Society en Wed Jul 14 10:39:16 IST 2021 when-clubhouse-helps-you-be-vocal-for-local-lakshmi-menons-traveli-adventure <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;Around roughly the same time that news outlets in the West proclaimed Clubhouse’s boom to be over, citing a drop in downloads and search traffic for the social audio app and the advent of rival Twitter Spaces, users in India immersed themselves in the platform. This tide has helped it maintain steady numbers: Just a week ago, the app logged 600,000 daily active rooms.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In Kerala, where usage of the app has exploded, Clubhouse became a novel way for Malayalis to connect in an age of lockdowns. For social entrepreneur Lakshmi Menon of “<a href="">Chekutty Dolls</a>” fame, it has been an irreplaceable part of her life ever since she joined on May 27. She spends between six to seven hours on it each day, balancing chores with the experience of joining in conversations from across the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I can still get all my chores done because I just have to plug in earpods and just listen. I'll be designing, posting on Facebook, emailing, eating, helping Mom at home or driving,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One aspect of Clubhouse she has noted is how it can relieve loneliness. In her hours on the app, she has met a few who were using it while hospitalised or bed bound.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“In a couple of sessions, I started meeting a few individuals who were paralysed from the neck below, or paraplegic, or blind,” she says. For many, they were used to isolation when their family members or carers were away from home, leaving them with few avenues besides listening to the radio or browsing social media. “With Clubhouse they feel they get to listen to people and they get to speak with them, just sitting in bed. They felt that it is like having 25-30 people around the bed all the time, when they were in these rooms,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After months on the app, Menon saw the spectrum of potential it afforded ordinary Indians. From the Dinapathrangalilude (Through the News Dailies) group, where people from around the world take turns reading their morning newspaper, to business networking groups where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas and plans to veteran businessmen, to paid concerts for musicians hurting from the death of live events, Clubhouse has turned into a lively ecosystem for Indians.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With such a wealth of freely available knowledge on hand, Menon decided to use Clubhouse to see a new side of Kerala.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Her recent initiative, Traveli (a portmanteau of travel and “Maveli”) , saw her travel from Kochi to Kasargod and back across five days—guided to places, restaurants and people by her lively Clubhouse following, who accompanied her through the app—her phone paired with her car stereo system—and turned the social-audio experience into an act of collaborative travel.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Menon kept her plans flexible to be able to make use of the local knowledge of the 50-60 people in the Clubhouse room. A traffic jam up ahead? A local would suggest an alternative route. One place has a regional variant of the naadan ariyunda (rice laddoo) that you won’t see on Zomato? Take a brief halt to savour and acquire (her mother later said it tasted as good as what her own mother used to make).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The guiding principle behind all this was to find and support local businesses. Explaining her rationale, she says, “The main feature of Traveli was to support the local economy and not make just Jeff Bezos a trillionaire. [Instead of ordering online], if you want to buy a toothbrush or something else, buy it from the local Kirana shop. We are all consumers. But we are not doing conscious consumerism. So only when you support locally, that we as a community can go forward.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Knowing the ability of her Clubhouse friends to aggregate microlocal information, she turned her travel into a social mission. With her niece on social media duties, posting videos and pictures of her travels, she set up a Clubhouse room and with about 40-50 people in tow, started out from the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) campus in Kochi.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>From there, her followers introduced her to a wealth of local wonders. From the unique enterprises in KSUM itself to the Clayfingers Pottery studio in Trichur, to an off-the-road Sidda Samaj ashram and nude commune in Vatakara, her journey and free spirit led her to places she may not have found at all—without Clubhouse.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Speaking of the collaborative aspect of her travel, she said, “It was like a train ride...The format was a hop-on, hop-off. Anybody can join in their own car and they can drop in or drop off whenever they want.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“In Payyanur, somebody said he knew somebody who makes the most unique broom. A broom made out of a weed that grows after the harvest is done in the paddy field—spikey but not as stiff as the usual broomstick. It could be sold in FabIndia tomorrow,” she says.</p> <p>She has had experience turning ideas into reality and benefitting local communities in the process: Her Chekutty Dolls initiative in the aftermath of the devastating 2018 Kerala floods made use of the material from handloom sarees destroyed in the floods, upcycling this to make dolls that later became a symbol of hope. During the COVID-19 pandemic, her Shayya brand used the leftover material used to make PPE suits in order to make mattresses.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With her characteristic entrepreneurial spirit, she says she plans to pitch the broom to the Travancore Devasom Board. The broom was being used to clean the sanctum santorum of temples, and she plans a “Temple Traveli” where she will take the broom with her, to hopefully have the Devasom Board take note.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Her other treasures from Traveli include an ancient basket, a basin with a hole in the middle that makes for a useful cooking supplement, a unique banana halwa, and many, many experiences.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She has already conducted another Traveli session to Muziris, and plans another on the food, art and music of Alleppey. While she plans to share this across social media, it will be Clubhouse that drives the flow.</p> <p>&quot;This is a simple audio platform. I never thought I could connect to people through voice so much,&quot; she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Aug 23 09:35:25 IST 2021 opinion-confessions-of-a-copywriter <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The year 1984. Agencies were recruiting from top management schools. Rediffusion was blazing new trails, Trikaya was in the limelight, and advertising was riding the wave of creativity. Nargis Wadia, Tara Sinha, Usha Bhandarkar, Kamlesh Panday, Arun Kale, Kiran Nagarkar, Arun Kolatkar, Viru Hiremath et al were the icons everyone wanted to emulate. That was the time I did a stint in an advertising agency in Mumbai as copywriter.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During those days, to an outsider, advertising was a glamorous profession. But let me assure you that the closest I came to glamour was the free copy of Stardust, the famous film magazine edited by Shobhaa De, which used to come to the agency. In our agency there was a visualizer by the name Rane who used to reminisce wistfully about his days at Stardust. He held Shobhaa De in high esteem.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I had heard people talk about the supposed promiscuity prevalent in ad agencies. During my tenure with the agency, however, nobody hit on me. More importantly, the guys were very careful about the language they used in my presence. Of course, the odd double entendre would happen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At the agency I got to work on a variety of projects. One was for a company that manufactured different kinds of glues. The brief we got, I remember, was to create a print ad for the company’s range of glues.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We were briefed in the morning and were supposed to present our ideas by evening. I kept scratching my head (literally and figuratively) and chewing my pen. But to no avail. I went for a walk to clear my head. Nothing doing. I ate my lunch desultorily. No go. Then, as the deadline approached, I started getting fidgety and nervous. But the muse seemed to have deserted me.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In my mind’s eye I can see myself looking through one of the artists who was applying rubber solution to stick typesetting on an art board. And then out of nowhere I got it: Ideas that stick!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Only a copywriter will understand the joy of cracking a brief.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The copy chief loved it. It went into layout and when we presented it to the client, they were thrilled too. The ad was released in some trade magazines.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So, how is advertising created? What are some great and memorable headlines?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the beginning, in ad agencies, advertising used to be created in silos. Meaning, the art and copy guys inhabited their own worlds. In the 1960s, there came this man by the name of Bill Bernbach. He was an innovative and divergent thinker — a rebel by the standards of his time. Bernbach had worked for big, prestigious agencies before breaking away and starting his own — Doyle Dane Bernbach, DDB. Bill integrated the process of creating advertising. He started the concept of the creative team. The art director and copywriter sat in the same room and ideated together.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This may not sound earth-shattering, but it was. It led to a more collaborative approach which in turn led to great ads. The upshot: the creative revolution.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the main changes that the creative revolution wrought was that the creative guys started using pictures as words, words as pictures, and pictures and words together. The communication piece aimed at engaging the reader with wit, brevity, and cheekiness (in some instance).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The most frequent reason for unsuccessful advertising is advertisers who are so full of their own accomplishments (the world's best seed!) that they forget to tell us why we should buy (the world's best lawn!)," said John Caples.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Since the headline is one of the most important parts of an advertisement what exactly makes for a great headline? Which are the most famous headlines written?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Well, there is considerable debate as to whether this is the best headline written; however there is no argument that it is one of the most memorable:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Even so many years after it was written by the great agency head/copywriter David Ogilvy for the Rolls-Royce, there is still an essential lesson in there for marketers and copywriters:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There is visual movement (“At 60 miles an hour”).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It relates to the sense of hearing (“The loudest noise… comes from the electric clock”).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Most importantly, there is a twist in the tale.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As a result, the ad succeeds in putting you in the driver’s seat.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In an aside, David Ogilvy describes how the chief engineer at the Rolls-Royce factory shook his head sadly and said, “It is time we did something about that damned clock.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Now, take the ads for Chivas Regal. Perhaps the most famous is the one that depicts a half-full bottle of Chivas Regal with the headline: To the host it’s half empty. To the guest it’s half full.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another famous campaign from the DDB stable was for Avis car rentals. At that point of time Hertz was the number one car rental in the US. DDB created its famous:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Avis is only No. 2 in rent a cars. So why go with us?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ad went on to talk about how ‘We try harder’ by paying attention to details. Taking the thought further, Avis did an ad with a big-fish eating small-fish minimalistic illustration for Avis:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When you are only No. 2 you try harder. Or else.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Could there be a more boring subject than advertising a library? DDB did a great creative for the National Library Week (April 16-22). The visual was the 26 letters of the English alphabet in lower case. The headline said: At the public library they’ve got these arranged in ways that can make you cry, giggle, love, hate, wonder, ponder and understand.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the 80s/90s the advertising agency Fallon Mcelligott created some advertising that has stood the test of time. In one of the ads for The Episcopal Church there is a picture of six men carrying a coffin into a church. The headline says: Will it take six strong men to bring you back into the church?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I recollect another ad by the same agency. This was for the Minnesota Zoo. It showed a silhouetted figure of a kid on an elephant with the line: A ride your child will never forget (Of course, neither will the elephant).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the most talked about campaigns for a publication was for The Economist. Created by Abbott Mead and Vickers, a London–based ad agency, it was typographical. The ads just had a headline set in white font against a red background.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A headline read: Not all mind-expanding substances are illegal.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another one said: A gymnasium for the mind.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And then there was this one:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I never read the economist.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>--Management Trainee, Aged 42</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In these days when the attention span of readers is limited to reading tweets, take a look at this one, again for The Economist: A poster should contain not more than eight words, which is the maximum the average reader can take at a single glance. This, however, is for Economist readers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India has its own creative masterpieces. Kersy Katrak of the erstwhile MCM is one of the pioneers of the creative revolution in advertising in India. The more visible creative ads were done by Rediffusion, Trikaya and others in the late 70s and 80s.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the most famous ads was done by Trikaya in 1993.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>NUDE MODELS WANTED</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Figure: Chubby; Hair: Preferably; Chin: Double; Eyes: Brown; Skin: Peachy; Age: 8-12 months. Candidates should be carried to Trikaya Advertising on Sunday, 12th September, 10 am to 2 pm.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Of course, Enterprise, under the maverick Mohammed Khan, did this one for the open top Mahindra Classic (a ‘jeep’):</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Admit it. You have always been crazy about topless models.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I wonder if it would have made the cut today. Or would it have been labelled sexist?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Then there were the headlines for Mauritius Tourism by Alok Nanda of Trikaya.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Mauritius Natural History Handbook lists 174 rare species; last summer, a visitor spotted Brigitte Bardot.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Or take this one:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Political assassins, ruthless mercenaries, ex Nazis.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Frederick Forsyth found them all in Mauritius.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Strange as it appears in today's era of cricketers as fitness-and-health-conscious athletes, there was a time when they actually drank sugary sodas during the drinks breaks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Coca-Cola had paid Rs 10 crore for the rights to be called the official sponsors of the 1996 Cricket World Cup tournament. Its television commercial for the campaign, sung by the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and featuring the street scenes of India, was classy and evocative.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pepsi’s agency, Hindustan Thompson Associates (HTA), came up with a campaign that was both combative and creative in equal measure and turned the tables on Coca-Cola –- a classic example of converting a disadvantage into an advantage. The ads showed cricketers and even officials rejecting the official drink in favour of Pepsi -- the unofficial one. One of the television commercials even featured the charismatic umpire, Dicky Bird, going bonkers. Its theme line: Nothing Official About it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This turned the apparent disadvantage of losing the battle for the sponsorship to Coca-Cola into a massive win for Pepsi. The ad was the talk of the town.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Enterprise’s ‘Charms is the spirit of freedom. Charms is the way you are.’ found favour with the youth. Today, of course, cigarette advertising is banned –- and rightly so.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>No account of great headlines would be complete without a mention of the delightful Amul ads. While the ‘Utterly Butterly Delicious’ Amul ads are terrific and topical, my favourite is from the days when the run machine of the Pakistan cricket team, Zaheer Abbas, went on a rampage against India. The cheeky Amul hoarding said: Zaheer, ab bas!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Newspapers have got into spats over circulation and readership numbers. My choice is the fight between the venerable The Hindu and the Old Lady of BoriBunder, The Times of India. One of the ads for The Hindu carried the headline:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Also has pages 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7…</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Hindu—Stay ahead of the Times.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Rolex ads of yore are timeless. All of them had headlines that a copywriter would have killed to write. My personal favourite:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 1953 they used Rolex Oysters and oxygen on Everest.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 1978 they managed without the oxygen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The reference is to Reinhold Messner scaling Everest without oxygen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Then there is public service advertising. “Advertising justifies its existence when used in the public interest—it is much too powerful a tool to use solely for commercial purposes.” So said Howard Gossage, referred to as The Socrates of San Francisco. Ad agencies have used it as a springboard to project their creativity and win awards.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The one that gives me the goose bumps even today has a bunch of people gathered outside a ring where a dogfight (Or is it a cock fight? I can’t remember) is in progress. The headline reads: The real animals are outside the ring.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Agencies leave no stone unturned when it comes to advertising themselves. This one for DDB says: I got a great gimmick. Let’s tell the truth. The quote was attributed to N.M. Ohrbach and lists the great and successful campaigns done by the agency for its clients in its inimitable style. Sounds almost like a throwback to George Bernard Shaw’s ‘My way of joking is to tell the truth; it’s the funniest joke in the world.’</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Leo Burnett showed a hand dropping a crumpled piece of paper into a waste paper basket. The headline said: One of an advertising agency’s most effective tools. The ad talked about the need to be conversational rather than clever in advertising. And was also indicative of the quality control exercised by the agency—how so many not-so-great ideas get binned.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Today, most copywriters prefer the audio-visual medium to the print medium. No wonder, the television commercials (TVCs) for Fevicol score high on viewership. Ogilvy’s Mera Wala Blue and its ad for Cadbury -– the one with the girl dancing in gay abandon -- still reverberate in people’s minds.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Circa 2013 Samsung's new ad promoting its S Pen, came with a bunch of smartphones and tablets. It invited ridicule and went viral on social networks after what seems to be a typo/misspelling it made on a hoarding in France. Advertising the power of the S Pen, Samsung changed the original adage "The pen is mightier than the sword" to "The pen is mightier than the finger." But a small typo in a version of its billboard ad gave a phallic meaning to the communication. The ad in question read, "The penis, mightier than the finger."You have to be extremely mindful of dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s when in advertising. Proofreading should be done with extra care.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As we see from the above examples that headlines are pivotal to a successful print ad. Ad agencies use various tactics to grab the reader’s attention. To quote John Caples, again: “Remember that the reader's attention is yours for only a single instant. They will not use up their valuable time trying to figure out what you mean.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Returning to the glamour aspect of advertising, in my experience, it is collateral. Advertising is, let me assure you, blood, sweat and tears (I know, David Ogilvy said ‘Blood Sweat and Beer’). This was my other brush with glamour.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 1984, the vocal group Boney M was slated to come to India. XYZ Roadways (name changed), our client, had won the contract to look after the Group’s equipment transport logistics. Our agency was mandated to create an advert for XYZ Roadways announcing this.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At that time there was this belief that nobody read long headlines. The client, therefore, wanted a slogan of sorts as the headline. I spent half a day racking my brains trying to write a headline. Nothing came out of it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Post-lunch I was pacing the room of the creative department trying to figure out a suitable headline. Desperate as the deadline approached, I saw the office boy serving tea. He was telling one of the artists how he had travelled in the luggage compartment of the local train that morning and how there were so many ‘luggage men’ in that compartment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The moment I heard ‘luggage men’ something clicked in my head. I grabbed a pencil from the artist’s desk and took his tracing pad. I quickly wrote down on the thin paper in all-caps:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>XYZ ROADWAYS.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>BONEY M’S BAGGAGE MEN!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The art director was thrilled. We made a layout and presented it to the review committee. They okayed it. We presented to the client, who loved it. And I was looking forward to a free ticket to the concert.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The next day, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated. And the Boney M tour was cancelled.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Epilogue:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Let me hasten to add that this piece doesn’t purport to be a history of Indian or American or British advertising headlines. For sure there are other fantastic headlines. These are my subjective choices. But anyone who has been interested in advertising will concur that these are timeless classics.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I have not mentioned stalwarts of Indian advertising like Ivan Arthur, Frank Simoes, Pankaj Mullick, Alyque Padamsee,Bobby Sista, Jean Durante, Sheila Sista, June Valladares, Roda Mehta, Gerson da Cunha, Sylvester da Cunha, Bharat Dhabolkar, Piyush Pandey, Prasoon Joshi, Agnello Dias… phew, the list is endless. This is just an impressionistic view of advertising headlines…arising from the recesses of the memories of a person who was a copywriter once upon a time. I crave your indulgence.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The author is a freelance writer based in Mumbai.</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of THE WEEK.</i></p> Sat Aug 14 22:46:32 IST 2021 this-13-year-old-author-fascinated-by-idea-good-evel <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Anagha Ratish may be just 13 years old, but this eight-grader has already published two books. And many more are on the way. In her debut novel <i>Celestia Chronicles: Fire and Water</i>, published last year, Anagha conjured up a world of fantasy and mythical beings. Her latest book—A World of Intricacies—is a compilation of poems.</p> <p>Anagha describes herself as a bibliophile who loves all things books. A Keralite, she lives with her parents in Gurgaon. Besides writing, Anagha says she loves to read, sing and compose ‘depressing, yet realistic’ poetry.</p> <p>Excerpts:</p> <p><b>Q: Tell us about your latest book 'A World of Intricacies'. What are the themes covered?</b></p> <p><i>A World of Intricacies</i> is a compilation of 38 long poems and 15 haikus. The topics range from hope, to the idea of good and evil, to time. All of them are rather philosophical, yet logical.</p> <p><b>Q: Among multiple themes that inspire your writings, what is your favourite?</b></p> <p>One of my favourite themes for writing is ‘good and evil’. Ambiguous morality intrigues me, and several of the poems in <i>A World of Intricacies</i> are based on this idea. I am also fond of rewriting myths, popular fairy tales and questioning the descriptions of widely known fantasy creatures. The protagonists of my first book<i>, Celestia Chronicles; Fire and Water</i>, are pixies, who are not exactly represented as they are usually pictured.</p> <p><b>&nbsp;Q: Your first published work was fiction. Tell us about the book <i>(Celestia Chronicles</i>) and the world you created in that. Also, when are you bringing out the next part?</b></p> <p><i>Celestia Chronicles</i> is a fantasy trilogy, following the story of Adaire Quicksilver, a 14-year old girl. The tale is set in Celestia, a seemingly perfect world; but all this beauty only hides a thirst for power that rages within the lands and threatens to tear it apart. There are four kingdoms, each ruled by pixies with different elemental powers. Queen Zyra, the ruler of the fire-wielding pixies, has shrouded her kingdom in magic and mist and the barrier is now seeping further into the other kingdoms. It is up to Adaire to defeat the queen in a battle between good and evil, hope and fear; fire and water. The second part should be out in a month or two.</p> <p><b>Q: You said you are mostly drawn to fantasy. Does that influence your interests as a reader, too?</b></p> <p>Certainly; the first full novels and series I read were fantasy. Most of the short stories I write are also from the same genre. However, I am fond of historical fiction and horror as well.</p> <p><b>Q: What are you reading currently? Who is your personal favourite author?</b></p> <p>At the moment, I am reading the first book of the Firewall trilogy, <i>A Girl from Nowhere,</i> by James Maxwell. I don’t really have a particular favourite, but I enjoy the works of Cassandra Clare.</p> <p><b>Q: How has the pandemic and lockdown affected you? Was it difficult, or did it help you find more time to focus on your works?</b></p> <p>Without the lockdown and pandemic, I don’t think I would have been able to write a book. I was always fond of writing, but I never got a lot of time between all of my schoolwork and classes. Over the lockdown, I believe I have really evolved as a writer and a reader, which is the reason I was able to write my books.</p> <p><b>Q: What are your future projects? Any other interests besides books?</b></p> <p>Currently, I am working on the second part of <i>Celestia Chronicles</i>, as well as a prequel to <i>Fire and Water</i>. Apart from that, I am writing a historical fiction book. I enjoy singing and knitting, but to be honest, reading and writing take up most of my time.</p> Sat Aug 14 16:40:03 IST 2021 press-unmute-for-help-on-safeguarding-rights-of-artists <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>An essay on how artists can interpret copyright law in an age of booming virtual content; situating the law on prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace in performing arts; petitions on the rights and royalties of artists and choreographers; audiovisual docs, posters and handbooks on workplace ethics in the arts—all this and much more can be found in a new resource portal called Unmute which seeks to educate practising artists about ways and means to safeguard their rights.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Unmute: A Performer's Guide to Speaking Up hopes to provide a safe platform for information and guidance to aggrieved artists seeking legal redress against violations like copyright protection issues, sexual harassment, obscenity and sedition charges, etc. Spearheaded by Delhi-based arts scholar Arshiya Sethi, performer-arts manager Paramita Saha and dancer-lawyer Somabha Bandopadhyay as founding members, the website will address the issues of rights and responsibilities of artists and arts leaders in India. </p> <p>The website is now live.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The website will serve as a resource centre for information, reference material, a guide to laws, rules and regulations, research content and audiovisual documentation of expert conversations. It will also act as an independent advisory platform headed by a panel of representatives from both artistic and legal communities, including professors from West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, interpersonal ethics advisor Asiya Shervani and sociologist and activist Urmi Basu.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Speaking at the virtual launch of the website, Akhil Sibal, senior advocate at the Supreme Court of India, stressed the importance of preserving artistic freedom. "Artists need to challenge our prejudices, our status quo and thoughts that we assume are the right way of approach, they are meant to provoke us into pushing ourselves to improve and grow. They can only do that if to some extent they have the right to offend," said Sibal who represented the late MF Husain, defending the celebrated painter against obscenity charges in 2008.&nbsp; He also spoke about the need for victims of sexual assault to "own" their allegations. "It's very dangerous, legally, though it’s comforting, to make allegations on social media anonymously. It creates a major legal problem because they fail to appreciate that the person against whom the allegations are made is also interested in protecting themselves from false allegations."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Two years after the explosion of the MeToo movement when the Madras Music Academy barred seven Carnatic musicians from performing at its famed Margazhi music festival, the Indian classical music fraternity in 2020 was again jolted by news of sexual harassment allegations against two senior gurus of Bhopal’s Dhrupad Sansthan by a group of students.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Discussions at the launch ranged from elitism, skewed power dynamics and personality cults in the performance arts to the need for nurturing "brave spaces". Artists seeking legal help can write to the Unmute administrators via email or by filling an information form on the website.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Fri Aug 13 22:29:43 IST 2021 zen-and-the-art-of-negotiating-old-age <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>I have&nbsp;made it to the good old age of 90 simply because death has been kind enough not to knock on my door.&nbsp;That my&nbsp;life&nbsp;is still&nbsp;running&nbsp;is a gift.&nbsp;Negotiating it&nbsp;is fun.</p> <p><br> Old age is what others attribute to you. To a great extent, age is a state of the mind. I take pleasure in&nbsp;working on my computer on science,&nbsp;religion and culture.&nbsp;I have learned a lot over the years but the most important thing&nbsp;I always follow is: be useful to yourself and to others. Keep&nbsp;your mind and body fit by reading and ruminating, and&nbsp;by doing walking exercises.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Life&nbsp;in my 90s is much slower because I have difficulty with movement. Luckily,&nbsp;I am not slower intellectually.&nbsp;My memory has been strong.&nbsp;I have&nbsp;also gained&nbsp;new interests. I never used to write so often. I write quite a lot now, particularly&nbsp;on subjects like the vedas, ethics, medical entomology and vector control, which I had dealt with during my active service as a researcher.&nbsp;I also delight in writing incisive articles&nbsp;on faulty public health practices in our country.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I can still walk (with the aid of a cane). I can talk, eat, sleep (with the aid of pills). I can smile and, on occasion, laugh. Being 75 per cent deaf, I am no longer confident enough to start a long conversation&nbsp;on any important topic. Yet, while sitting at my computer and fashioning my articles,&nbsp;resisting an urge to lie down, I cannot but plaintively remember the years of my creative vigour when my body and spirit jubilantly embraced the strain and rigours of work.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Waking&nbsp;up in&nbsp;the&nbsp;morning&nbsp;is&nbsp;a big effort. I do it&nbsp;with great reluctance,&nbsp;assisted by&nbsp;an alarm clock at the bedside. I have to do it, because my handicapped&nbsp;wife,&nbsp;aged 82,&nbsp;is usually lying listless at that time, and our day has to start. I&nbsp;sit on my bed and&nbsp;say, "Thank&nbsp;you God for everything that you have given me, for&nbsp;keeping me alive and reasonably active,&nbsp;and for helping me wake up on time today."&nbsp;I&nbsp;have started this&nbsp;new&nbsp;practice,&nbsp;and&nbsp;when&nbsp;I&nbsp;feel negative&nbsp;(which is more often than not)&nbsp;I&nbsp;say a simple prayer: "Please&nbsp;let me get through the&nbsp;day with a positive bent of mind, or at least&nbsp;help me stay positive." I may not always see results but&nbsp;I&nbsp;feel slightly better.&nbsp;</p> <p>When&nbsp;I&nbsp;lie down to sleep,&nbsp;lulled by TV serials or news,&nbsp;I&nbsp;say, "Please help me fall asleep soon;&nbsp;I&nbsp;do not want to stay awake with negative thoughts; please help me wake up on time." I try to recollect whether I have hurt anybody by word or deed, and ask forgiveness of God. I try to recall whether I have helped anybody during the day, and if so, I pat myself on my back.&nbsp;</p> <p>For&nbsp;the last&nbsp;many&nbsp;years, early in the morning,&nbsp;I&nbsp;have been lighting diyas&nbsp;(lamps) in&nbsp;front of&nbsp;several images of gods&nbsp;in my&nbsp;house.&nbsp;I say a few&nbsp;hymns (mantras)&nbsp;whose meaning&nbsp;I&nbsp;know,&nbsp;but recite&nbsp;them&nbsp;mechanically&nbsp;day after day. I&nbsp;then say&nbsp;to God, "Please&nbsp;help me go through this day. Take&nbsp;away my wife, married to me for 64 years, a veteran of many&nbsp;surgeries,&nbsp;physically incapacitated&nbsp;and totally wedded to a&nbsp;walker. Take her away&nbsp;while I am still alive to look after her." We were married in 1957, and she was&nbsp;taking care&nbsp;of me&nbsp;all these years. She became bedridden about a decade ago, now moving about slowly. Every day we think, without saying to each other, who will survive whom.&nbsp;<br> <br> </p> <p>We somehow manage our life; we do not visit anyone nor welcome&nbsp;visitors. I do certain essential chores--heat the milk in the milk cooker,&nbsp;prepare a&nbsp;cup&nbsp;of tea&nbsp;and share it with my wife. Then&nbsp;I&nbsp;have my bath at&nbsp;5am, and&nbsp;go for a&nbsp;walk for 30 to 40 minutes. After I return, I&nbsp;prepare and eat&nbsp;breakfast. It is&nbsp;almost&nbsp;the same items&nbsp;every day&nbsp;for which I grind&nbsp;the dough for a week at a time. After breakfast, I&nbsp;tend my terrace garden and feed some pigeons, mynahs and squirrels.&nbsp;Then I read newspapers.&nbsp;</p> <p>After 9am&nbsp;I cook a meagre meal, with my wife giving me guidance. Sometimes we order meals from outside.&nbsp;For as long as I can remember, some crows have been visiting me when I am cooking, and they virtually eat rice (with curd and sesame seeds)&nbsp;out of my hands.&nbsp;I am&nbsp;having a lot of exercise by&nbsp;moving about in my house, cooking&nbsp;and&nbsp;doing&nbsp;other chores, and that is&nbsp;what is&nbsp;keeping me fit. I go shopping at nearby places, driving my&nbsp;Alto 800.&nbsp;People recognise it since it has been hit by almost every other motorist, but it is working well-–In four years, it has run only 4,000km. I spend more money on car insurance and routine servicing than on petrol!&nbsp;</p> <p>Post lunch,&nbsp;I&nbsp;lie down&nbsp;because I always feel dead tired. I remember Porthos&nbsp;(of&nbsp;Three Musketeers) telling how his legs are giving away and suddenly dropping dead. I feel&nbsp;the&nbsp;same. I&nbsp;hope one day I will be blessed to drop dead, without being bedridden.&nbsp;</p> <p>After facing disappointment with&nbsp;several&nbsp;cooks I&nbsp;had&nbsp;hired, I have slowly evolved into a good cook (a favourite profession of Palakkad Iyers in olden days).&nbsp;Ever since I got an&nbsp;old computer free&nbsp;in 2010, I have been writing articles&nbsp;which keeps&nbsp;me busy. Some good Samaritans I know help me and some even admire me for my&nbsp;achievements in life (Padma Shri award, several gold medals, and ten lifetime achievement awards from universities and scientific bodies). I just enjoy my life-–too lazy to shave and therefore&nbsp;have a long beard and&nbsp;look like a sanyasi. I have my own flat and a good pension. My wife&nbsp;holds a record for the number of surgical operations undergone, starting with brain tumour surgery in 1985, and&nbsp;moves about&nbsp;like a zombie&nbsp;with a walker.</p> <p>Philosophically speaking,&nbsp;we&nbsp;always underestimate our own potential, creativity and originality.&nbsp;Only a few people do or act; the rest of us spend life judging, criticising or commenting on what the doers have done; especially, we focus on what they have failed rather than what they have accomplished.&nbsp;We hardly know other people; we just make up or assume images of them and, most of the time, believe in those images more than the real person.&nbsp;Whatever happens in our life or in someone else’s life, we comprehend the events by associating them with the experiences we have had in the past but hardly with what has happened in the real.&nbsp;We are all mortals, but we behave as immortals.&nbsp;Many&nbsp;people do not realise how their life is affected by the rules, laws, policies, systems, etc., of the country in which they live.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>We are all different because we have passed through different experiences.&nbsp;All of us are creative in our own ways, but many of us do not realise what that means at all.&nbsp;There is neither a good nor a bad thing, idea, or person; they only differ because of our varied perceptions and beliefs.&nbsp;We only receive what we want to. For instance, we only listen to those words which we&nbsp;want to; rest&nbsp;are just noises.&nbsp;Life is nothing but routines shaped by our memories; thus, the only way to transform a life is by transforming our routines.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> Smartness is a gift; hardworking is an attitude; both make a person ‘good and great’.&nbsp;My life is not just about me and my decisions. It also depends on the decisions or choices of many others, such as family, community, mentors.&nbsp;What we know or understand is nothing compared with what we do not know or understand in life.&nbsp;The only perfect person is God (if He exists). Nobody gives a&nbsp;damn&nbsp;about what you are going through in your life; they are here just to listen to your stories.&nbsp;</p> <p>One day&nbsp;my&nbsp;sons&nbsp;came and said&nbsp;that since&nbsp;I&nbsp;had&nbsp;not done&nbsp;enough&nbsp;good deeds propitiating&nbsp;God,&nbsp;there was some&nbsp;curse&nbsp;affecting the family. They said I must&nbsp;agree for a grand 90th&nbsp;birthday celebration, and that it&nbsp;is a must for the&nbsp;vamsa vruddhi&nbsp;(progress of the family).<b>&nbsp;</b>Since my life was already over, and I was eagerly awaiting my end, I&nbsp;wondered which family -- my children’s progeny and&nbsp;their&nbsp;vamsa vruddhi?&nbsp;I did not want to deny them their desire, so&nbsp;I agreed to have this function celebrated, but only after they assured me that I would not have to take any trouble or spend any money. Also, I was curious and wanted to enjoy festivities being conducted with me as the central&nbsp;hero,&nbsp;for&nbsp;the first time after my wedding.&nbsp;<i>Ek Din ka Sultan</i>&nbsp;(king&nbsp;for a day).&nbsp;</p> <p>Quite a few of my old&nbsp;friends, who are about my age, who share my crazy ideas and views on life, and many genuine well-wishers and scholars from my native villages of Tattamangalam and Payyalore&nbsp;took part and fell at my feet seeking blessings, as I was the oldest among the gathering.&nbsp;Plus, of&nbsp;course, many invitees of my two sons, none of them I know, attended. My children&nbsp;had&nbsp;spent quite a lot of money, took lots of trouble to ensure that every&nbsp;aspect in&nbsp;the ceremony, which culminated in a grand feast,&nbsp;was well conducted, photographed and&nbsp;applauded. After the event my wife and&nbsp;I&nbsp;were escorted back&nbsp;safely&nbsp;to my apartment&nbsp;and forgotten thereafter.&nbsp;We were back to square one&nbsp;and had to manage our miserable life alone&nbsp;from the same evening itself.&nbsp;Whether they really got&nbsp;<i>vamsavriddhi&nbsp;</i>or not, they patted themselves on their back that they did a good job.&nbsp;So that is life!</p> <p>As we get older, attempts to hold on to our own way of life can be at odds with even the most well-intentioned “suggestions” from our children. We want to be cared&nbsp;<i>about</i>, but fear being cared&nbsp;<i>for.&nbsp;</i>Hence the push and pull when a well-meaning offspring steps onto our turf. So, what&nbsp;<i>are&nbsp;</i>older parents looking for in relationships with their adult children? In a 2004&nbsp;study, two professors from the State University of New York at Albany, the public-health professor Mary Gallant and the sociologist Glenna Spitze explored the issue in interviews with focus groups of older adults. Among their findings: Their participants “express strong desire for both autonomy and connection in relations with their adult children, leading to ambivalence about receiving assistance from them. They define themselves as independent but hope that children’s help will be available as needed. They are annoyed by children’s over-protectiveness but appreciate the concern it expresses. They use a variety of strategies to deal with their ambivalent feelings, such as minimizing the help they receive, ignoring or resisting children’s attempts to control…”</p> <p>&nbsp;I recently read a story. When&nbsp;Arnold Schwarzenegger was&nbsp;the governor of California, a popular hotel honoured him with his statue in their hotel. The hotel officials told Arnold:&nbsp;"At any time you can come and have a room reserved in your name."&nbsp;&nbsp;A few years later, when Arnold was no longer the governor and went to the hotel, the administration refused to give him a room arguing that the hotel was&nbsp;fully booked. He brought a bed cover and slept under the statue. He wanted to convey a very important message that when he was in a powerful position the hotel authorities were very respectful, and when he lost his position, they treated him like a stranger.&nbsp;Our position is also like this. After&nbsp;I got old and physically dependent on&nbsp;others for help and succour,&nbsp;people started avoiding me. Sheer will power and financial independence somehow help me carry on with life.&nbsp;People, emotions, respect and even affection change over time.&nbsp;Change is the only constant.</p> <p>What is it like to be really old and know that death is not far off, as opposed to dying at any age and knowing death is imminent? People who are faced with death can be extremely adult and mature in their last year or two of life. This is because what makes adults seem adults&nbsp;compared with a youth is not the greater knowledge base from which adults can enjoy a broader conversation, but that as we get older most of us realise and sense that we are going downhill. With that appreciation, we cannot help but progressively contemplate our life and what its purpose was, along with any regrets. This tends to change the focus of a person’s life, as one&nbsp;ages,&nbsp;into thinking more of others, hence what we call ‘maturing’. This maturing, I believe, can happen at any age not just in adulthood. Youth who are reflective will evolve through very similar but faster maturing processes because they have had plenty of time to meditate on their own life and present condition.&nbsp;How we all reflect on what happens in life, and manage to live with it, is itself a wonder.&nbsp;My only daughter, my favourite child, now&nbsp;61, is&nbsp;having leukemia for the last eight years.&nbsp;She&nbsp;has to be admired, she is so active--working as a teacher, publisher,&nbsp;doing all household chores,&nbsp;and&nbsp;so cheerful always.&nbsp;What about her thinking process?&nbsp;Her&nbsp;zest for living with a positive outlook has inspired me to look forward to the future even&nbsp;now.</p> <p>Therefore, to me there is nothing special about the thinking processes&nbsp;knowing that I&nbsp;am “really old” and know death is&nbsp;not far off if not&nbsp;imminent. I have many other relations also, but they have their own problems, and have no time for me. Therefore, we two old&nbsp;persons&nbsp;live together, facing all problems and just&nbsp;managing --this is what I always tell, we manage!&nbsp;&nbsp;Have&nbsp;to!&nbsp;Ultimately, it is all one’s own&nbsp;<i>Karma</i>.&nbsp;In&nbsp;the 90th&nbsp;year of my birth, I feel God had been very kind to me; I am still in my proper senses; doing my daily chores without&nbsp;anybody’s help, and am financially&nbsp;independent thanks to my pension.&nbsp;How I die, and what happens to my wife if she survives me, and what others feel about my death, etc., are matters of no consequence at&nbsp;all!!&nbsp;The ugliest truth about&nbsp;life, I&nbsp;feel,&nbsp;would be the following: No&nbsp;matter how good your life is, you will always&nbsp;find one thing or the&nbsp;other that makes you miserable. &nbsp;All I see is people chasing moments of happiness and laughter. What the heck for? Instead of running towards happiness, why can’t people find a way to run away from sadness? Eliminate the reasons that make you sad, instead of thinking of the things that would make you happy. It’s easier to do, and trust my&nbsp;happiness would follow.&nbsp;</p> <p>Life is never perfect. Every solution comes with a new problem. Light exists because of the darkness and that is the harsh truth of life. Sometimes, the only solution is acceptance. That is my plight.&nbsp;Please bear with me. I have written all these things in a lighter vein&nbsp;and with malice towards none!</p> <p><br> <b><i>(The writer was director, Vector Control Research Centre, Indian Council of Medical Research)</i></b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Aug 13 11:51:02 IST 2021 in-praise-of-praise-why-some-indians-need-to-stop-cribbing <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Our athletes have done what has rarely been done before, and yet… there are those who will still find it hard to come up with a word of praise. Instead, they say, “Oh, 7 medals are too few for a country of our size.” Or, “We don’t have a good system, a good diet, a good anything!” Or again, “Even if we count all the medals India has ever won in the Olympics, the total is still less than what Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps have bagged between them”. It just shows that if you make up your mind to criticise, you won’t need to look far to find ample material to crib about.</p> <p>Whingeing goes beyond the Olympics to cover almost all aspects of our everyday life. There are those who whine incessantly about their jobs and employers, about traffic, about the municipality, neighbours…. And they are so miserly with praise, the only way to get a decent compliment out of them is to pick up third-degree techniques from your nearest police station. I often ask myself what is it that makes them skimp so much, when a <i>shabash</i> here and a ‘good job’ there won’t cost them a rupee?</p> <p>My own DIY psychoanalysis told me that it’s due to an inborn negative disposition. It’s vinegar that runs in their veins, and altering their fundamental attitude to life would probably call for hospitalisation and a long procedure of transfusion. There is also vicarious vanity at play because critics are seen as being somehow intellectually superior to those who are more free with praise. It’s an oblique way of letting you know that their standards are up there. If your benchmark is P.V. Sindhu, you can’t be seen complimenting some stripling playing badminton at the clubhouse.</p> <p>Psychologists tell us, that at an interpersonal level, a costive inability to praise is repackaged jealousy. These guys are obviously seething with so much unexpressed envy that they can’t stand someone else feeling good about themselves and what they have done. Sometimes, just sometimes, the causes are not so ignoble. Apparently, some people don’t like to be seen to be flattering. So they go to the opposite extreme and “damn with faint praise”. Then there are those who believe that compliments breed complacency—pat someone on the back and pronto, you take the fire out of their belly. If you ask me, it is a pretty rickety excuse… it’s like refusing to give someone a lift in your car on a wet morning, so that he or she better appreciates the benefits of walking.</p> <p>There is one thing worse than not praising you; and that is praising someone else—in your presence. This is meanness topped with mischief and will feel like salt on your wounds. The person being praised could be your counterpart (ouch!), your cousin (ouch again), or—the unkindest cut of all—your rival. There is a trendy word to describe it—it is called ‘negging’. Considering it is so vicious, it is surprisingly common, and you are sure to have experienced negging at work, at home and all points in between.</p> <p>After I was subjected to this form of criticism for a long time, I began developing my own homespun antidote. When my wife pointedly tells me that Purshottam next door is excellent at tending to the garden, keeping the house tidy, buying fish, etc., I hear her out and then, smiling blandly, say something complimentary about Purshottam’s wife. It usually nips negging in the bud.</p> <p>We need to accept that most of us are hardwired to like nice, warm things said about ourselves. We didn’t need Abraham Maslow to spell out the hierarchy of needs and tell us that human beings crave for appreciation even more than we crave for money. Didn’t we know that as children? A <i>shabash </i>from papa or momma meant the world to us. Over the years, we may have outgrown the people we need praise from, but we haven’t outgrown the need.</p> <p>So, for a start, let’s hear a round of applause for our sports heroes. Be sure to clap a little louder for our women’s hockey team who deserve a ‘gold’ for gallantry. And of course for Neeraj Chopra who calmly, and with an almost sublime level of confidence, gave a fairy tale ending to our Olympic story.</p> <p><b>The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of THE WEEK.</b></p> Sun Aug 08 14:47:35 IST 2021 the-indian-auction-art-market-registered-strongest-sales-in-a-pandemic-year <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The financial year 2020-21 has been the strongest sales year in the history of Indian art auctions, according to Art Market Report 2021, produced by art research and advisory firm Artery India.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the annual report created by one of India's leading art market watchers, the year 2020-21 has been the strongest (roughly tabulated since 1987 when the first Indian art auction was conducted). In terms of&nbsp; market performance and turnover, it achieved sales figures to the tune of Rs 880.9 crore from April 20 to March 21, despite depressed market sentiments and ample volatility. The numbers for FY 2019-20 was around Rs 560 crore; hence the pandemic year sales recorded a jump of almost 57 per cent. The Moderns category remained the big winner; in fact its turnover shot up by over 65 per cent from the previous financial year.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>V.S. Gaitonde’s canvases held the top three price slots, collectively achieving Rs 112.2 crore. One of India's foremost abstract painters, Gaitonde's canvases occupy seven slots in the top 10 most expensive Indian works ever sold.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;[Artery India’s research and] data has revealed that the strongest opportunities appear in the aftermath of a financial crisis, typically three to 18 months following first impact. In that regard, current FY 2020-21 will be rife with asset acquisition possibilities,&quot; wrote Arvind Vijaymohan, founder and CEO of Artery India, in previous year's Art Market report. His data study and forecasts have actualised in the real world. The breakdown of data shows that even though the number of artists featured at auctions fell to 358 from the previous year’s 539, there were 58 new names that appeared. This, the report notes, is &quot;a sign of a widening circle of tradable stock, and one that is a clear signal of market maturity.&quot; Again all-time high prices or &quot;record breaks&quot; fell to 75 works, from previous year's 135. But these 75 works fetched a lot more at Rs 98.2 crore, nearly double the previous FY’s Rs 52.5 crore. &quot;It is revealing in many manners that all these records were falling in close succession while the world was reeling under the impact of the pandemic. The two breakthrough months at auction were September 2020 with a turnover of Rs 241.8 crore, and March 2021 which achieved sales of Rs 234.7 crore—both months that recorded extreme dips in the economy,&quot; the report notes.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Amrita Sher-Gil's 1938 'In the Ladies’ Enclosure'—which fetched Rs 37.8 crore last month at a Saffronart’s sale to become the second most expensive work of Indian art after V.S. Gaitonde's 'Untitled' (1961)—is not part of the tabulation in the report. 'Untitled' was sold for Rs 39.98 crore this year in March to become the most expensive work by an Indian artist. Artery India's 2020-21 report had already predicted that even though a rare Sher-Gil deserves to break record ceiling, it may still not trounce the Gaitonde benchmark this year. &quot;According to Artery India research, only 16 canvases by Sher-Gil have been offered publicly for sale. 'In the Ladies' Enclosure' is one of them. At present, there are only a handful of her paintings in private ownership that might possibly come up for sale in the future, making the likelihood of owning one a uniquely rare proposition,&quot; says the report, pointing out that if the 'Village Scene' (which sold at an auction for Rs 6 crore in 2006) comes up for auction again this year, it can easily be estimated to sell anywhere between Rs 44 to 48 crore.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The report has several other interesting insights. But, women continue to be under-represented in the auction market: 303 male artists vs 55 female artists. Male artists account for 84.6 per cent of the total number of artists in the Indian art auction market in 2020-21. The only two pre-modern female artists who appeared at auctions in 2020-21 are Amrita Sher-Gil and Sunayani Devi. The category with the highest number of female artists in the year under review is Contemporary. But the report also reveals that the number of Contemporary artists drastically decreased from 334 in 2019-20 to 171 in 2020-21. Contemporary is also the category with the least difference between the number of male and female artists in the same year. The top three female artists in the Indian auction art market for 2020-21 are Amrita Sher-Gil (15.4 crore, 17 works sold), Arpita Singh (9.9 crore, 18 works sold) and Zarina Hashmi (6.3 crore, 33 works sold).&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Top 3 male artists in the auction market are Gaitonde (180.9 crore, 19 works sold) M.F. Husain (137.1 crore, 183 works sold) and S.H. Raza (78.7 crore, 135 works sold).</p> Fri Aug 06 11:19:50 IST 2021 10-best-sites-to-read-japanese-manga-spoilers <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>For the past decade, Anime had boomed like never before. While the dedicated fan base has existed for years and years. Many non-anime fans have suddenly started acknowledging the art the content brings in with an impactful storyline. So indeed, some big things are happening in the anime business.</p> <p>The love for anime has transitioned into Manga as well. The dedicated new anime fans acknowledge the presence of manga that inspires their favorite show. Thus, even they are keen to keep up with it as well. So here 10 best sites where you can read Japanese Manga Spoilers for free and keep up with it and your show.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>1. CBR</b></p> <p>Despite being a big name in every entertainment topic out there, CBR is quite keen on its content. They supply numerous articles on theories, interviews, and exclusives. But they also keep up with manga chapters covering along with spoilers and release dates as well. Manga spoilers are one of their CBR exclusives, so you can clearly understand the importance here.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>2. AnimeMangaNews.Com</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Well, the name speaks a lot but AnimeMangaNews has not kept it there. Today they cover a range of entertainment media and may continue to do so. But Anime and Manga covering may stay as prominent ones. The writing at AnimeMangaNews is quite in-depth and often gives a good background about the manga as well which may, in turn, help the new readers trying to get into it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>3.&nbsp;</b><a href=""></a><a href=""><b><u>The Artistree</u></b></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Artistree is a new player in the game who recently picked up Anime and Manga as one of their core topics to cover. The history of The Artistree covering many International Films and TVs in-depth with accurate information assures the fact that Manga will be covered the same way.</p> <p>Furthermore, The Artistree always aimed to appreciate the art and this way expect their insights on the manga as well. You can find all the spoilers, release dates along predictions of the writers at The Artistree as well.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>4. Otakukart</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Otakukart probably began aiming for Anime, Manga and popularising the Otaku culture. Although today they cover a variety of entertainment topics, their hold has remained the same it was when they started.</p> <p>You may find dedicated categories for Manga and Anime on Otakukart. Almost every popular manga is been covered with basic details that may answer a fan’s question about the next issue. Furthermore, OtakuKart creates a space to follow up the happenings in manga and anime storylines and answers some popular questions, theories, and predictions in their other articles to keep you hooked.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>5. Anime Troop</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Well, the name already tells a lot what Anime wants with itself. Furthermore, Anime Troop is living up to their name by covering everything Anime. They have a dedicated category of Manga Spoilers where every popular manga is covered thoroughly. Even Anime Troop comes up with a complete breakdown of release date, spoilers, raw scans, and much more that tells what the audience can expect from the manga.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>6. EpicStream</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>EpicStream is another site that primarily covers every kind of entertainment news to keep its readers entertained. They have been covering popular animes and their mangas for a while including the spoilers and release dates.</p> <p>Apart from the regular details, they dive deep into recaps and schedule times as well as the releasing time for other zones as well. What makes them more special is the fact they follow up the spoiler articles with theories and popular questions the mangas leave behind which may keep you reading more.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>7. Stanford Arts Review</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Stanford Arts Review is another one of the sites that almost cover every kind of major news making waves around the world. Even though they have many topics to cover, the site and their writers still work hard to make their work as accurate and in-depth as possible on every category.</p> <p>So the popular mangas are provided with all the spoilers, recap, and release dates with it. Also, it seems like they are willing to expand and take look at the other underrated mangas as well.</p> <p><b>8. Tremblezer</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tremblezer again is primarily a technology news website that has extended its horizon through time. So Anime and manga are something that was added later into their catalog. But despite having an array of areas to cover, the anime and manga news writers are Tremblezer area quite passionate and have kept them updated.</p> <p>Furthermore, there are many manga and animes they cover under their site. A recap, spoilers, a raw scan, and much more are added to the spoiler articles that could answer the basic questions of a Manga fan about the next issue.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>9. Omnitos</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Omnitos stays on to be one of the sites known for their accurate information about the entertainment business. It was inspired through acknowledging the misinformation spread among anime fans back in 2016 about their favorite shows and release dates. Henceforth, expect Omnitos to covers every popular manga out there extensively while also making sure the provided information is accurate and up-to-date.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>10. UpToBrain</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>UpToBrain is a news platform that covers almost every kind of news. These range from sports to current affairs to entertainment to education to tech. Manga and Anime are two of the many topics they cover under their entertainment tag.</p> <p>Although UpToBrain may not keep up with every manga out there, it does keep up with the popular ones. So expect big manga names and their chapters to be covered thoroughly on the website. One Piece and My Hero Academia are among the many they cover.</p> Wed Aug 18 15:31:38 IST 2021 lokame-tharavadu-celebration-of-diversity <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The erstwhile Kingdom of Travancore (in present-day Kerala) had been notorious for its weird caste laws. One such rule was that every lower caste and untouchable woman who passed their age of puberty had to pay a ‘breast tax’. The tax, which was to support the caste hierarchy in the state, denied basic human dignity to lower caste women. Known as ‘mulakkaram’, the tax was imposed depending on the size of the breasts of the women who wished to cover them.</p> <p>There is a legend about Nangeli, a woman from Alappuzha named who cut off her breasts and presented them to the tax collector on a plantain leaf to protest against this caste-based tax. The legend says that her death ignited people’s protests. Also, the place where she lived got the name Mulachiparambu (breasted woman’s land).</p> <p>Alappuzha-based artist V.S. Blodsow’s wood-and-fabric series ‘Spectrum’ talks about this body politics of outcaste women who had to fight to the power centres for their dignity. Conceptualised in 2005, the artwork was made with blouse materials from a textile shop in Alappuzha. “The work also talks about the poor work conditions and struggles of saleswomen in Kerala’s textile shops,” says the artist. A tribute to American painter-printmaker Ellsworth Kelly—and countless number of women who had to suffer injustices in the past—Blodsow’s ‘Spectrum’ is part of ‘Lokame Tharavadu’ (The world is one family), a mega show of more than 3,000 individual artworks, curated by Bose Krishnamachari in Alappuzha.</p> <p>Alappuzha is a sleepy town today. But once it used to be an important trade centre of colonial powers and a place of diverse culture. Even now, it has the remnants of this heritage, and that makes it an apt spot for a show like ‘Lokame Tharavadu’ which celebrates oneness and unity in diversity.</p> <p>Krishnamachari told THE WEEK that this show was conceived as an effort to instil confidence in the artist community around the world. The show features 267 artists from 15 countries who trace their roots back to Kerala. Spread across five venues in Alappuzha and one in Ernakulam, this is arguably the biggest and most ambitious contemporary art show in India post-Covid-19. Krishnamachari says that nothing of this scale has been set up in South Asia, perhaps ever.</p> <p>“For me, after the Kochi Biennale site, Alappuzha became one of my favourite sites in the world,” says Krishnamachari. “There are possibilities that we can have an extended version of Kochi-Muziris Biennale in Alappuzha as well. These heritage buildings, we have converted them into contemporary art gallery spaces. This can become a place for diverse kinds of exhibitions. This is a fantastic place for any kind of art works.”</p> <p>Alappuzha is a place where history, myths and legends cohabit. For the past many decades, it has been a stronghold of the Communist parties. And, the most important event that made it a leftist land is the Punnapra-Vayalar uprising of October 1946. It was organised against the exploitative policies of Travancore Diwan (prime minister) Sir C.P. Rama Swami Iyer. The coir workers played an important role in this uprising. They fiercely fought the Diwan’s move to make Travancore an independent country with a new constitution, and this had triggered violence across the region. But it was met with violent reprisal from the government; hundreds of comrades were killed in the Travancore military’s firings.</p> <p>Artist Bara Bhaskaran, in his series of 10 paintings named ‘Chambers of Amazing Museum’, depicts this unique working-class movement against the tyranny of Travancore’s authoritarian ruler. “In every uprising or war, it is the women who suffer the most,” he says. “In Punnapra-Vayalar uprising, only martyred men were immortalised; the women who had an equal stake in the struggle, who got widowed, were not acknowledged.” The artist who is known to be a chronicler of subaltern histories says that the movement was driven by the people from the lower strata of the society, and what Iyer had tried to destroy was an idea that people can question the authorities.</p> <p>The exhibition is an effort to raise important questions for the Kerala society. There are several works covering the themes of culture, migration, freedom of expression and home. For instance, artist Ameen Khaleel’s ‘Illogical’ theatre series talks about the fissures between the nature and culture. “My effort was to see these fissures as a drama,” says Khaleel. “I have used a mix of personal histories of people I know, and the local contemporary history in my work. I have portrayed these histories as baggage that should be held by the current generation.”</p> <p>Women-centric issues also have a special place in the show. ‘Lokame Tharavadu’ features 56 women artists. There is an effort to introduce many young talents as well. For sculptor Helna Merin Joseph, 25, the invitation to this show was unexpected. &quot;It is a great opportunity for a young artist like me to exhibit my works along with several acclaimed artists,&quot; she says. Joseph completed her masters in fine arts from Sarojini Naidu School of Arts and Communication, Hyderabad, last year. </p> <p>&quot;My works exhibited at Lokame Tharavadu are the ones that I completed during my college years from 2014,&quot; she says. &quot;The attitudes of women and their reactions to their realities are etched in my sculptures with care and my endeavor is to bring their wrinkled circumstances to the audience. My works deal with th&nbsp; insanities and difficulties and agonies faced by women in society.&quot;</p> <p>Finding influence and inspiration for art, from the environment around, is important for artists. Artist N. Balamurali Krishnan’s Memories of Onattukara series explores the topography, culture and history of his native land. “We could find the influence of early Buddhist doctrines in the language, architecture, medicines and lifestyle of Onattukara. I was in search of the soul of my land. And the paintings that are exhibited in Lokame Tharavadu are the ones that I painted from the influence of my studies.”</p> <p>Art practitioners from diverse schools are represented in ‘Lokame Tharavadu’. “From printmaking to augmented reality, and from surrealism to magical realism, so many different kinds of work could be seen here,” says Krishnamachari. “This show will educate diverse kinds of practitioners—writers, filmmakers, theatre artists.”</p> <p>However, the show is yet to be opened for the public because of Covid-19 restrictions. “When we started working on this project in September 2020, the cases of Covid were coming down,” says Krishnamachari. “We felt that we could do a really amazing show; we were expecting a good crowd for this project.”</p> <p>The show was first opened on April 18, and it was supposed to run for three months. “Unfortunately, we had to close it down immediately after it was opened because of the Covid-19 situation,” says Krishnamachari. “We are still waiting to reopen this project for people. Art enthusiasts, connoisseurs, collectors, all of them are waiting to see this project. We are trying to keep the exhibition running until September 30. Our request is to allow people to come and see the show with social distancing. I request the local authorities to please look at the site and make a decision.”</p> <p>Krishnamachari adds that the show would benefit several lesser-known artists from Kerala. “Many artists would get future opportunities nationally and internationally from this project,” he says. “People are really looking up to the new-generation of artists from Kerala.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sun Aug 01 13:42:22 IST 2021 project-bismillah-two-years-of-kashmir-after-abrogation-of-article-370-through-images <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>When 28-year-old Rana Pandey first went to Kashmir in May 2019 with his mentor Kounteya Sinha, he fell in love with it instantly. Since then, he kept going back, his last visit being a few months back this year.&nbsp;</p> <p>Ever since the abrogation the special status to Jammu and Kashmir through scrapping of Article 370 and conversion into a Union territory, Pandey has been documenting the valley to record the changes that have come upon the natives there, from social and economic turbulence to emotional upheavals caused by the sudden administrative and political decision.&nbsp;</p> <p>In his visit to the place in 2019 post the abrogation, he witnessed closed shops, streets with massive police deployment and roads deserted even during peak business hours. According to the locals, says Pandey, tourism was at an all-time low, barely fiver per cent of what it used to be. He saw sadness, unemployment, closed schools, children sitting idle with nothing to do, and an atmosphere of despondency and gloom. &quot;It was like a scene straight out of a dystopian novel. Everywhere there was heavy Army deployment with armoured military vehicles continuously patrolling around. Gulmarg, one of the most visited places in Kashmir, was almost empty, there were hardly any tourists. Pine Palace, the hotel in which we stayed in Gulmarg, was vacant for the last three months. Dayawan, who used to be our usual 'shikarawala', was nowhere to be found when we went back in November. Apparently he had left the job and had begun doing work as a construction worker just to make ends meet,&quot; says Pandey.</p> <p>That is what gave him the idea of 'Project Bismillah', an attempt to focus on the positive as a way of ending suffering and despair'. This Pandey did by capturing the valley across three years—2019, 2020 and 2021. &quot;I wanted to train my lens on the soul of Kashmir and the warmth of its people. 'Project Bismillah' is a way of presenting to the world, a changed Kashmir. One that is struggling to come out of doom and welcome the ray of hope and promise. A Kashmir of ambitions and aspirations, of belief, of love and security, and a Kashmir whose people are craving progress. Through this project I want to make others realize that Kashmir needs tourists to survive, it needs the love and support of the rest of India as nothing kills a place like isolation does. This is my humble attempt of using creative arts to bring people, commerce and dreams back to Kashmir,&quot; says Pandey.</p> <p>This year, which marks two years to the revocation of the special status of J&amp;K, Pandey visited the place twice, once in January to experience the winter chill and again in April to capture the mesmerising beauty of the widely popular Tulip gardens in Srinagar. &quot;Two years later, life of people in Kashmir has slowly come back to normal, at least the lives of those commoners whom I documented. Tourism has increased to a large extent and COVID-19 restrictions are limited to the RT-PCR tests that are conducted at the airports for travellers coming into Kashmir. Both, Gulmarg and Srinagar were full with tourists, both, Indian as well as foreigners,&quot; says Pandey who is a Kolkata-based documentary maker and street photographer whose contributions to the 2018 book, 'Altars of Yearning: How India Prays,' was released in the UK's House of Lords by Cherie Blair (wife of Tony Blair) the former first lady of Great Britain.&nbsp;</p> <p>Pandey is the recipient of Russian Press Photo Award and he's been honored at the Kolkata International Photography Festival.&nbsp;</p> Fri Jul 30 22:29:22 IST 2021 opinion-our-everyday-olympics <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Are you all feeling a wee bit sorry that you are not in Tokyo right now, watching the world’s greatest spectacle of sport? Take it easy, folks – you could be missing the action at the official Olympics 2020-21 but you haven’t actually missed the Games. Just take a good look at yourselves and what you go through every day. By hook or by crook, we are all Olympians.</p> <p>Here are some of the events in which we take part without even knowing about it:</p> <p><b>100-metre sprint</b></p> <p>This is the Usain Bolt’s territory – and the centrepiece of every Olympic Games. No props, no bars; it’s a straightforward dash from Point A to Point B. Before the lockdown changed all the rules, we used to do it too – we ran for bus, train or auto every morning, and again in the evening, in the reverse direction. Rising to the occasion was the sporting breed of drivers who changed gear and stepped on the pedal just as you are about to hop on. Such a thrill! If it’s not the bus, we run to beat the muster at the office, to the bank before they close for the day, or the municipal office, or the market before curfew time. We who run every day of our lives shouldn’t be so bothered about what happens on July 31<sup>st</sup>.</p> <p><b>Discuss Throw</b></p> <p>This is traditional Olympic fare. Remember the classic sculpture ‘Dicobolus of Myron’ - a finely muscled figure bending over, with the right arm flung out and holding a disc? It is poetry in perfect balance. Well, times change and so do we. You don’t need a disc and you don’t need to have a toned, paunch-less physique. All you need to do is switch on television when something controversial is being discussed. The topic hardly matters – it could be Israeli spyware, Chinese incursions and whether or not anyone in India ever died of lack of oxygen. Everyone in the panel is paid to shout, the anchor loudest of all. As the decibels go higher, you sense the bile rising up inside you until you can’t take it anymore and throw up. Next day, you are back again – another debate, another panel but the results are the same – discuss and throw up!</p> <p><b>Shot Put</b></p> <p>The shot in the Olympics weighs the standard 7.26 kg. The shots most of us have taken, however, are measured in millilitres. After you have taken both shots of the vaccine, begins the tantalizing question of whether you really need to put on that suffocating piece of polypropylene or cloth across your mouth any more. You think you have gained enough immunity and sally forth into the welcoming outdoors without any encumbrance. Ah, but the virus may think differently. In many ways, this could turn out to be the riskiest sport of all.</p> <p><b>400-metre hurdles</b></p> <p>This is an event of which Indian sports lovers will forever nurse bitter sweet memories. In 1984 at Los Angeles, our P.T. Usha came as close as can be to winning a bronze. The Payyoli Express missed a medal by 1/100th of a second, and was consoled by a nation which applauded her gallant effort. But, for us, every day hurdlers on our way to work, if you miss by an inch you could end up with a twisted ankle or an outburst of road rage. Our hurdles are many: in the monsoon, it’s potholes and puddles, and all the year through, it’s the pavement crammed with hawkers and squatters, and roads ruled by errant autos and two-wheelers. Don’t expect consolation if you miss, you will lucky if you get by with only a curse.</p> <p><b>Wrestling</b></p> <p>Remember Ghulam Mohammad better known as Gama – the great Indian/Pakistani wrestler who acquired almost mythical status as the champion wrestler of the world? Gama was a professional and did not take part in the Olympics. Neither can we, although we go through some back-breaking bouts every day. In the Olympics, you wrestle on a mat. We have nothing but a moving bus or a train. In the official games, you fight one opponent at a time but when you boarding a bus, everyone is an opponent. In the Olympics, you fight by the rules. Here you are allowed to make the rules up as you go along.</p> <p><b>Shooting</b></p> <p>In 2004, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won asSilver. Four years later, Abhinav Bindra returned from Beijing with our first and so far, only individual gold. We all do a lot of shooting – most of it in the dark. As a nation of experts, we can tell anyone who listens which vaccine is the most effective and if there is going to be a third wave. We can also speak knowledgeably about whether the Chinese are sitting on our territory and if so, when do they plan to leave. We will even tell you if Ambani is intending to follow his billionaire counterparts into space.</p> <p><b>Relay</b></p> <p>The 4 x 100 metre relay is a showpiece event that is usually scheduled late in the Olympic fortnight so that it virtually becomes a grand finale to the Games. Indian sprinters are alas nowhere in the picture and never have been. But all of us have other relays on our mind. Life is tough, and we want to make it easier for our kids. So, we pass on all the tricks we have learnt to our children.</p> <p>May the best man or woman win!&nbsp;</p> Sat Jul 24 22:44:32 IST 2021 Animals-have-language-Language-of-love-says-Victorija-Lubyte-An-Avid-traveller-and-Animal-rights-activist <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In the 21st century, our generation is as far from the nature as much one could imagine. Enjoying the sight of a beautiful mountain to Enjoying the sight of beautiful animal, We seldom see these things happen.</p> <p>Mountains are now used for construction and Animals are used as Decor items. The situation of the world calls for activists who influence the world to believe in a better tomorrow where humans and animals co-exist.&nbsp;</p> <p>It’s extremely unfortunate that humans don’t understand the language of animals when their language is the simplest, “language of love”. Victorija Lubyte, A London based Traveller, Influencer and animal rights activist expresses her thoughts on the current situation. She believes, “would we kill a human if they stop the ability of conversing with us then why don’t we invest time in understanding the language of animals before killing them or disregarding them”. Victorija strongly believes, “We were all Made to co-exist and not dominate the either one, The current state of affairs between Animals and Humans are at its worst. However, the world is rapidly gaining perspective and knowledge through social media which appears as our only silver lining and Victorija is playing a pivotal role in this campaign.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Victorija, Who is otherwise an extremely private person doesn’t hesitate a bit before expressing her thoughts on animal rights. She is currently working with many NGO’s to spread awareness about Animal welfare and is in constant touch with PETA ( People for ethical treatment for animals) for new programs.</p> <p>The world needs more influencers like Victorija. We can’t wait to the see a world when Humans and animals live in harmony. Let’s not forget, we were animals too then why bother our first cousins so much that we push them to a verge of extinction.</p> Thu Aug 19 16:52:24 IST 2021 this-homestay-owner-kodaikanal-ready-serve-students-who-failed-class-x-exam <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Sudheesh K. from Kodaikanal does not want to go viral anymore. "I am not able to manage the barrage of phone calls," says the 40-year-old entrepreneur who runs homestays in the picturesque hill station in Tamil Nadu.&nbsp;</p> <p>Some five days ago Sudhi—as he is more fondly known—put out a Facebook post where he announced he would offer a free stay for students who failed their Kerala SSLC exam. Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) is obtained by a student on clearing the Class X public exam. SSLC in Kerala was conducted from April 8 to 29 and the results declared on July 14. Out of the 4.19 lakh students who appeared for the exam, over 2,000 students failed to clear it, in spite of liberal evaluation policies adopted by schools in a pandemic.</p> <p>An exhausted Sudheesh has now fielded more than 500 calls from students and families who wonder if his generous offer is fake news. And how and when they can come.</p> <p>"Some even call me at 1am or 3 and 4 in the morning. I try and console them that this is not the last exam they'd be taking," says Sudheesh whose three homestay properties are mostly five-six bedroom affairs. "I am not a big shot but I would like to accommodate every genuine student from Kerala and his/her family. I have also sought help from my friends who have similarly agreed to open up their properties for these students," says Sudheesh, a native of Kozhikode in Kerala. He moved to Kodaikanal 18 years ago.</p> <p>Sudheesh first thought about inviting students when he saw the successful ones celebrating their results on social media. A father of two, with a son and a daughter in class 8 and 5 respectively, Sudheesh has never seen his children fretting over exams and results. "I want these Class X students to come here for two days, relax and have fun with their families,” says Sudheesh who has roped in counsellors for guidance as part of his offer. He typically gets callers to send him their marksheets on WhatsApp for verification. He intends to call school headmasters to confirm before taking final calls. "This is not a publicity stunt. I did not even mention the name of my homestay in the Facebook post."</p> <p>Last week, the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) also announced the results of Class X, SSC exams, where there were some 758 students who did not make the cut . This comes at a time when every student was expected to be given the pass certificate by schools this year. Many unsuccessful students, according to reports, come from socio-economically weak backgrounds or have learning disabilities. Many may have left their homes with their parents searching for livelihood opportunities since the pandemic struck.</p> Mon Jul 19 17:15:02 IST 2021 world-ice-cream-day-signs-of-recovery-after-seasons-of-despair <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A good ice cream is never too sweet, doesn't hurt your teeth and shouldn't make you feel thirsty, says Pavan Jambagi, co-founder of Carnatic Cafe, one of Delhi's best loved south Indian restaurants serving home-style Kannadiga food.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We are sitting at his newly opened ice cream store Jaatre at Meherchand Market, the same south Delhi address which now houses his famous restaurant dishing out delectable bombats and paddus, not to mention, Malleshwaram 18th cross dosas, the perennial favourite. Nine years after he first launched Carnatic Cafe, Jambagi is ready with his first brick-and-mortar ice cream store at a time when Delhi has already lost two peak ice cream-selling seasons of April, May and June to lockdowns. "The time has come to be prepared for the worst. One can only hope the third wave doesn't happen. I am hopeful people will now start coming back," says Jambagi, who began online delivery of Jaatre ice cream some five months ago.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Jambagi started experimenting with an ice-cream machine at home five years ago when patrons at his restaurant would ask for cold desserts after a hearty, wholesome meal. Soon the restaurant started churning out dollops of inhouse ice cream delicately perched on leftover coconut shells. Pepper, palm jaggery or chocolate orange, the natural infusions worked. And soon the idea for a separate retail outlet began germinating. Work on the physical store had begun in March this year until the second wave stalled everything. "Everyone's stopped their expansion plans. It doesn't make sense to open more ice cream outlets in a market which is highly seasonal, especially Delhi. Everyone's preparing for the next ice cream season," says Jambagi, who recognises Jaatre's journey will begin on a wing and a prayer.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ice cream industry, an unorganised sector with close to 3,000 players, is reportedly pegged around an annual turnover of Rs 10,000 crore. Maximum sales take place between March and September. Last year, headlines repeated the same story everywhere, "Ice cream industry in meltdown", with estimates pitching losses at Rs 6,000 crore due to lockdowns. Sales were scuppered with rumour-mongering that eating ice cream increases chances of catching COVID-19, even with WHO officially stating there was no scientific evidence for this.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cumulative loss since March 2020 now amounts to around Rs 12,000 crore, according to experts. "Summer is the critical sales season, so production needs to start two to three months in advance. However, with the lockdown affecting local transport, labour and other logistics, ice-cream makers were forced to sit on this massive inventory. Experts are giving their opinions about the third wave, but it entirely depends on two things: the rate of COVID-19 vaccinations and adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour by the public," says Sudhir Shah, president of Ahmedabad-based Indian Ice-Cream Manufacturers Association (IICMA) and managing director of Scoops ice cream in Hyderabad. "A lesson many of us had to learn the hard way over the last year and a half is that an online point-of-sale is mandatory for any business today," says Shah, emphasising how IICMA members have to become more creative in reaching customers and newer markets apart from designing campaigns and promotions to cope with declining sales. "Cooperation goes a long way in keeping a business afloat. Ice cream companies who are not part of the IICMA should consider joining since companies can benefit from various synergies," adds Shah. Kwality Wall's, Naturals, Cream Bell, Vadilal, Havmor are some of the brands represented in the 80-member strong collective of IICMA.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But with the ebbing away of the second wave, there is definitely a shoring up of confidence. India's pioneering artisanal brand, Naturals ice cream, lost 86 per cent of sales in peak summer months of 2020, compared to 2019 figures, but company representatives report that June this year witnessed their best sales for any month since COVID-19, indicating a positive trend in the coming months when they hope to reach pre-COVID sales. In the last year and a half, they have employed innovative strategies to stay on top of consumers' minds. "We launched our 'Tough Tub' campaign, assuring our consumers that our family packs are safe and cannot be tampered with. The other two important decisions we took was first, partner with cloud kitchen operators to sell our ice cream online to places where there are no Naturals outlets available. And secondly, have a direct-to-order platform ready to cater to customers who prefer having end-to-end experience with Naturals and avoid additional charges that online aggregators added," says Srinivas Kamath, director of Kamaths Ourtimes Ice Creams Pvt Ltd, the company which owns Naturals Ice Cream.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Interestingly, while most of the established brands have struggled with losses, the lockdown saw a surge in small-batch, boutique ice cream brands which catered to consumers directly from their websites and social media handles. New-age brands like Emoi started selling at select retail stores, Big Basket, 24seven, among others. Many turned icecreamists in lockdown and found patrons by highlighting their handcrafted, no-stabilisers/emulsifiers/artificial flavours credentials. Gurugram-based mother-daughter duo, Ritu Gupta (50) and Mridu Gupta (24), started hand-churning ice cream in their kitchens around April last year for friends and family. By June 2020, when the lockdown lifted, they were ready with their weekend company MG’s Handmade Ice Creams curating little-known flavours on a WhatsApp circulated menu with close to 100 orders a month. "This year we resumed operations after lockdown and June 2021 has been the best month where we earned the maximum profit with 150 tubs which cost Rs 650 apiece," says Mridu, a fashion stylist.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Did you know?</b></p> <p>How did one crank out ice-cream before refrigerators? One of the more popular ways was the pot-freezer method which French cooks loved to use. A laborious enterprise, where ice was chunked out of lakes and ponds in the winter months, it would then be stored in the ground or brick ice houses with straw providing the much-needed insulation. In the French pot method, a bowl of cream was placed in a bucket of ice and salt. Come 1843, the hand-cranked churn, patented by Nancy Johnson, replaced the pot for a faster, smoother finish.&nbsp;</p> Sat Jul 17 20:57:38 IST 2021 technical-journals-in-local-languages-lost-in-translation <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>What would you call the Internet of Things in Kannada? Asks Srinidhi T.G. while fumbling for an answer himself.</p> <p>He identifies himself as a science communicator. The Bengaluru-based software professional has nurtured his love for popularising science to a general audience in regional dailies, since college. Back in 2007, when blogging was all the rage, he started to communicate news, ideas and concepts around science and technology in Kannada to a rural demographic slice in the state. To give a sense of IoT, Srinidhi wrote to his readers that, just like they already know the internet and how it connects everything on the web, they should imagine what if washing machines, fridge, mixer grinders and other home appliances connect to the same network? &quot;This is an underserved area. There is a great appetite for such content in the rural belt in Karnataka. But students like it when it is not textbook-ish. It has to be presented as popular science which is easily accessible,&quot; says Srinidhi, who often condenses journal articles from IISc into a more approachable format in his blog.</p> <p>Srinidhi, however, does not know how technical journals can be translated into regional languages. &quot;We have not done much work there. I don't see our audience engaging with that stuff,&quot; says Srinidhi.</p> <p>On July 8, after the swearing-in of the new Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a larger role to be played by technological and R&amp;D institutions which will be heralding “India's Techade”. To implement the provision of the NEP, the education ministry is getting ready to set up a task force which will deal with the nitty-gritties of imparting technical education in regional languages. Even degree courses like B.Tech in Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will be included as part of this plan to break the rural-urban divide in technical education. Another aspect of this transition is translating global (technical) journals into regional languages. The translation work is expected to begin by December 2021. But one wonders how jargons, scientific concepts and academic-speak in peer-reviewed journals can be effectively communicated in local languages.</p> <p>&quot;Challenges of translating technical journals into regional languages would be manifold. The primary one being the technical terms don’t have regional equivalents. And as a result, we end up using English words even in the translated content. Not only that, sometimes when content is translated into a local/regional language, certain colloquialisms come in, which don’t adequately describe the original context. In fact, many times the complete sense of the point being made can be changed. Which can be detrimental if not quality checked,&quot; says Aarti David, director of publishing at SAGE Publications, one of the leading academic publishers. &quot;The biggest challenge in regional language translations is that these cannot be done word-to-word. It is in actuality an exercise that involves rewriting the complete content to make sense of it. Another problem that I foresee is that online regional content consumption is limited; as access is a big issue. Even though we are fast moving to a digital system of education, we have a long way to go in being able to reach the consumers of this content,&quot; adds David.</p> <p>Srinidhi's &quot;Ejnana&quot; comes from Jnana which is &quot;knowledge&quot; in Kannada. Incidentally, &quot;vijnana&quot; means science and Ejnana is a colloquial version of vijnana. Perhaps, this is the kind of informal, idiomatic relocation that might be required to make global journals non-intimidating in local Indian languages.</p> <p>Srinidhi is currently helping out with creating content for a popular science magazine called Kutuhali, with help from Vigyan Prasar, which comes under the Department of Science and Technology. Recently, he was also shortlisted as a finalist in the Falling Walls conference, an annual science competition in Germany where young researchers and entrepreneurs get to present their research projects, business plans and social initiative ideas. Srinidhi was selected in the science engagement category. &quot;Last year, we were bombarded with some many new terminologies around Covid-19. I came up with a 40-concept intro e-book in Kannada to better explain Coronaspeak to my readers. This idea was greatly appreciated at the conference,&quot; says Srinidhi, who expounded on concepts like &quot;break the transmission&quot; with a trending book exchange campaign where gifting one person leads to receiving 36 in return. &quot;I added a bit of geometric transmission theory too in it.&quot;&nbsp;</p> Sat Jul 10 10:27:36 IST 2021 conan-obrien-set-to-embrace-internet-stardom-after-ending-28-run-on-tv <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In pursuit of happiness, late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien last week signed off from his eponymous show. From the<i> Late Night With Conan O'Brien</i> (1993-2009) to the <i>Tonight Show</i> (2009-10) and then <i>Conan </i>(2010-2021), his 28-year-spree on television is the longest in the format after Johnny Carson’s three-decade-run.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Conan’s first episode on <i>The Late Night</i> aired September 13, 1993, and opened with a sequence where the tall, gangly, carrot-haired Irish Catholic saunters through New York for his first day on the job, which he was to take over from Letterman. His NBC debut came as talk-show legends passed their batons to hungry successors: Jay Leno took over <i>The Tonight Show </i>from Carson, prompting Letterman (fuming that the prime-time show wasn’t his to host) to leave NBC. Conan, a former writer for <i>The Simpsons</i> and <i>Saturday Night Live </i>had to face the cameras in the wake of giants.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the opening bit, flower vendors, children playing hopscotch and a newspaper’s front page all echoed one demand—“CONAN BETTER BE GOOD”. Shrugging off the pressure to replace Letterman, Conan strode into the NBC dressing room—and then prepared to hang himself. The ease with which he could laugh at his own shortcomings would become a staple of the next few decades of his self-deprecating, absurdist and evolving comedy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“David Letterman wanted to be Johnny Carson and was not, and as a result, my generation of comedians wanted to be David Letterman. And none of us are—my peers and I have all missed that mark in a thousand different ways. But the point is this: It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. It is not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can be a catalyst for profound re-invention.” - Conan O’ Brien, at a 2011 valedictory address at Dartmouth College</p> <p>Conan’s misfortune and subsequent reinvention came in 2010 when he was bumped off The Tonight Show—which he called the “Holy Grail” of television—in favour of Leno just seven months after taking over. Barred from appearing on TV for eight months as part of his walk-away agreement, Conan launched the “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour”. The 30-city tour—a variety act starring Conan and his entourage of quirky performers—helped make #TeamCoco a viral hashtag. Conan familiarised himself with social media and took the plunge to Twitter where his bio reads, “The voice of the people. Sorry, people.”<br> </p> <p>Conan thrived online with a variety of shows split across both TV and the internet: In “Clueless Gamer”, he played popular video games with celebrities like top YouTuber PewDiePie, to the delight of millennial and Gen-Zer audiences. In “Conan Without Borders” he travels the world. In the studio, he filmed his own awkward and hilarious encounters with his staff. While Leno and Letterman could have US presidents as guests, Conan’s guests were often chosen for their rapport and sense of humour; his best guest was arguably bread expert Steven Kaplan, whose passion for both bread, sexual puns and comic timing remains unmatched.<br> </p> <p>Speculative celebrity net worth websites still place Conan far below Leno and Lettermen—according to a 2017 CNBC report, he earned about $12 million a year while hosting Conan (Leno earned $30 million a year on The Tonight Show). But, for younger audiences, Conan remains the talk-show host of choice.</p> <p>As Conan prepares for a new show on HBO Max, he once again trails in Letterman’s wake—who launched <i>My Next Guest Needs No Introduction </i>on Netflix in 2018 with Obama as his first guest. As Conan re-enters the variety show format, he need not pull out big guests to succeed (though he has already had Obama on his podcast, <i>Conan Needs a Friend</i>). Being himself has always seemed to work for the six-foot-four comedian.</p> Sun Jul 04 18:44:34 IST 2021 finding-solace-instagram-poetry <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Poetry has been a literary genre that often has strict rules, regulations, rhythm, metre, and style. From Kalidasa to Kamala Das, we have seen a shift in reconstructing the nature of poetry as it intertwines with forms and genres. Moving into the world of social media, Instagram poets have taken the world by storm. Poems that move us have become an integral part of our lives today, particularly when we are unsure of what the day brings.</p> <p>With the pandemic and everyone isolating within homes for safety, mental health is something that needed to be addressed. Among other genres, poetry, too became a medium to find solace and an outlet for bottled-up emotions.</p> <p>Transcending the traditionality of poetry is something that reached its peak over the course of last year. With the change it brought a new form that resonated with readers who felt connected this new style. Life is not just rhythmic couplets, it is fragmented, jarred and self-accepting, just like what these writers portray on their Instagram handles.</p> <p><b>@karunaezara</b></p> <p>Poet, former TV anchor and now writer, Karuna Ezara Parikh, has a way of writing up raw emotions that trigger the ideas of love and sorrow. Her recent poems play around the ideas of isolation and hope. This Kolkata-based writer recently published her debut novel, <i>The Heart Asks Pleasure First</i>, which is layered with love, family, xenophobia among many others which are in fact reflections of themes from her poetry.</p> <p><b>@rupikaur_</b></p> <p>From everyday instances to fleeting thoughts, life in itself seems like an inspiration to Rupi Kaur with her love for the spoken word evident throughout her profile. Her short visual poetry explores the idea of relationship, sexual trauma and diaspora. The truth that, this Indian-born Canadian’s thoughts resonate with a larger community, is seen through affirmations of her followers.</p> <p><b>@amitesh.grover</b></p> <p>A very vocal political stand jumps out at you while gazing through his Instagram profile that shows the plight of this country and humanity. As an inter-disciplinary artist, his works transcend all the traditional norms of poetry and seeps into theatre, performance, interactive art and installations. His works delve into the ephemeral and conceptual ideas around the art of performance.</p> <p><b>@sufisoul</b></p> <p>Known for his towering figure and role in movies, Arunoday Singh’s Instagram also boast snippets of poetry that he writes in a calligraphical manner. “Whisper it to me, I promise I won’t tell a soul. Just between me and you, just tell me if there’s something, there, at the end of it, worth what we are going through”. His penned words revolve around the idea of love and as a true romantic, his words inspire the readers.</p> <p><b>@poetofblues</b></p> <p>Khawaja Musadiq does an amazing job of capturing the moment when it comes to poetry. One often senses a touch of melancholia with a yearning for lost love when reading his works. Starting with poems that depict the scenic beauty of Kashmir and moving on to the plight of a place torn apart by uncertainty, he says his works started off as a ‘meagrely scanty idea’ which might ease the pain and sorrow of his readers.</p> <p><b>@harnidhk</b></p> <p>Harnidh Kaur takes us on a journey of body positivity and self-acceptance as we scroll through her Instagram page. With prose like rendition of poetry, she also resorts to a letter format at times, signing off with an ‘hk’. Despite the busy schedule as the Product Marketing Manager at Swiggy, she has an open Zoom platform to talk with people about her journey in coming terms with herself.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jun 25 14:36:43 IST 2021 entice-the-wonders-of-food-with-sukrit-jain-founder-of-the-great <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>From street food to classic restaurants, traditional foods to modernized food and by welcoming all kinds of desserts, @thegreatindianfoodie has bits of each food on one platform and is ready to give hunger pang, also make you choose the right places according to their taste buds. The Great Indian Foodie is a famous blog, what makes them the most unique is that they are foodies and are ready to explore Indian cuisine from various destinations to bring out the best for their loving follower family. Social media being a multi-faced platform has given opportunities to many to convert their passion into a business, a to have a better living style.</p> <p>With travelling experience, amazing marketing skills, an able man in the field of the digital world and with lots of experiences and with an amazing epicure Sukrit Jain created the page: @thegreatindiafoodie. He without a second thought is creating wonders in the world of foodies by promoting astonishing delicacies. By adding breathtaking posts, videos, articles according to his amazing followers' needs.</p> <p>If you are a foodie and loves travelling and trying new food @thegreatindianfoodie is the best wonders of world platform for you. With the right content, timely posting, hunting amazing delicacies are the key to his success says, Sukrit Jain.</p> <p><b>Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life. -Confucius</b></p> <p>Sukrit followed this mantra and has converted his passion into a successful enterprise. With a lot of obstacles in his path, unsatisfactory reviews of people he was surrounded with, he never gave up and followed his inner vibe and proved to people&nbsp;<b>'Where there is a will, there is a way"</b>.He never leaves a chance to welcome mouth-watering delicacies in @thegreatindianfoodie</p> <p>What is got out of @thegreatindianfoodie was loving followership and got chance opportunities to collaborate with renowned food brands such as Pizza hut, Dominos, Taj Mahal Tea House, and so on. Sukrit shared opinions as a guest speaker with other influencers and bloggers such as Kusha Kapila, Dolly Singh, and many more at Influencer Con 2019. Sukrit has also attended an event at his college Amity University as a guest speaker. This was really a proud moment for him.</p> <p>Food blogging has played a vital role in Sukrit’s life. This not only provided him with a promising profession but also led him to a path which he enjoys and is ever ready to make his part of life. Sukrit got cold feet due to lockdown, but with determination and dedication, he had never given up and managed to gain 386K followers on Facebook. If you are a foodie like Sukrit Jain and love trying out new places for hidden delicacies then check out his Instagram blog @&nbsp;<u>thegreatindianfoodie</u>&nbsp;.</p> Sat Aug 07 10:44:20 IST 2021 british-queer-activist-ruth-mccarthy-on-using-the-arts-to-question-gender-norms <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The month of June celebrates queer life and creativity. To this end, the&nbsp;Kolkata Centre for Creativity (KCC) has lined up a series of online exhibitions and webinars called "Learn Togetherness" that will run till 27 June.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Supported by the British Council&nbsp;with Sappho&nbsp;for&nbsp;Equality&nbsp;as a partner, the festival seeks to&nbsp;better understand the use of art in questioning oppressive gender norms and reclaim spaces beyond the binary. </p> <p>Photography, painting, sculpture, music, poetry, dance and theatre are all employed to reinforce&nbsp;equity, acknowledgement and acceptance of varying sexual and gender identities. Ruth McCarthy,&nbsp;queer activist and artistic director with the Outburst Queer Arts Festival in Belfast, talks to THE WEEK about the pioneering LGBTQ+ festival she helms in the run-up to her appearance at&nbsp;Learn Togetherness.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What is the significance of the Outburst festival and how is it different from the way other queer arts festivals are curated?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Outburst supports development and opportunities for queer artists to make and share exciting work that stimulates important conversations. That has an important social role around visibility and catalysing positive change but it’s key that the art and performance work is first and foremost as compelling and engaging for audiences as any other art you’d see or experience in theatres, cinemas and other spaces. </p> <p>That’s what brings audiences to it and what empowers us as queer people. We are very responsive in our curating rather than swayed by trends, always asking the question, “What is the most exciting work for this moment and what do artists need from us to make that work happen?”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Can you tell us about some of the interesting acts at the festival in recent years and how they engaged with contemporary LGBTQIA issues in the UK?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are so many but some recent exciting works include a new opera, "Abomination: A DUP Opera" by composer Conor Mitchell that challenged our ruling political party’s record around LGBTQ+ issues by using their anti-LGBT comments to form the libretto. That won many awards and accolades nationally and highlighted the troubling relationship between political power and homophobia. On a different scale [was] "I/ Mother", a one-woman show by Gemma Hutton, [that] explored being a lesbian parent. </p> <p>Another show, "Stories for the Month of the Holy Souls" by storyteller Richard O’Leary, gave a very moving perspective on grief and the homophobia encountered when a partner of the same sex dies. Another area I feel very passionate about is transgender voices and stories on the stage, so we developed a programme for trans writers and performers that is supporting new trans talent to emerge.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Is there an India edition of Outburst on the anvil?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We love working collaboratively with international partners but it's more important, and more empowering, for Indian artists and community activists to make their own version of a festival or event like Outburst that is more fitting for their own cultural and social contexts. That would be exciting to experience and we are very happy to support that however, we can. We also want to learn from artists and communities in Kolkata and other cities in India because there’s talent and knowledge there that’s exciting to bring to other parts of the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How have LGBTQIA rights and queer activism evolved in the UK in recent years? What are its most pressing concerns or battles yet to be fought?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Northern Ireland has some similar concerns to other countries in the UK but it’s also socially, economically and politically different and has quite different priorities to places like London or Edinburgh. It has historically been more conservative socially and politically here and equality legislation has been slower to change. But we’re also at an exciting time around inclusion and asking questions about the importance and value of embracing difference. </p> <p>Some of the big issues impacting LGBTQ+ people in all regions, and across the world, are transgender rights and healthcare, LGBTQ+ education in schools, mental health and wellbeing issues, issues around ageing and care for elders, loss of LGBTQ+ community and social spaces and the impacts of race, gender and class. Despite much welcome legislative changes, there are many hidden social and political issues that we need to address, plus wider questions around power and resources generally for people who are considered “different”</p> <p><b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Can you talk about queer arts festivals that you have attended in India and some of your takeaways from the events?&nbsp;What is your take on the depiction of LGBT concerns in the arts and entertainment space of India? Any recent work of theatre, music, cinema, news feature that intrigued you?</b><br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I’m aware that India has many LGBTQ+ festivals and artists but have only recently started exploring contemporary LGBT / queer arts there more deeply through our work with British Council. </p> <p>Festivals like Rainbow Lit Fest and the many queer film festivals in the country have been doing great work for a while now. I’ve always loved well known Indian visual artists like Sunil Gupta and Bhupen Khakhar who explored homosexuality in their work over many decades, along with many LGBT Indian writers and poets who I’ve admired. Explorations of gender and sexuality in everything from ancient texts to Bollywood film are also fascinating to me. There’s so much rich material and experience for artists to draw on in Indian cultures, past and present, that offers a deeper understanding of gender and sexuality beyond just the “western” constructs, so I’m very excited by the wider learning in that and can’t wait to explore and share more around what queer artists in India are already doing.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Jun 24 15:12:51 IST 2021 meet-sagar-sharma--an-uprising-social-worker-from-rajasthan <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><a href=""><u>Sagar Sharma</u></a>&nbsp;is a youth leader and an active social worker who has been trying his best to help underprivileged people in need. He was born on 22nd August 1994 in Rajasthan. He is a young Entrepreneur who owns Granite and marble mining businesses. Besides this, he is included in the top Fantasy Brown Marble export business in Rajasthan. In his spare time, he loves to cook, drive and click nature pictures. Speaking of his educational background, Sagar completed his studies at Maharaja Sawai Man Singh Vidyalaya located in Jaipur. After this, he pursued Business Management from the University of James Cook located in Singapore.</p> <p>Sagar always deals with a crisis situation practically. He is indeed a very good and reliable crisis manager. During difficult times such as COVID or political issues, he always supports the right cause. On being asked about what is his greatest source of motivation, Sagar replied that it is witnessing his voter's happiness due to his contribution to society.</p> <p>Sagar comes from a reputable family where his father, Dr Raghu Sharma, is the Health Minister of Rajasthan. Sagar loves working as a youth leader and politician. Seeing his Voter's happiness fills him with joy. However, there are cons to every profession. He said, " Even after doing all the right things, people try to defame and play dirty politics. " This is really disheartening.</p> <p>His favourite stars are Sonu Sood and MS Dhoni. To date, he considers the most important work achievement to be the Commonwealth Youth Virtual Parliament event. He was a participant in this prestigious event and represented the state of Rajasthan from India. Sagar has helped more than one million during this deadly period of pandemics.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sagar Sharma has always been appreciative and respectful towards people without any bias. He has been working extremely hard for people's well-being during this trial and testing period of Covid. He has contributed by providing resources at a time when there was an active shortage of them. Sagar's Instagram and Facebook are covered with voters. He has even taken the initiative of visiting every Village personally to know their grievances and offer help respectively.</p> <p>We hope that Sagar Sharma will continue doing such good work and helping the country in times of future crisis. To know more about this promising individual, follow him on the accounts linked below. Sagar Sharma always makes sure to reply to those who want to connect with him.</p> <p>Social Media : Facebook-&nbsp;<a href=""></a><a href=""><u></u></a></p> <p>Instagram&nbsp;<a href=""></a><a href=""><u></u></a></p> <p>Twitter-&nbsp;<a href=""></a><a href=""><u></u></a></p> Thu Jul 22 19:09:25 IST 2021 Adv-Bikram-Singh-Sidhu-the-Philanthropist-with-a-difference <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Advocate Bikram Singh Sidhu, a name reckoned with honest law practice and philanthropic approach has given the people of Ludhiana a lot to look forward to in the Punjab State Assembly Elections 2022.&nbsp;He is one of the prospective candidates of Bhartiya Janta Party from Ludhiana West, one of the most coveted constituencies.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Having gained popularity for his humanitarian deeds, Advocate Sidhu not only enjoys a good rapport with the deprived sections of the society but is equally admired by the intelligentsia.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition to being a successful lawyer, Sidhu believes in working for the larger interest of the people. In his long list of good work carried out for the poor and downtrodden, supporting education of the students who could not pay their fee is the most acknowledged one. Expressing his views on the same, Sidhu adds, “There is no service bigger than helping an individual to become self- sustainable and education is the only means to do so.”</p> <p>Being a visionary, Advocate Bikram Singh Sidhu feels strongly for the civic amenities which according to him is the right of every Indian citizen. He has been continuously taking up the issues of the poor sanitation in low lying areas, bad condition of roads, improper collection, disposal and treatment of solid waste.</p> <p>Unlike his contemporaries, this politician turned lawyer is a true patriot and does not miss a chance to pay his tributes to the freedom fighters and martyrs. “We have a rich heritage and it is our duty to strengthen our nation by imbibing the best from our past and present to weave a better future,” expresses Sidhu.&nbsp;</p> Thu Aug 05 18:31:10 IST 2021 Young-Entrepreneur-Anant-Aggarwal-Invests-in-Galaxycard-to-Make-Credit-Cards-Easily-Accessible-for-Low-Income-Population <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Understanding the needs of the society, young entrepreneur Anant Aggarwal has invested hugely in GalaxyCard, a fin-tech platform offering instantly approved credit cards to the low income population.&nbsp; After taking the family business to new heights, Anant founded Viney Equity Market LLP (VEM) in 2019, which is an investment arm of Viney Aggarwal Family.</p> <p>VEM invests in Direct Equity, Debt, Unlisted Shares and Angel Investments. It invested money in Galaxycard in July 2021, which is a fin-tech platform offering instantly approved credit cards. Galaxy card has recently raised a $450K angel funding round led by JITO.</p> <p>According to CMIE (Center of Monitoring the Indian Economy), India has nearly 200 million people employed in blue-collar jobs; these people are in need of a daily credit limit but due to the lower-income and extensive paperwork requirements, such people are not catered to by the financial institutions. GalaxyCard focuses on making credit cards easily accessible to customers with a monthly income of less than Rs 30,000, who are typically rejected by banks. So far Aggarwal family has invested more than Rs 45 crore in securities.</p> <p>After attaining basic education from GD Goenka World School, Anant opted for graduation from IILM and post graduation from Regents University London, United Kingdom. He is admired for his simplicity and solemnity by virtue of which he has ascended the superior summit and has continued the legacy of his father to set up such a gigantic empire.</p> <p>Joining his family business at a very young age, under the name of Viney Corporation Limited (VCL) Anant was looking at Purchase, Marketing and Finance. Viney Corporation was founded by Viney Aggarwal (Anant’s Dad) and his uncle in 1989.</p> <p>Viney Corporation is a leading manufacturer of Auto-parts for OEM and Tier 1 Automotive customers. VCL has nine factories in India and three in Europe with 5000 workforce. VCL is an approved vendor for BMW, Rolls Royce, Fiat, Ferrari, Hero MotoCorp and many more OEMs. Viney Aggarwal took a complete exit in 2020 from Viney Corporation Limited.</p> <p>Anant, during this time, initiated different performance-driven programs to keep employee’s motivation intact. He is further planning to diversify into Hospitality Business, Footwear Industry, Automotive Industry, Film Industry and Financial Sector.</p> <p>As a part of his expanded empire, Anant has recently achieved the feat of becoming a young producer in Bollywood. He, alongwith his brother Akshay Aggarwal has introduced Yellow Ant Production house and the duo’s upcoming film as producers is ‘Suswagatam Khushamadeed’ starring Pulkit Samrat and Isabelle Kaif. The movie intends to spread a message of love, friendship and compassion elements that glue a society together. The film will fulfill the much required love, support and humour in this dark times.</p> Tue Aug 10 15:43:56 IST 2021 indian-millennials-and-gen-z-more-optimistic-about-the-future <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Millennials, or the 18-35 cohort, became primary-age workers at the time of the great recession of the late 2000s. Often labelled as downbeat, disillusioned and lacking resilience, the so-called &quot;snowflake generation&quot; has hardly had it easy in the optics space.</p> <p>While the myth of millennial fragility has been countered in the age of #MeToo, generational debates are mostly broad-brush assumptions. A pandemic has refreshed anxieties around an economic cataclysm again and how it will impact different age groups. While most studies are likely to paint a foreboding picture of mounting debts and job insecurity in the aftermath of yet another global crisis, a new study by Deloitte offers some hope for long-suffering millennials.</p> <p>A new survey by Deloitte highlights how millennials and the Gen-Z have initiated positive actions towards communities and climate. The survey reveals how the life-altering consequences of the pandemic have made Indian millennials and Gen-Z view COVID-19 as the tipping point at which they are holding themselves and institutions accountable to bring about a more sustainable and equitable world. The 10th annual Millennial Survey solicited the views of 22,928 respondents from 45 countries from around the world. For the first time, Gen Zs (born between 1995 and 2003) were included in the fieldwork.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Deloitte’s Millennial and Gen Z Survey 2021 for India highlights how 91 per cent of millennials and 84 per cent of Gen Zers feel that the pandemic has inspired them to take positive action to improve their own life; 89 per cent of millennials and 82 per cent of Gen Zers have taken actions to try and have a positive impact on their community; nine in ten Indian millennials (90 per cent) and Gen Zs (87 per cent) feel optimistic that the changes seen during the pandemic can help reverse environmental damage. Over half of both groups are confident that people’s commitment to the environment will improve after the pandemic, a perception that far exceeds the global average.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Over the past year, our workplace has seen rapid transformation. Young people are resolved to improve the world and create a sense of togetherness. In these testing times, where every action matters, it is very important for companies to have a ‘purpose-driven’ strategy and create a positive impact,” said S.V. Nathan, Partner and Chief Talent Officer, Deloitte India.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the report, Indian millennials and Gen Zers are much more optimistic that the economic situation of their country will improve over the next 12 months, compared with their global peers. However, Gen Z felt less optimistic. &quot;Half of Indian millennials still expect the country’s socio-political situation to improve, though fewer Gen Z agree this year (38 per cent versus 47 per cent in 2020). Across the board, Indian millennials and Gen Zers are more confident the pandemic bringing about change for the better, especially the importance people place on their health and the ability to deal with future pandemics,&quot; states the survey.&nbsp;</p> Fri Jun 18 18:55:38 IST 2021 Alturaash-The-group-that-is-dedicated-to-art-and-culture <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><b>The group provides Indian artists with a global platform to showcase their talent</b></p> <p>Since ancient times, art and culture have played a very important role in human society. It is not just a prominent source of wonder, delight, and wisdom. Moreover, art and culture form an integral part of connecting traditions from different corners of the world. It brings intellectual and emotional experiences into our lives. Art and culture help to build social capital. It supports vibrant communities and helps in lifting new ones. It also helps in showcasing talent and flourish them. As per history, art and culture of various forms have played a main role in the evolution of our societies. It has a unique possibility to capture the change. Promoting art and culture in our society is essential for connecting communities and for bringing out hidden talent. Alturaash, a Dubai-based group founded in 2010 is such an organization that is working continuously in the field of promoting art and culture from India. The group was founded in 2010 by an Indian origin art connoisseur and entrepreneur Asif Kamal.</p> <p>Alturaash Art is a venture of Alturaash Group. It has its office in UAE and as well as in India. This art-house has predominantly been founded to promote Indian artists and culturalists on the international podium. The art-house not only promote established artists but also helps the new budding talents to flourish and grow. The glory of art and culture is showcased by the art-house for keeping tradition and culture alive. It carries a vision to help the artists of India and other countries of the Asian continent in getting recognized at a global level. The art house has helped many artists to reach their goals and get accredited globally. It is official dealership for world renowned artist, Arturo Di Modica the maker of world-famous sculpture “Charging Bull” in India and UAE.</p> <p>Alturaash Art is also the first organization in the world to follow the guidelines of the UNESCO Copyright Convention of 1952. The art-house has aided numbers of artists to preserve their work from getting copied through the help of this convention. Likewise, Alturaash Art also protects the artwork of the artists from getting polarized and in case it does, it helps the artists to get justice.</p> <p>It helps artists to get financially stable. In the year 2014, the art house launched its first Art Fund. This fund was launched to support and boost the Indian Art Market’s growth. This fund is utilized to provide financial aids to the artists for their Indian artwork. Through exhibitions, it helps the artist find a relevant marketplace for their artwork.</p> <p>The art house organizes exhibitions, auctions, art advisory, and art investment programs to get these artists recognized. It is an official dealership for artists from India and UAE. Alturaash Art further aims to build a transparent platform where the global audience to invest in the field of Art and Culture.</p> <p>Glorifying the different forms of art and culture and helping artists grow eventually from their work is the motive behind the foundation of Alturaash Art. With total dedication, it is working to connect communities from different parts of the world and bring their artwork to a global podium. Art and Culture is the most calamint treasure of human society. It must be protected from getting extinct and it is one such organization that is contributing to it.</p> Tue Aug 03 17:55:35 IST 2021 neetu-bisht-the-instagrammer-cum-social-worker-who-is-saving-tho <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Neetu Bisht is now a social media sensation and influencer who has established credibility in social media and has an access to huge audience and she persuade acts on basis of their recommendations. She has won million hearts and has made people cry, smile and laugh through her beautiful acts.</p> <p>JOURNEY-Neetu was born on 16th December 1997 in Uttarakhand to Pratap Singh Bisht and Mohini Bisht. Back then everything was going good but suddenly there was a spark in her life and her father passed away due to brain Hemorrhage. She was just 11 when her father passed away. She had herself seen and experienced the harshness and difficulty of living. She was then helpless and tried in different ways to take the responsibility of her family.She along with her elder sister started an event management company. Unfortunately that turned into an unsuccessful deal of buisness. But nothing could stop the spiritual and ambitious Neetu from fulfilling her dreams. She then started lip sync videos and kept on uploading them to few social media platforms. Soon her fight was becoming successful and her aim of changing her destiny was gradually taking shape. She started winning millions of her hearts by uploading romantic videos with her partner Lakhan Arjun Rawat. She has worked with many eminent personalities as well. Taking social media as a PROFESSION she has now also established herself to be an YouTuber as well.</p> <p>SERVING THE NATION-Neetu other than considering social media as an entairment platforms has used it by serving needy people during the pandemic. She helped people herself by organising beds,plasma, oxygen cylinders and other necessary commodities. She has successfully used social media in helping out people.</p> <p>NEETU AS A SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER-She is now going to work as a social worker. She being a prime example of a girl with no support will try to inspire girls with big dreams to fulfill them with their willingness to change destiny. People can join her on&nbsp;<a href=""></a><a href=""><u>Instagram</u></a>&nbsp;.</p> Thu Aug 12 18:14:38 IST 2021 indian-modernist-artworks-to-go-up-for-auction-as-nfts <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Before the world got to know about digital artist Beeple and his record-breaking NFT sale at a Christie's auction this year, there was CryptoPunks.</p> <p>Considered one of the oldest NFT projects, CryptoPunks was created in 2017 as a collection of 10,000 pixelated portraits of blocky characters—they mostly resemble cartoonish dorks in different hats and hairstyles. Some are more like apes and aliens. Initially, the Punks did not find many takers; they traded free on an Ethereum blockchain platform. But after a news media company wrote about the art project, the Punks found themselves suddenly popular and highly sought-after. Many of the CryptoPunks were automatically produced from a pixelated character generator. Today, the price of CryptoPunks, considered art collectibles, range anywhere from $30,000 to $10 million in cryptocurrency.</p> <p>Indrajit Chatterjee, director at Mumbai-based auction house Prinseps, was astonished to find a similar Punk-ish style aesthetic in a series of paintings by radical modernist Gobardhan Ash. He uses the analogy of avatars, cryptopunks and emojis to simplify this generational difference in Ash's watercolours depicting moody, distorted expressions and caricatures of CryptoPunks. "These paintings by Ash were done in the 1950s. They were simple representations of emotions, with details abstracted out. I was quite astounded to see this avatar-like work done back then.&nbsp; I am sure the art critics of the time must have said, 'What the hell is this, even my child can draw better!' I think they were missing the point. The point was not if the child can draw better, but it is a step forward in creative thinking," says Chatterjee who, given the rave around NFTs and&nbsp; cryptocurrencies, will "mint an exhibition" on the Ethereum blockchain on Prinsep's own platform. On July 15, an NFT auction of 35 digital prints from Ash's 'Avatar' series will be accompanied by a sale of the physical artworks from Ash's estate. "This whole series of 35 prints from the 1950s was missed out by art historians and it needs to get its right place. Therefore, we are recreating that or putting it out again so that people can see these artworks in their proper perspective," says Chatterjee.</p> <p>Prinseps is the first Indian auction house to jump into the NFT bandwagon, albeit with older artworks. In this no-reserve auction, the prices of the Tiff-format NFT files will have a starting bid from Rs 1,000. "The NFTs are not a fad. I think it is a legitimate way of identifying who the owner of an artwork is. And we are essentially digitising older artworks that we think have a role to play in all of this avatar/CryptoPunk/personality studies. So we are gonna make a statement that some of these things have already been done in the physical space many years ago," says Chatterjee, who compares NFTs to ledgers or "bai-khatas" in art galleries from earlier times—these ledgers kept a record of ownership, sale and purchase details of artworks.&nbsp;</p> <p>NFTs or non-fungible tokens have exploded in the art world. A unique digital asset (token) that can be minted, recorded, and traded on blockchain technology platforms, NFTs allow for easy identification of the owner of artworks, and a decentralisation of the knowledge around this ownership.&nbsp;</p> <p>In late July and early August, Prinseps will also host an auction of rare sarees from celebrated costume designer Bhanu Athaiya's estate. Athaiya won India's first Oscar as costume designer for her work on the 1983 film 'Gandhi'. She came from a family of temple priests in Kolhapur and inherited a vast and varied collection of traditional sarees from her mother and grandmother. Alongside this auction of physical heirlooms, Prinseps is going one step further by converting Athaiya's elegant fashion sketches from the 50s and 60s into NFTs—almost like a curatorial play of the traditional with modern.&nbsp;</p> <p>Explaining how her early sketches of dainty women in sarees fit the format of the digital asset, Chatterjee notes, "If you take an oil on canvas, thick in impasto and texturing, and try convert it into digital art, the texturing will not show well on a two-dimensional flat digital screen. So, not every artwork can be converted into a digital format. Gobardhan Ash's sketches are all watercolour-on-paper. And Athaiya's fashion sketches are again done on paper, so they are already in a two dimensional format."&nbsp;</p> Wed Jun 09 20:56:47 IST 2021 Know-how-Environmentalist-Aarna-Wadhawan-became-the-brand-ambassador-of-Hover-Robotix-at-a-young-age-of-12 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Witnessing the rising impacts of climate change with each passing year, more and more young individuals are coming forward to join hands in creating awareness on climate change and leading movements to bring a positive change. By leading the discussion around climate change, they are actively driving campaigns and spreading awareness among people to take action against the cause.</p> <p>Realising the same, a 12 year old little girl, Aarna Wadhawan has set an example amongst all by becoming the brand ambassador of an international brand Hover Robotix at such a young age.</p> <p>The age at which children are seen playing with toys and roaming around the world of entertainment, Aarna has become the brand ambassador of Hover Robotix only because of her talent and willingness to bring a change. Listing below some of the unknown facts and achievements bagged by this young talented individual so far.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A Talented young Brand Ambassador</b></p> <p>Aarna is a gifted student from the very beginning. But when she received the All Rounder Kid Award from the school in class V, her journey to success started. In this sequence, a company named HoverRobotix has appointed Aarna as its new brand ambassador on 12 February 2021. Hailing from Delhi, the versatile genius is a super kid who has proved that age doesn't matter if you are concerned about achieving something big in life. Only the desire to do something in the heart and the passion to achieve a big position can take a person to the heights. An active student of Gyan Bharati School in Delhi, Aarna has always been a top student of the class and is also very ahead in the field of studies.</p> <p><b>Helping the underprivileged since childhood</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p>It is common for children to have piggy banks. Sometimes a child deposits money in a piggy bank for his favourite toy car, a child puts money in a piggy bank to wear a wristwatch of his choice. But apart from all these children, Aarna is doing a lot of social work by providing food to poor children from her piggy bank and according to her all children should get equal rights. Also she has been constantly planting trees which release more oxygen to environment.&nbsp; .</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Her persistent efforts for tree plantation amidst pandemic</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p>During the Corona period, when all the children were sitting in their homes, Aarna realised that the oxygen level of the people was decreasing drastically making them prone to different heart and respiratory diseases. Realising the importance of tree plantation and in order to increase oxygen naturally, Aarna started planting plants around her house. Seeing her, other children also started helping in the plantation. To reduce pollution, Aarna has planted about 65 trees and plants in her own colony.. Due to this achievement, on Republic Day 26 January 2021, Padmashree Jadav Payeng ji, who is also known as Forest Man of India, appreciated the youngster to continue her drive and encouraged others to join her in her movement. She &nbsp;had planted one hundred and sixty five trees near Mehrauli road in Delhi. Today she planted &nbsp;thirty five new trees near Badarpur road in Delhi on Nature conservation day celebrated on July 28 2021.</p> <p><b>Awards and achievements so far</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p><a href="">Aarna</a> has been honoured with many big awards because of her vision and dedication. She bagged the Kind Student Award by PETA in the year 2021. Apart from this, Aarna has also received many awards in inter school competitions. She was also awarded the "Outstanding Student of the Year" award by Gyan Bharati School, New Delhi in the year 2019. For this, Maharaja Arvind Singh ji of Mewar and Maharaja Gaj Singh ji of Jodhpur also sent a letter of appreciation to her. Aarna has also received full encouragement from the UN, WHO and the British Council. In fact, this little girl is a source of inspiration for all of us, who has set an example in front of all of us by doing such great things at such a young age. Recently Aarna has received appreciation letter from member of Indian parliament Mr.Ramesh Bidhuri for planting trees and keeping the environment green.</p> Wed Jul 28 15:24:03 IST 2021 Carved-in-stone <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>I first met Raghunath Mohapatra ji in Bhubaneswar in 1981. I had then been commissioned to design The Oberoi Hotel in Bhubaneswar. To contextualise the interior architecture and the interiors, I was in search of a traditional master sculptor to work with me on the 7,000 sqft lobby. I made extensive inquiries and eventually “found” Mohapatra ji.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We started a dialogue and quickly built a rapport. I explained to him that within the contemporary architecture of this hotel, designed by the late architect Satish Grover, I wanted to use timeless elements of Odisha’s great stone craft traditions, but without any exact replicas. In Odisha, people would often ask sthapatis to predictably sculpt items like the Konark wheel. I wanted to use these craft skills, but not in a clichéd fashion. The layout of the lobby took the form of a mandir – from the mandap to the maha-mandap, to the antralaya and finally to the garbha-griha, the sanctum sanctorum.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I remember Mohapatra ji was very pleased with this architectural layout and was enthused to work along with me. From there began a 40-year relationship, which was both as a working colleague as well as that of being my guru-bhai.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After many deliberations and conceptual drawings exchanged between us, we were both finally on the same track. By this time, one had, of course, visited every single major heritage site in Odisha. This was in keeping with one's deeply researched way of designing. There was one sculpture which Mohapatra ji wanted to make for one part of the lobby. This, he said, would be carved out of white wood and be a depiction of Arjuna receiving the Bhagavad Gita from Lord Krishna, as they rode to battle in a chariot, in the Great War of the Mahabharata. I remember so well, Raghunath ji saying to me, “You trust me on this and I will make every part of it with my own hands”. What he produced was a sculpture of exquisite beauty! When The Oberoi was completed – with its double-height lobby, its katha coloured terrazzo flooring with its central medallion in white marble of a graphic plan of the ceiling of the Mukteshwar Temple, its buff-coloured sculptured columns and balustrades in Konarak stone, its low relief window outlines all sculpted by Mohapatra ji; together with the specially commissioned cluster of bronze hanging temple bells used as the central ceiling light, the ikat fabrics woven by master weavers and the collection of sepia pen and ink sectional drawings of some Odisha temples – made the Taj Magazine write about it as “the prettiest new hotel in India”. That's a rival group writing about The Oberois (laughs).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Since then, the Lobby has remained unchanged. Shortly after it was completed, a Japanese film-making group chanced upon this hotel and shot a film on it. Subsequently, Mohapatra ji was invited to Japan where he went on to sculpt a massive Buddha statue there. He spent his lifetime creating many stunning temples in India and the US. He always told his family and me that I was a sister of his from a previous lifetime. When I had met him he had already received the Padma Shri in 1975. He was conferred the Padma Vibhushan in 2013, the first sthapathi ever to be given this great civilian award. We went on to work together on many projects, including the Indian restaurant at The Oberoi Grand Hotel in Kolkata; the leitmotif of which was a series of columns carved in jade-like khiching stone, all made by Mohapatra ji.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Even in the courtyard of our own home in Delhi in Golf Links, he carved a stunning statue of Surya which is an exact replica of the Surya in Konark Temple. He also sculpted a small mandir in Konark sandstone which is a scaled down replica of the mandir in the centre of the tank of the great Lingaraja Temple. For the entrance to the Prime Minister’s Office in South Block in New Delhi, I commissioned Mohapatra ji in 1985 to make a pair of superb and handsome 6-feet high diyas. I commissioned many beautiful sculptures for several private clients, including magnificent Anantshayi Vishnus in Odisha's black granite. I remember he once made an eight-foot Krishna statue for another client; it was a monolithic sculpture which took him six to eight months to complete. As part of the iconography of this sculpture, he had carved chains, but these were separate to the body and each link of the chain was moveable.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He had supreme virtuosity, and was superbly gifted. Of course, he was descended from a long line of sthapatis. His forefathers had worked on the temples of Puri and Konark. Mohapatra ji could work on many scales simultaneously. As he was a traditional architect, he could design and make massive temples and at the same time carve exquisite small figurines.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2008 I had commissioned him to make 24 small panels in deep bas relief, each panel depicting a significant episode in the life of the Buddha. This five-foot by five-foot sculpture was placed by my architect daughter, Kohelika, in a very contemporary house that she had designed in Jorbagh in New Delhi.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When Mohapatra ji was conferred the Padma Vibhushan there was a lot of media interest. He was asked, “What will you do now?”. He had replied that he would build a second Konark! He had even bought the land for it. He told me, &quot;I don’t want to depend on the government and all. God has been very kind to me”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mohapatra ji was a deeply spiritual man. From that font sprang the greatness of his art. His knowledge of the scriptures and of Indian mythology was encyclopaedic. Mohapatra ji introduced me to his guru who is now over a 100 years old. He lives in Cuttack and we call him babaji. Mohapatra has been devoted to him and his welfare. He once told me the story of how, when he was a young boy of 12, he left home and went to the Himalayas in search of a guru. He roamed there for some 10 to 12 years. He said, “Little did I realise that the guru I was searching for was in my own state, in Odisha.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Every time Mohapatra called me, he would never say pranam or a similar salutation. He would greet me with an entire prayer and a blessing. He had introduced me to Babaji twenty years ago, at a time when our eldest daughter was going through a very traumatic period. He had said to me, “My Guruji will help you.” Meeting Babaji has been one of the most life affirming events of my life. Babaji is a guru for the poor. Everyday he wakes up at 4am to cook food for 150 people from whom he does not take a single paisa. The last time I spoke to Mohapatra, which was about a month ago, was actually to inquire about Babaji’s health. Mohapatra ji always checked-up on my family as he knew that my husband was seriously unwell. He always said, “if my sister is dukhi then how can her brother be happy?” He also inquired about Kohelika of whom he was very proud. He always said that she and his sons would carry on the legacy of their parents.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mohapatra ji’s one regret was that he was not formally educated. He was not conversant in English. But, he made sure that his children got the best education. It is such a tragedy that both his sons, Prashant and Jashobanta, also died due to COVID-19, a few days before his own death. Earlier, he had lost another son to a fatal cardiac arrest on a train. I have known his sons since they were little boys-known them for years and years because they too worked with their father. In the ‘90s, Mohapatra was so thrilled because our dog had produced a litter, from which I had presented him with two pups for his children. From time to time he would show me photographs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mohapatra ji is, perhaps the greatest of the sthapathis, “a national treasure” that we have lost. He was a brilliant traditional architect and master craftsman. Yes, he had constructed huge temples. Yes, he had carved huge Buddhas. And yes, he had carved thousands of statues, both large and small. But, what will remain is that he taught his craft to others.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When I first met him, he only had two sthapathis working for him. Over these 40 years that I have known him, he has trained over 2,000 sthapathis. That will be his greatest legacy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>As told to Sneha Bhura</b></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon May 31 19:00:49 IST 2021 amourprints--from-a-shy-clown-to-wealthy-business-owner <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Not everyone can say that they found their purpose and follow a plan to get there. It is neither easy nor quick, but the results are worth the work. <a href="">AmourPrints</a> was a labor of love for Kirstie Rickert for a while, but she didn’t stop and created something huge. By leaning into the discomfort, she grew into the person that she needed to be for her purpose and path.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kirstie found herself wanting something different than her family’s future for her. “I wanted to start my own business, and I didn’t have the thought that I would fail, I just felt that this was my calling. I started AmourPrints in 2013 on Etsy and dropped out of school because it wasn’t for me. It caused some family to become very concerned,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Everything I’ve gone through, I think that played a big part in my resilience and the determination I had when we were trying to get AmourPrints off the ground. It all started with my very first job that I had that helped me grow into someone that trusts herself and the process. Making balloon animals helped me realize that I needed to believe in myself,” she laughed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At seventeen, Kirstie found herself trying to survive her first day as a balloon artist at a restaurant. That day was the catalyst for her to start believing in herself. “My boss was not happy that I wasn’t being outgoing or social and threatened to fire me if I didn’t start acting the part. I did not want to lose my job or quit, so I had to find a way to get through the day. I started believing that I could do it and it was a huge breakthrough, because I had never done that before and it just <i>worked</i>,” Kirstie explained. “After that, I was making decisions, and my confidence improved and I felt like I could do anything, it was a necessary lesson to learn.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kirstie made a bold move when she dropped out of college to run her Etsy shop full time. After getting it set up and established in 2013, she made the leap, panicking a few friends and family members in the process. “From the very first sale, I was so excited to just be doing what I loved,” she said smiling. Her and her fiance worked together to build her business even after an Etsy error took down her shop. They got their shop back up and running shortly after.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After Kirstie got engaged, she and her fiance worked together to automate the processes of her business. Both left college to run <a href="">AmourPrints</a>. She worked on the design and marketing and her fiance printed and shipped the orders.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite the hard work and the sales, Kirstie and her fiance were still battling the opinions and comments from relatives about their business endeavours. “Our families would often express their concern for our decision to not go to college. They feared we were making a terrible decision and suggested many other occupations which we refused to do,” she explained. Shortly after the two got married, they had a sign of good faith when their business had its first big month and they could miraculously live on their own. During the time they moved out, they put even more into their business. By the next year, they were able to buy their first home and Kirstie and her husband had their daughter who is now 4 years old.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Shortly after AmourPrints biggest successful year they had their Etsy shop accidentally taken down again. After so many failed attempts at trying to get their shop back up, they decided to just move over to Shopify. “Shopify was not easy like Etsy and you had to do everything from the ground up. Etsy did the work for you while Shopify was your template. I had to learn Web design dev, seo, hiring employees, ads, and much more,” Kirstie explained. “Our first year we were able to make $50K. My husband focused on the designs and production while I did everything from A-Z. Our second year we did $100K.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2019, AmourPrints took a hit financially and then in 2020 when everyone went into lockdown, Kirstie didn’t know if their business would survive. She began searching for ways to get their product out there for more visibility and effective strategies. “I upgraded to shopify plus and took a risk and invested all of our money. Last year, in 2020, we somehow miraculously made $3.6 million dollars and this year we are on track to do $6 million,” Kirstie says, beaming. “I have worked so hard and I give God the credit for helping me through this. Our families now are very proud of us and understand why we didn’t give up now.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In three and a half years, Kirstie took AmourPrints from $0-$4 million. “As a Christian, we are currently led to donate a percentage of our business to help those in need. We are currently giving to World-Vision to fight homelessness all over the world. With each sale, a portion is donated to a good cause.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Knowing what you want and going after it is a big step into following your purpose and dreams. There is more to life than a traditional path for those that want something different. “I love that I’ve had the opportunity to do this and fulfill what I wanted,” Kirstie says. “This is an amazing journey for us.”</p> Thu Aug 05 10:50:26 IST 2021 Social-Worker-Ladulal-Pitliya-i-will-keep-helping-others-as-long-as-i-am-alive <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Ladulal Pitliya has dedicated his life to improving society. He believes that social activism is an excellent method to make a difference but must be supplemented by actual connection with those with whom we disagree; otherwise, no progress will be made. Social activism has always played an essential role in society and has been successful in bringing about positive changes. Individuals that care about society, such as him, will always exist, no matter what century we are in.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During the pandemic, Ladulal Pitliya is working around the clock. Pitliya and his team teach people about the virus and the importance of social isolation while also handing out masks and hand sanitisers. Pitliya hails from a middle-class family in Rajasthan. His parents instilled in him the importance of helping others in whatever way possible. Pitliya has been doing it for a long time. He is acutely aware of what is going on in the state from a political and social standpoint.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ladulal Pitliya is a social activist who helps the underprivileged by providing food and clothing, as well as providing educational and medical rights to those who cannot afford them. He is dedicated to saving the environment, and he constantly promotes awareness about the importance of cleanliness, tree planting, and natural resource conservation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"I'm blessed with enough, and the least I could do is help others and bring joy. It is important that no one goes to bed hungry if we are to achieve an equitable society for all. These people's smiles mean the most to me, and they reassure me that I'm doing something right. I'll keep helping others as long as I'm alive. I hope that today's youth understands this and acts to help some important issues," Ladulal Pitliya says about working selflessly for the benefit of others and hoping to inspire today's youth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Aug 02 18:06:43 IST 2021 Better-select-career-by-date-of-birth-Dr-Vinay-Bajrangi <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>We learnt a famous personality started as an EMPLOYEE in a particular field, changed many fields and finally the person settled as a BUSINESSMAN. This person started the career as an employee in the Medicine line, goes to join Army, works as a window dresser at a fashion outlet, becomes a seller of menswear, becomes a designer, becomes a freelancer, marries an architectural background spouse, starts a small office of own, works for other business houses, creates own brand and finally conquers the World in Fashion Industry. Why will it happen that a person will shine more as a businessman than when in a job and vice-versa too? There must be some fundamental reasons for this. So, we spoke to Dr.Vinay Bajrangi – one of the best astrologers in India, who said selecting a Career by date of birth, plays a very significant role apart from a person’s own skills, interests, and resources.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What are the main factors for success in career?</b></p> <p>DVB – The best career for you is pre-destined to a larger extent. When you are born, a lot of things are embedded in your birth chart. Your purpose of life is clearly deciphered in your birth chart, but how do you achieve it is in your own hands. In my opinion, there are two main steps people should consider in career selection by date of birth: ·&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Which is the best stream to go for? &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; How to achieve this career: as an employee or an employer?&nbsp;</p> <p>And let me tell you, your birth chart plays an important role in both these career decisions. Both these decisions get refined when you select a career by date of birth.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Select right education stream by date of birth</b></p> <p>Everyone has some natural skills and interests but do you know why different individuals have these traits different? These all come from your past life, which inculcates particular interests and skills in each person in different traits. Each planet supports a specific career, and position of planets in your different houses decides the best career for you. Accordingly, each Zodiac sign supports some particular career.&nbsp;</p> <p>You would have seen many talks about Career selection by Zodiac signs.&nbsp;<b>But these are all based on when you are born.</b>&nbsp;There can be many subsequent developments that may or may not allow you to pursue a career as per Zodiac signs like economic conditions, family factors, physical abilities, and other surrounding circumstances. Career as per Zodiac sign, can be one of the factor in making a career decision but not the only criterion to choose the best career.&nbsp;</p> <p>Most of such aspects take a decisive turn by the time; the native reaches a certain age. In my opinion, the first step towards Career selection is when you reach the age of say about 12 Years of age. Match your skills, natural interest, and your physical and financial ability to choose a career with what your horoscope supports and&nbsp;select education stream by date of birth. To many, selecting the right education stream becomes a complex decision. Parent’s inclination, your own surrounding, seeing others’ success in a particular stream can deter your decision to select the best education stream by your date of birth. Halt for a while here, do not protest or annoy anyone but deliberate properly and match all these factors what your horoscope indicates as the best career for your by date of birth? If you select the right education stream in line with the best career for you, the next step is to see how you would achieve success in that field: as an employee or employer?&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How to decide between job or business from date of birth?</b></p> <p>If you decide on the right education stream by date of birth, you probably have won half of the marathon of your success in a particular career. The next step to decide is: how should pursue this career: as an employee or an employer? That is where you have to choose between job and business by your date of birth with proper evaluation. Once you make proper decisions at these two stages of career selection, you have put your career boat in the right direction. But the decision to do a job or business is not a simple one. It needs to examine your overall capabilities, skills, and interest as a person, which is seen from your Ascendant, the D-1 chart. This further needs to be vetted through many finer charts responsible for career building according to your birth chart. We need to examine:</p> <p>1.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Foremost, the 10th house and its Lord, which is the prime indicator to determine the basic profession of the person.&nbsp;</p> <p>2.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 3rd house and its Lord to evaluate courage, initiative, risk, and speculative capabilities of the person. An employer needs a much stronger 3rd house than an employee.&nbsp;</p> <p>3.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 5th house and its Lord to evaluate knowledge and intuitive powers of the person.&nbsp;</p> <p>4.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 7th house and its Lord to assess whether the person will be successful as an individual or in a business partnership with others.&nbsp;</p> <p>5.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 9th house and its Lord to understand money flow, the dignity and favours from Govt. that a person will enjoy. Don’t forget a weak 9th house can bring a lot of troubles to a person in business.&nbsp;</p> <p>6.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 11th house with its Lord to assess luck, fortune, and the gains a person will have in life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>All these finer charts play a significant role in selecting a career by date of birth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The turning point in your career</b></p> <p>Many gain immense success in a job, decide to quit the job, and switch to business. Many times saturation level or no growth in a job also prompts many to start their own businesses. Apart from considering above factors to decide between a job and business, Dasha and Gochar also play a significant role in making your decision success or failure. As the opening line of this article say, this particular person working for someone gave him a little success, but once he ventured into his own business in the same line, business success was phenomenal and is still pouring in. A highly prominent Doctor working in a hospital opens his own hospital and gains immaculate success as a businessman.</p> <p>But let me tell you, all may not get similar type of success switching from a job to business because your above-mentioned charts have different success stories when you are an employee and employer. If this was not so, probably all successful Doctors would have opened their clinics or hospitals. Many extremely successful employees have not ventured into the business in the same line because some good soul would have advised them to continue in the job than getting into own business.&nbsp;<a href="">Use your date of birth to decide between job and business.</a></p> <p>Another point very few know is that married life also plays a very significant role in your career. Marriage generally takes place when the person is in the middle of a career ocean, and a good spouse can really make or break your career fortune. The above person saw phenomenal growth after the marriage. Another very prominent person has taken a big jolt in his Career earnings due to a strained relationship and finally separation. I am witness to many stories where people came to me with career issues, and I advised them to improve their married life. It is because your 7th house has a direct influence on your 10th house. I have been an astrologer to many high-end professionals, and I have proved to them that having a good spouse and maintaining a good married life changed their life.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How to predict career by date of birth</b></p> <p>A birth chart lets you know the purpose of your birth, but how to achieve it lies with you. That is where the role of the birth chart in your career becomes a guiding tool. So better select the right education stream at the right stage, decide what is better for you job or business by date of birth? Not that you let your birth chart lead your actions but when you know your skills, interest, and resources, just get them vetted through your birth chart.&nbsp;</p> <p>To <a href="">select a career by date of birth</a> does not mean that you do what the astrologer says but when you make best of your efforts, use best of skills and resources, spending a few minutes to select career by date of birth, makes a sense. This is more important as once you start a career; sometimes changing it becomes irreversible so why take a chance. &nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This was Dr Vinay Bajrangi, one of the best astrologers in India, who has written many similar insights on Vedic Astrology. You can connect with him through his website or office nos +91 9278665588/9278555588/</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Aug 03 18:11:04 IST 2021 artist-recreates-friends-poster-2021-rubiks-cubes <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>For many people even today, the hit sitcom <i>Friends</i> has been something they turn to when they need an instant mood-lifter. With the reunion special premiering on Thursday, fans across the world are finding their own ways to add a special touch to the highly anticipated episode.</p> <p>Hariprasad, a 30-year-old Rubik’s cube solver and an ardent fan of the sitcom, has recreated the <i>Friends</i> poster using 2021 Rubik’s cubes. The massive mosaic art features the six members of the cast-- Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer.</p> <p>Hariprasad was introduced to the sitcom by a friend, whom he thanks. “I have been a <i>Friends</i> fan for a long time. Even now, if it is a hard day, if I watch a random episode, I feel relaxed,” he says. And so, he had planned on creating this Rubik’s cube art right when HBO Max announced the premiere date of the reunion special. It took him about two weeks to complete the piece.</p> <p>The Kerala-based Rubik’s cube enthusiast had created India’s first three-dimensional mosaic portrait last year. His installation of Mahatma Gandhi was created using 547 Rubik’s cubes. He, along with five other artists, also created Asia’s largest 3D cube portrait in February this year. The team created a portrait of APJ Abdul Kalam using 2,611 cubes in Bengaluru.</p> <p>With the <i>Friends</i> poster, it is the first time he has recreated multiple faces together for a single artwork.</p> <p>To create the artwork, he gets a portrait of the person, and enlarges it on his iPad so that the image can be broken into pixels. It is this pixelated image that then forms the base of his portraits. As far as colours go, he then converts the colours of the pixels to that of the Rubik’s cubes so that he can easily recreate the image. Of the six standard colours of the cube—red, green, blue, yellow, white and orange—Hariprasad says green is the colour he rarely gets to use. Since childhood, he has been interested in drawing and painting, and so he finds his way around arranging the cube’s colours that bring out the details in his portraits.</p> <p>Before he forayed into the artistic side of Rubik’s cubes, he has been long involved in solving the cube and introducing more people into this hobby that is a great way to stay off screens and improve focus. Especially during the lockdown last year, and now again amid the second wave of COVID-19, Hariprasad (under the brand name Hariology) has been offering online Rubik’s cube solving classes for children. His youngest student is three years old, and his oldest student currently is his grandmother, aged 92. &nbsp;He has also hosted cubing championships in the state. &nbsp;</p> <p>He had also created mosaic portraits of actors Suriya and Aparna Balamurali after the release of their film <i>Soorarai Pottru</i>. In one of his YouTube tutorial videos on the cube, Aparna features along with him, learning to solve it from scratch.</p> <p>“I would like more kids and adults to discover the fun and benefits of solving the Rubik’s cube,” says Hariprasad, who is also a member of the World Cubing Association, the official body that conducts cubing competitions across the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed May 26 19:08:03 IST 2021 Pranay-v-Patil-First-Indian-to-be-invited-as-a-member-to-the-100-year-old-book-club-Ex-Libris-Arcana <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><b><i>His book 'Burgundy Winters in Europe' has made it to the top of their list, which makes his credibility as an author shine on a global platform.</i></b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ELA (Ex Libris Arcana) is an exclusive book club founded in 1921 by the women of New York City’s founding families at the Smiths' residence in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards. The club strongly believes in the offline culture of reading books as against the internet culture where all the readings are available on a virtual platform. Physical form of reading is termed as 'street culture' by the vice president of the club Wayne Kennedy. The elite club brings out its list of selected books every year, which they shortlist from a vast list of writings by esteemed authors whose work has been known for its quality and impressive content. This year's addition has one name from India who has made the country proud by shining on a global platform, he is Pranay V. Patil, whose book 'Burgundy Winters in Europe' has been selected in the must-read list for next year, which is quite impressive by all standards.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It's interesting to know that Pranay Patil is also the board president at Manhattan’s Honest Foundation in Hudson Yards, which automatically qualifies him to an ELA membership. For many who are unaware, Mr. Patil spent his educative years in an all-boys Doon school and completed his mechanical engineering from Germany. He has spent the past decade living amidst the most unfavourable environments of rural India, understanding their way of living and enriching them with the right knowledge. Owing to his experience living amongst the underprivileged and high society has given him an in-depth perspective of life deeply. He has seen the best of both worlds, which has given him the privilege to dwell deep into each subject and bring out the best through his writings. His debut novel has already created enough buzz and is expected to breach the pre-release order targets. Such has been the impact of his work that various manuscript review requests have been pouring in, according to Kennedy, which has never been seen in any other authors' case earlier.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pranay has been traveling extensively around Europe during his early days at the university in Germany, which enriched his knowledge about the history of the region complete with its legends who walked the soil which reflect a lot in his novel's characters. The romantic genre that he has penned is set in the early 2000s in Europe. You can feel every character depicted in the novel, especially those of Jace and Yasmine. It's a one of its kind fictional writing which will enthrall readers till no end. Get your hands on this masterpiece before it vanishes off the shelves coming December.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Aug 06 14:37:02 IST 2021 Why-music-artists-are-choosing-vinyl-records-for-their-albums <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>You might be wondering why <b>custom vinyl records </b>have been around for a time now. It was supposed to be just a fad, a sort of nostalgia that would fade away. But lo and behold, vinyl is still rockin’ with a vengeance, as if to assert its place. OGs never die, that’s for sure.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We know that the format is a bit costly for most independent artists but many independent acts release vinyl records nowadays.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>How is this possible?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You see, even if vinyl pressing is quite costly, there’s a great demand for it because it’s easier to sell online and <a href="">how manufacturers do custom vinyl pressing</a> today makes everything more affordable and accessible to many indie acts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But the more important question is WHY.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>WHY ARE MUSIC ARTISTS RELEASING ALBUMS IN VINYL RECORDS?</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p>The simple answer would be the increased interest people have towards the format.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you haven’t been informed yet, <b>custom vinyl records </b>have been gaining more and more audience since around 2010, and just last year it made more sales than CDs in the US!</p> <p>The sales accounted for $619.6 million last year, increasing by 29.2% as compared to last 2019’s $479.5 million. What’s more is that vinyl records are not only resurfacing in the US, but all over the world as well, with different genres bringing it back to the game. The format sold nearly 12 million copies all around the world and has since continued for 2021’s first half of the year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The statistics above proves the growing audience the format has for the past years.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Why is this a reason for music artists’ choice?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Well, these artists take advantage of the situation to promote themselves, gain new fans or listeners, and, of course, make some extra money. <b>Custom vinyl records</b> are cool merch items too and people want to bring something valuable after a concert.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>BUT WHAT CAUSED THIS INCREASE IN PEOPLE’S INTEREST?</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Without the people’s interest for <b>custom vinyl records</b>, I’m sure the format would not have thrived after it was replaced by CDs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thank goodness that, though it wavered, it never really faded. And we got the pandemic to be thankful too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thanks to the pandemic, bored people quarantined in their houses developed an interest for the format. There are many things that caused this increased interest, but let me enumerate five of them for you.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>LISTENING TO VINYL IS EXPERIENTIAL</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>First one is its tangibility which gives off a novel vibe in this digital dominated generation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With all the online streaming sites, digital downloads, and even CDs, all give less tactile connection when compared to vinyl records.</p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p>You very well know how these records need to be flipped just to play the whole album, right? Unlike the other mentioned formats, listening to music on <b>custom vinyl records</b> is not effortless. It’s like a ritual. You have to take the vinyl out from its sleeve, put it on the player, and not leave the room in case you won’t hear the music.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>WARM SOUND</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Second thing would be the <b>high quality sound</b> it offers for its audience. Vinyl records are known for being top tier when it comes to sound quality and there is no exaggeration in that.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Unlike the digital ones that are compressed and just snippets of the analog soundwave, vinyl records are the analog sound waves themselves, leaving no musical data behind.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It also has this crack and pop sound that makes listening to vinyl more romantic.</p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p><b>IT’S COLLECTIBLE</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Fans love collecting things from their favorite celebrities, especially ones that are limited editions or ones with many editions. They have real fun collecting these, actually it's not just with vinyl records, it's also true for other merchandise released by their beloved celebs. But of course, you would need to make them look worth collecting too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You can show off your vinyl when people visit your home and store them well so you can sell them in 10-20 or 100 years. The records you have now will be precious relics, a great storage for good music.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>NUMEROUS OPTIONS FOR CUSTOMIZATION</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p>This is what makes your vinyl records worth collecting, visual-wise. In the earlier era of the format, black vinyl records were the most common and only a handful of differently colored vinyl records were available. However, as time passed by, vinyl record manufacturers have offered many more options for vinyl pressings and vinyl packaging.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Vinyl records are also known now as <b>custom vinyl records</b> for they no longer look generic, instead they look more personalized, like having its own identity. There are many elements of the vinyl album that they can customize. The jacket, the inner sleeves, and the vinyl records themselves.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Jackets can be just a single jacket, which only houses one record, or a four-pocket jacket, which can house at least four records. Inner sleeves can also be printed or just plain colored. But the most exciting part here is the vinyl record customization.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the most used in the release of most artists on vinyl albums are those colored <b>custom vinyl records</b> that may be mono colored or multicolored. And that’s not the end of it, these multicolored custom vinyl records can have different designs depending on what the artists choose to have, some are: splatter, checkered, ombre, color within a color, etc.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Vinyl records are also available not just in circles, they are also available in geometric and non-geometric shapes. Moreover, there are vinyl records that glow in the dark and even ones that bear artworks and photographs.</p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p><b>SHORT RUN VINYL PRESSINGS ARE NOW AVAILABLE</b></p> <p>As much as artists love all the reasons enumerated above, it would all just be a plan if there was no way they could afford the <b>custom vinyl pressing</b>. Due to this reason, artists have been able to choose to release their albums on vinyl records. These <b>small run vinyl pressing</b>s offered by pressing plants have greatly helped artists, most especially indie artists, in realizing their dream of releasing in the format.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This offer allows indie artists to have vinyl pressings with lesser units ordered, let say 100 copies. Some pressing plants even offer as low as just one unit for their <b>small run vinyl pressing</b>. This is very helpful because the more units artists buy the bigger the expense, but if they order in smaller units, they will cut costs. In addition, they won’t have to worry about not selling the excess copies. Since they have a smaller number of copies they will be assured that they will sell most, if not all, of it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>CONCLUSION:</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Musicians have been releasing their albums on vinyl records because it’s gaining popularity and more and more people are buying them. They’re also tangible, collectible, customizable, and its available on-demand offer.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Of course there are 1000 reasons but the bottomline is this: vinyl is cool and it’s not too risky to make anymore.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Jul 10 17:25:42 IST 2021 Podcast-D-and-K-in-the-Lab-Comes-Highly-Recommended <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>If we need a bit of a pick-me-up, sometimes we just need some good encouragement and a new perspective. Life is full of struggles and personal battles; getting to connect with others that have been through it and made it out the other side can be cathartic. Mix in some encouragement, inspiration, and humor and you get a fun, conversational podcast called <a href="">D&amp;K in the Lab</a>.</p> <p>Co-hosts Dex G and Kurt Lee are the brains behind the podcast and have some fun stories to tell. “The premise of the show was to talk about Division 1 basketball stats and players and Dex’s experience playing basketball in college,” Kurt explains. “There was a certain mindset I had to get into and personal stuff that I had to overcome first,” <a href="">Dex</a> added.</p> <p>But D&amp;K in the Lab isn’t just about sports, there is a lot of fun conversations, witty banter, and content to connect with more than just sports fans. “This is really for everyone, whether or not you like basketball, you can really get a lot out of it still,” Dex says. If you are facing negativity and self-doubt, there is a lot of motivation to change the outcome of your situation by shifting your beliefs to overcome rather than to let your struggle walk all over you.</p> <p>Built on personal experience, Dex is no stranger to fighting for what he wants. “I always wanted to play basketball,” he says. “But, I didn’t have the support of my friends and family. No one expected for me to get very far with it.” He proved them wrong when he started playing at Suffern High School in New York.</p> <p>Dex went on to graduate from Marist College and then continued his education at Montclair State. “I joined their basketball club and helped them go undefeated at 7-0 during that first semester,” he remembers. “What made this so awesome was that MSU competed in the NCBBA. This gave me so much confidence that I kept playing even while I was taking classes at different schools to become a medical records professional.”</p> <p>Dex feels he really reached a higher level when he became a member of the team at SUNY Ulster Community College, a division 2 NJCAA. “I felt proud to be one of the four players who made it to the next level. I actually committed to playing at County College of Morris after Montclair, but after a month and a half on the team, I transferred to SUNY Ulster and walked on the team later on in the season. I also played semi-pro for the East Carolina Cardinals.”</p> <p>It wasn’t until the pandemic, however, that Dex decided to take his love for basketball in a new direction by starting his podcast with Kurt. “It was actually his idea,” Dex says. “We were like a lot of people: frustrated that we couldn’t play basketball. Kurt&nbsp; suggested that I talk about my life and other players’ to try to inspire the next generation of players and anyone else who faces a tough road to achieving their dreams.” Kurt, while not a player, is an avid watcher of the game and knows the stats of every player, so he was the perfect partner for Dex.</p> <p>“To understand our podcast, you have to get how difficult it is for high school players to make it onto a Division 1 team in college,” Dex says. “It’s not easy to do. At that level, it’s all about winning – losing isn’t acceptable. Yet, so many high schoolers are aiming for that dream. That’s one reason they’ll like this podcast, as will anyone interested in inspirational stories. I interviewed Division 1 players like Ahmad Clark, who plays for Albany University, and Chris Galbreath, who plays for Sam Houston State. They get real about how hard you must work to make it to that level, how you have to eat, and how brutal the training really is.” That’s one of the messages Dex would like to get across to high school players: the importance of changing their mentalities so that they can play at the Division 1 level.</p> <p>“We really want to do more with the podcast. We are having a lot of fun and we have a great audience,” Kurt says. D&amp;K in the Lab is a good place to start when you are looking for something new to listen to. Put in on in the background or on a long car ride and let the message entertain and lend a shift to your perspective.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Jul 27 22:21:55 IST 2021 gaza-children-struggle-tokeep-hope-alive <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>With warplanes overhead, the ground began to shake as if there is an earthquake. Moments later, Adam, a nine-year-old Palestinian boy in Gaza, heard the loud boom of yet another airstrike.</p> <p>Some more homes would now go up in flames, leaving plumes of smoke and dust from their burning embers. One of these houses belonged to Adam’s grandmother. The young boy witnessed this horror day after day in May 2021. Once there were over 100 airstrikes in 40 minutes.</p> <p>One day, Adam asked his mother, an aid worker: “Mom, are we going to die?” In Gaza’s bombed ‘war’ zones, children are bearing the brunt. There is no suffering and trauma left in hell. It is all in the young minds of Gaza’s innocent children. No words can capture their true suffering.</p> <p><b>Children, the ‘epicentre’</b></p> <p>Israeli airstrikes on Gaza have killed 192 Palestinians, including 58 children and 34 women. Over the same period, 10 people, including two children were killed in rocket attacks on Israel. In the airstrikes on Gaza, children are the ‘epicentre’- it is time to change this story. No child should be part of war. Ever.</p> <p>A 14-year young child in Gaza will have already lived through four armed conflicts- witnessing death and as a living testimony of suffering and injustice. Generals and politicians may start a ‘war’. It is innocent children who ‘fight’ it in its true sense.</p> <p>Amidst the conflict, Adam and his friends cannot go to school. Going by the latest count, 40 schools and four hospitals were damaged or destroyed in Gaza. Junk debris and fragmented concrete pieces are all that is left where once stood schools and homes till a few days ago.</p> <p><b>Every minute counts</b></p> <p>Nobody can sleep in this manmade hell. Adam’s mother, my colleague from War Child told me over the telephone from Gaza that when warplanes are not flying, they are worried about the next raid. The fear keeps them awake.</p> <p>Heba’s son sometimes dozes off at around 3 am in the morning, always fully dressed. “When the airstrikes start, it happens with almost no warning and we need to run,” Heba told me.</p> <p>“When you have to run and evacuate from homes to save your own lives from airstrikes, the last thing you have on your side is time”— and you do not want to waste even a minute looking for decent clothes to put on. “Every minute makes a difference of life and death”.</p> <p>“I have kept a bag ready between my bed and the door. It has our identity cards, passports, some valuable possessions, and all the cash we have”.</p> <p>This is not a drill or a simulation training.</p> <p><b>Impact on young minds</b></p> <p>Heba has spent ten years, most of her professional life, working as a psychosocial worker in Gaza. She was an undergraduate student of psychology in Jordan when the airstrikes hit Gaza in 2009. “I was very worried then and tried to stay in touch with my family members through phone,” she recalled.</p> <p>Back in Gaza after her studies, she witnessed first-hand the airstrikes in 2012, 2014, and now. There are a few hundred children waiting for Heba’s help, their lifeline.</p> <p>“I see a sense of hopelessness amongst children now”, Heba said. “I ask adolescents about their dreams for their future”. It is a standard question in psychological first aid to stimulate hope and confidence amongst children who survive wars and conflicts. “They say they are not sure about the future and so they don’t have any dreams or goals nor are making plans for the future”.</p> <p>Some children talk mostly about today and the past and less about the future. Children talking about their lives only in past and present tense – it should send alarm bells ringing. A silent warning from children in war zones that the world ignores. Still, sometimes Heba’s son asks for her reassurance that everything will be all right. One day, the fighting will stop, and they will finally have their own place to be and live in peace, he would also share this bit to the collective hope of Palestinian children.</p> <p><b>A flashback</b></p> <p>When I was coordinating relief work in Gaza in 2009, I met a group of children at the compound of what used to be their primary school. They were picking up their project reports and books from the rubble of concrete and twisted steel. It is their sense of hope that Adam is sharing.</p> <p>As Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish wrote: “There is so much in this land worth living for”.</p> <p>It is time to stop the war on children.</p> <p><b><i>The author is Humanitarian Director, War Child. In collaboration with local partners, War Child has been delivering vital humanitarian services in Gaza and West Bank since 2006- protecting children from harm and support their psychosocial wellbeing.</i></b></p> Wed May 19 13:55:04 IST 2021 My-aim-is-to-redefine-the-education-system-by-creating-a-new-generation-of-digital-leaders-with-You-Can-Coac- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Siddharth Rajsekar, one of India’s leading digital coaches has just launched his book, You Can Coach that aims to redefine the education system by inspiring a new breed of teachers, coaches and mentors. He wants to help experts find their niche and become successful digital coaches.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What motivated you to write this book?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This book is actually rooted in the words of my grandfather. When I was 8 years old, I asked him why I should go to school. To which, he responded “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education”. This line originally by Mark Twain resonated with me most when I flunked the 12th grade. I believe I fared poorly because of the attitude of my teacher who instead of making learning fun, made it a scary and daunting experience for all of us.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After the 12th, I was lucky enough to have found the right teachers and mentors who helped me find myself. I have found myself in two extremely difficult situations in my life and both times, it was having the right mentors and my investment in the education I chose for myself that saved me and helped me transform my life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Unfortunately, most people are trapped in the existing education system that is extremely outdated and prepares us only to become “employable” in our adult lives. The world has changed so drastically and my goal is&nbsp;to inspire people to become a digital coach - a mentor who is an implementer and who can provide real-world solutions to your students, regardless of age, time, place, or circumstances. It is by levelling the playing field using technology and giving an equal opportunity for anyone to learn and grow.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How will digital coaching change the education system in your opinion?</b></p> <p>Digital coaching can help build a new breed of teachers, coaches and mentors who are implementers.&nbsp;&nbsp;My vision is to make digital coaching a win-win for everyone involved - the coach who gets a chance to share his knowledge and earn six figures a month from the comfort of his or her home, the students who can choose what and whom they want to learn from and the overall education system that will create more dynamic and empowered leaders.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Is digital coaching a lucrative profession?</b></p> <p>Having personally achieved six figures a month in both Rupees and US Dollar terms after I started the<a href=""></a><a href="">&nbsp;<u>Internet Lifestyle Hub</u></a>&nbsp;, I can tell you it is a lucrative profession. Money will be the automatic by-product of the value you can deliver in the marketplace.&nbsp;</p> <p>The true fulfillment is the realization of your ability to lead from the front and build digital communities to solve real-world problems as a digital coach.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Three tips for aspiring coaches?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>First, find the right niche and do this by scratching your own itch. Your niche is the problem you want to solve in the world so build on what drives you and be open to adapting it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Second, narrow down your target market. Don’t try to market to everyone. Your target market should be a reflection of yourself so you can relate to them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Third, be fixed on your goal, but flexible on how you get there.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Successful coaches are not those who are simply good at delivering information. The best ones understand human behaviour. They are quick to adapt and ride trends using the latest tools to provide the most efficient solution and results to their students without getting fixated on their past successes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>You have some interesting conversations in the book with Jack Canfield, Dr Demartini, Blair Singer among others. Any particular bit that has inspired you the most in your journey?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It’s so hard to just pick one. I have worked with all of them so closely and learnt so much from each of them. One of the parts that stuck with me is from Dr Demartini’s interview that your vitality is directly proportional to the vividness of your vision, the articulation of your speech, and the clarity of your mission. To stay vital, we must continue to do what we love and delegate everything else. That’s exactly how I feel when it comes to my purpose of redefining the education system by inspiring new digital coaches.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>You Can Coach is available for pre-order on Amazon and will soon be available on FlipKart, Audible, Google Play, Clever Store. It is available for INR 950 in paperback and INR 246 on Kindle.</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Get the book:&nbsp;<a href=""></a><a href=""><u></u></a></p> <p>Find out more about the book:&nbsp;<a href=""></a><a href=""><u></u></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Jun 26 12:46:26 IST 2021 a-card-game-on-trees-of-delhi-to-stay-in-touch-with-nature-during-lockdown <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>On the back cover of the card game 'Delhi Trees', there is a description of a fast-spreading disease called 'Tree Blindness'. This malady causes the afflicted to walk into trees, drive into trees, or completely look through a tree being cut outside their house. The best cure available from this ailment is to learn the names of the trees and spend more time around them.</p> <p>In one of the many ways to correct the mass ignorance of trees, environment activist Verhaen Khanna has devised the card game which he started selling early this month. "Everyone in Delhi was searching for Oxygen cylinders a while ago. Thousands of trees are being cut every year for this project and that, from Delhi Metro to Ring Road to the Central Vista. The capital also has the highest air pollution," says Khanna, flagging multiple reasons why Delhi is always left gasping for breath.</p> <p>"There was once a study done that the oxygen producing capacity of a healthy tree in a year is worth Rs 24 lakh. If you live without nature, you won't survive," says the 32-year-old who has spent a fair bit of time getting people to learn names of trees via his NGO Delhi Nature Society which would often organise tree-climbing activities, tree-hugging and tree census programmes where people learn to count trees in their colony.</p> <p>When the pandemic induced a lockdown last year, Khanna started speeding up on his card game idea which was conceived in early 2020, so housebound children could play the game with elders and keep a sense of nature alive. Delhi Trees is a multiplayer card game which can be played between two to six people at best. It harks back to a time when we would play WWE collectible card games after school, outsmarting ranks and physical configurations of professional wrestlers. So in a 60 card-deck, players can compare and compete with height, leaf size and rank of trees from amaltas to moringa to powder puff and bottle brush.</p> <p>"These are some of the most common trees in the city. Their flowers are highlighted, so people can remember names and identify them better when they step outside," says Khanna, who has sold 100 copies of the game so far and is actively promoting it on social media and WhatsApp groups of parents.</p> <p>Khanna earned his commercial pilot license in the US before giving it all up to come back to Delhi to set up his NGO in 2014. He helps raise awareness about environmental degradation and ecological change through nature walks, camps for schools, colleges, RWAs, and working with MCDs, PWDs, DDAs, forest departments, or filing public interest litigations.</p> <p>This year, Khanna has also launched an app, which works as an alert system to save trees. And he has already begun working on his next card game. "This will be meant for a single player. A 30-deck card game where the player will be assigned different tasks, like listening to bird songs, watching the sunset, etc. to help connect with nature."&nbsp;</p> Wed May 19 17:45:53 IST 2021 Sabarna-Roy-The-Master-Blaster-of-Indian-Literary-Space <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Sabarna Roy is a bestselling author of seven published books: Pentacles; Frosted Glass; Abyss; Winter Poems; Random Subterranean Mosaic: 2012 – 2018; Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020, and Fractured Mosaic. He has been awarded the Literoma Laureate Award in 2019, Literoma Star Achiever Award 2020, Champions of Change 2020 Award, A-List Award for excellence in fiction by the NewsX Media House, Certificate for Participation in the Indo Russian Friendship Celebration 2020, Literoma Golden Star Award 2020: Lifetime Achievement, Certificate of Appreciation for featuring in the Hall of Fame of Literoma International Symposium on Literature &amp; Festival 2020, and the Times Eminent Writer of the Year award by The Times of India Group in Kolkata in February 2021. On professional front, he is a Civil Engineer, presently working as Senior Vice President at an engineering-manufacturing Company.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Fractured Mosaic”, Roy’s seventh title, is a sequel to his previous book ‘Random Subterranean Mosaic: 2012 – 2018’. When musings of his artistic mind take the readers to a world of musings, it gives birth to ‘Fractured Mosaic’. The book features twenty three sections or chapters where every chapter is written in the format of a journal to imitate how the mind works in real life. And that’s which backs such a convincing title.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020” comprises a novella and a poetry cycle of sharp-edged poems that excite readers as they are encapsulated in the whirlwind of confrontations between the poet and his alter-ego. The novella, in the background, is a sweetly evolving dialogue between a step-father and a step-daughter, and in the foreground it is a dissection of ideas pivoted around dualism of human life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Random Subterranean Mosaic 2012–2018" was a collection of poetry, opinions and conversations which are "random, yet mysteriously structured to a pattern." It’s amazing to find such personal thoughts been put in a limited word-count - an art bound to touch reader’s heart. The book cover is a grey kaleidoscope of a shadowed man - nothing perhaps could have better carried the feel of this book.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Winter Poems" was a series of poems dealing with the idea of loss and coming to terms with gradual wasting of life. Though Roy mentioned that during winters he is in a poetic spree, but his poems wands various touch points of life, especially Calcuttans. His lyrics are more 'storish' than rhyming. The book cover chords an immediate connect with Kolkata, the City of Joy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Abyss" was a two-act play of crime fiction genre. Such a captivating plot presented in the form of a conversational play is rare indeed. The playwright not only succeeds in maintaining the spine chills of a dramatic account, but also creates a lasting impression in reader's mind with a visual flair.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Frosted Glass" was a chef-d'oeuvre from Roy’s desk. Stumping a modern day reader by blending a bunch of intertwined stories and poems under one title was his master stroke. The hazy glass window on book cover is a channel to author's world of imagination.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Pentacles” was Roy’s first published book which contains a novella and four long ballads. The writing style of the author is lucid and leaves a long term impact on readers. Dark inter-relational dynamics of human mind had been portrayed beautifully in the story.</p> Tue Jun 08 17:01:50 IST 2021 picasso-painting-sells-for-103-million-in-new-york <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A Pablo Picasso painting has sold for a staggering $103.4 million after juts 19 minutes of bidding at a New York auction house. Christie’s said the painting was sold for $90 million, which rose to $103.4 million when fees and commissions were added. The value was nearly twice what it estimated it would be sold at, which was $55 million.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is the fifth Picasso painting to sell for above $100 million. His most expensive painting yet, “Women of Algiers”, sold for $179.4 million in 2015.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Christie’s 20<sup>th</sup> and 21<sup>st</sup> Century evening sales have in total realised $691,585,500 over two nights with bidders from across the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“While masterpieces could be found at every level, works by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh achieved the top results for the evening,” Christie’s said in a post.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In its description on the artwork, which in French was titled “Femme assise près d'une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse)”, Christie’s noted that the year it was made, 1932, witnessed the “extraordinary outpouring of large-scale, color-filled, rhapsodic depictions of Pablo Picasso’s clandestine, golden-haired lover and muse, Marie-Thérèse Walter.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Having deified her statuesque form and classical profile in the great series of plaster busts the prior year, Picasso allowed the influence of his young mistress and the romantic and erotic bliss in which he found himself to fill his painting,” it said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“No more the languorously reclining nude lost in a private reverie, in the present portrait she is clothed, alert and upright, her omniscient gaze demonstrating that she is in complete command of her subjects: the artist, her lover, clearly held completely in her thrall,” it said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri May 14 19:39:10 IST 2021 In-Conversation-With-Anubhav-Mukherjee-the-Founder-of-Bengals-Most-Successful-Digital-Platform-The-Kolkata-Buzz <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Bengalis are very close to their roots no matter where they are placed. The Bengali touch stays with them and often reflects in their likes, dislikes and daily life. This very fact has become the USP of digital platform – <a href="">The Kolkata Buzz</a>- that has been focusing on all Bengali things and posting it out for the audiences. The response has been so amazing that the Facebook and Instagram pages by the same name now have over a million and thousands of followers respectively. And the audiences are not just Bengalis but everyone who relates and loves the Bengali way of life.</p> <p>Anubhav Mukherjee is the man behind the platform and come a pretty long way with it. Though a Bengali, Anubhav originally belongs to Manendragarh, Chhattisgarh. For the same reason, he wasn’t very fluent with the language and picked it up after coming to Kolkata where he intended to pursue film making. But life has something else in store and Anubhav ended up creating The Kolkata Buzz that we all know and love today.</p> <p>“It all started three years ago in 2016 when I left Chhattisgarh to come to Kolkata for learning filmmaking. Having attended classes for almost two months, I created The Kolkata Buzz. I would roam around the city and take pictures and videos. And then I posted those on the page. The response was good but I wasn’t generating any revenue for many months. Yet I kept up my work and by the time of Durga Puja, it was a hit. That’s when I left film making and dedicated all my time to the platform,” said Anubhav.</p> <p>But everything wasn’t so smooth. He was constantly put to test. There were hard days when he had very little to survive on. But that didn’t break him but rather pushed him more to come out of it and make his life better. He is completely self taught and so he learnt everything about social media marketing from Youtube and other websites and implemented it on his own platform.</p> <p>“One day I had only Rs.10 in my pocket and survived on Phuchka (PaniPuri). That’s when I told myself that I will have to make it at any cost. And then I started following tutorials and got self-educated for my platform,” the digital marketing professional said.</p> <p>His family was not very happy with his choices. His instability made them ask him to come back to his hometown a couple of times. Anubhav isn’t very expressive so only his work could speak and he did prove his mettle over time. ‘’I had a tough time for many months and was basically an introvert. I was trying hard to leave my comfort zone and learn to talk to people, both to approach my parents and to get into marketing. Now when I have reached to this level, they feel content and encourage me to keep it going,” Mukherjee shares.</p> <p>Mukherjee soon started getting calls for promotions. Some even bid to buy his page. This further propelled him to curate the page in a better and more effective way. He started pooling up content from freelancers, and resharing stuff by independent creators that stick to the true essence of the platform.</p> <p>“I realized that that I need more hands to able to grow. But my budget was limited and I was a lone wolf so I took tiny steps and hired freelancers. We still have them today apart from few full time members,” Anubhav said.</p> <p>In today’s date, Anubhav has a team of working professionals under him who garner and create content. The Kolkata Buzz has been now registered under a Digital Marketing Company named Buzzaffair Ventures (OPC) PRIVATE LIMITED. They are into brands, Influencer marketing, event promotions, and social media management. One can also get to know the nook &amp; corners of the city of joy Kolkata from food, to fashion, lifestyle, shopping, travel, etc all under the one platform. By now they have showcased hundreds of brands locally and nationally.</p> <p>“We are still growing and there’s a long way to go,” he concludes.</p> <p>Connect with him: <a href="">Facebook</a></p> Wed Jul 28 10:45:28 IST 2021 Ramlakshmi-Patil-young-author-inspires-others-to-keep-writing-with-her-new-book-Mystic <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>It is not easy to become a famous author at a young age. Writing a manuscript, finding a publisher, and reaching out to readers is a tough task. Meet a young girl aged 18 years - Rajlakshmi Patil who has not only published a book but is also working for the noble cause of environmental protection. Rajlakshmi uses her position to spread awareness amongst people to conserve our environment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Her grandfather and others in the family motivated her to publish her poems and she did so by finally launching the book 'Mystic,' a collection of poems expressing her thoughts and inner feelings. No sooner was the book launched, many people liked and appreciated her poems. Her book got much love from the readers and she became the sensation that we know today.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hailing from a well-known family, Rajlakshmi's grandfather, Dr. D Y Patil, Former Governor of West Bengal, Tripura, and Bihar has developed several schools and universities. Her parents, Dr. Vijay D Patil and Mrs.</p> <p>Shivani Vijay Patil stands by her endeavors to make this world a better place for everyone.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rajlakshmi started writing at a small age, by penning down her life experiences in her diary in the form of poetry. She spent her schooling days at the stunning snow-capped Alps in Switzerland. She felt blessed to be surrounded by fascinating weather, majestic mountains, and picturesque valleys, thus falling in love with nature. She developed a deep connection with nature during her stay in the Swiss Alps. Her hometown is in Mumbai, a megacity with a fast and exciting life. Thus the contrasting experiences in both the places have been well expressed through the poems in her book, 'Mystic.'</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She uses rhythmic words and descriptions of the natural surrounding leaving the readers mesmerized about the little nuances of life and the natural world. She conveys the various moods during the different instances of life and penned her inner thoughts beautifully in the Mystic book. Her poems generate a range of emotions in the reader, thus making a strong connection with them. Many poems in the collection focus on her days spent in the serene Alps, during her boarding school in Switzerland. Several other poems dwell upon her life in Mumbai. The collection is an all-embracing book moving from contemplating a childhood spent amidst nature to the excitement of life in the metro city. Each poem is strong on its own, touching the hearts of its reader.</p> <p>She has graduated from an international boarding school - Aiglon College, Switzerland, she made a lasting impression by bagging the esteemed environmental prize. This honor is awarded to the students who display through their actions that to address a global environmental concern, they must first and foremost, address what is within their immediate reach and act upon it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And it is so thoughtful of this young girl who had published this book intending to raise funds to fight climate change. All sale proceeds from this book were donated to D-CAL, an organization working for environment conservation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The young girl now spends her day writing, advocating for environmental conservation, and selflessly working for the betterment of society. Rajlakshmi participated in several campaigns and cleanliness drives, strongly voicing the need of the hour, a clean and green environment. She says that “It is not Mother Earth that needs a change. But, our attitudes and behavior towards the environment must change to conserve nature.”</p> <p>A girl of many talents, Rajlakshmi is indeed an inspiration to many aspiring young writers.</p> Mon Jun 28 16:52:59 IST 2021 Prof-Sunita-Mishra-Dean-BBAU-is-working-on-the-ground-with-her-years-of-research-experience-for-the-community-services <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><b>Prof. Sunita Mishra</b>, who holds the esteemed position as Dean School of Home Sciences and Head HDFS Food and Nutrition Department of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar (A Central) University, Lucknow (BBAU Lucknow) is a renowned researcher academician and nutritionist. She has earned a Ph.D. in nutrition with a colossal amount of International research papers to her credit. Formerly, Prof. Sunita Mishra was the coordinator of Community Services at BBAU, Lucknow. Eight villages of Lucknow along with nearby places were adopted for community services of BBAU. In order to spread awareness on menstrual hygiene, nutrition and health, immunity booster foods during Covid-19 pandemic, extensive programs were conducted. These were aimed to educate particularly to women in rural area. Adopted villages include Chandrawal, Bijnor,&nbsp; Sisandi, Dhanuasand, Bijli Pasi, Mohanlalganj, Nigohan in Lucknow district and Shivgarh (Raebareli). She made several attempts to spread awareness on locally available and seasonal foods that were useful for eradicating anaemia among women and children. Covid-19 pandemic sensitized the population about immunity booster foods. And, Prof. Sunita Mishra has been working and researching in this field of nutrition, immunity booster foods since the past two decades.</p> <p>As an expert in Food and Nutrition, she has constantly worked on developing indigenous food products. These are prepared with easily procurable grains and plants. Some foods prepared from ragi (finger millet) are consumed in the form of Nutrient bar. Super seeds like Sunflower seed, Pumpkin seed, Turmeric powder, Black Pepper, Cloves etc. are also to be consumed. These are a&nbsp; great source of micro and macro nutrients. This provides instant energy, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and more. Easily digestible and utilized to the fullest by various age groups, it is a must for all. It proves to be useful for athletes as their body needs rapid energy flow for maintaining a good body balance. It also builds strength and endurance. Our body's immunity is boosted and helps us fight against the coronavirus. Research papers on similar work by Prof. Sunita Mishra are published in renowned International Journals such as European Journal of Molecular and Clinical Medicine (Aditya Singh and Sunita Mishra, 2020-21)</p> <p>Valuable and quality products like formulation of Jowar Laddoo incorporated with banana peel powder and Ashwagandha powder. Banana peel is a rich source of iron, calcium, dietary fiber, potassium, antioxidants magnesium and bioactive compounds. It is easily available to the consumer and budget friendly. Jowar laddoos help to boost immunity. It has a proven track record of improved digestion and is considered to be good for patients of celiac diseases. This ladoo is a nutritious, tasty and healthy option. On top of that, it has overall acceptability.</p> <p>Prof. Sunita Mishra visited several areas of rural and remote India to spread awareness on nutrition, health and hygiene among masses. It was particularly aimed at women from rural Lucknow and nearby districts of Uttar Pradesh. Eradication of anaemia was a target topic. Elaborate use of Sejan (Moringa) Leaves in a person's diet helps combat anaemia was suggested. It acts as a combating champion as it is a rich source of iron. This was suggested. Moringa leaves can be used to prepare value added products without compromising taste and these are well-utilized in recipes.</p> <p>(International Journal of Pharmacy &amp; Pharmaceutical research - Pooja Mishra &amp; Sunita Mishra)</p> <p>Research on standardization of Fruit and Vegetable Residue (FVR) Flour was found to be cholesterol free, high in calories and low in sodium and potassium. Well, it was rich in vitamin B<sub>6,&nbsp;</sub>vitamin C and vitamin D, accompanied by high content of dietary fibres. The absence of unsaturated fat makes FVR flour an ideal mix for Multigrain Atta. Biscuitskra, Kha and Nachos can be prepared with FVR flour.</p> <p>Prof. Sunita Mishra had conducted camps in Shivgarh, Raebareli district on Anaemia Awareness Campaign. Women and girl students were briefed about problems caused due to Anaemia and ways to counter it. Apart from that, she had conducted camps in Kheri district - ‘Tharu’ tribe areas in Chandan Chowki on Hygiene practices and Nutrition for women and children. Prof. Sunita Mishra has worked for educating the girl child as well as awareness about girls.</p> <p>Under the aegis of Vaama Sarathi, the UP Police Family Welfare Centre, production of masks, programmes on topics like family counselling were conducted in districts of Lucknow including Barabanki, Hardoi, Sitapur, Kheri, Ayodhya amongst others. Library for school- going police wards started enthusiastically in the police lines with her efforts in 2020-21.</p> <p>Prof. Sunita Mishra worked in districts such as Koraput, Nabarangpur and Kalahandi in Odisha which possessed a sizable tribal population. Nutrition and food habits of tribals were studied by her during her UGC study of major project fields&nbsp; in those districts. The professor's post-doctoral research was on food habits, mortality and morbidity of the local population. She had prepared value added products from locally available material. She did a lot of hard work to spread nutritional awareness amongst tribal women. Her outstanding postdoctoral work was awe-inspiring and that earned her a postdoctoral degree as&nbsp;<b>‘Doctor of Letters’</b>&nbsp;from CCS University, Meerut.</p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;She's perseveringly researched on varied aspects of food science and development of novel products. Alongside that, she's spreading awareness among the masses, focusing more on the rural population, where the awareness level is not very high. Her indigenous nutritional recipes for immunity booster foods gained popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic. Truly, this is a phenomenal step towards&nbsp;<b><i>‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’</i></b>&nbsp;(Self-reliant India), a goal the nation is constantly working towards.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Jun 28 16:46:51 IST 2021 Priyanka-Sarmacharjee-A-small-town-girl-who-dared-to-have-a-dream-called-Feel-Pretty <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Priyanka Sarmacharjee had grown up like any other middle-class girl in a Bengali household. In a small Assamese town, she studied in a government school, took dance lessons and was the apple of her parents’ eyes. Bibhas and Kajari Sarmacharjee never let any kind of want touch their daughter. The cheerful, little foodie enjoyed her time just like any other small-town girl. However, things changed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Priyanka was always a girl who liked to travel and when someone told her that she needs to go to Bangalore to study if she wants to establish herself, she started dreaming and was caught up in it. Soon, she was in the metropolis, studying B.Com. However, things soon turned for the worse and she had to face some very difficult times. But amid these trying times, her parents’ faces came to her mind. And guess what, in that vey instant, a small glow of inspiration lit up inside her.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Priyanka’s parents both have well-established businesses and are really hard workers. Somehow, she knew, she had to immerse herself into work to get out of the dark zone, maybe do something for herself. That is when she brushed up an old hobby of hers. Priyanka started trying her hand at makeup and slowly, her fame grew. She had transformed many brides and her clientele now included Kannada actress Chaitra Vasudevan, Tollywood actress Koushani Mukherjee and Anmol Chaudhary from Bollywood.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Priyanka was planning something big and goaded on by friends, her clients and inspired by her lovely family, she was able to launch her own beauty platform, <a href="">Feel Pretty</a>, a go-to store for any beauty enthusiast. The fledgeling entrepreneur didn’t stop at this. She launched her own beauty brand as well. Of course, it would carry her name. ‘P’. P-LASH and P-BRUSH came to the market as the premium range of eyelashes and beautiful makeup brushes. Now, the brand has its own range of imitation jewellery as well.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As an entrepreneur and worker, Priyanka loves to remain busy. She hates procrastinating, and helped by a friend and her younger sister, she works day in and day out to establish her brand. While her celebrity clients promoted her business even in the face of their own problems, her team of dedicated workers gave their all to make the brand grow, even if slowly. They do work hard, yes. But as an entrepreneur, Priyanka believes in friendship. For her, the workplace should reflect a close-knit community. Just like her family holding hands through thick and thin. How could she forget her roots? So, while her team works 20 hours straight on certain days, the whole team also takes leave for 3 days. “It’s smart work that helps more than hard work, you know,” the young entrepreneur says.</p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Before Feel Pretty, Priyanka had seen how the market was flooded by big foreign brands. Many of these were not affordable and left a huge carbon load behind. She also knew how the makeup industry exploited animals for popular items of makeup. She has, therefore, created a brand that is completely cruelty-free and absolutely local. With her products available online now on major e-commerce sites like Flipkart and Amazon, it looks like the CEO of Feel Pretty, the girl who dared to dream, will soon reach the top of her flight. And feel truly prettier.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Connect with her</a>:&nbsp;</p> Tue Aug 03 18:11:08 IST 2021 frida-kahlo-pain-strength-colours <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Frida Kahlo took to painting to distract her mind from the acute pain she suffered after a terrible accident&nbsp;at the age of 18 on September 17, 1925. The bus that took her home from school was rammed by a streetcar in Mexico City. She was literally impaled on a metal bar in the wreckage; her spine was fractured, collarbone broken, her pelvis crushed, her abdomen and uterus punctured, shoulders dislocated and leg crushed. Her scream was said to have been louder than the siren of the ambulance which took her to the hospital. Frida’s condition was so grave that the doctors did not think they could save her. They thought she would die on the operating table.</p> <p>It was a miracle that she was saved after surgeries and treatment for two years. After the accident, she had to wear a special corset made of metal or plastic to keep her spine straight. She had to wear special shoes to adjust for the deformed leg. The wounds within her deteriorated from time to time causing infections and requiring further surgeries. In her life of 47 years, Frida had undergone at least 32 surgical operations and amputation of toes and one of her legs. <br> Her life from the day of the accident until her death, twenty-nine years later, was filled with constant pain and threat of illness. It was a gruelling battle against slow decay and continuous feeling of fatigue. Pain killers became part of her daily diet. Towards the end of her life, she was drinking two litres of cognac a day to drown her pain, besides taking morphine. She wanted to be a mother but her attempts ended in miscarriages and abortions since her damaged body could not hold the baby. &nbsp;<br> &nbsp;<br> When she was bedridden after the accident, her father gave her brush and paint and a special easel which was attached to her bed. Since the plaster cast did not allow her to sit up, she had to paint while lying down.&nbsp;She wrote, “I began to paint during convalescence from an automobile accident that forced me to stay in bed for almost a year. During all these years I have worked with the spontaneous impulse of my feeling. I have never followed any school or anyone’s influence, I have not expected to get from my work more than the satisfaction of the fact of painting itself and of saying what I could not say in any other way. Since my subjects have always been my sensations, my states of mind and the profound reactions that life has been producing in me, I have frequently objectified all this in figures of myself, which were the most sincere and real thing that I could do in order to express what I felt inside and outside of myself”.<br> &nbsp;<br> “I was not permitted to fulfill the desires which the whole world considers normal, and nothing seemed more natural than to paint what had not been fulfilled. My paintings are the most frank expression of myself, without taking into consideration either judgments or prejudices of anyone”.<br> &nbsp;<br> Three concerns impelled her to make art, she told a critic in 1944: her vivid memory of her own blood flowing during her childhood accident; her thoughts about birth, death, and the “conducting threads” of life; and her desire to be a mother.<br> &nbsp;<br> Frida poured out her suffering and transmuted her pain in paintings which became her biography. “I paint myself because I am so often alone,” Frida said, “because I am the subject I know best.” Dramatization of pain became her central theme in paintings. She became her own model. She spent long hours scrutinizing her reflection in the mirror and reproducing that reflection.<br> &nbsp;<br> Frida had made some two hundred paintings, mostly self- portraits. Exhibition of her paintings were held in New York and Paris besides Mexico City. Louvre had acquired one of her paintings. Her works have been declared as part of national cultural heritage by the Mexican government.<br> &nbsp;<br> Frida had a remarkable mental strength with which she overcame her chronic suffering and tried to live a full life. She hid her grief with outward cheerfulness and loud laughter. She refused to be confined by the dictates of the bodily pains and handicaps. Even when she was very sick and when doctors had prohibited her moving out of the bed, she went in an ambulance to the gallery hosting exhibition of her paintings in Mexico City. She was carried on a stretcher from the ambulance to the special medical bed installed in the gallery. Lying down in a colourfully decorated bed, she interacted with guests and joined the party singing and celebrating. During another period of illness, she went in a wheel chair to participate in a political protest in Mexico City.&nbsp;<br> &nbsp;&nbsp;<br> She married the famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera in 1929. She was 22 and Rivera was 43, twice married and divorced. &nbsp;She was petite (5’3”), light (44 kilos in weight) and pretty while he was a huge man over six feet in height, 130 kilos in weight and was somewhat monstrous in appearance. She used to do paintings in small canvasses while he used to paint large murals on walls standing on scaffolds. It was like a classic case of beauty and beast. It was she who took the first step of reaching out and seducing him. She went to the site where he was doing mural work and asked him for his assessment of her painting. She told him openly that she knew his reputation as a womanizer and asked for an objective view. He was taken aback but liked her instantly for her courage, boldness and artistic talent. &nbsp;But after the marriage, Rivera continued many affairs despite Frida’s fierce fights. He had affairs even with her own sister. Frida hit back and took revenge on Rivera by paying him back in his own coin. She started having a number of lovers including his friends both men and women. Her famous affair was with Trotsky, the Russian communist leader who took asylum in Mexico City to escape Stalin’s persecution. Frida and Rivera ended their marriage with divorce in 1939. But they remarried in 1940. Despite his irrepressible infidelity, Rivera loved and cared for Frida. He admired her independent spirit and courage. Her candor disarmed him. Her odd mixture of freshness and unmasked sexuality tempted him. Her spunk and mischief appealed to his own boyish prankishness. On her part, Frida had loved him and taken care of Rivera in a motherly way forgiving his sins.&nbsp;</p> <p>Frida wore colourful costumes and jewellery drawing inspiration from the native Mexican cultures. She dressed in flamboyant clothes and accessories causing a sensation wherever she went. With her Mexican dress, she stood out from her compatriots who were copying European fashion. The extravagant dress was also a clever way to hide and distract attention away from her scars and her handicaps. Ribbons, flowers, jewels, and sashes became more and more colorful and elaborate as her health declined.<br> &nbsp;<br> Frida’s vocabulary was equally colourful both in speaking and writing. She used the choicest abusive words and liked to shock the cultured and refined elite. She loved to use foul language—words like pendejo (which, politely translated, means idiotic person) and hijo de su chingada madre (son of a bitch). She enjoyed the effect on her audience, an effect enhanced by the fact that the gutter vocabulary issued from such a feminine-looking creature, one who held her head high on her long neck as nobly as a queen. In her letters she calls Paris as Pinchissimo (most vile) Paris. She says, “ I rather sit on the floor in the market of Toluca and sell tortillas, than to have anything to do with those “artistic” bitches of Paris. They sit for hours on the “cafes” warming their precious behinds, and talk without stopping about “culture” “art” “revolution” and so on and so forth, thinking themselves the gods of the world, dreaming the most fantastic nonsenses, and poisoning the air with theories and theories that never come true. Next morning—they don’t have anything to eat in their houses because none of them work and they live as parasites of the bunch of rich bitches who admire their “genius” of “artists.” shit and only shit is what they are”.<br> &nbsp;&nbsp;<br> Frida died at the age of 47 in 1954. Her legend lives on as an admirable icon of extraordinary strength, courage and resilience. Frida’s life story has inspired books, movies, plays and ballets.<br> &nbsp;<br> The art and life of Frida have been portrayed elaborately and sensitively by Hayden Herrera in the book <i>Frida: A biography of Frida Kahlo</i> published in 2018. Herrera, an American art historian and biographer has brought out ‘the extraordinary qualities that marked Kahlo as a person and as a painter: her gallantry and indomitable alegría (joy) in the face of physical suffering; her insistence on surprise and specificity; her peculiar love of spectacle as a mask to preserve privacy and personal dignity’.<br> &nbsp;<br> The colourful Frida wore Indian saree too, one day in the summer of 1947. Nayantara Sahgal and Rita Dar, the two daughters of Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit (who was later ambassador to Mexico in 1950-51), visited Frida in her house called as La Casa Azul (Blue House) during their vacation in Mexico City. They dressed her up in a saree and she loved it. She gifted them her autographed photos.&nbsp;</p> <p>Some Indians describe Amrita Sher-Gil as the “Frida of India”, based on some similarities between their works. But this comparison does not do justice to either of the artists since the contrasts and differences in their lives are enormous as against a few common themes in their paintings.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The author is an expert in Latin American affairs</b><br> </p> Sat May 08 16:43:29 IST 2021 first-chapter-of--shri-mahashivpuran-sung-by-dr--samir-tripathi- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The video release of the first chapter of Shri Mahashivpuran in a musical form by Dr. Samir Tripathi has been released virtually on his official YouTube channel Medhaj Astro. This unveiling by Dr. Samir Tripathi highlights the importance of listening to Shri Shiv Mahapuran in Chaturmas. Released on the holy occasion of Shravanmas, the rendition of Shri Mahashivpuran is sung by CMD of Medhaj Techno Concept Pvt., Dr. Samir Tripathi while the music has been composed by Sudhesh Khare and Omprakash Prasad.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The auspicious occasion was graced by Shri Shivyogi Yuktanand Ji Maharaj, Chairman of Shakti Niketan Research Foundation. He has been working across India to reestablish Gurukul parampara and rishi parampara, his main motto being “Gurukul Lao Desh Bachao”. Dr. Samir Tripathi's family and various members of the Medhaj family were also present at this event.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On this occasion, Dr. Samir Tripathi, while addressing a press conference organized at Medhaj Tower in Ashiana said that due to the immense compassion of Devadhidev Mahadev, he got the privilege of bringing the glory of Lord Shiva to people not just in the country but all over the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dr. Samir Tripathi said that Chaturmas has started, and it is believed in our religious scriptures that during this period Lord Vishnu along with all the deities go to rest for four months in Patal Lok. Hence, this is the time for us to develop our inner powers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He further said that Shravan Mas, the beloved month of Lord Shiva, has also started from today. Lord Shiva is Sarveshwar, Mahadev, Adiyogi, the benefactor of all of us. He added that the merit we will earn in this Chaturmas is a thousand times more than normal days, which is why we must devote ourselves towards worshipping Shiva so that the merits earned can be useful for the entire society. In these tough times of the pandemic, listening to Shri Shiv Mahapuran will be very beneficial from the point of view of spirituality and devotion to God.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Talking further about Shri Shiv Mahapuran, Dr. Samir Tripathi stated that there are 466 chapters in the holy scripture. Releasing one chapter each day on YouTube channel Medhaj Astro, one can listen to Shri Shiv Mahapuran for their internal peace and well-being and inspire more and more people to listen to it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier, Dr. Samir Tripathi has sung Om Namah Shivay, Shiv Tandav Strota, Gajendra Moksha, Neel Saraswati, Bajrang Baan, and many other devotional compositions, including the entire Sri Ramcharitmanas (along with meaning), all of which are available on his YouTube channel Medhaj Astro, and have been appreciated by a lot of people who have gained immense spiritual benefits out of it. The music composition of of all these creations has been done by Sudhesh Khare and Omprakash Prasad.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the corona period, Dr. Samir Tripathi recited the entire Ramcharitmanas in a musical form, along with its meaning, which has inspired millions of people to bring prosperity and harmony in their lives.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The rendition of entire Sampoorna Ramcharitmanas was released on YouTube channel Medhaj Astro on the holy festival of Ram Navami this year, and was blessed by the presence of spiritual guru Rambhadracharya Ji Maharaj and various saints, politicians and social workers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dr. Samir Tripathi quoted four lines of his father Late Shivdutt Tripathi's book Gita Vani that say, “The thought I practice is what I become, soon as the mirror of that thought is removed, see myself only in the consciousness.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This wonderful work of Dr. Samir Tripathi has also been recognized by Marvelous Book of Records, High Range Book of Records and India Book of Records.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the end, Dr. Tripathi urged everyone to listen to Shiv Mahapuran on a daily basis to devote themselves to spirituality, and work towards bringing peace to the entire world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sun Jul 25 19:34:00 IST 2021 target-on-their-backs <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Filthy curses, and the gleam of a pistol. That is about all the barber says he knows of the attack on Ajay Lalwani as the journalist sat getting a shave from him on the evening of March 17 in Saleh Pat, located in Sukkur district of Sindh province. The street outside was in darkness because of a power cut; a couple of emergency bulbs provided the only light inside.&nbsp; “I heard someone order me to move to the back of my shop,” recalls Khalil Ahmed, the barber. Then came the gunshots. Two bullet holes can be seen in the barber’s chair where Ajay sat. Witnesses saw two men flee from the scene on a motorbike. Three more individuals waiting in a car outside sped away firing in the air. “The thana is within walking distance, but the cops took half an hour to arrive,” says a source within the police.</p> <p>Bleeding profusely, Ajay — a reporter for Royal News television and daily Puchhano — was rushed to hospital but died the next day. The 27-year-old’s untimely demise removed from the scene a ‘troublesome’ journalist who raised difficult questions with local authorities.</p> <p>Today is World Press Freedom Day, and the experiences of journalists in upper Sindh alone illustrate the price that media practitioners in Pakistan can expect to pay if they dare speak truth to power. Threats, beatings, trumped up criminal charges, even murder.</p> <p>The International Federation of Journalists has ranked Pakistan as the fifth most dangerous place for the practice of journalism, with 138 media persons here having lost their lives in the line of duty between 1990 and 2020. In 2021 alone, three journalists — including Ajay — have been murdered and one, Absar Alam, injured in an attempted assassination. Media professionals all across the country are targeted with impunity by militants, political actors, and security agencies.</p> <p>“Journalism has been taken hostage here,” says Imdad Phulpoto, Sukkur district bureau chief for Abb Takk News. He is among the few journalists willing to be quoted by name for this story. “We leave home not knowing whether we’ll see our families again.”</p> <p>In this part of Pakistan, known as upper Sindh, an oppressive feudal system brooks no dissent, and the police, far from enforcing the law, act as the waderas’ (feudals') personal force.</p> <p>Phulpoto experienced this first-hand four years ago when he was working with Samaa TV. Early morning on January 5, 2017, a police contingent raided his home and took him to a thana. There they beat him black and blue, later transporting him to a feudal’s autaq (separate quarters for receiving male guests), where he was again thrashed mercilessly. “They threatened to kill me in a fake encounter along with two dacoits who, they said, were in their custody,” recalls the journalist. “The only thing that saved me was that, as I found out later, Samaa was constantly running reports about my abduction.”</p> <p>He has no doubt why he was subjected to this ordeal. “I had filed several reports at that time about [a senior Pakistan Peoples Party leader] having built his house on land reserved for a school, and also reported that his lands in Saleh Pat were being irrigated by tube wells running on government electricity.” Threats had been hurled at him several times, he says, for pursuing these stories.</p> <p>At least 25 FIRs on fake grounds have been filed against various journalists in Sukkur over the past 18 months alone. The charges include serious offences such as waging war against Pakistan, kidnapping for ransom, dacoity, rioting and rape; some charges have clauses under the Anti Terrorism Act appended to them.</p> <p>A senior police official concedes that this is indeed the case, and sometimes violence is the outcome. In his view, “Journalists tend to become very personal in their interactions with powerful people here, and cross the lines of journalistic ethics. Sometimes the feudals take offence and retaliate.”</p> <p>Unlike in other parts of the country where news desks at television channels receive calls from ‘unknown numbers’, intelligence agencies do not often interact with journalists to that extent in upper Sindh. Most media persons anyway desist from reporting ‘sensitive’ news. “There is an ongoing protest for missing persons outside the Larkana press club,” says a reporter. “It never finds a mention anywhere.” On the other hand, when intelligence personnel announce that certain members of Sindhi separatist groups have renounced violence — or colloquially speaking, become “new Musalmans” — they expect coverage, and get it.</p> <p>The PPP’s top bosses are known to have a stake in several TV channels, which adds to the pressure. In September 2019, one such channel ran the video of a young dog bite victim in Shikarpur dying in his mother’s arms for lack of the rabies vaccine. The clip went viral and brought down the wrath of the Sindh government on the reporter. His colleague told Dawn, “The channel was ordered not to run any more reports about dog bite incidents, and they’ve had to comply.”</p> <p>More recently, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, the government was distributing bars of soap in Larkana district as part of a campaign to encourage handwashing. When a television channel exposed the fact that the soap was past its expiry date, a top PPP leader demanded that the owners fire the reporter.</p> <p>Living dangerously is thus an occupational hazard for journalists who challenge the status quo. That said, there are systemic problems within Pakistani media itself that those who care about the profession and its relevance for democracy must urgently address. Consider, for example, that the all-powerful wadera-politicians have another proxy — the so-called ‘sahafi-wadera’ (journalist-feudal). “He’s a beneficiary of these political waderas, whose role is to control the local journalists so they don’t write anything against them,” says a Sukkur-based reporter. “In return, he gets lakhs of rupees from development funds which he can blow on whatever he pleases.”</p> <p>Samaa TV bureau chief Sahil Jogi, who describes Sukkur district as being like Burma for journalists, contends that of the 140 members of the Sukkur Press Club, around 60 are not really journalists. “And 90 per cent of those who are genuine are controlled.”</p> <p>It was thus perhaps unsurprising that there were no reports about Ajay Lalwani’s murder in the local papers for the first two days. While in hospital, Ajay had named two former local administration officials, Inayat Shah and Ahsan Shah, also from the PPP, as being behind the attack on him. No posting, no appointment in the area can happen without the nod of those at the top of the feudal social structure there.</p> <p>Ajay had been receiving threats for several months, and was nominated in FIRs on allegedly false charges of robbery and terrorism. “He didn’t even know how to fire a weapon,” says his father, Dilip Kumar. “But a few months ago, he had asked Ahsan and Inayat at a press conference where the local administration had spent the billions of rupees in development funds given to it. He questioned why invoices were being submitted to the government for electricity in public parks when kundas [illegal electricity connections] were being used to obtain power for lighting.”</p> <p>He had also confronted senior police officials on the issue of fake encounters after the murder of university student Irfan Jatoi in one such incident. Immediately after the attack on Ajay, the station house officer concerned was removed and another appointed in his place. “That’s how you spoil a case,” says a reporter. “Having one SHO at the time of the murder and another during investigation muddies the waters and ensures that responsibility gets divided.”</p> <p>Although a man named Raza Shah has ostensibly confessed to the crime and spilled the beans on several others, including the man who allegedly carried out the recce and the hitmen, a police official candidly tells Dawn: “The cops won’t dig deeper. [Top police officers] are all appointed with the nod of [Sukkur’s politician-wadera]. Who’s going to risk their posting to tell the truth?”</p> <p>The inspector general of Sindh recently appointed a top police official from another district — SSP Kashmore, Amjad Shaikh — to head the investigation. SSP Shaikh informs Dawn that the names of both individuals named by Ajay, as well as that of the SHO Saleh Pat at the time, have now been included as ‘proposed accused’ in the FIR. According to him, the three men, unlike the other suspects, have not been arrested because “the police have not got substantial evidence that links them with the crime.” He adds, however: “If they are guilty, they will be prosecuted.”</p> <p><b>A New Year’s night murder</b></p> <p>It was a little past midnight on Jan 1, 2014. In the town of Badah, Larkana district, also in upper Sindh, journalist Shan Dahar was standing outside a small medical store located in a narrow lane. He had been working on an investigative story about free medicines supplied by an NGO for poor patients that were being illegally sold to local pharmacies. Suddenly a gunshot rang out. “Shan was leaning across the counter talking to me when he let out a cry and collapsed on the ground,” recalls the shopkeeper, Zulfikar Khokar. A bullet had struck him in his upper back.</p> <p>By the time the medical superintendent got to the scene and Shan was transferred to Chandka Hospital in Larkana, the journalist had lost a considerable amount of blood. That, coupled with a gross lack of medical attention, cost Shan his life. Before he breathed his last, some nine to ten hours later, he alleged that the influential Zehri family was behind the attack. He had had several confrontations with members of the family, including over a documentary he had made about precious seals stolen from Mohenjo Daro museum, a crime in which he had implicated some individuals from the Zehri tribe.</p> <p>Shan was a senior journalist with 27 years’ experience. His death caused considerable agitation among media professionals, and rallies were held across Sindh to demand the arrest of his killers. However, the investigation process became suspect almost straightaway. As in Ajay Lalwani’s murder, the SHO was transferred and two others were appointed to the post in quick succession by SSP Khalid Mustafa Korai. According to Shan’s colleagues, he had had several run-ins with the cop, and at a recent press conference had asked him how he could afford his lavish lifestyle on a policeman’s salary. A complaint lodged by the journalist at the thana about threats against him a few days before his death mysteriously vanished.</p> <p>After first claiming that the bullet that hit Shan was fired from 20 feet, the police revised that estimate to 40ft and then to 250ft describing it as an accidental death due to aerial firing by revelers on New Year’s eve. No one else in Badah died in aerial firing that night; indeed, say local journalists, no death from aerial firing has ever been recorded in the area. “And the temperature was sub-zero on the night between Dec 31 and Jan 1,” says Fouzia Dahar, Shan’s sister. “Cold weather slows down a bullet. The police also claimed the bullet first hit the wall above Shan’s head, deflected and then struck him. It couldn’t have retained enough force to do that and puncture his lung.”</p> <p>Then there was the lone eyewitness to the crime itself, Munna Qadir Kandhro, the watchman at the hospital across from the medical store, who, it is believed, told some neighbours the next day about what he had seen. He was even picked up by the police but then released on bail. “He and his family disappeared from Badah and were never seen there again,” insists Dahar. “Why didn’t the police track him down?” The bloodstained jacket her brother was wearing that night is still in her possession; the police, she says, didn’t even take it for forensic examination.</p> <p>No one has been prosecuted for Shan’s death despite his family’s efforts. Promising leads were not followed up, such as the fact that two Zehri brothers, Amir and Irfan, were earlier seen by several witnesses that night close to site of the shooting. A re-investigation, led by the same DIG as the one who had conducted the first one, unsurprisingly arrived at the same conclusion. The Zehri brothers still live in the same town, despite a court order that they be arrested when found.</p> <p>Within walking distance of where Shan was shot is a two-room press club. A group of journalists gathered there spoke to Dawn. “We don’t know for sure whether Shan was murdered — the Zehri elders even came to the family and said they were ready to pay compensation if the investigation found the two men guilty — but the inquiry was certainly not satisfactory,” said one of them. He then added: “We can expect anything from the police. The drug trade, the gambling dens here, it all happens with their patronage.”</p> <p>Physical violence is not the only way to make journalists toe the line. Zaib Ali, press club president and local bureau chief of Sindh TV, reveals that when he reported on the sale of illicit liquor in Badah, his brother was arrested that night for gambling. Ali Raza of Awami Forum newspaper was picked up by police some years ago after he reported on forests being cut down, and threatened with being disposed of in a staged encounter.</p> <p>Another coercive ploy is administrative in nature. Reporting on corruption can result in family members with government jobs being transferred far away. One TV reporter said his wife was a schoolteacher in Sukkur, and because the local authorities were displeased with him, she was transferred to Badin, nearly 350km away.</p> <p><b>The rot within</b></p> <p>There is, however, another relevant issue here — the rot within the media landscape itself. It is well known that the press in Pakistan is going through a financial crisis. Massive retrenchments have taken place and salaries slashed. That said, most district correspondents have never been paid a salary, especially in Sindhi media with the exception of one particular media house. Such a system cannot but encourage corruption in the form of news coverage for sale, or the lack of coverage, as the case may be.</p> <p>Elections are a particularly lucrative time for the sale of ‘journalistic services’. “Candidates will pay anything between Rs200,000 and Rs2m for media exposure,” says a reporter. Earlier, the deal was between the reporter and the aspiring candidate. Now, with the rise in the influence of media outlet owners, the bureau chief gets the “package”. One reporter ruefully describes the bureau chief as “SSP and feudal combined”.</p> <p>The ‘desk in-charge’, who functions as the gatekeeper for the news, has his own demands. “We have to transfer money from our Easypaisa account balance if we want our reports to air. It can be anything from Rs50 and Rs500, depending on the story,” reveals a journalist in Badah.</p> <p>The lack of unity among journalists makes them more vulnerable to exploitation. Badah, for example, a town of less than 100,000 people, has no less than four press clubs, indicating a fragmented journalist community allied with different power centres. Other small towns in the province are no different.</p> <p>Certainly, journalistic integrity can still be found, but it is a luxury that only salaried correspondents, those with family wherewithal or a second job which brings in an income, can afford.</p> <p>It was not always this way. Sindhi media was in fact well known for its progressive leanings. “After the Soviet Union’s breakup in the late ‘80s, all the leftists in the province went into journalism,” says Mashooq Odhano, KTN bureau chief in Larkana. “Activists like us had studied the world before we came to journalism. We knew what democracy and human rights were.”</p> <p>The feudals were extremely powerful then as well, but the truth carried a certain weight. It was the mushrooming of electronic media, believes the seasoned journalist, that sparked a decline, with vacancies far outstripping the supply of competent individuals who wanted to do journalism for the right reasons. As Mr Odhano says, “There used to be a romance about journalism. That is now gone.”</p> <p>Nevertheless, the first step towards improving the media environment is to provide a secure environment for journalists. It has been some time that the human rights ministry drafted the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill. A fairly comprehensive piece of proposed legislation, it addresses the critical issue of impunity by setting up a seven-member commission with wide-ranging powers of investigation and redress. Given the dire circumstances in which the media works, such legislation is urgently needed.</p> <p><b>Naziha Syed Ali is an assistant editor at Dawn</b></p> Mon May 03 09:31:58 IST 2021 Social-media-has-a-new-star-who-has-amazed-all-with-her-histrionics-Kritika-Malik <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>She has aced as an actor, model and influencer and has taken the digital world by storm._*</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The digital world has opened up a plethora of opportunities for people who want to showcase their talent across a wide audience base surpassing geographical limitations, social media being the best out of the lot which has given a robust platform for many aspiring artists and talented individuals to present themselves well. Today, video sharing platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Instagram have found its way to become one of the preferred choices for people to connect to their audience. Amongst the many social media stars, we have one who has mesmerized the audiences with her on screen antics, she is Kritika Malik.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kritika dons many hats as an actor, model, TikTok star and social media influencer. She has been drawing much attention of late as her reels have grabbed the attention of netizens big time, making her all the more famous as an online personality. Her viral videos on YouTube and TikTok are enough proof of her growing popularity. Apart from being a popular social media personality, she is also an avid fitness enthusiast who likes to keep her health and wellness quotient on the top. "Since my young days I was drawn towards the creative medium and was actively involved in various activities related to music, dance and acting. Social media gave a huge opportunity to individuals like me who wanted to showcase their talent, and I capitalized on this medium to present myself in front of the world. I'm extremely overwhelmed by the response I have received from people who have appreciated my endeavours in a big way," informs Kritika.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Her YouTube channel ‘Family Fitness’ has broken the popularity meters by garnering more than 2 million followers. All her videos have been loved by the audiences, who wait with bated breath for her new uploads. The most famous ones are with her partner which have gained maximum viewership, making them the most loved couple of social media. Talking about her role outside social media, she has featured in songs like ‘Maachis’ and ‘Yamraj’, her work in which has been widely appreciated. She has gained stardom and her popularity has been growing by the day. Stay tuned for more on this powerhouse of talent in coming times.</p> Sat Jul 03 15:57:14 IST 2021 Taking-the-music-realm-to-the-next-level-with-his-producing-Sanjog-Bhushan <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><b><i>Popularly known as TRIX, he has been climbing the popularity charts with lightning speed by giving consistent hits.</i></b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The digital advancement has given vast opportunities to people who want to display or showcase their products, services or themselves through their talent and many have proved their mettle by emerging on the top in their respective fields, all thanks to the wide base of audience base they are able to reach up to due to the power of the internet. The digital medium has opened up a plethora of opportunities for people coming from distinct sectors, especially those who are in the creative field, like actors, dancers, performers or music artists. They have been able to showcase their talent in front of a global audience not withstanding any geographical limitations, and that's the beauty of the internet. Out of the many creative souls is one name who has made it big through his music and has been gaining much adulation from music lovers all over, with his songs becoming a rage on major online music streaming platforms, he is Sanjog Bhushan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He is amongst one of those artists who started their music careers out of their passion for the craft. Sanjog started his journey from his bedroom as a producer. Who knew that his liking for rhythms and melodies would develop into a full-fledged music career going ahead in life. He went on to become a platinum producer whose music has always been known for its uniqueness and distinct quality. He says, "my music is inspired by western beats, more on the lines of tropical house. I like amalgamating a lot of summer vibe sounds to make my music more interesting." All his release till date have enthralled music lovers not only in India but also from distant places and his music consistently topping the charts on various music streaming platforms like Spotify and Soundcloud, which is enough proof of his growing popularity. “Everything Changes”, keep me up”, “Be with you” are his tracks which have made it to the top and widely appreciated for its style which is unique and mesmerizing in every sense.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Currently he is the #1 streamed u-21 artist in India and #3 in the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Today, he has found success as a producer and music artist who is all set to rule the world of music in coming times. Stay tuned for his next release soon.</p> Mon Jun 28 16:49:43 IST 2021 Systemic-silencing <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>On the evening of August 8, 2020, ten women from Subhash Mohalla in North East Delhi proceeded to the Bhajanpura police station to make the police register a first information report on a complaint they had made two days before. The complaint was that some men had tried to foment communal tension in their locality. The complainants said the men had abused Muslims, tied saffron flags near a mosque and burst crackers in celebration of a ceremony for the construction of a temple at faraway Ayodhya on August 5.</p> <p>Two of the women—Shaheen Khan and Shanno, an eyewitness in a 2020 Delhi riots case—and Shanno’s 16-year-old daughter went inside the police station to meet the officers. They later alleged that the officers manhandled and molested them. The officers denied the allegations.&nbsp;</p> <p>Two journalists, Shahid Tantray of Caravan magazine and freelancer Prabhjit Singh, visited the police station.&nbsp; “We stayed there the whole night,” said Tantray. “We realised that something had happened to the girl—she was in a shock. In the morning we spoke to her and filed a story about the molestation and assault.”&nbsp;</p> <p>The story was published on August 10. The next day, the magazine sent a woman reporter along with Tantray and Singh to meet the women in their homes. They reached Subhash Mohalla around noon, crossing one of the two metal gates that had been installed at either end of Lane 2 after the communal riots of February 2020.</p> <p>“We started our work by filming the saffron flags that had been tied in the area,” said Tantray. Soon a group of men surrounded them. “A man who identified himself as BJP general secretary asked us what we were filming. I told him that we were following up on the story about what had happened on August 5. ‘Nothing happened here,’ the man said.” &nbsp;</p> <p>The man demanded to see Tantray’s ID card. “When I showed him the card, he [uttered a communal slur],” said Tantray. “I told him that I was there as [a reporter] and not as a Muslim, and that I do not bring my religion into my profession.” A mob was building up and the air grew tense. Sensing trouble, Tantray asked the woman reporter to leave the lane and wait outside the gates.</p> <p>“I do not know what instigated the man, but he started abusing me,” said Tantray. Singh’s efforts to calm the mob proved futile, as did the efforts of two policemen who arrived on the scene half an hour later. The mob demanded that the female journalist be called back.&nbsp;</p> <p>"We refused,” said Tantray. “Then they asked us to delete the footage from our camera. After I deleted the footage, they demanded the camera. I refused. By then several women, too, had joined the mob. One of them [pulled at] the camera pouch slung around my neck and tried to strangle me. They pushed and abused me, and punched me on my shoulders and back. It went on for one and a half hours.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Around 4pm, more policemen arrived and they rescued Tantray and Singh. As the woman reporter tried to follow them to the police station, half a dozen men and women chased her. She ran, but stumbled and fell and was caught.&nbsp; “They started hitting me on my head, arms, chest and hips,” she wrote in her complaint to the police later. She ran to a policeman, who she said tried to “trivialise” the whole incident, but another policeman took her to the station. Though an FIR was registered, no arrests have been made, yet.</p> <p>Tantray said it was dangerous for press freedom that mobs aligned to a certain ideology enjoyed impunity everywhere in India. “Whenever I go for reporting, I do not disclose my identity—as a Muslim and as a Kashmiri,” he said. “Had [the Subhash Mohalla mob] known that I was a Kashmiri, I would have been lynched!”</p> <p>If Tantray was assaulted by non-state actors, Fahad Shah, editor of The Kashmir Walla, has encountered intimidation and harassment by the state machinery. He had gone to Punjab, along with a colleague, to write about a farmers' protest against the Central government. While returning on October 4, 2020, they were questioned at a security checkpoint at the Jawahar Tunnel on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway.</p> <p>A security officer, wearing a black T-shirt with “Commando” written on it, asked them to show their ID cards. On seeing Shah’s name, he went to a senior officer. “I heard him saying ‘Sir, this is the person’, pointing at my ID card,” said Shah. Immediately a dozen policemen encircled the duo, pointing assault rifles at them. They were made to get out of the car and hand over their phones. A police officer asked Shah to unlock his phone.&nbsp;</p> <p>“The officer dialled some numbers on it, using his phone as reference,” said Shah. “I asked the officer [why we were being detained,] but he did not respond.” After some time, the officer asked the duo to get into a police truck to go to the Qazigund police station. They refused to get into the truck, saying they would come by car. One of the policemen, Shah said, abused him and called him a “bastard”. &nbsp;</p> <p>A policeman then drove them in their car to the police station. The station house officer (SHO) appeared after about 45 minutes, asked them routine questions and told them to wait for a senior officer to come.</p> <p>At around 8pm, Deputy Superintendent of Police Mohammad Shafi arrived at the station. “After asking for some basic details, he inquired about our qualification, implying that we did not have the necessary qualification to do journalism,” said Shah. The officer asked about their reporting in Kashmir and referred specifically to a news story Shah had done on a shootout in Damhal-Hanji Pora in Kulgam in May 2020. According to Shah, the officer warned him and his colleague to report “cautiously” about matters related to “national security”.</p> <p>The questioning continued for four hours, and finally they were released at 10pm, after they signed a statement that the car and phone were returned to them intact. “Our detention was illegal, and we believe that it is in line with how journalists are routinely harassed, summoned to police stations, treated like criminals and intimidated because we report facts…. Why are we being treated like this—harassed and intimidated? I am extremely worried about the safety of my colleagues and myself,” wrote Shah in his article ‘Journalism is not a Crime’ in The Kashmir Walla. &nbsp;</p> <p>Shah said free press was getting crushed everywhere in the world, except for a few western countries. In India, he said, censorship has been institutionalised with the new media policy in Kashmir and the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, notified on February 25, under the Information and Technology Act, 2000.</p> <p>Part III of the Rules permits the government to delete, modify and block content published by digital news media. The Editors Guild of India, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressed concern that the new rules “can fundamentally alter how news publishers operate over the Internet and undermine the freedom of the press in the country.” &nbsp;</p> <p>Dhanya Rajendran, editor-in-chief of news portal The News Minute, said that for the past few years, only digital media could do honest journalism in India. “This is mainly because of the nature of how it works—for the advertisement revenue and all, you do not have to depend on the government much,” she said. “The government has introduced the new media rules to target these digital media organisations.”&nbsp;</p> <p>She said there was an organised effort by different political outfits to target media organisations and journalists. “The BJP may be doing it in the most massive and organised way, but all the parties are doing it,” she said.</p> <p>Rajendran said women journalists were at a greater risk than the men from online trolls and harassers. “A lot of women now know how to handle harassment,” she said. “But that does not make it any less of a problem. I think the first big step is for everyone to understand that online harassment is a real problem, especially when it is in an organised manner.” She, however, conceded that harassment of journalists and media organisations could happen in a more institutionalised manner, too—in the form of criminal suits or financial harassment by blocking revenues.</p> <p>Patricia Mukhim, editor of The Shillong Times, said press freedom in India stood hugely diminished. “We are all self-censoring now. [journalists] are afraid; they may be booked for sedition; they may be booked for criminal defamation or all kinds of law,” she said. In July 2020, a criminal case was filed against her for a Facebook post condemning an attack on five non-tribal youth in Meghalaya’s Lawsohtun village. In the post, Mukhim had commented that Meghalaya was a failed state because perpetrators of attacks on non-tribal people since 1979 had never been arrested.&nbsp;</p> <p>In November, the Meghalaya High Court declined to quash the criminal charges against Mukhim. It observed that she “sought to create a divide” between the tribal and non-tribal people in the state. However, in March 2021, the Supreme Court quashed the case against her. It said, “free speech of the citizens of this country cannot be stifled by implicating them in criminal cases unless such speech tends to affect public order”.&nbsp;</p> <p>Mukhim was acquitted, but she rues that she has had to go through a very tiring legal exercise. “Once you are booked, it is such a serious process,” she said. “Your family also will go through all the trauma that you go through.” &nbsp;</p> <p>Raihana Siddique, wife of Malayalam journalist Siddique Kappan, can relate to that. Kappan was arrested at Mathura by the Uttar Pradesh Police in October 2020, while on his way to Hathras to report on the gang rape and murder of a Dalit girl, which had triggered nationwide outrage. The journalist was booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. In the 5,000-page charge sheet, the police accuse him of criminal conspiracy to create unrest in Hathras.&nbsp;</p> <p>The charge sheet says Kappan was involved in seeking foreign funds to incite violence in Hathras. Along with Rauf Sherif—a member of the Popular Front of India—he has been accused of receiving Rs80 lakh from countries in the Persian Gulf.</p> <p>"He was working for Rs25,000 a month at the Malayalam news portal Azhimukham,” said Raihana. “He has two ATM cards. Both of them are with the police. Let them check if he had received a single penny in his account other than his salary.” Raihana is a homemaker. The couple has three children, with the eldest studying in class 12.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Kerala Union of Working Journalists is supporting her fight. In an affidavit submitted in the Supreme Court in December 2020, the union stated that Kappan was “beaten with lathi and slapped” and was “mentally tortured” in the Mathura jail. On April 22, the union requested the court to transfer him to All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, citing his ill health". It stated that Kappan had "collapsed in the bathroom” and had tested positive for Covid-19. He is in a medical college hospital in Mathura.</p> <p>Raihana, however, said the media was largely silent about her husband’s plight. “Why is everyone silent? Why is everyone afraid?” she asked.</p> <p>It is a question that should reverberate in media houses across the country.</p> <p>Postscript: Kappan was shifted to AIIMS, Delhi, on April 30.</p> <p><b>Nirmal Jovial is a journalist at THE WEEK magazine, India</b></p> Mon May 03 09:32:33 IST 2021