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Delhi govt suspends two officers; 200 colleagues threaten to go on mass leave

However, these two SDMs are still holding their posts and doing their work.

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India enters Guinness Book for conducting world’s largest practical lesson

2,000 students from schools across the national capital who attempted to conduct ‘world’s largest practical science lesson’ at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) last week have entered Guinness Book for World Records.

2,000 students from schools across the national capital who attempted to conduct ‘world’s largest practical science lesson’ at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) last week have entered Guinness Book for World Records.The earlier record was in credit of Northern Ireland which had conducted a similar experiment with 1,339 students.”The large practical science session which was organised during the five-day India International Science Festival (IISF) at IIT has set a Guinness Book of World’s Record,” an IIT Delhi official said.Dressed in white lab-coats, 2,000 students had streamed into a giant tent pitched in the administrative block at IIT-Delhi on December 7 to take a shot at the world record for the highest number of students to conduct an experiment simultaneously at the same venue.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The “practical lesson” involved 40 schools, both government and private, across the city, each sending 50 students and a few “back up” ones.The children were trained by their teachers and have had several practice sessions each before the big lesson.During the experiment they managed to together turn methylene blue “reddish-brown” and rapidly decompose hydrogen peroxide to produce foamy ropes as a part of the Elephant’s toothpaste reaction.The video recording and a report on the experiment was sent to the Guinness Book which further evaluated the same and came up with the results.The event was organised by Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA), an NGO, as part of the festival at IIT jointly organized by the Ministries of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences.The record will be in VIBHA’s name.Flagging of the experiment, Union Minister Smriti Irani had also said that there are plans to have an even bigger ‘practical lesson’ in Delhi in the coming months, in which school students from across the country will participate.

Police foil ‘beef fest’ bid at Osmania University; organisers claim success

A ‘curfew-like’ situation prevailed at the university with heavy police security being deployed to prevent any untoward incident in view of a student group’s plan to hold a ‘beef festival’ at the university.

Police detaining an Osmania University student who was trying to organise beef festival in Hyderabad on Thursday.

PTI
Police on Thursday said they foiled a student group’s attempt to hold a ‘beef festival’ on the Osmania University (OU) campus in Hyderabad even as organisers claimed that students “celebrated” the event inside their hostel rooms.In order to stop the ‘festival’ from taking place, police also detained some of its key organisers and arrested BJP MLA from Goshamahal in Hyderabad, T Raja Singh, who was in the forefront opposing the event.A ‘curfew-like’ situation prevailed at the university with heavy police security being deployed to prevent any untoward incident in view of a student group’s plan to hold a ‘beef festival’ at the university. There was a mild tension in and around the OU as police rounded up over 100 persons who came in different groups and tried to barge into the campus either opposing or supporting the festival.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A students’ group had declared that it would hold a ‘beef festival’ on the campus today, coinciding with the World Human Rights Day, while another group also announced its plan to organise a ‘pork festival’ the same day, which had raised the possibility of confrontation.Talking to PTI, Deputy Commissioner of Police (East Zone), A Ravinder said “we successfully stopped them from organising the festival on the campus. We have taken a few people into custody. They will be released soon.”When contacted, Shankar, one of the organisers, said all the students “celebrated” the festival in their hostel rooms as the police did not allow them to come out. “You (media) should tell whether the event was successfully held or not,” Shankar said.Some pictures showing the students eating beef were circulated in social media but it was not immediately known whether they consumed beef today.”Last night, we detained eight key members of the group which announced the beef festival today. As per the court order, decided not to allow any festival on the Osmania University campus,” a police official said.

Margazhi Utsavam: As Chennai gets back on its feet, should artistes be the exception?

The home of violin maestro, VV Subramaniam has been completely destroyed by the floods and he, along with his family, had to be physically carried out of his home. The eminent singer, N Vijay Siva, also faced similar devastation.

Sharada Ramanathan

The debate on whether the Chennai annual music and dance festival should take place or not has raised a larger question: Is art and culture an integral part of life or not? The Chennai floods overwhelmed the city just a couple of weeks before the most phenomenal annual event was scheduled to begin— the Chennai December arts festival, known as the Margazhi Utsavam. Among the upper and middle-class households that were, for once, as affected as the poor, are several classical artistes. The home of violin maestro, VV Subramaniam was completely destroyed by the floods and he, along with his family, had to be physically carried out of his home. The eminent singer, N Vijay Siva, also faced similar devastation.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The response from the artistic community has been swift and effective. For example, the Chennai-based Bharatanatyam association, ABHAI, swung into action and set up a fund to provide relief to artistes with colossal damage, including loss of their livelihoods— their musical instruments. Simultaneously, the classical, artistic community began to call for the cancellation and/or postponement of the music and dance festival. The fact that the hundreds of sabhas have decided to carry on with the festival as scheduled, has triggered a “moral” debate on their decision because the classical world of Chennai is somewhat divided on this issue.The Margazhi Utsavam, is a defining feature of Chennai’s cultural landscape. Having grown organically over a 100 years, it is a defining moment for Chennai as one of the cultural capitals of India. The festival attracts audiences from all over the world and has developed an economy around itself by providing a holistic experience of traditional food, clothing and the arts.Some artistes like Anita Ratnam have cancelled their festival performances because they strongly feel that the atmosphere is not conducive for arts and “entertainment”. Other artistes like Sanjay Subrahmanyan carry the conviction that while relief and rehabilitation must not lose momentum, life too must be restored to normalcy.There are several who sit on the fence, not knowing how to address this dilemma. One conciliatory move made by several artistes has been to announce the proceeds of their concerts going towards flood relief so that both the festival and the need of humanity have a constructive symbiotic relationship.But the question that will be debated for a longer time to come is: When all other walks of life in the city are going back to work, why should artistes be the exception? Is art not a way of life? Do the arts not provide livelihoods for many? Did the artistes not perform as usual after the tsunami hit Chennai in 2004? How is it different now? Should the artistes intensify their engagement with socio-cultural development in the longer term, rather than cancel a short-term event?Even as the debate rages on, we have been reminded yet again that whenever there is a calamity, the artiste takes the beating.
Sharada Ramanathan is a Chennai-based film director-producer who has a passion for dance and music.Also read: Chennai Floods- Can artistes serve humanity by postponing the December music season?

Offerings from budding scientists: Biodegradable plastic, jaggery chocolates and much more

Better India: First India International Science Festival showcases creativity of the youth

Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Dr Harsh Vardhan during his visit to Expo

Optometry powered by a cell phone, an app that allows touch-free interaction with computers, biodegradable plastic, a jacket that helps visually-impaired people move, and jaggery chocolates high on haemoglobin content that can be eaten by diabetic people too. These are just a tiny fraction of the sea of projects that were exhibited at the first India International Science Festival (IISF), a nationwide science exhibition that was organised by the Ministry of Science and Technology.Aditya Khant from Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai who came up with Airtouch, an application that allows for ‘touch-free, sensor-independent input for human-computer interaction’. Khant, a student of 12th standard, does not even study computer science in school, and had an exam on Monday. “I build a simpler prototype when I was in the 9th standard in which one could play drums just by hovering your hand over the device.I have been developing that ever since; my mother has helped me with the aesthetics,” he says. He plans to be an entrepreneur.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Delhi-based Shreyas Kapoor of Modern School, Barakhamba, built an app that enables one to accurately find one’s eyesight disorder and apply for a lens accordingly. “An aberrometer (the instrument that determines the power of the lenses a person needs) costs about Rs 13,000. In villages, people are blind because of that. I made an app in which a figure will appear on the screen. A myopic person will see it as ‘8’, while a normal person as ‘5’,” he says. He adds that his school ‘does not know that I exist’, and that he met his mentor, MIT student Kshitij Marwah at a convention sometime ago. He plans to research further on his app, imbibe artificial intelligence in it, and further research on AI in the future.Aditya and Shreyas are both students in a team of 12 students which will represent India in the next leg of the Initiative for Research and Innovation in Science (IRIS) to be held in Arizona next year. IRIS is a nationwide initiative of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India (DST), the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Intel Education. The winning team will have a planet named after him or her and will have their graduation funded.On the other hand is Ananya from Deeksha Vidya Mandir from Kadur. Deeply hurt by the death of their pet cow who chewed on plastic, she decided to make biodegradable plastic out of cornflour or potato starch. “I worked on it for six to seven months,” said the 10th standard student, adding that she wants to be a doctor, without leaving her love for experimenting with innovations like these.Ananya is the silver award winner of Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE), a nationwide science awards programme organised by DST. The gold was clinched by Oza Alay Kumar from Mehsana who came up with an artificial tree model which will turn carbon monoxide into oxygen, and a wind tunnel which cleans the polluted air with solar energy. Prithvi Raj from Jamtara was given the bronze for inventing a jacket with a radio sensor, arel and solar plates that help the visually-impaired to walk safely on the roads.This is the first time that the ministry has come up with a nationwide science exhibition, and in the process has included IRIS and INSPIRE, two reputed science fairs. The initiative is also helped by Vijnana Bharati, a not-for-profit organisation working for science popularisation”We wish for society to understand science better, and with an exhibition of such a huge scale, we hope that we create an environment in which people will be attracted to science. We have a lot of theoretical ideas, but we need better experiments in this country,” said Jayant Sahasbuddhe, Organising Secretary at Vijnana Bharati. The exhibition, which ended Monday, saw an attendance of two lakh, with children presenting 230-plus research papers besides hosting five workshops for over 10,000 delegates as well as the general public.

Bird lovers flock to UP for unique festival

The UP Forest Department is upbeat about the response the festival is getting. “The combination of the Taj at Agra and the opportunity to watch exotic migratory birds in the region seems to have clicked,” said a senior official.

UP is home to more than 500 bird species, including sarus cranes

The ravines of the Chambal and Yamuna, once known for notorious dacoit gangs, witnessed the opening of a unique event on Saturday when UP CM Akhilesh Yadav formally inaugurated the ‘UP Bird Festival’ at a village near Agra.Over 300 Indian and international birdwatchers are participating in the event, which is the first of its kind in the country. Tom Appleton, world renowned bird expert who evolved the concept of bird festivals, is also a part of a group of avid bird lovers from around the globe.The UP Forest Department is upbeat about the response the festival is getting. “The combination of the Taj at Agra and the opportunity to watch exotic migratory birds in the region seems to have clicked,” said a senior official.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dushyant Parashar, avid bird lover and wildlife photographer talked about his experience of bird watching. “I was truly charmed that the river is serving as the perfect home for more than 300 species of migratory and native birds.It was astonishing to see flocks of birds perching at nearby bushes and flying over the river. Chambal is truly worth visiting,” said Parashar.Talking about his experience Dr Asghar Nawab from WWF said, “Chambal is not only preserving birds but other important animal species such as dolphins, turtles and gharials as well.”Nikhil Devasar, Advisor, UP Forest Department, said, “It’s not about the birds alone. It is interesting to see people talking and brainstorming on conservation issues.”UP is home to over 500 bird species, 13 of which are globally marked as threatened. Migrating birds from Europe, Tibet, Siberia and China come here during the winter. Among them are the slender-billed vulture, Bengal florican, black bellied tern, sarus crane, Indian skimmer, and black necked stork.

Manipur’s Tamenglong gears up to host 12th edition of Orange Festival

The United Naga Council, meanwhile, has appealed to all the Nagas not to extend any form of support in organising the Festival.

Oranges on display at 7th Orange festival, Manipur. Image credit: http://manipur.nic.in/

The 12th Edition of the Manipur’s Orange Festival will be held at Mini Stadium, Tamenglong District Headquarters, about 150 km west of Imphal, on December 9.The festival is held annually to promote tourism in Manipur and provide an opportunity for orange farmers to display their produce before potential buyers. It also aims to promote orange production by giving awareness on orange cultivation to the farmers.Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh is likely to grace the festival as the Chief Guest.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This year the festival will see various competitions and cultural extravaganzas, including orange eating competition, best orange competition, orange queen contest, display of traditional and customary items, craft exhibition, seminar for orange growers, indigenous games and sports.Meanwhile, the United Naga Council (UNC) has appealed to all the Nagas and tribal people not to extend any form of support to Chief Minister O Ibobi and his Deputy Chief Minister in organising the upcoming Orange Festival, sponsored by the Government of Manipur.”The Naga people should not succumb to the appeasement policy of the State government in enticing the people in the guise of organising different forms of festivals in Naga and tribal territory just to fulfil and strengthen their selfish political objectives,” a statement issued by the publicity wing of the UNC stated.The council alleged that crores of rupees sanctioned by the Government of India for horticulture development in Manipur, particularly for Tamenglong District, through the Horticulture Mission of India under the Ministry of Agriculture had been misappropriated without implementation. It also alleged that the Manipur government has not been addressing the rights and interest of the orange growers and this had led to a decrease in production over the years.Tamenglong accounts for more than 50% of orange production in Manipur and a large part of the district’s economy depends on it. Last year, around 350 orange growers participated in the festival.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan organises screening of Marathi film ‘Partu’ near Parliament

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has now taken the initiative of organising the screening of Marathi film “Partu”, which had won awards at the South Asian Film Festival in Washington, at the auditorium.

During the previous NDA regime, the Mahadev Auditorium in the Capital buzzed with activity with the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and deputy Prime Minister LK Advani often taking time off from their hectic schedules to watch films there.Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has now taken the initiative of organising the screening of Marathi film “Partu”, which had won awards at the South Asian Film Festival in Washington, at the auditorium. The film, based on a true story in Maharashtra and Rajasthan, has not been screened in India yet. Mahajan has invited Maharashtra and Rajasthan MPs, cutting across party lines, for the two-hour show on Thursday evening.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>“The film is about how people cross state, social and lingual barriers. It would send a good message to politicians on unity,” said Nitin Adsul, the film director, who is settled in Washington. He was apparently referring to the approach of members of the Shiv Sena and MNS to migrants and North Indians in Maharashtra.Set in 1960s, the film revolves around the story of how a poor farmer in Maharashtra finds a seven-year-old boy who went missing and looks for his family. By the time he finds the boy’s family in Rajasthan, 17 years had already passed and the boy has to choose between his biological parents and the Maharashtrian farmer. While 70 per cent of it is in Marathi, the rest is in Rajasthani, with English subtitles in the film made by a US-based production company.Kishore Kadam, who played the protagonist, got Best Actor Jury Award while the film also got the Audience’s Choice award in Washington. The film will be screened in theatres in Maharashtra from December four and special screenings will be done in Rajasthan.At the Mahadev Auditorium, which is a stone’s throw away from Parliament, the sitting capacity is just 139. This is the first time that the Speaker is organising a film show in the auditorium. Mahajan was herself born in Maharashtra but got married into a family in Madhya Pradesh and has held eight consecutive terms as MP from Indore.Around two months ago, South Indian director SS Rajmouli’s Telugu blockbuster “Bahubali” dubbed in Hindi was screened at the auditorium. Information and broadcasting minister Arun Jaitley attended the show, sources said.They said in the UPA regime, though Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not go for the screenings, which are generally of Bollywood films, his wife Gursharan Kaur often went for the shows.While Vajpayee is ailing, Advani is understood to have watched some shows in the auditorium with his family in recent times. Farmer storySet in 1960s, the film revolves around the story of how a poor farmer in Maharashtra finds a seven-year old boy who went missing and looks for his family. By the time he finds the boy’s family in Rajasthan, 17 years had already passed and the boy has to choose between his biological parents and the Maharashtrian farmer. While 70 per cent of it is in Marathi, the rest is in Rajasthani, with English subtitles in the film made by a US-based production company.

Awards Wapsi – Useless, undeserving people returning honours: Subramanian Swamy

As many as 40 prominent writers had announced their returning of the award in protest against the ‘rising intolerance in India’ under the present NDA Government.

Prominent writers including Nayantara Sahgal, Ashok Vajpeyi and women veteran writers Krishna Sobti and Shashi Deshpande had also returned their awards.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy on Sunday said the people who are useless and non-deserving are returning their awards. “They are all useless people. They don’t deserve the award and it’s good that they have returned it,” Swamy said.As many as 40 prominent writers had announced their returning of the award in protest against the ‘rising intolerance in India’ under the present NDA Government.The first to return the award was Uday Prakash, a Hindi writer, on September 4, 2015 in protest at the murder of MM Kalburgi, a Kannada Sahitya Akademi award winner. Following Prakash, prominent writers including Nayantara Sahgal, Ashok Vajpeyi and women veteran writers Krishna Sobti and Shashi Deshpande had also returned their awards.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Meanwhile, author and founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival, Vikram Sampath has also resigned as the director of the festival after criticism from writers who called him ?right-wing? for opposing the trend of litt?rateurs returning their awards to protest against growing intolerance in the country.

Vikram Sampath steps down from Bangalore Literature Festival’s organising committee

After four writers backed out of the Bangalore Literature Festival over their objections to statements he made, founder director Vikram Sampath has decided to step down from all his responsibilities at the Festival.

Sampath issued a statement on Saturday in which he said that he has become “the target of a personalized campaign” because of his views on the Award Wapsi campaign and on the Tipu Sultan controversy.

Vikram Sampath. IBNLiveVikram Sampath. IBNLive

Vikram Sampath. IBNLive

Sampath had written in an October article for The Mint newspaper that he doesn’t support the action by writers to return their Sahitya Akademi awards in protest against intolerance because the awards are given by the Akademi, which is autonomous and has nothing to do with the government against whom the writers are protesting. He had also stated that he will not return his Akademi award.

Four writers who took objection to his comments – Dayanand TK, Arif Raja, OL Nagabhushana Swamy and Satchidanandan – backed out of the Festival.

Sampath also said in the statement that during the recent Tipu Sultan controversy, he had a signed a petition, along with other historians and archaeologists, about how it is necessary that “multiple view points and narratives in Indian historiography” are recognised.

“As someone who has researched the history of Mysore for over 15 years, I believe I am entitled to have an intellectual stand point on a matter of historical debate as also to this invaluable gift of freedom of expression that the founding fathers of this great country have fought hard to achieve for us,” he said in the statement.

He stated that he finds it “distressing” that his ”personal freedom of expression is coming in the way of the Festival” and in the interests of the Festival, he has decided to “step away from all responsibility of organising the Festival.” He now hopes that the writers who had backed out of the Festival will reconsider their decision and return to the Festival.

Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik appeals to save Manipur’s state animal ‘Sangai’

Sangai, a rare brow-antlered deer found only in Manipur, is the most endangered wild animal in Asia.

Sand art by Sudarsan Pattnaik

A large sand sculpture created by International Sand Artist and Padma Shree awardee Sudarsan Pattnaik is one of the main attractions at the ongoing Sangai Festival in Imphal, Manipur.The artist from Odisha created the sculpture which carries the message ‘Go Green Save Sangai’ last Saturday (November 21), on the inaugural day of the 10-day festival which is being organised at Hapta Kangjeibung, Imphal.Through his art, Pattnaik is trying to appeal the people of Manipur to help conserve the environment and save Sangai, the critically-endangered species of brow-antlered deer which is found only on a floating biomass on Manipur’s Loktak Lake. It is one among the three sub-species of Eld’s Deer and is the most endangered wild animal in Asia. It is also the state animal of Manipur. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ronibala, a visitor who was posing for a groupfie with two of her friends in front of the sand sculpture, shares, “First of all, I want to thank the artist for highlighting the plight of this endangered animal through his art. I didn’t know him till now, but I believe his sculpture would help spread the message about the rapidly deteriorating habitat of this animal and save our Sangai.”Her friend Dana adds, “It’s beautiful. This is the first time I am seeing such piece of art. It would be nice if Manipur government invite more such talented artists from across the country in next year festival too.”Earlier, on November 20, Pattnaik had also conducted a sand art workshop for 18 students of the Shishu Nistha Niketan at the venue of the Manipur Sangai Festival as part of the annual festival. The festival will continue till November 30.This article was first published on iamin.in. For more such hyperlocal stories, visit their website.

Tamil Nadu celebrates Karthigai Deepam today

The non-stop rains and waterlogging in Chennai seems to have put a spanner in people’s plans to attend the festival.

Representational Image

The important festival of Karthigai Deepam is being celebrated in Tiruvanamalai today. In lieu of the number of the thousands of people expected to attend the festival, the Southern Railways is operating special trains on November 24 and 25 between Chennai and Tiruvanamalai. The non-stop rains and waterlogging in Chennai seems to have put a spanner in people’s plans to attend the festival though. There were fewer people taking the special trains on November 24. The Southern Railways PRO told the media, “The number is comparatively less than last year. But it is very early to say how many people travelled as more people might take the special train tomorrow.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Around 20 lakh people are expected to be in Tiruvanamalai on Wednesday to attend the Karthigai Deepam. Tiruvannamalai Collector Gnanasekaran told the media at a press conference that security has been beefed up. He stated, “CCTV cameras have been set up in 56 arterial places with watch towers placed in 23 places. Eleven temporary bus terminuses have been created to cater the 2,400 special buses that will reach the town by tomorrow.”What is Karthigai Deepam? This is a festival observed during the month of Karthigai according to the Tamil calendar. When the moon is in conjunction with the constellation Karthigai or Pleiades and pournami, this festival is celebrated. The constellation appears as a group of six stars which according to Indian mythology are the six nymphs that reared six babies that formed the six-faced Muruga. He is thus called Karthikeya in this form and Karthiga Deepam is celebrated as his birthday. Lighting of the Tiruvanamalai Maha Deepam The Maha Deepam is usually lit after 6 pm. A copper cauldron which is about 6.5 feet in height is carried by men to the top of the Annamalai hill. The wick is made of gada material while ghee mixed with camphor is used for the lamp. This Maha Deepam is visible to people in a 30 km radius. As soon as the deepam is lit, the Tiruvanamalai temple is shut till the next morning. Special Trains: No 06033 Chennai Central-Tiruvannamalai: November 25 – leaves Chennai Central at 9.15am and reaches Tiruvannamalai at 3.15pm No 06034 Tiruvannamalai-Chennai Central: November 25 – Leaves Tiruvannamalai at 11pm and reaches Chennai Central at 3.30 am oN November 26.

Goa CM Parsekar justifies action against protesting FTII students

Parsekar was asked about the action initiated against the protesting students and sympathisers who have been slapped with severe sections including criminal conspiracy. They have however been given bail.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Against the backdrop of protests by former FTII students at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Monday said the protesting students did not have a “right” to do so.Parsekar told reporters that he could not accept that the students had a right to protest and the action taken against them was too harsh.”I am not willing to accept that protesting is their right. We are the organisers (of IFFI) and anything that happens at IFFI will reflect on the state and the functioning of the government,” Parsekar said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Parsekar was asked about the action initiated against the protesting students and sympathisers who have been slapped with severe sections including criminal conspiracy. They have however been given bail. A third student was arrested by the police for simply wearing a T-shirt that bore his institution’s logo.”The issue is not something we can solve, but if anyone wants to come and meet me I am open to discussions with them,” he added.Parsekar also rejected claims that there were instructions issued to the police to be especially harsh on the students.”No instructions have been issued,” Parsekar said.The protesting FTII students in a change of gears have decided to hold a two-day film festival to draw attention to their cause and how the government has treated them. Police had arrested two former FTII students, identified as Kislay and Shubham, on Friday for allegedly raising placards and shouting slogans during the inaugural session of IFFI while Union ministers Arun Jaitley and Manohar Parrikar were in audience, and later booked them under IPC sections of criminal conspiracy.An FTII student, identified as Ashutosh, was detained by police on Saturday for wearing a tee-shirt with an FTII logo. Students of the premier Pune-based institute had staged a 139-day strike from June 12 in protest against the appointment of ‘Mahabharata’ actor Gajendra Chauhan as FTII chairman, saying he was “unfit” for the post. The students, however, called off their strike unilaterally on October 29, but insisted that their protests would continue.

Government deliberately trying to weaken our strike at IFFI, say FTII students

Only 22 students were given a go-ahead to attend the festival out of 50 who had applied.

Students also claimed none of the students who were at the forefront of the strike were permitted to attend the event by the institute.
File Photo
PTI
Fearing a stir at the 46th International Film Festival of India in Goa, the Union government has created multiple barriers for the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students to cut down on their strength. At least, that’s what the students have claimed. As a last resort to get their dissenting voices heard, Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), students had long planned to take their protests to IFFI, after their last dialogue with state I&B minister Rajyavardhan Rathore in Delhi failed to yield results. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the students, the institute has given a go-ahead to only 22 of the 50 students who had applied for passes to attend the festival, while every year about 60 students from the premier institute make it to the IFFI as part of their curriculum. Students also claimed none of the students who were at the forefront of the strike were permitted to attend the event by the institute. “We were told only first-timers to the event would be allowed to go to the event. However, of the 22 students selected, many have gone to the event multiple times,” Vikas Urs, one of the students, told dna. Students informed those undergoing the one-year TV course at the institute were also not permitted to attend the event with the management telling them it is not part of their curriculum to attend the IFFI.“This is the first such instance at the institute where many of our applications have been rejected by the institute for such vague reasons,” said Urs, adding that classes for the students were lined up deliberately during this period.Students also informed a second year editing student, who was part of the NDFC Film Bazaar was to intern at the IFFI, but he was denied the internship too. Moreover, the Directorate of Film festival (DFF) –under the I&B ministry, have also dropped the students’ film package from the IFFI schedule. Since the last five years, IFFI has been screening five films each from FTII and other institutes such as Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute and MGR Governing Film and Television Institute. The IFFI is one of the prestigious film festivals of the country. Students said the limited number of students attending the event will go ahead with the protest in whichever way they can, even as the I&B ministry officials say they are expecting least disturbances at the event. Recently I&B minister Arun Jaitley had said he doesn’t see why someone should try and disturb an event in India and that it is not a good practice. Speaking to dna, FTII Prashant Pathrabe said the FTII has decided to fund only those students who are attending IFFI for the first time. “The others who have attended the event earlier can go at their own expenses,” he said emphasizing that attending the festival was not there in the curriculum of the TV students.However, students said every year a fund of Rs 1.8 lakh is reserved for expenses of students attending IFFI, alleging that Pathrabe is acting at the behest of the I&B ministry who is exploring all options to weaken their strike. They added that in any case they will continue their strike unless the I&B ministry gives them a constructive response on the contentious appointments in the institute such as the one of Gajendra Chauhan.

Here are the important Chhath puja muhurat timings

People offer their prayers to the setting sun, and then the rising sun in celebrating its glory as the cycle of birth starts with death.

Chhath is one of the most important Hindu festivals celebrated in IndiaPeople offer their prayers to the setting sun, and then the rising sun in celebrating its glory as the cycle of birth starts with death.The festival is celebrated for four days, which includes various customs such as holy bathing, fasting, standing in water for long, offering Prasad and prayerto the sun.Here are the timings considered auspicious to celebrate the festival: Panchami: November 16Sunrise on Chhath Puja Day: 06:44Sunset on Chhath Puja Day: 17:27<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Shashthi: November 17Sunrise on Chhath Puja Day: 06:45Sunset on Chhath Puja Day: 17:27

Amitabh Bachchan speaks up on ‘growing intolerance’, says Indian films taught to banish communal prejudices

“The Indian cinema from its beginning has taught us the lessons of finding love, justice and social unity. And most importantly the banishment of communal prejudices and hatred,” Bachchan said.

Amitabh Bachchan on Saturday recalled the contribution of Indian cinema in fostering social unity, communal amity and love at a time when “cultures are being questioned and prejudices against communities are dividing the world”. “The Indian cinema from its beginning has taught us the lessons of finding love, justice and social unity. And most importantly the banishment of communal prejudices and hatred,” Bachchan said during his inaugural speech at the 21st Kolkata International Film Festival. “It is essential to recall the lessons of equality and cultural diversity taught by Rabindranath Tagore at a time when cultures are being questioned and prejudices against communities are dividing the world.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The 73-year-old star said that Bengal’s strength always has been its intellectual integrity and open-mindedness that both writers and filmmakers have highlighted on the screen. “These age-old values are once again being highlighted in Indian cinema. These values constantly emphasise deep belief in equality and social justice,” the actor said. Quoting from Tagore’s poetry, Bachchan said the Bard’s lines should be remembered for “signifying Mother India’s unconditional love for all children and are relevant in holding together India’s diversity and the spirit of equality.” Bachchan’s comments come amid the ongoing debate on intolerance in the country which has led to several writers, filmmakers and eminent personalities returning their awards.The actor said he feels truly blessed to be born in a country which has always believed in cultural diversity and pluralism. While lauding the contributions of Bengali cinema and its various stalwarts, he said their movies uphold tolerance of diversities. “Cinema with Bengali background have always put up pan India character based on our time-tested values, the source of our core strength as a society and our tolerance of diversities. That is essential for a common mosaic of various ethnic communities and sects.”

Watch: East India Comedy’s desi carols show you what actually goes down during Diwali

“Diwali Sales, spam emails, shopping fever is here. I’ll buy crap that I don’t need because it is cheaper.”

Screenshot from YouTube video.

Screenshot from YouTube video.

This has probably become a thumb rule of most of the people in India during Diwali, which is perhaps the only time when most Indians don’t think about saving and spend money, shop and burst firecrackers like the world is going to end the very next day.

Singing about the other golden rules of Diwali and making fun of the hilariously cute habits of the people in our country during one of the most loved festivals, a video by East India Comedy shows you what actually goes down during Diwali.

Using the tune of Christmas carols to point out these Diwali quirks, the video has funny takes on almost everything and everyone during Diwali.

After all, it’s about time someone made a video about what employees actually feel about office HR Diwali parties and rangolis.

One of the hilarious and creative aspects of the video is also its take on intolerance in the country.

Watch the full video here:

Sahitya Akademi urges writers to take back awards

The Akademi is not against the writers,” Akademi President Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari said at the “All Indian Poetry Festival” here.

The Sahitya Akademi on Friday again urged writers to take back the awards they have relinquished, saying these were given with love and respect and such feelings should be respected. “Our executive board has already appealed to the writers to re-consider their decision to give back their awards. Sahitya Akademi is the writer’s institution and has always supported freedom of speech and it is with the writers. The Akademi is not against the writers,” Akademi President Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari said at the “All Indian Poetry Festival” here. Padma Shri-winning Dogri poet Padma Sachdev, who inaugurated the festival, also supported the views of the Akademi and said that the writers should re-consider their decision.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Sahitya Akademi is the home of all the ‘sahityakars’. Due to the saddening incidents in the country, many of the members of the Akademi have returned their awards and for which we are very sad and hurt. If people leave their home for reasons like sadness, anger or other reasons then the house becomes empty and keeps waiting for the person,” she said. “This is my responsibility to tell my beloved family members (writers) that whatever reasons there might have been, your absence is being felt by us here and please rethink your decision. The awards have been given to you with respect and love please respect the feelings and take back your awards,” said Sachdev. Shedding light on the fact that often freedom of expression has been curbed, Tiwari encouraged poets to keep on writing their poetry. “No one can stop a poet from writing poetry. It’s irrelevant whether your poetry will be published or not but a poet should keep writing his prose,” he said.The one-day festival was organised on the occasion of Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav in collaboration with Ministry of Culture to promote poetry in all the 24 recognised languages of the country. “Poetry has not only been useful in prodding imagination and enabling human beings to express themselves more freely, but also has been a tool of social critique at various times in India,” said K Sreenivasarao, Secretary, Sahitya Akademi.The festival also saw recitation of poems by poets like Sukrita Paul Kumar, Leeladhar Jagoori, H S Shivaprakash, Sirpi Balasubramaniam, Voleti Parvateesam, Abdul Ahad Saz.

India has never been intolerant and will never be: Arun Jaitley

Hours before the Congress’s march to Rashtrapati Bhavan in protest against “rising incidents of intolerance”, Union finance and information and broadcasting minister Arun Jaitley said the country has neither been intolerant nor will ever be.

Hours before the Congress’s march to Rashtrapati Bhavan in protest against “rising incidents of intolerance”, Union finance and information and broadcasting minister Arun Jaitley said the country has neither been intolerant nor will ever be. “Where is intolerance? This country has never been and will never be intolerant,” the finance and information and broadcasting minister said answering questions at a press conference held on the 46th International Film Festival of India, to be held in Goa between November 20 and 30.Jaitley said a few ‘aberrations’ do not affect peace in the country and that it is ‘not fair’ to deliberately ‘create an issue’ for political reasons and then link it to the central government, even though such incidents are taking place in states ruled by other political parties.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> He said the national situation was “absolutely peaceful” and “India is fully committed as a liberal democracy to peaceful co-existence. “Taking a dig at his opponents, Jaitleyasked them to fight political battles politically. “If anyone (Shah Rukh Khan) is saying that intolerance should not be there then what’s wrong in it?”he asked, responding to a query about the actor’s recent comments. Khan had said that religious intolerance and not being secular was the worst kind of crime that one can commit as a patriot. Asked about the clarion call for protest that could have led several academicians, authors, historians and film makers returning their awards, the BJP leader reiterated that there was no logic in their action since the awards have been conferred by a selected jury. Jaitley had recently termed them as rabid anti-BJP elements. “I do not see any reason why anyone should try and disturb any event in India. It’s not a good practice,” he said, asked about the ongoing protests of FTII students who may take it to the IFFI and if the atmosphere ‘intolerance’ could impact the festival. “There are many who have never intellectually accepted the idea of the BJP being in power. This obviously includes the Congress, many left thinkers and activists. Over decades they have practiced ideological intolerance towards BJP. They wish to project India as an intolerant society but the truth is otherwise,” Jaitley had said in a recent Facebook post. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi and other party leaders marched to Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday to requesting him to act the atmosphere of intolerance. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday had said the Congress president had no moral right to lecture the NDA on tolerance and should be ashamed of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that killed thousands.

Awards Wapasi: Noted historian Shekhar Pathak from Uttarakhand returns Padma Shri

A historian, writer and academician from Uttarakhand, Pathak was awarded the Padma Shri in 2007.

A historian, writer and academician from Uttarakhand, Pathak was awarded the Padma Shri in 2007. (mussooriewriters.com)

Noted historian from Uttarakhand Shekhar Pathak on Monday announced his decision to return Padma Shri in protest against what they call the “atmosphere of growing intolerance” in the country. He is the second eminent personality from Uttarakhand to return his award after noted writer Nayantara Sahgal. Announcing the decision at the ongoing 4th Nainital Film Festival which got underway in the tourist town today, Pathak said his move was in “protest against the atmosphere of growing intolernace in the country and the neglect of the Himalayan region”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said being the son of the Himalayas returning the award was also his way of registering his protest against the “loot” of its resources. A historian, writer and academician from Uttarakhand, Pathak was awarded the Padma Shri in 2007. Also known for his concern for the environment, he founded “People’s Association for Himalaya Area Research (PAHAR), a Nainital-based a non-profit organization for research on Himalayan people, established in 1983. He also edits an annual journal published by it.In 2007, he took up a three-year project to study the Himalayan people along with Magsaysay Award winner, Chandi Prasad Bhatt, traversing the Himalayas, from Leh to Arunachal.

Watch: Caste on a Plate – a TISS documentary on beef-eating in Mumbai

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A documentary called ‘Caste on the Menu Card’ which failed to get permission for a screening at the 12th Jeevika Asia Livelihood Documentary Festival which is organised by Centre for Civil Society (CSS).

YouTube Screen Grab

A documentary called ‘Caste on the Menu Card’ which failed to get permission for a screening at the 12th Jeevika Asia Livelihood Documentary Festival which is organised by Centre for Civil Society (CSS) has been released online.The 21-minute film, made by students of the School of Media and Cultural Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), focuses on beef-eating practices in Mumbai. According to a synopsis on the festival’s website, the movie “delves into the idea of food as a site of exclusion by focusing on beef-eating practices in Mumbai. (Read: JNU students resist security and ABVP protest to screen documentary)<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

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India, Indonesia sign two MoUs on energy, culture; to expand defence cooperation

Vice President Hamid Ansari, who met his Indonesian counterpart Jusuf Kalla, said that ways to diversify and increase bilateral trade.

Vice President Hamid Ansari, who is on a visit to Indonesia

India and Indonesia on Monday signed agreements in the fields of renewable energy and culture and discussed possibilities of expanding cooperation in counter-terrorism and defence.Vice President Hamid Ansari, who met his Indonesian counterpart Jusuf Kalla, said that ways to diversify and increase bilateral trade as well to encourage investments in each other’s country through private sectors were also discussed.”For this we will be working to provide a robust and contemporary legal framework,” he told reporters.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We have also discussed possibilities of expanding our cooperation in defence and counter-terrorism through intensification of our existing mechanisms,” Ansari said. The Vice President, who is here on the invitation of Kalla, said that the two countries share similar positions on several global and regional issues including climate change, maritime security and freedom of seas in the South China Sea.Giving details of one of the agreements signed, Ansari said that India and Indonesia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in new and renewable energy sector.”This cooperation is important as both India and Indonesia have committed themselves to reduce carbon emissions by 35% and 29% respectively by 2030,” he said. Ansari also said that a MoU for cooperation in cultural field was also signed.Related Read: CBI team arrives at don Chhota Rajan’s detention centre in BaliHe also thanked Indonesia for supporting India in organising ‘Sahabat India – The Festival of India in Indonesia’ earlier this year.Indonesia is the largest ASEAN member and India looks forward to its continued support as we move to increase our engagement with ASEAN member states as part of our Act East policy.”We congratulate the Government of Indonesia for successfully organising 60th Asian African Conference Commemoration in April 2015 and for assuming chairmanship of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) last week,” he said. The IORA is an international organisation consisting of coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean. The Association comprises 20 member states, including India and Indonesia and six dialogue partners.Ansari said India is confident that under the leadership of President Joko Widodo and Vice President Kalla, Indonesia will continue to make all-round progress and bilateral relationship between the two countries will be strengthened.

Debate on rising intolerance: Shobhaa De reigns as Anupam Kher booed for defending Narendra Modi

Despite Kher’s attempts at running her down in his opening below-the-belt remarks when he called her “an editor of a film magazine which printed gossip about which film star slept with whom,” it was clearly Shobha De’s evening.

It’s still a good eleven days to Diwali but loud fireworks went off at the Tata LitLive Festival on its opening night on Thursday. It was at a debate on ‘Freedom of expression is in imminent danger,’ where actor Anupam Kher and Nalin Kohli of the BJP were speaking against the motion, facing off with celebrated writers Shobhaa De and Sudheendra Kulkarni who spoke for it.While Kohli to his credit tried to use his acumen as a legal eagle and decades of being a TV anchor and spokesperson of the BJP to make his point, his fellow panellist kept using personal attacks, rhetoric and politically charged propagandist statements to score points leading to him getting booed several times. When Anupam Kher realised that the debate was turning completely against him he sprang a surprise by charging noted columnist-writer and Tata LitLive Festival director Anil Dharker with arranging a “paid audience.” <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This not only worsened the booing but saw members of the audience angrily asking him to apologise. When Dharker confronted him, Kher remained defiant saying, “You wanted this. Why didn’t you have the topic with a question mark after the topic of the debate? This shows your bias.”Amidst rising crescendo of booing, Kher disregarded former BBC anchor and debate moderator Nik Gowing’s pleas to finish making his concluding minute-long remarks and went on to read the message trail between Dharker and himself which he claimed would expose this. The message incidentally only helped buttress Dharker’s point because it showed him allaying Kher’s fears that there wouldn’t be a free and fair debate.Despite Kher’s attempts at running her down in his opening below-the-belt remarks when he called her “an editor of a film magazine which printed gossip about which film star slept with whom,” it was clearly Shobhaa De’s evening. She spoke from her heart and was applauded thunderously every time she did. “If we don’t speak up now, it will be too late,” she warned, often trembling with the rage of her emotions as she tore into the culture of intolerance and bigotry. In fact, Kohli too ended up praising her prowess with language.Actor and BJP MP Kirron Kher, who was in the front row jumped up to defend her husband when a young lady in the audience told Kher off saying he was naive and ill-informed about both culture and politics. “People still loyal to the earlier government are unhappy that a common man who rose from humble beginnings is taking the country forward. They feel unhappy that the same US which denied him a visa is going out of its way to welcome him in such large numbers,” she said getting praised by her husband from the stage with a “Kya baat hai meri jaan.” When the audience continued booing her too, Kher offered, “We’re used to booing, we’re theatre actors,”.Though there were a few in the audience, like spokesperson for Kashmiri Pandits and the censor board member Ashok Pandit (who spoke spiritedly about the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits ), who tried to support Kher and Kohli, they were booed.
The audience voted with ‘ballot pamphlets’, overwhelmingly agreeing that freedom in the country was in imminent danger just like they had at the beginning of the 75-minute long debate.

Women empowerment themed Durga Pujas

one of the oldest community durga pujas in Gurgaon, has decided upon the theme, ‘India Let Her Live- Save the Girl Child’.

Durga Puja

The existing paradox of Goddesses being worshiped and women being discriminated against in the same land will come alive this year in Durga Pujas across the national capital region with pandals sporting themes, which endorse women empowerment. Maruti Vihar Sarbojanin Durgotsav (MVSD), one of the oldest community Durga pujas in Gurgaon, has decided upon the theme, “India Let Her Live- Save the Girl Child,” drawing inspiration from the Prime Minister’s “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” programme. “The theme was chosen to highlight the plight of the girl child, particularly in Haryana where female foeticide is still rampant. The lowest among all Indian states, Haryana’s sex ratio shows that the mindset of the society has not changed despite the country’s progress in different domains,” says Anit Kumar Ghosh, President, MVSD.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Seeking to project the anticipated evolution of society from such social evils to a state of enlightenment, the initial stretch of the venue is adorned with dark art works representing female foeticide and gradually transforms into a brighter, positive ambiance finally culminating at the idol of Goddess Durga, the greatest example of an empowered woman. “We believe that in order to bring about a change, government alone is not enough. Citizens should also play their part in the society. It is with this spirit that MVSD has chosen this theme,” he says. The designs for both the concept and the idols have been conceptualised by the internationally acclaimed sculptor Biswajit Majumdar, best known for his iconic teracotta gate at the Surajkund Mela, which is held annually in Faridabad. “While the framework and the bodies of the idols are being made at Chittaranjan Park in Delhi by local artisans under the supervision of Majumdaer and his team, the faces, costumes and jewellery have been procured from the sculptor’s studio in Krishna Nagore in West Bengal,” says Ghosh. The committee which will be celebrating its silver jubilee this year, will host a youth festival on the same theme, with activities like debates and cultural competitions for college students. “We will hold a Youth Festival ‘YOXY GEN 2015’ that will witness performances by bands and dance groups from different colleges. Debates and street plays on the theme will also be a part of the festival,” he says. Using the Raahgiri platform in the city, MVSD also organised a three kilometre long “Run to Save the Girl Child” marathon earlier this year, besides a T-Shirt designing contest on the theme. “The winning design was used on the T-shirts that were worn by the participants at the run,” he says.

PM Modi wishes nation on Navratri

The Prime Minister also shared a picture of Goddess Durga, in whose name the festival is celebrated.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday greeted the nation on the occasion of Navratri.”My heartfelt wishes to all the countrymen on the auspicious occasion of Navratri,” Prime Minister Modi said in a tweet. The Prime Minister also shared a picture of Goddess Durga, in whose name the festival is celebrated.

ZEE JLF reveals first list of authors to be present at 2016 edition of the literary festival

The 2016 Festival will explore issues such as migration, privacy and navigating change.

The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival revealed its list of 165 acclaimed Indian and international authors set to appear for its 2016 event on Thursday.The ninth edition of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival will be headlined by luminaries such as Margaret Atwood, poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist, even as her new novel, ‘The Heart Goes Last’ is appreciated by her many fans around the world; Ruskin Bond; Steve McCurry one of the world’s greatest living photographers; controversial Harvard historian Niall Ferguson and British actor and comedian Stephen Fry.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>French Economist and global voice on wealth and income inequality Thomas Piketty, Bosnian American fiction writer Aleksandar Hemon, Israeli author and peace activist David Grossman, and psychoanalyst and author Sudhir Kakar will take centre-stage alongside some of India’s leading writers, including prominent Hindi poet and author Uday Prakash, Sahitya Akademi Awardees in the world of Assamese literature Rita Chowdhury and Dhrubajyoti Bora as well as prominent Gujarati poet and scholar Sitanshu Yashaschandra, among others.The 2016 Festival will explore issues such as migration, privacy and navigating change.Homi Bhabha from the Mahindra Humanities Centre will curate sessions on the theme of privacy in the contemporary world. Contributors include British author and columnist Ben Macintyre. Frontline reporters will discuss conflict and its effect on the modern world with American reporter Dexter Filkins, English foreign correspondent Christina Lamb and CNN’s national security analyst Peter Bergen. Science communicator, children’s author, journalist and novelist Lucy Hawking will speak of writing for young readers.Leading Indian writers at the festival will include Mridula Sinha, Alka Saraogi, Ashok Vajpeyi, Yatindra Mishra, Prabhat Ranjan, Harish Trivedi and Mridul Kirti in Hindi, Anita Agnihotri in Bangla, Vivek Shanbhag in Kannada, Ila Arab Mehta in Gujarati, Madhav Hada in Rajasthani, Makarand Sathe in Marathi, Sahil Maqbool in Kashmiri, and many others including the Santhali publisher Ruby Hembrom.The festival will take place at Diggi Palace in Jaipur from January 21-25, 2016.

Shah Rukh Khan to promote West Bengal as ‘sweetest’ tourist destination

Road shows would be held in seven cities in the country to attract tourists to the state with the new catchline ‘Experience Bengal – The Sweetest part of India’, Basu said.

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan will promote Bengal as the “sweetest” tourist destination in the country, as the state goes on an overdrive to attract domestic and foreign travellers. “We have roped in superstar Shah Rukh Khan for promoting tourist destinations in West Bengal. He will soon come over to the city for a two-day shoot,” state tourism minister Bratya Basu told newspersons here. “New ad-films will be made featuring Shah Rukh for Hindi and English languages,” Basu said, adding that a Rs 8-crore budget has been earmarked for showcasing Bengal as an attractive tourist destination. Road shows would be held in seven cities in the country to attract tourists to the state with the new catchline ‘Experience Bengal – The Sweetest part of India’, Basu said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The minister said that with the Durga Puja coming up in the third week of October, the state tourism department has drawn up several package tours under which people can enjoy the festivities in the metropolis and in other parts of the state. The packages during the festival would be from one of eight hours that would show popular pujas in different parts of the city, thronged by lakhs of visitors everyday, to that of a two-day schedule that would take tourists to different districts, where they can enjoy the festival in a serene and idyllic atmosphere.

Watch: The environmentally unfriendly practice of Ganpati ‘visarjan’

A video posted on Facebook by HvKprasad Prasad has gone viral because it shows the environmentally unfriendly practices of ‘visarjan’.

A screenshot from the video where the last and the largest Ganesh Idol in the truck is tossed into the river

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While Ganesh Festival in India has drawn to an end after 10 days of intense festivities, a grave question that arises every year has yet again kicked up a debate on social media.Faith and religion aside, the immersion of the Ganesh Idol in water bodies ‘visarjan’, a tradition of bidding a symbolic good bye to the lord often draws flak from environmentalists. First, because the idol itself is often made of Plaster of Paris (PoP) and fibre that is toxic not only for aquatic flora and fauna but also to humans. Second, the dumping of paraphernalia into the water bodies and public places. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A video posted on Facebook by HvKprasad Prasad has gone viral because it shows the environmentally unfriendly practices of ‘visarjan’. It also shows how the very idol, which was worshipped by thousands just hours before, is being unceremoniously dumped into a river right from a bridge. The video shows civic sanitation workers tossing idols off the truck while two persons in police uniform seem to casually watch the entire process.While the origin and veracity of the video is yet to be confirmed, the video’s caption places the incident on National Highway 44 near Mehboobnagar in Karnataka. It also identifies the water body as the Krishna River. Watch the video here:ಲೈಕ್ ಮಾಡಬೇಡಿ ಶೇರ್ ಮಾಡಿಇದು NH 44 ಮೆಹಬೂಬ್ ನಗರ್ ಜಿಲ್ಲೆಯ ತೆಲಾ೦ಗಣ ರಾಜ್ಯದ ಕೃಷ್ಣ ನದಿಯ ಸೇತುವೆಯ ಮೇಲೆ ತೆಲಾ೦ಗಣ ಪೋಲೀಸರು ಗಣಪತಿಯನ್ನು ವಿಸಜ೯ನೆ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿರುವ ರೀತಿ
Posted by Hvkprasad Prasad on Thursday, September 24, 2015

VIDEO: India’s new eco Ganesh festival

Statues at the festival worshipping Lord Ganesh are becoming a model of sustainability.

‘Desde Alla’ chosen best film at 72nd Venice Film Festival | Reuters

VENICE Venezuela’s “Desde Alla” (From Afar) won the Golden Lion on Saturday for best film at the 72nd Venice Film Festival.

The best director was Argentina’s Pablo Trapero for “El Clan” (The Clan), while the runner-up Grand Jury prize went to American director Charlie Kaufman and co-director Duke Johnson for their stop-motion animated “Anomalisa”.

French actor Fabrice Luchini won the best actor prize for “L’Hermine” (Courted), Italy’s Valeria Golino took the best actress prize for “Per Amor Vostro” (For Your Love) and Abraham Attah of Ghana won the prize for best new young actor in “Beast of No Nation”.

(Writing by Michael Roddy; Editing by Dominic Evans)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Mumbai’s ISKCON temple gears up for Krishna Janmashtami celebrations

The Krishna Janmasthami celebration is open for everyone.

The Krishna Janmasthami celebration AT Mumbai ISKCON is open for everyone.

File Photo
The ISKCON temple at Juhu was lit up on the night before Krishna Janmashtami.The temple will begin the celebrations of the festival on September 5 at 7.00 pm. The rituals will start with the Kalash Abhishek and end with in the midnight with the Mahabhishek marking Lord Krishna’s birthday. The program will end at 1.00 am. Prasadam will be served to devotees.The Krishna Janmasthami celebration is open for everyone.The ISKCON temple all lit up for the festival<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Festive decorations outside the templeFor more hyperlocal stories visit iamin.in

Raksh Bandhan 2015: These Pakistani Hindu migrants who can’t reach out to their brothers wish to tie rakhi to PM Modi

Many women residing in a refugee camp for Pakistani Hindu migrants in Majnu ka Tila feel they are unfortunate that they can’t celebrate the festival with their brothers.

These Pakistani Hindu migrants who can’t reach out to their brothers wish to tie rakhi to Modi

Revelry has enveloped the national capital and markets are being flocked by large number of shoppers buying Raksha Bandhan gifts. Yet not everyone in Delhi is privileged enough to celebrate the festival. Many women residing in a refugee camp for Pakistani Hindu migrants in Majnu ka Tila feel they are unfortunate that they can’t celebrate the festival with their brothers.A victim of persecution, Meera Devi also lives here while her brothers resides on the other side of the border in her hometown- Sindh Hyderabad. “Hindus in Pakistan can come to India only if they are lucky or wealthy. I got my visa and passport made while my brothers could not. I have 7 brothers but I haven’t seen them since I came here three years back. Only once, I sent them Rakhi through courier and talked to them over phone,” laments 35-year-old Meera.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bhagvani, another migrant living in Majnu ka Tila refugee camp, expresses her wish tie Rakhi to Prime Minister Narendra Modi while speaking to iamin. “This is the festival when brothers protect their sisters. I want our PM to give us pakka houses, electricity, medical facilities and water as a gift for Rakhi,” she asserts. “We looked so attractive when we came to India. People used to ask us if we women were from Kabul as our cheeks were rosy pink. Now, we have lost the charm on our faces as we are living in dire poverty. Here, we have to cook food on a stoves and there were times when we have a gas stove in Pakistan. But we felt unsafe there so we had no choice but to flee our homeland,” she grieves as she remembers times gone by.Sitting next to Bhagvani, Ganga says she still has the salwar kameez which was gifted to her by her brother many years back. “We don’t feel like celebrating this festival as many of our kins are still on the other side of the border,” she says.There are about 400 Pakistani Hindu migrants living in the camp in inhumane conditions. The camp lacks basic amenities like power and water supply. Lack of medical facilities has also posed health risks to inhabitants, especially for the pregnant women and infants.For more such stories follow iamin.in

FTII row: I&B team to focus only on student assessments, not Gajendra Chauhan’s appointment: Rajyavardhan Rathore

Rathore says I&B will only look at the students’ assessment issue.

Image Courtesy : Wikimedia commons
Asserting that the government was keen to resolve the FTII issue, Minister of State Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore on Friday said further decisions in this regard would be taken after the three-member team constituted by the ministry returns from Pune. “The government hopes to resolve the issue as soon as possible. We want that FTII should be strengthened,” Rathore told reporters at the inauguration of a North-East Film Festival here.Asked about the demand of agitating students who are protesting against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the institute’s chairman, Rathore said, the recent incident related only to the assessment of 2008 batch. “The incident which occured two days ago, because of which police came and they were arrested, in that eight hours there was no mention of Gajendra Chauhan. In those eight hours there was only one thing that the assessments of 2008-09 batch should be stopped,” Rathore said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He added that a course which is of three-year duration, could not be completed even in eight years, problems have arisen because of that, due to which the three-member team was in Pune. “When it returns, then after analysing their interaction with students, faculty and director, a decision would be taken,” he said.Rathore also added that when he had a conversation with FTII director who said they were repeatedly saying the same thing as if some interrogation was on. Their question was will you stop this process of assessment and not implement, he added.The minister also emphasised that the process of assessment has not been initiated by this government or after the strike but had begun in April 2013 and several warnings had been given to students of this batch. Inaugurating the North East Film Festival Rathore said Government intended to make the North East Film Festival, a People s Movement which would become better with each passing year.He also said the government was planning to set up a Film and Television institute in Arunachal Pradesh and also wants a Doordarshan channel for each state in the region.

Tamil Nadu government to observe APJ Abdul Kalam’s birthday as ‘Youth Renaissance Day’

Tamil Nadu government will also constitute the ‘Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Award’ for persons who strive towards promoting scientific growth, humanities and students’ welfare

APJ Abdul Kalam at Jaipur Literature Festival 2015

Amid widespread demands to conserve the legacy of former President APJ Abdul Kalam, Tamil Nadu government on Friday said an award would be constituted in his name and his birthday would be observed as “Youth Renaissance Day”.Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said she had issued directions to constitute the ‘Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Award’ for persons who strive towards promoting scientific growth, humanities and students’ welfare and that the award would be given away during Independence Day every year.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This was in line with her government’s policy of creating a ‘Strong India and Resourceful Tamil Nadu,’ she said in a statement here.The award will carry an 8 gram gold medal, Rs 5 lakh in cash and a citation and would be presented to a person hailing from the state, she said, adding it would be given away from this year.Further, October 15, Kalam’s birthday, would henceforth be observed as ‘Youth Renaissance Day’ by the Tamil Nadu government, she said.”Abdul Kalam always wanted to remain a teacher. He was a driving force behind the growth of youth by his enlightening remarks that struck a chord with students,” she said while recalling his contributions towards India’s growth.Kalam was a multi-faceted personality, often described as ‘Missile Man’ and ‘Nuclear Hero,’ Jayalalithaa said while tracing his humble origins.His hard work and dedication not only made him a veteran scientist, but also the President, she said, adding, he had a vision that the country should become a superpower by 2020.Kalam died on July 27 in Shillong and was laid to rest at his native Rameswaram in the state with full state honours yesterday, with thousands of people attending his funeral.

Kashish’s companion exhibition charged with plagiarism

In Mumbai, Gallery Beyond hosted it. “I had no idea I will have reconnect with the gallery and gallerist under these circumstances. By the time it came to Mumbai The Wall of Solidarity had grown to 118 canvases. The show got a huge response from both the man on the street and celebrities.”

Salman Ansari
dna
A month-long exhibition which went up with the Kashish Mumbai Queer International Film Festival (KMQIFF) 2015, has started a war of words in the art world. Being organised in association with Gallery Beyond, the month-long art show named The 377191 Wall exhibition has seen 238 artists come together to express solidarity with the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression and the freedom to choose whom to love. Now Myna Mukherjee, a cultural curator with over 15 years of experience in the field of arts and human rights with a special focus on gender and sexuality, has charged Gallery Beyond owner Vibhuraj Kapoor with stealing her idea. The Delhi-based curator who runs an arts organisation called Engendered and has spent several years in New York, says the idea for The 377191 Wall is a copy of her own art intervention show named RESIST. “In Jan 2013 we started an art intervention show called RESIST in response to rising gender-based violence. This included an open call to all artists to contribute to a ‘Wall of Solidarity’ on a 1×1 foot canvas demonstrating conscience and dissent against gender violence and gender injustice.” RESIST was a popular show, with names like Anjolie Ela Menon, Mithu Sen, Arpana Caur, Irrana and several others. The show went to Chennai and Mumbai.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In Mumbai, Gallery Beyond hosted it. “I had no idea I will have reconnect with the gallery and gallerist under these circumstances. By the time it came to Mumbai The Wall of Solidarity had grown to 118 canvases. The show got a huge response from both the man on the street and celebrities.” After Mumbai RESIST was retired but the Wall stayed and was shown in different venues, clubs, colleges, and most recently at the American Embassy for over a month in Dec-Jan 2015. “Following the coverage, Vibhu (Vibhuraj Kapoor) from Gallery Beyond wrote to me asking me if we’d want to recreate the wall for the Kashish Film Festival. I had other commitments and I declined but also left room to perhaps do something next year. I also reminded him that The Wall and specially the open call format of 1×1 was Engendered property,” Myna told dna and added, “His response was ‘Ki farak painda hai’.” She shared with dna the mails from Kapoor to this effect. Myna says she then heard that Gallery Beyond had sent out a call for works that she terms an appropriation of her call. “Many artists were confused and thought it was the same wall that was travelling back to Gallery Beyond. Some found out in the nick of time and wrote messages declining to participate. I was busy with two other shows in Delhi and only found out that they went ahead with the exact same idea and format without any major changes.” Myna saw the invite on May 20th, and sent a legal notice to Gallery Beyond on May 21st. “The vacation judge has admitted the petition and we hope for a hearing on June 5th. Despite the notice the Gallery Beyond has brazenly not done anything to show that this is not their original idea. Misleading the world of artists/activists and the general public into believing that The Wall was conceived and curated by Vibhuraj Kapoor is so wrong. I am still reeling in shock and disappointment.” The KMQIFF director tried to downplay the controversy, saying that there can be no restriction on getting artists together for a cause or the format in which they present their work. Gallerist Vibhuraj Kapoor told dna, “Now that Myna has made the matter sub-judice how can I comment? We have great respect for the judicial system and are confident that it will emerge we are not in the wrong.” Meanwhile artists who were part of both RESIST and The Wall are wary of taking sides. Artist Brinda Miller told dna, “As an artist I’m not privy to what the understanding between Myna or Vibhu is. All I’m interested in is either my money if my works are sold or for my works to be returned.”

In a bid to pump up tourism, Egypt trying to take help from Indian celebrities to woo tourists

Cairo: In an attempt to pump up dwindling flow of foreign tourists to Egypt, authorities here are attempting to rope in more Indian celebrities to woo travellers from India.

Tourism, which is one of the centrepieces of the Egyptian economy, suffered a severe blow due to many violent attacks by militants since the January 2011 revolution that toppled long-time president Hosni Mubarak.

In 2013, former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster intensified the attacks, leading to a decrease in footfalls of foreign tourists.

AFP image.AFP image.

AFP image.

The latest success of megastar Amitabh Bachchan’s visit to the country for the India by The Nile Festival has prompted the Egyptian Tourism to include more Indian celebrities in their effort to help them highlight the fact that Egypt is strongly back in the market.

“Indian tourists are one of our most important, promising markets. We believe there are lots to do in the Indian market over the coming few months to increase the number of tourists to Egypt. Some of them are directed to the consumers such as the India By The Nile Festival in Egypt attended by the great star Amitabh Bachchan,” Ismail A Hamid, Egyptian Tourism Counsellor, told PTI.

Hamid said that the percentage of Indians visiting Egypt has improved in the last few months, which is the result of the positive news coming from Egypt at the Egyptian Economic Development Conference.

“Over the last few months we notice wonderful indicators of increasing. December 2014 has witnessed an increase of about 27 per cent compared to December 2013 while February 2015 has witnessed 24.1 per cent compared to February 2014,” said Hamid, who is based in Mumbai.

“After the revolution of Egypt, the number of tourists had dropped from 14.7 million tourists in 2010 to 9.8 million tourists in 2011. The indicators of the last few months show good increases so that by the end of 2015 we are expecting to regain our position in the market in terms of figures again.”

The tourism officials are also taking steps to increase the awareness of the different segments of Indian people to the beauty of Egypt, not only the Pyramids of Giza but also Alexandria, Luxor, Aswan, Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada.

Sheriff Hassan Mohamed, a guide with Lady Egypt Tours, said Indians have a lot in common with Egyptians in terms of ancient history and culture.

“Lack of tourists for the last five or six years have made us realise that we were going in the wrong direction and we were not advertising well. We are in the right way by introducing India which is a great country.

“Egypt would be more appreciated by people from countries like India since it has a rich past and ancient history like us,” Sheriff said.

PTI

Modi to miss Ghulam Ali musical treat at Shankat Mochan temple

Lucknow: In a memorable treat for people of Varanasi, noted ghazal singer from Pakistan Ghulam Ali, is scheduled to perform at the five-day Sankat Mochan Music Festival beginning from today (Wednesday 8 April) at the historic Sankat Mochan temple.

This is for the first time that a Pakistani performer has been invited to perform at this annual festival. There is great enthusiasm in the city for this programme and hundreds of music lovers and ghazal enthusiasts are looking forward to listen to the maestro. The programme is being organized in the premises of the Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple since 1923, according to a member of the organizing committee. The five-day classical music and dance festival has seen iconic artists from all parts of India having performed here.

The temple is situated near the new Vishwanath temple within the Banaras Hindu University campus and is said to have been constructed in early 1900s by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, the founder of BHU.

“The Sankat Mochan Music Festival is an overnight long music festival held on four nights and it is a special attraction for foreign tourists,” said Vishwambhar Nath Mishra, the chief priest of the Sankat Mochan Temple.

It was widely believed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be arriving in Varanasi even if for a few hours, to attend the programme as a special gesture, but there was some disappointment on this issue since last night when Modi issued a series of tweets regretting his inability to attend the event due to his “busy schedule”. Modi is scheduled to go on a foreign trip on Wednesday and expressed the hope that he will attend the programme in the future.

Courtesy: ibn liveCourtesy: ibn live

Courtesy: ibn live

Among today’s performers are Kathak exponent Pandit Birju Maharaj and Deepak Maharaj, flute player Hariprasad Chaurasia and Vivek Saunar, Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, his sons Amaan and Ayaan and vocalist Ajay Pohankar.

The programme traditionally begins with a prayer for Lord hanuman with full rituals. Ghulam Ali was reported to have said that he felt “honoured” to be performing at the Sankat Mochan temple.
Others scheduled to perform up to 12 April  include Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Ratikant Mohapatra, Sujata Mohapatra, Sonal Mansing, Pandit Rajan Sajan and Bhajan Sopori.

All hotels, guest houses and paying guest accommodations in Varanasi have been fully booked and a huge crowd is expected to reach the programme venue early in the evening. Extraordinary security arrangements have been made in the city and especially outside Hotel Taj Gateway where Ghulam Ali is staying.

The event, incidentally, is free with entry open for all. “The performer sits in a verandah and the audience sits on the ground or on chairs in the vast ground in front. It is expected that hundreds of people will be forced to keep standing during the programme,” said Prof Vijay Mishra of BHU who is part of the Trust.

It is learnt that Ghulam Ali will sing thumri and chaiti and not ghazals, in keeping with the spirit of the music festival. It is also learnt that he said he would sing a few ghazals if there was public demand, but these would be selected in keeping with the environment and occasion. Incidentally, there is animated discussion among the people whether Ghulam Ali will oblige by singing his most-loved ghazal Chupke chupke raat din aansoo bahaana yaad hai on this occasion.

According to a source in the Trust, Ghulam Ali himself had made it clear that he would not accept any fee for this. Incidentally, the Sankat Mochan Trust pays a token honorarium of Rs 501 and Rs 101 to the performers who are invited to perform. Ghulam Ali himself was quoted in a newspaper that he “could not afford the call of Banarasi music lovers and would not miss such a fine opportunity to perform there.”

In all, 56 artists are scheduled to perform in the festival which will come to an end on April 12. “It is a much eagerly-awaited event in Varanasi for music lovers and devotees of Hanuman,” said Brajesh Mishra, a resident of the BHU area.

“It is a symbol of the composite culture of this city that there is such great excitement over the arrival of a Pakistani maestro. The people will welcome with open heart and open arms,” he said. However, people consider it debatable whether Ghulam Ali’s visit will make any difference in the current strained relations between India and Pakistan. “Ghulam Ali has always been loved by Indians, regardless of politics, and his visit to Varanasi has nothing to do with politics,” felt Mishra.

Culinary route can be useful in strengthening India-Pakistan ties: Akhilesh Yadav

Lucknow: Making an unusual suggestion, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday said even the culinary route can be useful in strengthening India-Pakistan ties and promote trade between the two countries.

Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav. PTI

Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav. PTI

He made the remark while addressing the Indo-Pak Lifestyle and Food Festival organised in Lucknow under ‘Aman Ke Saat Rang‘, where the aroma of mouth watering dishes of Pakistan and the world famous Awadhi cuisine wafted in the air.

Akhilesh said that mutual connect between the people of the two countries strengthen the relationship.

“Mutual connect strengthens relationship between two countries. This thread of bonding leads to exchange of culture and create business relations,” Akhilesh said.

He said that governments too interact with each other, therefore to cement and strengthen these relationship, mutual bonding of the people was important.

The Chief Minister said that such events would provide opportunity to strengthen India-Pakistan relationship and promote trade between the two countries.

He said that through this festival confluence of brotherhood and harmony between the two countries was visible.

Akhilesh said that such events provide artisans from both the sides to know and understand each other and people get a chance to see and buy products related to handicraft.

He said that the SP government was always in favour of uplift of weavers, sculptors and artisans and has launched a number of schemes to provide facilities.

Akhilesh said that 25 acre land has been provided for Lucknow Haat, which would be ready in a year time. Similarly, he said that a Bunkar Bazar was being set up in Noida.

He congratulated the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry and UP Tourism for organising the event and said that it was a good start which should be continued.

MP Dimple Yadav also congratulated the artisans and fashion designers from India and Pakistan for their products.

The event was also addressed by Humaira Bukhari from Pakistan and PHD Chairman Lalit Khaitan.

Akhilesh interacted with the artisans from both the sides. He was presented with mementos by the artisans.

Around 40 famous artisans from different parts of Pakistan and more than 25 artisans and fashion designer from Indian side are participating in the festival.

PTI

Shashi Tharoor clarifies stand on Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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Congress leader and former union minister, Shashi Tharoor, in his new book points out how implementation of some of the plans announced by the Prime Minister could be Modi government’s Achilles’ heel. Insisting he was quoted out of context from his session with Mihir Sharma at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, he quoted from ‘India Shastra’, his latest collection of essays. “There is a paradox at the heart of Mr Modi’s ascent to the Prime Ministership. His speeches and rhetoric appear to recognize and harness a vital shift in our national politics from a politics of identity to a politics of performance. Yet he has ridden to power at the helm of a party, the BJP, which is ill-suited to the challenge of delinking India’s polity from the incendiary issue of religious identity that it had built its base on,” he quoted from his essay and added, “I don’t know why I have been quoted only as saying that Modi’s speeches are a shift in politics; from the politics of identity to politics of performance, by a section of the media.”

Congress leader and former union minister, Shashi Tharoor, in his new book points out how implementation of some of the plans announced by the Prime Minister could be Modi government’s Achilles’ heel. Insisting he was quoted out of context from his session with Mihir Sharma at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, he quoted from ‘India Shastra’, his latest collection of essays. “There is a paradox at the heart of Mr Modi’s ascent to the Prime Ministership. His speeches and rhetoric appear to recognize and harness a vital shift in our national politics from a politics of identity to a politics of performance. Yet he has ridden to power at the helm of a party, the BJP, which is ill-suited to the challenge of delinking India’s polity from the incendiary issue of religious identity that it had built its base on,” he quoted from his essay and added, “I don’t know why I have been quoted only as saying that Modi’s speeches are a shift in politics; from the politics of identity to politics of performance, by a section of the media.”

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BJPPrime MinisterNarendra ModiShashi TharoorZee JLF 2015

Zee JLF: Shashi Tharoor praises Narendra Modi, Congress in a tizzy

Shashi Tharoor who has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, proved his penchant for controversy by doffing his hat at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for shifting politics of this country from identity to performance, at a packed-to-the-gills session – India Shastra – at the Diggi Palace Front Lawns of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival on Friday.

Shashi Tharoor who has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, proved his penchant for controversy by doffing his hat at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for shifting politics of this country from identity to performance, at a packed-to-the-gills session – India Shastra – at the Diggi Palace Front Lawns of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival on Friday.Only early last week Congress had pulled Tharoor up for remarks at the Kolkata literary festival for “praising the PM”. Yet today he began his talk with, “Modi is a shift in politics; from the politics of identity to politics of performance.” Tharoor was reading from his new collection of essays, before which he made the point which could further upset his party, the Congress.Though he later tried to temper his compliment with some criticism, his earlier words seemed to have made a mark by then. Congress supporters in the assembly of 2,500-plus people were miffed with Tharoor. Later, though Tharoor observed that while PM Modi’s appeal is his focus on development and governance, “he’s giving a free rein to retrograde elements (who are) rewriting text books, praising ancient science over modern science”, it cut little ice with the Congress sympathisers present in the audience.“Unko soch samajh kar bolna chahiye (He should have thought of it before speaking),” said Narayan Thakur, a Congress worker who was seen immediately making calls to his party bosses to inform them of the development. While admitting he will raise the issue with the national leadership, Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sachin Pilot didn’t seem too keen on muddying waters. “Tharoor is not from Rajasthan. So any formal comment on this should come from the national spokesperson of the party. I will only speak about what is happening in the state,” he said.Such was the outrage over Tharoor’s statement that much of what his fellow panelist Mihir Sharma or the moderator Amita Tripathi said paled out in comparison.It may be recalled that on October 14 last year, Congress had removed Tharoor from the post of national spokesperson, after the Kerala unit (led by KPCC vice-president M M Hassan) of the Congress took strong objection to what they called his “continuous and undue effusive praise” of Modi. They had demanded the high command act against him, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who Tharoor was otherwise seen as close to, referred the matter to the central disciplinary panel of A K Antony, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Motilal Vora, which recommended that he be stripped of his post.The former union minister who had been questioned by Delhi police on Monday over his wife Sunanda Pushkar’s death has been magnet for media which swirled around him even on Thursday night when he was at the Zee Jaipur Litfest dinner.

Zee JLF: Sonia Gandhi is not a goddess: Javier Moro

The new epilogue summarises what I think of her governance. I think she did what she had to do. She was faithful to her constituency, the poor people who voted for her; she fought hard to have the social policies implemented against the liberal [economic policies of the] government that was hampering them.

Javier Moro at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival
Manit
dna
His effigy has been burnt, the Congress leadership has tried to denounce its authenticity, attacked him at press conferences – but Javier Moro, the Spanish writer whose The Red Sari, a fictional biography of Sonia Gandhi has just come out, is unapologetic. “It’s much better to write an unauthorised biography – what can be more boring than an authorised biography,” he asked the crowds gathered to listen to him speak about the controversial book at the front lawns of Diggi Palace on day three of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival (ZeeJLF). “She may be a private person, very shy. But she’s a public figure and can’t escape being written about,” he emphasised.The Spanish edition of the book, the result of five long years of research that saw him trace her life from the village of Orbassano, where she was born, through her school, college, later England where she met Rajiv Gandhi and later India, was published in 2008. The English version was to have come in 2010, but for the opposition from Sonia Gandhi and the Congress who even tried to stop its release in other English speaking markets, said Moro.And this despite several attempts by Moro to get Gandhi to give the book her blessings. “I met her at a function to felicitate Dominique Lapierre [Moro’s uncle] at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, went up to her and told her jokingly, ‘Madam, four years I have been sleeping with you,'” referring to the years he’d been researching the book. Gandhi however, he said, turned him away, saying, “We never read anything written about us. “It was a pompous and I was surprised because she is not a pompous person,” Moro commented.Despite all the controversy and the Congress campaign, Moro’s book actually paints quite a flattering picture of Gandhi, depicting her as a simple woman from a humble background who fell deeply in love with her husband-to-be, and so left behind her familiar world, disregarding all her father’s dire warnings, to be with him and make his family and country her own.Moro, however, denies the charge – “My book humanises her.” So it gives details about Sonia’s birth, what she was like in school (“docile”), how she met Rajiv, the couple’s struggles to convince her father for whom, says Moro, “marrying an Indian was like marrying a Martian”, the first and subsequent cordial meetings with Indira, their marriage, life in Indira’s Akbar Road household, some bits about the friction between Rajiv and Sanjay, the Emergency and later Rajiv’s joining politics and becoming PM – through all of which Sonia comes through, in Moro’s narrative, as single mindedly focused on Rajiv and their tight, undoubtedly happy family life. But there’s nothing about the grey areas – Bofors, for instance, or the Gandhis’ alleged role in shielding their friend Quattrochi, or even an unsentimental, convincing account of what exactly made her turn to politics.”If I were an Indian reporter, I would have gone into Bofors in greater depth,” Moro cries off, adding that he was not writing the book in order to judge her. Instead, he tends to the other side. “I have never believed the Gandhis were corrupt people. I have seen the house she has lived in, the house she sold five years ago. Yes, they may have had friends who were corrupt,” he said. As for her son, Rahul, Moro is similarly indulgent: “The Gandhis have always been late bloomers.” If, as you say, there is nothing in the book that puts her in a bad light, then why is the Congress so angry?They did it, I think, to please the lady. They possibly could not have read the book when they did that, because there was no English version. It was all hearsay, or taking lines out to context. Was it because your book shows her as a normal person?She is not a goddess, that p**ssed them off. That I had dug into her past, went into the village where she was born. I was trying to be as close to facts as possible. Of course I did not do anything damaging. I think it was mismanaged – and if they mismanage such a little thing, one imagines the results with the elections. Where did she acquire such a sense of eminence grise? “We don’t read…” and all that?That’s because she is surrounded by sycophants. You can resist that for certain number of time, there is a moment when you end up believing it. But you’ve only perpetuated the myth of Sonia…No, I have only humanised her – how did she fare, what were her fears, how did she decorate her house, how efficient was she in her household chores because she did that for years, how ambitious, or un-ambitious was she, how did she dress her kids, how did she help dress her mother-in-law every time she went out. This is human-making; the myth-makers are the Congress who made a marble statue out of her, inhuman, above the world.She’s always been a very simple person, she still is. She cares about family, she finds her peace in little things. Did you have informants within Congress or 10 Janpath? How did you get intimate details like it was Priyanka who got her medicine when she had an asthmatic attack after getting the news of Rajiv’s death? Did she try to stop others from speaking to you?She couldn’t have done anything. I interviewed Christian from Stiglitz, who introduced Rajiv Gandhi to Sonia at Cambridge, because he wanted to talk – there was nothing bad he was going to tell me. We became friends. [Other, later details about events at 10 Janpath] probably came from books by Pupul Jayakar, who was a very good friend of Indira Gandhi’s, and Katherine Frank. I knew that Sonia asthmatic, so it might have been poetic licence to have her daughter bring her medicine. What do you think of her subsequent career as a politician?The new epilogue summarises what I think of her governance. I think she did what she had to do. She was faithful to her constituency, the poor people who voted for her; she fought hard to have the social policies implemented against the liberal [economic policies of the] government that was hampering them. But she didn’t become a citizen of India until much later, in the 1980s.So what? Why would she? It’s only the opposition who made a big fuss about it. When Rajiv became prime minister, he had to have a wife who was Indian. It doesn’t mean she didn’t feel Indian – she’d lived in this country, she knew Hindi, she had two kids here, she wore saris. She had adapted totally.

Zee Jaipur Literature Festival: Like Anarkali women have strength in worst of situations- Mandy Ord

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Zee Jaipur Literature Festival panelist Mandy Ord is a Melbourne-based cartoonist who, along with Mumbai-based writer Annie Zaidi, has re-imagined the popular story of Anarkali and Salim from a feminist perspective. Ord has drawn cartoons, and Zaidi has worked on the text of the story, which appears in the anthology of speculative fiction ‘Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean’ published by Zubaan in India in November. In their re-imagining, Anarkali is far from being a defenceless slave girl who has everything taken away from her, her love, her identity and life—in their re-imagining, she is a strong heroine who takes charge of her own life and brings the tragedy to a happy ending. Ord spoke to dna’s Suhit Kelkar about the story, which takes off from the point where Anarkali is entombed alive for the crime of loving the heir-apparent to the Mughal throne.

Q] What attracted you to the story of Anarkali? How were you introduced to it?A. I was drawn to Annie’s telling of the story. We were sitting in a café in Melbourne (a few years ago). I was horrified at the idea that a girl would be entombed alive. It was like Kill Bill (where the heroine) summons up her strength to get out. (While she’s inside) you believe she would make it. I wondered how Anarkali could get out. We thought it would be interesting for her to get out. Q] What is Anarkali to you?A. She is a symbol of when you have everything taken away from you. She finds strength to survive. (When you’re caught up in a dangerous situation) you don’t know what you are capable of. Q] What do you feel about Salim and Akbar?A. I wish he could have done more. Why is he not worried about her? But, he was torn because he had so much to lose. He was going to be king. They (Salim and Akbar) represent some men’s restrictive view that someone was not good enough because their social status was not good enough. I would be frustrated if I was Anarkali, pushed and pulled between these authority figures. Q] In your retelling, Anarkali discovers she has the power to walk through walls and that is how she escapes certain death. She doesn’t die. What made you decide to change the ending?A. It was our job to imagine alternative futures for our own protagonists (for the anthology). We thought Anarkali would be the perfect story. (Even in daily life) when I hear about a woman going missing, I am hopeful for her. I won’t presume that she is a victim. I see her having power in her situation. I am an autobiographical cartoonist but there’s a lot of projection (of myself into the lives of others). Q] You help Anarkali by having her walk through walls. What other endings did you conceptualise before settling upon this one?A. That she would become stone and become a living monument to women. Which (is an idea that) relates to Indian sculpture. In some of the old stories she escapes through tunnels (and we considered those). But we wanted to stretch realities more. Q] Do Salim and she get together in your version of the story?A) They do indeed. She leads him to a place of forests and water where she will hunt and collect berries and they will have their life. I have imagined her on a cliff with her hair loose and blowing in the wind, and straight ahead there is a forest.

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ForestsjobstoriesZee JLF 2015Zee JLF 2015 Interview

Zee Jaipur Literature Festival: Demonic sculptures a hit at festival

Three gigantic 14 feet sculptures—part of a grand Gond art installation – at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival claimed their space as the central attraction at Durbar Hall a day before what some have called the Kumbh Mela of literature begins. Volunteers and workers have posted pictures with the sculptures already. This seems like an indication that the works of art will draw a lot of visitors as selfie-magnets.

Three gigantic 14 feet sculptures—part of a grand Gond art installation – at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival claimed their space as the central attraction at Durbar Hall a day before what some have called the Kumbh Mela of literature begins. Volunteers and workers have posted pictures with the sculptures already. This seems like an indication that the works of art will draw a lot of visitors as selfie-magnets. “That’s what art is supposed to do. It shouldn’t remain a hands-off experience. I want people to come, pet, feel them and get the whole tactile experience which is such an integral part of sculpture,” Vyom Mehta, the amused sculptor told dna. “This year the art exhibition at ZJLF has Gond art as the theme. I’ve created seven asuras (demons).” Explaining the concept the 29-year-old, who has worked with top sculptors in the US and Europe added, “Unlike namby-pamby Gods who run to higher Gods for protection at the first sign of trouble, asuras always fascinated me from early childhood. Over the years as I’ve reflected on how they run after power, are preening all the time and acquire newer weaponry and arsenal, it dawned on me how alike they are to us. Through this installation I wanted to establish how in our evergrowing greed and hunger for more we have become monstrous demons devouring everything in sight,” he added. “I wanted to highlight what this has done to our tribals and the forests they live in.” When questioned over whether he sees himself as part of this consumerist rush he burst out laughing. “How can that be? I see myself as much an asura as everyone else. No wonder the sculptures are called Vyomasuras.” Meanwhile, in keeping with the ZJLF theme of “Royalty,” regal colours like fuschia, purple, royal pink and turquoise donned the venues. Designer couple Padmavati Singh of Royal Treasures who has been designing the ZJLF venues since its inception. They said in a statement, “Royalty and Rajasthan are almost synonymous so it seems like a very easy theme to do but that’s exactly where the challenge lies. We wanted to borrow from tradition and yet stray clear of clichés and stereotypes.” Her partner Vikramaditya added, “While everything is being designed to look resplendently royal we wanted the multiple languages, demographies and cultures to be refected too. The mix of colours in the awning fabrics, chair covers and the coloured glass in the backdrops helps.” Interestingly, the wings on the golden chairs on stage at the Front Lawns are generating a huge buzz. “Its our way of doffing our hat to the wings of imagination that writers and poets represent.”

Podcasts for Zee Jaipur Literature Festival

dna Research & Archives
In the run up to the Zee Jaipur LIterature Festival 2015, we will have podcasts from speakers and authors attending the festival. The podcasts will look at the work of the speaker, talk about the themes of the festival and give an insight into what to expect at from the sessions at the festival.The Zee Jaipur LIterature Festival will take place on January 21-25, 2015Watch this space for more.

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