Landmark retrial ordered in RTI activist murder

first_imgIn a landmark judgement, the Gujarat High Court has ordered a retrial even before the trial court pronounces its verdict in the RTI activist Amit Jethva murder case, in which a former BJP Parliamentarian Dinu Solanki is a key accused. The court set aside the ongoing trial in the CBI court, calling it a “miscarriage of justice” as the trial was managed by Mr. Solanki, a powerful political leader in the State.“Right from the day the son of the writ applicant came to be murdered, till this date, the manner and method in which the accused persons, more particularly, Dinu Bogha Solanki, have dominated the proceedings, speaks volumes about the power they are able to wield,” Justice J.B. Pardiwala said in his order.Amit Jethva, a wildlife and RTI activist in the Saurashtra region, was shot dead outside the Gujarat High Court in 2010, when he filed a PIL exposing the rampant mining of limestone in the Gir forest.last_img read more

2 Maoists killed, three arrested in Chhattisgarh

first_imgTwo alleged members of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) were killed and three others arrested in various parts of the restive Bastar region of south Chhattisgarh on Monday.“An encounter took place between the Maoists and the District Reserve Guard in Rasatong forest in Sukma district. Two ‘uniformed’ male Maoists’ bodies were recovered,” a police official posted in Bastar said in a statement.The DRG team also recovered one 12-bore rifle, one Bharmar (locally-made gun), one wireless set, 13 detonators, Codex wire, radio, solar plates and backpacks from the spot of the encounter. In separate incidents, two Maoists were arrested in Narayanpur district and one Maoist was arrested in Bijapur district of Bastar. “We have arrested two Maoists from Edka police station limits of Narayanpur today. Both of them had warrants issued against them for damaging BSNL towers, hostels, and murder of civilians,” informed Naryanpur district Superintendent of Police Santosh Singh. The Maoist, arrested in Bijapur district was identified as Podium Mara and he was arrested from Basaguda area of Bijapur in a joint operation of the Chhattisgarh police and CRPF’s special anti-Maoist unit CoBRA.last_img read more

We do not foresee any trouble over NRC draft: Assam DGP

first_imgUnless extended by the Supreme Court on the plea that flood affected the last stages of work in at least three districts, the second and final draft of the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) is scheduled to be published on June 30. Kuladhar Saikia, Assam’s Director-General of Police, does not foresee any law and order issues after publication of the final draft because of campaigns involving communities and strategic deployment of forces, he tells The Hindu in an interview. Excerpts.The countdown to the NRC final draft has begun and there is a belief it could trigger violence if many are left out of the list. How challenging has the phase been after you took charge on April 30?Our job is to face challenges and overcome them humanely. A massive exercise like NRC is a challenge in itself and our focus is on maintaining law and order. There is no threat perception because people, irrespective of community, have supported it. Going by the smoothness with which the first draft was published, we do not foresee any trouble.But you have been holding high-level meetings with bureaucrats, top officers of the Army and paramilitary forces in districts deemed vulnerable.This is routine for an exercise of this magnitude. The meetings have been part of our internal security review. We are assessing the situation across the State, not in specific areas only. Districts are chosen strategically for such meetings to cover adjoining districts. For instance, assessment of four districts was done in the last meeting in (central Assam’s) Nagaon.How do you explain the State government’s request for 150 companies of additional forces?We have taken all steps including sectoral deployment of forces. We are being provided additional forces as a precautionary measure. And one has to be prepared where law and order is concerned.How did the police prepare for the post-NRC scenario?We have taken the soft policing approach with our teams campaigning at the community level seeking the cooperation of the people while at the same time making it clear we will go hard against anyone found trying to break the law. In this age of connectivity, there is every possibility of post-NRC mischief being done through social media to whip up sentiments. Incidents of mob lynching and moral policing have in fact primed us for hate messages or other forms of online mischief in the days to come. Our force acted fast and arrested people based on evidence. Prompt action after potentially volatile social media posts helped us nip some mischief in the bud.last_img read more

I am free today, but this freedom may be short-lived: ex-Bangladesh Minister

first_imgFormer Bangladesh Communication Minister Salahuddin Ahmed thinks he will go from a life on bail in India to a life in jail back home because of a “vicious political atmosphere” under Sheikh Hasina’s government.On Friday, a local court in Meghalaya capital Shillong acquitted Mr. Ahmed, who was arrested in May 2015 for entering the State without valid documents. The court also directed the authorities concerned to facilitate his repatriation process.The former Minister, a top leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, has been staying at a Shillong hotel since receiving bail months ago with the condition of remaining within the city limits.“I am thankful to the governments of India and Meghalaya for their cooperation. Justice has been delivered and I am free today, but this freedom may be short-lived as I could be jailed on trumped-up charges upon return to Bangladesh,” Mr. Ahmed told The Hindu from Shillong.“There are security issues for anyone opposed to the Hasina regime in Bangladesh. But home is home, and I am ready to face the challenges in a country where forced disappearances and action against dissenters is normal,” he said.He claimed even BNP chief and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has not been spared. In February, a Dhaka court sentenced Ms. Zia to five years’ imprisonment in an orphanage corruption case.Mysterious entry Mr. Ahmed said he still has no idea how he came to be “hanging around aimlessly” in Shillong’s Golf Link area from where he was arrested on May 11, 2015. “All I can remember is some armed personnel in civilian clothes abducting, blindfolding and dumping me somewhere,” he said.Members of Mr. Ahmed’s family had then said he had been missing for two months in Bangladesh before appearing mysteriously in India. His relatives are expected to arrive to take him back home once the repatriation process is through.The former Bangladesh Minister ruled out the possibility of his seeking asylum in a third country. “I never intended to leave my country. I will stay in Bangladesh and fight for an end to oppression and the return to democracy,” he said.Mr. Ahmed is hopeful about contesting the general election in Bangladesh likely to be held in December.last_img read more

Moderate quake hits Mizoram

first_imgA magnitude 5.3 earthquake rocked parts of Mizoram on Saturday night, the India Meteorological Department said. The quake occurred at 10.45 p.m. at a depth of 24 km and the epicentre was located at Lat 23.9N and Long 93.3E, in Champhai district, the IMD said on its website. The tremors were also felt in state capital Aizawl, where people rushed out of houses, officials said. There was no immediate report of any casualty or damage to property due to the earthquake, police said.last_img

‘Pay pension to widow’

first_imgThe National Human Rights Commission has come to the rescue of an elderly woman in Odisha’s Ganjam district who was being deprived of family pension even 32 years after her husband’s death.It has directed the State government to ensure payment of pension to Parbati Mallick whose husband Radhamohan Mallick, a schoolteacher, died in 1986. Human rights lawyer Radhakanta Tripathy had moved the NHRC in 2014.last_img

Air transport registers 15% growth in Bihar: survey report

first_imgThere has been a 15% growth in air transport in Bihar since last year, according to the 13th Economic Survey 2018-19 tabled in the Assembly by the State government on Monday. The report also said there was 20% growth in the purchase of two-wheelers and the State had achieved second position in the country in teledensity.“In 2016-17, a total of 21.12 lakh passengers travelled through air transport in the State, while in 2017-18 the number of passengers went up to 31 lakh, recording a 15% growth. Similarly, 7.64 lakh vehicles were sold in the State in 2016-17, but the number went up to 11.18 lakh in 2017-2018,” said Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who also holds the Finance portfolio.Stating that these were “development index of the State”, Mr. Modi also cited the examples of teledensity and the energy sector to explain the growth story of the State. “In teledensity, Bihar has achieved second position after Kerala, and in the energy sector it has registered a growth of 165% in per capita consumption of power since 2011-12,” he added.Power consumptionThe per capita consumption of power in the State in 2011-12 was 134 MW per hour, but it went up to 280 MW per hour in 2017-18, said the survey report. “The growth rate of Bihar’s economy in 2017-18 was 11.3%, which was 9.9% in 2016-17…during both these years the growth rate of the national economy was about 7%,” the report said.Similarly, the Gross State Domestic Product in Bihar in 2017-18 was ₹4,87,628 crore at current prices and in 2017-18 the highest growth rate was recorded in the State by the tertiary sector (14.6 %). “Bihar is generating revenue surplus for more than a decade… the revenue surplus in 2017-18 (₹14,823 crore) was more than double the revenue surplus in 2013-14 (₹6,441 crore). While, the primary deficit of the State government came down from ₹ 8,289 crore in 2016-17 to ₹5,251 crore in 2017-18, and as a result of reduced primary deficit, the Gross Fiscal Deficit also went down from ₹16,480 crore in 2016-17 to ₹14,305 crore in 2017-18, which was 2.9% of the GSDP keeping it within the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act limit of 3% of GSDP,” said the voluminous report.The survey report also said that Bihar has registered a “substantial increase in the production of total cereals from 15.72 lakh tonnes in 2013-14 to 17.35 lakh tonnes in 2017-18”.last_img read more

10 Animals That Don’t Need Halloween Costumes

first_img Mossy leaf-tailed Gecko. Found in Madagascar, this little reptile changes its skin to match its surrounding. It also uses dermal flaps — little folds of skin — to break up its silhouette when it sits at rest. Orchid mantis. Don’t let the delicate appearance fool you: This is a predator. Orchid mantises impersonate flowers to trap pollinators such as butterflies. Rather than hiding among other flowers, this floral faker poses on green vegetation, luring Klaus Stiefel/Flickr The Southeast Asian bush-cricket. Although the adults of these species look like the crickets they are, the young nymphs closely resemble ants, most likely to confuse visual predators. Chameleon. Despite being probably the most famous creature on this list, only some chameleon species can actually change color. Most of its costume changes aren’t for camouflage though — chameleons change their skins in response to environment and lezumbalaberenjena/Flickr Long-nosed horned frog. These large frogs hide among the leaf litter on the rainforest floor, making it harder for predators to spot them and easier to snag unsuspecting passing prey such as spiders and lizards. Cuttlefish. They may not sound like much, but like octopuses, cuttlefish are extremely smart and adaptive. They can change color and texture extremely fast, sometimes in less than a second. Although colorblind, these creatures are masters of mimicr Decorator crab. The decorator crab isn’t born with a costume: It makes one. The crab covers its body with seaweed, sponges, and even tiny marine animals to better blend into its environment. Paul Williams/FlickrLong-nosed horned frog. These large frogs hide among the leaf litter on the rainforest floor, making it harder for predators to spot them and easier to snag unsuspecting passing prey such as spiders and lizards. Bill and Mark Bell/FlickrBark-mimicking grasshopper. This 5-cm bug perfectly blends into dead vegetation and tree bark in its native Australia. Can you spot it? Look for two antennae in the middle of the picture. Stubblefield Photography/ShutterstockMimic octopus. Most octopuses can change their shape and texture to blend in with their environments, but the mimic octopus can go one step further: It impersonates other animals, such as jellyfish, sea snakes, and fish. See it in action here. Nick HobgoodCuttlefish. They may not sound like much, but like octopuses, cuttlefish are extremely smart and adaptive. They can change color and texture extremely fast, sometimes in less than a second. Although colorblind, these creatures are masters of mimicry, capable of blending into sand, seaweed, and even the pitch-black ocean with ease. Watch them in action here. lezumbalaberenjena/FlickrChameleon. Despite being probably the most famous creature on this list, only some chameleon species can actually change color. Most of its costume changes aren’t for camouflage though—chameleons change their skins in response to environment and temperature, and to signal their moods, aggression, and mating behavior to their buddies. Nick Hobgood Muhammad Mahdi KarimThe Southeast Asian bush-cricket. Although the adults of these species look like the crickets they are, the young nymphs closely resemble ants, most likely to confuse visual predators. Paul Williams/Flickr Muhammad Mahdi Karim Giant leaf insect. A species of stick insects, the giant leaf insect is a large and docile bug that uses cryptic coloration to avoid predators. According to bug enthusiasts, it likes to stay in character and is very hard to coax into moving. Laurence Norah/FlickrOrchid mantis. Don’t let the delicate appearance fool you: This is a predator. Orchid mantises impersonate flowers to trap pollinators such as butterflies. Rather than hiding among other flowers, this floral faker poses on green vegetation, luring in other bugs with its attractive coloring and shape. Bark-mimicking grasshopper. This 5-cm bug perfectly blends into dead vegetation and tree bark in its native Australia. Can you spot it? Look for two antennae in the middle of the picture. Paul Allais/Flickr David d’O/Flickr Got a costume for Halloween? You’re not the only one. Some animals and insects wear their costumes all year round, masquerading as plants, leaves, and even other creatures to better evade predators—and to hunt their own prey. Some, like the leaf-litter toad, bark-mimicking grasshopper, and mossy leaf-tailed gecko, use cryptic coloration, coloring that conceals their shape, to blend into the background. The mimic octopus, cuttlefish, and chameleon use pigment sacs called chromatophores to rapidly change their skins according to their environment. Whatever you’re dressed as for Halloween, one thing is for sure: These creatures have you beat. Bill and Mark Bell/Flickr David d’O/FlickrMossy leaf-tailed Gecko. Found in Madagascar, this little reptile changes its skin to match its surrounding. It also uses dermal flaps—little folds of skin—to break up its silhouette when it sits at rest. Laurence Norah/Flickr Paul Allais/FlickrGiant leaf insect. A species of stick insects, the giant leaf insect is a large and docile bug that uses cryptic coloration to avoid predators. According to bug enthusiasts, it likes to stay in character and is very hard to coax into moving. Klaus Stiefel/FlickrDecorator crab. The decorator crab isn’t born with a costume: It makes one. The crab covers its body with seaweed, sponges, and even tiny marine animals to better blend into its environment.last_img read more

Brawl at Gurdwara in Indiana Leaves 4 Injured

first_imgGreenwood Assistant Police Chief Matthew Fillenwarth says police and medics responded today to a verbal and physical fight involving about 150 people at the Gurdwara in the city just south of Indianapolis.He tells WISH-TV the altercation began as there was a change of leadership within the temple that he says happens every two years. Fillenwarth says it’s believed that there was a worship service going on when the fight broke out.Read it at Times of India Related Itemslast_img

Travellers From India Won’t Need Airport Transit Visa For France

first_imgIndians travelling to France will no more need an airport transit visa according to the latest announcement made by France effective July 23.Alexandre Ziegler, the French ambassador to India, tweeted recently to announce that with effect from July 23, 2018, Indian passport holders will not be required anymore to get an Airport Transit Visa (ATV) in order to pass through the international zone airports located across France.Read it at Times of India Related Itemslast_img

The Beat goes On

first_imgIt was said by many a musician that no man could possibly evoke as many sounds from a drum as Ustad Allah Rakha, until they were silenced by the performance of this man. Legend goes that when he was just a few days old, this same legendary tabla maestro whispered not a lullaby, or a blessing, but the notes of the tabla in his ears. The infant was Khan sahib’s gifted son Zakir. To be born to Ustad Allah Rakha is a privilege, to carry on his mantle an incredible responsibility, but Ustad Zakir Hussain has managed to do so with amazing grace. Starting out at a very tender age of two or three, and touring by the time he was 12, Zakir has emerged today as a global icon of world music, enthralling audiences with both his traditional and innovative performances. From accompanying all the great legends in the world of classical music to carving a name for himself in both the purist tradition as well as his innovative offerings like Shakti, Diga Rhythm band , Tabla beat science, Zakir has swept aside all competition and sweeped up awards and honors both national and international in his unending musical journey.Jet lagged after arriving from India, Zakir Hussain sat down for an exclusive interview with Little India.Your father left a farming family, roughed it out to follow his passion, and became a musical giant. How hard is it to carve a niche for yourself and how has your musical journey been as compared to his?I have still not carved my own niche. I am still my father’s son and I will always be, and I am very proud of that. I think a musician’s journey is never different from another’s. It is just that the area of visibility may be different. Every new generation brings an area of new visibility to an artist so in that case the main difference is that a major part of my journey was all over the world, including India, while a major part of his journey was in India. It is not as if I have done any thing different or that my tabla sounds different. It is different only because the stage is different. Today the world is my stage and I am recognized as a principal tabla player of India.So are you saying that you are not doing anything unique or different that has brought you the recognition that you have today?No swami or rishi today can tell you anything that has not been said before. It is just that it sounds different when somebody says something in a way that appeals to you or if he or she is confirming something, you already know or have thought about. We are talking about a 3,000-year-old history of music and musical tradition, and you are told to stick to that tradition, and not to be radical.I played the tabla for 20 years and no one took any notice, and I have not really changed my style of playing tabla. The attention that I have received today is because of the media, and the only thing that has changed is that I have been able to be out there in front of people of the world who have not heard this kind of music before and may be the way I look and my interaction with them and my way of explaining things to them may be easier for them to understand. So what was not visible to them earlier has become clear and people instantly start assuming that maybe I am doing something new.It is often said of you that though you have received your taleem in the purist tradition you are always open to trying out different things and are quite the adventurer. What makes you so open-minded?Because I am young and the world is my stage. Until my father’s time musicians performed mostly in India and had only that much area to work with. I was growing up at a time when the Indian film industry was developing and we grew up with the Beatles, and Elvis and Hollywood so my perception of our boundaries and how far we could stretch was different from my father’s.I heard you actually went to a Catholic School?I did and I have to thank my mother for it. In spite of being a strict Muslim, she did not limit me to the Arabic schools, but sent me to a Catholic school. Maybe she knew what was coming, who knows. My father would say why does he have to go to school? He is always going to play tabla, but having been educated, my views on what makes music are less defensive.Personally I think that a musician or for that matter every artist is an adventurer, so there is no inbuilt defense mechanism that stops you from exploring. After all the whole idea really is to take what already exists and explore ways by which to say it or make it look different and unique, and present it in such a way that it appeals to people. That is why we have Jesus and Prophet Mohammed. They all said the same thing but in their own unique way. That is also precisely, what Allah Rakha Khan and Ravi Shankarji and Bismillah Khan have done. They have said the same thing so differently in such a unique manner that people feel something wondrous has happened and that is the magic the person providing that knowledge is casting, through his own magnetism and inner vision. Therefore, I am not doing anything different. I am just able to package and present it in a way that people like to hear, but they did not hear me either for 20 long years. Now after having slaved and worked at it for that long a time, finally my audience and I are on the same wave length. This will go on for a while until they decide he is still saying the same thing and then they will look for someone else.Well it does not seem that people are tiring of you!It has lasted so long because of the power of the media, and lack of it is the only reason the legends of yesteryears have not been heard or seen that long. Superstar status allows you to linger on for a little while longer but unless you continue to deliver, you are always replaceable.Has the fact that non-Indians are so into classical art forms surprised you? There is also criticism that artists are getting jaded and are not fresh and creative anymore because of the fast pace and over booking of concerts.No, that craze was always there. In fact, it was maniacal during allah Rakha-Ravi Shankar days. Every body was going out to buy sitars and tablas and Nehru jackets and tie and dye stuff.I do not think artists are any less fresh, creative or innovative today. It just depends on whom you are talking to. People who grew up with Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Vilayat Khan, Bismillah Khan and such legends expect music to be a certain way and remain a certain way. It brings back memories of their youth. Therefore, when others are not like the people they grew up with, or are not playing music the way it was played then, that seems wrong. But then that is their view, and they do not want to go with the flow and the change. But when you listen to the young musicians like Shahid Parvez, Buddhaditya Mukherji, Rashid Khan you know there is genius at work here, that something incredible is happening and these people will be remembered as the legends of their times.I am sure a young Ravi Shankar, a young Ali Akbar Khan had to go through the same criticism, and I cannot imagine the music lovers of yesteryears not seeing that and appreciating that eventually.You said that there was no such thing as fusion music, and that what Ravi Shankar and Yehudi Menhuin did was that one artist just played a piece composed by the other. You changed all that. Ravi ji of course says he does not like fusion music.Yes I did. My approach was that why should someone always have to play just my music and why should I think that my music is the music. Just as they are crossing over boundaries and coming over to play with me, I should also cross over and play with them. By learning their music, I can communicate better with them, in their own language and that is the reason why people like John McLaughlin understand western and Indian music so well. He and I we were able to cross over the boundaries that had been established earlier and educate each other. That is why Making Music is such a good album.Ravi Shankar did not venture into fusion because he was needed to establish Indian music and make people of the west understand what it was all about. That was the immense contribution of artists of his time – to lay the foundation, the platform upon which artists like me can bounce other things, and even cross over, because today our identity is set and we can innovate but we will never lose that base.Shakti, was an amazingly successful experiment in fusion, Diga Rhythm Band in rhythm fusion, and now Tabla Beat Science is yet another feather in your cap!Well that too was a natural progression. When the world does turn, new horizons appear, and there will be one among us who will stop and look and explore those new horizons, and Talvin Singh was one of those who did just that with techno, rave, electronica, and so we decided to explore and see as well. The DJs and techno artists were using Indian instrument samples to do their electronica music and so we thought why not just use real instruments and musicians and inject it with human warmth, making it more alive. That is how Tabla Beat Science came about and it has taken off. How great it will be or how long it will last remains to be seen, but if a great legend like 65 year old Ustad Sultan Khan can hook up into it and do stuff then it definitely has some validity to it.Our idea is to always try to come up with something that allows every aspect of art in the world to touch Indian art and see if something rubs of on each. If not we move on to try something new.Traditional music, fusion, techno, and now after giving music in films you have made your singing debut in Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, so what now?I still cannot say that the best I have played today is going to still be considered good enough tomorrow. There is nothing that I have done to this day that I can call the greatest triumph of my life and I have not played good enough to say I can quit now. I love performing live and am excited by an audience that is incredibly supportive and knows that each time we go on stage they will be an important part of the musical adventure, the exploration. When I came up with Shakti and Diga Rhythm Band there was no fusion or rhythm fusion, or even world music. We even won a Grammy for Planet Drum.So I feel fortunate that I was able to initiate some things that led to an understanding of music as one global entity and I want this to be a base for other musicians to take the musical adventure and the exploration a step further.   Related Itemslast_img read more

The Dumbos of Bollywood

first_imgFilm director Mahesh Bhatt’s daughter Pooja recently voiced undisguised disappointment, even disgust, at Bollywood’s perverse gaze on the handicapped, disabled, physically challenged and gays. Why, she asked, must they invariably be stereotyped as weirdoes, caricatures, objects of derisive laughter and ridicule or creatures to be abjectly pitied? While (tragically) they are indeed children of a lesser god, wouldn’t a little more feeling and sensitivity be in order, she wondered.The recent, over-the-top posturing of an overweight, roly-poly Rishi Kapoor in Karan Johar’s latest (designer) high-school offering Student of the Year, along with a host of other movies seems to reaffirm her concern.What’s the problem? Is Bollywood dumb, lazy or plain indifferent to these physical or psychological differences and uses them as a convenient soft target for laughs or tears? Do Bollywood actors interpreting these roles, view them as life-transforming opportunities (after the dumb-cluck crap they mostly are doomed to do) leap into the fray with all cylinders firing and occasionally strike target? Do audiences (forever fed on fantasies, glamour, sex, violence, toilet humor or the latest moffusil chic) and Juries perceive these films as cathartic reality checks and are both shaken n’ stirred to applaud and award them, all the way?Delhi-based lyric writer (I am Kalaam) Manobendro Bhattacharyay argues that Bollywood is not about pursuing linear truths, philosophy or philanthropy, but pushing commerce. In an insanely competitive market, “special and unique slots” are hard to identify and exploit. “After the Gangs of Wasseypur, disability could well be the new hot button to hit… and now with Barfi zooming past the Rs 100 crore mark, winning huge critical acclaim (most importantly), heading Oscar-wards, an epidemic of this category could well be on the way.”Mumbai-based production assistant Sneha Jha says that given the parameters of a mass-entertainment model like Bollywood, it needs a very special kind of talent to blend realism with human insight that engages while it enriches and offer credibility that is convincing. “Remember, today’s film audiences are impatient, promiscuous and novelty-driven, so a serious cold, clinical recitation of facts and figures will be dumped in a flash as will a too freaky and unrealistic frivolous perspective on an important issue as disability. From Black, Tare Zameen Par, Paa and Guzarish to Barfi, Bollywood has done a super job in terms of establishing a meaningful audience connect. As for the whiners and kill-joys, forget them. They are born to look for problems, not solutions.”London-based marketing consultant Sudhir Pant agrees: “These blokes have got their wires crossed. They forget that Bollywood movies are not made to further the cause of medical science or designed for the MBBS types wedded to the Hippocratic oath. They are created primarily for mass entertainment. Along the way, diverse themes and subjects are explored, disabilities being one of them. Every single film touching on these themes appears to have been appreciated. Black, Guzaarish, Tare Zameen Par, Paa, My Name is Khan, Kaminey and now Barfi… remain fine examples of forays into this delicate terrain projected with both feeling and sensitivity. These guys love to over-react and play judge n’ jury.”Kolkata-based clinical counselor and mental health activist Ratnabali Ray dismisses all these “frivolous and silly” opinions and denounces the much-acclaimed Barfi as “obnoxious and totally off-center!” To committed professionals like Ray who deal with disabled 24*7, “The whole projection was totally inaccurate. Anurag Basu’s interaction was with autistic school kids hence the adult part, (Priyanka) in terms of problems of articulating their feelings, was totally haywire. They just don’t behave that way. It’s a highly complex, fragile and many-layered issue and cannot be presented with one sweeping and dramatic brush. As for Black, that was even worse. Apart from ‘lifting,’ it was hysterically over-the-top and filmy with the body language and expression modes, ludicrous, To an uninformed and uneducated audience, anything that is slightly off-beat, especially in this area, and done in filmy style, rocks.”Ray however admits that films like Taare Zameen Par and Barfi have at least been huge attention-getters placing these issues, high on the public domain. Eminent art house film director Buddhadev Dasgupta is convinced that it’s a sign of our consumerist times that disability can be leveraged as a powerful commercial tool for mass-entertainment through emotional manipulation. “Today’s filmmakers are hugely market-driven and to them, cleverly exploiting a subject that connects with the heart, is a smart and marketable proposition — truth, honesty and integrity be damned! As long as it simulates the idea of the real thing and approximates it in a convincing manner, it’s fine. Their argument is that it’s a commercial movie not a medical case-study and so creative licenses will occur. In an age when truth is un-fashionable and markets play god, we get what we deserve, I guess.”Film scholar Partho Chatterjee is furious: “Bollywood, especially in recent times, is based on the twin pillars of exaggeration and falsehood. The entire lot of films that are disability-driven — maybe Taare Zameen Par, a little less — represent flagrant distortions of facts shrewdly catering to an audience seeking feel-good, escapist-fare. No filmmaker has the guts or ability to dramatize the truth in a manner that is riveting. Too risky. Hit the path that is well-lit, safe and cleverly camouflages the illusion of truth. Good enough for today’s dumbed-down audience… and now Barfi goes to the Oscars. God save us from ill health!”Veteran Delhi-based actress Joyshree Arora (the mother in Humlog and Shah Rukh Khan’s mom in Chak De) offers a kinder take: “Its easy to be dismissive and condescending about Bollywood’s projection of disability, but have you ever stopped to ponder one small question: Would millions of uneducated, illiterate and uninformed people covering the lower strata of society, for example, ever be able to know and understand the issues of the physically and emotionally challenged if not shown in films like Paa, Taare Zameen Par, Guzarish or Barfi? Aren’t these films, thus, forcing them through exposure to recognize and appreciate the advantages and blessings of a healthy mind in a healthy body and also motivating them to reach out with passion and purpose to the disadvantaged? Bollywood seems to forever be the whipping boy of everything that is wrong in society, which is absurd. While it may not provide the breath of life, surely it is not the kiss of death.”Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan’s gifted son Amaan Ali Khan takes this optimistic note further: “I think it calls for both compassion and sensitivity to make these films, along with courage and conviction. The themes are neither commercially glamorous nor popular and a continent away from the populist feel-good factor. To rise above these make a conscious choice and chart narratives that are heroic and inspirational is an amazing feat and deserve kudos. Full marks to a Sanjay Leela Bhansali, R. Balki and Anurag Basu for resisting the trappings of doing a Dabangg, Rowdy Rathore, Singham or Housefull and attempting something meaningful.”In addition, Amaan believes, Bollywood movies have an audience-connect that is incomparable and the fact that these movies focus on special people — an area of ignorance and darkness in the smaller non-metro cities — is noteworthy and admirable. “At the end of the day, if there is even a little more knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the world of the disabled than before, through these movies, it’s a good enough reason to cheer and celebrate.”Filmmaker Leena Yadav concurs: “While this is a tricky area, there are two aspects involved. Fact is no filmmaker consciously starts out planning an emotionally manipulative film on this subject. Along the way, personal sensibilities and focus influence the direction of the narrative. Secondly, it depends on whether you are seeing this disability from the inside — personal experience — or outside. For me, if the end product imparts a message of inspiration, heroism, fighting against all odds and winning… it’s fine.” Yadav recognizes that the medical frat and specialists have with their criticisns, but if the overall impact is positive, then, she believes, it should be taken in the right spirit.So what gives? The critics and medical frat are caught up between cracking up, shock, disgust and worry about Bollywood’s presentations of these “special” communities. How can item girls perform in a cancer ward (Munna Bhai MBBS), chappatis cure madness (Yaarana,) batteries revive the dead into marching (clerk) babies get delivered through vacuum cleaners (3 Idiots), cancer patients rock n’ dance (Kal Ho Na Ho) and retain their good, flabby health (Dasvidaniya)? Since when did sperm donors (Vicky Donor) strike it rich?Filmmaker Abhigyan Jha recently was reported to have seen a Hollywood crew double-up with laughter after watching the Big B screaming at Rani in Black! Jha also couldn’t figure out the body lingo of Priyanka in Barfi and thought it appeared “more like mental retardation than autism.”Columnist Anvar Alikhan adds fuel to the fire with a deadly salvo that these films are in bad taste: “They are exploitative, self-serving and cynical… a great vehicle for stars to show off their talent in mimicking affliction. These films are one-part emotional manipulation; one part, insidious attempt to make us feel guilty for our own well-being; one part an opportunity to affect an air of sanctimoniousness for supposedly supporting the cause.” He reckons that they click big, because “audiences are vulnerable to disability movies, juries even more so, because of the moral halo they sport,” and wonders how long Bollywood’s phony disability trip will continue. Can any of these films compare with Hollywood’s Elephant Man, Rain Man, My Left Foot, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter or Charlie, he pointedly challenge?The fans recognize that movies are for mass entertainment, so employ creative license and liberties. The “medical miracles” are consumed ecstatically by audiences in a willful suspension of disbelief. Do they really believe in it? Sure, as much as they believe in pigs that fly and dogs that roar. The kill-joys, they insist, should stick to their hospitals, nursing homes and clinics for the disabled and only view doctor and medical science friendly movies that Viagrize their knowledge about their line of work… no matter how terrifyingly boring and clinical they may be.Touche. Related Itemslast_img read more

China’s Top Banks Distance Themselves From Adani Coal Mine Project in Australia

first_imgThe Adani group’s Australian coal mine project, a long-delayed plan by the Indian conglomerate, has suffered yet another setback as two of the biggest banks of China have backed out from financing it. Dispelling reports of their involvement in funding the venture, China Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and China Construction Bank (CCB) released separate statements saying they are not working on the project.Adani is seeking A$2 billion to finance the A$4 billion first stage of the Carmichael coal mine project in Queensland state by March 2018. The project has been opposed by environmentalists, who have cited concerns for climate change and potential damage to the Great Barrier Reef. The challenges concerning adverse effects on the climate and impact on native land and water supply have earlier been rejected in court.“ICBC has not been, and does not intend to be, engaged in arranging financing for this project,” the bank said in a statement on its Australian website. “ICBC attaches great importance to its social responsibilities and keenly promotes ‘green financing’. This statement is made without any view on or prejudice towards the Carmichael mine project.” ICBC is China’s biggest listed lender by assets.“China Construction Bank is not involved with, nor considering involvement with, the Adani Carmichael Mine project,” an external spokesperson for China Construction Bank in Australia said in a statement on Dec. 4.Australian and overseas banks have also shied away from granting loans for the project.Adani was in talks with China Machinery Engineering Corp (CMEC) for a loan that could have involved China Construction Bank or China Export Import Bank, according to Reuters. Adani’s project aims to start shipping coal by March 2020 in the first stage.“Any financier with any sense doesn’t want Adani,” said senator Andrew Bartlett from Australian Greens party, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. “It’s time for Adani to give it up, save their money and for the politicians of Queensland to focus on the issues that will deliver genuine jobs for regional Queensland,” he said in Canberra on Dec. 4.National senator Bridget McKenzie, however, says Adani’s mine project would be an important source of jobs in Queensland. The Queensland Labor government promised to veto a federal government loan to the project during the recent state election.The mine, located 400 km from a Pacific Ocean shipping terminal, has been at the forefront of debate over the project’s economic viability as its location means infrastructure costs.Adani group declined to comment on its financing plans or the statements from the Chinese banks on Dec. 4, Reuters reported. Related ItemsAdaniAustraliaEnvironmentlast_img read more

Pune’s cricket museum now on Google Art and Culture

first_imgThe city-based ‘Blades of Glory’, touted as a one-of-a-kind museum in India, dedicated only to the sport of cricket, has been added to the online ‘Google Art and Culture’ platform. With this recognition on Thursday, cricket enthusiasts all over the world can now access a 360-degree view of the museum, the brainchild of Rohan Pate, a former U-19 Maharashtra cricket player. It features 30,000 items of cricket memorabilia in its collection.Also Read Explore the multi-verse with Google Arts & Culture’s ‘Once Upon A Try’ interactive exhibit  Mr. Pate’s cricket museum now joins the ranks of elite museums like London’s Tate Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and the Uffizi in Florence. Google Arts and Culture is an online platform providing high resolution images of artworks housed in their partner museums.‘Huge accolade’“I feel extremely honoured and grateful that ‘Blades of Glory’ has been accredited by Google. This is a huge accolade and it will help fans around the world get acquainted with the museum,” Mr. Pate said. The museum, set up in 2012, was inaugurated by Sachin Tendulkar. Boasting the largest cricket-related collection in the world, it has special sections dedicated to the game’s superstars like Mr. Tendulkar and Virat Kohli.Stating that the venture was never intended to be a money-making enterprise, Mr. Pate said his passion for the game was behind the idea of his museum dedicated to cricket. “When I first began, I had to wait 18 hours to get an autographed bat, but today, with the museum being better known, I can acquire cricket memorabilia more easily,” he said.He recounted that in 2010, he happened to receive Mr. Tendulkar’s used bat, which triggered his love for collecting cricket-related items. “After we won the World Cup in 2011, I decided to tour different countries and collect signatures and articles. I remember visiting the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) museum in London and wondering why there wasn’t such a place in India. That is what inspired me to begin the museum. When I started out in 2012, I had about 600 items, but today, the museum houses over 30,000 articles,” he said.His museum has been visited and appreciated by over 450 cricketers, including Vivian Richards, Clive Lloyd, Kapil Dev, Wasim Akram and Virendra Sehwag.“I hope Google’s recognition will attract a new legion of cricket fanatics to visit the place. The 360-degree feature is of course a huge convenience for fans, but visiting the place in person is a different experience altogether. Seeing people feel motivated and emotional while touring ‘Blades of Glory’ gives me true joy and satisfaction,” Mr. Pate said.last_img read more

Kartarpur Corridor work apace, says Amarinder

first_imgPunjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday said the work on the Kartarpur Corridor on the Indian side would be completed by October 30. The Chief Minister visited Dera Baba Nanak to review the progress of the ongoing construction work. Demanding immediate withdrawal by Pakistan the proposed facilitation charge of $20 per visitor to the historic Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib, saying it was against the basic spirit of Sikh ideology.Capt. Singh said he had already sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to pressurise Pakistan into withdrawing the proposed fee and suggested that the Minister of External Affairs take up the matter during bilateral meetings subject for early resolution of the matter.The Chief Minister expressed the confidence that the work on Kartarpur Corridor on the Indian side would be completed by October 30, though he expressed concerns about the pace of progress on the Pakistani side. In response to a question on the security threat along the corridor, he underlined the need to remain on constant guard.Asked about the differences with the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee on the celebration of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the Chief Minister said talks were progressing cordially.last_img read more

BJP government in U.P. destroying democracy in ‘arrogance of power’: Priyanka Gandhi

first_imgCongress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra slammed the Uttar Pradesh government on Monday for allegedly blocking a party march in support of the student who has accused former Union minister Chinmayanand of rape, saying the BJP dispensation was destroying democracy in its “arrogance of power“.About 80 Congress workers were arrested on Monday while holding a public meeting ahead of the march they had planned in support of the student.Also Read 80 Congress workers arrested ahead of rally in support of jailed law student in Uttar Pradesh  Accusing the Uttar Pradesh police of blocking the march, the Congress said its leaders, including former Union minister Jitin Prasada, were detained. The borders of Shahjahanpur district were blocked from all sides, the opposition party said on its official Twitter handle.Congress leaders have planned a 180-km march in support of the student from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow.“In the arrogance of power, the BJP government is destroying democracy. It can go to any extent to save a rape accused and suppress the voice of the daughter of Shahjahanpur,” Ms. Gandhi said.In a tweet in Hindi, she described the Bharatiya Janata Party-led regime in Uttar Pradesh as a nervous government.“As soon as they get to know that there is going to be a demonstration against them, they impose (section) 144 (of the CrPC),” the Congress general secretary in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh said. The voice of the people cannot be suppressed, injustice and tyranny cannot be hidden. The more they try, louder will be the demand for justice. Give justice to the girl from Shahjahanpur. Stop saving your minister,” she wrote on twitter.Earlier, she had alleged that criminals in Uttar Pradesh had the protection of the government so that they could intimidate the rape survivor.“The UP BJP government wants to suppress the voice seeking justice for the daughter of Shahjahanpur. The padyatra is being stopped. Our workers and leaders are being arrested. What is there to be afraid of?,” she wrote.The student was arrested on Wednesday on charges of extortion and sent to judicial custody for 14 days. Hours later, her bail plea was rejected.Chinmayanand, sent to judicial custody after his arrest, has been booked under section 376C (intercourse by superintendent of jail, remand home etc.) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a charge with a lesser punishment than in case of rape.last_img read more

Incoming Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball shares plans to visit PH next year

first_imgView comments PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games00:50Trending Articles00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss UAAP Season 80 Preview: NU Bulldogs ready to pull off surprises Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC SEA Games in Calabarzon safe, secure – Solcom chief Although he has yet to play a second in an official NBA regular season game, Ball and his family—composed of rowdy father LaVar and baller brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo—have become the talk of the league this off-season.A Facebook fan page dedicated to basketball’s newest celebrity family, “Follow the Balls,” recently posted an excerpt from the second overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft—addressing the basketball-crazy Filipino fans.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“It’s crazy how global basketball is. People have been telling me that the Philippines love the Lakers, so we made a Big Baller Brand fan club called Follow the Balls for the Filipino community,” Ball wrote, much to the delight of its 10,000 followers.“I am really excited to travel to the Philippines next summer and can’t wait to meet y’all as I travel through the States this season!” he said, adding an invitation for netizens to like the page. LOOK: Venues for 2019 SEA Games UPLB exempted from SEA Games class suspension Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Read Nextcenter_img E.T. returns to earth, reunites with grown-up Elliott in new ad  Catriona Gray spends Thanksgiving by preparing meals for people with illnesses MOST READ Ball, meanwhile, has justified the hype that surrounded him even before joining the NBA, averaging 16.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 9.3 assists and 2.5 steals in the Las Vegas preseason tournament, en route to bagging the tourney’s MVP award.  /ra WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding LATEST STORIES LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary There’s definitely a lot of Los Angeles Lakers diehard fans in the country, and that adoration has already extended to the team’s incoming prized rookie Lonzo Ball.ADVERTISEMENTlast_img read more

D-League: Jackson, Coffee Lovers use underdog tag as motivation

first_imgTrending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles02:25PH women’s volleyball team motivated to deliver in front of hometown crowd01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Read Next NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers “I’m very proud of my team. I’m just proud that we keep fighting. The most important thing is we don’t quit. It’s all that matters. If you don’t quit, you always have a chance. And that’s what I like about this team,” he said. But that doesn’t mean the Fil-Am guard is ready to accept how opponents look down at them as he uses those criticisms as fuel to help the Coffee Lovers compete in the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup.“We use that as an advantage. We don’t mind coming in as underdogs because that just means that when we’re ultra-aggressive, we have a chance to catch you off-guard. We play the game how we need to play. Coach gives us our gameplan and we go out there and execute,” he said.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutThrough the past three games, Jackson has established himself as the go-to-guy for Gamboa-St. Clare, averaging 19.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists.He continued that tear on Thursday, firing 29 points for the Coffee Lovers’ 92-85 defeat to Akari-Adamson. Bulanadi uncorks 26 as Che’Lu-San Sebastian snaps skid 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting LATEST STORIES John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding AFP official booed out of forum PBA IMAGESTrevis Jackson knows the reality of playing for an unheralded team like Gamboa Coffee Mix-St. Clare.“We understand at times that we’re underdogs,” he said.ADVERTISEMENT Globe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises View comments Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Though his efforts failed to keep his side’s two-game winning streak alive, it was enough to pique the interest of Falcons coach Franz Pumaren.“I don’t think we faced St. Clare. Our opponent was Jackson,” the bench tactician said. “The way he played, he played like a veteran. I think he’s PBA-ready. He’s matured enough compared to our players.”The 22-year-old Jackson, meanwhile, is just humbled by the praise from a coach in the caliber of Pumaren. “That’s probably one of the biggest compliments I’ve gotten since being here.”“My whole dream and what gets me to wake up every morning is because I came here with aspirations of playing in the PBA,” said the Sacramento State alumnus. “Now, I just need to show them that I might not played a lot back home but I can play. I just need to prove that, and that’s why I’m taking these games as an opportunity to do it.”Though Jackson has his sights set on entering the 2018 PBA Draft, he knows that he has to keep his focus on the task at hand which is to help Gamboa-St. Clare compete and gain the respect of its opponents.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMClast_img read more