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INDIA

PERSPECTIVES VOL 27 NO. 5 NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2013

GLORIOUS YEARS


P O T P O U R R I SANKIRTANA, NOW INTANGIBLE HERITAGE

ON PRESIDENT’S INVITATION President of India, Pranab Mukherjee has launched an ‘in-residence’ programme for writers, artists and innovation scholars at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The programme, open to all Indian nationals, attempts to encourage creative minds by facilitating them to stay close to nature in the picturesque and serene surroundings of the estate. The chosen innovation scholars will also be assisted in establishing linkages with relevant institutions and provided mentoring and support.

Sankirtana—the ritual of singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur—has been selected for inscription on the Representative List of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The form conceived in the 18th century encompasses an array of arts performed to mark religious occasions and various stages in the life of the Vaishnava people. Drummers and singerdancers enact the lives and deeds of Krishna through devotional songs.

KOCHI–MUZIRIS BIENNALE ARCHIVED Millions of people across the world can now virtually discover and explore India’s first biennale, Kochi–Muziris Biennale (KMB), as it became the world’s first and only biennale to be archived and digitised by Google Art Project. The project is a collaborative effort between Google and some of the world’s highly acclaimed art institutions. The first edition of KMB in 2012 showcased artworks by 89 artists from 23 countries and was visited by nearly 4,00,000 people.

TAKE A WALKING TOUR

UN AWARD TO INDIAN SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

Indian Ministry of Tourism with Genesys International has created a ‘Walking Tours’ platform, which enables users to navigate their way through Indian cities based on a number of interesting themes. The website WoNoBo.com is a location-based service that offers walkthroughs of streets across 54 cities nationally.

It was 25 years ago when we embarked on a journey. To us, in the Ministry of External Affairs, it was more appropriately a responsibility, as we had to take India and its many colours to the world. The year 1988 was the year India Perspectives was born. Penning this edit note, my first being the editor of the magazine, is overwhelming. I would first thank the readers of this global publication, who are spread over 150 countries and speak different languages, and my senior colleagues and former editors of India Perspectives, who did a great job in making its content far reaching, strong and visually appealing. I also thank my team members posted in other countries, who every second month ensure the magazine reaches the readers in time, the writers and photographers who have contributed to the magazine over the years, and those associated with our e-magazine. Today, we get letters from readers and contributors in far corners of Europe and Middle East and those from the neighbourhoods of SAARC and Southeast Asia on the latest edition and what they liked most in it. The onus to bring out the 25th anniversary edition of India Perspectives was incredible. We decided to revisit the previous editions and pick some of the best articles to make this issue memorabilia. In the end, we have over 50 pages of content that capture almost all spheres of India’s traditional and modern wealth, right from ancient architecture, folk culture and cuisine heritage, to contemporary art and modern theatre, landmark developments such as Operation Flood, globalisation, IT revolution and centenary of Indian cinema, and global icons such as Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Satyajit Ray and A. R. Rahman. In regular features, we cover the 11th ASEAN−India Summit held in Brunei, in October, and the recent official visit of Emperor and Empress of Japan to India. Weaving a narrative of shared prosperity, the ASEAN−India Summit raised the bar for India’s blossoming relations with the bloc and promises to bring fruits of revitalised engagement to 1.8 billion people, through greater trade and investment, freer movement of people, and closer coordination over a host of regional and global challenges. The message of the imperial visit was to deepen and develop strategic global partnership between India and Japan. We look forward to your feedback on this special issue. The entire team joins me in wishing you all a wonderful 2014!

Syed Akbaruddin CENTENARY AWARD TO WAHEEDA REHMAN Veteran Indian actress Waheeda Rehman received the inaugural Centenary Award for Indian Film Personality of the Year at the International Film Festival of India in Goa, in recognition of her unparalleled contribution to Indian cinema. The veteran actress is known for her memorable performance in classics like Pyaasa, Kaagaz Ke Phool, Guide and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. AFP

The secretariat of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Bonn, Germany, has declared Patanka the winner of the 2013 Momentum of Change Lighthouse Award. Patanka, a Delhi-based social business enterprise, won the award for a flood-resistant brick house it built in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. The low-cost house was built with locally sourced materials.

EDITORIAL NOTE

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November-December 2013 n VOL 27 No. 5/2013

Editor: Syed Akbaruddin Assistant Editor: Nikhilesh Dixit MEDIA TRANSASIA TEAM Associate Editor: Jyoti Verma Assistant Editor: Aashruti Kak Junior Features Writer: Pallavi Paul Creative Director: Bipin Kumar Editorial Coordinator: Kanchan Rana Design: Ajay Kumar (Assistant Art Director), Sujit Singh (Sr. Visualiser) Production: Sunil Dubey (DGM), Ritesh Roy (Sr. Manager), Devender Pandey (Manager), Jeetendra Madaan (Assistant Manager - Prepress)

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Chairman: J.S. Uberoi President: Xavier Collaco Financial Controller: Puneet Nanda Send editorial contributions and letters to Media Transasia India Ltd. 323, Udyog Vihar, Phase IV, Gurgaon 122016 Haryana, India E-mail: osdpd2@mea.gov.in and feedback.indiaperspectives@mtil.biz Telephone: 91-124-4759500 Fax: 91-124-4759550

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2013

India Perspectives is published in Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Pashto, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Sinhala, Spanish, Tamil and Vietnamese. Views expressed in the articles are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the Ministry of External Affairs.

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This edition is published for the Ministry of External Affairs by Syed Akbaruddin, Joint Secretary, XP/PD and Official Spokesperson, MEA, New Delhi, 0145, ‘A’ Wing, Jawahar Lal Nehru Bhawan, New Delhi-110011 Tel: 91-11-49015276 Fax: 91-11-49015277 Website: http://www.indiandiplomacy.in Follow us on: https://www.facebook.com/IndianDiplomacy https://www.twitter.com/indiandiplomacy https://www.youtube.com/indiandiplomacy

Text may be reproduced with an acknowledgement to India Perspectives For a copy of India Perspectives contact the nearest Indian diplomatic mission.

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Potpourri

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25 Glorious Years

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Global Perspectives India−ASEAN ties

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Partnerships Japanese emperor’s India visit

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Newsmakers 2013 The bestsellers

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Space Research Mars mission

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Heritage Dastangoi

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Profile Ustad Halim Jaffer Khan

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Cuisine Christmas feast

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Review No Problem!

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Verbatim Ronjan Sodhi

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COVER DESIGN: BIPIN KUMAR

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25 YEARS SPECIAL 1988-99_2nd time:Layout 1 10/01/14 10:17 AM Page 6

INDIA PERSPECTIVES

We celebrate the silver jubilee of your favourite magazine by recollecting some of its best articles in past 25 years. A journey in itself, this colourful compilation of excerpts presents India’s heritage, culture, eminent personalities and achievements

PHOTO: VAIBHAV RAGHUNANDAN

25 GLORIOUS YEARS OF


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PERSPECTIVES

DECEMBER

1988

The Art of Amaravati, by N. Harinarayana, Director of Museums, Madras

GLORIOUS YEARS

Tales set in stone

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maravati, situated near Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, is known world over for the great stupa, Mahachaitya. It was here that over a span of four centuries from about 200 BC to 250 AD, the great stupa was built. Earlier, a simple structure with limestone crossbars and simple carvings, the stupa was later renovated by the Satavahana rulers—patrons of art as well as great rulers.  The stupa at Amaravati must have been a magnificent structure in its time. Its form has been reconstructed by archaeologists from whatever evidence is available. It is surmised that at the height of its glory, it was 27 meters in height. It consisted of a circular drum over which stood a dome of brickwork crowned by a railed harmika and a chhatra. A feature of this stupa, in fact of other stupas in the South, was the ayaka platform projecting out of the drum at cardinal directions and

carrying five ayaka pillars symbolising five important events in the life of Buddha, viz., birth, marriage, renunciation, first sermon and nirvana. The railings and ayaka platforms contained all those sculptures which have made Amaravati the acme of Indian Art. The art of Amaravati is a celebration of the delicate and voluptuous beauty of the human frame. The Amaravati artists narrated in relief on stone episodes from the life of Buddha and his previous lives. The casing slab which depicts the stupa is another piece of remarkable workmanship: the stupa looms large in the sculpture and yet there is space for delightful details. The material selected by the artists is a pale, green limestone found widely in the region. It is soft and yields to the sculptor’s chisel for bringing out all those exquisite forms and figures in low or high relief.

NOVEMBER

1988

AFP

The special issue on Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had features on Teen Murti Bhavan, his residence in New Delhi; his letters to daughter Indira; contribution to nation’s liberation struggle and as the architect of modern India Jawaharlal Nehru delivers his famous Tryst with Destiny speech on August 15, 1947 at Parliament House, New Delhi

Peace ambassador saint, Nehru was to play a decisive role in the history of the 20th century as a leader of Indians and representative of the new mood of Asia. But his warmly humanistic approach, his unchanging pursuit of peace in an age of war, his intense concern with the problems of the poor and oppressed made him the spokesman of the international conscience. In refusing to align India with any foreign power bloc, in war or peace, he offered a pragmatic alternative to the world’s newly emerging nations—a choice of policy based on the principle of peaceful co-existence.

INDIA PICTURE

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he first prime minister of free India, Jawaharlal Nehru lived through extraordinary times; the two world wars, the violent upheavals in Russia and China which were to destroy the old social order and change the thinking of men for all time to come, the great upsurge of nationalist awakening among the people of Asia, under colonial domination for centuries, and the looming threat of nuclear annihilation. Moulded by the winds of change sweeping across the world, and most especially by Mahatma Gandhi, India’s revolutionary

The Great Exodus on a Plaque, a relief on stone from the Amaravati school, Andhra Pradesh

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AFP

GLORIOUS YEARS

A Siddi man exits a mosque in Zambur Village, Junagadh, Gujarat

FEBRUARY

1989

Tea, by Joginder Chawla

FEBRUARY

1989

Tribe That Africa Forgot, by Juhi Sinha

Nation’s drink

Amalgam of cultures

F

rom the Himalayan city of Darjeeling (6,500 feet) comes the world’s finest and most expensive tea, while the Brahmaputra valley tea is richer in freshness and good to drink. Tea can be grown from seeds as well as from saplings. The latter process is better. While the wild tea can grow to the height of 25 feet, the tea grown commercially is not allowed to exceed the height of four feet. It is clipped all around to grow as a luxuriant bush. It takes three to seven years to mature and it lives up to the age of hundred years. The number of bushes grown per hectare varies from 4,000 to 15,000 and the yield is between 800 and 4,000 kg. To get one kg of tea it requires 4.5 kg of plucked tender green leaves. With the modern techniques, the moisture in the leaves is evaporated, leaves are ruptured and twisted. To turn them black, they are given an intensive hot air firing and tea is ready to taste. The tea taster has an important job. He has to be intimately familiar with the various processes of tea manufacturing and has to taste hundreds of varieties of tea to differentiate between good and bad tea. It is a myth that the tea taster has to renounce alcohol, onions and chillies. The only requirement for him is to keep his palate normal. According to 1987 statistics, India is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of tea with an annual production of 673 million kg, of which 209 million kg is exported.

remote corner of India far in the westernmost peninsula of Saurashtra. Here in the district of Junagadh, deep in the jungles of the Gir Forest, the only home of the Asiatic lion was the village of Shirvan, one of the two villages in the entire sub-continent that was home to a Negro tribe. The ‘Siddi’ tribe has come a long way from home. There are many stories of how this Assyrian tribe came so far away from its original continent. Legend has it that in the 15th century, Rasool Khan, the Nawab of Junagadh, finding this area, teeming with wildlife and impossible to manage, ‘imported’ from Abyssinia a small group of Africans, about 30 families. They were given between 12-20 acres of land to cultivate, and it was hoped that their hardiness and endurance qualities would bring this difficult terrain under control. Be that as it may, the Siddis today present a fascinating amalgam of racial traits, traditions and cultures. They are Muslims by religion and marriages are arranged strictly within the community, divided between the villages of Talala and Shirvan. They speak only Gujarati, the local language, dress in the local styles of chaniyacholi (a long skirt and blouse) and yet, though their skin colour ranges from wheat to ebony, they are, even at first glance, as different from the local Indian Patels as chalk from cheese.

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A woman picks tea leaves in Darjeeling, West Bengal

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GLORIOUS YEARS

JULY

1990 Painter Par Excellence, by N Iqbal Singh Known for his prodigious stamina, Pandit Bhimsen once recorded three long playing records in one marathon sitting

Born with brush

INDIA PICTURE

NOVEMBER

1990

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mrita Sher-Gil was born in the beautiful city of Budapest, Hungary, in 1913, to accomplished musician Marie Antoinette and Sikh aristocrat, philosopher and scholar Sardar Umrao Singh Majithia. As it was quite apparent that Amrita had a special aptitude for drawing, she was sent to teachers for lessons in drawing. Later, she studied at the Grand Chaumiere and LA Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris. The year 1933 was the most memorable year in her life, as it was when she achieved the unique distinction of being chosen as an Associate of the Grand Salon in Paris—perhaps the first Asian to have won this coveted accolade. When she got back to India in 1934, she found the art scene in the country most dismal: the arts were in the state of total disarray because there was no style that could be genuinely termed Indian. Her exhibition in Bombay in 1936 was when her great talent gained the recognition it deserved. The exhibition was followed by a trip to South India, which led to her evolving a new style which has since come to be known as her South Indian style. Amrita Sher-Gil died after a sudden, serious illness in Lahore in 1941 at the age of 28. Her best works include Group of Three Girls, Bride’s Toilet, Camels and Hill Scene.

Vocalist Par Excellence, by Rashme Sehgal

Vocal power

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quintessential artiste, Bhimsen Joshi was born in Gadag, in the Dharwar district of Karnataka, to wellknown educationist Gururaj Joshi. His grandfather Bhimacharya was a reputed musician, but Bhimsen’s musical inspiration came from his mother, who sang bhajans (hymns) to him as a child. From the age of three, Bhimsen was drawn towards shehnai (a wind instrument) players, marriage bands and bhajan singers, and he sometimes spent days with them on the road, to be restored to his despairing parents by good Samaritans. His daredevil spirit led him to run away from home when he was only ten years old. After many hardships, he became a student of eminent vocalist Sawai Gandharva. In 1944, G. N. Joshi of HMV spotted Bhimsen playing the lead role in the play Bhagyashri. When he heard Bhimsen sing,

he recognised his talent and persuaded him to record two Hindi and two Kannada bhajans. The recording was a success. But it was 1946 which marked the turning point in his career. He got a chance to perform at a musical programme held to felicitate Gandharva. Bhimsen sang raga Malhar for a mere half hour, but he sang so lucidly that the audience was delighted. A new star had emerged on the musical firmament. Bhimsen blossomed at a time when music was facing its greatest challenge. While the traditional patronage of the royals had ceased, no alternative source of patronage had emerged. He managed to strike a balance between the traditional and the new in an unusual way. While he maintained a slow, melodious exposition of the khayal, he would mix in a judicious number of gamak bols and taans, thereby enhancing the appeal of the raag.

(Top) Amrita Sher-Gil and (above) her painting Group of Three Girls

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GLORIOUS YEARS MARCH

1991 Kishori Amonkar: A Profile, by Rashme Sehgal

The unusual singer

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FEBRUARY INDIA PICTURE

1991

Room for Humour Always, by eminent cartoonist R. K. Laxman R. K. Laxman with his most celebrated character, the Common Man

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he condition in which the majority of people live in, the headlines in the newspapers that one is forced to read every morning and the horrifying gossips and depressing rumours that fall on our ears all seem pretty alarming. In such an atmosphere one would believe there would be no room for humour or laughter. On the contrary, as the acclaimed cartoonist writes, we would go mad if we were to take seriously the power-drunk pompous politician or the bureaucratic automaton behind the official desk, the bad roads, the traffic jams and the dying electric supply, if our sanity was not preserved by that single quality in us which is the instinct to laugh and which distinguishes mankind from the beasts!

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India’s staple theme of conversation, whether in a railway compartment or in an airport lounge or in a party or in a queue at a bust-stand, mostly centre round politics. This national pastime has affected even the very connotation of the term “politics” itself. Laxman remembers a cartoon of his in which a wife is telling her husband and his friend, “Don’t you two have anything else to talk about except corruption, corruption and corruption. Must you two talk politics all the time?” Inevitably satirical cartooning by its very nature is an art of disapproval and complaint. It thrives best in adversity and a cartoonist treats his subjects with healthy irreverence and good humoured ridicule.

INDIA PICTURE

On a lighter note

Kishori Amonkar during a performance

ishori Amonkar, described as the tempestuous diva of the Indian classical music scene, epitomises the struggle Indian women artistes have faced to create a niche in the highly competitive world of the performing arts. Her mother, Moghubai Kurdikar, herself a famous singer, came from the oppressed stratum of society. So, although she grew up in an atmosphere of music, Amonkar faced many privations in her youth. Moghubai was a traditionalist who believed that Ustad Alladiya Khan of the Jaipur gharana (school) was almost a god and his gayaki (style of singing) a sacred mantra. In North Indian classical music, the Jaipur gharana was the last to evolve. This gharana accepts the dhrupad tradition which casts music into fixed moulds, reproducing patterns with regularity and a certain degree of predictability. Amonkar, considered a rebel of the gharana, emphasises on bhava (feeling). She says, “The raag is essentially a manifestation of feeling. In a melody which has words, feeling is easy to particularise and easy to grasp. To interpret a particular feeling through the medium of musical notes alone is far more difficult. We take a feeling, say sorrow, which is individual, and we take the medium of music which is not individual. When we interpret that feeling, the generalised musical gamut that is produced is known as raag. The raag can be used by anyone and hence, it is universal.” Discussing her methodology, she says, “I tell my disciples: let the sound pour out in one unbroken stream. Do not tense any part of your vocal apparatus. The very aaaa… that you utter is the foundation of all your singing. Sing so that you leave the feeling behind in hearts, of your music.”

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GLORIOUS YEARS

OCTOBER

1992 Gardens of India, by Nadiya

National hangouts

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he concept of gardens has been a gift of the Mughals, their Persian soldiers and courtiers. Mughal emperor Babar introduced the gardening technique of Central Asia and Iran in India. The begums of the emperors also took keen interest in the gardens and shared the honour of creating famous gardens in Delhi, Agra, Punjab and Kashmir. Come spring and the gardens are in full bloom. Delhi’s Mughal Garden is breathtakingly beautiful during February−April. The Capital’s Lodhi Garden is well laid out and excellent for a walk. The Rock Garden at Chandigarh, patterned on the Japanese style, is one of the most modern gardens in India. Sisodia Palace Gardens in Jaipur are terraced gardens with fountains, pools and magnificent stone sculptures. Brindavan Garden of Mysore is the most exotic garden, which came into existence due to the efforts of Vishwavariya, the famous architect of Karnataka.

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(Clockwise from top left) Lodhi Garden, New Delhi; Big Shoe in Kamala Nehru Park, Mumbai; Rock Garden, Chandigarh; and beautiful fountains in Brindavan Garden, Mysore

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GLORIOUS YEARS

APRIL

1993 An excerpt from then Finance Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s speech delivered at the German Society for Foreign Policy in Bonn

“India has gone global”

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hen the Narasimha Rao Government was elected to power, India’s oil-deficient economy was in the midst of a shock administered by the Gulf War and compounded by a failure to take effective corrective action. India’s foreign exchange reserves vanished and the credit rating plunged, leading to capital fight and the nation was on the verge of defaulting repayments of foreign debt. The new Government decided not only to restore the collapsing confidence in the system but also to take a fresh look at the world and reshape the domestic and international economic policies. Swift and decisive actions were taken and over the last about two years, India’s trade, industrial and fiscal policies have been overhauled. Today, when the results of these policies are pieced together, a highly encouraging scenario emerges which no doubt will compel the world to take a fresh look at the changing economic landscape of India. Apart from the fact that India’s foreign exchange reserves are now fairly comfortable, its economy is breaking loose from the grip of recession and double digit inflation that plagued it last year and confidence in the system has been revived. Perhaps, the most profound change is India’s re-entry into the global mainstream. Indian businesses today are eager to make their mark on the world economic stage. Unlike in the past, Indian companies today are not just queuing up to raise money in foreign capital markets; they are also gearing up to push the “Made in India” label in foreign markets. Significantly, India’s entrepreneurs are not doing this alone but increasingly in partnership with foreign investors. The potential of India’s continental market of 850 million people is only one of the attractions that have caught their attention. India has gone global and the world economy can longer pass by it. With its skills and capacity to absorb advanced technology, mathematical and scientific temper, low wage rates, diverse industrial base and an exceptionally talented entrepreneurial class, players in the game of global competition must take note of India’s unfolding potential.

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PERSPECTIVES

1994 R. K. Narayan: The Indian Chekov, by D.R. Rajagopal

GLORIOUS YEARS

The Indian Chekov

H

e is known the world over—primarily through the medium of his pen. His books, novels, short stories— all are written in flawless, simple prose, suffused with grammatical rigour. All eminently readable, light, humorous and often hilarious—leaving everyone in stitches, like his conversation and dialogue with a litany of people from diverse walks of like, hailing not only from India but also from overseas. Dr. R. K. Narayan was not in the midst of any relentless pursuit of fame and fortune; he had them both in ample measure, in his steady, solid literary career. “I am a story teller, nor more, not less,” he said. Spanning a stretch of over five successive decades, Narayan emerged as a close personal friend

of the late Dr. Graham Greene, the British literary colossus. It was Greene who “discovered” Narayan and dubbed him as the “Indian Chekov.” Born in Madras in Tamil Nadu, Narayan as a teenager studied in erstwhile princely state of Mysore in Karnataka, absorbing Indian classical music and English literature. A distinguished man of letters, he believed in the “consciousness of duty performed conscientiously,” as his literary success, panache, finesse and virtuosity, bear out with telling effect. His writings have been translated in many languages of Europe, Africa and Asia. His stories have also been adapted into television serials like Malgudi Days and full length feature films like Dev Anand’s Guide.

AUGUST

1994 RK: The Film-Maker Par Excellence, by Bharat Bhushan (Clockwise from top) Raj Kapoor in stills from Shree 420, Mera Naam Joker and Jaagte Raho

The Showman

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aj Kapoor—undoubtedly one of the greatest showmen the Indian film industry has produced—was a filmmaker par excellence. Not only did he produce, direct and act in his own films made under the RK banner, he even used to edit them himself so as to make his final product absolutely immaculate. He had an unerring ear for music and could effortlessly play any musical instrument. This explains why all his films had such popular music. But the biggest asset of RK the director was RK the actor. Whatever the director conceived, the actor was there to effectively portray that on the screen, picking all the nuances of a role that

the director had in mind. For example, in his autobiographical magnum opus Mera Naam Joker, RK the director had conceived the opening scene beautifully. The film, however, turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. Any other person would have wilted in such circumstances, but not Kapoor. He bounced back with Bobby—a story of teenage love—which went on to become one of the all-time hits and a big commercial success. In recognition of Raj Kapoor’s outstanding and lifetime contribution to the world of cinema in the country, the Government of India conferred upon him the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award for 1987. (Clockwise from left) An illustration from Malgudi Schooldays, Narayan, and a still from film Guide

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GLORIOUS YEARS

AUGUST

FOTOCORP

1995 Folk Culture of India, by Sudhamani Regunathan (From left) Adi tribe of Arunanchal Pradesh, a Lavani dancer from Maharashtra and Velakali performers in Kerala

Celebration of life

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Adis, a tribe of Arunanchal Pradesh, for instance, relate the story of their ancestors. Karnataka’s Gigi Pada involves a question and answer session. In Kerala, particularly at the end of March, the Velakali dance is performed. Hear the war cry as it finds men performing martial art with swords and shields; they are telling the story of the victory of good over evil. Yakshagana of Karnataka tells mythological stories just as Burra Katha of Andhra Pradesh. Another fantastic similarity one finds is in the content of the stories. Even though folk dances belong entirely to the people and not to the scholastic tradition, one finds the exchange of ideas between different parts of India to be constant. At once striking in the diversity is their costume. The joy and celebration of life is perhaps the most common feature of all.

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t needs no explanation to support the statement that every region or community in India has its own dance form. Devised and choreographed to suit local practices and lore, this form of joyous expression is unrestricted in both participation and content. Yet, one can discern a common rhythm through all the folk dances of India. Folk dances can be broadly classified into the categories of occupational, seasonal, martial, devotional and ritualistic dances. Generally, every society has a share of all these types of dances, with some overlapping, which becomes inevitable. For example, the dance at a wedding may be both ritualistic and devotional, while a pre-harvest dance is both seasonal and occupational and may even be ritualistic. These dances also have an important role to play in communication and functioning as records of history.

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GLORIOUS YEARS

FEBRUARY

1996

Sufi Tradition in India, by Pranav Khullar

Divine connection

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here are innumerable definitions of Sufi but nothing more striking than the one that a Sufi is one who possesses nothing and whom nothing possesses. Whatever the etymological origin of the term, the orders of the Sufis are well-organised bodies within the larger context of the Islamic society. Some say that Sufism developed out of historical Islam. Some are of the opinion that it developed as a reaction against certain Islamic attitudes. Others still contend that it has Christian or Chinese or Indian influences. But it is well known that Sufi ideas and even literary texts were borrowed by or lay behind the teachings as diverse as those of Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila, Guru Nanak and the Vedas. Many Sufis claim that their knowledge has existed for thousands of years and has links with the Hermetic, the Pythagorean and the Platonic streams. The Sufis adopted many religious practices and accepted them in their Silsilahs (orders). For example, shaving the head of a new entrant to the khanqah (monastery) on the lines of Hindu gurukul (school) and Buddhist Sangha bowl (Zanbilor Kushkool) for collecting food. Ain-i-Akbari (Institutes of Akbar) lists 14 Sufi Silsilahs in India at the time of great Mughal emperor Akbar. The foremost was the Chishtiya Silsilah founded by Shaikh Moin-ud-Din Chishti. Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, Qutbud-din Bakhtiar Kaki, Baba Farid, Shaikh Nasir-ud-Din Chirag, Syed Mohammad “Gesu Daraz”, Khwaja Baqi-Bi-Ullah, Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi, Mirza Mazhar Jan-i-Jahan and Shah Walliullah were other eminent Sufi saints of India. The Sufi tradition of non-possession and spirituality of India was carried forward by the 19th century movements led by Swami Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Dayananda and Swami Ram Tirath, and 20th century saints Swami Ranganathanandan and Swami Chidananda. Sufism, thus, is a part of India’s culture—a part and parcel of Indian heritage and an integral part of Indian life and letters. (Clockwise from left) People praying in Nizamuddin mausoleum in Delhi; Baul singers in West Bengal; and a qawwali singer at Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan

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AUGUST

Indian Visual Arts Since Independence, by P.N. Mago, an art educationist

AFP

1997 (Clockwise from left) Indian artist M. F. Hussain; and works by Manjit Bawa, Jamini Roy and Satish Gujral

Modern yet traditional

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broad review of last 50 years in the development of contemporary Indian art shows that the Indian artist, by and large, is still hovering between tradition and experiment. Historically speaking, we had been exposed to western influences since 1600, the year of the setting up of the British East India Company. But we became overly dependent upon the achievements in European art since 1900. With the background of the western academic traditions epitomised in the works of Raja Ravi Varma and others, the postindependence period is an important one in the history of contemporary art in India. It signifies the long struggle of the Indian artist to synthesise the traditional and modern values and make a mark on the international scene. One can certainly admire and appreciate the creative

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endeavours of most significant artists of early decades in giving a creative thrust to their visual and plastic expressions. For example, the revival of national artistic aspiration in the works of Abanindranath Tagore, Gagendranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore and Nandalal Bose, followed by landmarks set by Jamini Roy and Amrita Sher-Gil. Rabindranath Tagore, who gave a meaning to his works through the sheer vitality of his consciousness, stands out as a unique painter. The artists in the post-independence period have been on one hand, eclectic, experimenting various mannerisms under the influence of Euro-American art movements, and on the other, obsessed with a deep search for roots. The tension between desire for the new and the self-consciousness towards the past has coloured the most diverse art styles in India during this period.

Whereas a few groups of artists in the late forties and fifties such as the Calcutta Group (Gopal Ghose, Nirode Majumdar, Rathin Moitra, Pran Krishna Pal and Pradosh Das Gupta), Bombay’s Progressive Artists’ Group (M. F. Hussain, S. H. Raza, H. A. Gade, S. K. Bakre, F. N. Souza and K. H. Ara) and Delhi’s Shilpi Chakra—B. C. Sanyal, K. S. Kulkarni, D. R. Bhagat and Kanwal Krishna—expressed their revolutionary attitudes; some desired their creative efforts to be linked to the past. Consequently, despite the insularity of the visual culture, a dialogue is going on between innovation and tradition. The contradictions of these existing attitudes, both in visual and plastic arts, are apparent in works and aspirations of artists of this period and have given birth to most influential trends, the modernistic and the traditionalistic. The latter was of course, invented by a single artist, Jamini Roy, who longed for the past in an ominous way.

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MAY

PHOTOS: AFP

1998 Indian Writing in English: Coming of Age, by Rakhshanda Jalil

The fiction sellers

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n the map of world literature, India has been undersized for far too long. Fifty years ago there was very little Indian literature available to western readers, except for the few translations of the Gita, the Upanishads and some of Tagore’s verses. Then came R. K. Narayan, Mulk Raj Anand, Nirad Chaudhuri and a handful of other stalwarts. Going by successes such as Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, not only has Indian writing in English come to stay, but it has come to set the cash registers ringing. Seth hit the international literary scene big time in 1993 when he received an unprecedented

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advance of `26 million for his A Suitable Boy. Roy followed in his footsteps by raking in a neat `30 million in 1997 for her debut novel. She became the centre of a media generated storm after becoming the first Indian to win the Booker Prize. It can be safely said that Indian writers writing in English have never had it so good. There’s a whole new breed, with new entrants being added to the list practically every day, of largely India-based writers who have found avid readers and prestigious publishers abroad. Among this motley bunch of post-colonial writers the most notable are Firdaus Kanga with his Trying to Grow, Amitav Ghosh’s The Circle of Reason and The Shadow Lines, Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey and

A Fine Balance, Anita Desai, Bharati Mukherjee, Vikram Chandra, Ardashir Vakil and a whole posse of transcultural, multi-ethnic makers of “world fiction” who are busy reinventing English literature from within. And it is, really speaking, in the story-telling department that this new breed of Indian writers excels more than in any of the usual parameters such as plot or style or characterisations. Much to the delight of the foreign readers and the Indian audience alike, these writers spin a fabulous yarn with great audacity and style. Big, bewildering India, both the reality and the metaphor, is an incredible treasure chest of stories for children and adults alike.

(From left) Amitav Ghosh, Vikram Seth, Rohinton Mistry, Arundhati Roy, Vikram Chandra and Anita Desai

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Amul Plant at Anand, Gujarat

MAY

1999 India is Now World’s Largest Milk Producer, by Surinder Sud

MARCH

Indian Designers Go International, by Meenu Gupta

PHOTOS: AFP

1999 (Clockwise from above) Fashion designers Ritu Beri and Rohit Bal with models, and models on the ramp

On world’s ramp

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ashion in India is a relatively young concept, since the first fashion show was held only in 1958. Yet, we read in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey that muslin from unpartitioned India was high fashion fabric, considered at that time a good bargain at nine shillings per yard. Apart from this, the Indian crafts and rich tradition of embroidery have long been made use of by fashion designers from other countries. India prides in zardozi, dabka work, brocades, Pashmina, jamawar, bandhni… the list is endless. The colours range from bright and sunny to earthy hues. The Indian rainbow too has for long been the inspiration for the traditional colours of Indian fabrics. It seems paradoxical, therefore, that fashion is considered a young concept in India. There is now an ever-growing need for more variety in India.

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Tastes have also changed due to globalisation, an increase in purchasing power and a desire to look and feel good. A major factor is the changed social scenario that has seen the emergence of the “new woman,” who can wear a western dress with as much ease as an Indian dress. Specialisation has led to a fashion boom but luckily, the Indian fashion designer realised early on that fashion is not just aping the West. “It is like a back to swadeshi (indigenous)” movement. The best of designs, motifs, themes and skilled craftsmen are available in India and Indian fabrics and styles are best suited for the country,” says Rina Dhaka, a well-known fashion designer. “Thanks to this drive, even Indian men are coming back to sherwanis, Chinese band coats, Nehru jackets, shawls and kurtas,” she adds.

Operation Flood

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he transformation of India from a milk deficit to a milk surplus country is essentially the result of an intensive campaign launched by the government and semi government bodies to promote animal husbandry. The bulk of the growth in milk output is, therefore, accounted for by the unorganised sector consisting of millions of small milk producers. Many of these producers have organised themselves into cooperatives under the umbrella of the National Dairy Development Board, which had been running a highly successful animal husbandry promotion programme, Operation Flood. An integrated programme of dairy development in the cooperative sector, it is based on three-tier structure comprising the primary dairy cooperatives at the village level, milk producers’ union at the district level and apex federations at the state level. The programme has attracted world-wide attention because of its spectacular success. Many developing countries such as Philippines, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, intend to use it as a model for organising their own dairy development programmes. Sri Lanka had indeed hired the services of Dr. V. Kurien, the main force behind India’s white revolution to emulate Operation Flood in that country.

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2000

PHOTOS: AFP

Tata Steel Plant in Jamshedpur

Sindhu Darshan: Symbol of India’s Unity in Diversity, by Bharat Bhushan Ladakhi Drogpa folk dancers perform during Sindhu Darshan Festival in Leh

A tribute to Indus

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ivers, worldwide, have played a significant role in the evolution and development of civilisations. They have not only helped produce crops for people, but have also facilitated the growth of transport lines so crucial to development of trade. The mighty Sindhu (Indus) river is no exception; it symbolises the power and permanence of ancient Indian civilisation which has evolved over a period of thousands of years. The name of the river has been derived from the Sanskrit language and is mentioned in the Rig Veda. Terms like Hindu, Hindustan or India have emanated from Indus—a great transHimalayan river which covers an incredible path of 2,900 km.

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Starting in south-western Tibet at an altitude of 16,000 ft., the Indus enters India at Demchhok near Leh in Ladakh. After flowing for some distance, it is joined by Zanskar, which is instrumental in greening the Zanskar Valley in Ladakh. As a tribute to this great river, which reflects India’s unity and communal harmony, Sindhu Darshan Festival was held in Leh, Ladakh. The inaugural programme was appropriately conducted jointly by representatives of Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Hindus. The festival was inaugurated by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who also laid the foundation stone of Sindhu Cultural Centre, which is being developed as a major tourist attraction in Ladakh.

SEPTEMBER

2000

Tatanagar: The Jewel of Bihar, by Col. KJ Chugh

Corporate marvel

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mix of low and flat hills. Long drives, wide roads, lots of parks, well-manicured lawns. Jamshedpur is a dream city of India. Spread over an area of nearly 65 sq. km. with half a million population, and quite contrary to its image of Steel City, Tatanagar presents a sophisticated and graceful appearance. The privatised city of Tatanagar was leased out for 100 years in 1909 to Jameshedjee Tata, an industrialist and a visionary who substantially contributed to India becoming an industrialised nation. In the process, he made Tata a household name across the country. Located in southwest Bihar, the city of Jamshedpur encompasses Tatanagar and Jamshedpur. Being a city within Jamshedpur, Tatanagar is the railway station for Jamshedpur.

Tatanagar is well laid out—it is the first planned industrial city of India. The city presents a happy blend of work and play. Some of the major industrial plants, including the Tata Steel, Telco and other factories owned by the Tata group, provide business and livelihood to a large number of ancillary units. Besides its industrial importance, Tatanagar has a lot to offer to its denizens and visitors alike. The city is thinly populated and has long avenues and wide tree-lined roads. The environment is clean and green. Evenings are extremely pleasant. There are as many as 25 roundabouts, 17 huge parks dotting different parts of the city, temples and the famous Dimma Lake, the lifeline of the city. Tatanagar presents quite a few marvels in modern architecture, adding to the stature of the city.

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JANUARY Stepwells of Gujarat, by Shahid Akhter Makhfi

AFP

2001

(Clockwise from above) Tourists throng the Adalaj Ni vav in Gandhinagar; and sculptures in Adalaj Ni vav and Rani Ki vav

Architecture marvel

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tretch your imagination to wander among the caravans drifting in the semi desert regions of western India. You are travelling by night, guided by the star strewn sky that tells you the time. It is soon going to be daybreak and you will be approaching your cherished halt—a vav or a stepwell where you will be spending a greater part of the day relaxing and refreshing yourself for the next night’s journey. This is 15th century Gujarat and night journeys are in vogue, to avoid the fierce midday sun or the afternoon storm that can besmear you and your baggage. No one fears travelling in the night as robberies are few and far between. Imagine the 32 years of Sultan Ahmad Shah’s reign with only two murders on records! Back to our deluxe accommodation for the day—the pretty vav which is characterised by a long stepped corridor descend-

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ing down—beneath the earth’s surface and punctuated in-between with spacious storeys that finally lead to the pool of water with least possible exposure to the sun. The labyrinthine interior of the vav’s underground spaces is dark and cool—the ultimate that a weary traveller can ask for. Gujarat is home to hundreds of stepwells or vav scattered throughout the state. In fact, constructing a well was held to be a pious deed. A typical well is made up of the Mandapa or the entrance pavilion, which forms the main approach at the ground level and the Kuta or the flight of steps leads down to the water or Kund at the bottom. Most of the wells are decorated with sculptures. While appreciating these works of art we often forget to appreciate the science and engineering skills with which so many pillars and lintels are made to support the five or seven storeys and that too with everything under earth’s surface!

The earliest among the stepwells in Gujarat are nested among the Junagarh hills—Navghan Vav and Adi-Chadi Vav. The two stepwells appear to have been carved out of soft rocks and executed to great depths—a marvel even by modern standards. In the long list of structurally created stepwells, one has to revert to Dhank where sixth century Jhilani and Manjushri vav exist. The most magnificent of all stepwells is Rani Ki vav, in Patan. Built in 1022-1063 AD by Rani Udyamati, the queen of the Chalukya King Bhimdeva I, its lateral formation of steps is punctuated with a number of miniature shrines at all levels. Mata Bhavani vav in Asarva, near Ahmedabad, is another stepwell assigned to the Chalukyan period. Helical vav in Pavagarh is an unusual well, attributed to Visvakarma Vastushastra, where the entrance staircase leads to a spiral stairway which further culminates into the well. In fact, the spiral stairway gradually becomes the wall of the well and a timid soul should avoid these steps that make one dizzy, with the sight of the water getting closer with each step.


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JANUARY

2002 AFP

Opulence of the Nizam’s Palaces, by Ramchander Pentucker A peacock spreads its feathers AFP

Grandeur at its best

JANUARY

2002

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Pheasants: India’s National Birds, by Samar Singh

Glamourous birds AFP

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AFP

or the people of Hyderabad and others visiting the city, the palaces of the Nizams carry an aura of mystery and wonder, as much as the tales of their erstwhile rulers. Among the existing palaces, Falaknuma and Chowmohalla are renowned for their richness and architectural grandeur. Falaknuma (the heavenly abode) is an Italian designed extravaganza. The palace, built on a sprawling 1,00,000 square yard plot on a hillock, took seven years to build and was completed in the year 1883. The general layout of the palace is in the shape of a scorpion. The entrance leads to an imposing Italian marbled stairway with carved balustrades rising to the first floor where a series of portraits of the royal family, their ministers and guests form a unique art gallery. At a short distance from the landmark of Hyderabad, the Charminar, lies another legendary palace of the Nizams: the Chowmohalla (the complex of four palaces). This 19th century wonder is the legacy of the fifth Nizam, Afzal-ud-Doula. Built in 1750, this palace remains an ode to imperial opulence. Purani Haveli is the third and the oldest of the Nizam’s palaces, located about 2 km from the Charminar. Built in 1777 by the second Nizam, it remained unoccupied for a long time until Afzal-ud-Dowla resided here, followed by his son, Mahabub Ali Khan. A part of the palace is still occupied by the latter’s daughter and grand daughters. The seventh Nizam, Osman Ali Khan was reputedly the world’s richest man. His crown jewels have been on display at various centres in India.

(Anti-clockwise from top) A horse-drawn carriage at the entrance and a staircase in Falaknuma Palace, and inside and outside views of Chowmohalla, in Hyderabad

ndia lies at the tri-junction of three diverse biogeographic realms—African, Palearctic (European and North Asian), and Indo-Malayan. As a result, the life forms found in the country have elements from all three realms, besides many forms that are uniquely Indian. This great diversity is amply witnessed in the birdlife of the country. Out of a total of over 9,000 bird species described so far for the world as a whole, India accounts for nearly 1,300 species, which makes it more than one-sixth of the world’s total avian diversity in a country that is only about one-fiftieth of the world’s total land mass. The rich diversity of birdlife in the country is best exemplified by the Indian Pheasants, which include some of the most gorgeously beautiful and spectacular birds of the world and also those that have proved most useful and economically important to humankind. The glamorous Blue Peafowl is India’s national bird, rightly also known as the Indian Peafowl. Much religious significance is attached to this beautiful bird, and it has found place in the architecture, music, folklore and literature of India over the ages.

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OCTOBER

2003 ISRO: Exploring Final Frontiers…, by Radhakrishna Rao, a noted expert on scientific subject (Clockwise from above) Sailana Palace and varieties of cactus at the park in Madhya Pradesh

Feather in India’s cap

DECEMBER

2003

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Sailana: The Indian Home of Cactus, by Col. K. J. Chugh

Thorns are beautiful too

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AFP

he successful second development flight of India’s three-stage, cryogenic fuel-driven Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) which took place in May 2003 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota island gave a big thrust to the plan of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) to build “heavier and more powerful boosters of the future”. The 414 tonne 49 metre tall GSLV performed the task of placing 1825-kg G-Sat-2 experimental satellite into orbit with a “text book precision”. After its third test flight slated for late 2004, GSLV was expected to be declared operational and used for the routine launching of the INSAT class domestic spacecraft. The plan was to launch Edusat, a satellite dedicated to support the educational programmes in India. Besides India’s first unmanned scientific mission to moon, the other innovative mission planned was the launch of a 500 kg reusable capsule by means of PSLV. The main goal of the Space Capsule Recovery Experiment was to carry out micro gravity experiments in orbit and demonstrate technology to deboost from orbit for reentry and recovery from sea using floatation system. This experiment would also give a thrust to ISRO’s plan to develop reusable space vehicles.

actus often reminds one of thorns and rarely the beauty that lies with them. At Sailana, the story is quite the opposite. The Cactus Garden at Sailana is an amazing collection of cacti and succulents, signifying the beauty that nature has bestowed upon this earth. Spread over an area of nearly four acres, Sailana Cacti Garden is part of the palace inhabited by the rulers of the former princely state of Sailana. It is located nearly 20 km from Ratlam in Madya Pradesh, which is an important junction on the Mumbai−Delhi railway. One wonders at the love the then ruler Raja Digvijay Singh had for such spiky plants! The garden that came into existence in the year 1960 has a

fine story to tell. It has been cultivated at two levels—one on normal ground and the other below the ground level. Singh was so fascinated by cacti that he dug up his tennis court and used it for planting cacti. And that’s how the sunken garden came into existence. The plants at the Sailana Cactus Garden are never sold. The visitors can have a commercial exchange. They can select a new variety from the garden and leave something new in the garden, says Vikram Singh, the elder son of Singh, and who inherited the responsibility after the death of his father in 1990. The most appropriate time to visit the garden are the months of April and May, when cacti are in full bloom.

India's PSLV rocket stands inside the vehicle assembly building at Sriharikota

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2004

The Vibrant Sikh Art, by Subhra Majumdar

GLORIOUS YEARS

Evolution of Sikh art

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he concept of painting Sikh reverential subjects spans a 200 year gamut. It ranges from the middle years of the 17th century, when this form was typically unsophisticated folk to the 19th century, when it reached maturity in the courtly art of Lahore under the Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh. With the passage of each era, Sikh art began to differ only as far as external influences were concerned, for, the subject matter of these works is essentially linked with depictions of the ten Sikh Gurus, beginning with the founder of the faith, Guru Nanak. Thus one would be justified in stating that the beginning of Sikh art can be traced to the Janam Sakhi paintings. These hagiographic accounts of the life of Guru Nanak are a series of popular narratives about the Guru and has anecdotes about his travels. Artists found in them a rich source for illustrations. Before long, patrons emerged and so did the influences of Sufi philosophers upon its artistry. The structure and literary traditions of Sufi hagiographers found ready acceptance in these Janam Sakhi works, so that the Guru in them could not be much different in appearance from a Sufi pir or saint.

JULY

2004

The earliest Janam Sakhi paintings date back to the Bala Janam Sakhi of 1715. But the best known Janam Sakhi is the B-40 Janam Sakhi. Its illustrations were the work of a Lahore artist who had remained incognito till his masterpiece had surfaced in the late 19th century. In the final years of the 19th century and the beginning of the last century, Sikh art acquired an even more populist base with the coming of the bazar print. Essentially a linear descendant of the woodcut and lithograph of the earlier years, these massproduced colour pictures had sharper colours and were dominated by painted reproductions of a venerable Guru Nanak and warrior Guru Gobind Singh.

AFP

EVMs: Making Elections Fast and Smooth, by senior civil servants K. N. Kumar and Satbir Silas

(Left) Paintings of Guru Gobind Singh and (below) English cavalry and Sikh at the battle of Aliwal, 1846

Indian technicians perform a quality test on an Electronic Voting Machine in Bengaluru

The way India votes

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Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi, and later in the 1999 general elections in the entire state of Goa. The successful use of electronic voting machines in these elections convinced the political parties, candidates and the people that the process had indeed become quicker and trouble-free. The demand for the use of the machines increased and they were used in the 2004 general elections all over India which meant that about 650 million electors used them. Delegations from countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, South Africa, Thailand and Uganda have visited India during the above elections to see the actual working of these machines.

INDIA PICTURE

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echnology is about application of science for easing the functional life, making it both efficient and productive. One of those applications in the election system of India is a somewhat euphemistically termed machine called the “Electronic Voting Machine”. It is an interface, a facilitator between the voter and the voting process. EVMs were first introduced in Kerala during the 1982 state assembly election. After successful pilot testing, legal and technological clearances, they were gradually introduced in the elections in India in a phased manner. The machines were first used in the 1998 elections to the legislative assemblies of

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INDIAN EXPRESS ARCHIVE/SUBHAM DUTTA

GLORIOUS YEARS

OCTOBER

2005

(Clockwise from left) Mudialy fishermen catching fish, and the area developed by the cooperative in Kolkata

Eco-Management Par Excellence, by Archna Sood

Redemption of a dump yard

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cooperative is a fishery cooperative that is not only running profitable business, but is also a source for valuable lessons in ecomanagement. The fishermen’s enterprise is thriving on the smoke and dust from the chimneys of the factories in the Kolkata Port Trust Area, as also the dangerous effluents released from the sewage pipes of the industrial units. It is doing so by cleansing and turning the polluted mush into clear, flowing water. The Mudialy  Fishermen’s Co-operative Society (MFCS), located in the densely populated area in the south-west of Kolkata, has nurtured and developed a huge expanse of land into a nature park. The society has dug out a series of six ponds to carry out water cleansing in different stages and undertake fish rearing. The first pond, called the anaerobic tank, is used for

treating water manually with lime and other similar biochemical material. Water hyacinth, normally considered a weed of water bodies, is used to absorb oil and grease in the effluent. This tank also facilities sedimentation of wastes and, therefore, has to be dredged periodically to remove the sludge. The second pond is used as a breeding ground for exotic fish species that can thrive in poor quality water and harsh living conditions. The society has also set up an in-house water-testing laboratory to monitor water quality. Aware of the need to keep the costs down, MFCS relies on conversion of organic waste into protein-rich micro algae for use as fish feed. The society has also planted nearly one lakh trees to provide supplementary feed for fish and animals, as well as benefit the environment.

INDIAN EXPRESS ARCHIVE/SUBHAM DUTTA

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ith more than five lakh cooperatives of various types having membership of nearly 230 million, the Indian cooperative movement is one of the largest in the world. Its basic thrust is towards rural development. Cooperatives have done excellent work in providing rural credit, disbursing more than 46 per cent of national loans meant for the villages. In cotton production and marketing, their share is above 59 per cent. The cooperatives have also played a historic role in making India the major milk producer in the world. Success stories of big cooperatives like Amul, IFFCO, Nafed, etc., are too well known. However, there are many other cooperatives that are doing excellent work for the economic, social and environmental development in rural areas. One such

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GLORIOUS YEARS

DECEMBER

2006

India’s IT Industry, by Rajeev Rastogi, a civil servant with Department of Information Technology, GoI

Land of outsourcing

(Clockwise from left) UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw (centre) with founder, Infosys Technologies, N.R. Narayana Murthy in Bengaluru; a BPO employee; and Indian villagers working on a computer

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PHOTOS: AFP

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purred by the continuous buoyant economy and a positive outlook for corporate earnings, worldwide ITITES spending has also witnessed a steady growth. Outsourcing continues to be the primary growth engine with global delivery forming an integral part of the strategies adopted by customers as well as service providers. The Indian IT-enabled and Business Services (ITES-BPO) have demonstrated superiority, sustained cost advantage and fundamentally powered value proposition in ITES. Indian companies are expanding their service offerings, enabling customers to deepen their offshore engagements; the shift from low-end business processes to higher value, knowledge-based processes is having a positive impact on the overall industry growth. Strong demand over the past few years has placed India amongst the fastest-growing IT markets in the Asia-Pacific region. The Indian software and ITES industry’s contribution to the national GDP has risen from 1.2 per cent in 1999-2000 to a projected 4.8 per cent during 2005-06. Recognising the advantages of multi-country service delivery capabilities, Indian companies are enhancing their global service delivery reach through a combination of greenfield initiatives, besides partnerships and alliances with local

players. Global software product giants such as Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, etc., have established their captive development centres in India. The total number of IT and ITES-BPO professionals employed in India has grown phenomenally over the years. The industry is estimated to have helped create additional three million job opportunities through indirect and induced employment. Today, a majority of the companies in India have already aligned their internal processes and practices to international standards such as ISO, CMM, Six Sigma, etc. This has helped establish India as a credible sourcing destination. The benefits of Information Technology can reach the common man in India only when the digitalised information is available in all Indian languages. The Department of Information Technology has, thus, taken a major initiative to make freely available to people the tools and fonts in various Indian languages.

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Coloured motifs on functional products and artifacts

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Call of the Meenakar, by Sudhamahi Regunathan

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handcrafted piece of art takes a long time to make and so the pieces produced are few. The effort finds itself measured in the price line, for other than the price of metal, the cost of labour ranks quite high. The creative process begins with the artist sketching out the design on paper. He is called the chitrakar. Once all this is done, the hero of this craft, the meenakar, steps in. He fills in the colours—which are metallic oxides, ground and mixed with powdered glass. He begins with the colour that is most resistant to heat. Since the metal has to be reheated with the application of each colour, it is important that he begins with the more heat resistant ones. The colour is powdered very finely after it has been pulverised in an iron mortar. It is then turned into a paste and applied to the engravings. Exposed to glowing coals, each colour is applied one by one. Finally it is polished. The craft is picking up with greater gusto now and is looking towards newer motifs and newer surfaces to work on.

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hen did man discover the power of ornamentation in metal? Perhaps it was the strong desire to look beautiful that led this successful quest or perhaps it was just as normal as man discovered fire and the wheel; it was a necessity! But, this has been the most enduring of romances so far! Forever target of insatiable desire, metals—be they gold, silver or platinum—have brought man his love and woman her dreams. Crafted into exquisite pieces of jewellery or artifacts, they have added the magical touch of immortality to life itself. The art of meenakari, as enamelling is called, is the preserve of some families, generally concentrated in Jaipur, Benaras and Hyderabad. The three schools follow the same technique but naturally different motifs to work on. The art of meenakari was greatly influenced by the Mughals whose passion for detail is well known. It is undoubtedly their contribution which honed the art so much that today an enamelled motif reflects a myriad colours, even within a two-inch diameter. Predictably this

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Motifs and colours

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(Clockwise from left) Mahatma Gandhi with Jawaharlal Nehru; with Lord Louis Mountbatten and Lady Edwina Mountbatten; and during his tour of Bengal province

GLORIOUS YEARS

JANUARY-FEBRUARY

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This special issue was devoted to Mahatma Gandhi. It had essays on the Gandhian way, Satyagraha, Swaraj, Salt March, Gandhi as a hero, reader and writer, and as symbol of peace, and his years in South Africa

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2008

Remembering Mahatma

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Mahatma was named Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He would fall to an assassin’s bullets, 79 years later, on January 30, 1948. During his lifetime, he would bring the British Empire to its knees and change the course of history and human thinking. He would shun discrimination based on any manmade criteria and treat all human beings as being equal. His frail and fragile form would hold the strength of a thousand lions in the face of cruelty and injustice. He would have an unwavering addiction to seek out the goodness of man in his quest for truth. He would not win the Nobel Peace Prize but he would stand out as a living example and inspiration for generations to come. He would come to be known throughout the world as “The Mahatma” or “The Great Soul”. In India, out of love and affection, he would

be called ‘Bapuji’ or ‘Father’. In a single lifetime, he would achieve all this and so much more. In the words of the poet Rabindranath Tagore, “Occasionally, there appear in the area of politics, makers of history, whose mental height is above the common level of humanity. They wield an instrument of power, which is almost physical in its compelling force and often relentless, exploiting the weakness in human nature—its greed, fear, or vanity. When Mahatma Gandhi came and opened up the path of freedom for India, he had no obvious medium of power in his hand, no overwhelming authority or coercion. The influence which emanated from his personality was ineffable, like music, like beauty.”

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he year 1906 may rightly be described as a turning point in the life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. It was in this year when he experienced a deep spiritual awakening within and dedicated himself to the service of humanity. He took the vow of celibacy and stepped out of the narrow confines of the biological family to embrace the entire humankind as his own. It was also in the year 1906, on September 11 to be precise, that he opened the path of emancipation for the suffering humanity with his firm adherence to truth and non-violence. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi described this path as Satyagraha. Born on October 2, 1869, at Porbander in Kathiawar (Gujarat) to Karamchand Gandhi and his wife Putlibai,

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Theatre’s Own Magic by Utpal K. Banerjee The author has written extensively on Indian art and culture and was awarded the Padmashri in 2008

GLORIOUS YEARS

JANUARY-MARCH

2009

This special edition on Indian cinema had articles on industry’s global future, regional cinema, film posters, songs, animations films and personalities

Century and counting ndia was introduced to ‘moving pictures’ soon after their screening by the Lumierre brothers in Paris. By the end of the 19th century, Indian filmmakers had started making documentaries and later exploring the commercial potential of cinema. A journey that began with Raja Harishchandra and Alam Ara has today led to the largest film industry of the world, diverse in its treatment and coverage of subjects. The Indian film industry has contributed several masterpieces; a number of filmmakers have left their indelible imprints on world cinema; and several film personalities such as Satyajit Ray, A. R. Rahman, Gulzar, Aishwarya Rai, Irrfan Khan, Anurag Kashyap and Resul Pookutty testify to the creative and technical talent in India. The Indian film industry was projected to grow by 13 per cent, reaching to `176 billion in 2012 from `96 billion in 2007. India is also emerging as an outsourcing base for special effects, gaming and animation content development. The box office figures are equally impressive, as the income stands to shift marginally from traditional revenues to new emerging revenues like home video market and digital cinema.

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Stage conversations heatre has always held its own magic with spectators. As a live art form, it establishes direct communion with the audience and, unlike other arts like music, dance, mime, paintings, sculpture and the like, can be quite composite, imbibing all the individual genres. In the process, its main vehicle is the spoken word provided by the playwright. In a modern play, all these texts—verbal, visual, symbolic, movement and musical—may play their relative roles and frequently interleave with each other, providing fascinating vignettes. But how crucial are their overlaps or individual manifestations, and how pivotal are they to the central theme? An opportunity occurred when a large cross-section came together in the Mahindra Theatre Festival 2009. Over 200 entries were submitted from all four corners of India, in the regional language category from Marathi to Manipuri to Malayalam, from Gujarati to Garo, besides the enthusiastic crop in Hindi, Urdu, Bengali and English. Reputed directors of the land entered the fray, including Habib Tanvir, M. S. Sathyu, Shyamanand Jalan, Kirti Jain, Devendra Raj Ankur, Rajat Kapoor, Anup Hazarika, Sohag Sen, Goutam Halder, and a whole host of others; even dance-dramas and puppet theatres were there as entries.

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VOLUME 24 NO.2

2010

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The special edition had essays on Tagore, Visva-bharati, Gitanjali and the Noble Prize, Tagore as a painter, scientist, poet, and his role in women’s emancipation and rural reconstruction

(From left) Rabindranath Tagore with Countess Anna de Noailles and his portrait

The World Poet s the world got ready to celebrate the 150th year of Rabindranath Tagore, the magazine took the lead in putting together a collection of essays that gave readers a unique insight into the myriad facets of the acclaimed Bengali polymath. A truly remarkable personality, Tagore, during the course of an eventful life, spanning eight decades from 1861 to 1941, won international acclaim as a playwright, poet, song writer, novelist, educator, philosopher and humanist. Tagore wrote his first drama opera, Valmiki Pratibha when he was barely twenty. He went on to write over 2,000 songs and create Rabindra-sangeet as an important genre of Bengali music that is named after the poet himself. He translated a section of his own poems, Gitanjali, from Bengali to English and became the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize in 1913. His short stories and novels occupy a place of their own in

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Bengali literature and he is probably the only poet to have composed the national anthems of two countries: Amar Shonar Bangla for Bangladesh and Jana Gana Mana for India. At the age of 60, he turned his attention to painting and managed to produce a remarkable oeuvre during the twilight years of his life. As an educationist, he emphasised the notion of complete and holistic education and established the Visvabharati in Santiniketan. The ‘world poet’ travelled widely, winning friends and admirers as he traversed 30 countries across five continents. As a philosopher, Tagore sought to balance his passion for India’s freedom struggle with his belief in universal humanism and his apprehensions about the excesses of nationalism. He relinquished his knighthood to protest against the barbarism of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar in 1919.

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NOVEMBER

2011

The Biggest Show on Earth, by Kishore Singh

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Wedding bazaar

JULY-AUGUST

2011

India Tomorrow, profiles of 12 outstanding Indians working on key social issues

The Changemakers n India’s 64th year as an independent country, the magazine showcased some of the icons-in-the-making, with an attempt to highlight performance-based, result-oriented individuals who are in the business of shaking things up by bringing important and serious issues into the national mainstream. The 12 committed and compassionate people included Harivansh, who took a leap of faith when he shifted from the life of a high-profile metro journalist to become the editor and guiding force of Prabhat Khabar by sticking to the basic principles of journalism in spite of the prevailing belief that nothing succeeds like sensationalism.

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Then there was 34-year-old Saima Iqbal, an architect who has brought conservation and preserving one’s architectural heritage into the discourse of Jammu and Kashmir. Anshu Gupta left a blue chip company to set up a professionally managed distribution network, Goonj, which gives clothes to the needy all over India. The other names were D Udaya Kumar, the designer of the rupee symbol, and Chhavi Rajawat, an MBA and village head of Soda in Rajasthan. An interesting story was about the rise of the Prince Dance Group, run by Krishna Mohan Reddy and made up of 25 daily wagers, whose only aim in life is to dance. The people presented inspiring stories of untold possibilities.

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ich or poor, Indians across faiths and regions pull out all the stops when it comes to a wedding. The buzzwords are tradition and enjoyment. Festivities involve the extended family and carry on for several days. All weddings in India—Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian or Parsi—have two aspects, cultural and religious. The cultural component is an example of unity in diversity. In Kerala, a Christian bride will marry in a church and a Hindu one in a temple, but both will receive a gold neckpiece, called a thaali, from the bridegroom. And henna nights are popular among Muslim, Sikh and Hindu brides. These are just examples that underscore the ties of food, music and social mores that bind people of different religions and regions in the country. It isn’t just the scale of the wedding bazaar—calculated at `1.9 trillion and growing at 25 per cent annually—that is a phenomenon but the manner of the marriage as well. In no other country, or culture, are weddings ‘arranged’ the way they are in India. But with increased urbanisation and more nuclear families, these matchmakers have been replaced by matrimonial supplements in newspapers and websites. Every year, wedding planners vie with each other to get a piece of the business. Royal, Hawaiian, Retro, Bollywood themes are now passé. Event managers are now looking for something that’s more startling than ever before. As for the food, guests and hosts are not truly satisfied with just a choice of fantastic Indian food, or even its regional variations. Global cuisines have also to be in the menu to make the celebration complete.

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MAY

2012 India on a Platter: Bengali, Goan, Kashmiri, Tamil and Awadhi cuisines

Cuisine heritage of India ndian cuisine is a diverse mixture of flavours and tastes, reflecting a variety of cultures and regions. Be it dum pukht biryani from Lucknow, fish curry and rice from Bengal or fiery pork vindalho from Goa, the cooking uses a rich range of aromatic spices. In most Bengali households, people leave for work in the morning after a hot meal comprising dal (lentils), bhaat (rice), bhaja (fry) and machher jhol (fish curry). Bengalis are known for their partiality to fish, but their culinary repertoire has a range of vegetable dishes. Apart from the use of common vegetables like potato, gourd, cauliflower and cabbage, tubers and beans, they use mocha (banana flower) and thor (the pith of a banana plant), enchor (unripe jackfruit) and daanta (succulent drumsticks).

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Goan cuisine is as zesty as its people. Seafood and rice hold the reins in the daily meal. Prawns, lobsters, crabs, and jumbo pomfrets are used for soups, salads, pickles, curries and fried food. It runs the gamut from fried fish to exotic concoctions like ambot-tik, a slightly sour curry dish. ldeirada is a mildly flavoured offering in which fish or prawns are cooked into a kind of stew with vegetables, and often flavoured with wine. Racheiado is a delicious preparation in which a whole fish is stuffed with a spicy red sauce and cooked. A must have for starters is the Pao com chourico—these spicy Goan sausages are sautéed with onions and served in a bread roll. Kashmiri food is the result of an intermingling of cultures from Persia and Afghanistan. Kashmiri Muslim cuisine boasts of some delectable dishes like gushtaba (meatball in

white yogurt gravy), rista (meatballs in a fiery red gravy), rogan josh (lamb cooked with Kashmiri spices) and mirchwagan korma (a spicy lamb preparation). Use of saunf (fennel powder), adrak (ginger), Kashmiri mirch (chilli) and saffron is common to both cuisines. Where Kashmiri Hindu cuisine is concerned, the food, including the meats, is cooked without onions, garlic or tomatoes. Curd is used liberally in almost everything, except certain kebabs, giving the food a creamy consistency. Tamil cuisine is spicy, and makes use of turmeric, dry red chillies, mustard, urad dal (black lentils), coriander seeds, cumin, fenugreek and tamarind. Chettinad cuisine, food of the Chettiar community, is perhaps, one of the most aromatic and spiciest in India. The most popular breakfast items are idli

(steamed cakes made of lentils and rice) and dosa (fermented pancake made from rice and lentil) served with chutney and sambhar (vegetable stew made with yellow lentils). A royal affair, Awadh’s cuisine is now part of India’s culinary legend. One of the greatest cuisines of the world, dum pukht (cooked under pressure) was born here. The Lucknowi cuisine is famous for biryani (a dish of rice, meat and spices), haleem (a stew made of meat, pounded wheat, spices and clarified butter), breads and kebabs. The galawati and kakori kebabs take pride of place on the table, followed by tangri (drumsticks) and seekh (cigar-shaped meat grilled on skewers) kebabs. Exotic desserts like sewai (vermicelli pudding), phirni (rice pudding), shahi tukra (bread pudding) are relished at the end of a meal.

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t 21, India’s ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reflect the resplendence and full bloom of youth. It’s also a time of transformation and graduation to the next stage in a multifaceted relationship that has entered the third decade on a high note of promise. The blossoming of the India−ASEAN ties and its ongoing transformation was aptly encapsulated in India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Brunei and Indonesia in October 2013. At the 11th ASEAN−India Summit in Brunei, India unveiled a slew of steps to galvanise relations with this economically vibrant region, which included the setting up of an Indian mission to the ASEAN in Jakarta with a full-time ambassador. The summit also saw deepening of strategic content of this increasingly important relationship. Dr. Singh robustly backed the creation of an ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 and called for creating an inclusive and balanced regional architecture. He announced that India was ready to sign the India–ASEAN Free Trade Agreement on Services and Investment by the end of this year. The FTA in services will complement a similar pact on goods, and promises to have a force-multiplier effect on the burgeoning economic relationship between the two sides. The two sides are on track to scale up the India–ASEAN trade from $76 billion to $100 billion by 2015 and double that volume by 2022. While trade and investment will remain the core of the India−ASEAN engagement, the two sides have opened new vistas of cooperation on security issues and imbued bilateral ties with the much-needed strategic depth. Speaking to leaders of the Southeast Asian countries at the 11th ASEAN−India Summit in Brunei, Dr. Singh stressed that “the growing strategic content in relations between India and ASEAN” is designed to address shared security challenges, including the scourge of transnational terrorism and maritime security. The festering tensions in the South China Sea have lent an added urgency to the strategic dimension of the relationship. India has consistently pitched for freedom of navigation, which has received across-the-board endorsement from

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FOR AN INCLUSIVE REGIONAL ARCHITECTURE From Brunei to Indonesia, India’s Look East policy blooms, writes Manish Chand

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(From left) Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and his wife with Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah and his wife; and Dr. Singh with Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, on the sidelines of 11th ASEAN−India Summit in Brunei

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WHILE

(Clockwise from above) Dr. Manmohan Singh attends the summit; PM with other dignitaries; and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Dr. Singh with Hassanal Bolkiah, in Brunei

TRADE AND INVESTMENT WILL REMAIN THE CORE OF THE INDIA–ASEAN ENGAGEMENT, THE TWO SIDES HAVE OPENED NEW VISTAS OF COOPERATION ON SECURITY ISSUES AND IMBUED BILATERAL TIES WITH THE MUCH-NEEDED STRATEGIC DEPTH

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ASEAN nations and East Asia. At the East Asia Summit, India welcomed the efforts towards the adoption of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea on the basis of consensus. “A stable maritime environment is essential to realise our collective regional aspirations. We should reaffirm the principles of maritime security, including the right of passage and unimpeded commerce, in accordance with international law, and peaceful settlement of maritime disputes,” said Dr. Singh. India also pushed for fast-tracking a host of connectivity projects that will quicken regional integration. The Tamu−Kalewa−Kalemyo sector of the India−Myanmar−Thailand Trilateral Highway is progressing well. The completion of this project in 2016 is poised to create a new dynamic in India’s multi-faceted relations with the region. At the summit, Dr. Singh backed the extension of this highway to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, its further linkage with ports in ASEAN countries and its integration with models like Special Economic Zones through innovative means of financing. He also called for wrapping up negotiations for an ASEAN−India Transit Transport Agreement by 2015. Underpinning this web of rail, road and maritime links is a soaring vision of an Asian century. “Asia has been a late starter in terms of building regional architectures of cooperation. We have embarked on this collective journey in large part because of the outstanding vision and leadership of ASEAN, first in pursuing ASEAN integration and then expanding it to the wider region,” said Dr. Singh. “We will be successful if we adhere to the principles of unity, cooperation and integration that have guided ASEAN and if ASEAN centrality continues to shape the East Asia Summit processes,” he said at the 18-nation East Asia Summit in Brunei capital. Weaving a narrative of shared prosperity, the 11th ASEAN−India Summit has raised the bar for India’s blossoming relations with the ASEAN and promises to bring fruits of revitalised engagement to 1.8 billion people, through greater trade and investment, freer movement of people and closer coordination over a host of regional and global challenges.

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SUMMIT PROMISED TO BRING FRUITS OF REVITALISED INDIA–ASEAN TIES TO 1.8 BILLION PEOPLE, THROUGH GREATER TRADE, FREER MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE AND CLOSER COORDINATION OVER A HOST OF CHALLENGES

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(Clockwise from above) Dr. Manmohan Singh with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono; External Affairs Minister, Salman Khurshid exchanges the MoU for cooperation in health between India and Indonesia; and Dr. Singh signs the visitor’s book at Kalibata Heroes Cemetery, in Jakarta, Indonesia

Pushing the envelope for India’s Look East policy, Dr. Singh travelled to Indonesia on his first official bilateral visit to the region’s powerhouse and most populous country on October 11-12. From Ramayana and Mahabharata to contemporary Bollywood icons such as Shah Rukh Khan, the unique cultural chemistry between India and Indonesia prompted India’s sage-poet Rabindranath Tagore to describe the two countries as “companion souls.” Speaking at a banquet hosted in his honour by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta, Dr. Singh said, “Our worldview has been moulded by the common spiritual heritage of Hinduism and Buddhism in the early centuries and Islam in the last few hundred years. The hearts of our people continue to pulsate to the beats of the Ramayana ballads.” The visit culminated in a joint declaration by the two countries to bolster their strategic partnership in all the five major dimensions, including political, security, economic, people-to-people and international issues. The two sides signed six pacts in diverse areas, including health, anti-corruption, narcotics, disaster management and academic exchanges. The nations firmed up an ambitious roadmap, which entails holding annual summits and setting up of an eminent persons group to provide fresh ideas to deepen the relationship into areas of space, nuclear energy, food security, counter-terrorism and trans-border threats. The leaders of the two countries directed their officials to evolve a comprehensive action plan for meaningful and mutually beneficial security cooperation. In this context, Dr. Singh pushed for an early ratification by Indonesia of the Extradition Treaty and Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty to expand bilateral cooperation in combating terrorism, organised crime, drug and human trafficking and counterfeiting. The two sides agreed on a raft of steps to boost bilateral trade to $25 billion in 2015. (The writer is editor-in-chief of www.indiawrites.org, an e-magazine and journal focused on international affairs)

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Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi

PARTNERSHIPS

A SHARED VISION OF

RISING ASIA

Japan emperor’s visit boosts closer people ties with India, says Saroj Mohanty

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Emperor Akihito in conversation with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Hyderabad House in New Delhi

he Emperor and Empress of Japan arrived in India in December to raise the ‘mutual interests’ of people of the two countries. Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko were on a six-day official visit that had already drawn considerable media attention because of the good ratings the two democracies enjoy among their people and the number of policy dialogues both have been holding on trade and investment, energy, security and global governance. Under Japan’s post-War constitution, the emperor is the symbol of the state, who ‘reigns but does not govern’. Yet, he wields significant influence, for being a unifying figure and the Japanese people’s respect for the monarchy. The emperor makes select overseas visits that are viewed as exercises in public diplomacy, which convey important

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signals about Japan’s foreign policy. The unspoken, nonverbalised message of the current imperial visit was to advance the pro-India policy of the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who sees India as key to its growth and security strategy. During his last visit to the country in 2007, Abe had set forth a vision for a major role for India and Japan in the future security architecture in the Asia-Pacific. Bilateral relations have come a long way since May 1998, when Japan slapped sanctions and suspended its Overseas Development Assistance over India’s nuclear tests. In fact, Japan and India are natural allies as there are no bitter ‘history issues’ of the kind that colour or complicate Tokyo’s relations with nations across East and Southeast Asia. National interests and the fast-changing strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific region have brought the two

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Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko with Gopalkrishna Gandhi, chairman of cultural academy Kalakshetra Foundation, in Chennai

closer. Today, the ties are warm and multi-layered and can be traced to the two countries’ demographics and economic needs that complement each other. Japan has an ageing population, while India’s is overwhelmingly young. Japan has technology and infrastructure knowhow that India needs for its development. India has natural resources and is a strategic location, being closer to the Middle East and European markets. Companies like Hitachi and Panasonic see India as a manufacturing base for exporting to Africa and Europe. Some companies have already pivoted investments from China to India after strained ties over the disputed Senkaku/Daiyou island chain in East China Sea. “India needs Japanese technology and investment. In turn, India offers increasing opportunities for the growth and

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globalisation of Japanese companies for the overall prosperity and growth of Japan... There are strong synergies between our economies, which need an open, rule-based trading system to prosper,” said Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on a visit to Tokyo last May. Abe returned to power last December promising to revive Japan’s moribund economy. He is seeking a 21st-centurystyle post-industrial comeback and has even turned to ‘soft power’ to fashion a ‘Cool Japan’ growth strategy. Japanese auto and electronics industries, the main drivers of the economy, are now facing stiff competition, especially from Asian rivals like South Korea. To offset the fall in market dominance, his government, in collaboration with the private sector, recently launched the “Cool Japan Fund,” which will invest up to Y90 billion ($917 million) in cultural exports such

The royal couple during a visit to the Lodhi Garden, New Delhi

as fashion, food and media. As they say, Abe wants the world to buy not just the Sony or Honda products, but also the Japanese sake, sashimi and anime. Abe stresses on democracy as a source of security, and has proposed a grand “Arc of Freedom and Prosperity” connecting Japan in the East to India in the South and to Europe in the West. He is hard-selling his ‘proactive pacifism’ as Japan is concerned about the growing economic and military muscle-flexing by its former colony, China, and the missile and nuclear threats from North Korea. His administration is seeking to broaden regional cooperation, including defence capacity-building collaboration with India and ‘deepen and develop strategic global partnership’. Like Japan, India has an interest in strengthening a stable security order that will allow it to increase the flows of trade

and investment to catalyse development at home. The Indian prime minister said both the countries have established “a new relationship based on shared values and shared interests” and have “a shared vision of rising Asia.” During the recent Asia–Europe Meeting, a joint working group met up from December 19-22, 2013 to discuss the sale of military hardware, including the amphibious US-2 ShinMaywa aircraft. The two countries are also stepping up plans for a civil nuclear cooperation deal for which they reopened talks in September. There are plans for a joint exercise between Japan’s maritime self-defence force and the Indian Navy by the end of 2013. They also discussed promoting regional economic integration and connectivity for a more balanced regional architecture. —The writer is a strategic analyst with IANS

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THE BESTSELLERS As this year draws to a close, Narayani Basu takes a look at what grabbed the headlines

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Maha Kumbh Over 100 million people gathered at Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, to participate in the world’s largest peaceful gathering

Swami Vivekananda India celebrated the 150th birth anniversary of the icon

Raghuram Rajan Appointed the 23rd Governor of the Reserve Bank of India

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his is never an easy thing to do as so much has happened over the span of a year. From sports and movie stars to business personalities and from natural disasters to incidents that defined India at a specific point in time, it is arduous to put together a list of people and events that stand out in 2013. The year began with the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of youth icon, Swami Vivekananda. Born as Narendra Nath Datta, on January 12, 1863, Vivekananda was a patriotic saint, a fearless man who stood tall both literally and figuratively, globally. By the end of January, over 100 million people gathered at Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, on the occasion of Maha Kumbh. A mass Hindu pilgrimage, the event is considered to be largest peaceful gathering in the world. The year has been a mixed bag as far as the economy is concerned. Inflation, rising rates of gold and rupee depreciation have hogged the financial limelight for much of the year. But during these busy economic times, some individuals have stood out. Raghuram Rajan moved up from the position of Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister to the twenty-third Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. Arundhati Bhattacharya was appointed chief of the State Bank of India. The youngest of all its directors, Bhattacharya is also the first woman to head India’s largest lender in 206 years. Her appointment bolsters the growing list of Indian women who oversee nearly 40 per cent of the banking industry’s assets. The passing year also saw the launch of India’s first all-women bank, Bharatiya Mahila Bank. Headed by Usha Ananthasubramanian, the bank primarily serves women, but deposits are also taken from men. Started with seven branches, the bank aims a network of 25 branches across the country by March 2014.

Arundhati Bhattacharya The first to head State Bank of India in 206 years

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Indian Cinema (From left) Stills from Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, The Ship of Theseus and The Lunchbox

Bharatiya Mahila Bank India’s first all-women bank aims to open 25 branches by March 2014

The realm of sports saw the retirement of Indian cricket icons Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. While this year’s Champions League Twenty20 in October 2013 saw Dravid play his last game of competitive cricket, Sachin Tendulkar brought his own awesome 24-year-old career to a close after his 200th Test match against the West Indies, in Wankhede Stadium, on November 16. Tendulkar also became the first Indian sportsman to be conferred with the Bharat Ratna. The two stalwarts leave behind great gaps in their field, but younger stars like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have been steadily racking up the numbers on the scoreboards of their careers. The centenary year of Indian cinema, 2013 was special in many ways. Fittingly, there was great variety in the films that were released this year. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, a biopic based on the life of national champion runner and Olympian athlete Milkha Singh, released in July, was lauded for its performances and direction. The Ship of Theseus and The Lunchbox also did well at the box office. India’s official entry to the 86th Academy Awards of 2014 was The Good Road, a drama film written and directed by Gyan Correa. India made strides in the sphere of science and technology too this year, with the launch of its first interplanetary mission to Mars. On the subject of science, Professor CNR Rao, head of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, was conferred with the Bharat Ratna. Mixed with the good news, 2013 saw some tragic events as well. The Indian entertainment industry lost Shamshad Begum, Manna Dey, Pran and avantgarde film director Rituparno Ghosh. Ninety-four-year-old Shamshad Begum was one of the first playback singers in the Hindi film industry. Winner of the Padma Bhushan in 2009, she was a versatile artiste, singing over 6,000 songs in various

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Sachin Tendulkar The cricket icon became the first Indian sportsman to be conferred with the Bharat Ratna

Cyclone Phailin Nearly 10 lakh people were evacuated during disaster management preparedness

Professor CNR Rao The head of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister was awarded Bharat Ratna

Indian languages. Prabodh Chandra Dey, better known as Manna Dey, was also a playback singer, recording more than 4,000 songs between 1942 and 2013. He was the recipient of the Padma Shri (1971), the Padma Bhushan (2005) and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award (2007). Having appeared in over 350 films, Pran had a celebrated six-decade career in Hindi cinema. Ghosh, with an acclaimed two-decade career was known for his sensitive cinematic portrayals. Indian mathematics guru, Shakuntala Devi, also passed away in April 2013. She was a writer and mental calculating wizard, popularly known as the ‘human computer’. The terrible floods in Uttarakhand in July 2013 were tragedies felt by the entire country, but India breathed a collective sigh of relief when yet another impending disaster, super cyclone Phailin, was averted in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh in October 2013. Praising the evacuation of nearly 10 lakh people, the World Bank attributed the success to India’s years of disaster management preparedness. n

Departed Souls (From top) Rituparno Ghosh, Shakuntala Devi, Manna Dey and Pran


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TO MARS AND BEYOND

India’s first Mars mission, a low-budget project, marks country’s foray into an elite club of space powers

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(Above) ISRO team monitors the Mars orbiter in Bengaluru, and (below) PSLV-C25 rocket carrying the orbiter blasting off from the launch pad at Sriharikota

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SPACE RESEARCH


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(Facing page) A scientist at ISRO’s satellite centre in Bengaluru

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enable deep space communication, navigation, mission planning and management and incorporate autonomous features to handle contingency situations. The scientific mission will be to explore planet’s surface features, morphology, mineralogy and Martian atmosphere by indigenous scientific instruments. Comparing Mangalyaan with the latest Mars mission MAVEN of the US, ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan said the American Atlas V rocket has a payload capacity of 13 tonne to GTO (geo-transfer orbit), while the PSLV-XL capacity is only around 1,300 kg. “The American satellite, weighing around 2,500 kg, carries payload weighing around 65 kg and around 1,600 kg fuel. Our orbiter weighing 1,350 kg carries a payload of just 15 kg and fuel of around 850 kg,” he added. What he did not compare is the cost incurred in both the missions. While India will be spending around $72 million, the US mission is budgeted at $671 million. Radhakrishnan reiterated that the Mars mission proves India’s capability to undertake such complex tasks. The mission is soon to be followed by the launch of German, French, British and Canadian satellites by the organisation. “We will be launching EnMAP (Environmental Mapping and Analysis Programme) satellite, belonging to Germany. The satellite will weigh around 800 kg,” said Radhakrishnan. This apart, ISRO will be launching French satellite SPOT-7 during the first quarter of 2014, Radhakrishnan said. “There will be four more small foreign satellites that would go along with SPOT-7,” he added. ISRO plans to have at least one commercial launch every year using the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). According to Radhakrishnan, the PSLV rocket’s reliability has been underlined once again with the launch of MOM in a precise manner despite the challenges. —IANS

AFP

n 2013, India became the first Asian country and the fourth nation in the world to leap into the interplanetary space with its `4,500 million exploratory mission to Mars, about 400 million km (250 million miles) from earth. So far, only Russia, the US and the European Space Agency have undertaken such missions to Mars. The 1,337 kg Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) was launched on November 5 by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from Sriharikota off the Bay of Bengal, about 80 km from Chennai, onboard a 350-tonne rocket. The Mangalyaan, or Mars craft, was fine tuned on December 11 in the interplanetary space to stay on course on way to Mars. The spacecraft was 2.9-million km away from the earth when the trajectory correction was carried, and cruising at 32 km/second to reach the Martian orbit in mid-September 2014 for its geological exploration. Scientists at the Deep Space Network of the ISRO at Bylalu, about 40 km from Sriharikota, are monitoring the orbiter’s odyssey and programming its computer for sending and receiving commands for its operations. According to ISRO’s spaceport director M.Y.S. Prasad, two of the three phases of the Mars mission have been accomplished. “The third important phase will be capturing of Mars orbit in September 2014 at about 500 km from the red planet’s surface for the five scientific experiments,” Prasad said. As the fourth planet from sun and behind earth, Mars is the second smallest celestial body in the solar system. Named after the Roman god of war, Mars is also known as red planet due to the presence of iron oxide in abundance. India launched its first inter-planetary mission to Mars with a two-fold objective—technological and scientific. The technological objectives include design and realisation of Mars orbiter with a capability to survive and perform Earthbound manoeuvres, cruise phase of 300 days, Mars orbit insertion/capture, and on-orbit phase around Mars. It will also

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HERITAGE

Medieval tales retold Dastango Valentina Trivedi talks about the history of Indo-Islamic storytelling tradition, Dastangoi, and the revival it has seen

he word Dastangoi is a compound of two Persian words, dastan and goi. Dastans were epics with themes of adventure, magic, romance, trickery and warfare and goi means to tell a dastan. Among the stories, the story of Amir Hamza began to stand out early on. Beginning with an unknown Arabic version, Dastangoi’s Persian versions narrated the life and adventures of Hamza, supposedly an uncle of the Prophet Mohammed. Encountering many adventures, beings, species and realms inhabited by fairies, djinns and prophecies, Hamza shows great physical prowess and daring. The stories are replete with tales of seduction, magical encounters and confrontations between tricksters and magicians. By the 16th century, these versions had begun to circulate in India, reaching its artistic pinnacle in the court

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of Emperor Akbar, by when specialised storytellers, called dastangos, had emerged. One of the first artistic projects commissioned under Akbar was an illustrated version of the Hamza story, the Hamzanama. It was a mammoth artistic undertaking, which consisted of over 1,200 folios, each at least a yard and a half by a yard in size, with the text inscribed at the back. The narrators would stand behind the panels and narrate the story from the text and the panels would be changed as the story progressed. For the next two centuries, different Persian versions of the Hamza story circulated in India, with occasional mention of the dastangos who performed them. By mid-19th century, the practice of Dastangoi was sufficiently rooted in most parts of Northern India. In 1881, Munshi Nawal Kishore, the legendary publisher

The battle of Mazandaran, an event in the famous Hamzanama, and (facing page) dastangos during a performance

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In a minimalistic setting, with no props, music or action, Dastangoi depends entirely on the drama of the words and sparkling skill of the storyteller

Women and men dastangos use performing skills to command the audience attention

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from Lucknow, embarked on a highly ambitious literary print project. Assembling some of the leading dastangos of Lucknow, he commissioned them to produce the entire Hamza narrative as it existed in oral and written records. The result, by the end of a labour of 25 years, was a series consisting of 46 huge volumes, each about a thousand pages long. For sheer virtuosity, treatment and range of linguistic tenors, use of metaphors, similes and all the other conventions of literary and poetic conventions, the Dastane-Amir Hamza is an outstanding achievement. A Dastangoi performance required an exceptional command over rhetoric, delivery, mimicry, ventriloquism and spontaneous composition. City squares and other public areas being their natural site of performance, the skill of the dastangos lay in commanding the audience attention at all times. This demanded acting and performing skills that range from drama to dance to mime to performance art. Yet, the popularity of Dastangoi was clearly waning by the mid-20th century. With the death of dastango Mir Baqar Ali in 1928, Dastangoi passed into oblivion. A few years later, sound revolutionised the Indian film industry and Dastangoi as a performing art receded into the pages of history. It was then historian, translator Mahmood Farooqui revived this ancient art. Farooqui’s tryst with Dastangoi started in 2000, when he read his uncle Shamsur Rahman Faruqi’s study on Dastangoi and became interested in it. The first show happened around 2005, drawing mesmerised listeners into its magical world. He was joined a year later by Danish Husain. Together, Farooqui and Husain have conducted workshops in Delhi and Mumbai, and new dastangos have emerged from these, taking the count to about 20 dastangos in India.

Farooqui concedes that they are far from attaining perfection as dastangos, as they lack the linguistic facility to improvise on the stories, and thus require riyaaz (practice). “The training is of the art of recitation, and learning and mastering the language you are working in, so that you can bring in new words, new images and new turns of phrases. And that’s an ongoing training. We are very lucky that there is no one working in our field. In the absence of anyone else we are the Ustads (teachers), but one knows that one is working in a field where giants strode before us,” he says. Apart from tales from Dastan-e-Amir Hamza, Farooqui and his group of dastangos have devised their own stories (Dastan-e-Taqseem-Hind, for instance on the partition of India) and adapted some others (Dastan-e-Chouboli, a folk tale from Rajasthan). But as a performer, the real fun lies in the traditional stories. “Nothing compares with that. The quality of drama is incredible; none of the stories we have created can have that kind of drama. It’s a different quality of writing,” he says. In a minimalistic setting, with no props, music or action, this is storytelling in its purest form, depending entirely on the incredible drama of the words and skill of the storyteller. The mellifluous cadence of chaste Urdu, makes for a mesmerising listening experience, the words transporting one effortlessly to a world of seduction, magical encounters and confrontations between tricksters and magicians. Even people who do not understand Urdu have sat transfixed through a Dastangoi performance. A listener quoted in The Kuwait Times says, “I stood in desperate attachment at the raw skill of the storyteller… several times during the performance I really believed that I understood Urdu.” —For more information on Dastangoi, log on to dastangoi.blogspot.in

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PROFILE

Recollections of a

Maestro

Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan, the last of the celebrated Sitar Trinity, shares with Priyanka B his spiritual bond with music t is said that age is not the boundary, your mind is. And for those who want to witness the magic behind this adage must attend the packed early-morning sessions at Halim Academy of Sitar, in Mumbai, Maharashtra, and view Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan, the sitar maestro, in all his mastery. At 86, the Ustad may be slowing down a bit because of a hearing impairment, but the enchantment surrounding classical music still drives him, even though the sitar academy, run by his son Zunain Khan, is his sole occupation today. As he welcomed us into his Bandra house that is laden with nostalgia, medals and awards he has won over the years, and photographs of his performances decorated on walls, he began to take a small trip down the memory lane. “How I got interested in music is known only to God. My father (late Ustad Jaffer Khan, the famous artist of Indore gharana or school) used to teach music, and sometimes, while playing around the house, I heard him talking and teaching the students. I was just a little above four but caught a few lines that I hummed later. That is when my father made me a small sitar,” says Khan. By the age of seven, Khan got a real sitar and the lessons started seriously. It didn’t take him long to learn the basics of classical music. In fact, he soon started experimenting. “I started mixing different raags and taals,

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forming unusual combinations,” he says, adding that he believed in the age-old saying, dikhya sikhya parakhya (see, learn and judge). “You cannot improvise till the time you do not expand your resources. I heard a lot of other musicians on the radio to learn as well,” he says. Just like his distinctive style of music, even his conversations are different. Time to time, the musician refers to old adages, popular couplets and poetry to elucidate the situations in his life. He recalls the time when he was quite young and his father had passed away. The onus of the family came on him. Despite all struggles, he got his first job in the film industry at a salary of `65 a month. Over the years, he had a valuable involvement with Indian cinema, where he composed and played for films such as Mughal-E-Azam, Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje, Goonj Uthi Shehnayi and Kohinoor, among others. He collaborated with noted music directors like Vasant Desai, C. Ramchandra, Madan Mohan and Naushad. After this exposure in the film industry, he soon started playing for radio and was noticed by many across the country. It was Masoom Ali Khan, father of celebrated sarod player Amjad Ali Khan, who took notice of this young genius and spread the word about his talent. Soon he was being called for concerts and special performances for radio shows nationally. “My first big break was to perform at the National

Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan during a practice session


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Over the years, Khan had a valuable

involvement with Indian cinema, where he composed and played for epic films such as Mughal-E-Azam, Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje, and Kohinoor, among others Programme on All India Radio where I had played raag Chhayanat,” he says. There was a period after this when Khan took a small break. “Creative mind needs a change,” he avers. This is when he began teaching in colleges, where he also got an opportunity to read books on music and hone his skills. Khan travelled to South India, where he took interest in Carnatic music, which was strikingly different from Hindustani classical music. “I discovered that their assembling–dissembling order is really good. I picked up a few ragas and introduced them here as Kirwani, Hemavati, Latangi and Shanmukhpriya. The type of presentation of these ragas was North Indian, but the style was changed. Gradually, it became really popular,” he remarks. After studying both the styles, what still amuses him is the existence of gharanas in the Hindustani classical music. He appreciates the fact that Carnatic music is free of that concept. “The limitation of a gharana is that people praise their own and find faults with the other. However, it is the method that matters the most,” he says. Talking about his experimentations, Khan says they happened naturally in the course of his musical evolution. He quotes Ghalib, “Aate hain ghaib se ye mazameen khayal mein” (these themes come to mind from the world unseen), while talking about his inimitable style that has been written about and mentioned by many stalwarts of classical music. The most popular attempt of his has been “Jafferkhani Baaj”—the simultaneous use of two strings. Khan has also created new ragas like Madhyami, Chakradhun, Shravati and Khusravani. His experiment of

(Top) Khan with noted film music director Naushad and while receiving the Padma Bhushan award from President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in 2006

the Sitar Quintet is a serious attempt to introduce the western concept of polyphony into the six-string instrument. Khan believes that to polish your skills it is really important to know what others have done or are doing. “You would improvise only when you know what exists and how to make it better,” he says. The only thing Ustad regrets is that he missed using a certain style, or he could have done better if he had mixed and matched certain ragas during his performances. But he fondly remembers his performances in different cities for radio shows, where musicians from various parts of India were invited to perform. He recalls a three-day function, where each of the three members from the Sitar Trinity got one day to perform. “Ravi Shankar saab and Vilayat Khan saab were elder to me and I always looked up to them. We never had a jugalbandi with each other, but we always complimented each other on the distinctive styles,” he recalls. However, what he remembers to be an amazing jugalbandi (a duet of solo performers) happened between Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan. His own best experience of a jugalbandi was with English guitarist Julien Bream. “It was interesting to perform with him. It was a little difficult as his guitar strings were louder and stronger in comparison with the delicate strings of the sitar,” he says. Similarly interesting was the experience with Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck. Khan came up with a book, Jafferkhani Baaj, with an interactive CD-ROM a few years ago. “I wanted to give back what I have taken from this land, and thus, came up with the idea of this book,” he says. n

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CUISINE

Yuletide

treats

A stylish Christmas dinner is the best of times spent with family and friends, says Sanjeev Kapoor

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he merriest time of the winter season beckons one and all. The vacation is about to start and Christmas revelries are in the air. It is on Christmas Eve when the celebrations reach a peak. Devout Christians will not miss the Midnight Mass, which is held to rejoice the birth of Lord Jesus with prayers, hymns and carols. In India, Christians decorate banana or mango trees, light small oil lamps and fill churches with poinsettias. Feasting and merrymaking becomes a considerable and loud affair. An elaborate spread of turkey, pork and chicken dishes, and desserts like bebinca (a famous Goan pudding) and guava cheese are prepared for the annual get-together. A variety of Christmas cookies and sweetmeats like marzipan, plum cakes, kulkuls and jujubes are equally famous among the non-Christians. With so much to be made for the occasion, a Christmas feast is a

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(Clockwise from left) Christmas pudding, brownie cheesecake, Swiss roll with cinnamon, and, caramel and nut tart

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unique challenge even for experienced cooks. People usually begin their preparations from the market. Ingredients for Christmas cakes and puddings are shopped from the choicest of specialty shops. Dried fruits and nuts are soaked in rum and kept away till they are needed for cakes and puddings to be made for the big day. This period of maturity is what gives these cakes the traditional taste and flavour. Interestingly, the feast, which is all about tradition, has also seen new additions and impressions from various world cuisines. A perfect Goan Christmas feast has roast chicken or turkey with all its traditional trimmings, and dishes such as the spicy Sorpatel (Goan pork curry), Pork Vindaloo (a tangy curry), Chicken Xacuti (a flavourful curry), Prawn Balchao, Chicken Cafreal with typical breads Goan poee and paos. One particular dessert that deserves a special mention is the

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scrumptious log cake. It is basically a very light sponge cake, rolled up and decorated with lots of cream to look like a Yule Log. The log is a unique way to carry on the tradition of celebrating Christmas and the winter solstice by burning a wooden log in the hearth. The legend goes that an innovative French pastry chef in the late 1800s came up with the idea of replacing the real Yule Log with a cake that was log shaped. The deliciously light and moist flourless chocolate sponge cake is filled with chocolate whipped cream, rolled into a cylinder, and dusted with powdered sugar to imitate snow. Several such attempts by cooks over centuries have made the list of Christmas delicacies long, innovative, regional yet traditional, and worth waiting for.

(Clockwise from left) Christmas cookies, hot cross bun, Yule Log, cottage cheese babycorn balcaho, and slow roast garlic and lemon chicken

—The writer is a celebrated chef, author and television host.

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REVIEW

“Now... we not afraid!” The quiet yet robust film aptly presents the message that one’s need to learn breaks down any barrier, says Archita Bhatta No Problem! Director: Yasmin Kidwai Duration: 56 minutes Producer: Public Diplomacy Division, Ministry of External Affairs, India

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t is a quiet film; strange as it may sound to viewers, with people constantly talking, teaching, singing, often dancing. But unlike most documentaries, No Problem is quietly lacking in propaganda decibels. Remarkably, no narrator was trying to push into viewer’s mind what a great job social activist Bunker Roy had done in Tilonia village, Rajasthan, with his barefoot engineers, lighting up the lives of about a thousand women through giving them electricity and employment. The shots move from one person talking to another, with no narrator trying to stitch together a story. The director had chosen a difficult technique.

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(Facing page and above) An instructor with African women and a training session in progress at the Barefoot College, Tilonia, Rajasthan

The film starts most amazingly: a few persons trying to locate Tilonia, but all the Rajasthani locals they ask have never even heard of it—a story of honoured by the world but unheard of at home! The film then cuts to the Delhi International Airport arrival area, and this is where for a while it flounders. That apart, this is a robust film. Women from six countries arrive to learn making solar panels. Their lives have been abysmally poor. None of them had stepped beyond even their villages till then. That covers the six months of the training. The teachers do not speak much English. Neither do many of their trainees. Mostly sign

language makes them solar panel engineers. It’s a strong message: need to learn breaks down language barriers. The man behind the whole movement, Bunker Roy is shown twice, neither pontificating nor pensive just matter of fact. And that is why this is a ‘quiet’ film. There are no efforts to use unreachable symbolism or complex idioms. Call this positive, as the end result is that the film, and not the filmmaker, stands out, which is difficult to achieve. The trainees talk of their families, children, poverty and fear of leaving home. But it is hope that had brought them here. And in the end the great statement is, “Now... we not

afraid!” As one lady says in the end, “Before, I only Nancy... but now, I Nancy Engineer... yeah, engineer!” The setting sun framed by the craning necks of two camels is as poignant as the dance, the smiles and tears at the valediction, when these women start their journey back. But above all, images of them finally returning home to light up their villages, followed by shots of many new women announcing their names—Tilonia’s new trainees—strongly establishes the continuity of Roy’s dream. The reviewer is science and environment journalist. Watch “No Problem” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2JPwotX9hY

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VERBATIM

STAR SHOOTER oday, Ronjan Sodhi may be synonymous with consistency and determination, but the double trap shooting champion believes an Olympic medal is litmus test for a sportsperson to come near to any such compliment. The shooter—only Indian to have won gold medals in two World Cup Finals (2010 and 2011)— though is elated to bag this year’s Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. Sodhi, who shifted to double trap from trap shooting in 2011, won a silver medal at the Asian Championship 2007, followed by medals at Asian Games 2010, World Cup 2008 and 2010, and Asian Championship 2009. He speaks to Keshada Madhukulya about his journey so far.

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Many medals till date, but not one at the Olympics yet. Is it a jinx for you? Well, I can’t say it’s a jinx. Last year, it was my first Olympics in London, where I finished eleventh. It was a bit disappointing, as I was leading initially. I had also made a few errors, but that is how you learn. It was a different weather in London, which I had never experienced before. It was noisy, as the crowd was cheering for their shooters. I had never shot in such surroundings; I believe the noise affected my focus. Now I am training with my ear plugs off, so that I can adapt to such conditions. What are your targets for the coming season? The year 2014 is an important one. We have the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games. My first aim would be to qualify for the Rio Olympics next year itself, so that I can have two and half years to train. If I finish in the top three of the World Championships, I directly make it to the 2016 Games. With the rules being changed in double trap, I will get some more time to adjust to my new gun and the new technique. I want to give my best shot at the Rio Olympics. I had claimed two silver medals in the Commonwealth Games 2010, and now aim to better the colour of the medals in 2014 Games.

LAST FOUR TO FIVE YEARS, INDIA HAS DEVELOPED GOOD BENCH STRENGTH IN SHOOTING. THE YOUNGSTERS ARE COMING UP WITH FRUITFUL RESULTS AND MAKING THE MOST OF THE EXPOSURES” AFP

How has shooting as a sport grown in the country? For the last four to five years, India has developed good bench strength in shooting. The youngsters are coming up with fruitful results, and making the most of the exposures. With the support of Government of India, the sport will only grow further in the country. During my junior days, we used to get one international tour, and one training camp was being held. But now, youngsters travel abroad six to seven times for tournaments. Also, there are separate coaches for juniors and seniors. When I started (trap shooting) in 1996, it was an expensive sport. There were no ranges, ammunition or coaches. For basic training, we had to go abroad. My father encouraged and supported me. For several years now, I am being supported by Mittal Champions Trust and Sahara, besides Government of India’s whole-hearted support. Supports like these are a boost for an athlete. The greater amount of money one spends in training, equipment and exposures, more medals are won. n

FOR THE

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