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17-23 January 2014

RNI No. HARENG/2011/39319, Postal Regn. No. GRG/35/2012-2014

Vol. 3 No. 22  Pages 24  ` 7

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ow brazen can a CM and the State get? In just a month or so we have seen: n A Land Acquisition Notice, for farmer lands in the newly defined sectors of Gurgaon, put out just a day(s) before the new Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (issued by the same Party at the Centre) comes into operation. There is clearly no wish to learn from election defeats all around, as only land and builders seem to matter, farmers have no say and Gurgaon is considered politically expendable. Or maybe it’s a case of ‘making hay while the sun shines’?! n An announcement that all unauthorized colonies – even upto November 2013 (versus 2009 earlier) – would be regularized! Does it imply that a CM has no accountability for the mushrooming of unauthorized colonies under his nose, day after day? Even the restricted IAF Depot Area has seen regular encroachments, despite the High Court monitoring the case. What then is the point of calling anything authorized? What is the point of a Plan, or of its sanctioning/approval? On the other hand, jhuggi colonies (even 25 years old) can be razed at a moment’s notice – and with no alternative housing provided to the residents. n The NCR Planning Board considering approval of ‘Tourism’, along with ‘Recreation’, in the restricted forest areas, including the Mangar Forest and the Aravallis - and therefore planning for the ‘browning’ of the Region. There is undue haste in having this approved as part of the Haryana sub-Regional Plan. Maybe the writing on the wall has lately become more visible to the govt.

al fame – that of cancellation of a 20-year Agreement and the removal of the Sirhaul Toll Plaza, just because of the State’s inability to manage and/ or enforce the smooth movement of traffic in and around a toll plaza! We are again missing the woods for the trees. It is surprising that all our energies are being concentrated on the removal of the Sirhaul Toll Plaza, mainly due to time being wasted in traffic jams and queues. The solution now being placed before the Court is to remove the Sirhaul Plaza, while continuing with the other Plaza at Kherki Daula, at the ‘exit’ of Gurgaon. Further, there is an expectation that Kherki can take on the ‘loss’, by charging for both. Nothing could be more ridiculous or short-sighted (FG had also cautioned against this in the Editorial of 4-10 October, 2013 - Vol. 3, No. 7). The plan is to get another concessionaire to take up the Kherki Plaza project. Why should another concessionaire even think of taking this up? What if the concessionnaire had been a foreign company? Would we be able to just close a 20-year Agreement/Contract abruptly in the 6th year? How do we get highways built in future?

ther, all the flyovers on NH8, till Jaipur, will be all ready this year sometime, promising a 3 hour Delhi-Jaipur drive – but you will need to add 45 minutes for the Kherki Daula Toll crossing ! And of course this short-sighted govt,, despite announcing many projects, seems to have ignored them when taking this decision. Just to remind them…Kherki is actually positioned at the more strategic location– especially for the future of this City and its environs. At Kherki the issue is much beyond the frustration of delays in reaching office or home or the airport. The Kherki Daula Toll Plaza is the gateway to future residential and commercial sectors (from Sectors 76 to 98), to the Industrial Model Township (IMT) of Manesar, the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway and the Delhi Mumbai industrial Corridor (DMIC). It is therefore metaphorically a 'gateway' to the economy, industry, logistics, investment, growth and jobs. The massive residential and commercial space that has been, and is being, built in the various current and new sectors of Gurgaon, would go abegging – and crash in value - without this further industrial investment, growth and jobs in and around the City. Freer movement of goods will help establish this area as an industrial logistics zone also. So, if there has to be a case for the removal of a toll plaza, there is none more deserving than the one at Kherki Daula – rather than Sirhaul. This Greater Gurgaon, for our greater good, deserves to be given free rein – rather than be allowed to take a further toll on us.

Desperate Last Measures?

n The most-telling assault on a cycle rickshaw puller, who dared tocross the path of the CM’s expected cavalcade. It’s no longer a Laal Batti issue – now the people (even in cities) are beginning to see Red. CM Sahib, it is time to open your eyes to the Laal Batti – and to stop using it….stop antagonizing farmers…stop patronizing builders…stop unauthorised activities…and stop browning this land. n People out on the streets, crying for the basics of water and power…and summer is still months away. n An announcement that the Republic Day Parade in Gurgaon will be presided over by the Governor of Haryana, while the CM presides over the parade in Mewat. Nothing could be more telling of the preference and priorities of the CM, of the positioning and importance of Gurgaon, and of the expected winnability of the Congress in this City. n The most audacious and ill-advised decision for a supposedly Millennium City, aspiring for glob-

Why should not all state govt’s now ask for the scrapping of toll plazas on National Highways? And this is being proposed at a time when we are crying for more FDI in Mega Infrastructure projects! Going back to basics, why is there a toll charged anyway? It is a global practice, to ensure that quality highways are built, which can sustain for decades (with maintenance) and carry high volumes of traffic. Consider what would happen when we stop the Sirhaul Toll Plaza: The ‘toll area’ would probably become the most accident-prone path in India. Nowhere would you find a wider stretch of road. Which lane would we drive in, if we ever do? And just as the (at least) 16 lanes of cars have burst through at top speed, they would hit the U-turn traffic going towards Ambience! In about a year’s time the Expressway would become a road, like anywhere… patched up once in a while. And what would we see at the other (Kherki), where the toll would still reign - probably traffic backed up to Rajiv Chowk? Hero Chowk issues would stop mattering (maybe that’s the Plan). What benefit would a flyover across the Hero Chowk provide, if vehicles are going to be stuck on it (rather than under it, earlier) for hours? Fur-

Here are some recommendations to resolve the SIrhaul Toll Plaza issue: Traffic Police (or the Concessionnaire staff, so authorized) must ensure lane discipline – and heavy penalty for defaulters; every vehicle with a tag should be allowed a ‘pass through’ (no barrier needed); CCTV cameras and scanners should capture and alert for vehicles that have passed through ‘free’ – and they should be heavily penalized; the Ambience U-turn should be stopped and commuters asked to take the U-turn from under the next flyover (a toll refund mechanism has to be worked out through dedicated lanes). Like elsewhere, we sorely lack, and need to ensure, governance on the road. In the name (excuse) of non-governance and our own convenience, what all will we stop…because there is precious little that works in our City, State or Country. Let’s stop behaving as if a half hour wait (and it’s mainly much less now) has not been experienced by us abroad. People prepare accordingly…and they also use the Metro more. Peoples, the fault lies in us, not the toll plaza(s). That is why the foreigners fret less. (This is also the danger in the AAP referendum process – the public would almost always overwhelmingly say ‘shut down the toll plazas’. To stop such populism, the State govt should be asked to bear the entire financial burden of a stoppage). u


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17-23 January 2014

RNI No. HARENG/2011/39319 Postal Regn. No. GRG/35/2012-2014, VOL.–3 No.–22  17-23 January 2014

Editor:

Atul Sobti

Sr. Correspondents: Abhishek Behl Shilpy Arora Sr. Photographer:

Prakhar Pandey

Sr. Sub Editor:

Anita Bagchi

Sr. Designer:

Amit Singh

Circulation Execs.:

Sunil Yadav Manish Yadav

Sr. Exec Marketing:

Vikalp Panwar

Dy. Manager A/cs & Admin:

Shiv Shankar Jha

Consulting Art Editor: Qazi M. Raghib

Nightlife Fickle Hours @ Turquoise Cottage, Regent Square Mall, MG Road Date: January 18 Time: 8:30 pm An experimental concept to promote Underground music. Featuring Daniel and Audiophobia on the Console.

Nightlife Ladies Night @ Vivanta by Taj, Sector 44 Date: Up to January 29 (Wednesdays) Time: 7:30 pm onwards All the ladies get to sway to the beats of DJ Rohit as he plays the best of rocking music. Also enjoy the offer of 'Buy 1 get 1 Free' on drinks. So slip into your party gear and let down your hair.

Editorial Office 213, Tower A, Spazedge, Sector 47, Sohna Road, Gurgaon 122001, Haryana, Phones: +91 124 421 9092/93 Emails:

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Nightlife Diva Wednesdays @ Zura, SCO No. 40, Sector 29 Date:Up to January 29 Time: 9:00 pm onwards It's time to party hard with your gang of girls. 'Buy-one-get-one', free palmistry sessions, groovy music and plenty of specials – all for the Divas.

behalf of Arap Media Ventures Pvt. Ltd. Sohna Road, Gurgaon 122018, Haryana. Printed at Indian Express Ltd., Plot No. A8, Sector 7, Gautam Budh Nagar, NOIDA – 201301, Uttar Pradesh

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Family Outing Winter Fun @ Kingdom of Dreams, Culture Gully, Sector 29 Date: Up to January 31 Time: 1:00 pm Enjoy Goan Culture this winter. Get a whiff of the authentic cuisine, culture and architecture of the vibrant Konkani coastline. Enjoy delectable dishes like Rawa Fried Prawn, Fish Cutlet, Fish Amashe and Konkani Paneer Kappa. There's also peppy Goan music to add to the ambience.

Stand-up Comedy

from 213, Tower A, Spazedge, Sector 47,

The views expressed in the opinion pieces and/or the columns are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Friday Gurgaon or Arap Media Ventures Pvt. Ltd.

Adventure Rocksport Challenge @ Camp Tikkling, Badshahpur Date: January 18 & 19 Time: 10:00 am Participate in India's first Adventure Race and Carnival initiated by MTV Roadies VJ, Rannvijay. The 5 km adventurous trail presents obstacles – climbing over walls, traversing water bodies, crawling under barbed wires and more. Besides the Race, there will also be Hot Air Ballooning, Paint Balling, Quad Biking, Adventure Zone for Kids, Zorbing, Zip Line, Games Stalls, Street Magicians, a live Rock performance and Food Stalls.

Dance Odissi Recital @ Epicentre, Apparel House, Sector 44 Date: January 23 Time: 7:30 pm onwards Enjoy an evening of classical dance with Odissi exponent Pritika Kalra Gandhi, performing with her troupe. Pritika is a disciple of Sarmilee Sengupta.

Nightlife Friday Madness @ Lemp Brewpub & Kitchen, Star Mall, Sector 30, NH8 Date: Up to January 31 Time: 8:00 pm onwards Begin your weekend on a high note as DJ Moksh spins the best of Dance and House tracks to make your Friday bigger, better and louder. Nightlife Belly Nights @ Club Rhino, South Point Mall, Golf Course Road Date: Up to January 30 (Thursdays only) Time: 9:00 pm onwards Experience the Arabian Belly Dance Live by some of NCR's best performers. The peppy musical beats will ensure you don't leave the dance floor.

9th Edition Of Comedy Club @ Cooper's Grill & Bar, Star Tower, Sector 30, NH8 Date: January 18 Time: 8:00 pm onwards Brace yourself for an evening of fun, food and rib-tickling laughter. Presenting the 9th edition of Comedy Club, where some of the best Stand-up comedy artists in the country – Jeeveshu Ahluwalia, Rajneesh Kapoor and Abijit Ganguly—will be performing live. Fight Comic @ Epicentre, Apparel House, sector 44 Date: January 22 Time: 7:30 pm onwards Enjoy Singapore’s most hilarious and popular comedy show, wherein the top six comics fight a battle for glory through six rounds. There will be hilarious gags, punch lines and comic timing. Get ready for some good laughs. Older, Angrier, Hairier @ Epicentre, Sector 44, Apparel House Date: January 24 Time: 8:00 pm New York-based comedienne, Radhika Vaz, is back with her solo stand-up comedy act. This Act is a trip through the mind of a woman who refuses to take life too seriously – at 40. Tickets: Rs. 400


17-23 January 2014

C oming U p Delhi's

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Culture scape Art

Meet Biz Divas Citizen Cafe @ Panasonic Experience Center, IFFCO Chowk Date: January 23 Time: 10:00 am Biz Divas presents Citizen Cafe in association with We, The People. The Cafe brings together people from varied backgrounds to explore the role we can play as citizens in our democracy. It is a space for dialogue, learning and action, on our role as citizens. Meet Gurgaon Circle of Moms @ 21, Gun Salute, Sector 29 Date: January 24 Time: 11:00 am to 2:00 pm An Event to keep all the Gurgaon moms connected. Activities include interactive games and quizzes. Five 'mompreneurs' will introduce their venture to the Group and motivate other moms with their experiences. Art When High and Low Art Meet @ Art Alive Gallery, No.120, Sector 44 Date: Up to February 28 Time: 11:00 am to 7:00 pm (Monday to Saturday) A Group Show of the works of A.Rajeswara Rao, Anita Dube, Anjolie Ela Menon, Anupam Sud, Atul Dodiya, B Manjunath Kamath, Chandra Bhattacharjee, Chintan Upadhyay, Dileep Sharma, G.R.Iranna, Gopikrishna, Himanshu Verma, Jagannath Panda, Jayasri Burman, Jogen Chowdhury, Manisha Gera Baswani, Murli Cheeroth, Nayanaa Kanodia, Paresh Maity, Pushpamala N, Raghu Rai, Ram Rahman, Ranbir Singh Kaleka,Ravinder Reddy, Riyas komu, Rohit Chawala, Subba Ghosh, Sudhanshu Sutar, Sumedh Rajendran, Sunil Gawde, Thukral & Tagra, V Ramesh, Vivek Vilasini and Waswo X Waswo. Theatre Piya Behroopiya @ Club Patio, Block E, South City I Date: January 24 Time: 8:00 pm Piya Behroopiya is Shakespeare's Twelfth Night adapted in Nautanki style – a laugh riot replete with live musicians and a funny cast. The Play is Directed by Atul Kumar. Food Special Valentine Menu @ Zura, SCO No. 40, Sector 29 Date: January 14 to February 14 Time: 12:30 pm onwards

Indulge in a month-long celebration of Valentine’s Day with a Special menu - offering complimentary vodka shots and a heartshaped cake. The Special menu includes healthy salads, appetising soups, delicious starters and finger-licking main course dishes. Food Sattvic Fiesta @ Madhuban, Cross Point Mall, DLF City Phase 4 Date: Up to January 19 Time: 11:00 am onwards Enjoy an exclusively South Indian Sattvic menu with simple, authentic Andhra food. Also on offer are Sankranti specials like Sankranti Pongal, Tamarind Rice, Sweet Pongal, Andhra Pulusu, Banana Bhajji, Murukulu, Sankranti Special Laddoo, Poori and Papad. Food Steak Fest @ Cooper's Grill & Bar, Star Tower, Sector 30, NH8 Date: Up to January 31 A special Steak Fest to sate your appetite for juicy, succulent steaks. Enjoy these sumptuous steaks – grilled, pan-fried or broiled to perfection. Food Food Meditation @ Zorba The Buddha, MG Road Date: January 19 Time: 10:00 am to 5:30 pm Get a taste of the unique experience of Food meditation. Sit on the floor and enjoy simple food. After the meal, there will be an occasion for exchange. The Menu includes bhatt ki daal, churdkani, brown rice biryani, jakhia alloo and pink chapattis/khakhra.

Food Indspirit 2014 @ Crowne Plaza Hotel, Sector 29, NH8 Date: January 24 Time: 10:00 am to 10:00 pm The mega annual wine, spirits and beer event is back for the eighth time. The day-long Event will include conferences, industry and technical sessions, wine and spirits tasting and an Awards ceremony. Topics that will be discussed will include the importance of social media and the changing dynamics of travel retail industry in the Asia Pacific region. A presentation of case studies on creating a successful brand in today’s world will also be held.

Homing @ Gallery Art Positive, F 213/B, Lado Sarai Date: January 23 to March 18 Time: 11:00 am to 7:00 pm A Group Show that explores constructs of Homes—lost, shifted, imaginary, intimate and private homes. Curated by Deeksha Nath.

Art

Colour of Anticipation @ Shanta Art Gallery, 8, Birbal Road, Jangpura Extn Date: January 16 to 20 Time: 11:00 am to 7:00 pm An Exhibition of the works of Bangladeshi artist Rajeshwary Priyaranjini. The Show is curated by Vikram Sethi.

Theatre

The Middle Class Gentlemen @ Alliance Francaise De Delhi, Plot No. 72, Lodhi Estate, Lodhi Road Date: January 20 Time: 6:30 pm onwards Catch the staging of the Play, originally written by Molliere (in French). It is a story of a middle class man who dreams of becoming an aristocrat. The Play is Directed by Abhineshwar Dayal Saxena and has been translated to Hindi by Brajnath Madhav Vajpayee.

Music

Vocal Concert @ India Habitat Centre, Habitat World, Institutional Area, Foyer, Max Muller Marg, Lodhi Road Date: January 19 Time: 7:00 pm onwards Enjoy a musical evening with Shubha Mudgal, the well-known Indian singer of Hindustani classical music, khayal, thumri, dadra, and Indian pop.

Dance

Swami Haridas Tansen Sangeet Nritya Mahotsav @ Shankarlal Hall, Modern School, Barakhamba Road Date: January 16 to 18 Time: 6:45 pm onwards Sri Ram Centre For Performing Arts and Bharatiya Sangeet Sadan focus on and commemorate the legendary guru-shishya parampara, which was prevalent, during the Mughal period, between two of the greatest musical geniuses of India – the venerable saint-musician, poet and composer of Brindavan, Swami Haridas and his illustrious disciple Mian Tansen. The Programme: 17th January, 2014 Iqbal Ahmedd Khan - Vocal Shujaat Ahmed Khan - Sitar Rajan Sajan Mishra- Vocal  18th January, 2014  Uma Sharma - Kathak Shubha Mudgal - Vocal Viswa Mohan Bhatt - Mohan Veena  Special attraction: Unique Tigalbandhi: Vishwa Mohan Bhatt , Uma Sharma and Manganiyars Of Rajasthan.


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17-23 January 2014

THE WEEK THAT WAS

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 Gurgaon would celebrate a State-level Republic Day, with the Governor as Chief Guest.  Haryana Chief Secretary S.C. Chowdhary visits the City; he prioritizes the setting up of a Water Board (like Jal Board in Delhi), the need to find an immediate alternative to Bandhwari (for Waste Treatment), and the urgent improvement of roads.  An FIR is prepared against Minister Kataria and others in the ‘bogus votes’ case. A policeman thrashes a rickshaw puller for ‘crossing the CM’s convoy’s path’; though the victim ‘decides’ not to press charges, the offending policeman is suspended. Roadways’ staff may strike from January 20th.; teachers may strike from 21st. HC orders the removal of jhuggis spread over a 1 acre area in Sector 12A; these are 25 year-old tenements. The residents (about 200 families) protest and ask for shelter In the Ashiana Colony (meant for EWS). Sirhaul Toll Plaza may be removed – ‘agreement’ between NHAI and DGSCL (the concessionaire). Villagers protest further land acquisition being undertaken under ‘old’ Policy, for new sectors of Gurgaon, when the new Policy has been approved by Parliament. HC orders return of land acquired by the State in the new sectors, near the SPR. This Order could have far-reaching consequences. CBI offers a reward of Rs 5 lakhs to anyone providing a lead in the Geetanjali Garg murder case. Gurgaon District gets 1.71 lakhs new voters in 2014 – more women enrolling than men.

 A woman’s body is found near New Colony; later it is discovered that she was a teacher and had been strangled by her son-in-law; a woman dies after a newly constructed water tank collapses, in Sheeshpal Vihar; a headless body is found in DLF I.  A property dealer is shot and killed in Chakarpur area; an employee of a real estate firm is shot near MG Road Station; 2 die in falls – from a rooftop in Sukhrali, and a tower in DLF II.  A man commits suicide in Bhawani Enclave; a youth commits suicide in Sector 10; a senior citizen consumes poisonous food and dies.  A car driven by a drunken youth hits a tree on Sohna Road, and a passenger (a patwari) is killed.  A man is held for the kidnap and rape of a 4-year-old girl, in Sector 34; a woman from Ashok Vihar accuses her husband and brother-in-law of rape and unnatural sex; a woman alleges rape, and accuses another woman of being an accomplice, in Jharsa; a school owner is booked for sexually harassing a 17-year-old girl student in Makdola Village area; a woman accuses a live-in partner of rape, in Sector 40; a woman is molested near Sadar Bazaar – 2 men are arrested; a girl is abducted from Sector 18.  An NSG Commando is held for sodomizing a 10-year-old boy – the son of a fellow commando; a youth is assaulted and his hand is cut  Childline NGO rescues 2 minors from a labour contractor in Sector 101.  HUDA staff that have gone for an inspection of illegal construction in Sector 38, are beaten by the residents; a club bouncer is booked for assaulting a couple in a hotel in DLF I.  A businessman is abducted and robbed of his cash and car near Sector 37B; laptops are stolen from parked cars in Sushant Lok; many car windows and windshields are smashed by miscreants in Shivaji Park; a driver is robbed of his car at gunpoint near Naurangpur Village.  Police will now verify all bouncers employed in pubs.  A Diagnostic Centre loses its certification after it is found indulging in malpractices.  Traffic Police flag off a Road Safety Week from January 11 to 17; they will recognize 10 good drivers.  A multi-level parking facility has been finalized for construction in Sector 29 – will have an over 10,000 cars’ capacity.  Sector 29 CNG Station is shut again, causing severe inconvenience to

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users; meanwhile, residents protest an upcoming CNG Station in a Sector 14 park. NGT pulls up HUDA and MCG over poor waste disposal; MCG and NHAI pass the buck (to the other) on the cleaning of drains along the Expressway. Hundreds of residents of Rajiv Nagar take to the roads to protest the lack of supply of water and power in their ‘restricted area’ colony. The road from the Bus Stand to the Sheetla Mata Mandir is closed for hours. Taking a leaf from AAP’s book, Delhi, MCG turns buses into night shelters. Property Tax would not be applicable for villages in the MCG area. A crowd stalls renovation work at the Maharana Pratap Chowk. Chief Vigilance Officer of HUDA finds many employees (almost 60%) absent in surprise visits to various offices/sites.  CJM finds night shelters in a pathetic condition – pulls up staff.  MCG may get a new office premises for its entire staff, at Sector 34, Technology Park in Info City.  MCG Meeting approves a Blood Bank, a proposal for a Jal Board and a TP Scheme project.  Plots of even 32 sq m will be given building plan approvals now (versus 100 sq m earlier). MDI Chowk circumference is being reduced, to ease traffic around it. An RTI reply is not given on the proposed Meter Pillar Boxes, which have been alleged to be faulty in design. Sector 10 Hospital gets a new Women’s ward. Worker Unions protest the ‘reversal’ of the govt decision on a hike in minimum wages; it has been made applicable only for govt organizations; workers of Munjal Kiriu protest outside Manesar Police Station, agitating against the suspension of their fellow workers. Roadways’ workers protest, impacting City Bus service for a few hours. Platform 2 in the Gurgaon Railway Station will have a solar panel that will provide for the electricity requirements of the Station; Solar Lighting is also proposed at the Civil Hospital. Former Haryana IG, Ranbir Sharma, joins AAP; after a meeting, AAP vows to protect auto drivers from harassment by police and transport officials. Saina Nehwal proposes to set up a Badminton Academy in an 8-acre area in Gurgaon. Youth Week is being celebrated from January 12 to 19, and started with the celebrations on the 150th. Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda (on January 12th.) at the Nehru Stadium. A Science Centre is set up at the Govt Senior Secondary Model School, Sector 4. 14 local kids directly enter the semi-final of India’s Got Talent, due to their wonderful display of skills – a combination of Yoga, Aerobics and Gymnastics. MCG plans for a (Singapore) Night Safari at the Biodiversity Park! Traffic Police are offering free helmets to those who are being challaned – people are lining up!

T PIC OF THE WEEK

Dear Readers, Each week we will feature a question/topic to get your views/ suggestions. Selected views will be published in the subsequent issue(s) of Friday Gurg. This Week's Topic is:

In your opinion which is the best Hospital in the City. And why? Write in to us at letters@fridaygurgaon.com


H appenings

17-23 January 2014

4U

Hall of Food

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Tips

F

oodhall hosted an evening of flavours to celebrate its new store in the City. The launch, at Central Mall, MG Road,  was attended by food connoisseurs, socialites, celebrated chefs and head honchos of corporates – exploring a whole new food-shopping extravaganza.

by ShahnaZ Herbal Cosmetic Queen Padma Shree Shahnaz Husain is the CEO of the Shahnaz Husain Group – India’s leading company in the field of natural beauty and anti-aging treatments.

Q. I have suddenly developed white scaly skin on my face. Help! SH

Imprinting Memories

A

n Alumni Meet of IBS Business School Imprints 2013—was held at IBS.Alumni from various batches and campuses across the country got together to celebrate and relive their memories. They enjoyed a game of Tambola together and then helped themselves to the delicious food. Pictures were clicked and the alumni wrote messages on the special “Imprints Wall”.

Enterprising Management

A

n interactive Knowledge Session was held by APE Communications at Epicentre, where Kunal Singhal, an ERP Expert and founder & MD, EazyERP, spoke about the role of ERP solutions to reduce costs and accelerate business growth. Raj Pathak, CEO, SME News Agency moderated the discussions.

The white scales or flakes may be due to extreme dryness, or lack of moisture. If there is any itching or redness, it is best to consult a dermatologist. Avoid soap and use a cleansing cream or gel. Apply aloe vera gel on the dry patches daily. Apply sunscreen before going out in the sun. Use a night cream to massage the skin at night and wipe off with moist cotton wool before bedtime. Tarana Rana

WINNER Ask the beauty expert questions on skin, hair and beauty. The best question (picked by Shahnaz Husain) will receive a gift hamper from the Shahnaz Husain Group. Write to us at letters@fridaygurgaon.com

If you have a flair for photography (you needn’t be a professional) and would like to see your clicked pictures appear in FG, send us photographs of Gurgaon (landscape or people) to fridaygurgaongallery@gmail.com

Visit our facebook page at www.facebook.com/fridaygurgaon


06 { Abhishek Behl/ FG }

write to us at letters@fridaygurgaon.com

T

he Midas run of the Haryana government, which has managed to turn almost every piece of farmland into real estate, particularly in areas within the National Capital Region (NCR), seems to be coming to an end - courtesy the judiciary. The recent judgement delivered by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, quashing land acquisition by the State in Gurgaon, has caused jubilation amongst the farmers - and particularly those who have been fighting the arbitrary, if not diabolical, decisions of the State. However, though clearly a victory, it is a small one – yet. While the High Court has set aside the acquisition of about 1400 acres, in reality only about 87 acres of land, which the respective farmers had not sold to the builders, will be released. There is a spin in the tale, says Advocate Devdutt Sharma, who is also a petitioner in the case and owns 2 acres of land near Badshahpur. Sharma reveals that about 95 per cent of the land (of 1400 acres) has already been released by the government to builders, which is a clear violation of the rules and an arbitrary use of acquisition laws to the detriment of farmers in Haryana. The case is being keenly followed by a large number of builders, and insiders say that already hundreds of applications have been filed with the Court record room to obtain a copy of this crucial Order. It is also likely that the High Court might allow an enquiry into the arbitrary use of the Land Acquisition Act – whereby land is acquired from farmers purportedly for public use, but is soon diverted to builders, for setting up private residential colonies and group housing societies…and even for commercial purposes. With Gurgaon's Real Estate industry already hit by a prolonged slowdown, the Order by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, quashing the acquisition of about 1400 acres of land within the new Sectors 58 to 67, is being described as a major blow - it will slow down sales further, as prospective customers worry about buying into anything ‘new’. A number of realtors, including Tata Housing, Ireo, M3M, Krissh, Emmar MGF and Anant Raj have launched big-ticket projects in this area. While some builders, and even the DTCP officials, have said that this quashing could impact real estate development in the

17-23 January 2014

C ivic/S ocial

Whose Land is it Anyway?

Asha PANDEY

In fact the manner in which Section 4 has been misused by the government, to ensure sale of land to private builders, can be inferred from the fact that only 3 acres of land was acquired by it in Nangli Umarpur, whereas it had issued notice for requisitioning 177.69 acres; only 9 acres acquired in Ullawas, whereas notice was for 262.71 acres; 2 acres in Kadarpur, against notice for 36.88 acres; 16 acres in Medawas, against notice for 335.61 acres; 1.65 acre in Behrampur, against notice for 72.09 acres; 47.31 acres in Badshahpur, against notice of 393.53 acres; and 8 acres in Ghata, whereas the Section 4 notice had been issued for a requisition of 137.80 acres. Why was a Notice issued for 1473 acres in 2006, and why did the final award come for only 87 acres, the farmers want to know? City, others believe that it is only a matter of the specific 87 acres of land. Advocate Devdutt Sharma says that the government officials, notwithstanding the objections filed by farmers under Section 5 A of the Land Acquisition Act, had identified this land for the construction of roads, utilities and other projects that were entirely for the benefit of private builders. “Our contention has been that the government should take land from these builders, who have bought hundreds of acres for also providing public utilities and amenities, but used it all for private facilities. Why are poor farmers being deprived of their land for such purposes?” he questions. Farmers in Badshahpur echo

his sentiment, and allege that Section 4 notices were used by builders to scare farmers to sell their land. Land was bought by developers much below the market rate, as they knew they would be able to get it released. Mahavir Yadav, a resident of Badshahpur, says that land has been sold even at Rs. 8 to 10 crores per acre in Badshahpur, whereas the circle rate is just Rs. 2 crores per acre. “The majority of the land in the 1400 acres has been bought by builders at rates below the market price. And later, the builders, in connivance with the government, managed to get 95 per cent of the land released through CLUs (Change of Land Use), and then launched their ‘real’

estate projects,” alleges Yadav. Advocate Sharma says that land that had been acquired under Section 4 and Section 6 notices, was allowed to be sold to builders, which is in gross violation of the law. “After the sale, even the release of this land was allowed arbitrarily, whereas the plea of farmers, to be allowed to hold a few ‘kanals’, was summarily rejected,” he alleges. The farmers from this area then petitioned a number of forums, which included High Powered Committee, the State’s ministers and the local MLA, apart from filing objections with the Land Acquisition Collector. However, the farmers soon realized that their interests had been compromised by a nexus of property dealers, politicians and officials. “While the land under acquisition, for which Section 4 notice had been issued, was about 1400 acres, it was brought down to 800 acres under Section 9; and when the final award was announced on 29/9/2012, only 87 acres was in contention! This shows nothing but arbitrariness and mala fide intentions of the authorities,” alleges Devdutt Sharma. Sharma alleges that the land of some private builders, which is adjacent to his land, was also sought to be acquired under Section 4, but the same has been released by the authorities. In fact the manner

in which Section 4 has been misused by the government, to ensure sale of land to private builders, can be inferred from the fact that only 3 acres of land was acquired by it in Nangli Umarpur, whereas it had issued notice for requisitioning 177.69 acres; only 9 acres acquired in Ullawas, whereas notice was for 262.71 acres; 2 acres in Kadarpur, against notice for 36.88 acres; 16 acres in Medawas, against notice for 335.61 acres; 1.65 acre in Behrampur, against notice for 72.09 acres; 47.31 acres in Badshahpur, against notice of 393.53 acres; and 8 acres in Ghata, whereas the Section 4 notice had been issued for a requisition of 137.80 acres. Why was a Notice issued for 1473 acres in 2006, and why did the final award come for only 87 acres, the farmers want to know? Sharma in his petition has also submitted to the Court that no survey was conducted by the State officials before the issuance of the Section 4 notification. “The decision to release 95 per cent of the land from acquisition was also not made public. The government issued licenses to private builders or allowed private builders to enter into collaboration with local farmers whose land came under Section 4, to seek exemption from acquisition,” he alleges. Objections filed by farmers against Land Acquisition under Section 5A were rejected without any reasons. Jawahar Singh,


17-23 January 2014

a Badshahpur farmer, who is left with only a few kanals of land, is elated at the High Court decision, but accuses the State government of colluding with the builders and misusing the law to snatch land from farmers. “Why does the government want to build a power station and a road on just a couple of kanals that have been left with me? I don’t want to sell my ancestral land, but the authorities do not listen to us,” he alleges. A number of farmers in Badshahpur demand that the government should ask the builders who have bought

hundred of acres of land to build the roads and other utilities. “The entire facilities are being created for people who will come to live in the private colonies of these builders. Why should the land left with us be used for making these utilities?” asks Mahender Singh. Mahavir Yadav further alleges that builders misuse Section 4, as well as the advance knowledge of the Master Plan, to buy land. The decision by the Punjab and Haryana High Court is being seen as a ray of hope by the farmers, who feel that the

The politics in Haryana is hotting up over land acquisition, after the Haryana government suffered a major setback as the Punjab and Haryana High Court overturned two major govt decisions for acquiring land in Gurgaon and Rohtak. While the farmers have reiterated their resolve to fight for their land inside and outside the courts, the initiative is being seized by new political groupings like the Haryana Insaaf Manch and the Aam Aadmi Party, who want to be on the right side of the farmers in this largely rural state. Congress rebel MP Rao Inderjit Singh, who has formed the Insaaf Manch, has alleged that thousands of acres of land has been diverted to private builders, through the misuse of the land acquisition laws. The government’s decisions have benefitted property dealers at the expense of farmers – whose interests have been sacrificed, alleges the MP. “We will oppose the decisions of the government tooth and nail”, he asserts, while adding that he has also written a letter to the Haryana CM, demanding justice for the farmers who have been shortchanged in the entire process. Within the last one week the Manch has organized two protests demonstrations against the government. G L Sharma, President of the Manch in the City, says that they welcome the decision of the Court. “We have been raising our voice against the wrongful acquisition of land for long, but the State pretends to be deaf”, says Sharma. The Aam Aadmi Party has also demanded an enquiry into the real estate corruption in Haryana. Senior AAP leader Yogender Yadav, during a Rally in Chandigarh, demanded an independent probe into the land related deals of Congress bigwigs. With AAP looking to even better its Delhi performance, especially in Haryana, political analysts say that the attacks on the Haryana government, particularly related to land deals, will become shriller. The Insaaf Manch is also trying to woo the rural belt, particularly in South Haryana, by highlighting the role played by the Congress in mega land deals, like the Reliance SEZ, which was cancelled, and then the land allotted to builders – instead of being rightfully returned to the farmers.

time has come for this misuse of authority to end. Advocate Sharma says that the detailed High Court order has yet to come out, but it is clear that the government officials will now refrain from wanton misuse of Section 4 (to pressurise farmers to sell their land). However, the recent decision of the Haryana government to issue land acquisition notices at the fag end of December, clearly shows that despite farmer anger, and many cases pending in the High Court (and now the recent Order), lessons have not been learnt. The authorities, much to the chagrin of farmers, have again issued Section 4 notices to acquire massive chunks of land in Nurpur, Palra, Badshahpur, Aklimpur, and Bhondsi – ostensibly for setting up a university. Farmers in these villages allege that the Notice was issued in end December, to ensure that it did not come under the newly promulgated Real Estate Land Acquisition Bill, which came into force on January 1, 2014. Pardeep Yadav, a farmer who has been opposing the acquisition of land, says that this Notice is once again a ploy to force the farmers to sell their land below the market rate, and to facilitate the builders' entry into the area. None of the farmers want any university to be set up in their area, and a deputation has already called on the local MLA Rao Dharampal, who has assured them that the government will try to get the circle rates increased in the area. The farmers say that they are not averse to the sale of land, but the same should take place at market rates, and the government should not use the law to shortchange them. In fact the farmers in Nurpur have sold a large chunk of land at market rates to Suptertech, says Mahavir Yadav, who adds that there is a big difference in the circle and market price of land in the area. The High Court order quashing the land acquisition has frayed the nerves of builders, and even investors, in Gurgaon, who have already been caught on the wrong foot due to the slowdown in sales. It is likely that this Order will affect 15 to 20 residential projects of private builders, who will now have to find new land for building roads and other public utilities. Since an investment to the tune Rs 10 to 12,000 crores is under question, most likely the State government will appeal against this Order. However, given the election fever and prevailing mood now, it may choose to side with the farmers. Satpal

C ivic/S ocial

Advocate Devdutt Sharma

Sharma, a landowner, says that the government should ask the builders to pool their land for these ‘public’ projects, as these are actually meant for private residents. Advocate Devdutt Sharma says that farmers are clear that they will fight against such arbitrary decisions to acquire land till the end. He says that they had pleaded before the High Court to look into the constitutionality of the actions of the government authorities: why has there been discrimination in the release of land to farmers (never), versus builders (immediately and wrongly); how can the authorities continue to act arbitrarily; can government and builders

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just buy land on a ‘pick and choose’ basis; would the acquisition of the land serve any public purpose; why is the land of poor farmers being allowed to be misused in the name of ‘public purpose’? Farmers in these areas say that although the answer has come after a long delay, the unambiguous Order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has perhaps signalled an end to this misuse of authority by the State – for land acquisitions in the name of public purpose. While Gurgaon farmers have benefitted ever since the dawn of the real estate era in Haryana, they now want to be treated at par with every other stakeholder in this business. And with the Court Order on their side, they hope that the State will not be able to arm-twist them again. Sharma is however a bit worried, and says that if an enquiry is also ordered by the Court, it could snowball into a major controversy - as there is allegedly a huge land scam in Haryana just waiting to be investigated. “I hope our own case does not get caught in this vortex,” he says. u

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C ivic/S ocial

17-23 January 2014

Not the Centre of Attention

{ Abhishek Behl/ FG }

prakhar PANDEY

write to us at letters@fridaygurgaon.com

I

will soon turn into a garbage dump. Despite repeated pleas, the HUDA officials neither mend the situation nor allow the RWAs to take up the sanitation work, allege the RWA members. “We have asked the officials to give us the Rs 1000 per booking charged by the Department for cleaning the building after every function – which they refuse. How can an RWA do this job without funds?” says Singh. Meenu Singh says that the situation was so bad that there had been no power at night in the Centre for the past couple of years. “It is due to our efforts that a power meter has been installed, but the apathy of the government officials continues,” she alleges. Citing the documents that mention the transfer of the Community Centre to residents (in Faridabad), Meenu Singh says that if HUDA has allowed residents there to maintain their

Foreign & Resident { Abhishek Behl/ FG }

write to us at letters@fridaygurgaon.com

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lthough Gurgaon may be dubbed by some as a global city, where a large number of foreigners are thought to be living, in reality only 4.500 expatriates are registered with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) of the Gurgaon Police. And not surprisingly, Japanese top the list of foreign nationals living in the City, followed by Koreans and Chinese (surprised?). There are also a large number of Afghan and Pakistani nationals registered, who primarily come to avail the medical facilities in the City - which has also become popular with African nationals. A majority of the foreigners registered are working with Japanese and Korean multinationals, which also have collaborations with Indian partners. Inspector Lekh Ram Yadav, Incharge of FRRO, Gurgaon, says that all foreigners who come to India for a period of more than 180 days are required to register with the Police - except those who have been exempted by law or by a competent authority. Some of the foreign nationals who are given exemption from reporting to the Police, need not register, and also do not need any ‘exit permission’. “All foreign nationals are

Community Centres, then what is the problem in the Millennium City? The residents also recall that promises were made by the former HUDA Administrator, to convert the Community Centres in Sectors 23 and 6 into clubs that could be used by residents - as there is no HUDA Club nearby. Meenu Singh says they had proposed that an additional floor be built, where residents could run a club. HUDA sector residents also say that most of the times the Community Centres are used for marriages by the residents of unauthorized colonies. There is heavy booking, as such a large population does not have access to basic amenities. Locals say that to reduce the pressure on the sectors, it is important for the government to construct Community Centres and other social amenities in such colonies, and even villages. The need for such a facility is particularly being felt in the disputed 900 me-

ters area around the Ammunition Depot. “The authorities must look into the problem of Community Centres in HUDA sectors, and collaborate with the RWAs, to turn these Centres into places where the local populace is able to spend quality time and organise activities that are sorely missing right now,” says Ravi Shankar Mehta, an RWA functionary. Mehta says that people in the City want more public places where they can interact, spend time and forge social relations - which are needed ingredients to build the character of a city. Residents regret that such expensive real estate (as Community Centres) is being wasted by the government agencies; if these Centres were well-maintained the locals could use them, instead of booking expensive clubs and restaurants. The space in these Community prakhar PANDEY

f Faridabad can do it, why can’t we, ask residents of ‘old’ Gurgaon, who want to be able to run and maintain their colonies’ Community Centres themselves. With poor maintenance, even a complete lack of cleanliness, plaguing the Community Centres built by HUDA, residents are now demanding that these Centres should be handed over to the respective RWAs, as has happened in Sector 15A of Faridabad. The residents allege that, despite repeated petitions to the Estate Manager, HIUDA, to get things managed in a proper manner, nothing has happened. Meenu Singh, President of Sector 3, 5, 6 RWA, says that residents across ‘old’ Gurgaon are facing severe inconvenience because of the poor upkeep of Community Centres - which are heavily booked for marriages and other functions, but seldom get cleaned. Residents allege that while a staff of five HUDA employees is supposed to manage each Centre, only chowkidars are present. Rakesh Yadav, a resident of Sector 23, says that during the situation becomes pathetic during the wedding season. Ravi Kumar, a resident of Sector 5, says that it took nine years for HUDA to get their Centre whitewashed; and despite that, the poor maintenance will ensure that it

Centres could also be utilised for non-profit ventures, which could provide jobs to the weaker sections. Meenu Singh says that if the government feels disinterested or incapable of running any operation effectively, then it should at least allow the residents of Gurgaon to manage or maintain facilities that impact their civic and social life. The RWAs from ‘old’ Gurgaon have decided to join hands and approach the HUDA Administrator for the resolution of the Community Centres’ problem. The residents say that if a decision on the running and maintenance of Community Centres is not taken soon, they would rather lock these buildings, as they are not only a nuisance but also could soon be a health hazard. Meenu Singh asserts, “We are fed up of this ‘Garbage Centre’ in our midst and want urgent redemption.” u

required to register within 14 days of first arrival in Gurgaon, except in some cases where the time limit is 24 hours (e.g. for Pakistanis). In the last one year we registered around 4,500 nationals from across the world,” says Yadav. Interestingly, a large number of Pakistanis also visit Gurgaon for promoting their handicrafts as well as cotton and other garments’ businesses. Police officials say that the Japanese and Korean nationals are the most well behaved, follow the rules, and are always ready with their documents. The South Asians have more of a 'chalta hai' attitude, and look for an easy way out. The Pakistani nationals are most irked by the 24 -hour rule, and the Home Ministry has been fairly accommodative by giving many of them visa extensions. A Pakistani national who has come to FRRO tells Friday Gurgaon that the entire process of registration takes too long. “I have come here a number of times but some documents always remain ‘short’ - everything is not made clear online,” she complains, while arguing with the officials. However, her charm, and knowledge of the local language, though spoken in a foreign accent, does not help; the officials seem to be strict, maybe particularly with regard to Pakistani nationals. Inspector Lekh Ram says, “We cannot bypass the regulations of the government, but we try to be as friendly as possible, and our team eagerly helps these foreign people who have come to our land,” he adds. To make things easier and more transparent, the Police has put the registration process online, and also made the information available on the Gurgaon Police website.


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17-23 January 2014

Foreigners complain that the entire process is too bureaucratic, and needs to be simplified. An interpreter of a Japanese national, who wanted an exit permission from the FRRO, says that most of the foreign nationals are used to quicker systems and processes in their own countries and find the work here very slow - and thus get irritated. He admits that Japanese nationals, being sticklers for paperwork, find it easier to get their work done; whereas people from Africa and South Asia, instead of ensuring that they have all their papers in order, prefer shortcuts. There also prevails a sense of ‘superiority’ among some expatriates, who seem to look down on Indian rules and regulations. The language barrier is also a major issue, and leads to delays. Inspector Lekh Ram says that they easily handle people who can speak English, but for other languages the local employees of the corporate companies are often present. Police officials also say that the low visa fees and fairly inexpensive travel cost, but a relatively high lodging cost, makes the residents of some of the neighbouring countries prefer more frequent travel. They therefore do not

{ Shilpy Arora/ FG }

write to us at letters@fridaygurgaon.com

Still in their 20s, these enterprising women are budding entrepreneurs... though with different takes on ‘business’.

A Baker

Sneha Pillai runs a bakery and is famous for her unique hand-painted cakes. Though she completed her legal studies from Delhi University, Sneha decided to take up something more interesting as a ‘career’. Baking has always been her passion. “She baked a cake on my birthday when she was 14. We all liked it so much that we gave her the responsibility to bake one on every family member’s birthday. The most interesting part of her cakes is the icing and the decoration; she keeps coming up with new ideas,” says Kiran, Sneha’s mother. Yes, what makes Sneha’s cakes unique is her out-of-the-box designs. “I started taking orders from friends for cakes and desserts almost two years ago, while pursuing my studies. I noticed that people are now inclined to eating fresh, and there is widespread awareness that commercial bakeries use old and frozen cakes made with synthetic ingredients. Homebakers always try and make it fresh and hygienic, and give it a personal touch,” says Sneha.

Documents required for Registration with FRRO, Gurgaon Online Application Form Photocopy of the Passport n Photocopy of the initial Visa, with the Arrival stamp (into India) n Four Colour Photographs of the Applicant n Proof or details of Residence in India n Copy of the Marriage Certificate, for those seeking Registration as a spouse of an Indian National n Bona fide Certificate from their university/college/institution, for those seeking Registration on a Student Visa n Bona fide Medical Certificate from a recognized hospital, for those seeking registration on a Medical or Med-X Visa n n

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apply for long period visas, and this increases the paperwork. Inspector Lekh Ram says that the registration aids in tracking the expatriates, particularly when they need any help or face any difficulty during their stay in the City. “It also ensures that foreign nationals with suspicious credentials or mala fide intentions are kept under surveillance. We also deny visa extension to people who violate Indian law or indulge in activity that is suspicious,” he adds. A foreign national can stay in India for a maximum of five years, and for return he/she has to get an 'exit permission' from the FRRO. The Police officials say that the number of foreigners, especially from South Asia, is increasing every year, due to business and medical reasons. However, this also being a ‘sensitive’ region, the Police have to keep their eyes wide open. While India, especially Gurgaon, has been welcoming the foreign nationals with open arms, there is a feeling that the foreigners need to adjust better; they should not behave as if they are visiting a third world country, or ask to be treated in a ‘preferential’ manner. u

They Mean Business

prakhar PANDEY

A lot of creativity and talent is involved in personalised cake-making. While Sneha’s products are made of simple vanilla, dark chocolate and mud pie, her bakes always have different designs - ranging from iPhones and wine bottles to frothy beer mugs… and most interestingly, hand painted cakes. Baking has not only turned to be a profitable business option for her, but has also helped her reach out to the underprivileged. Sneha wanted to help school dropouts from the underprivileged families, and came up with an unusual idea of starting bakery classes for them. Many NGOs and social networking clubs came forward to arrange the venues for the classes. Today, their skill in baking has helped provide employment to many unemployed youth, and the products made by them during the training sessions are sold to Sneha’s customers. “Baking is easy. One can’t go wrong if one has the correct measurements and equipment. Besides, baking doesn’t need constant monitoring, and so it is easier for kids to learn it,” informs Sneha. Within a couple of training sessions the children can effortlessly bake a cheesecake. “It feels great when my bakes bring smiles on people’s faces. It gives me a sense of achievement,” says a child.

A Fashion Designer

Manpreet Kaur, who runs a fashion studio – Red Couture - in DLF Phase III, has nurtured her passion for designing from an early age. A graduate from the reputed NIFT, she moved to the City from Chandigarh, and decided to start a small fashion studio. For 27-year-old Manpreet, fashion is in the genes.

“My grandfather has been in the textile industry, so naturally I was inclined towards it. I love sketching for different clients, as they have different needs. All we have to do is help people look their best!” smiles Manpreet. With many national and international shows to her credit, Manpreet feels that a fashion collection is not just about the clothes; it is also about the inspiration behind the line and the arduous work that has gone into giving shape to that inspiration. Her advice to aspiring fashion designers is, “The market is full of big labels, who have patented their style and created a niche for themselves. However, even they have taken time to reach that level. So yes, younger names too can become brands – with time and passion” This City has varied cultures, choices and talents; what it lacks is an option of good fashion studios, where one can get highly customised designs. Manpreet says, “As my business grows, my aim is to let people experience the most sophisticated, intricate and high-end fashion designs in the City itself, so that they

don’t have to travel to South Delhi for them”.

A Voice for the Elderly

Understanding the challenges that most elderly face in cities, Payal Mathur, a resident of South City II, started an organisation called ‘Vaad’. Born and brought up in the Capital, Payal moved to the City some seven years ago. Her organisation helps provide senior citizens with medical, legal and financial assistance. “The word ‘Vaad’ means dialogue. Ours is an attempt to lend a patient ear to the elderly and serve them without any selfish motive. We have to realise the importance of the elderly in our lives; they are as valuable as our children,” informs Payal. She has been inspired by the happy and contented life of her in-laws and parents, and wishes to spread that positivity to other senior citizens as well. To date over 200 elderly persons have registered with Vaad. The organisation connects them with renowned hospitals, senior doctors and medical services providers. “My aim is not just to provide some free services to the senior citizens, but to stay connected with them and make them feel that they are as important as the youth. In fact we call them ‘Youth above 60’,” smiles Payal. Working at the grassroots level, Vaad also helps the elderly get some discounts, e.g. at chemists’ shops - keeping in mind that the incomes of the elderly decrease after retirement. Further, many health camps have been organised by Vaad in collaboration with many hospitals - such as Artemis. Registering 125 senior citizens at a Medical Camp, Vaad ensured that all of them went

through a thorough check up; on hand were a physician, a cardiologist, an orthopaedist and a surgeon. Payal plans to organise another Camp in February. Vaad also provides legal assistance to the elderly. “We help them reach the right legal consultant, and we are working to get nominal rates for them. We have also tied up with a few CAs and financial experts, who will give genuine advice to the senior citizens and hence help them understand various investment options,” informs Payal. Her best contribution is that she spends quality time with the senior citizens, something that most of today’s youth shies away from. Negligence towards the elderly is fast becoming a challenge in our urban societies; and in India the elderly, unlike their counterparts in many developed countries, hardly have any kind of social security mechanism. Payal’s initiative also showcases that the gap between the elderly and the young can even be leveraged to generate interesting entrepreneurial opportunities. Maybe that will get some people moving in the right direction… u


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17-23 January 2014

Be the Right Champion

{ Shilpy Arora/ FG }

write to us at letters@fridaygurgaon.com

H

uman Rights are an expression of the need for justice, tolerance, mutual respect and human dignity…for all, by all. Everybody is entitled to certain Rights, under all circumstances. These Rights broadly include certain Civil Liberties, Political Rights, Economic Rights, Cultural Rights and Environmental Rights. Although the Constitution and the Laws have been established to protect Human Rights, these Rights have been constantly violated. Unfortunately, most of the people are often unaware when a Human Rights violation has occurred; and even if they are aware, they don’t know how to report it. For instance, Child Labour was earlier an ‘acceptable’ model in the Indian society of the 60s and 70s. But change was brought in when people were made aware about its ill-effects. Besides, the public was empowered with some practical measures, such as a complaint mechanism via a Helpline number for Child Safety. This Helpline benefits over 50,000 children in the country annually. Similarly, Polio was so widespread in India in the early 60s, that of 10 families, 6 used to have a child suffering with it. It was felt that the authorities

could hardly do anything to prevent this spread. There was no social pressure on the government to help eradicate the disease. A few NGOs however came forward in the 70s, raising the issue that the ‘Right to Health’ is a human right and the authorities should take ample steps to uproot the spread of Polio. Thanks to their efforts and Human Rights’ activism, today India has become a success story - as not a single case of Polio has been detected in the last three years. This is one of the Country’s proud milestones, achieved with the help of a massive and sustained immunisation programme of the government. It underlines how NGOs can help in the protection of Human Rights. However, till today, individuals in the Country don’t come forward to report Human Rights’ violations, due to lack of faith in the State mechanism. Not many people know that apart from the police and courts, they themselves are entitled to file petitions directly to respective State Human Rights Commissions, to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and even to the United Nations. One can identify and report a Human Rights’ violation by taking the following steps: Determine the jurisdiction of the Human Rights violation: It is important to classify whether a Human Rights violation is a national or global violation. For example, most of the complaints relating to pornography in India are considered as Human Rights violations, but in some countries like France and Italy, pornography is allowed under the ambit of ‘freedom of expression’. The international law, therefore, doesn’t have any clear-cut provisions for pornography. On the other hand, a few international Human Rights are still not given ample importance in India. ‘Right to Legal Consultancy’ is one of them. It is a fundamental, and one of the most important, Human Rights in the US. It is so strictly followed that not even a single proceeding can take place in a court if both the parties are not given an equal level of legal consultancy. But in India the poor and uneducated generally don’t have enough resources, and every day rulings

are passed without keeping their interests in mind. In such a scenario, one can certainly directly approach an international Human Rights’ protection body. Prepare a Report: To approach any Human Rights’ protection body, one has to prepare a Report that includes the following details: where did the Human Rights violation take place? Who has been affected? How long has it been going on? How severe have been the repercussions of the violation(s)? One can prepare a Report without any legal assistance, with the help of simple words and in any language and medium. If required, individuals can also seek help of free legal aid bodies and lawyers to draft the Report. One can attach various supporting documents, letters and also evidence in audio-visual forms. Last year a group of NRI Sikhs had filed a petition with the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, to commute the death sentence of an Indian Sikh. They had also approached an international Human Rights’ NGO, to intervene after the Indian Supreme Court had denied the commutation plea to the death sentence of the alleged convict, Devenderpal Singh Bhullar. The Apex Court in India had upheld Bhullar’s death sentence under TADA, saying that he was involved in a separatist movement for a Sikh nation. An appeal of a small group of individuals urged the UN to issue a notification to the Foreign Minister of India, to stop the execution of Bhullar, and a ‘factfinding’ mission was sent to India to investigate the case. The Mission found out that the principle of non-refoulment, as stated under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, had been violated by the Indian authorities, and thus protected Bhullar from the death penalty. Individual petitions can also be filed in cases of violation of Environmental Rights, Economic Rights,

C ivic/S ocial Cultural Rights, Consumer Rights… and even for the condemnation of ‘Right to Happiness’. Know the International Bill of Human Rights and the Universal Deceleration of Human Rights (UDHR): Of the 193 member countries of the UN, more than 161 have signed UDHR. The UDHR’s preamble makes it compulsory for all signing states to commit themselves and their people to progressive measures that secure the universal and effective Human Rights mechanism, as stated in the Declaration. The Declaration defines the concept of ‘fundamental freedoms’ and ‘human rights’, which is binding on all member states. It is a powerful tool to apply diplomatic and moral pressure on governments, organisations or individuals who violate any of its articles. Research which Human Rights’ organisation would be best suited: Some international NGOs, such as the International Federation for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, World Organisation Against Torture, International Freedom of Expression Exchange and AntiSlavery International are dedicated to the cause of protecting Human Rights all across the world. While filing petitions with the UN, individuals can also send the same to concerned NGOs, so as to build pressure on the UN to look into the matter properly. These organisations also help people worldwide to know about the International Bill of Rights and UDHR. Many times the NGOs conduct free online seminars and classes to help individuals know about Human Rights. In case of international petitions, it is essential for a petitioner to be persistent and patient. Many times the petitioners withdraw their cases, as it takes quite a long time to determine jurisdiction and reach a consensus. It is therefore important to seek the assistance of international NGOs, to make sure that proper charges are filed against the offending organisation or individual. u


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Keeping An Eye

{ Shilpy Arora/ FG }

write to us at letters@fridaygurgaon.com

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espite the pan-India and even worldwide protest against the December 16 rape case in the Capital, crimes against women are still prevalent. Gurgaon Police, having taken some good initiatives in the last many months, has now launched a mobile Safety application, Eyewatch, to help women in distress. Eyewatch Gurgaon provides a convenient and efficient mode of communication in an emergency situation, to alert the woman’s family and friends. Gurgaon Police, in collaboration with Smart24x7 Response Service and Indianeye Security Pvt Ltd., launched the application last month. Rekha Srivastava, 28, who has recently installed Eyewatch Gurgaon in her Smartphone, says, “You can’t rely solely on security apps, but they are useful. Eyewatch allows you to inform your friends and family members about your position, and also captures video and audio.” The App works through a single button function, which acts as a helpline. As soon as

the button is pressed, Eyewatch sends out the location of the user - not just once, but every ten minutes - to the designated contacts. The information sent, relating to the location, includes the latitude, longitude, address and Google Maps link. It also sends multiple images, videos and sound bites of the current situation. This App can prove helpful in ragging incidents in colleges, in medical emergencies, and in road accidents too! Kapil Mittal, a software engineer and father of a 17-year-old girl, feels that Eyewatch Gurgaon is one of the most efficient Safety apps available in the country. “No other app can trace the location so accurately. Eyewatch is the only known app in the world that captures audio, records video and calls the designated contacts one after the other - and automatically puts the calls on speakerphone. Besides, it provides a web-based personal control panel, to view the user’s details on a computer (helpful at the time of any emergency),” he informs. Upto five photographs taken by the user on his/her smartphone can also be viewed by the designated

Spiriting in 2014 { Prabha Prabhakar Bhardwaj }

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ew Year’s Eve is associated with celebrations welcoming the New Year. It is a tradition followed by most people all over the world. It is interesting to know that the first time the New Year was celebrated was on January First at Rome in 153 B.C. Before this, the Year began with March First; the months of January and February were added later. On New Year’s Eve, many in the West sing the song ‘auld lang syne,’ which means ‘times gone by’. It is an old Scottish song that was initially published by the poet Robert Burns, in the 1796 edition of the Book, Scots Musical Museum. This was later on adapted by many English-speaking coutries. The goodbye promises to remember the just-ending year with fondness, and the New Year is welcomed with anticipation. Thus the popular and universal phrase, ’Happy New Year’, is very appropriate. New Zealand is the first country to welcome the New Year - although technically speaking, the lesser-known Kiritimati-Christmas Islands are 15 minutes ahead. The last country is Samoa, Hawaii. While the style of celebration differs from country to country, what is common is the people’s enthusiasm. It begins days, even weeks, in advance.

contacts. The App also helps record the user’s battery level and network signal strength, and all this is displayed at the control centre of the developer, Indianeye Security Pvt. Ltd. “The real-time information that we get on our screens in our call centre is immediately transferred to the designated contacts. We also inform the police at the earliest. So it is not just the designated contacts, but our whole call centre that helps in tracing the user,” says one of the developers at Indianeye. Many expats, who live alone in the City, often feel unsafe, as they don’t have family members in the country, nor a friend network. Eyewatch allows their family members and friends, sitting in Europe, America or in any part of the world, to trace their location. The App automates the entire process of communication, right from the gathering of the data to transmitting it over a secure web server - to be viewed by the contacts anywhere in the world. It uses GPRS, GPS and 3G, to enable a user to pass on critical information, to elicit an immediate and efficient response to any kind of emergency. Although Eyewatch offers some revolutionary features, it is not free for all – especially for some Smartphones like iPhone. The Application costs Rs. 55 on an iPhone. Moreover, the SMS(s) sent to designated contacts are chargeable. “If I don’t have sufficient balance in my (mo-

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bile) account, the Application won’t work. Every service provider allows users to dial emergency numbers, even when they have zero balance; how can a safety app charge a fee for this?” questions Meera Dhawan, an activist who lives in Sector 46. Further, if the phone is switched off, no information can be sent. Kapil adds, “The application should have some sort of feature to automatically post messages on social media platforms - such

All over India the New Year is ushered in on a joyful atmosphere, filled with parties and prayers. Epicentre Gurgaon hosted a ‘Family New Year’s Eve’. There was great music, a sumptuous buffet, a full bar and a dancing, co-ordinated by DJ Nakul and hosted by Anant and Saurabh. This Event was perfect for those who wished to celebrate with close friends and families. There is also a tradition of making New Year resolutions - which can be as varied as wanting to lose weight, quit smoking, work hard, do noble deeds… and even, offer daily prayers. Most such resolutions seem to fade away with the passage of time – guess there is truth in the saying (as in most sayings) ‘promises are made to be broken’. A novel way of ushering in the New Year was adopted at the Sadh Sangat Gurudwara, South City 1. The families, including young members, attended the special programme, which started with a Bhajan-kirtan and culminated with Ardaas and the showering of flower petals at midnight. It was aimed at beginning the New Year with the blessings of the Guru, in a spiritual way. The youth were exposed to the spirit and practice of Sikhism; it also kept them away from the night clubs! It seems that every year many Sikhs, all over the world, attend the New Year’s Eve service held at their local Gurudwaras. The young people had put up stalls of different foodstuff. As per the practice of Langar, the food is available to everyone free of cost. To keep up with the times, two years ago an online magazine, www.sikhchic.com, was launched, which voices the sentiments of the community. ‘The old order changth, yielding place to the new’…and yet, some things are eternal. 2013 bowed out gracefully and 2014 slid in smilingly. u

as Facebook and Twitter - so that more people get to know about the location of the person in distress and help him/ her”. He also suggests ‘Nirbhaya’, a smartphone-based App that sends out a distress call, SMS and even a Facebook post, along with the location details. The users can either form a group or customize a few contacts, if they want the information to be seen only by a few friends on Facebook. The application is free of cost for all smartphones. u

Chaman ke Phool Jab baag ka ek hi mali hai Jab khaad bhi ek si daali hai Phir gulon ka rang kyun juda juda Main samjha nahin, batla ai khuda. Kuchh phool mahakte hain tane hue Kuchh gunche ban kar ghane hue Kuchh gir gaye shaakh se khilte hi Kuchh murjha gaye din dhalte hi Kuchh phoolon ko koi kyun rakhta nahin Kyun kuchh pe karen sab jaan fida Hain sab kyun aise juda juda Main samjha nahin, batla ai khuda. Insaan bhi to phool hain is chaman mein Tere haathon ke lagaye hue Kyun kuchh khushiyaan barsaate hain Kyun kuchh rahte jhallaye hue Kyun kuchh mein jhalakti hai zindagi Kyun kuchh lagte jaise zinda murde Hain sab kyun aise juda juda Main samjha nahin, batla ai khuda… Ashok lal


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17-23 January 2014

K id C orner

Teacher Development

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Professional Development Workshop was conducted for the teachers of GEMS International School. Many teachers participated in this Workshop, which included activities, presentations and discussions.

A Roaring Quiz

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tudents of Classes I and II of Lions Public School participated in a GK Quiz. Six teams from each Class participated in this activity; the topics included plants, animals and festivals.

Teachers Get Creative

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yan International School, Sector-40, organised a Workshop for teachers on ‘Creative Thinking’, to update them with the latest techniques of multiple intelligence in education. Writer/Director Ajay Govind conducted an interesting session on ‘Picture Perception’, speaking about the different ways to interpret and perceive things. Pictures were distributed to the teachers and they were asked to weave a story based on the pictures. The Session was thoroughly enjoyed by the teachers.

Young Carolers

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yan Global School celebrated Christmas with a Carol Singing Competition for the Primary Wing wherein all four Houses presented melodious carols. The winners of the Competition were felicitated by the Headmistress, Vandana Sharma.

Young Gurus

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entasoft Quiz Contest was held in Gurugram Public School on 22nd Nov’13. One hundred and ten students of the Primary Class took part in the Contest, in different subjects. The result was received by the School on 14th Jan’14. The students of Gurugram won six Gold Medals in different streams. Sahil Bakshi of Fourth Class won two Gold Medals (Science & English); Pratham Gupta of Fifth Class was the topper in Computers; Akshi Sheorain of First and Pragati Suman of Second Class scored the highest in colouring. Nawya of First Class achieved a hundred percent in Maths. Padma Shri R.S.Lugani, the Managing Trustee of the School, appreciated the efforts of the students, and the teacher Ms Shashi Sarma.

Global Cooling

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yan Global School celebrated the season of winter by organising a Fete. Activities at the Fete included a Tattoo Corner, Tambola, Food Stalls, Game Stalls and a dance floor with a DJ. It was a fun and thrilling experience for all together.


17-23 January 2014

K id C orner

13

Let a Pet in your Life

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ince long I have been hearing my friends talking about their pets. I used to laugh at them as pets had no place in my heart - may be because I never had a pet. But a few months back I heard that a local cat had delivered kittens in our school. All of us came to know when the cat jumped over the wall to reach her kittens. The peon took the kittens to the back yard of our school so that the cat could reach them. The next day we came to know that there was one more kitten. My brother Sahil informed my grandmother about it. She felt pity and brought the two days old kitten home. The kitten’s eyes had not yet opened. My grandmother fed her milk with the help of a dropper, as she was too tiny. All of us were pleased and got attached to her. After a few days she opened her blue eyes. She looked very pretty. Now she is five months old and enjoys playing with us. This made me think that she also has emotions like us. She feels lonely when we are in the school. Now I have realized what role a pet plays in one’s life. They are stress-busters. I now don’t fight with my brother, as both of us are busy playing with the kitten. Keep a pet and feel the emotions yourself. u Madiha Bakshi, VI A

Fun Activity

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aterial required: spinach, fenugreek and green peas; circular or rectangular pit at the corner of the garden; soil optional. You can also keep a bin or special container for the compost. Help your mummy in sorting out the leaves from the spinach and fenugreek stems, and in taking out the peas from the pods. Then collect this green waste, and add other organic waste - such as the peels from bananas, carrots and oranges, as well as cotton, threads and eggshells. Dump this entire waste in the pit  that has been specially  made for the compost (manure). Do this for a few days.  You can also add soil if you like. Then cover the waste with mud, or leave it undisturbed for 8-10 weeks. The green waste will turn to brown, making it compost manure - the best soil conditioner or fertilizer. It will keep the land fertile. Benefits: 1 The compost (manure) will help grow a beautiful garden.    2) Kitchen waste will get recycled into compost (manure).  3)The exercise will helps in developing the fine motor skill of kids, and improve their ‘sorting’ ability and concentration. 4) The environment of ‘green’ (colour) will help keep the eyes healthy. 5) It is an environment-friendly solution - for turning kitchen waste into a beneficial soil. 6) Mummy will be very happy!  Be a little volunteer, and help Mother and Mother Earth. by Jaysheel Buddhadeo, Class-Nursery, Amiown School


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K id C orner

17-23 January 2014

Ryan International School, Sohna Road

Kinder at 9

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he 9th Founders’ month has been eventful for the whole Kinder Care fraternity. A Rhyme festival,a Ramp Walk and a Fancy Dress Competition with the themes – Flora and Fauna, Sky and Water, were the highlights of the month. The parents were appreciative of the School’s endeavours to showcase the talent of its children; for most of the kids it was their first step on stage. Everyone congratulated the Principal, Archana Tandon.

Ryan ki Jyoti

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yan International School, Sohna Road is associated with Navjyoti Foundation, and was happy to get a chance to help the Foundation. The ladies of Navjyoti Foundation were provided an opportunity to set up spice stalls during a ParentTeacher Meeting at the School. The ladies were encouraged by the positive response to their products.

Champ of the Rink

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ritik Chawla, an upcoming skater from Ryan International School, Sohna Road, won a Silver medal at the 59th National School Roller Skating Championship, held in Mumbai. He was selected for the Nationals after bagging the Gold medal in the CBSE North Zone II Championship.

Artistic Strokes

Komal Apte, Manav Rachna

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Parenting

ou are going to become parents" is a sentence that gives rise to various emotions. You feel happy, elated and excited… and yet somewhere a feeling of anxiety creeps in, especially when you are first time parents (with no experience at raising a brood). I am not going to say that it's a cakewalk, yet it's definitely not as stressful as it appears. As parents, its our primary responsibility to not only provide good food, clothes and education to our children, but also to give them a happy environment, quality time and the feeling of being loved unconditionally. Involve them in your daily routine and share everything happening in your lives with them. Make them your Best Friends and you'll miraculously see them doing the same with you. Instill the confidence in your kids that no one…yes, no one… in this big, wide world could be a bigger well-wisher for them than you. Know your children inside out, so that in case there is any change in their behaviour, you as a parent are able to fathom it fast and well, and take suitable action. One disturbing trend I've observed these days is that parents seem to be scared of their

kids. They seem to give in to their whims and fancies, fearing tantrums …and then one thing leads to another. No my friends, that's not the way to do it. It surely wasn't when we all were teenagers, and we have not turned out bad, have we? Discipline and Communication are very important. As parents we need to draw a line and know when to say ‘No’, along with explaining to the child the reason for doing so. This generation is a lot smarter and is always open to discussion. If you don't approve of a certain group of their friends, help them see it from your perspective, instead of just putting some curbs. Help them to manage their time and put a limit to the screen time they can have each day. Be in constant touch

with their teachers and always believe that the school and you together are aiming at the same thing - the excellent overall development of your child. Hence, be in sync with what the teachers have to say. You should be protective of your child but don't overdo it; instead, encourage them to fight their own battles. Guide them, Inspire them, and most importantly, ‘practice what you preach’. I mean it's okay if the person in the car in front of us does not move the second the traffic light turns green, but by honking incessantly, we are just teaching our children to be aggressive and impatient! This is not what we want. We want them to respect themselves and everyone around them, and to make this world a beautiful place to live in. Yes, keep a lot of what has been said in mind but, my dear friends, do go with the flow and also follow your instincts. You all are doing, and will continue to do, a great job! u Nidhi Agarwal (Parenting Expert)

Nandhini Deepak Kumar, Manav Rachna

Himanshi Ahuja, Manav Rachna


S piritual

17-23 January 2014

Seek.. and you shall Find { Dr. Rajesh Bhola }

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ike most people I never thought that asking for help was a big deal. From an early age I had felt that I could always figure things out for myself; I had therefore looked at myself as someone who likes to help others. It is amazing how a few incidents totally changed my perspective on this matter. There was a clear paradigm shift - from thinking and believing that I could do it all on my own, to opening up to other people and other possibilities; connecting to other human beings and realising that sometimes reaching out to people in times of need is the most helpful. Most importantly, learning how to ask for help makes us humble, and grateful for all the relationships that we share. Every one has a special gift to share, every body loves to contribute and serve in some way - it just makes the whole ride easier and more fun when we do things together…instead of struggling alone. When we face trouble or failure, our first instinct is to run away from it. We see it as a source of shame; a shame that goes deep and impacts us even more than the hardship we are trying to escape from. We try and hide our feelings, and fear that we would give ourselves away by asking for help. We go about our lives in denial, pretending all is well. We keep up a front, despite feeling weak and miserable. Most of us feel too ashamed to ask, feeling it is like ‘begging’. We experience a range of uncomfortable

emotions when we need to ask for something. ‘I do not need anybody’s help,’ we assert defiantly. To ask for help is to admit that there is affliction in our own lives, too; it provokes that sense of being a failure again. Many people would rather suffer, than face their embarrassment. There is a cure for this shame; there is an antidote to this self-defeat. There is no need to pile our inner torment on top of our outer affliction, through self-blame and inadequacy. A person who comes into psychotherapy, for example, may have taken the most courageous step when he finally admitted that he needed help. There is nothing shameful in asking for what is genuinely needed – even begging for help. In Eastern religions, begging was not simply an expedient means for the saints to ask for food; the practice was designed to help people overcome the shame associated with making their needs known. There should be no pride felt in not asking for help, or fear that we will be denied. Even worse is not asking for help because we do not want to bother people – that is false humility (a kind of false pride actually). I have a close friend who is a doctor, and he stays alone in Gurgaon. He is emotionally very independent. He recently fell sick with viral fever and

We pray to the Almighty and ask for His help, but do we carefully listen when He is working through one of His children to be that blessing that we are seeking? There is short story that tells us that it is not God who comes for help; it is only through human beings that God incarnates ‘help’. ‘A large boat was wrecked at sea, and there was only one survivor. This man prayed and asked God to save his life. Soon thereafter, another boat came by and offered the man some help. "No thanks," said the man, "I'm waiting for God to save me." The men on the boat shrugged their shoulders and continued. As the man became more deeply concerned, another boat came by. Again the people aboard offered this man some help, and again he politely declined. "I'm waiting for God to save me," he repeated. After some time the man began to lose his faith, and soon after that he died. Upon reaching Heaven, he had a chance to speak with God briefly. "Why did you let me die? Why did not you answer my prayers?" he wailed. "I sent you two boats, my son,” remarked God.

was writhing in pain for four days. I incidentally walked into his home while passing through that area, and was shocked to see his condition. I remembered his ‘philosophy’. He had said, “I will bend over backwards to help friends in need; I will drop all my plans and go out of my way to make sure I do whatever I can for them. But for whatever reason, I do not always believe they will do this for me. I have a bad habit of making the decisions on behalf of other people – including friends. I believe that others are already facing enough problems of their own, and would not be able to help me deal with mine. I do not share what I am going through because I do not want to be a burden on anyone. It does not feel like pride, because I think I am protecting people from taking on more than they can handle. I believe that I can deal with a lot and that also for a long time. But eventually I hit a wall…. and then I fall apart. I now feel that this may be a disease and I really need help.” It certainly cannot be denied that going off on our own to face some of the fears in the darkness of our soul may be necessary. However, let us learn that ‘seeking help’ is not a ‘burden’. Let us give others the opportunity to have the same feelings that we have when we help others. While many are proud of their independence (of not being dependent at all), the reality is that there is little that we can do by ourselves. We cannot even breathe without the help of external support - from plants and the atmosphere, or the internal support of the lungs, blood cells and a host of other micro systems that keep the overall ‘system’ well-coordinated. We mistakenly think that we are always in full control of our body. When we see people suffering mental disorders – when the impulses from the brain cannot reach the affected body part - we suddenly realize the tenuous influence we have over our body. We feel disabled in some way and start realising that we also may need to ask for help. Asking for help does not mean avoiding doing something or trying to get others to do things for us. We need to learn to ask others for help so that they can share their talents with us for things we may not be good at, or during times when we do not have the time or energy to do them.

Having taken this path, we are then never alone. This interdependence is both humbling and heartening. When we get stuck or hurt or tired, allowing others to help us is only natural. In a more interconnected world, that should be our natural response. In general, help should be a natural part of giving and receiving. This allows the natural flow of energy through the Universe. When we get stuck in either just hoarding, or taking from others, we stymie that flow and we stymie ourselves. We should embrace reality and start moving with integrity in our lives. The Universe

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is always watching out for the best interests of our spiritual evolution, even when we are too narrowly focused to see all the opportunities it presents us. Sometimes all that is needed is a change in perspective; seeking help is not such a bad idea.u Dr. Rajesh Bhola is President of Spastic Society of Gurgaon and is working for the cause of children with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and multiple disabilities for more than 25 years. He can be contacted at rabhola@yahoo.com

An Apostrophe to Sweetie { Shobha Lidder } Sweetie came into my life To lead me to myself I learnt deep silences from her Her Serenity Her teaching style was ‘mute’ She emulated yogic virtues Of peace, tolerance & instant forgiveness She never remembered my faults Ever her tail wagged And her body danced To welcome me on dreary weary days She had such winsome ways. My bodyguard & bonded companion She was a loyalist in a million A therapist of sorts Sensitive to the slightest drop in my well-being Her gentle smile was so healing. She would sit on the verandah in vigilance for hours Recognized the familiar from the unfamiliar sounds This simple country hound Would raise an alarm instantly That a stranger was on the territory Despite such stoic security. Graceful, aristocratic, poised Gentle like a child An angel She was my Spiritual guide & inner light The vacuum she left is rife A homeless who homed with me And transformed my life Writer Journalist, Social Activist, Teacher Trainer Reiki Master, Pranic Healer


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17-23 January 2014

C omment

FG is pleased to bring you global news and views of a local kind.

Urinals and toppled flower pots: how to write provincial news { Katharina Hoelter/Muenster, Germany/ DPA }

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EDITORIAL Atul Sobti

reen countryside, peace and quiet, and a warm, close-knit village community: for many people, rural life is paradise. For a news reporter, it’s hell, because you have to hype mighty stories out of mini-events! Ralf Heimann, a German journalist, has been celebrating that challenge in a funny, semi-fictional novel about his experiences as a reporter deep in one of Germany’s most sleep-inducing provincial areas – the flat plain near the northern city of Muenster. It’s an entertaining read, even for people who aren’t in the news business. Behind every chapter there is a true story that happened the way Heimann describes it. More or less. Journalists will exaggerate. “This book is not meant to settle any scores. It’s meant to entertain,” the 36-year-old says. “What journalists do is actually quite funny.” Germany still has a relatively robust newspaper industry. Every small city has its own daily newspaper: some even have two. Most have enough loyal subscribers to pay a team of fulltime journalists. Heimann is on the staff of such a newspaper, the Muenstersche Zeitung – but there is no Muenstersche Zeitung in his book. His fictional employer is called the “Borkendorfer Bote” (Borkendorf Messenger). There, at a morning newsroom conference, the young reporter is taught by the editor on how to profit from mistakes. The newspaper’s editor explains, “Last year we reported on the last slab urinal left in Muensterland. And the next morning we got one call after another, from tavern keepers who were angry because their tavern still had one in use. So, what did we do? We ran a hugely successful series: Muensterland’s 20 Finest Slab Urinals!” The banality of some of the local events becomes the stuff from which Heimann spins a humorous yarn. His tales are a bit over the top, but always affectionate. He does however criticize

the clannishness of villages and, at times, the work of other journalists. There’s the story about the freelancer famed for his cliche-ridden prose - sports events where rain “couldn’t dampen the spirits” of the teams, and indoor events that are eternally “bursting at the seams.” Then there’s one about the overzealous trainee reporter with a “red hedgehog haircut and a pasty face like a pancake”, who has few friends but hangs out on Google+, Twitter, Facebook and the other social networks. And, of course he’s a blogger to boot. The older journalists have a difficult time coming to grips with the new media. One such old-timer has a news flash on his Twitter account, saying: “Exclusive: New paint job for St. Joseph’s Church fence.” In the book, “Die tote Kuh kommt morgen rein” (The dead cow is tomorrow’s story), Heimann discloses that it was one of his own tweets that led to his debut work – about newspapering out in the countryside. In 2010 he tweeted to his newspaper: “A flower pot has fallen over in Neuenkirchen.” This absurdly inconsequential tweet somehow found its way to the top of the Twitter charts. Then it spread around the world. Self-appointed investigators found Heimann through Google, and identified him as a local reporter. And that in turn caught the attention of a book agent. Heimann says he can do without seeking a career at a larger news outlet, even though some frustration is evident between the lines of his book. “In the local news section you do find some great stories. You just have to search, and then go take a closer look,” he insists. But the humorous treatment of his subject notwithstanding, Heimann is well aware of the changes going on in local news reporting. “The means of dissemination have changed, but readers will continue to be interested in news from their immediate surroundings. And in the smaller cities they will still want to read in the newspaper about people they know,” he says.u

Letter To The Editor Your front page story by Shilpy Arora (FG, 10-16 January) is excellent. I think Savitri is right when she says that she is doing the right thing by helping provide a bundle of joy to an infertile couple. That, to my mind, is great humanitarian service - notwithstanding the fact that a payment is involved. Critics' approach is some thing like "throwing the baby out with the bath water". Yes, as the author has pointed out, there are possibilities of exploitation here; there could be ticklish issues of abnormal kids, twins, transmission of diseases, denial of visa etc., but these can all be handled by suitable modifications to the rules, providing for deterrents like heavy penalties and imprisonment for non compliance etc., and very strict enforcement. Just because we have not put in place a proper regimentation is not reason enough to deny the pleasures of bringing up a kid to the unfortunate who can't bear a child themselves. Krishan Kalra


W ellness

17-23 January 2014

{ Jaspal Bajwa }

Health & Vitality... Naturally!

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n the wild, Almonds are bitter and poisonous. How and when did the bitter Almond turn sweet is a mystery shrouded in the early history of man. Almonds were one of the first trees to be domesticated - around 3000 BC, in the region stretching from the Mediterranean to the Indus Valley. Rich in a buttery taste and packed with nutrition, Almonds were revered and respected as “among the best of fruits” in many ancient cultures. In Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Almonds are seen as rejuvenating and are placed high in the hierarchy of ‘superfoods’. Said to enhance memory and intelligence, Almonds are also recommended as a nerve tonic. In addition, Almonds are recommended for the clearing of the lungs, and for helping remove constipation, building immunity and providing increased vitality and longevity. This wonderful seed holds a balanced ratio of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, which are in perfect alignment with our body’s macronutrient requirements. Thanks to the high protein content, and the release of a hormone called cholecystokinin, Almonds can induce an early feeling of satiety and fullness - an invaluable aid in weight management and the control of obesity. More importantly, Almonds can help regulate blood sugar, improve the HDL:LDL Cholesterol profile, reduce inflammation (C-Reactive Protein) and prevent Insulin resistance. This is in part due to their high fibre content and concentration of monounsaturated fats. The cumulative benefits can mean a significantly lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes, of Cardio-Vascular Disease…and even some forms of Cancer.

A Handful a Day...

Tip of the Week

To get the most out of Almonds, care must be taken to procure ‘Raw’ (not pasteurised or treated) Almonds. Raw Almonds contain significantly more phytonutrients, more usable protein and healthier fats. For recipes requiring a roasted flavour and texture, it is better to choose only the "dry roasted" version - which helps you avoid cooking them in oil. Almonds (and other nuts & seeds) should always be soaked overnight in

clean water. This helps eliminate certain nutritional inhibitors and toxic substances, which have been provided by Nature as protective devices for the seed while it awaits the right conditions for germination. It also encourages the production of numerous beneficial enzymes that enable our body to fully absorb proteins and vitamins - especially B Vitamins. Since Almonds

have a high fat content, it is important to store them properly in a cool, dark and dry place, in order to protect them from becoming rancid. Nature’s Wonder Food of the Week: Sweet Almonds or Prunus amygdalu var. dulcis Almonds are very versatile – they can be eaten as a snack (raw or toasted), as also as a component of various sweet or savoury dishes. Almonds are available in many forms - such as unshelled or shelled whole, sliced, flaked…and as flour; other forms include Almond oil, Almond butter and Almond milk. As an incredibly nutrient-dense food, Almonds contain a whole host of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre, protein and beneficial fats. Of the 40-60% oil content, approximately 65% is Oleic Acid (a monounsaturated Omega 9 fatty acid) and 29% is Linolenic Acid (a polyunsaturated Omega 6 fatty acid). These healthy fats, together with phytosterols, are important contributors to the decrease of LDL Cholesterol levels and the improvement of HDL (good cholesterol). The fibres help suppress appetite and reduce the calories available, by blocking the body's absorption of fats. Research indicates that as little as 2 servings of Almonds can additionally help prevent the absorption of fats from other foods consumed during the day. Almonds are a very good source of the antioxidant Vitamin E and the trace minerals manganese and copper. These are essential co-factors of a key enzyme called superoxide dismutase, which disarms free radicals in the mitochondria, thus helping with the free production and flow of energy in the body’s cells. As Almond skins have over 20 potent antioxidant flavonoids, consuming whole Almonds can double the antioxidant power that is yielded by the Vitamin E content of the kernels. Rich in Biotin – a B Vitamin – Almonds support healthy skin, help our body make efficient use of sugar and maintain a regular energy supply to the nerve cells. Further, Almonds are a good source of hearthealthy magnesium, molybdenum, riboflavin (Vitamin B2) and phosphorus. To sum up, just a handful or two of Sweet Almonds every day can significantly increase vitality, enhance immunity and lower the risk of serious chronic disease.u Registered Holistic Nutritionist (Canadian School of Natural Nutrition). For education purposes only; always consult a healthcare practitioner for medical conditions

Understanding Thyroid problems in Women { Dr. Nupur Gupta } When your Thyroid goes awry

Does fatigue drag you down day after day; do you have ‘brain fog’, weight gain, chills or hair loss; or are you often revved up, sweaty or anxious? If so, your thyroid gland could be to blame. This great regulator of the body and mind sometimes goes haywire, particularly in women. Getting the right treatment is critical, for you to feel your best and to avoid serious health problems.

What is the Thyroid gland?

The Thyroid is a butterflyshaped gland at the front of the neck. It produces hormones that control the speed of your metabolism – the system that helps the body use energy. Thyroid Disorders can slow down or rev up your metabolism, by disrupt-

ing the production of Thyroid hormones. When the hormone levels become too low or too high, you may experience a wide range of symptoms.

Symptoms

1. Weight gain or loss – unexplained change in weight is one of the commonest signs of a Thyroid disorder (weight gain in ‘Hypothyroidism’ and weight loss in ‘Hyperthyroidism’)

2. Swelling in the neck – it can be a visible clue that something may be wrong with the Thyroid 3. Changes in the heart rate – the heart rate might be lower in Hypothyroidism, and faster and even pounding in women with Hyperthyroidism 4. Changes in energy or mood - you feel tired, sluggish and depressed, if Hypothyroidism; and anxious, irritable and restless, if suffering from Hyperthyroidism 5. Hair loss – can be a feature of both Hypo & Hyperthyroidism 6. Feeling too cold or hot – a Thyroid dysfunction disrupts the regulation of our body temperature; women with Hypothyroidism feel colder and Hyperthyroidism has the opposite effect - causing excessive sweating and an aversion to heat 7. Other symptoms of Hy-

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pothyroidism – dry skin & brittle nails, numbness or tingling in the hands, constipation and abnormal (menstrual) periods 8. Other symptoms of Hyperthyroidism - muscle weakness or trembling hands, vision problems, diarrhoea and irregular (menstrual) periods. Sometimes the symptoms of a Thyroid Disorder may seem similar to those of Menopause. A simple blood test would provide the answer. Who should be tested for Thyroid? Women aged 35 and above (on a 5-yearly basis), or those with symptoms (as above), risk factors or a family history. A Thyroid neck-check in the mirror can help you spot an enlarged Thyroid, which needs a doctor’s attention. Diagnosing Thyroid Disorders – all it needs is a simple blood test. TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) levels

determine the Hypo and Hyper functions, as this Hormone (TSH) regulates the work of the Thyroid gland. An imaging study or biopsy may be needed in rare cases. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is one of the commonest causes of Hypothyroidism; it is an Autoimmune Disorder that damages the Thyroid gland and impacts its ability to produce enough hormones. This Disorder is usually hereditary. Graves’ Disease is the commonest cause of Hyperthyroidism; it is an Autoimmune Disorder that damages the Thyroid gland and triggers the release of excess hormones. It is most felt as a visible and uncomfortable swelling behind the eyes. Treating Hypothyroidism – with Thyroxin tablets, which are usually required for the rest of your life; treating Hyperthyroidism – with Anti-Thyroid medication or radioactive iodine. Surgery for Thyroid Disorders is undertaken for large goitres that are not responsive to medication, or for Thyroid nodules or cancer.u


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W ellness

17-23 January 2014

Improve Your Wellness Quotient { Tripti Tandon }

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he condition of good physical and mental health, especially when maintained by proper diet, exercise and habits” – this is how the Dictionary defines the word ‘Wellness’. To me, Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of, and making choices towards, a healthy and fulfilling life. It is a state of complete physical, mental, emotional and social well-being. It is not about taking a proper diet, or the absence of disease.

Creating a Healthier and Happier You

Instead of just making challenging resolutions, I recommend starting the New Year with a commitment to self, for improving your ‘Overall Wellness’. While good nutrition and exercise are important, equally important are coping with stress (to curb emotional eating), staying mentally focused on what you want to achieve, becoming spiritually grounded (to trust yourself) and using the power of your mind to follow through.

Mental Wellness: This is one of the most important components to Overall Wellness. The World Health Organization defines mental health as ‘a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’. Emotional

Wellness:

Reduce your stress, manage negative emotions and create a sense of happiness in your life, to achieve this. Try to get in touch with your own feelings, learn to deflect the negativity of others, enjoy alone time once in a while, and spend more time doing pleasurable activities.

There are various dimensions of Wellness, and ways of dealing with each one of them: Here are some of my favourite ways to start the Social Wellness: Create a support network, spend time journey towards Wellness. Hope you enjoy reading with people who support and care about you, go out with it as much as I did putting these (10 Mantras) friends over a cup of coffee or get involved with a social together: 1. Choose a Theme for the Year - A theme such service initiative. The social dimension of Wellness encourages you to contribute to the community and envi- as patience, forgiveness or compassion guides your growth and progress. It becomes the ronment. The number of relationships lens through which you make choices. is not important; it is the quality of 2.  Use the Power of your them that benefits our Wellness. A Healing Mantra Imagination - Success is first created Spiritual Wellness: A sense of purpose Breathing is one of the most in the mind. Take five minutes every is important for developing a sense powerful ways to manage day to visualize what releasing five of balance and peace in our lives. To stress and the emotional kilos from your body looks and feels achieve spiritual well-being, develop a eating it triggers. Here's like. It is especially important to set of values that help you seek meanan easy and effective capture the feeling associated with ing and purpose. Respect life (including technique called ‘Four-Step what you’re visualizing. Just try it! your own), explore religious or spirituBreathing’:
 3.  Stop Complaining - It might be al options, get in tune with nature and n  Slowly take a deep breath hard but…don't join others in negative incorporate your personal values and as you silently count to four
 conversations – social, emotional, ocbeliefs into everyday actions. n  Hold the breath for four cupational, related to your weight or Medical and Physical Wellness: Maincounts how bad your body looks. These contain a healthy body and know when it is n  Slowly release the breath versations poison your mind/body and appropriate to seek professional medias you silently count to four.
 shake your confidence, and will becal attention. Exercise regularly; mainn  Hold again for four counts come your reality unless you stop now! tain a balanced and nutritious diet, get n  Repeat several times.
 4.  Enjoy the Now - Staying present adequate sleep, and refrain from use of in the moment is both a positive and tobacco, drugs and excessive alcohol.

emotional Wellness attribute. Be grateful and enjoy your present state of mind. 5. Meditate - Meditation is your free and portable healing agent, whose only side effects are peace of mind and rejuvenation. Meditation improves the immune system, lowers blood pressure, helps avoid unhealthy eating and relieves stress. Approach it as you would a delicious meal, for it’s a true spiritual banquet. 6.  Be Optimistic - Adopting an optimistic outlook can have great impact on overall physical and emotional well-being. Optimists have healthier hearts, regulate their emotions better and are at a lower risk of strokes. 7. Eat Right and Exercise – Remember, nothing tastes better than being healthy. Spare at least 30 minutes every day for some physical activity. Brisk walking or at-home yoga practice have numerous health benefits – they lower risk of heart disease, improve brain function, lower blood pressure and increase endurance & flexibility. 8. Connect with Nature and spend less time Online -Disconnecting from the phone or computer for a while can be the relaxing mantra for 2014 and can actually help improve your quality of life. 9.  Be Specific and Realistic - Write your goals and follow up; keep a log - record your habits, feelings, cravings, mood, daily weight and progress. Don't promise yourself the moon - you won't succeed. If releasing weight is on your mind, ‘set a time frame’ - you didn't get fat in a month, you won't lose it all either in that time. Give your body time to release weight, because this will help you to sustain that healthy weight loss. 10.  Sleep Well, Party Hard and receive proper follow up - Consult an expert and take guidance whenever needed. Try and make smaller resolutions every day and take baby steps towards Wellness. Make this a year full of joy, love and forgiveness. Wishing everyone a blessed and beautiful year ahead. Here’s to creating a healthier and happier you in 2014! Founder & Chief Nutritionist - ‘Tripti’s Wellness 1’ & ‘I Eat Right’. Expert in the field of Clinical Nutrition, Naturopathy, Child Obesity, Weight Loss management for Men & Women, Karmic and Self Healing.

Keep Allergies at bay during the Winter

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eople who have allergies, be they respiratory or skin related, usually have an exacerbation of their ailments in winter. Chest congestion, stuffy nose, mild headache, sore throat, runny nose or itchy eyes are encountered by almost everyone in the cold season. We can take precautions to prevent the onset, or the worsening, of allergies. Dr. Ravindra Gupta, Consultant – Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital, says, “Allergy is a reflection of reduced immunity. To improve our immunity, we should eat fruits rich in Vitamin C - such as the orange, sweet lime and lemon. We should consume a lot of green vegetables, fruits and nuts. And extra caution needs to be taken when there is sudden change in temperature”. The consumption of certain food items triggers allergy symptoms ranging from eczema to asthma. Some of these items are milk, yoghurt, cheese, ice cream, banana, cucumber and egg. People

with allergic tendencies are also more sensitive to smoke – like from cigarettes, vehicle emissions or even incense sticks. The common symptoms of allergies are burning eyes, cough and shortness of breath. A person with psoriasis or eczema may also have an increase in his/her symptoms. Some Tips for Winter n Drink plenty of water n Get adequate rest. n Wear warm clothes n Keep ears and nose well covered. n Use sunscreen and moisturiser liberally n Winter sun too can be harmful, as it can aggravate skin allergies In winter our body requires extra nutrients to increase the metabolism and maintain our body temperature. So we need to eat well. We should eat food items rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which contain

natural anti-inflammatory agents that help fight allergies. Good sources of Omega-3 are soyabean, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and salmon. For non-vegetarians, fish is a great option. Fruit juice and green tea should be included in our diet, as they contain antioxidants, which help fight allergies. Exercises like jogging, running or even a brisk walk, make our immune system strong. So, take these actions and precautions and welcome the winter with open arms! u

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17-23 January 2014

{ Meenu Thakur Sankalp }

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umerous tales, stories and legends have been attributed to Lord Vishnu, the principal deity of the Hindu Trinity of Gods. He is considered the preserver of life on earth, heaven and ether; the slayer of evil, and the protector of the other two Gods - Brahma and Shiva. Three stories stand out, being unique in narrative - wherein the (male) God Vishnu took up the female form to be able to outwit the treacherous and cunning enemies of the Gods and the Devas (the celestial inhabitants of heaven). In the first story, ‘Mohini’, the woman who enchants her beholders, came to the rescue of the Devas, when the Asuras (demons) tried to snatch the nectar of immortality emanating from the churning of the ocean. She lured them into giving her the jar of nectar, which she passed on to the Devas - who drank the nectar and then decimated the Asuras. The second story is that of the slaying of the demon Bhasmasura (Demon of Ashes) who tried to misuse a boon, which said that he could burn anyone to ashes by touching the person’s head. Mohini entrapped him, and Bhasmasura was reduced to ashes when he erroneously touched his own head. Finally, when the wicked demon Mahishi obtained a boon from Lord Brahma, that he could be killed only by the offspring of Shiva and Vishnu (seemingly impossible as both the Gods were male), Vishnu had to take up the form of Mohini, to unite with Shiva and give birth to Lord Ayappa or Manikandan (a deity popular in Kerala) - who then slayed Mahishi. What has been inspirational in all these tales is the paying of tribute to the enchantress Mohini. Mohiniyattam, the Dance in question, is practiced only by women, predominantly from the southern state of Kerala. It has of late widened its appeal to a worldwide participative public. Mohiniyattam is a word derived from Mohini (the enchantress) and Attam (dance with graceful body movements). It is believed that this dance form originated in Kerala by the

{ Krishan Kalra }

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ast week I saw Yamuna crying. Yamuna, the holy river – one of the three that merges at the ‘Sangam’ - was shedding copious tears. In fact she’d been like that for quite some time now, but I hadn’t noticed. You start taking your own for granted – it’s assumed that they would accept anything from their dear ones; but obviously things had gone too far and she was cracking up. I could hear her loud uncontrolled sobbing and sometimes see her tear-strained face. In fact the mighty Yamuna was now crying unashamedly, for everyone to see. I had gone to attend my uncle’s ‘chautha’ – the 4th day after death

Enchanting !

end of the 15th. Century, and that one of the earliest references to Mohiniyattam was found in a Sanskrit text written by a Brahmin scholar from Kerala in the 16th. Century. There is also a textual reference in ‘Ottanthullal’, written in the 18th. Century. Mohiniyattam found its calling in the 19th. Century, under the patronage of Swati Thirunal, the Maharaja of Travancore, who is also given credit, not only for promoting the dance form, but also for institutionalizing Mohiniyattam with accompaniments and background bivocal music. For a long period of time the rich classes in Kerala, mainly among the Namboodri and Nair castes, were believed to have exploited Mohiniyattam dancers…and in course of time there were not many women willing to perform Mohiniyattam. However, due to the Herculean efforts of the Travancore kings and the Kerala poet, Vallathol Narayana Menon, Mohiniyattam was revived…and flourished. Mohiniyattam dancers, as the connoisseurs of dance see them, are dressed in an off-white sari with golden brocade on the edges, and the hair is made up in a side bun adorned with jasmine flowers. In earlier times they may have worn coloured blouses with a golden belt and tinkling ghungroos (dancing anklets). Mohiniyattam dancers sway from one side to the other in gentle motion, and the posture is graceful and erect. Aravukal (basic movements) and

Chollu (variations in vocal music) are superimposed with a texture of Sanskrit and lyrical Malayalam language, while gentle Mudras (hand gestures) and sublime footwork punctuate the dancing skills of the performers. Mohiniyatttam focuses on the concept of ‘Shringara Rasa’, with suggestive gestures; a Mohiniyattam dancer is portrayed as shy, but with subtle sensuality - thus making the Dance form the epitome of feminine charm, guile and grace. The musical accompaniments of Mohiniyattam are Violin, Veena (stringed instrument), Cymbals, Mridangam (horizontal drum), Maddalam and Edakka (percussion instruments), and vocal Carnatic music. The text, Hastha Lakshandeepika, is considered to be a treatise of hand gestures and feet movement in Mohiniyattam. The body movements in Mohiniyattam

Mohiniyattam is regarded as one of the foremost Classical dance forms of India, and is recognized as one of the eight major Classical dance forms by the Sangeet Natak Academy.

Don’t Cry, Mother ritual, when the ‘phool’ (bones) are picked up by the family, washed in milk and honey and then taken for immersion in the Ganges; the ashes are taken separately in a gunnysack. However, at the riverside Nigambodh Ghat, they did not have a gunnysack. The Panditji clarified that at this Ghat the ashes are to be filled in ‘taslas’ (huge iron pans) and then dumped directly into the river. “Gunny sacks are needed only at the off-shore burning ghats”, he explained. As we went to dispose the ashes, I was suddenly struck by the gross injustice we were doing to “Yamuna Mayya”. There are over a billion people in India, and at the estimated death

rate of 1 per cent, twelve million die every year; of these, about 80 per cent – Hindus and Sikhs – are cremated. That’s over 10 million cremations a year, or about 30,000 every day! Each cremation means a usage of 3 quintals of wood, which burns to about 50 kg. of ash – with the rest going up in smoke. And all this ash goes into our rivers. This means that over 3 million tonnes of wood are being cut annually for cremations alone, and almost a million tonnes of ash is being fed into our rivers. It doesn’t end there. For every cremation, people also place or pour several kilos of flowers, assorted diyas – both earthen and made of wheat flour – fruits, agarbattis, milk, ghee,

B on V ivant

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are unbroken. The components of the Dance are the Nritha and Nrithya (pure and derivative dance numbers), along with combinations (Atavus) that have undergone changes depending on the individual styles of various doyens of Mohiniyattam. Aramandalam (basic posture of the feet) is an important position, though there are equally important stances - a few of them being Muzhumandalam, Mukkalmandamam, Kaalmandam and Samamamandalam. They all concentrate on the position of the feet, knees and heels. Further, the Atavus have been grouped into various syllables – such as Taganam, Jaganam, Dhaganam and Sammisra. As in Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam, pure dance numbers (Jatiswaram and Tillana) are also performed in Mohiniyattam, though the primary focus is on Nritha. Mohiniyattam has evolved as an international performing Art form, and new attempts are being attempted in its choreography – to distinguish Mohiniyattam from Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi - whose major repertoire is also based on Carnatic music. Continuous evolution has given Mohiniyattam a much-needed impetus and there have been innovative attempts to make it easy to understand and attractive, to satisfy the visual expectations of the discerning audience. Mohiniyattam is also being performed in all leading festivals in India and has also gained popularity abroad, through cultural exchanges sponsored by the Government of India. Also, dancers from many countries have come to India to embrace the tradition of Mohiniyattam. In order to reach out to a wider audience and to encourage women from outside Kerala to perform, Mohiniyattam danseuses and Gurus have established institutions in almost all the major towns and cities of India, and many learners have been embracing this intricate Dance style. After all, this Dance form, true to its name, seeks to enchant.u The writer is a renowned Kuchipudi Danseuse and Choreographer

sweets, rice…into the river. This means that in Delhi alone, with an estimated 20 million population, 23 tonnes of ash is being fed into the river every single day. The Yamuna, our lifeline, already reeling under the load of the sewerage from nearly 4 million households, the deadly effluents from thousands of factories and the hundreds of tonnes of fly ash from the two powerhouses, has to bear this additional ‘offering’ of the remains of the dead, during its short course through the City. We, the ungrateful City folk, are guilty of slow-poisoning our River – the Mayya - that has provided sustenance to generations over millennia. No wonder Mother has been crying.u


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17-23 January 2014

Preserving Art Treasures in Digitalised 3D Imagery

From Silver Screen to Broadway Boris Roessler

Scientist Martin Ritz (right) watches his monitor, as a replica of the Bust of Nefertiti is scanned at the Fraunhofer Institute in Darmstadt, Germany. Scientists have developed the 3-D scanner with the two semicircular gantries, to create perfect records of the shape of precious art treasures.

{ Maren Hennemuth/Darmstadt, Germany/ DPA }

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o preserve a copy of it for the ages, the Bust of Nefertiti must take a ride on a conveyor belt, say a team of scientists who are experts on 3D copies. The idea is that once a work of art has been scanned in 3D, its outer shape will be preserved digitally forever, even if war or disaster destroys the original. If the worst happened, at least a replica could be made. The scanner already exists in Germany. It was developed by the Fraunhofer Institute’s graphic data processing unit in Darmstadt, a city near Frankfurt. If it goes into regular production, it could begin making copies of original art treasures quickly, without the hassle of taking plaster casts. The lab has already tried the routine with Nefertiti, a depiction of a very beautiful pharaonic queen. They did not a get a loan of the original, which is one of Berlin’s most prized art treasures and is too fragile to even be removed from the capital’s Egyptian Museum. They did their experiments with a commercially available 1:1 copy of the bust. The commercial copies took months to make. Darmstadt’s scanner, developed by a team of scientists led by IT specialist Pedro Santos, takes just a few minutes to generate a three-dimensional digital image of a bust or similar art object. “There are certain countries on the planet that already realize they cannot preserve their cultural heritage,” says Santos in a sly dig at Germany, which spends vast amounts to preserve its past, but still suffers setbacks. Despite the German passion for heritage, much of it was destroyed in the Second World War. Within the past five years, a major archive repository has collapsed, destroying priceless documents. The cause was unnoticed subsidence under the foundations, in the city of Cologne. A decade ago, a historic library in the city of Weimar was gutted by fire, ruining 50,000 books from the 17th and 18th centuries. Digital copies are now recognized as the best insurance against the unforeseen. They can be used to make replicas, which can be loaned easily, and they can make the hidden part of a museum’s collection virtually accessible to the public. “On average, a museum artefact is only put on display once every 10 to 15 years,” Santos says. The first prototype is costing about half a million euros (660,000 dollars) to build, but the researchers expect the price to be much less once the scanner goes into series production. Other ways to produce 3D scans exist, but the Darmstadt researchers say that the existing machines can take up to 24 hours to scan just one item. Their scanner is faster. Deputy

Scientists Reimar Tausch (left) and Martin Ritz (right) hold a replica of the Bust of Nefertiti at the Fraunhofer Institute in Darmstadt, Germany.

Project Leader Martin Ritz says, With our method, objects of 60 by 60 centimetres can be scanned in just a few minutes.” On the conveyor belt, the Nefertiti replica is pushed beneath two semi-circular gantries. The inner arch has nine sources of light, while the outer one has an equal number of cameras. With a loud mechanical buzzing sound, the arches move over the bust, stopping briefly at various points in order to take pictures from all sides. “When I take pictures with these nine cameras from nine different angles, I get 81 pictures in all. These are then used to calculate a geometric reconstruction,” Ritz explains. At the moment, following the scanning process on a computer monitor, the colour digital imagery of Nofretete is incomplete. The gaps show as black areas. Those are the spots not yet “seen” by the scanner, which is the reason that the object must continue its ride on the conveyor belt, automatically coming to a halt before a robotic arm bearing a second scanner. “At this position all the remaining gaps in the 3D model will be fleshed out,” Ritz says. At the end, the digital image appears on the computer screen and can be transferred to a database. After adding meta-information, it can be put on the internet for global access. This begs the question: why go to a museum if you can see a digital replica on the Internet? Hans Lochmann, spokesman fof the museum science conference of Germany, says digitization won’t deter museum visitors. “The original has a completely different aura,” Lochmann says. “You get to see the real thing.” He adds that the prime benefit from digital copies will be for scholarship and science. Modern experts expect that access to information on the web, and libraries, museums and archives will have to keep up with that demand. It could be some time before the Fraunhofer Institute scanner is put on duty in a museum. Right now it is going through comparative tests. The researchers are sending students to museums in Berlin and Frankfurt to perform digital 3D scans, using the previous generation of technology. Later, the same objects will be scanned with the Fraunhofer prototype. If the new device is reliable, faster - and cheaper - it stands a good chance of becoming the next-generation scanner.u

G lobal

{ Emoke Bebiak/New York/ DPA }

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ctors Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, the inseparable X-Men duo on screen and off, have recently returned to the theatre for two Broadway productions, joining the ranks of famous actors leaving the Big Screen for the intimate sphere of the Stage. While well-known film actors seldom perform in the theatre, because motion pictures pay much better, some still choose the Stage purely for their passion of the Art. McKellen and Stewart, known for playing arch-enemies Magneto and Professor X respectively in the multimillion-dollar X-Men series, have returned to the theatre to star in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land - two absurdist pieces played in rotating repertory. Each play is performed four times a week, and on two days - Wednesday and Sunday - both pieces are staged almost back to back. McKellen, who is also famous for his role as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit series, has been friends with fellow Englishman Stewart - who appeared as Captain Picard in several Star Trek movies - for more than 30 years. They have appeared together on stage and in film. In fact, McKellen officiated at Stewart’s wedding in September, when the latter got married to singersongwriter Sunny Ozell. Their current collaboration on Broadway comes from a shared appreciation for theatre and the joy of working together, Stewart told National Public Radio (NPR). “We have fun with both plays — so much fun, because Ian and myself are alone on stage for huge amounts of time,” Stewart said. “And we share things that the audience doesn’t always know about, and that’s fine.” In Waiting for Godot, Stewart and McKellen portray penniless wanderers waiting by a tree for the arrival of the mysterious Godot, who never comes. The Play, while very funny at times, is also a critical and cynical portrayal of modern life, McKellen said. “Once you apply it to your own life, you realize how true it is,” McKellen said. “Kids are already waiting for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Somebody’s waiting to meet the man or woman of their life. They’re waiting for the lottery. Waiting for the good job. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Hoping. Expecting.” No Man’s Land, a play from 1975, is about two aging poets who spend a night of drinking together, reminiscing about the past and the meaning of life, as they head into the abyss of old age - which McKellen’s character calls ‘no man’s land.’ Another top Hollywood actor, Denzel Washington, who has had leading roles in films such as Malcolm X, Philadelphia and Remember the Titans, will be on a Braodway Stage in the upcoming A Raisin in the Sun, a play by Lorraine Hansberry. The Play, which follows a black family in Chicago in the late 1950’s, was the first show written by an African American playwright to be produced on Broadway when it premiered in 1959 - and it became an important part of the Civil Rights’ struggle. Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig, who are married in real life, are currently on Broadway in another Pinter play, Betrayal. Weisz, who starred in The Constant Gardener and The Fountain, and Craig, the latest to portray James Bond, depict a love triangle between a husband, a wife and the best friend of the husband. “It seemed like an obvious thing to do; if it feels stunty, it wasn’t,” Craig told The New York Times, about starring in a show with his wife. Other current or upcoming shows on Broadway featuring celebrities, are: - Orlando Bloom (Lord of the Rings) in Romeo and Juliet - Ethan Hawke (Gattaca) in Macbeth - Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine) in Houdini - James Franco (Spider-Man), in Of Mice and Men - Ewan McGregor (Star Wars), in The Real Thing - Zachary Levi (of the television series Chuck) in First Date, a musical - Debra Messing (TV show Will and Grace) in Outside Mullingar - Zach Braff (TV show Scrubs) in Bullets Over Broadway, a musical written by Woody Allen - Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn) and Alan Cumming (X-Men 2) in Cabaret - Neil Patrick Harris (TV show How I Met Your Mother) in Hedwig and the Angry Inchu


17-23 January 2014

Bike Polo - the new Wheel Deal

{ Sid Astbury/Sydney/ DPA }

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here’s a soft sound of snoring in the gallery, and somewhere... the rustling of a sleeping bag. Asleep on green cots are around 250 children and numerous parents, in the middle of the world’s largest natural history museum. Overhead, suspended from the ceiling, is a life-sized whale. Not too long earlier, the children had spent hours observing butterflies, petting hedgehogs and shining their flashlights at the skeletons of dinosaurs. The kids also played tag, racing among such stuffed creatures as tigers, lions and elephants. The fun continued until midnight, when the lights went out in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life – which is now serving as a dormitory for the night. Before nodding off to sleep, the question on the kids’ minds - and never clearly answered - was: Will the animal displays really come alive at midnight? “This is our ‘is-there-a-Santa Claus question’,” says Leslie Martinez, with a mysterious smile. “The children are always asking, and we never say yes or no. After all, we don’t want to ruin the fun and excitement.” For seven years now,

social set. The bikies are mostly young, urban, counter-culture types, who are turned off by the seriousness and imposed disciplines of the major sports. Men and women play together, uniforms are anathema and it is chic to have a Bike cobbled together at home from secondhand parts. “The bike I started with was 25 dollars (24 US dollars),” said Jenny Slade, who has been playing for six months,

court. A player can shuffle the ball along with the mallet, but for a goal to count it must come from an actual shot. “Traditionally it’s been a bit of a social sport,” said fellow Sydney player Danny Unitt. “It’s getting to the stage where people are asking: Where’s this sport going to go?” Like Polo on horseback, Polo on a bicycle has its own

A ‘Sleepover’ in a Museum { Christina Horsten/ New York/ DPA }

At Alexandria Park in Sydney, flash gear - including gloves and kneepads - is seen more often these days in the rough-andtumble sport of Bike Polo - which began in Seattle with plain bikes and no protective equipment.

Two Bike Polo players circle one another on the court at Alexandria Park in Sydney, Australia. In his blue helmet and padded gloves, the competitor at left is bringing a touch of caution to what has always been a fiercely amateur sport.

Martinez has been organizing “sleepovers” in the renowned American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), located beside Manhattan Island’s Central Park. And she knows that nearly every child that comes here has seen the hit 2006 film ‘Night At The Museum’, starring Ben Stiller. The flick was shot on location in the Museum, which was founded more than 140 years ago. In the film, Stiller plays a night watchman at the AMNH, who discovers that at midnight all the animals and dinosaur skeletons—and even the wax human figures—come to life and make life tough for him. On a recent Friday evening, after closing time, the children and parents arrive carrying sleeping bags, blankets and stuffed animals. One of the sleepover organizers lays out the Museum rules. “No running, no eating in the Exhibition, and always wear your shoes or slippers,” she tells the children sitting at her feet. “Are you excited? Okay - go have yourselves a super-dino time!” Now the children have an entire museum to themselves – one that seems endlessly huge. The AMNH takes up four complete city blocks and consists of 26 interconnected buildings. There have hardly ever been any incidents, Martinez says. “Once, a child broke off the tooth

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old graphic designer. “It’s similar to soccer; shoulder-toshoulder is fine, but you can’t use your forearm or strike anyone with your mallet. There are always grey areas of what’s permissible. Some play a very physical game.” Coleman, a 29-year-old postal worker who spends up to eight hours a day on a Bike, said the etiquette was to play the way you would want to be played against. “Everybody here has jobs and rent to pay,” he said. “Nobody wants a sprained wrist or a broken leg.” Tokyo-born Kanae Matsumoto took up Bike Polo again when she arrived in Sydney four months ago. “I didn’t have friends,” she said. “The first impression for me was that it was very fashionable. I think many young people love it. It’s cool.” The relaxed Australia brand of Bike Polo is not what she was used to in Japan. “Tokyo players play very fast and they’ve no conversation when they’re playing. And they hit each other a lot, like Ninja,” she said. “In Japan it’s difficult for a beginner to join, because the regulars are very strict; they are always looking to improve their skills. I’m Japanese, but I was a little bit scared to join them.”u

Christina Horsten

laying Polo on a horse tends to belong to a privileged world of tented luxury, corporate largesse and liveried splendour. Knocking a ball about on a bicycle on a borrowed tennis court ,is mostly at the other end of the sporting spectrum: you play in the clothes you came in, anyone can have a go and keeping score is optional. Sydney Bike Polo enthusiast Peter Coleman said, “We just like to turn up and have a bit of a ride around and have a bit of a laugh.” A grungy, Bohemian, subversive image is helping Bike Polo catch on. Dreamed up in the 1990s by Seattle courier-company riders to fill in time between jobs, the sport is now played across the world, has national and international championships and is set to overshadow its moneyed cousin. Teams of three play each other for usually 15 minutes at a time. Goals are at either end of the pitch, which is often a borrowed, asphalt tennis

and took it up after a lifetime avoiding all sports. “You just get in there with better players and you learn it like that,” she said. Professionalism may be just around the corner. There are already purposebuilt Polo Bikes for sale, along with mallets that are a step up from the home-made variety. Although lycra is still shunned, players are starting to wear helmets, gloves and other protective gear. The rules are being codified and tournament refereeing is now independent. In 2014 Sydney will host its first international tournament. The mainstreaming of the sport could see an invasion of coaching staff and administrators, sponsorships and superstars. Coleman fears freedom and fun will fade, if the sport really takes off and coaching sessions come in. “You pay someone by the hour to tell you what to do? That’s not a personal journey. That’s someone else’s journey,” he said. The level of body contact on the court is the sport’s most controversial issue. “The first rule of Bike Polo is, ‘don’t be a dick’,” said Unitt, a 33-year-

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Some 250 children and parents bed down in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, serving as a dormitory in the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

The AMNH has over 20 sleep-over parties per year, each attended by up to 500 children between the ages of 6 and 13. There must be one adult guardian for every three children. And though the tickets cost 145 dollars per person, the sleepovers are usually sold out well in advance. Gradually, the shrieks and laughter of the children die away, replaced by the sound of yawns. Exhausted, many kids curl up in the seats of an in-house cinema, where a film about penguins in the Arctic region is running. A bed-time story follows the film, and then it’s off into the sleeping bags. At 7 o’clock sharp the next morning it’s “rise and shine”, - and time for the children, their parents and all their toys and sleeping bags to be gathered up – and to leave the premises. At 10 am the first of the next day’s 30,000 visitors will start arriving. of a dragon in a special exhibit. And of course, kids do get lost – but only temporarily. Overall, we have more problems with the adults than with the children.” On this night, the children are divided into two groups -

“Dinosaurs” and “Outer Space”. They have a full programme to get through – be it the Museum’s own Butterfly Hall, a special show about Whales, or viewing live animals that are active only at night. In one room, children

can craft their own fantasy figures. “I don’t like fossils all that much,” says 8-year-old Sasha Hurowitz, dressed in pink-striped pyjamas, while painting a paper totem pole. “My brother does, but he’s kind of crazy.” The brother Asher, 10, is also making a totem pole and doesn’t react to his sister’s remark. A guide working at the arts-and-crafts room says, “I got some special paint that shines in the dark. The kids can take the totem poles to bed with them; they feel protected.” In the next room, a mother is taking pictures of her three children standing in front of the giant Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton – the one that was seen in the film ‘Night in the Museum’.u


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n a grey autumn morning, fresh military recruits arrive at Imphal Airport in north-eastern India, donning starched uniforms and polished boots, for security duty in one of the world’s most heavily militarized zones. A few kilometres away, the contrast could not be greater. In the City, a huge market run by women is a riot of colours. Hundreds of women wearing sarongs are busy arranging stalls to sell flowers in many hues, spices, fruits, handicrafts and a variety of goods. Their foreheads marked with streaks of sandal paste, the women light incense and pray for good business as the market stirs to life. Manipur state is among India’s most conflict-ridden regions. The soldiers are there because more than 20 militant groups are active in the State, which has been under martial law for decades. It is a poor region that grapples with high unemployment, drug abuse and high prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Women here have a better answer. They are leading struggles against rights’ violations, drugs and crime campaigns that are changing the face of the society. Some of India’s most powerful women’s movements and icons have emerged from this troubled land. Their activism is in stark contrast to most parts of India, where women face violence and prejudice from the “womb to the tomb” - including female foeticide, sexual crimes and discrimination against widows. The Ima Keithel, or the Mothers’ Market, is a symbol here of women’s empowerment. “In an environment where everything from the economy to law and order has collapsed, Ima Keithel enables women to support their families. It helps many households survive,” said Sunita Rani, who runs a handloom shop. “My husband is unemployed and we have two children to take care of. I

Women Lead the Way A young woman offers fruit for sale at the Ima Keithel (Mother’s Market) in the heart of Imphal, capital of Manipur state, India. Ima Keithel is among the largest markets in the world managed by women. The stalls sell necklaces, rings, bangles, hand woven cloth and other goods.

Siddhartha Kumar

{ Siddhartha Kumar/Imphal, Manipur/ DPA }

do my best to get meals on the table.” Manipuri society is patriarchal, but women play a central role in their homes, workplace and community. At the market, women learn to organize, be socially aware and active, market General Secretary Laishram Ongbi Mema said. “Through their economic pursuit, women have become examples of strength for the society,” she said. “We have held several protests against killings, drug trafficking and corruption.” In 1904 and 1939, the women had risen against the exploitative British colonial policies in the Nupee Lal, or the “War of the Women.” “Manipur has a history of more than 100 years of non-violent resistance movements led by women - the longest perhaps in all Asia. These sowed the seeds for social and economic reform,” political analyst Bimola Devi said. The Meira Paibi (women with flaming torches) is the largest grassroots civilian movement in Manipur. Comprising women from the State’s biggest ethnic group, the Meiteis, it began as a campaign against alcoholism and drug abuse in the 1970s. Its members would patrol streets at night, fining drunks and burning alcohol. This led to liquor being banned in the State. In the 1980s it emerged as a movement de-

The Nupee Lal Memorial in the heart of Imphal, capital of Manipur State, India. It marks two occasions - in 1904 and 1939 - when women rose against exploitative British colonial policies - including putting men to forced labour and the export of rice. The revolts came to be known as Nupee Lal, or the ‘War of the Women.’

Residents pass one of four buildings making up the Ima Keithel.

manding the repeal of martial law - amid tortures, deaths and disappearances of suspects. In 2004, Meira Paibi protests shook India when 12 women, protesting against a woman’s rape and death in custody, walked naked outside a paramilitary base, carrying a banner that read, ‘Indian Army Rape Us.’ “Large-scale injustices continue, because a democracy shifted its powers to the military,” said Meira Paibi, leader of Lourembam Ngambi, who participated in the 2004 protest. “We

W

hen Chuck Niday is on patrol in Green Bank, a remote village of 300 people in the mountains of West Virginia, he expects to find the place as quiet as a mouse. That’s because absolute radio silence must prevail so that the huge satellite dish positioned there can do its work of monitoring space. Niday drives his white truck with its sensitive antennas, listening for electromagnetic disturbances. “I sense (with my instruments) anyone who breaks the rules,” says the bearded man with the trapper cap. And the rules are quite clear: no mobiles, no wi-fi, no unnecessary electromagnetic radiation. “Green Bank is the quietest place in the USA,” he says. And there’s a good reason for that: “Whoever wants to eavesdrop on what’s hap-

Antje Passenheim

Quiet Please: the US town where the Mobile is banned { Antje Passenheim/Washington/ DPA }

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17-23 January 2014

Employee Dave Curry stands in front of the telescope (right) at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia.

pening in space can’t make noise themselves.” In Green Bank there stands a Radio Telescope of massive proportions. It has a satellite dish with a diameter of around a hundred metres, fixed to a moveable arm. Gleaming white, this sensitive artificial “ear” dominates the snowy woods of the Allegheny Mountains. “It’s the largest moveable Radio Telescope in the world,” Dave Curry says proudly. Like Niday, he works for NRAO, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. From his

control tower, Curry monitors numerous screens, showing what the satellite is picking up from the extraterrestrial world. “With the big and several smaller Radio Telescopes, we are carrying out research for numerous clients - from universities to NASA,” Curry says. “And for that to work, for miles around there can’t be any device with electromagnetic radiation, which would interfere with the work of our telescopes.” Such interference could even come, for example, from an electric

will never let go our struggle against the State’s armed might and aggression.” Irom Sharmila Chanu, on a 13-year hunger strike, demanding the end of martial law, is perhaps the most famous icon of non-violent movements in India. The 41-year-old “Iron Lady of Manipur” is force-fed a diet of liquids through her nose at a hospital, to keep her alive. The tiny State also has many women spearheading key movements.Binalakshmi Nepram, who lost her niece in a bombing, leads a campaign for disarmament and for ending gun violence. She founded the Control Arms Foundation of India, which works to end the misuse and the availability of small arms. Ruth Singson runs a group that helps 2,000 widows, including victims of insurgency. “Many women who suffer and are neglected by society, try to commit suicide or resort to prostitution, to feed their children. We help heal the broken hearts.” Manipuri women are facing oppression head-on. “Even though women have contributed a lot, they are not found at the negotiating tables at peace talks or elected as lawmakers. They wage an unrecognized struggle for rights and justice, and are to this day fighting to be treated as equal to men,” Nepram says. Mary Kom, a five-time World Boxing champion and London Olympic medallist, is another Manipuri hero feted across India. Unforgiving in the ring, Mary slips into the role of a docile housewife at home , using firewood for cooking when gas cylinders are scarce. Mary concealed from her family that she was taking up boxing, convinced they would stop her, as it was ‘not a woman’s game.’ “But I proved myself. When a man can fight, why can’t a woman?” she said. “Manipuri women are steeled by strife and conflict around them. There’s something different in our blood. We’ve come a long way, but there is still a long way to go.”u

fence around a cow pasture. The control room itself is fitted with a copper shell, to ensure that no radiation can pass to the outside. Under the balcony of Curry’s research station, the sound of silence can be enjoyed in its full glory. The quietness in this remote, cellphone-free valley is tangible, broken only occasionally by the cawing of crows or the sound of a car on Green Bank’s main street. The Federal Communications Commission, the FCC, declared Green Bank a “quiet zone” in 1958. And the small community, with its church, primary school, service station, general store and festively decorated houses remains quiet today. “When we sing ‘Silent Night’ here, we know what we’re talking about,” says Sandy Smith. The pensioner, who used to live in noisy Pittsburgh, moved to Green Bank years ago to unwind. “I was taken aback,” she recalls. “People stopped to talk to me. They had time

and were interested in each other.” No one is absorbed by texting on a phone. None of the coffee drinkers in the tiny cafe are working on a laptop. “Here there is genuine humanity,” Smith says. “Wi-fi? What for?” says Christine Sharp. The young woman in the general store grew up in Green Bank. “SUre, we played computer games like other children,” she says, “but when everything happens on a central computer via a fixed network, and nobody disappears into their room with a laptop or iPad, that’s something that binds people together.” Not everyone has similar views, says noise policeman Niday. “The biggest problem for me, time and time again, is wi-fi hotspots.” If during his patrols he detects someone who’s breaking the rules, he calls on them. “Usually I only have to show them the regulations of the FCC.” Occasionally, however, there are cases he has to turn over to tougher authorities.u


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17-23 January 2014

G -Scape Asha PANDEY

Old School, New Curriculum

Friday gurgaon 17 23 jan, 2014  

..be the change you want to see

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