the use of his hands and his compassionate heart.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I have been a lottery seller for the past 10 years, and for the last six years, I have stationed myself at Kancor, a tri-junction of Angamaly-Manjaly road and FCI road leading to the Angamaly Industrial zone,” he shared with THE WEEK.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“For those approaching the junction from the industrial zone, visibility of vehicles on the Angamaly-Manjaly road is nearly impossible, leading to the notoriety of this junction for frequent accidents. I am not trained in traffic control, nor do I know any official hand signals as I never had the opportunity to learn driving. However, acknowledging the challenges faced by people passing in front of me, I took the initiative to use hand signals to manage traffic in this busy junction.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Satheeshan arrives at the spot at 9.30 am every day, and he will stay there till 3pm. He will sell up to 120 to 130 lottery tickets every day and earn around Rs750. “A lot of people support me for traffic volunteering by buying lotteries from me; some people do not even collect balance from me,” he says. “There are also some customers who get pissed off when they see me going to show traffic signals while they are there to buy lottery tickets. But I would tell them: ‘This [traffic controlling] is my priority’.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The lottery retailer, now with a loyal clientele of Kerala lottery buyers from the locality, reminisces about his beginnings. &quot;I displayed hand signals to a lorry driver approaching from the industrial area,&quot; he recalls. “In return, the lorry driver appreciated my service and motivated me to keep doing it. However, I expressed concerns about potential disapproval from the police regarding my involvement in traffic control. The lorry driver encouraged me saying that there wouldn't be any issue since I was merely assisting people. It's noteworthy that nowadays when the police or MLA traverse the road, they simply raise their hand and greet me.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Originally from Kuzhoor near Maala, Thrissur, Satheeshan engaged in various occupations before assuming the roles of a lottery seller and traffic volunteer. &quot;I held positions as an employee in a cycle chain cover company, a film representative, a theatre manager, and office secretary of a local organization before transitioning into a lottery agent,&quot; he recounts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He emphasizes being the sole breadwinner for his family, which includes his wife and 13-year-old son. Despite undergoing financial challenges, Satheeshan maintains his optimism regarding humanity and the kindness of others. &quot;I've experienced kindness from others,&quot; he notes.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;During the initial years, I used to stand at Kancor throughout the day. However, upon receiving advice from police officials concerned about my health, a resident from the Kancor neighbourhood generously provided me with a chair to sit on. Additionally, a paint company donated a sizable umbrella for some shade. It's truly fascinating that when you do good for others, others reciprocate with kindness.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Apr 22 18:04:22 IST 2024 music-kochi-cheers-as-rock-band-13ad-makes-epic-return-releases-new-single <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&quot;13AD stood out for their near-perfect rendition of songs by artistes on both sides of the Atlantic. With no recourse to YouTube tutorials, or other such to understand the method to making music, the band figured out how to perform those songs. They had two generations of music lovers hooked on to them.&quot; Musician Joe Peter thus recollected the impact of the rock music band <i>13AD </i>in its prime.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Had Peter <a href="" target="_blank">written the piece</a> today, he'd have mentioned how the band managed to enthral the representatives of the current generation as well.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>13AD</i>, which ruled Kerala's rock music scene in the 1980s and 90s, managed another memorable performance in Kochi on Saturday. They set the stage on fire at Thevara Sacred Heart College's Lakeview Ground during their second performance after the band's official comeback earlier in January.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The crowd went crazy as they sang <i>Queen's </i>&quot;We Will Rock You&quot;, among other epic songs. However, the highlight of the show was the release of their new single, <i>Nothing Has Changed</i>. It was written and composed by Mollywood music icon Deepak Dev.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During the event, the band also remembered to thank director Amal Neerad who featured the band's name during a song in his 2022 flick<i> 'Bheeshma Parvam</i>'. The scenes of the hit song Parudeesa included walls with the name of <i>13AD</i> painted on them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Founded by guitarist Eloy Isaacs in 1977, <i>13AD </i>initially focused on singing covers at Sealord Hotel in Kochi. However, the group became a fan-favourite across the country following the release of their first album<i> ‘Ground Zero</i>’</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The band, which disintegrated in the mid-1990s, currently comprises Pinson Correia, Jackson Aruja, George Peter, Eloy Isaacs, Floyd Libera and Pauly Joseph. The line-up earlier included Anil Raun, Petro Corriea, Ashely Pinto and Stanley Luzi.</p> Sat Apr 06 21:30:07 IST 2024 why-internet-is-excited-about-one-josh-bowling-s-wedding-in-2021-because-he-married-conjoined-twin-abby-hensel <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Abby Hensel and Brittany Hensel were largely unknown until 1996. The conjoined twins shot to fame that year after appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Later, they went on to be featured on the Life Magazine's cover and starred in a TLC documentary aged 16.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The conjoined twins, 34, with two heads, two hearts and two sets of lungs were in the news yet again after US media reports revealed that Abby got married in 2021. Her life partner was identified as Josh Bowling, a nurse and army veteran.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Images of the private ceremony showed Abby and Brittany donning a lace-trimmed sleeveless wedding dress, posing alongside Josh, who wore a grey suit.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On March 29, Friday, the twins confirmed the development by addressing their &quot;haters&quot; via TikTok. “This is a message to all the haters out there. If you don’t like what I do, but watch everything I’m doing, you’re still a fan,” a voiceover that was used in the post reportedly said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Hensels have also changed their Facebook profile photo to one of the wedding clicks, reports said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Abby Hensel and Brittany Hensel are &quot;dicephalic parapagus&quot; (fused side-by-side with two heads). The school teachers, who didn't let the condition restrict them to the four walls of their Minessotta residence, have two hearts, two oesophagi, two stomachs and three kidneys. Each twin reportedly controls their respective side of the body. Below the waist, they share all organs including the reproductive system. They were born with a third arm which was removed when they were 12.</p> Sat Mar 30 17:09:03 IST 2024 looking-for-summer-camps-for-kids-in-delhi-kolkata-bengaluru-mumbai-and-chennai-check-these-out <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>It's that time of the year when the schools are closed and children across the country are looking to enjoy their vacations. It is also the time for them to engage in their hobbies and also to learn a skill or two.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Here's a list of summer camps in Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Chennai where your kids can have fun and learn at the same time.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>KOLKATA</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>1. Sun and Sand theme summer camp</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: 3-14</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Duration: 10:30 am to 1pm or 2:30 pm to 5pm batch</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fee: Rs 3999 per week per child for morning batch and Rs 2999 for afternoon batch</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: Alipore and Ballygunge Dover Terrace.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: 8240537675</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>2. Saksham Hobby Classes</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: 8- 15</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Duration: Open until 8:00 pm</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fee: NA</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: Bangur Avenue</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: 09606268248</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>3. Prosenjit Wado Kai Karate Academy</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: 15- 25</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Duration: 7:00am- 10pm</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fee: NA</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: New Town Action Area 3</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: 07947147347</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>4. Ryu Karate Do Association</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: 10- 15</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Duration: 7:00am- 8pm</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fee: NA</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: Sn Paul Road</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: 07947137985</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>5.Gurukul Activity Centre Pvt Ltd</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: 10- 25</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Duration: 6:00am- 9pm</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fee: NA</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: Burrabazar</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: 07942684984</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>BENGALURU</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>1. Summer camp for kids and teens at FLUX, School of Arts</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: Cocoon aged between 3 – 5</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Caterpillar aged between 5 – 8</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Butterfly aged between 8– 12</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Teens aged between 13– 19</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Duration: 9:30 am to 12:30pm on Weekdays</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fee: NA</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: Indiranagar</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: 9606555607</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>2.Pragyaa Summer Camp 2024</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: 2-5 and 5-10</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Duration: April 3 to 26 ,10am to 1pm (Monday to Friday)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fee: Rs 3800</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: Anjaneya Nagar, Ittamadu</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: NA</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>3. The Training Central Cricket Academy - Summer Camp 2024</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: 10-17</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Duration: April 1 to May19,7:00am to 6:00pm</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fee: FREE</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: Training Central Cricket Academy, Siddhant School Ground Gathalli Pioneer Lake district Layout</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: 9129121119</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>4. Rang Tarang, Holistic Summer Camp</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: 5-10</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Duration: 9:30am to 12:30 pm, April 1 to 26</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fee: NA</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: Chimply Fun Preschool</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: 9886521029</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>DELHI</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>1. Summer Camp 2024</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: 6-15</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Duration: 12:00 am to 3:00pm, May 15 to June 26</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fee: Early birds Rs 6000 and Regular admission Rs 12000</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: Tree of Skills</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: NA</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>2. Summer Camp for Kids in Rohini Delhi 2024</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: 5-10</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Duration:( Monday to Friday) 10:00am to 12:00pm, May 15 to June 14</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fee: General admission, free</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: Gali Number 4</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: 9880334411</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>3. Residential Summer Camp – Rediscovering Minds 2024</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: All age groups</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Duration: 8:00am to 5:00pm, May to June 01</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fee: NA</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: Pathways World School, Aravali Retreat</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: NA</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>CHENNAI</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>1: Brainbay Eduspark (For children in Adambakkam)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: The Brainbay Adambakkam, 3, FC- Vanavil Flats, 3rd St, Kesari Nagar, Adambakkam, Chennai</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: 4.5 -14 years</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Date: April 1 to May 31, 2024</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Duration: 2 hours, Monday to Saturday (Offline &amp; Online)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fee: NA</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: +91 9840650213</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mail:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>2: Tiny tots’ Summer Camp</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: Second floor, Sports Complex, No: 474 Kilpauk Garden Road, Kilpauk, Chennai</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: 2.5- 5 years</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Date: March 25 to 29</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Time: 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fee: NA</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: +91 6382092919</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>3: Super Brain Summer Camp (Brain2Act program)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: Kids Care Rehab Center &amp; Adult Physio Care, 44 Gowdia Mutt Road, Royapettah, Chennai 600014</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: 3-12 years</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Schedule: March 25–April 4; April 15–April 26; April 29–May 10; May 13–May 24.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Time: 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fee: NA</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: 044-28353136</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>4: BrightCHAMPS – Summer Camp 2024</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: IIT Madras Open Air Theatre: Chennai, Hostel Avenue, Indian Institute Of Technology, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600036</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: 8-16 years</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Date: May 13 to 18</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Time: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fee: Rs 3000 onwards</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: NA</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>MUMBAI</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>1: HHM Summer Camp</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: HHM School, Veera Desai Rd, Andheri West</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: 1-7 years</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Date: April 15 to May 24</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Time: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Monday to Friday)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fee: NIL</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: 9820722032</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>2: Magic Beans TODDLER FUN SUMMER CAMP 2024</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: Sonal Building, Magic Beans, Kathryns, Ground floor Shop No.2, Tardeo, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400036,</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: 1.5-3 years &amp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Date: April 29 to July 15, 2024</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Time slots: Monday to Friday</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Batch 1: 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Batch 2: 4:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fee: Rs: 5995 onwards</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: +919641911911</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>3: Rapid Attackers Taekwondo &amp; Fitness Summer Camp</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: 101 Laxmi Darshan Apartment, Opposite Ticket Counter, Nalasopara East 401209</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: 3-12 years</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Date: April 15 to May 25, 2024</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Time slots: 9 am to 1.30 pm</p> <p>4.30 pm to 9 pm</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fees: Rs: 2500</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: +917709763723</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>4: Children Theatre Summer Camp</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Location: Five Senses Theatre Studio, D-5, Society no- 79, Beside Jankidevi Public School Four Bungalow (MHADA), Andheri West, Mumbai 400053</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Age: NIL</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Date: March 25 to April 8, 2024</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Time: 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fee: 5000</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Contact: NA</p> Sat Mar 30 11:51:21 IST 2024 a-new-museum-in-jaipur-trains-the-spotlight-on-2000-year-old-art-of-minakari-enamelling <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Jaipur is always a good idea. Those who have visited the city come back often. The lure of staying in a haveli hotel is unmatched, more so since the ones in Jaipur are rather economical. Moreover, it is unarguably the biggest home for arts and crafts in India ever since 1727, when the then monarch of Amer, Sawai Jai Singh II, founded the city using vastu shastra (principles of design) and shilpi shastra (principles of the arts) to build the world’s most beautiful city. He even invited artisans and craftsmen from across India—jewellers, painters, silversmiths, carpet weavers, dyers and printers—to make Jaipur their home.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The tradition continues. The most beautiful of everything in India is almost always found in Jaipur. It is thus one of India’s most popular tourist hubs and, thanks to its growing industry being Rajasthan’s capital, has a large expatriate population. The current ‘maharaja’, so to speak, Padmanabh Singh, from the former royal family, is doing his best to boost foreign tourism here. His mother, the beautiful Diya Kumari, is tipped to be the next chief minister after the upcoming assembly elections.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sunita Shekhawat is a well-known jewellery designer based in Jaipur. To celebrate her 25 years in the business, she put together The Museum of Meenakari Heritage (MOMH), which opened this week in the Pink City. “I wanted to be able to give back to the city that has given me so much,” Shekhawat says. Her children, Niharika and Digvijay, are also rather hands-on with their mother’s enterprise. “The museum is truly a vision of the people, for the people and by the people,” Shekhawat says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The museum has been curated by the well-regarded scholar, author and jewellery historian Dr Usha Balakrishnan, whose mastery of story-telling and research is evident on the walls just as Shekhawat’s mastery in enamelling is showcased in the jewellery. “I had approached Dr Balakrishnan for the ground floor space, and she suggested using it as a private gallery. As designers, we are very dependent on artisans, people need to see the beauty of what they can make with their hands from up-close, and understand the importance of their craft,” Shekhawat says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We are lucky to have a walk-through tour of the gallery with Dr Balakrishnan herself. “Sunita has revived the art of minakari so beautifully, I thought it would be appropriate to tell the history of the art here,” Dr Balakrishnan, wearing a handloom sari and her grandmother’s ruby-encrusted hair ornament, tells me.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Minakari enamelling is more than 2000 years old, there's evidence of it in Greece, Mesopotamia and Etruscan cultures. Then it went through a lull and died out in Europe; it was revived in the Byzantine period again, during the Ottomans. But in India, in the excavations of Taxila and Sirkap, two enamelled necklaces were discovered which are now in the national museum. One is white and the other is light blue enamels. This was in the first century; then right up to the 16th century, there is no evidence of enamelling or mention of it in any text. It’s amazing that enamelling is not indigenous to India but has become such a part of its local lexicon.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It suddenly flowered with the arrival of the Portuguese in India. Netherlands, France, and Italy had many trade contacts with India, as we were such a gem and luxury textiles supplier. Cultural exchanges were bound to take place as the foreigners were all carrying their personal jewellery. Jewellery was portable and could be liquidated for cash or spices. European jewellers soon began to work in India as the country became the hub for Golconda diamonds, Burmese rubies as well as Sri Lankan emeralds.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Minakari is an ancient technique that makes intricate designs with coloured glass layered with gold. The gallery is a grandstand of what minakari work is capable of. Different techniques of enamelling like cloisonné, champlevé, plique-à-jour, and basse-taille are showcased here. Many pieces are reproductions of historical pieces, such as oddly-shaped archer’s rings, or a sarpech (turban ornament, which is now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston), or drawn from jewels from miniatures. Perhaps the only gripe here is that each item on display is a reproduction. There’s nothing in the MOMH that is a genuine antique.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>An audio-visual and a real-life showcase present how the artisans work on the jewels, where each colour of powdered glass is set to a different temperature in the kiln separately. European flowers such as poppies and irises are shown as botanicals, then as Mughal representations, and then finally as little enamels in jewels. It is all quite breathtaking and extraordinary, and hard to imagine the human hand and the eye is capable of such finesse in such small proportions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“In Europe, enamelling work was on the front and the back of jewels. In India it got relegated to the back because we used the kundan technique (gems wrapped with real gold foil before being set in the frame) in the front,” Dr Balakrishnan says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Jewellers from across India – Bijapur, Hyderabad, Awadh – all came to Goa to learn enamelling. It then went to Lahore, Delhi, Agra and the Mughal capitals. It eventually moved to architecture and textile too. Benaresi saris that use red and green extra wefts are called minakari saris.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Different regions of India discovered their own coloured palette of preference. For example, Hyderabadi minakari was simpler and less cluttered, using black with another colour. Benaresi minakari used pink as a base. Mughals discovered their own techniques too. Ab-e-lehr were waves on the gold bae, Boond tola were translucent, Ferozi Zamin was a turquoise base, Nil Zamin was a navy blue base, Sabz Zamin was green, while Safed Chalwan was white.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Museum of Meenakari Heritage is Jaipur’s newest must-do. It’s a three-story flagship space spread over 2,200 square feet. It is designed by Siddharth Das Studio, which excels in museums and cultural space design, while Studio Lotus has built the edifice. Siddharth’s sister, actor Nandita Das is here for the opening too. As are couturiers Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, well-regarded jewellery lovers and aesthetes, and acclaimed product designer Rooshad Shroff. The museum is a delight for lovers of jewellery and art, as images from the British Museum, Victoria &amp; Albert Museum, Sotheby’s, the Al Thani collection, and the Aga Khan Museum have been sourced.</p> Thu Mar 28 14:16:37 IST 2024 of-old-age-hunting-accidents-and-unresolved-issues <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In school, I always played in the full-back position on the hockey team. So, I never got an opportunity to score a goal – something that I desperately yearned for. On one occasion, I begged our team captain to let me play as a forward – at least for part of one inconsequential match. He reluctantly agreed - and I was thrilled! Oh, that glorious feeling of running to get ‘unmarked’, receiving a long pass, dribbling past the last defender, and then scoring a goal. But even as I got to shoot at the goal a few times, the burly goalkeeper blocked every attempt. The two teams remained goalless, till almost the final whistle when I got a pass right in front of the goal. I was about to realise my lifelong dream. The goalie came charging out, even as I ran at full speed and flicked the ball towards the goal. Other players later said that the very earth seemed to shake when the goalkeeper and I collided.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I had no recollection of what happened after that, because the keeper and I both fell unconscious. We were taken to the hospital, where I received 10 stitches on my eyebrow and the goalkeeper got as many on his head. When I came to, I eagerly enquired, “Was it a goal?” Surprisingly, no one seemed to know. Everyone was concerned about the fallen gladiators and not one of the players had cared to note whether I had scored a goal.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The 10 stitches on my brow left an ugly scar, which I carry to this day – more than 60 years on. I used to look at this scar when I shaved and, every morning, I wondered whether I had scored that goal or not. And I remained convinced that there could be nothing worse than having an unresolved issue in one’s old age. Till I had that hunting accident last year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But let me explain. We old people are not stupid, and that is why we do not refer to our shenanigans and indiscretions as foolish actions. We call them ‘hunting accidents’. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, chivalry is not altogether dead. If a lady shrieks or screams, it behoves a gentleman to come to her succour and aid, even if the said lady is his wife. Whether the little woman screamed or she shrieked that afternoon was, however, of only academic interest – jolted as I was to total wakefulness from the absolute catalepsy of my afternoon siesta. I heard the shriek again from the general direction of the kitchen and I, the ever gallant husband, sprang to defend the dear wife.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I rushed to the kitchen where the little woman stood in a corner, frozen with fear. She looked the classic damsel in distress, straight out of some illustrated fairytale book. The fire-breathing dragon that had scared her was a medium-sized lizard sitting on the floor, moving its head from the left to right. Then again left to right. Menacingly. On seeing that wild reptile, the dormant knight within me came to life. With great alacrity I seized a lance-like broom lying nearby and lunged at that monster with a savage war cry. Sadly, as I pounced, the ground slipped away from under my feet, and I landed on the floor with all the 90 kilogrammes that I have at my command. But even as I fell, I managed a mighty swipe at the dangerous reptile.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The next thing that I remember was my wife bending solicitously over me, trying to wake me up. “Did I manage to kill the blighter?” I asked. The little woman looked nonplussed. “Oh, you must have. I think it scuttled away behind that shelf. But look, there is the tail!” Now, I love my wife dearly, but I will never forgive her for failing to observe whether I had killed the lizard or not. To point to a wriggling tail on the kitchen floor and inveigle me into believing that the ferocious reptile had been killed was simply not acceptable. I needed conclusive proof; like seeing the villain lying dead. I would certainly not have mounted the squished carcass of the reptile as a trophy, but I was equally averse to passing off a thin strand of something as proof of a ‘kill’. However, the corpse was conspicuous by its absence and all that I could see was a frantically wriggling tail, a few inches from my nose.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I sat up gingerly, and then with a scream collapsed to the floor. There was an excruciating pain in my ribs, my left knee, and my right hand! A few X-rays in the neighbourhood hospital confirmed that old men are fragile commodities. We returned home with a plaster cast on my hand, a taped-up chest, and a bandaged knee. Over the past few months, the plaster cast, the tape and the bandages have gone away, but the pain in my fingers remains.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Now, when I shave in the mornings, I see the scar on my brow, and I wonder whether I had indeed scored that goal. Then I feel the pain in the fingers with which I grip the razor, and I wonder if I had indeed killed that lizard. And I realise that having two unresolved issues in one’s old age is worse than having just one.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verma is a former civil servant and can be reached at <a href=""></a>.</b></p> Mon Mar 25 16:17:28 IST 2024 sadia-faizunnesa-bangladeshi-envoy-says-women-empowerment-and-dignity-are-interlinked <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Amid a heightened global consciousness on gender equality this month, with the United Nations headquarters in New York spearheading crucial dialogues to empower women and alleviate poverty from the Indian subcontinent to communities confronting deep-seated disparities, Bangladesh's Ambassador to Brazil, Sadia Faizunnesa, delivered a ground-breaking speech in Brasilia that elevated the discourse on women's empowerment to new heights before a rapt audience of diplomats, intellectuals and power brokers.</p> <p>Ambassador Faizunnesa's words were not merely a speech, but a sweeping recalibration of our moral compasses toward the universal truth that dignity is the wellspring from which true equity and human unity must flow. At the heart of Faizunnesa's speech lay that fundamental truth: Dignity is the ultimate antidote to the societal ills that afflict women. More than an abstract concept, dignity represents the unconditional acceptance of each individual's intrinsic worth, regardless of gender, status, or circumstance, she said.</p> <p>She wove an intricate narrative that seamlessly blended the pursuit of gender parity with the universal quest for human dignity. Her impassioned words transcended the conventional boundaries of the women's rights movement, casting a profound light on the intersectionality of gender, poverty, and the fundamental human yearning for respect and equality.</p> <p>At its core, Faisunneza’s call demanded nothing less than a &quot;revolution in our social psyche&quot; – an uncompromising rejection of the patriarchal norms and cultural biases that continue to undermine women's intrinsic dignity. In an instant, she gave voice to the silent struggles faced even by those deemed highly &quot;empowered,&quot; victims of persistent discrimination, harassment, and disrespect that erodes self-worth.</p> <p>The ambassador challenged the deep-rooted social norms that have perpetuated gender disparities across generations with intellectual prowess and moral courage, deftly weaving women's rights, economic empowerment, and the universal pursuit of human dignity.</p> <p>Her words crystallised the inextricable link between gender equality and the eradication of poverty, casting a powerful spotlight on the imperative to empower women as a catalyst for global progress and societal transformation, challenging deep-rooted social norms and inspiring a revolution of mindsets.</p> <p>With an illustrious diplomatic career spanning over two decades, Ambassador Faizunnesa brought a genuinely global perspective to her bold observations. Having represented Bangladesh across numerous multilateral forums, from the United Nations to the humanitarian movement to shelter 1.2 million Rohingya refugees, she combined world knowledge with a profound appreciation for the complex cultural and historical webs that shape the female experience.</p> <p>As she took the podium, hers was evidently no mere voice pleading for superficial reforms. Rather, Ambassador Faizunnesa issued a bold clarion for a radical redefinition of how society values and honours each woman's unique journey.</p> <p>Acknowledging the strides made in women's empowerment, from equal pay legislation to increased female representation in leadership roles, she argued, these achievements, as vital as they are, are not enough. &quot;Empowerment alone cannot fully address the structural issues within society,&quot; she declared.</p> <p>&quot;Let us face this now – now is the time for change,&quot; she said.</p> <p>Yet, far from sounding purely critical, her message offered hope and inspiration. Faisunneza pointed to the transformative example of her own country, Bangladesh, where Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's commitment to women's empowerment has yielded astonishing dividends.</p> <p>From instituting a Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs a month after independence to current literacy, entrepreneurship, and political representation initiatives, Bangladesh has emerged as a beacon for gender equality in the developing world.</p> <p>Testimony stories of women from humble origins to positions of leadership and prosperity, against all odds, offered a vivid testimony to the power of restored dignity.</p> <p>As Faizunnesa’s words gained force, echoing through the lecture hall of the Brazilian capital’s influential Instituto Geografico e Historico, it became clear this was no mere lecture – it was a visionary manifesto for a new era of justice and equity. A call to action for all, men and women alike, to challenge and dismantle cultivated biases, embracing the &quot;Culture of Peace&quot; she so eloquently advocated.</p> <p>For the diplomats and leaders present, Ambassador Faizunnesa's speech, whose portfolio takes her words to Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia, resonated far beyond national and regional borders.</p> <p>Her impassioned plea for a fundamental redefining of what dignity means for women holds the potential to inspire waves of transformative change across the globe, her voice elevated women's empowerment to a far greater crusade – a collective pursuit of a world where every woman can walk with her head held high, fulfilled not merely with opportunities, but with the unconditional celebration of her very humanity in dignity.</p> <p>It was a bold vision of unity through mutual respect and cross-cultural understanding. Given the setting and reaching across the globe, her address cannot be ignored, for it illuminates a path to true equity that connects deeply with women everywhere.</p> <p>This landmark speech carries the weight and significance of pivotal moments like Hillary Clinton's iconic declaration that &quot;women's rights are human rights.&quot; Yet, Faizunnesa's clarion call goes even further – dignity is not merely a human right, it is the very essence of our shared humanity and the ultimate equaliser.</p> <p>Her words have ignited a vital dialogue that could reshape the global struggle for women's empowerment and gender equality.</p> <p>It was a watershed moment – a powerful reclamation of women's intrinsic dignity elevating the quest for women's empowerment from a pursuit of opportunities to a revolution of consciousness, where equality is achieved not merely through laws and policies, but through a seismic shift in how we perceive and honour the inherent worth of half the world's population.</p> <p>Faizunnesa's words carried a universal resonance that transcended borders, cultures, and creeds, resonating with the shared yearning for a world where every woman's dignity is fiercely protected and celebrated as sacred. By reframing the pursuit of women's empowerment as an unwavering crusade to enshrine dignity, her resounding message struck at the core of our shared humanity.</p> <p>In this profound paradigm shift lay the seeds of a seminal discourse with the power to reshape societal narratives and dismantle the insidious forces that have long undermined the feminine spirit. The Ambassador's daring proclamation that empowerment and dignity are inextricably intertwined was a rallying cry to elevate our collective consciousness - to honour women's inherent strength, not just their opportunities.</p> <p>With dignity as the bedrock, Faizunnesa's impassioned call has the potential to ignite a revolution that knows no bounds. A revolution where the feminine spirit soars, equal, liberated, and radiant in its infinite, inviolable dignity.</p> Sun Mar 24 12:14:50 IST 2024 tm-krishna-a-rebel-with-a-noble-cause <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Three days after Chennai-based Music Academy awarded popular singer T.M. Krishna with the Sangita Kalanidhi award, the highest honour in the world of Carnatic music, the entire Carnatic classical fraternity came down heavily on the vocalist. A bunch of musicians and singers protested against the move.<br> <br> Popular singer duo Ranjani and Gayatri had boycotted the annual December festival, the most revered music season in the classical world of music and dance. While many opposed Ranjani and Gayatri, few vocalists and artists came in support of them, opposing Krishna. Chitravina Ravikiran who received the Sangita Kalanidhi award in 2017 announced that he will return the award and the prize money to the academy as a protest against the academy’s decision to honour Krishna. Another vocalist duo known as Trichur brothers—Srikrishna Mohan and Ramkumar Mohan—also withdrew from the academy’s annual music conference. Vocalist Vishaka Hari also slammed Krishna and the academy for honouring Krishna.<br> <br> Soon, Thodur Madabusi Krishna, popularly known as TMK, turned the target. But for TMK who has been facing the wrath of his own music fraternity for his effort to democratise Carnatic music, this new episode may hardly be demoralising.<br> <br> A speaker, author and writer on social issues, Krishna was the first to push out caste elitism from the Carnatic classical establishment. Krishna had always distanced himself from the most popular December music season in Chennai which happens during the Tamil month Margazhi. He launched his own Uroor-Olcott Kuppam Marghazi Vizha. He had always openly said he believes that caste privilege is entrenched within classical music.<br> <br> For me as a journalist and as a regular visitor to his Uroor-Olcott Kuppam Margazhi Vizha every year, Krishna’s music and singing is a social movement to empower people. As a layperson, who doesn’t understand the ragas and the renditions in depth, Krishna’s concerts have been vibrant laced with a tapestry of songs and ragas that talk about India’s rich and diverse culture. When every Carnatic singer would choose to sing the songs of composers like Thyagaraja Shyama Shastri and Muthuswamy Dikshitar, Krishna would get into my heart through my ears with much ease with his own compositions of songs on the Dravidian icon EVR Periyar. TMK’s virtuosity and his compositions can bring alive the rebel voices of authors like Perumal Murugan.<br> <br> In 2017, his comments on M.S. Subbulakshmi triggered a row. Krishna saying Subbulakshmi distanced herself from the Devadasi culture to gain wider acceptance attracted criticism. He was called “anti-Indian” and wasn’t allowed to perform in the national capital. He was to perform at the Dance and Music festival organised jointly by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the cultural body, SPIC-MACAY.<br> <br> In 2018 he had extended support to Sofia Ashraf, the young woman who fought for the men and women affected by Unilever’s toxic mercury dump in the Kodaikanal hills. As Sofia sang, Krishna was among the audience, supporting the environmental cause. His book 'Reshaping Art' asks several uncomfortable questions—how art is made, performed and disseminated, and addresses crucial issues of caste, class and gender within society while exploring the contours of democracy, culture and learning—which the popular names in the Carnatic classical establishment would never accept.<br> <br> In his most popular book 'Sebastian and Sons', which talks about the caste divide, Krishna presents anecdotes, reminiscences, accounts and memories of the discrimination faced by the Mridangam makers.<br> <br> Krishna’s song in honour of Periyar in 2023 was an epic. And go ask any young girl in the Urur-Olcott Kuppam along the east coast of Chennai and you will understand that Carnatic music is not the preserve of one particular community or caste. Krishna may be the rebel against orthodoxy, gender and caste bias, but he brings peace and harmony through his magnanimous gesture in the serene world of Carnatic music.<br> <br> Fri Mar 22 20:30:37 IST 2024 global-happiness-index-india-ranked-126th-finland-retains-top-spot <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>India was ranked 126th out of 143 nations in a global happiness index released on Wednesday which noted that older age is associated with higher life satisfaction in the world's most populous country.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Finland emerged as the happiest country in the world, topping the World Happiness Report 2024, the seventh successive year that the country has occupied the top spot on the list.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The other of the top 10 countries are Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Israel, Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Australia.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India is ranked 126th on the list, behind countries such as Libya, Iraq, Palestine and Niger, according to the findings announced on Wednesday to mark the UN's International Day of Happiness.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The World Happiness Report is a partnership of Gallup, the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and the WHR's Editorial Board.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The young in India are the happiest while those in lower middle rung are the least happy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The US (23rd) has fallen out of the top 20 for the first time since the World Happiness Report was first published in 2012, driven by a large drop in the well-being of Americans under 30.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Afghanistan remains bottom of the overall rankings as the world's 'unhappiest' nation. Pakistan is ranked 108th on the list.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The report said that older age is associated with higher life satisfaction in India, refuting some claims that the positive association between age and life satisfaction only exists in high-income nations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On average, older men in India are more satisfied with life than older women but when taking all other measures into account, older women report higher life satisfaction than their male counterparts, it said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In India, older adults with secondary or higher education and those of higher social castes report higher life satisfaction than counterparts without formal education and those from scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India's older population is the second largest worldwide, with 140 million Indians aged 60 and over, second only to its 250 million Chinese counterparts. Additionally, the average growth rate for Indians aged 60 and above is three times higher than the overall population growth rate of the country, the report said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Satisfaction with living arrangements, perceived discrimination, and self-rated health emerge as the top three predictors of life satisfaction for India in this study, the report said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We found that older men, those in the higher age groups, currently married, and those who were educated, report higher life satisfaction compared to their respective peers. Lower satisfaction with living arrangements, perceived discrimination, and poor self-rated health were important factors associated with low life satisfaction among older Indians, it said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The findings of this study indicate that strengthening family networks to ensure a comfortable living arrangement for older adults, men, widowed, and those without formal education in particular, and bolstering social networks to reduce discrimination may enhance well-being in older age, it noted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The report added that Serbia (37th) and Bulgaria (81st) have had the biggest increases in average life evaluation scores since they were first measured by the Gallup World Poll in 2013.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The next two countries showing the largest increases in life evaluations are Latvia (46th) and Congo (Brazzaville) (89th), with rank increases of 44 and 40 places, respectively, between 2013 and 2024.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For the first time, the report gives separate rankings by age group, in many cases varying widely from the overall rankings. Lithuania tops the list for children and young people under 30, while Denmark is the world's happiest nation for those 60 and older.&nbsp;</p> Thu Mar 21 16:43:46 IST 2024 it-is-dangerous-when-people-start-inventing-freely-past-that-was-never-there <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>“Nationalism is an instrument that can be wielded in different ways,” said Carola Lentz, noted social anthropologist and president of Goethe-Institut, Germany in a conversation with The WEEK. Co-author of the book&nbsp;<i>Remembering Independence</i>, she finds that present governments across the globe are reshaping the past according to their ideas for the future. She noted that a “re-nationalisation of politics” is underway in which some regimes are becoming exclusive and wanting to sever ties in the international sphere. Lentz was on her maiden visit to India to offer scholarly insights on the role of education and culture as a unifying force for multiple identities in a globalised world.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Tell us about your book ‘Remembering Independence’?&nbsp;</b></p> <p>It is a co-authored book with David Lowe that sheds light on a universal process (adopted by governments) of reshaping the past according to what you want to achieve in the present and the future. The way nation-states like Ghana, India etc. set up their monuments, festivals, and national days to commemorate the process of decolonisation is a case in point. One of the topics I looked at very closely is how memory is a function of the present and not necessarily what happened in the past, although that’s an important reference. I think that it is dangerous when people start to invent freely the past that was never there. What was there, what is being activated, what is being remembered, what is being sidelined are all part of the reshaping. There is, of course, a latitude of what you can do. I think there is an active politics of remembering i.e. a selective process where you choose certain characters, certain heroes and you forget others. The past is being defined by the needs and agendas of the present. So any present government will reshape the past according to its ideas for the future. In other words, what we remember today of the past is reshaped by what we want to achieve in the future and the revision of national pantheons is part of this process that is happening in several nation-states including Ghana which I studied very closely. So, this is a universal process of reshaping the past according to what you want to achieve in the present and the future. This is one of the arguments of the book.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Your two focus areas of study are nationalism and ethnicity, both powerful political forces at this point in time around the world. Is there a nationalisation of politics?</b>&nbsp;<b>Do you think the nation-states that we used to talk about are gaining more ground now?</b></p> <p>Nationalism has got a long history. It started in the 19th century as an idea of dissolving empires, how we reorganise populations, what should be the basis of political systems. In the early days, the idea of nationalism and democracy went together in the sense of empowering the nation to govern itself as against to be governed by some authority – either the emperor or a colonial empire. Even till 1950s, we would say as analysts, that nationalism was a progressive anti-colonial force. At the same time, in places like Germany and Italy in Europe, nationalism already began to show its ugly face as an exclusive, totalitarian, restrictive, oppressive regime and you saw progressive, liberal, democratic, inclusive movements in the non-European world. Up until now, nationalism maintains these two faces – the ugly one that is exclusive, and authoritarian, which defines very narrowly the true identity of the citizens and which works towards the interior world as an exclusivist and oppressive regimes by identifying the national with a particular mindset. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Nationalism can be used in the sense of true patriotism defending a democracy, liberal values, participation, and women’s rights. Nationalism is an instrument that can be wielded in different ways.</p> <p><b>What are the other aspects which are more at play now?</b></p> <p>The aspects that were there in the old days but now manifest even more are the problems of climate change, migration, unemployment, poverty etc. These are global issues, no longer to be solved in the container of a nation-state because we are in the process of globalisation. People benefit or differ from it in different forms depending on how they are being integrated into the global exchange system. Today, you have ideological entrepreneurs coming up and saying that we should solve all our problems within the boundaries of our nation-state and we should rely on ourselves. I think that is an idea that will not work. So the question is how to deal with this tendency of re-nationalisation of politics in the sense of both being oppressive and exclusive and wanting to sever ties in the international sphere. In Germany, we have this huge debate about how far do we want to have academic exchange relations with China. The question that arises is whether they are trying to dominate us or are they equal or fair players? Or are they unfair players? Up to what extent should we allow our economy and academic spheres to be integrated or are we risking in making ourselves dependent on a regime whose agenda we cannot control. These are the questions that are being discussed in Germany.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><b>There is this revisionist attitude in India also. How do you think India is coping and moving ahead in terms of remembering things, forgetting things and revising things?</b></p> <p>The only insights I have on this is from my colleague David Lowe who co-authored the book with me. But, one thing I have noticed from my area of study is that the Indian Independence movement influences regimes across the world. African countries are strongly influenced by the Indian Independence movement. India has always set the model, not just because the colonizers were the same. Even the British colonial policies in, for instance, Ghana were modelled on Indian Civil Services. You had a lot of people who first served in Indian Civil Services and then transferred to Ghana. One of its famous examples is the tradition of holding a ‘<i>Durbar</i>’, something African countries have taken from Indian traditional practises and are following till date.</p> <p><b>You are also an anthropologist. Have you seen any fundamental change in the way societies are behaving? Do you think consumptive mindset impact behaviours overall?&nbsp;</b></p> <p>I don’t know on the world scale. Anthropologists tend to focus on a small part of the world, even within a country. The region I know fairly well is Northern Ghana which used to be a marginalised region when 1980s when I arrived there. There was no electricity, there was no running water. They had fantasies about consumption but in a different way. Thirty years later now, even grandfathers have mobile phones. Communication has become faster and with it the desires of consumption and ideas. At the same time, however, there is a rising middle class in villages that is feeling alienated in cities and going back to their traditions. In other words, consumptive change does not necessarily mean that people completely disregard their traditions. On the contrary, in family systems such as in Africa, relationship is very important and it cuts through class.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Role of social media?</b></p> <p>I think social media, so far, has played a positive role. People are able to maintain close relations. I would even say that social media increases social control. I do not see it enhancing individualism. It does not disintegrate people rather it provides new means for integration. But, it also allows new desires and ideas to circulate much faster.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Is climate change affecting livelihoods in that part of the world?</b></p> <p>Definitely. As compared to 30 years ago, rains have become completely unreliable. The seasons no longer feel like seasons. There are untimely droughts and inundation. It has become quite concerning.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The number of Indian students in Germany rose by 25 per cent last year. It is emerging as the next big education destination after Canada. How is Goethe-Institut handling this big flow of students coming-in?&nbsp;</b></p> <p>The demand is much higher than what we can offer. The bottleneck is the amount of qualified teachers. Therefore, we are feverishly working at increasing the number of qualified German teachers because we do not want to give sub-standard teaching. We are trying to find the means and the possibilities to upscale but maintaining a certain basic quality is our priority and we are working on it.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>This is your first time in India, what are your plans?</b></p> <p>I attended the immersive theatre performance, The Song of the Cosmos, created by Crow, as part of the activation programme for the Delhi edition of the exhibition, 'Critical Zones. In Search of a Common Ground' at the Goethe-Institut. I will be visiting Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram. I have also planned a little trip to Fatehpur Sikri and the Taj Mahal in Agra.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Mar 18 18:59:16 IST 2024 what-is-going-barefoot-challenge-experts-warn-against-viral-trend <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&quot;We're not Flintstones,&quot; warned a Michigan-based foot specialist as a viral trend of &quot;going barefoot&quot; is gaining traction on social media.<br> </p> <p>Dr Sari Priesand, a foot specialist at Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan's academic medical centre, Ann Arbor, USA, urged TikTokers to &quot;keep their shoes on&quot; after users started posting videos wherein they walk barefoot in public places. The trend is in response to Margot Robbie's iconic foot scene in 'Barbie'.</p> <p>The trend became viral after influencers like George Woodville, also known as The Barefoot Guy, with 500K followers, posted videos of going shoe-less as part of a therapeutic practice called grounding in order to reconnect humans to their planet.</p> <p>Another Ohio-based influencer, Christie Fritz, removed the sole of their shoes and posted videos of them going for shopping in places where shoes are mandatory. Others have posted videos of walking barefoot in snow and other extreme conditions in apparent bid to get their clips viral.</p> <p>Priesand warned that going shoeless can put a person's feet at risk as they can get injured by sharp objects or get infected by nail fungus or human papilloma virus.</p> Sat Mar 16 12:30:44 IST 2024 opinion-gender-biases-diminish-advantages-businesses-could-gain-from-a-diverse-workforce <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In the journey towards gender equality, the professional advancement of women remains a critical area where gender biases persistently hinder progress. Despite evolving workplace dynamics, women in various industries still encounter obstacles that curtail their progress. These biases not only hamper women's advancement but also diminish the advantages businesses could gain from a diverse workforce. According to a LinkedIn study, companies ranking in the top quartile for gender diversity are 25 per cent more likely to outperform their less diverse counterparts financially. This suggests not only the ethical imperative of addressing gender inequality but also the substantial economic benefits of embracing diversity within the corporate sphere.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The many faces of gender bias in workplaces</p> <p>Gender-based discrimination is a pervasive issue which impacts women on multiple fronts – lower pay, under-representation in leadership roles, restriction to roles based on gender stereotypes, and microaggressions that render the working environment more stressful.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The&nbsp;<i>&quot;broken rung&quot;</i>&nbsp;phenomenon, which marks a significant disparity in the promotion rates of women to managerial roles compared to men, severely limits the representation of women leaders. This issue creates a bottleneck at the crucial transition from entry-level to management, drastically shrinking the pool of women eligible for upper-level positions and thus constricting the leadership pipeline for female talent. The consequences are evident in women’s professional advancement – from 46 per cent at the entry level, women’s representation is only 25 per cent at the C-suite, which drops to 12 per cent in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, as per LinkedIn Economic Graph findings. The scarcity of women in key positions restricts access to top executive roles, reinforcing gender imbalances within the corporate hierarchy.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A 2023 study conducted by the CFA Institute sheds light on the expanding gender pay gap in India as women ascend the career ladder. Initially, the study indicates a near-equitable pay scale, with the average ratio of women's median remuneration to men's being 0.97, suggesting a close approach to gender pay parity at entry or mid-level positions. Yet, as the focus shifts to higher echelons of management, this semblance of parity sharply declines. For key management personnel (KMP), the ratio plummets to 0.52 – nearly half of men’s pay. Similarly, for director-level positions, the ratio stands at 0.64 – highlighting a significant disparity as women progress to more senior roles. This data underlines the persistent challenges women face in achieving financial equality, particularly in leadership positions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Job stereotypes, deeply rooted in arbitrary societal norms, significantly restrict women's career opportunities. For instance, Smithsonian Magazine has documented that while women were historically predominant in early computing roles, viewed similarly to secretarial work, the industry's evolution towards higher complexity and pay reclassified it as a male-dominated field. This shift from women being the primary &quot;computer girls&quot; to a male-dominated tech industry exemplifies how stereotypes arbitrarily confine women to specific roles and sectors, limiting their professional scope based on gender rather than ability.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;Dismantling gender biases at workplaces</p> <p>Organisational policies are key to creating an inclusive, non-discriminatory workplace environment. This means implementing policies that not only recognise the existence of biases but actively work to eliminate them. Flexible work hours – which studies find are demanded by both men and women – can help those women who are involved in caregiving activities. Similarly, equitable pay, and fair parental leave policies (as opposed to maternal leaves) are foundational.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another aspect is to initiate cultural and mindset shifts. This involves making people aware of their unconscious and internalised biases. Training and sensitisation sessions may help to a certain extent, but it is also necessary to create room for more direct discussions on biases. Inculcating skills such as active listening can help employees resolve conflicts and allow women to directly raise their concerns within smaller teams.</p> <p>To mitigate gender biases in hiring, companies should refine job descriptions using neutral language, employ blind applications and skills assessments to focus on abilities over demographics and leverage data-driven tools to identify diverse candidates without bias. Ensuring structured interviews with diverse panels can further ensure fairness by removing prejudices from the line of questioning. These strategies collectively contribute to a more inclusive recruitment process, emphasising skill over gender.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mentorship is a powerful tool in the professional development of women. It provides them with guidance, encouragement, and access to networks that might otherwise be unavailable. Women leaders acting as mentors can share their journeys, challenges, and strategies for navigating professional landscapes dominated by gender biases. By seeing more women in leadership roles, aspiring professionals can find inspiration and a clearer path to their advancement. However, eliminating unconscious gender bias can also be driven when both leaders and mentees are exposed to diverse perspectives encompassing the entire gender spectrum. Having multiple mentors can challenge and dilute the impact of gender stereotypes by showcasing a broad spectrum of successful pathways and leadership styles, not confined to a single narrative or gendered expectation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Achieving workplace gender equality requires a comprehensive strategy to eliminate deep-rooted biases that limit women's advancement. Tackling issues from the &quot;broken rung&quot; to enforcing fair policies is essential for creating an inclusive workplace. By removing these gendered barriers, organisations not only champion gender equality but also tap into diverse perspectives that amplify innovation and financial success.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Naghma Mulla&nbsp;is CEO of&nbsp;EdelGive Foundation.&nbsp;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 Mar 15 16:03:57 IST 2024 i-was-surrounded-by-musical-instruments-but-not-allowed-to-touch-them-sitarist-rishab-rikhiram-sharma <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Rishab Rikhiram Sharma has been in India since February, performing at various places. The Sitarist, who lives in New York, was taken to the Sitar at age ten. He was Pandit Ravi Shankar's last and one of his youngest disciples. As the son of a luthier, Sharma said, he was always surrounded by musical instruments. “But I wasn't allowed to touch any of them,” he recalls.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Then one day, a sitar my dad made, got damaged en route delivery. And it was returned. So, I repaired it and started playing it,” 25-year-old Sharma says. His father saw this and started guiding him since then. He then started training under Pandit Ravi Shankar at age ten. Sharma, who has been influenced by rap music, hip-hop, EDM, dance music and electronic music, says, that Pandit Ravi Shankar was a “strict and stern guru, but also a funny man.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Talking about performing at the White House, Sharma said President Joe Biden wrote him a letter appreciating his performance at the 2022 Diwali dinner, where Vice President Kamala Harris was present too. “The Biden administration also had a very sophisticated budget for mental health, and they really believe in my cause, Sitar for Mental Health,” he added. Sharma moved to New York at 17 to pursue a course in&nbsp; Music Production and Economics at City University New York.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sharma says Sitar for Mental Health is an immersive experience. And he says so, as there's a segment, where the audience interact with one another. They are given prompts like What are they grateful for? What do they look forward to? and so on. “There have been couples, who got married after coming to one of the Sitar for Mental Health experiences,” Sharma quips. “I’ve found that music has a unique power to connect people emotionally and spark important conversations,” he adds.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The 90-minute Sitar for Mental Health experience is designed to help individuals achieve states of deep reflection, connection, and introspection, Sharma says. Sharma started Sitar for Mental Health in 2020, amidst the lockdown, after his grandfather passed away. “I was miles away from him and couldn't even make it to the funeral due to COVID-19 restrictions. This affected me in a bad way.” What started as sessions on Clubhouse, turned into in-person gatherings once restrictions were lifted. They then expanded into shows.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Currently, Sharma is on a Sitar for Mental Health tour in India, which began in Chennai on February 18 and will end on April 14 in Hyderabad. Sharma will have performed in 11 Indian cities including Jaipur, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Chennai. The next performance is on March 17 in Pune. Sharma's accompanying artists are Naveen Kumar on flute, Keith Peters on bass, Raghuraman R on guitar, Kulta Khan on khartal, and Prashant Trivedi on tabla. After the tour, Sharma plans to release Sitar for Mental Health Mix Tape, which will feature five distinct ragas - Alhaiya Bilawal, Bhairavi, Khamaj, Shankara, and a unique creation, Bihaagananda.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The musician says his focus has been to modernise the Sitar. “I’m trying to create an electric-mic Sitar so that the instrument can lend itself better to a band setting,” he says.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Mar 14 16:29:51 IST 2024 medieval-magic-a-trip-to-the-picturesque-towns-of-obidos-and-salir-do-porto-portugal <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Step into the enchanting world of Obidos, a picturesque Portuguese town with a rich history that unfolds like a captivating tale. Derived from the Latin term&nbsp;<i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Oppidum</i>, signifying the primary settlement in ancient Roman administrative areas, Obidos nestles in the heart of the central region of Portugal, just 88 km from the vibrant city of Lisbon.<br> </p> <p>Perched atop a commanding hill, Obidos offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside, its castle and city walls echoing the strategic significance it held in days of yore. This historic location has witnessed the footsteps of Celts, Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, and Muslims, each leaving their mark on this hilltop.</p> <p>During the five centuries of Muslim reign, around the 8th century, the Moors transformed this outpost into a city, fortifying the Roman settlement with a formidable wall that eventually evolved into a grand castle. Enter the scene, Afonso Henriques, Portugal's first king, who conquered Obidos in 1148, integrating it into the kingdom. As the centuries unfolded, the town became a cherished dowry for Portuguese queens, evolving into the&nbsp;<i>Vila das Rainhas</i>&nbsp;or &quot;Town of Queens.&quot;&nbsp;</p> <p>Amidst the medieval allure, Queen Leonor, a woman of poise and influence, made a significant choice during this period of Obidos's evolution. Following the tragic loss of her son, Infante D. Afonso, Queen Leonor found solace in Obidos. The settlement, with its newfound vibrancy, and the castle itself became her chosen residence, a retreat from the tumultuous winds of life. In the 15th century, the charming town of Obidos witnessed the birth of a settlement, gracefully unfolding to the west and southern confines of the castle walls.</p> <p>Step into the world of medieval times as you wander among the interwoven cobbled white streets. Each corner reveals small houses of various shapes, blue and yellow window edges, red-tiled roofs and vibrant flowers on the walls. Obidos is a fairy-tale land, a photographer's paradise, beckoning you to time travel to the Middle Ages.</p> <p>Walk around&nbsp;<i>Rua Direita</i>, the main street adorned with shops offering arts and crafts, local handicrafts, and souvenirs. Here, you'll also discover the town's signature&nbsp;<i>Ginjinha</i>&nbsp;or&nbsp;<i>Ginja</i>, a sour cherry liquor.&nbsp;<i>Ginjinha</i>&nbsp;is one of the most famous drinks of Portugal, you can find a lot of&nbsp;<i>Ginja</i>&nbsp;varieties around Lisbon, but the&nbsp;<i>Ginja</i>&nbsp;of Obidos is a never-miss. The real highlight lies at the end of&nbsp;<i>Rua Direita</i>&nbsp;– the magnificent Castle of Obidos. Recognised as one of “The Seven Wonders of Portugal”, this Moorish castle and its 13-meter-high walls stretch to an incredible 1.6 km. Climb to the top for unparalleled views of the countryside and vineyards, especially during the enchanting sunset.</p> <p>Climbing the walls of Obidos is the most exciting (and scary) part of the trip, you could choose to commute around town by just walking around the walls. From here one could witness magnificent views of the lush green countryside. These walls are very narrow at certain places, so one should be extra careful while treading through these stone fortifications.</p> <p>Despite its modest size, Obidos boasts an impressive array of 14 churches (Igreja). Dive into the historical and artistic richness of Santa Maria Church, renowned for its stunning interior adorned with Azulejos blue tiles. Senhor Jesus da Pedra Church, with its baroque architecture and unique hexagonal shape, stands out prominently against the town walls. Don't miss the iconic Porta da Vila, known as the town gate, and marvel at the beautiful Azulejo tiles that grace its second story. Straight ahead is the Sao Tiago Church, which, once used for ecclesiastical purposes, now breathes new life as a beautiful bookstore, adding a special charm to the place.</p> <p>Obidos, where you will feel as if you got back in time, offers a unique combination of history, architecture, and fairy-tale streets. Take a chance and immerse yourself in this &quot;Queen's Town&quot; to feel the magic.</p> <p><b>How to reach Obidos from Lisbon:</b></p> <p><b>Bus:&nbsp;</b>The most convenient and cost-effective way is to take a bus. There are mainly three bus services - FlixBus, Rede Expressos or Rodoviária do Oeste. (Cost €10 / Rs. 906)</p> <p>From Lisbon - Campo Grande or Oriente bus stations - Arrive at Rua da Praça, Obidos.</p> <p>You could also take the bus to Caldas da Rainha, a beautiful neighbouring town and take a train to Obidos, it's just a 5 min travel (Cost €2.5 / Rs. 230)</p> <p><b>Car:&nbsp;</b>If you’re driving, take the A8 highway from Lisbon to Obidos. The distance between Lisbon and Obidos is approximately 85.2 km.</p> <p>Estimated cost for fuel and tolls: (€15 to €21 / Rs. 1360 to Rs. 1,900)</p> <p><b>Taxi:&nbsp;</b>You can opt for a taxi if you don’t prefer long waiting or sightseeing. The drive covers the same distance as the car route (around 85.2 km).</p> <p>Taxi fare typically ranges from (€100 to €200 / Rs. 9,056 to Rs. 18,200).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Exploring the charms of Salir do Porto</b><br> </p> <p>From the boundless blue of the sky to the mesmerising emerald green sea, Salir do Porto opens a sensory marvel that supersedes the ordinary. Visualise the enchanting music of birds singing with the rhythmic lapping of water waves on the beach, children oozing down the dunes, and the subtle aroma of seaweed and salt carried by the sea breeze and a refreshing aroma of pine trees hovering over hills. Welcome one of the mesmerising hamlets of Portugal's Silver Coast - Salir do Porto.</p> <p>In this harmonious haven located on the south bank of São Martinho do Porto's shell-shaped bay, nature unveils its simplest pleasures. Salir do Porto is a marriage of countryside and sea, inviting you to let your imagination roam freely. Once a bustling port, now a serene village with a relatively secluded beach, it wears the remnants of its historical significance like a badge of honour.</p> <p>Salir do Porto's rich history traces back even further, with evidence of Roman presence in the region predating the founding of the nation. Along the coastline, stories of faith and courage echo through time, shared by the village elders. The remnants of the 16th-century Salir Customs House, perched between the beach and the bar's tip, offer a glimpse into the village's maritime past. A narrow yet beautiful path leads to the ruins, providing a panoramic view of the bay. The ruins of the old customs house stand as silent witnesses to Salir do Porto's maritime heyday. Among these ancient stones, caravels crafted from the Leiria pine forest once sailed into the annals of exploration.&nbsp;</p> <p>What makes Salir do Porto even more interesting is the legendary “Nau São Gabriel”, one of Vasco da Gama's four fleets to India and a contributor to the exploration of Brazil. Nearby, the ruins of the Castle, steeped in legends of tunnels, pirates, and hidden treasures, add to the allure of this coastal gem.</p> <p>As summer whispers on the horizon, the sun-kissed spring days beckon you to escape the hustle of Lisbon and explore Salir do Porto's natural treasures. You can see the largest dune in Portugal, where Salir Beach, touched by the Tornada River, reveals a pristine river beach and a dune that reaches a towering 50 meters in height.</p> <p>Continue your journey along the coast, where the&nbsp;<i>Pocinhas de Salir</i>, a freshwater spring with medicinal properties, awaits. The waters, rich in minerals, have been sought after for centuries, not only for drinking but also for therapeutic skin treatments in the freshwater pools formed during low tide.</p> <p>Salir do Porto is also known for its traditional Portuguese culinary exploration. The village’s connection to both land and sea offers a taste of the local heritage and culinary traditions dating back to the Middle Ages. When in Salir, never forget to try the&nbsp;<i>Grelhadas Mistas</i>, a mix of grilled meats, often featuring a variety of cuts and sometimes served with piri-piri sauce for a spicy kick. Given its coastal location, Salir do Porto offers an abundance of fresh seafood, including dishes like&nbsp;<i>Bacalhau grelhado</i>, seafood stew, seafood and lobster rice, cod fish and ham, octopus and prawns with beans and so on.</p> <p>Venture further to the northern tip of Salir do Porto, where the Capela de Santa Ana stands as a testament to the locals' unwavering faith. Dating back to the 12th century, this chapel has witnessed prayers, blessings for fishermen, and the launching of boats into the vast sea. The viewpoint from this sacred site, especially during sunsets, provides an awe-inspiring panorama of the Atlantic on one side and the bay and village of São Martinho do Porto on the other.</p> <p>Whether you choose to stroll along the dirt path or drive through nature's embrace, the journey to the Capela de Santa Ana is an unforgettable experience. As you stand atop the hill, with the vast Atlantic stretching before you, and the picturesque bay at your back, Salir do Porto reveals itself as a hidden gem, waiting to be explored.</p> <p><b>How to reach Salir do Porto from Lisbon:</b></p> <p><b>Train:&nbsp;</b>Depart from Lisboa - Sete Rios station to Caldas Da Rainha station.</p> <p>From Caldas Da Rainha, you can then take a bus (line 5111) to reach Salir do Porto. Tickets cost around (€7 to €11 / Rs. 635 to Rs. 1,000).</p> <p><b>Taxi:&nbsp;</b>If you prefer a personalised ride, you could take a taxi from Lisbon. The distance from Lisbon to Salir do Porto is approximately 100 km.&nbsp;</p> <p>Taxi fare typically ranges from (€110 to €150 / Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 13,600).</p> <p><b>Driving:&nbsp;</b>If you have access to a car, you can drive from Lisbon to Salir do Porto. The drive covers around 97 km.</p> <p>Estimated cost for fuel and tolls: (€16 to €25 / Rs. 1,450 to Rs. 2,300).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Mar 12 19:45:46 IST 2024 scary-x-ray-reveals-brand-new-razor-blade-stuck-in-pet-dog-s-throat-in-kerala-then-kanhangad-govt-hospital-surgery-news <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The way nine-month-old Appu reeled in pain on Friday night, Kanhangad native Krishnan understood his dog had swallowed something that it was not supposed to. Like most dogs, it was not the first time he had gulped something inconsumable. But Appu couldn't throw up whatever he had swallowed and his struggle and wails intensified over time. It was then Krishnan understood this was not a regular rock-eating exercise gone wrong and his pet needed professional help.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Luckily for Appu, Kanhangad in Kasaragod district is one of the places in Kerala with a veterinary hospital that remains open 24 hours. Krishnan briefed the hospital staff and shared his doubts over Appu having consumed plastic or metal particles while playing inside the house. The veterinarians on duty also agreed that the cause of the pain was something stuck in its throat. Appu was soon taken to the X-ray room and the result was not comforting.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The veterinarians identified the thing stuck in the pet dog's throat to be a razor blade! The double-edged sharp object, if slips or moves could threaten the canine's life and surgery was the only solution.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Krishnan was convinced of the situation and a sodomised Appu was shifted to the operation theatre for emergency surgery, Manorama Online said in a report. The daily also accessed images of the one-and-a-half-hour-long surgery, which reportedly involved the surgeons operating near Appu's oesophagus to take out the blade. The image showed the vets taking out the sharp stainless steel from the dog's body before suturing back the membranes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Luckily for Appu, the operation was successful and he is recovering well under observation. The surgery was done by Dr Nidheesh Ganesh, Dr Jishnu, Dr Savad and Dr Sifana of the Kanhangad Government Veterinary Hospital, the Malayalam news report said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Mar 09 21:25:24 IST 2024 the-landscape-of-stem-has-significantly-transformed <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Interview: Jayashree Aiyar, Vice President, Discovery Biology, Syngene International, holds a PhD in Immunology from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi and has pursued post doctoral research at the California Institute of Technology.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How has the landscape of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics )</b>&nbsp;<b>transformed over the years?&nbsp;</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The landscape has significantly transformed. In the initial days of my two-decade-long experience, the presence of women in STEM was not as pronounced. Now, statistics indicate that women comprise 27 per cent of the sector in 2023. Almost 43 per cent of the total graduates in STEM are now women.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How can educators inspire young girls’ interest in STEM and create inclusive learning environments?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The key lies in early exposure to the discipline’s concepts and fostering a passion for these subjects. Educators must create a supportive and inclusive learning environment. Research suggests that having a diverse leadership team in schools, with a strong female presence, can positively impact student outcomes. Today several corporates are partnering with education institutes to strengthen this scientific ecosystem and build scientific temperament at an early age. At Syngene we have been actively involved in several activities to encourage participation in STEM studies. These include hosting inter-school science quizzes which, in 2023, we hosted in 250 government schools across Bangalore, Mangalore, and Hyderabad. Young children hold their teachers in the highest regard. This admiration creates a unique opportunity to ignite a young girl’s curiosity about science.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How do mentorship programs contribute to nurturing the aspirations of young women in STEM fields?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Young graduates entering the workforce often grapple with misconceptions, anxieties, and uncertainties about their chosen paths. They may lack a clear understanding of career opportunities and the challenges they might encounter. This is where early-stage mentorship plays a pivotal role. By connecting young women with established professionals, we guide and support them as they embark on their journeys providing. Mentorship provides invaluable insights and helps women navigate through potential obstacles, besides exposing them to successful role models, breaking down barriers and demonstrating the enormous potential for achievement within STEM fields. At Syngene we also actively collaborate with the Research and Innovation Circle of Hyderabad (RICH) with which we have established a STEM scholarship program aimed at providing financial support, mentoring, and internship opportunities to women pursuing STEM subjects, particularly at tier 2 and 3 institutions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What governmental policies and programs are in place to support women in STEM?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Government of India's STI Policy 2013 promotes gender parity, while schemes like WISE-KIRAN offer opportunities for women in science and engineering. Programs such as GATI and SERB-POWER address gender inequality and support women scientists through grants and fellowships. Vigyan Jyoti encourages STEM participation among high school girls, especially in rural areas. It's vital to raise awareness about these programs to enhance their impact.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How can STEM education be made more engaging for young learners, especially girls?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sparking a love for STEM requires making it relatable to their lives and the world around them. This can be achieved by showcasing how science, technology, engineering, and math are used to tackle real-world challenges faced by their communities and India as a whole. Imagine projects that address local issues like water purification, sustainable agriculture or finding a cure for a rare disease. Initiatives like Syngene's mobile science labs reaching rural areas are a fantastic example. Scientists, engineers, or doctors visiting schools and colleges provide invaluable role models. These interactions shatter stereotypes and prove, unequivocally, that a successful career in STEM is a thrilling possibility for any young girl in India.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How can we collectively empower women in STEM?&nbsp;</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I firmly believe that ‘Inspiring Inclusion’ is the key to empowering women in these fields. This includes breaking down existing barriers; supportive policies from governments, such as funding for female-led research; fostering a supportive ecosystem; industries creating mentorship programs and networking opportunities for women in STEM; and educational institutions cultivating collaborative learning environments are some ways in which this can be done.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>True inclusivity isn't about settling for less qualified women; it’s about empowering them to reach their full potential. By dismantling biases, providing mentorship, and fostering an environment where women can thrive, we cultivate a leadership landscape that reflects the brilliance and strength they possess. When women are given equal access to the tools and support they need, their competence will naturally rise, ensuring the most qualified leaders, regardless of gender, rise to the top.</p> Fri Mar 08 16:15:31 IST 2024 equality-should-begin-at-home-manasi-chaudhari-founder-of-pink-legal <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Inequality at home is what bothers Advocate Manasi Chaudhari the most. Chaudhari, the founder of Pink Legal feels that, while, mostly, women are brought up with love and care by their parents, things change once they get married-- the responsibility of the house, caring for children and elders of the house, falls on the woman. “And a lot of times, this prevents women from furthering their career, putting in more time at work.”&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chaudhari started Pink Legal in 2020 to help women become more aware of their rights and make the right decisions for themselves. 31-year-old Chaudhari, the granddaughter of a high court judge (Bombay), knew she wanted to be a lawyer since the time she was in school. The Jindal Law School graduate was moved to start Pink Legal after an incident, which took place when she was returning from work one day. “I got into an accident. My car crashed into another car. This was night-time, I was alone and there was no one around. These boys got out of their vehicle, started banging on my car and were being very aggressive.”&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chaudhari said she was afraid and wasn't sure of what had to be done. But, she did take a picture of the number plate of their vehicle. “Usually in India, we tend to let these things go because we tend to worry about repercussions-- what if they retaliate? My parents were worried too. Being a lawyer, however, I thought I could not let it slide-- if I don't take a stand, there's no hope for someone who has no connection with the law. Also, if I let it slide, those guys would think it is okay to do these kinds of things and there won't be any consequences. So I filed a police complaint-- this was my first time to a police station, that too, alone. I was apprehensive as you hear stories of how the police tend not to take your complaint seriously. And even if a complaint is filed, nothing happens. But, because I know my rights and know what to do, I could get the police to take my complaint, register an FIR, could then track the complaint and follow it up. This experience made me realise that women don't know their rights, and so they aren't able to take any action, and therefore suffer in silence. I wanted to change that, and that's how Pink Legal came into being.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The organisation, which has a database of lawyers across the country, match callers or women who approach them, as per their needs. And if the woman doesn't have enough means to pay the lawyer, they also have lawyers who consult for a lower fee or no fees. Pink Legal is also tied up with Project Naveli, which is run by Navya Nanda to run Project Nyayri, which makes legal awareness and mental health support accessible for women, pro bono. “Several women have come ahead and filed cases, and their divorces have gone through too,” Chaudhari says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Chaudhari, they mostly get inquiries from women over domestic abuse at the hands of the husband or in-laws. “Then there are also cases of financial abuse, where women are forced to give their salary or a part of it to the in-laws, or she is asked to give her jewellery to the mother-in-law for 'safe-keeping'; or when her own family tries to oust her from the will or deny her inheritance.” The team have many times, also found themselves fighting child custody lawsuits.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mostly, Chaudhari says, “Women aren't aware of their rights when it comes to instances of domestic violence, mental abuse or financial abuse. It is a husband's duty to give the wife a monthly allowance for her monthly maintenance, something women are often not aware of.” Pink Legal, she says, is in the process of reaching out at the grassroots level. “Currently, there are about 25-30 Pink Legal clubs across India-- these clubs conduct legal awareness workshops and awareness drives, distribute sanitary pads and make women aware of the importance of menstrual hygiene.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Pink Legal mainly operates online, they have also partnered with NGOs to reach underprivileged women. According to her, a major reason women in India are still hesitant to get a divorce is because they aren't financially independent. “There is no emotional support either. Parents often don't say that she can come home, but ask her to adjust and carry on, whatever the problem might be. Also, when a woman is financially dependent, she has nowhere to go-- how will she support herself and her child?” “The lower you go on the economic rung, the lesser the chances of a woman opting for a divorce,” she adds. “There is the fear of being ostracised. Before signing off she says, “It is great that we are celebrating Women's Day, and having conversations about women's rights, but it is important to have such conversations every day and think about change to be made as a society to be a constant process.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Mar 08 16:02:45 IST 2024 women-s-day-can-men-claim-seats-reserved-for-ladies-in-kerala-ksrtc-buses-the-week-fact-checks <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>On a moonlit Kochi night, this writer was sweating inside a KSRTC Swift awaiting departure at the Ernakulam stand. The Super Fast bus was destined to reach Thiruvananthapuram around 5 in the morning. It was not before several minutes that the crew entered through their designated doors. The conductor, in his ironed sandal-orange uniform and trimmed beard, was followed inside through the front by a bunch of passengers, all men, who quickly scrambled to find comfy seats for the long night journey.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>''This is not the women's seat, is it?'' The bus was hardly half-full, yet one had to ask the million-dollar question from a few rows behind. The conductor, configuring the ticket machine, signalled he could stay put.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>''Don't bother once the bus leaves here. They can only claim the seats from the originating depot. Once the journey starts, the women can't make you move. That's the law...,'' another fellow loudly declared from the front. He was confidently looking at the conductor, who stood beside me.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I, too, looked at him, waiting for my ignominious co-passenger to be tutored.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The conductor, too pleasant and lively for a tiry night, was still clicking on the ticket machine as he went, ''No point. You can't oppose them (women) even with laws. What they say is the rule these days...''</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A double bell followed and the driver pressed the ignition switch.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>**********</b></p> <p>No doubt the man was wrong. On a six-hour-long journey across four districts of the state, the reserved seats cannot be just for the depot of origin. If a woman boards an occupied long-distance government bus midway, is she supposed to depend on the mercy of random men to get a seat that she has a lawful claim for? What's the point of reservation if a first-come first-serve system is in place?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ladies' seats are marked the same way as other reserved seats. So, if a senior citizen or differently-abled person enters a packed KSRTC bus midway, don't they get to sit? More importantly, the conductor's seat is labelled the same way the women's seats are. If one were to take this seat as the conductor takes one of his routine trips to the other end of the vehicle to give tickets, is he supposed to complete the rest of the journey standing?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I didn't speak up that night. The reason was the same as that of a bunch of girls seen in a video that has gone viral on Malayalam social media circles recently. Originally published as an Instagram reel, the clip showed an exchange between a man behind the camera and the girls inside a moving KSRTC bus. He's lecturing the young women that they can't lay claim to the ladies' seats once the bus has started its journey. It is not mandatory that the reserved seats should be given to women when demanded, he claims. He goes on to challenge the girls to call the police or lawyers but he will still not give up the reserved seat he was occupying for any woman. Interestingly, the woman conductor of the bus, seen briefly in the video, refuses to interfere.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The girls in the video, like me the other night, couldn't react constructively due to the lack of information. To counter abysmally confident (though absurd) individuals, you need unerring data that denies them any chance at a comeback. Otherwise, it is just like wrestling a pig in the mud.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Here's a deep dive to uncover the misinformation behind the age-old sexist claim.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>&quot;Viral&quot; claim tracked to Facebook</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A Malayalam keyword search revealed that the claim is not new. It has been doing rounds for some years now. Over the years, it found takers across platforms in different layouts. It migrated from the lengthy textual formats of Facebook to brief videos on Instagram and YT Shorts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We found a post from February 2019 that elaborated on the argument. This viral post was shared and reproduced by numerous users in early 2019, the search confirmed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, the search also revealed a post on the official Facebook page of Kerala Police from <a href="" target="_blank">March 13, 2019</a>. Evidently, it was an effort to put brakes on the viral post that was spreading like wildfire. The lengthy post debunked the bogus claim surrounding reservation seats and warned defaulters of consequences quoting the Motor Vehicle Department.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>''It is being circulated in social media that there is a law that restrains the ouster of men occupying the reserved seats for women in buses. Some online media have also picked up this fake news after it went viral on social media. But the Department of Motor Vehicles warns that this argument has no legal backing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>''Men can use the women's seats if they are not occupied. But the law insists that they should get up when women board the bus. The KSRTC, in an order, has instructed that the conductor should ask men to vacate the priority seats if women demand during the journey,'' the post in Malayalam said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Explaining the consequences of breaking the law, the post added, ''The Department of Motor Vehicles has informed that there will be punishments including fines for travelling in reserved seats in buses. Legal action will be taken against any passenger who refuses to vacate the seat and argues with the conductor.''</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We also found a 2022 media report that claimed access to a 2016 Right To Information (RTI) response from the KSRTC. The Corporation's response dated January 29, 2016, said that as per government order, male occupants of the 25 per cent of seats reserved for women are liable to vacate them once women board the bus.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Conductors shouldn't be silent spectators</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Passengers often raise their complaints and protest with bus conductors. But what can their tribe do in case an argument erupts inside a bus?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>''Some time back, a group of ex-servicemen boarded the bus. One of them sat in a ladies seat. I reminded him right away that he would have to get up once women board but he paid no heed. A few stops later, I had to ask him to vacate and he was not pleased. Later, he told me I wronged him and we had a long chat. He said he had seen an order that proved me wrong. But, I had seen this viral post on Facebook and knew he was talking about the same. I dared him to show me the order. He's a regular at the depot but never mentioned the episode again. I think he learnt the truth,'' Sabari Nath, a state general council member of KSRTC's biggest employee union, said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Conductors can ask non-deserving occupants of reserved seats to vacate and said if attempts to defuse the situation amicably fail and the perpetrators become a nuisance, the crew can inform the police of the development, he said. ''Halting the bus is not advisable as it affects every passenger. In worst-case scenarios, the crew can take the bus to the nearest police station,'' he said. ''Even educated people fall for such posts and create a scene,'' the KSRTEA leader added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>But what about private buses?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Anoop Nair, an Assistant Motor Vehicle Inspector with the Kerala MVD, said that all state carriages fall under the same rules and regulations. The onus is always on the conductors to ensure rules are followed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;There are no special provisions for the state transport corporation.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;No passenger is going to approach a driver with their concerns as there is not much he can do. Conductors are not just meant to collect money and give tickets. They are responsible for ensuring rules, including those concerning reservation, are followed,&quot; the MVD officer said.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;They should do their best to convince the person to vacate the seat. If he is not budging, the best thing to do is to contact the nearest police aid post. The driver and conductor will face the music if the Road Transport Officer receives a complaint claiming that they failed to do their duty,&quot; Nair said.</p> Thu Mar 07 22:07:28 IST 2024 renowned-kannada-writer-k-t-gatti-dies-at-85 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Renowned Kannada novelist, playwright and poet Koodlu Thimmappa Gatti, died at his residence here on Monday.&nbsp; He was 85.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> Winner of the Kendra Sahitya Academy and Rajyotsava awards, Gatti hailed from Koodlu in Kasaragod district of Kerala. He has published more than 50 novels and essays, two poems including one in English, and more than 50 plays. Among them, around 30 plays written for children were translated to different languages and broadcast in Akashavani.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> His novels include Shabdagalu (1976), Saumya (1978), Mane, Ramayajnya, Nirantara, Abrahmana, Amuktha, Avibhaktaru, Karmanye Vadhikarasthe, Koopa, Poojary, Bisilugudure, Mrityorma Amritam Gamaya, Yugantara, Shilatapaswi, Swarna Mraga and Aragina Mane. After a stint as a college lecturer in Udupi, Gatti travelled to Ethiopia where he worked as professor. He also obtained diplomas in English from Trinity and Oxford colleges in England.&nbsp; After returning to India, he quit teaching and took up farming at Ujire near here in Dakshina Kannada district.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> Gatti's literary contributions earned him widespread recognition.&nbsp;</p> Mon Feb 19 17:05:26 IST 2024 the-fine-art-of-a-fake-laugh <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>THEY say laughter is the best medicine, and it really is. When it is genuine – a deep belly rumble that leaves you feeling all fuzzy inside. The euphoria lasts for a few minutes, and you cannot help but feel that all is right with the world, even if King Charles has cancer and Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner are headed for splitsville. A good laugh is as therapeutic as a salted caramel cone, and much cheaper than a session with your shrink.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But that’s a genuine chuckle. The fake kind? It just leaves you feeling a little drained. But there is no denying it: learning how to fake laughter is an essential life skill. Can you imagine the awkward silence every time your boss made a seriously unfunny joke and you did not laugh? The blasphemy. I mean, why place your promotion in jeopardy when the problem is easily solved with something as simple as a pretend-giggle?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As important as learning how to fake laugh is learning how to recognise it. Remember David Shore’s popular show <i>House</i>, where Dr Gregory House diagnoses seemingly impossible conditions by assuming the simple premise that ‘Everyone lies’? The same is true of fake laughter. EVERYONE fake laughs. And yet, we underestimate how common it is.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Most of us think we are funnier than we really are. And unless we can discern genuine laughter from fake, we will live in the deluded Disneyworld of our own fake greatness.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>How do you discern between real and fake laughter? That’s a subtle and highly sophisticated art. You can, however, learn from the greats. For example, the way TV host David Letterman laughed at what some of his celebrity guests said? So fake. By the way, it is a truth universally acknowledged that celebrities have an all-access pass to the Hall of Humour. They even sound genuinely funny. I remember laughing at something actor Emily Blunt said about her husband, John Krasinski. But later I mulled it over and realised that it was not funny at all. If my mother had said it, I would have rolled my eyes. The truth is, celebs are so cool that everything they say becomes part of the Holy Grail of Comedy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And then, there is the premature laughter before the punchline comes. Personally, I am a frequent victim of this. Move over, Murphy, I have a law of my own to propose. The more you want to please someone, the less likely you are to do so. I have experienced this several times. A good looking guy comes along and tells me a joke. I am so eager to please him that I hang on to his every word. But then I become anxious: What if I find the joke unfunny? Or what if I don’t get it? I try to focus so much that I lose all focus. There is only one remedy: Try to guess the timing of the punchline.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Law no.2 – if you try to anticipate the punchline, you will always get it wrong. He tells you about walking down a street and watching a goat cross the road, and you laugh like your life depends on it. He looks a little bewildered and you realise that your laughter was premature. But by then, it is too late. The joke – if it was a joke in the first place – is dead. And so are your chances with Mr Gorgeous.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So, to sum it up: Fake laughter can take you places. But only if you know when and how to wield it. And if you want to take lessons on Fake Laughter 101, just observe the exuberance with which our prime minister hugs the UAE president. Now that’s a master who has chiselled his craft to perfection. Watch and learn.</p> Sat Feb 17 14:52:31 IST 2024 absorbing-the-myriad-experiences-of-listening-at-jaipur-literature-festival <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><b>Jaipur Diary</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Day One</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I had been hearing about the famous Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) from friends in college for almost a decade and more but for some reason or the other, could never find the time to go for it. However, this year not only did I remember to register for the festival thanks to Facebook’s reminders but also asked one of my close friends if she would like to accompany me. She readily agreed and so did her husband. We booked our stay and train tickets early. My friend had been to JLF earlier but because it was my first time, I was truly excited about it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>By the time it was time to leave for Jaipur, Delhi had turned into a cold gloomy city with fog and pollution pervading the atmosphere; hence we were extra cheerful to get to Jaipur. As it happens so often in the winter, our train got delayed by almost an hour and a half. However, we checked into the hotel and reached the magnificent Clarks Amer which looked festive, the sun shone brightly and the JLF looked tempting to say the least.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The very first session that I attended at a venue called Durbar Hall was titled 'Treasures of Lakshmi: The Goddess Who Gives', edited by Namita Gokhale and Malashri Lal. I had missed the beginning but Vidya Shah’s invocation to Lakshmi was spell-binding. Her voice is soulful and melodious. Malashri Lal and Namita Gokhale discussed their book and it was quite interesting and full of nuggets of information. For example, Lal explained the difference between Kuber and Lakshmi. Kuber is also known as the god of wealth but unfortunately stands for the hoarding of wealth and its negative energies whereas Lakshmi is the goddess who gives, and radiates positive energy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I ended up buying an earlier book edited by the duo called Finding Radha and it was quite a pleasure to get it signed by Malashri Lal, who was my professor at the University of Delhi and taught us Feminism and Women’s Writing in the late eighties at the South Campus.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>JLF is a communion of book lovers, serious readers and the joyful young generation for whom making an Instagram reel is definitely more important than listening to the spoken word. Between running around and finding my favourite sessions, I stopped to have Kesar chai at a small kiosk shaped like a tapri, which is the colloquial Hindi term for the inconsequential tea stand in the middle of nowhere. The young enterprising students managing it seemed cheerful. They offered me a small bench to sit, a couple of cookies and a lovely kulhad of chai which smelled of saffron or kesar. The surroundings seemed to remind me of the reason I was there at JLF: to absorb completely the myriad experiences of listening to voices who know, to be with my friends I could never find the time to meet in Delhi and spend time to rejuvenate myself.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Food was a challenge that day as I could not find my favourite kachoris anywhere and settled for golgappas and chaat, which are the staple street food items all over North India and especially Delhi-NCR. Spending time with my ex-student/friend/mentee Aishwarya Jha in the late afternoon sun at Chaar Bagh had its own charm. I could never have found this leisurely afternoon elsewhere. Neither would she.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Day Two</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The second day I was all charged up and reached the venue at 10 am. The session I was heading for was called 'The Power of Myth' and was at the same venue as our afternoon leisure the day before, Chaar Bagh. The speaker was Anand Neelakantan, the writer of the prequel to Bahubali, the iconic film which broke all box-office records just a few years back. The writer was articulate and had an amazing voice which made him a good speaker as well. Talking about myths he recalled several epics like the Ramayana and how the different versions of the same epic told the stories differently in one way or another. Shakuntala of Kalidas, who was a court poet, does not have the same agency as the Shakuntala of Vyasa but Kalidas’s poetry is superior and steeped in Sanskrit literature. Vyasa does not make Shakuntala into a submissive woman, instead she has the courage to bring up the child alone in Vyasa’s ashram and not beg Dushyant to take her back. The contexts of the two poets were totally different and hence the difference in the portrayal of the heroine.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The one point that irked me about this session was the casual way the speaker spoke about some of the epics to elicit the applause of the younger crowd. In other words, he was playing to the gallery and a place like JLF demands a bit more sanctity about a subject as powerful as myth, which was ironically the title of his session.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The next session that caught my attention was titled 'Modern Love' and was held at Baithak. It began with the anchor Maria Goretti asking the panellists about what they thought was love. Being a fan of Seema Goswami’s column Spectator in Brunch magazine which I enjoyed a lot until the newspaper decided to switch it to the online version, I was looking forward to her take on Modern love.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Love in the present times, she said, had gone beyond the boundaries of a man-woman relationship. It could simply be the love between two friends, the love one has for parents or children or siblings, and even the love you have for a pet could come under the umbrella of modern love. The idea of love being only a romantic, physical and emotional bonding between young heterosexual couples is too limiting in today’s world. The other panellists, Anish Gawande and Shivani Sibal, and Maria Goretti continued the discussion in an interesting playful way. Gawande is a young scholar from Britain and is a representative of the queer community. (I came out in New York, no less, he told the audience almost as an aside.) I was pleased to note that he handled the questions masterfully, asking Maria Goretti as well to put forth her point of view. It is heartening to see bright young minds full of joy and laughter, ready to plunge into the conflicts and debates of the contemporary world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The audience too was a curious, happy lot and the most applause came for a 76-year-old who said that the panellists’ idea of love was too intellectual and that even at his ripe age, he still fell in love every day—with nature, with his grandson and sometimes with young women too even though he has a wife at home!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Immediately after this session, I was drawn to the one titled 'Anatomy of Love' because the previous one had made me laugh, introspect and enjoy at the same time. However, this one couldn’t have been more of a contrast. The two young novelists from Britain, Diana Evans and Ivy Ngeow, seemed to be excited enough to talk about their works when they introduced themselves. But the anchor had a stroke of amnesia and completely forgot that the session was titled 'Anatomy of Love'. Instead, he began a detailed introduction of their respective novels. It was almost as if he took his job as an anchor too seriously as he was an academic. He forgot that this was not his classroom at the university but an audience who needed to know the writers’ idea of love and its representation in their novels. He went off on a tangent and persistently asked them about their roots, the thematic tones and their process of writing… he simply forgot the ‘love’ part of the session. Academics should stick to the classroom; they are bad as JLF moderators. I felt especially bad for the writers because they seemed to be wondering as to when he would get around to the topic of the session.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Listening to these writers of the Nigerian and Malaysian descent, making a mark as British writers after their masters in England, I felt that the contemporary British novelists’ profile is no longer limited to England and in fact by drawing upon the experiences of studying and being brought up in Asian, African or any other country and transitioning to Britain to pursue their dreams, their works are enriched with these diverse contexts and are interestingly eclectic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>'One fine Day: British Empire on the Brink' had Matthew Parker talking about the downfall of the British and was my natural choice of sessions after struggling through the previous one. Parker seemed to be mourning the loss of the empire with blazing honesty and candour. He thrashed the royalty, wondered why the British continue to suffer from a colonial hangover, praised the Indian space programme and the healthy economy of India all in one breath. Always a proud Indian at heart, I felt a strange sense of elation in the Q&amp;A session when a sari-clad NRI woman declared that India had moved on ages ago but the British were still clinging to this colonial hangover and still suffered from it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The session was a clear winner with the audience because it was being held at the JLF where India ruled supreme.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Lunch was next on my agenda but the food court looked more promising than it turned out to be and I ended up settling for a small plate of lemon rice and coconut chutney. When I looked around for a place to sit, apparently there seemed to be none. Perched on a small bench with a plate of lemon rice is trickier than it seems and definitely more difficult than carrying a tote-bagful of books. I felt that more thought could have gone into this and perhaps the organisers did not check to see if there was enough space to put some chairs for people to sit and eat in peace.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Later in the afternoon, attending a session titled 'Translation: An Equal Music' was an absolute pleasure as David Hahn’s sense of humour and the easy banter between him and Daisy Rockwell (translator of The Tomb of Sand) kept the audience entertained. Rockwell talked about her work being an integral part of her daily routine and said that she continued to translate as and when she could, at home, outside and sometimes even in the waiting halls of schools where she was picking up her child. Hahn’s hilarious anecdotes included his memories as a restless child and remembering his mother sitting in the playpen translating peacefully and the entire apartment at his disposal. Arunava Sinha’s task as the anchor became much easier because of the easy camaraderie between Hahn and Rockwell who got along like a house on fire.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Moving on to the next session that I went for, 'Steeped: Adventures of a Tea Entrepreneur' by Brook Eddy was about her struggles in her journey of becoming an entrepreneur. Gender dynamics are essential in business and according to Brook, no one took her seriously till she got a man to invest in her venture and have him as her business partner. Brook said that she had been coming to the JLF all these years and was inspired to write her story in the form of a book.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The day ended with a beautiful session titled 'Poetry Multiverse' which had Maria Goretti, Ibrahim Waheed, Sukrita Paul Kumar and a few other poets recite their poetry to a packed house.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A word about the food at JLF. It turned out to be quite a disappointment. No seating for older people, food choices centred around the younger palate. e.g. waffles, burgers and pizzas, no decent south Indian outlet or even a north Indian for that matter and overpriced kachoris and chana kulchas left a bad taste (literally) in the mouth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There was a clear demarcation for the privileged. The authors lounge, the speaker lounge and the friends and family had their own array of cuisine which was not available to the ‘janta’. Settling for a kadhi kachori and lukewarm lemon rice was my only option.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Day Three</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It was drizzling when we reached the venue the next day. Not deterred by a little rain, I headed to Durbar Hall for my first session titled 'Leonardo da Vinci: Painter in the Court of Milan'. Five minutes into the session and I found myself mesmerised by the slideshow which was put forth by Luke Syson, director of the Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge, who began with the iconic Mona Lisa and went on to give the audience an enthralling session, talking about how Da Vinci, despite his reputation, was on a salary and produced an assembly line of paintings commissioned by the court and painted by him along with a bevy of budding painters most of whom worked with him or under his tutelage.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Syson went on to show us several prints of the original paintings and their copies made by his students, distinguishing the original from the copies. The drapery, the way the hands were painted, the way an arm appeared on the canvas and whether all the different parts of the painting were painted by several artists whom he mentored.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It was a learning experience for me as I knew very little about this famous artist although his context remains one of the most significant parts of our syllabus of BA Hons in English.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mid-morning took me to Mughal tent where I attended a session called 'Food, Love and Laughter' featuring the vivacious Amrita Tripathi conversing with Karen Anand, Zack O’ Yeah and Maria Goretti. The panellists talked about their latest books and more importantly food.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Zack’s challenge to the audience—the promise of a refund if they didn’t like his book and no questions asked—came pretty early in the session. Karen Anand spoke about her journey as a food writer which began 20 years ago and also her love for simple home food which never has any alternative.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Goretti mentioned her beginning with a food blog and how her first book came out of it. She said that it was natural to go back to one’s roots if one wanted to cook authentically. Zack’s dig at his age and constantly heckling the anchor was an irritating one but fortunately Amrita handled him quite well. Goretti and Anand spoke from the heart and encouraged a young wife lamenting about her husband being a great cook and not wanting publicity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Karen declared that it was high time Kentucky Fried Chicken was replaced by tandoori chicken all over the world, and was surprised that this brilliant idea had not yet occurred to a budding entrepreneur.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Limited food choices took me to the chhole kulche stall which was a sad option in terms of quality and quantity and did little to appease my hunger pangs. However, I was quite excited about my next session on 'How Prime Ministers Decide', where the author of the book Neerja Chowdhury was in conversation with Mandira Nayar of THE WEEK.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After an introduction to Chowdhury, it was clear why the venue Durbar Hall was almost packed by people. Here was a journalist who has quite literally walked in the corridors of power and who is quite close not only with the politicians but also their families. When Nayar asked about whether some prime ministers were vulnerable and superstitious, she talked about a specific incident in the life of Indira Gandhi who was an avid devotee of Chamunda Devi of Himachal. However, a trip to Chamunda Devi was cancelled by her on the advice of her staff. Two days later, Sanjay Gandhi’s plane crashed while he was flying it and he died. The priest said although the goddess did not mind the ordinary people cancelling a trip but when a prime minister did it, she deserved to be punished.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chowdhury talked about the Congress’s alliance with the RSS as well. She said that she had included only those prime ministers who were fortunate enough to complete their terms. She also talked about why she had not included Prime Minister Modi in her book. It was because she did not have access to any kind of inside information about the PM and that was a major deterrent for her. She claimed to have inside information about all those PMs she has written about, and some of these are named sources.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The last session that I attended turned out to be the best as far as I am concerned. It was in the Mughal tent and was on 'Mrs Dalloway', one of my most favourite novels. In this session Merve Emre and Anish Gawande talked about the relevance and contemporaneity of the iconic 'Mrs Dalloway', a novel written by Virginia Woolf.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Emre spoke convincingly and with an enchanting confidence about the novel, instantly connecting with the audience with her easy approach and relatable manner. She expressed surprise at how great an audience we were, considering eighty per cent had already read the novel. She talked about working on the annotated edition during Covid with ample time on her hands and despite having her kids around her all the time. She spoke about her experiences as a teacher, her ideas on doing something collaborative like ‘Rap genius’ for Virginia Woolf and the other classics of the Modern era.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gawande shone as an exceptional anchor, matching Emre’s wit, and the banter between them kept the audience suitably entertained.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Professor Harish Trivedi, who retired from the department of English at the University of Delhi, was a bit offended by Emre’s total indifference to the Indian reference in Woolf’s novel. His question began with “Where do you think you are sitting?” and very soon it was clear to the audience that Emre had stepped on his shoes. Professor Trivedi is a renowned critic and writer and well known among the Commonwealth nations. He is also an expert on Virginia Woolf and used to offer an entire M.Phil course on Woolf in the eighties. Soon enough, he went on to point out to Emre how the reference to India makes the novel more significant to the present audience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nevertheless, Emre handled both his questions and his ire with aplomb and clarified that the reference to India was perhaps in her subconscious all along. The loud applause which followed the Professor’s question was revealing though and it was quite clear that he had a fan following of his own in the audience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thus ended my third day at JLF and I left for my hotel soon after as we had to board our train later in the evening.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On my way back to Delhi, I was enraptured by memories of the wonderful sessions and speakers, the experiences of meeting long-lost friends and taking in the sheer joy of being a participant at JLF.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To conclude, I would like to put it out there that JLF has definitely enhanced India’s reputation and those of Indian writers to a great extent. It has slowly and steadily put our country on the map of the world and shown how things are done. Combining the cultural heritage of our country, various organisations dealing with climate sustainability, schoolchildren, college students, entrepreneurs looking for platforms, young adults grappling with what our intellectuals are writing, it has done what nobody else has for several years. Although, certain aspects were overlooked, the entire event instilled a sense of pride in one’s identity as an Indian.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cricket does that and to a certain extent so does Indian cinema. But packed sessions on writers and books, long queues for purchasing books, lining up for book signings, these are definitely an optimistic sign for urban India. I was full of enthusiasm and hope for the young adults, who would benefit the most from this communion of getting together the best minds from across the globe.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Gauri Mishra is a professor at the Department of English at College of Vocational Studies, University of Delhi.</b></p> Fri Feb 09 17:20:28 IST 2024 15th-edition-of-india-art-fair-sends-message-that-moment-for-art-and-design-has-arrived-for-india <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>If there is one thing that stood out at the recently concluded 15th edition of the India Art Fair, it is the message that the moment for art and design has arrived for India! The fair showcased 108 exhibitors and featured 72 galleries alongside major regional and international art powerhouses. However, the real show stealer was embroidery and design arts.</p> <p>India, known for its artisanal work, is on the cusp of witnessing the art and craft divide slowly disappearing.</p> <p>The inaugural collectible design section saw the debut of seven design studios which included studios by the likes of Rooshad Shroff (Mumbai), Ashiesh Shah Atelier (Mumbai), and Gunjan. These studios showcased the fusion of furniture and objects as art, alongside highlighting embroidery as a serious art form, transforming the contemporary works into exquisitely woven pieces of art in collaborations like MASH x Milayaa (Mumbai), curated by me and Karishma Swali &amp; Chanakya School of Craft (Mumbai), with artist Barthelemy Tonguo and and Venkanna (Gallery Maskara) who breathed new life into this medium.</p> <p>&quot;This edition of India Art Fair has been our most ambitious to date, with a record number of participants and brisk sales,&quot; said Jaya Asokan, the fair director.</p> <p>What stood out for me was Mithu Sen’s 'A Prayer Unanswered, 2024' from Gallery Chemould, Ayesha Sultana’s 'Breath Counts, 2023' at Experimenta, Tyeb Metha’s iconic work from Vadehra Gallery, Chatterjee and Lal and Nikhil Chopra's fabulous drawing 'In the Line of Fire' and Dayanita Singh at Nature Morte.</p> <p>Several international big names such as Anish Kapoor, Ai Weiwei, Olafur Eliasson and Ozioma Onuzulike were part of the fair at Galleria Continua, Carpenters workshop, Neugerriemschneider, Berlin, Marc Straus (New York), as local collectors looked to expand and include international names in their collection. In particular, the Ai Weiwei sculpture in the Gallery Continua booth was remarkable.</p> <p>It was great to meet up with important collectors from India and overseas, especially Ms Kiran Nadar zipping around in her scooter, Kumar Mangalam Birla and Asha Jadeja Motwani who recently announced an important art prize for a commissioned work by a woman artist, through her foundation.</p> <p>I enjoyed the talk series and panel discussions with international museum directors such Klaus Biesenbach, director of the Neue Nationalgalerie; Michael Govan, CEO and Wallis Annenberg director at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); Prof. Dr. Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, director and chief curator at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) and Shuddhabrata Sengupta (Raqs Media Collective). The conversation with the US-based collector Komal Shah and Nishad Avari from Christie’s was insightful as it addressed collecting feminist art in a global context.</p> <p>The fair, however, would have been incomplete without the party circuit filled with previews from major auction houses and art galleries hosted by Shalini Passi, collector and founder of MASH. There was also an elegant luncheon hosted by Kiran Nadar (founder, the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art), well attended by international and local guests. The Raw Mango party was immensely popular with the young artists, curators and the IAF team.</p> <p>Art fairs are more than exhibitions; they are spaces that provide a platform for the art community to get together, contemplate, collaborate, and celebrate new associations, push new boundaries, include voices that have been marginalised and create a marketplace for the art world to thrive.</p> <p>So, until next year, may the conversations and connections keep growing, and the artistic spirit keep soaring!</p> Tue Feb 06 19:48:46 IST 2024 priyanka-gandhis-son-raihan-vadras-third-solo-exhibition-upamana-is-all-about-nature-and-people <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>As you step into the Living Traditions Centre (LTC) gallery of Bikaner House, you feel like you are walking above the clouds. The sky is laid out on the floor—illuminated life-size photographs of clouds, all captured from the top and on the floor as an installation. This is the entry to Raihan Vadra's exhibition of installations and photographs titled 'Upamana' (The comparison).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Raihan Vadra is the son of Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. This is Vadra's third solo exhibition. His first solo exhibition was titled 'Dark Perception: An Exposition of Light, Space and Time'. It was held in 2021 at the same venue.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Vadra started taking photographs when he was eight years old. He prefers to be called a visual and installation artist instead of being called a photographer.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Like his grandfather Rajiv Gandhi who loved nature and wildlife, Vadra too has chosen to turn his lens to wildlife. In this installation, one of the rooms displays photographs of leopards clicked in the jungles of Rajasthan as an installation surrounded by trees, creating a natural habitat, to make it immersive. The other rooms have installations of photographs of expressions of people shot in studios with life-size mirrors—a very powerful trick. Yet another installation is the photographs shot with red backgrounds of people from all walks of life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This exhibition is part of a series of five solo shows, spread over a decade based on the five schools of logic in Indian philosophy (five Pramanas). Vadra's photographic work with evocative mirrors suggests cognitive comprehension, demonstrating that knowledge emerges through comparing the unknown with the known.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Apart from the solo shows, Vadra has also participated in group shows in different parts of the country. He says now he will take time to do two more shows to complete his five-part series.</p> Tue Jan 30 22:35:37 IST 2024 watch-kerala-viral-video-boy-confronts-worried-teacher-with-dope-kalapakkara-dance-moves-during-school-trip-then <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Who doesn't like school trips... A few days with your friends, away from home and academic dilemmas, excursions/Industry Visits/ tours are fun guaranteed. And most people are likely to place such trips among the most cherished memories of student life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While one can't imagine a school/college trip sans classmates, there is another lot that is salient for such outings. We need teachers for the outings to happen (and the tour operators, of course)! While the students prefer the fun-loving, take-it-easy and &quot;chill&quot; teachers to accompany them, parents often hope one of those renowned tough and &quot;strict&quot; tutors to board the bus with their wards.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>An Instagram video that has become an instant hit is likely to make you think about your relationship with the teachers who accompanied you on school/college trips. How relaxed were they? Did you make him/her lose cool at any point during the journey?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Because the reel, first uploaded earlier this month shows a teacher with a bunch of kids on a school trip. The nocturnal video shot outdoors shows a teacher watching from a distance as her students break into killer dance moves. Awestruck by the steps her girls had in store for the popular Malayalam song &quot;Kalapakkaara', she had a finger on her nose.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Jeeshma teacher realising she can only retire for the night after making sure the entire bunch is fast asleep,&quot; the video was captioned.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The undated video from somewhere in Kerala, then shows a lad slowly making his way towards his teacher. The moment he reaches her, the lad in a zebra-striped shirt quickly drops his polite posture and breaks into dance. Jeeshma Miss and the person behind the camera, presumably another teacher, can't help but laugh as the adolescent pulls out some silly yet firm steps right before them.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The viral video shows the boy hopping his hands and legs at made pace as he danced around his teacher for a few seconds before she said &quot;Poda cherukka&quot; (get going now, boy!) with a broad smile on her face.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The kid, responds to the command by pulling out a new step. He dances a few steps back with an arm pointed towards the teacher, before coming back towards her again.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The teacher was clearly not offended by his moves. Her face confirmed that she wanted her students to have a great time and loved being amidst the happy bunch.</p> <p><b>WATCH THE VIDEO HERE:</b></p> <p>Many social media users commented that the video showed how teacher-student relationships have changed over the years. New-gen teachers are more receptive and frank compared to their predecessors.&nbsp;</p> <p>If it was teachers who used to be around when they were kids in Jeeshma Miss's place, the boy would have had a &quot;memorable night&quot;, some others said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yet others said the kid was sure his teacher would love it and nothing ill will come out of it. That's what made the video wholesome. One got no other choice but to agree the video was indeed wholesome.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jan 26 22:16:10 IST 2024 chandra-dake-the-indian-innovator-who-turned-uae-deserts-into-farmlands <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Arabian folklore has an uncountable number of stories that combine the magical, mystical, and mythical with the real and the historical. Dubai, the epitome of contemporary Arabian opulence, is now witnessing one such fascinating story of sustainability powered by a “magic sand”. The man who brought this sand—that enables agriculture even in deserts and saline-alkali soils—to the Arabian land is a 44-year-old Indian, Chandra Dake. He leads Dake Rechsand, a company specialising in sustainability solutions for desert farming and water conservation.</p> <p>Colloquially called the “magic sand”, Dake Rechsand’s revolutionary solution to transform deserts goes officially by the name ‘breathable sand’. And, Chandra asserts that his sand can indeed “breathe.” During a visit by THE WEEK to Dake Rechsand, the Indian entrepreneur provided a brief demonstration of his technology using a pot made of this breathable sand.</p> <p>Dake filled the pot, which boasts high air permeability, with water and then blew air from outside the pot. Remarkably, bubbles emerged inside the pot. “The breathable sand is made from desert sand,” explains Dake. “We modify the sand particles to alter the way it behaves with the water and air, and this allows the sand to hold water for a longer period while allowing the aeration,” he said.</p> <p>In scientific terms, the sand particles undergo 'surface tension modification' through a complex manufacturing process that involves adding specific minerals and applying heat. The resulting water-retentive and air-permeable medium ensures optimal crop yield with an 80% reduction in water input. In the UAE, where deserts cover nearly 80% of the total land and water scarcity is a critical issue, this unique technology provides a compelling solution</p> <p>Utilising this technology, the company is currently engaged in establishing a forest of 11 million trees in Dubai's arid and desert lands. This massive afforestation and carbon sequestration programme, done in collaboration with the Dubai government, is the first such programme in a desert anywhere in the world, done with private investment</p> <p>Interestingly, a scaled-down version of this cutting-edge desert land reclamation technology is on display at Dake's home garden in Dubai. Welcoming THE WEEK for an exclusive home tour, the entrepreneur showcased a diverse array of flora, ranging from coconut trees and mangoes to Chikoo, jamun, and tamarind—all cultivated using his breathable sand.</p> <p>The lush landscape features a variety of plants that typically face challenges in surviving and producing fruit in arid climates, including moringa, grapes, papaya, grapefruit, and pomegranate. The garden's vibrant tapestry is further enhanced by the presence of roses, hibiscus, and jasmine in various hues, showcasing resilience even in the scorching summer months.</p> <p>The concept of breathable sand originated in China, stemming from an idea proposed by the renowned Chinese scientist Qian Xuesen in the early 1980s. Qian's desert development theory aimed to transform deserts and Gobi deserts into oases through the application of advanced science and technology.</p> <p>Inspired by Xuesen, Chinese scientist Qin Shengyi embarked on a journey to develop a method for transforming Gobi desert sand into a &quot;special coated sand.&quot; The process involved conducting over 6,000 tests using more than 9,000 kg of sand before successfully creating the first high-temperature coated sand. Shengyi, currently the chairman of Beijing Renchuang Technology Group Co., dedicated over 35 years to studying, developing, and testing to create breathable sand suitable for farming in deserts.</p> <p>In a significant trial, Shengyi's breathable sand demonstrated remarkable results by producing optimal rice yield across 1,500 acres of the Ulan Buh Desert on the western Inner Mongolia plateau. This desert is considered one of the seven driest deserts globally, with temperatures soaring as high as 57 degrees Celsius. The success of this experiment showcased the transformative potential of breathable sand in revolutionising agriculture.</p> <p>Collaborating with Shengyi, Dake worked to enhance the sand's capabilities, adapting it for use in high-saline soils to make it more stable and suitable for desert farming and water conservation. Together, they co-founded Dake Rechsand, which has expanded globally with 15 manufacturing plants and multiple product lines in the US, South Africa, UAE, India, and China.</p> <p>Growing up in a middle-class family, Dake’s interest in agriculture resilience sparked at an early age. His father Dake Visaradha Rao worked as an assistant executive engineer in the Andhra Pradesh Irrigation Department. “Because of my father’s job’s nature that involved frequent relocations across Andhra Pradesh, I had earned diverse experiences from Hyderabad to Kadapa and Vijayawada. Meanwhile, the farming background of both maternal and paternal families also sparked my interest. I witnessed how my paternal grandfather transformed an arid land into a lush farm in Rayalaseema. The challenges of drought-prone Rayalaseema created in me a deep respect for agricultural resilience.”</p> <p>Following his graduation from Nagarjuna University, Vijayawada in 1999, Chandra's exposure to systems audit during his Chartered Accountancy (CA) audit articles influenced his transition into technology. This shift led him to attain an MCSD certification in 2000. Subsequently, he delved into Environmental Sciences, ultimately earning a Ph.D. in 2022 from Sorbon International for his significant contributions to soil improvement.</p> <p>Presently, Dake's company boasts an impressive portfolio, holding over 600 original invention patents. Notably, this innovative firm has developed an alternative version of breathable sand, aiming to prevent floods and introduce a pioneering water harvesting concept known as 'sponge cities.'</p> <p>Sponge cities encompass extensive areas where rainwater is absorbed by permeable pavers, directing it either to proper sewers or storing it in underground reservoirs. In contrast, breathable sand, utilised for planting, retains water while allowing for aeration. Meanwhile, a patented 'honeycomb' structure, employed in constructing sponge cities, possesses both air and water permeability.</p> <p>“With that technology, we create surfaces to harvest the water and store the water sustainably for a long time,” said Dake. “The honeycomb storage in which water is collected allows the air to circulate within the storage without the need of electricity and chemicals and keeps water in constant motion 24 by 7, 365 days. So far, our longest record of keeping the water clean has been about 12 years.”</p> <p>The passionate innovator asserts that his unique technology will play a crucial role in building a sustainable future while sounding the alarm about the rapid desertification occurring in various parts of the world. He states, &quot;We are not only reclaiming deserts but also transforming desert sand, which is otherwise deemed unfit for any other purpose, into a material of significant utility.&quot; Now, that is undoubtedly akin to magic!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Jan 25 18:47:41 IST 2024 hoisting-or-unfurling-what-is-the-flag-protocol-for-republic-day <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>India is all set to celebrate 75th Republic Day celebrations and ‘Viksit Bharat’ and ‘Bharat - Loktantra ki Matruka’ are the main themes of the celebrations this year. The day marks the formal adoption of the Indian Constitution.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>French President Emmanuel Macron is the chief guest this year. The Republic Day parade will start at 10.30am and run for a duration of approximately 90 minutes. However, unlike Independence Day, Indian President Droupadi Murmu would unfurl the National flag at Kartavya Path before the parade. While the national flag is hoisted during the Independence Day celebrations, it is unfurled during Republic Day.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On Republic Day, the President would unfurl the National Flag, tied as a bundle along with flowers on top of a flag pole. The flag is only unfurled on the day as India is already an independent nation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, during Independence Day, the prime minister would hoist the flag; the National Flag is tied to the lower part of the flagpole and then raised by the prime minister. It signifies India is free from the clutches of the British.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The celebration this year is said to be women-centric. Women marching contingents will form the major chunk of the parade, defence ministry had said. According to the ministry, the parade will be heralded by 100 women artists playing Indian musical instruments. The parade would commence with the music of Sankh, Naadswaram, Nagada, etc. to be played by women artists. An all-women Tri-Service contingent will march down Kartavya Path this year.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A 95-member marching contingent and 33-member band contingent from France will also take part in the parade. Along with the aircraft of the Indian Air Force, one Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft and two Rafale aircraft of the French Air Force will participate in the Fly-past, the ministry said in a release.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Ministry of Defence is planning to release commemorative coin and commemorative stamp during the event.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Jan 25 16:48:25 IST 2024 first-of-its-kind-gender-neutral-cricket-tournament-in-mp-s-tribal-dominated-harda-makes-history <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>When 16-year-old Pinky Navre was asked to speak after receiving the ‘Player of the Series’ trophy, she could just say a few words before she broke down.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I always wondered when will I be able to make it to the team, when will I finally hit the ground. But, the occasion did come,” the girl said amid tears and loud applause from her teammates, opponents and crowd.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pinky’s heartfelt words echoed the sentiments of many other young girls gathered at the Nehru Stadium ground of tribal-dominated Harda in Madhya Pradesh, where the cold night of January 14 became witness to a unique sporting tournament that sought to break a major social barrier.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After week-long excitement and competition, the team from Undhaal village won the tournament, defeating the Nimacha team by nine runs in an entertaining final match. The captain of the winning team, 18-year-old Puja Karma, was unwell on the day her team played three matches at quarter, semi and final levels on January 14. At one point she felt like quitting due to her health. “But my father (Jagdish Karma) told me I have to finish what I have started.” So Puja not only stood solid as a captain to steer her team with well-judged decisions, but also took a scintillating catch at boundary line in the final match to contribute significantly to the win.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Puja has not had it easy to get to the level of becoming the winning captain. “I had to drop out of school after class 9 as my school was far from our village. But when the volunteers of Synergy Sansthan came to the village with the idea of involving girls in cricket three years ago, I managed to convince my parents to let me join. With my experience of participating in previous women’s cricket tournaments by the organization, I decided to get a team together this team and though it took a lot of convincing of families of the girls, we did it,” she says.</p> <p>“I should mention that the girls from our team managed to lead us to wins by themselves the quarter-finals, semifinals and the final. The chance of the male members never came,” Puja adds with a chuckle.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The finals of the district-level ‘Samaveshi (Inclusivity) Cup 2024’ – a first of its kind mixed gender cricket tournament in the country – had just been played at the Nehru Stadium and all participants were resplendent in the glow of having become part of a powerful social message.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The sporting event, organised by NGO Synergy Sansthan, was unique in the sense that each of the participating teams had both female and male players in tone with the motto of ‘Haq hai Samaan; Sabhi ka hai maidaan’ (right is equal; the ground belongs to all).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The cricket competition saw 728 girls and boys from 60 villages in Harda split into 56 teams. The eight-overs-a-side league matches were played at tehsil levels on January 6 and 7, before the first-round quarter-finals were played on January 13. After second-level quarter-finals and semi-finals, the summit clash happened on January 14.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Each team had seven female and four male players. It was made mandatory that the captain and vice-captain of every team should be female players. The batting and bowling were both opened by girls and even one of the umpires in each match was a woman. While women aged between 14 to 26 years participated, only boys below 19 years of age were permitted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>More than providing a chance to showcase their sporting talent, the cricket tournament served to provide the girls and young women from the tribal-dominated villages of Harda to lay a claim on crucial social space.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Synergy Sansthan has been organizing women’s cricket tournaments in the district for the past four years in a bid to develop leadership qualities among girls and imbibe the value of gender parity in society.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Through the tournament, a lot of young girls got the opportunity to hone their cricketing ability, break the gender barriers and encourage other girls in their neighbourhood to follow suit.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The tournament is more about the right of equality than about winning or losing. All the players lived the concept of equality on the ground. It was basically an attempt to give equal opportunity to the girls,” Vimal Jat, chief executive officer of Synergy Sansthan told The Week.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He said that the socio-cultural ideas about girls participating in sports are still quite restrictive and the tournament has made a big stride in changing this mindset.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Jat added that when the idea of girls' cricket was floated for the first time in the district, a lot of reluctance and opposition arose in the villages, but the young people with the support of Synergy volunteers managed to break down the rigidity. &quot;We have managed the scenario to the point that the mixed-gender tournament could be successfully conducted,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To encourage the players further, the winning team was given a trophy and a Rs 21,000 cash award. The runners-up got a cash prize of Rs 10,000. The teams that finished third and fourth got Rs 5000 each. Every other team that participated were handed Rs 500 cash and a cricket kit.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Crowds turn up in numbers</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite the foggy and cold weather, the matches drew sizable crowds. The cricketing fields saw high enthusiasm, cheers and placards with gender parity slogans like ‘Jo tez gend ki daud hai; woh gender ka ek mod hai’ (the run of fast bowler is just another turn for issue of gender), ‘Hamare khel ki ek nai pehchan hai; gender samantaa hi uska samman hai’ (this is a new identity of our sports, gender equality is same as respect for gender), ‘cricket khelenge saath; jaanenge gender ki baat’ (will play cricket together and understand the issue of gender).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I would watch my elder brother and his friends play cricket near our home and so developed an interest in the sport. The ‘bhaiyas’ (elder brothers) supported and encouraged me to practice and I always wanted to play at a big level. Synergy Sansthan’s initiative provided me and my sister (Priyanka) and a long-awaited chance to play at the district level and I am really happy and proud to have performed so well in my first big tournament,” Player of the Series Pinky, a student of class 11 and resident of village Chhidgaon, told The Week.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pinky scored 189 runs and took four wickets in the tournament and though her team representing Nimacha village (including players from Chhidgaon) lost the final, she is happy to have made a big mark in the crucial initiative.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She is the youngest daughter of a family that sustains itself on manual labour by her parents Sunita and Kodar Navre and Pinky’s elder brother Vikas. Yet, the family is willing to support the sporting interests of their daughters while braving the social norms that frown upon girls playing sports like cricket.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I have confidence in my daughters and want them to stand on their own feet. They play and they study well too. So I am sure they will do something good with their life and not struggle like us. Opinion of others does not matter, we will support our daughters for their best future,” Sunita said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rampal Dhurve, a resident of Kadya village, who attended the league matches regularly, found the initiative unique and praiseworthy. “This is the first time that such matches where girls and boys are playing together has been organised in our region. It is very interesting to watch them play with such competitiveness and enjoyment. I wish the young people best for their future,” he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Deepak Rathore, 18 of Team Chirakhan, who got the best fielder award, said that it was a very interesting and learning experience to play in the same team as girls. “It was clear that girls and boys are equal in every aspect, at least on the field of cricket. We played under a female captain and most of the team members were girls, but that wasn’t any problem for us. Rather, in most cases girls outshined boys,” Deepak says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The chief guest at the award ceremony, BJP Harda district president Rajesh Verma was all praise for the initiative. “This Samavesh Cup cricket tournament that has been organised with the basic concept of gender justice is indeed an appreciable effort. Such events play a very important role in ensuring equality at all levels in the society, especially at a time when the entire world is discussing gender justice,” he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Not been an easy journey</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, on the ground, it was not at all easy for the participating girls and women. The families of the selected players won’t allow the girls to go out for practice citing one reason or other.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Puja said that the team members, especially herself and another experienced player Shivani had to tolerate a lot of jeering and ridicule from the villagers when they practiced.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Are you out to win the World Cup? They would ask us. And see, we did really win the cup,” the teenager says with a lot of pride.</p> <p>Puja’s pride is reflective of the newfound confidence of the Harda girls who have scripted a new gender success story.</p> Fri Jan 19 15:14:19 IST 2024 cricket-for-a-cause-sachin-yuvraj-to-make-t20-comeback-in-one-world-one-family-cup <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Come January 18, two teams of veteran cricketers led by Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh will play a friendly T20 match in the One World One Family Cup at the newly-constructed Sai Krishnan Cricket Stadium in Sathya Sai Grama, a 40-minute drive from the Bengaluru's Kempegowda International Airport. Cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar will be present at the match.</p> <p>As the name indicates, Sathya Sai Grama, a little hamlet in Muddenahalli, is named after Sri Sathya Sai Baba; remembered most for his humanitarian initiatives like providing free education, free healthcare and drinking water for the needy. His philosophy was simple: ‘Love all, serve all’. He also always declared that after his time, his students would carry forward his mission of selfless love and service; and that is coming true.</p> <p>Sathya Sai Grama is today home to a bunch of Baba’s former students, mostly young professionals, who have banded together as a social-service organisation with spiritual moorings, under the leadership of Sri Madhusudan Sai, a 44-year-old ex-banker and a double gold medallist at Baba’s university.</p> <p>Spirituality has been redefined. ‘Divinity’ is now defined simply as total selflessness; ‘culture’, as concern for others; and man’s fundamental nature, as spirit. We are spiritual beings undergoing a brief human experience is the understanding; and therefore, one learns to progressively detach from the material, and instead, realise one’s self by “loving all and serving all” as “One world, One Family”.</p> <p>Utopian? Quixotic? The amazing fact is that human beings the world over, particularly the youth, seem to resonate with the idea; and the team numbers are growing exponentially. Amazing institutions of public service have come up in 33 plus countries in the verticals of right nutrition, healthcare and values-based education – for free, for all, without any discrimination.</p> <p>In India alone, this translates as three million government schoolchildren getting morning nutrition, complete with a health supplement – ‘SaiSure’; nearly 30 residential values based rural school campuses (eventually to number 600 – one for every Indian district), which search out and admit the poorest of the poor complete with a University for higher education; and three healthcare streams – one for children, that has mended nearly 30,000 little hearts, through a hospital chain sans billing counters, secondly, a growing chain of small, rural mother and child hospitals to promote healthy maternity, and thirdly, taluk-level Swasthya Centres to stem India’s ‘non-communicable diseases’ epidemic; and all this is totally free for all beneficiaries with no discrimination whatsoever. The crowning glory is that 2023 saw the first batch of medical students walk into the world’s first rural medical college offering MBBS and PG training totally free of cost, to those ready to work in rural geographies, for as many years as they received free education- the Sri Madhusudan Sai Institute of Medical Sciences &amp; Research (SMSIMS&amp;TR)</p> <p>Who picks up the tab for all this? Good Samaritans the world over, who subscribe to these same shared values; through a Sai Global Federation of Foundations. Where does cricket come in? Little Master Sunil Gavaskar has been a prime mover, in garnering support for the child heart care mission, for about a decade. In fact, he calls it the third and best innings of his life. All this while, the work was done silently; but now, spearheaded by him, the cause is going public, in a manner of speaking; and what better way to connect with the heart of India, than through cricket?!</p> <p>Besides, since bettering the lives of children is at the centre of the mission, sports have always been given pride of place in the education mission launched from Sathya Sai Grama. Every campus has sprawling sports grounds and facilities for games and yoga. Gavaskar, Pullela Gopichand, Somdev Devvarman and others are part of an advisory team to design the sports curriculum at the schools and the university; and the Sai Krishnan Cricket Stadium, in Sathya Sai Grama is their brainchild. Eventually, the stadium is to also house tennis, basketball and volleyball courts, besides an indoor facility.</p> <p>The medical college at the village is poised to have a bio-mechanical laboratory and courses in sports medicine and sports psychology, while bachelors and master’s programmes in sports and physical training are being rolled out by the university. The goal of the sports mission is to nurture the natural aptitude that rural children seem to have, for sport; and hopefully help India bring home more medals in international sporting events, through participation in the government's Khelo India programmes.</p> <p>Sports can do more for character building than sermonising; through fostering goal setting, team work, determination, focus and discipline, and learning to accept wins and losses with grace, reckons the team.</p> <p>The amalgamation of sports, yoga and meditation nurtures holistic development, shaping children into persons with strong character, compassion and a profound understanding of their inner selves; and therefore, at the mission’s schools, athletics, games and yoga are a daily affair; on par with academics. While all the schools have individual Sports Days, the best of the teams congregate at Sathya Sai Grama where finally, mixed teams play each other. This promotes cooperation and friendship rather than competition which is the essence of sportsmanship. This year, the Annual Sports Meet for the schoolchildren has been planned for the day after the cricket tourney; and hence the rural kids from 30-odd campuses are all starry eyed at this unbelievable opportunity to see many of their cricketing idols in flesh and blood.</p> <p>Gavaskar’s ‘Seva Fever’ has proved more infectious than COVID; and cricket stars from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, putting aside everything else, have come forward to bat for the mission, in the true spirit of One World, One Family. They have all expressed solidarity and support for the global ‘hat-trick’ of right nutrition, right education and quality healthcare, for free, for all.</p> <p>The star-studded list includes Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Danny Morrison, Muttiah Muralitharan, Irfan Pathan, Monty Panesar, Makhaya Ntini, Venkatesh Prasad, Yusuf Pathan, Jason Krejza, Chaminda Vaas, Mohammad Kaif, Darren Maddy and many more!</p> <p>A grand procession and classical dance extravaganza will usher in the match, while the amazing, mind-blowing Sai Symphony Orchestra, one of the only two such orchestras in India, made up of our own rural students, will serenade one after the match. Devotees from many nations have already landed in Sathya Sai Grama to watch this unique, maiden cricket match; but millions more are waiting with bated breath to watch it live on YouTube! So save the date – January 18 – to watch ‘Cricket for a Cause’; the One World, One Family Cup.</p> <p><b><i></i></b></p> Tue Jan 16 12:18:51 IST 2024 this-humble-langar-e-aam-in-bhopal-is-dignified-means-of-survival-for-many <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are evenings when Gajraj Choudhary, 48, is quite a dejected man. These are evenings when Gajraj hasn’t been able to find any manual labour job to do throughout the day and thus he has nothing to take home to feed his three motherless children.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Also, these are the evenings that Gajraj’s feet automatically turn to Nadra Bus Stand in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh. Here, in front of a humble kiosk selling special ‘Namak wali chay’ (salted tea) of Bhopal, is a modest metal table, and on it are packets of hot food. And most of the time, Gajraj can simply pick up packets as required and walk off, without having to ask or say anything. Of course, he doesn’t have to pay anything either.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The small table is the serving tray of the ‘Langar-e-Aam’ of ‘Maqbool Bhai’ – a small free food initiative for the needy, started a decade ago.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>‘Maqbool Bhai’ is Maqbool Ahamed, the owner of the tea kiosk, who without fail puts up about 100-125 packets of hot food before his stall every evening at 8pm. Till midnight, poor, destitute, travellers and other needy people with little or no money pick up the food packets and go away with a smile and a blessing for Ahamed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I lost my son, lost interest in life, developed an infection in my foot, stopped working and have no choice but to stay on the footpath here. But if not for food provided by Maqbool Bhai, survival would have been tough as I don’t beg,” Jaswant Lodhi, 40, who is a regular at the Langar-e-Aam says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Binno Bai and Tara Bai, two elderly destitute women were offered the food packets by Ahamed with great respect and affection. The women were reluctant to speak, but their smiles said a lot about their happiness at getting the fresh, hot food.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>What made Ahamed start this small but significant initiative? “My tea kiosk was set up in 1990, and I have witnessed the travails of the homeless, destitute and poor who stayed or visited the bus stand. I saw people fall ill and die, often starved. This shook me up and though I did not have much budget to spare, I decided to start this Langar (community kitchen) for these needy people in 2013. And by the grace of almighty, I have been able to put out the food every day, for over the past 10 years. I feel that offering needy people the opportunity to survive with some dignity – where they do not have to beg at least for food – is the best service to humanity one can do,” Ahamed, 58, says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He mentions that though he never sought any support for his initiative from anyone, some of his friends and associates who came to know about it, voluntarily contributed in the form of raw material – rice, flour, vegetables or oil. Some continue to do so even now.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Before the COVID-19 pandemic, every evening almost 300-350 persons would come for the food. After the pandemic, however, the number has reduced to around 100-125,” Ahamed says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yet, he bears a cost of about Rs 1,000 per day to keep his modest initiative going. Normally, the Langar-e-Aam serves chapatis and seasonal vegetable curry thrice a week and on other days, items like daal and rice, matar (peas) pulao, sometimes khichdi (porridge) or similar simple vegetarian stuff.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The main focus is that the food should be fresh and hot. So during winters, packets are put up in batches so that food can be heated up for those coming later. This correspondent tasted a little of chapati and potato-brinjal-tomato curry served on the evening of her visit and found it very tasty.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier in the evening, Devendra Singh, a conductor on an inter-district bus running from the Nadra Bus Stand, had escorted two poor families who had come to look for work in Bhopal to the Langar-e-Aam. “I heard their discussion on the bus about having no money to buy dinner for all of them. Since I am a regular at the bus stand, I remembered about Maqbool Bhai and when the bus reached here, I asked these persons to get the free food from the Langar. I too got blessings along with Maqbool Bhai,” Singh says with a smile.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>These blessings are what have kept Ahamed’s resolve strong for the past decade. “I have faced some opposition from a few jealous people around my kiosk. They try to create hurdles. But like Hazrat Ali (Islamic religious leader) said – the work that does not face hurdles does not get accepted as good work. So I live by this principle and keep doing my work.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Will the initiative keep running? “Till my death at least,” says Ahamed. He says that all his three children – two daughters and a son – have completed their education and are doing good jobs in Bengaluru. “My wife and the kids always supported me in this work and they will continue to support me, though they might not be able to continue the Langar physically after me. Maybe my brothers could carry on. But at least till I am alive, I will continue with this,” he says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I feel it is almighty who helps me on my tough days through Maqbool Bhai. So I do not thank him. I thank the almighty and I urge the almighty to keep Maqbool Bhai and his family happy and healthy always,” Gajraj Choudhary says as he starts to move away with the food packets.</p> <p>Maqbool Ahamed smiles and nods – his eyes silently speaking of the satisfaction he gets out of helping out fellow human beings.</p> Thu Jan 11 16:55:32 IST 2024 watch-too-good-to-be-real-little-girl-s-oo-antava-dance-from-kerala-stuns-internet-viral-video <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>It is Samuel Beckett who said, “Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order.” If you have seen the viral video of a little girl in Kerala dancing to the tunes of the &quot;Oo Antava&quot; song, the Irish literary great would make absolute sense.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The undated video shows a girl, not over 6 or 7 years of age, strutting her stuff as soon as her favourite song starts playing on the speakers. What's more interesting is the fact that the girl is amongst the audience of some stage show seated in an open area. She clearly does not have much space to dance due to the closely aligned chairs, but she makes most of the limited area as soon as the song begins.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The viral video was shot by a fellow audience who was seated alongside the little dancer. It showed she enthusiastically starting to flex and stretch herself to the tunes of the popular Telugu number -- eyes fixed towards the stage. Impressed by the little one's brilliance, women around her started applauding. While some turned towards her ignoring the stage on the other side, another woman was seen vacating her chair and occupying another so that the dancer got more space -- the video showed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Towards the end of the video, the little girl calls it a day and decides to settle down on her mother's lap. However, she is dragged back to the space between the chairs for round two by a teen girl, possibly her elder sister. The video ends as the two girls then start dancing together to the joy of the spectators.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;We don't really need a stage, will rock in whatever little space there is...&quot;<b> <a href="" target="_blank">a Facebook page</a></b> that shared the awesome video rightly captioned it. Over 2.1 million people have so far seen the video.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The popular dance number sung by Indravathi Chauhan featuring Allu Arjun and Samantha Ruth Prabhu is from the 2021 Telugu blockbuster 'Pushpa: The Rise.' Ever since the song was released, &quot;Oo Antava&quot; has ruled Instagram reels and YouTube shorts.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>WATCH THE VIRAL DANCE VIDEO HERE:</b></p> Mon Jan 08 22:09:13 IST 2024 sabarimala-a-tale-of-flickering-light-in-the-woods <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Every year, multitudes of pilgrims at the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in a Kerala forest go into raptures at the sight of a flickering flame far away at Ponnambalamedu grasslands. Their numbers have only increased even after the official revelation that the light, which they thought divine, was purely a manmade one.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to tribal lore, Ponnambalamedu is the birthplace of the lord Ayyappa. It was here that the king of Panthala (or Pandalam) happened to see him as a baby lying on a rock. This spot is now known as moola-sthanam or ‘the origin’.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Legend goes that a demoness called Mahishi tormented the sages and subjects of Panthala. She was a chimera, with a buffalo head and a human body, and was invincible for anyone born of a natural male-female union. So, to kill her, Ayyappa was born the son of two male gods, Shiva and Vishnu who was disguised as an enchantress.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The flickering light at Ponnambalamedu marks the culmination of the annual rituals at Sabarimala. The light is known as ‘Makara Vilakku’. Until the late 1990s, very few people knew that it was lit by the local tribals, to signal that they had sighted a star rise on the horizon and so the temple could open for deepa-aradhana (evening puja). The star (Sirius) was called ‘Makara Jyoti’. Over time, the flame assumed a divine significance of its own which even surpassed the deepa-aradhana.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Eventually, as the tribals’ interest in performing the ritual waned, the Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the temple, began managing the flame as well. Later, it built a concrete platform a few metres from the moola-sthanam so that the flame could be seen even from Pamba, about 8km from the temple.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But, a decade ago, the Devaswom Board admitted that there was nothing miraculous about the flickering light. The confession, however, had little effect on the fervour of the pilgrims.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The grasslands of Ponnambalamedu lie in the Pamba range of the Periyar tiger reserve (west). There is a 4km-long jeep road leading to Ponnambalamedu from the Kochu Pampa forest check-post. One would find the road blocked, with iron bars at two different places. Entry is strictly controlled by the forest department.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The road snakes through vast swathes of pristine and ecologically fragile grasslands marked by the presence of dense shola forest en route, which is unique in species composition.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Towards the end of the road there is an old fire watch tower for spotting incipient blazes in the grasslands during summer. It is a fact that annual fires in the grasslands prevent shola forests from ‘salami slicing' into the grasslands.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After the fire watch tower, there is a trek route that is less than a kilometre long to reach the moola-sthanam. Age-old engravings seen on this rock are believed to be the handiwork of tribals. There is a lone graceful tree called ‘irumbarakki’ (Filicium decipiens) abutting the new concrete platform and edging the cliff. A pond nearby, named after the lord Rama, is frequented by wild animals as is evident from the hoof prints and pug marks in the soil.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The flickering flame is no more a secret or a mystery. Pilgrims have accepted its human origin. But they still do not have sufficient amenities at the Sabarimala temple, or on the way to the temple, to watch the flame or the lord. There are hours-long traffic snarls and never-ending queues for darshan. As many as 104 lives were lost in a ghastly stampede during Makara Vilakku on January 14, 2011. Earnest efforts are needed to avert such incidents in the future.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b><i>The author is a divisional forest officer and wildlife warden.</i></b></p> Tue Jan 09 11:19:30 IST 2024 on-world-introvert-day-a-look-at-5-famous-introverts <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Do you yearn for seclusion, and love to relax and recharge your batteries in your comfort zone without being disturbed by the outside world? Then, World Introvert Day is for you. Observed on January 2, the day celebrates the uniqueness and potentiality of introverts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>World Introvert Day was the brainchild of German psychologist and author Felicitas Heyne. It started in 2011 with her blog post &quot;Here's Why We Need a World Introvert Day&quot; on her website, &quot;iPersonic&quot;. January 2 was chosen because it marks the end of the holiday season and allows introverts to take a breather from social gatherings.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are several misconceptions about introverts—that they are shy, timid, have stage fright, among other things. But history has proven them wrong in several instances, through the lives of successful businessmen and political leaders, scientists, artists and sportspeople.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Here's a look at five popular introverts:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Albert Einstein</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The world-renowned physicist and Nobel laureate was a known introvert. One of his famous quotes is: “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulate the creative mind.” He embraced his introvertedness. The German-born physicist is famous for his special and general theories of relativity. He won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 for his explanation of the photoelectric effect.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Bill Gates</b></p> <p>Bill Gates is the co-founder of Microsoft and one of the wealthiest people in the world. “Well, I think introverts can do quite well,” he said once. “If you're clever, you can learn to get the benefits of being an introvert, which might be, say, being willing to go off for a few days and think about a tough problem, read everything you can, and push yourself very hard to think out on the edge of that area. Then, if you come up with something, if you want to hire people, get them excited, and build a company around that idea, you better learn what extroverts do, you better hire some extroverts (like Steve Ballmer, whom I would claim is an extrovert), and tap into both sets of skills in order to have a company that thrives both in deep thinking and building teams and going out into the world to sell those ideas.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gates was an introvert but not shy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Steven Spielberg</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The legendary Hollywood filmmaker is famous for the Jurassic Park films, <i>Schindler’s List</i>, and <i>Saving Private Ryan </i>and more. Spielberg has admitted that he loves to work behind the camera and would prefer getting lost in films rather than attend social gatherings.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Barack Obama</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He was the first African-American to be elected President of the United States. He was criticised for being an introvert. He once admitted in an interview with <i>The New York Times</i> that when he is alone and is surrounded by tranquility and calmness, he is most productive.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Meryl Streep</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The three-time Academy Award winner is a known introvert. Some of her iconic roles came in films such as <i>The Devil Wears Prada, Sophie's Choice, The Iron Lady </i>and<i> Mamma Mia.</i> Though she was an introvert, she was a regular on the stage since her school days.</p> Wed Jan 03 10:42:21 IST 2024 kochi-she-lodge-hit-or-a-miss <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Kochi, which is literally the heart of Kerala, is home to a dynamic population, especially youth in search of jobs and other creative opportunities. So, when the need for a safe place for lone women travellers arose, the idea of a 'She Lodge' was proposed by Cochin Corporation Mayor M. Anilkumar and Welfare Standing Committee Chairperson Sheeba Lal.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The idea is a reality today, and is one of the prime projects of the Cochin Corporation. Located near the Ernakulam Town Railway Station, the She Lodge provides safe and clean accommodation, and food to women travellers travelling to and through the city.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When the idea of a safe shelter for women was proposed, everyone agreed that it should be readily accessible. The inoperative Libra Hotel premises was chosen as the location. Though the renovation of the hotel started in 2017, the project gained momentum after the new council came to power in 2020. Sheeba Lal was given the responsibility to oversee the project.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Initially, people said it would shut down in a few days. But, nine months later, here we are as a ray of hope for women travelling to Kochi,” Sheeba Lal said. “Even if rooms are not available, we accommodate women who feel unsafe at night and provide them with basic needs.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Grand opening</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kerala Local Self Government Minister M.B. Rajesh inaugurated the She Lodge in 2022. It was opened to the public on March 8 - Women’s Day – this year. The staff were recruited from among Kudumbashree members, post interviews. All three matrons of the institution are graduates. The She Lodge provides employment to at least 20 women.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“While recruiting from among Kudumbashree volunteers, we appointed the ones who were passionate about this institution. We needed people who would care for this place as their own house,” said Sheeba Lal.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Facilities</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The She Lodge has 48 single rooms, 32 double rooms (two-sharing) and a dormitory with 30 beds, all with attached bathrooms. The dormitory is in high demand, as it costs only Rs 100 a day. Single bedrooms cost Rs 200 and the double rooms for Rs 350. The inmates can avail food of their choice from Samridhi@Kochi hotel at subsidised rates. A library and a reading space are provided for its inmates. The institution is eco-friendly and the entire building works on solar energy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Warm response</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>People, especially women, have welcomed the She Lodge. Amala, a Suchitwa Mission worker and a frequent inmate of She Lodge, said it “feels like home”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“In the past, finding a secure place to stay in Kochi was challenging,” she said. “When I first heard about the She Lodge, I rushed to explore it. But, it was not open to the public then.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;She Lodge offers a peaceful environment for women like me who travel frequently,” Amala said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Challenges galore</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She Lodge had to face several challenges initially. Prime among them was the deserting of elderly women by relatives. The staff had to ensure their well-being. The increasing frequency of such instances forced the corporation not to admit women above 60 years of age.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Also, some inmates refused to vacate their rooms even after the proposed days of stay. So, the corporation had to cap the number of days at seven.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some occupants would take away the pillow covers, bed sheets and blankets that were provided to them, while vacating.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Also, the She Lodge used to get several packages in the name of the inmates, following which the management asked the inmates to refrain from using the institution’s address.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At least 2,700 women have availed this facility since March 2023. Perhaps, the best indicator of the success of the She Lodge is the profit of Rs 24 lakh in less than a year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>Timing:</b></i></p> <p><i>She Lodge is operational from 6am to 10pm. But the doors are never closed for women in need.</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>Location:</b></i></p> <p><i>Paramara Road, near Ernakulam Town Railway Station,</i></p> <p><i>Kacheripady, Ernakulam</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>Contact:</b></i></p> <p><i>+91 95671 44489</i></p> Sat Dec 30 13:57:56 IST 2023