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Volume 30 n Issue 1 n January-February 2016

A TRIBUTE TO BABASAHEB BHIMRAO AMBEDKAR

PROGRESS WOMEN FASHION DESIGNERS

ART HAND BLOCK PRINTING

CONVERSATION VIDYA BALAN


UPCOMING EVENTS ACROSS INDIA JAIPUR LITERATURE FESTIVAL

Some of the world’s greatest writers and thinkers from around the world get together for the Jaipur Literature Festival in the Pink City. This year, the five-day event will explore issues such as privacy, migration and navigation change. WHEN: January 21-25 WHERE: Jaipur, Rajasthan

THE KABIR FESTIVAL

KALA GHODA ARTS FESTIVAL

The festival aims at raising awareness among the masses about the message of the 15th century mystic saint poet. Screening of documentary films followed by facilitated discussions, live folk music and story-telling sessions are a part of the three-day event. WHEN: January 7-10 WHERE: Mumbai, Maharashtra

The event manifests a kaleidoscope of music, dance, theatre, literature, street stalls, cinema, workshops, visual arts, urban design, architecture and heritage walks.

WHEN: February 6-14 WHERE: Mumbai, Maharashtra

KILA RAIPUR SPORTS FESTIVAL Every year Ludhiana serves as a destination for sports enthusiasts. People gather in Kila Raipur to witness special breed of bullocks, camels, dogs, mules and other animals compete in several events. WHEN: February 4-7 WHERE: Ludhiana, Punjab

NEW DELHI WORLD BOOK FAIR

INDIA SURF FESTIVAL 2016

WHEN: January 9-17 WHERE: New Delhi

WHEN: February 7-9 WHERE: Puri, Odisha

Organised by the National Book Trust, the New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF) offers a unique opportunity for booklovers to add to their library. Several literary seminars and discussions are also organised during the fair.

The India Surf Festival aims to introduce surfing culture to the audience through instructions, films and music. The festival is not just about surfing but also about good music and festivities.


Foreword As India gets ready to celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, we take this opportunity to pay tribute to the renowned jurist and visionary through this issue of India Perspectives. We trace the glorious legacy of the messiah of the downtrodden and highlight his contribution to the Constitution of India through the Tribute pages. In the Milestone section, we talk about the Indian Constitution, the longest of any sovereign nation in the world, that provides a comprehensive and dynamic framework to govern and guide the nation, keeping in view India’s unique social, cultural and religious diversity. Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the United Kingdom has ushered Phase 2.0 of India-UK relationship which will result in greater strategic and global coordination between the two nations. For the first time, leaders and representatives of all 54 countries in Africa got together to be a part of the third edition of India-Africa Forum Summit. In the Partnership pages, we talk about the event which set the tone for the revitalisation of relations between the two emerging growth poles of the world. The historic town of Amravati, soon-to-be capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh, will be the first greenfield Smart City in the country. In Progress section, we highlight this next milestone in India’s urbanisation dream. Among all the erstwhile princely capitals of Rajasthan, Dungarpur has maintained its mysterious identity over the last few centuries. We travel back in time to experience this artistic playground through the Snapshots section. In Art section, we highlight how shawl-making and hand block printing have carved a niche in the global markets. In the Conversation pages, actor par excellence Vidya Balan welcomes the change in the viewing preferences of the Indian film audience, with an increased appetite for varied genres and talks about completing a decade in the Hindi film industry. Volum

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Vikas Swarup

A TRIB BHIMRAUTE TO BABA O AMBE SAHEB DKAR

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Volume 30 n Issue 1 n January-February 2016

Editor: Vikas Swarup Assistant Editor: Nikhilesh Dixit Ministry of External Affairs Room No. 152, ‘A’ Wing, Shastri Bhavan, New Delhi - 110001, India Tel.: +91.11.23388949, 23381719 Fax.: +91.11.23384663 Web: www.indiaperspectives.in For feedback/ inquiries: osdpd2@mea.gov.in MaXposure Media Group India Pvt Ltd Publisher & COO: Vikas Johari CEO & Managing Director: Prakash Johari Executive Editor: Saurabh Tankha Head Office MaXposure Media Group India Pvt Ltd Unit No. G-O-A (Ground Floor), MIRA Corporate Suites, Plot No. 1&2, Ishwar Nagar, Mathura Road, New Delhi - 110 065, India Tel: +91.11.43011111, Fax: +91.11.43011199 CIN No: U22229DL2006PTC152087 For feedback/ inquiries: indiaperspectives@maxposure.in

FOR INQUIRIES | MMGIPL Tel: +91.11.43011111 FAX: +91.11.43011199 www.maxposure.in

India Perspectives is published in Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Pashto, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Sinhala, Spanish, Tamil, Chinese and Japanese. India Perspectives is published by Vikas Swarup, Joint Secretary (XP) and Official Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Room No. 152, ‘A’ Wing, Shastri Bhavan, New Delhi - 110001, India. It is printed and published on behalf of the MEA by MaXposure Media Group India Pvt. Ltd. (MMGIPL), Unit No. G-O-A (Ground Floor), MIRA Corporate Suites, Plot No. 1&2, Ishwar Nagar, Mathura Road, New Delhi - 110065, India. India Perspectives is published six times a year. All rights reserved. The writing, artwork and/or photography contained herein may be used or reproduced with an acknowledgement to India Perspectives. MEA and MMGIPL does not assume responsibility for loss or damage of unsolicited products, manuscripts, photographs, artwork, transparencies or other materials. The views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of the MEA or MMGIPL. Follow us on: http://www.facebook.com/MEA http://www.twitter.com/MEA http://www.youtube.com/MEA

For a copy of India Perspectives, contact the nearest Indian diplomatic mission.

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CONTENTS 40

88

06

PARTNERSHIP

PROGRESS

Ushering in India-UK Partnership 2.0................................................06

Designers par excellence................................51

PARTNERSHIP

Mapping new frontiers in India-Africa ties...............................................14

PROGRESS

Another milestone in India’s urbanisation dream............................ 58 SNAPSHOTS

An artist’s playground.................................... 62

TRIBUTE

Life and times of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar................................... 22

ART

From royal courts to fashion ramps............................................. 72

TRIBUTE

The analytical planner................................... 28 MILESTONE

Of the people, for the people, by the people.................................... 34

ART

Creating wonders, block by block............... 76 CUISINE

Harvest of goodness......................................80 CUISINE

EXPLORE

A land full of surprises...................................40 PROGRESS

Striking the perfect balance.......................... 48

Winter break....................................................86 CONVERSATION

Nothing is more imperative than a free and equal world ........................ 88

Cover Photo: An artwork at the Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal and Green Garden, Noida depicting presentation of the draft of the Constitution by Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar to President Dr Rajendra Prasad. Standing along side are C Rajagopalachari, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

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Ushering in India-UK

Partnership 2.0

Mr Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK has galvanised a crucial relationship and renewed economic momentum between the two nations text | Manish Chand

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conic British monuments in colours of the Indian flag, a flypast of the Royal Air Force Red Arrows trailing orange, white and green, an overnight stay at British Prime Minister Mr David Cameron’s official country retreat, lunch with the Queen of England and the first-ever address by an Indian Prime Minister to the British Parliament. These were some evocative and resonant gestures that framed Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi’s November 12-14 visit to Britain.

Vision statement

It wasn’t just symbolism though. The talks between the Prime Ministers of the world’s oldest and largest democracies at 10 Downing Street in London culminated in an ambitious overarching vision of the India-UK relationship in the 21st century, building on their strengths as “modern, diverse, dynamic and key global players.” The talks generated a host of substantive outcomes

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Indian Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi with UK Prime Minister Mr David Cameron in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue in London

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PM Modi inspects the guard of honour at Treasury Quadrangle during his official welcome in London

Many freedom fighters of India found their calling in the institutions of Britain. And many makers of modern India, including Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr Manmohan Singh, passed through their doors Mr Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India

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vision statement outline new initiatives to deepen this multifaceted partnership in diverse areas ranging from economic development and finance to business, education, skills, innovation, health, science and technology and culture.

Key outcomes

that included a bigger role for Britain in India’s plans of national renewal including Make in India and Smart Cities, reinvigoration of economic ties, enhanced defence and security partnership, a separate joint statement on energy and climate change and a separate statement of intent on partnering in third countries. The joint statement and a separate

The first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to the UK in nine years has galvanised a crucial relationship and renewed economic momentum and strategic heft. This was reflected in multiple joint statements and speeches by both the leaders. Britain forcefully reiterated its support for India’s candidacy for a permanent seat in a reformed UN Security Council and New Delhi’s membership in the world’s top global atomic export regimes including the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Marking a new phase of their rejuvenated partnership, India and Britain capped years of negotiations by signing a Civil Nuclear Cooperation Pact that will enable enhanced collaboration in areas of atomic research and safety. “The conclusion of the civil nuclear agreement is a symbol of our mutual trust and our resolve to combat climate change,” Mr Modi said. The decision to upgrade and transform India-UK ties was also evident in the decision to hold PM-level biennial summits and a new Defence and International Security Partnership “which will intensify cooperation on defence and security including cybersecurity, counter-terrorism and maritime security,” said the vision statement. In this context, the joint statement on counter-terrorism was strong and pointed as Britain backed the early finalisation of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and called for Pakistan to bring

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the perpetrators of the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai to justice. “They will continue to work together to disrupt all financial and tactical support for terrorist networks including ISIL, al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, the Haqqanis and the associated groups,” said the statement.

Business diplomacy

coalesce vibrant entrepreneurial energies of London and Mumbai. The visit by Mr Modi to the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) plant in Solihull was symbolic of new economic synergy as JLR is the largest investment by an Indian company in the UK and the largest private sector manufacturing employer in the UK. The clean energy package worth £3.2 billion of commercial agreements, including joint research programmes, underlines an enhanced role by Britain in helping India spur its transition to low-carbon growth.

PM Modi’s visit has, therefore, ushered in Phase 2.0 of the India-UK relationship, which will blend greater strategic and global coordination with reinvigorated economic relationship. In the arena of Culture connect: business, a slew of private sector deals Culture, curry and chai amounting to £9.2 billion including a £1.3 Prime Minister Modi’s visit maps out the billion investment by Vodafone, raise the next steps in the revitalised India-UK bar. These deals look set to partnership, and “make this upscale British companies’ relationship count as one of the The UK is the presence in diverse sectors leading global partnerships.” largest G20 including insurance services, While the outcomes in investor in India, finance, healthcare and energy. the strategic and economic with a cumulative The £1.3 billion investment arena will take some time to investment by Vodafone is specially fructify, it is people-to-people of around significant as it could change contact and robust cultural £22 billion the narrative of the India relations that will keep this opportunity among the British relationship humming with business elite. The investment encompasses new ideas and creativity. The 1.7 millionnetwork expansion and upgrades and new strong Indian community in Britain technology and data centres. remains an enduring bridge-builder. The UK is the largest G20 investor in The British Prime Minister’s presence India, with a cumulative investment of at the spectacular community event at around £22 billion which is more than the the iconic Wembley Stadium, where he combined investment of the EU in India. prophesied that the day is not far when The UK is the third largest source of FDI a British-Indian will become the Prime in India while India is the third largest Minister of Britain, elicited a rapturous source of FDI in the UK. The decision to roar from around 60,000 Indians who had issue rupee bonds to be listed at the London gathered to listen to the Indian leader and Stock Exchange for financing railway to celebrate cultural commingling between infrastructure is a defining step that will the two nations. In his speech to the

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Left: PM Modi addresses the Indian community at Wembley Stadium in London; Below: Prime Minister visits Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) manufacturing unit in Solihull

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Clockwise from top: Cultural programme to welcome Mr Modi at Wembley Stadium, London; the Indian Prime Minister along with the children of Indian community at Wembley Stadium; a group of Indian Ladies in UK (ILU) presents colourful crochet blanket highlighting the message of Unity in Diversity to PM Modi

British Parliament, Mr Modi spoke about the Gandhi outside the British Parliament emerging cultural synergy between the people and inaugurating Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar of India and Britain. “There are Memorial, underlined Britain’s many things on which it is hard to links with India’s journey towards India-UK tell anymore if they are British or political and social liberation. relations are Indian: The Jaguar or the Scotland In his address at Wembley on a strong Yard, for example. The Brooke Stadium, Mr Modi encapsulated pitch and are Bond Tea or my friend late Lord the essence of a unique cultural swinging the Ghulam Nun’s curry.” and business alchemy that forms right way The two Prime Ministers have enduring bonds between the two set the tone by announcing that countries – James Bond, Brooke a UK-India Year of Culture will be organised Bond and Rupee Bond. This multi-hued in 2017 to celebrate deep cultural ties and the bonding, rooted in shared values and soaring 70th anniversary of India’s Independence. PM ambitions, is going to get a more strategic and Modi’s homage to the new statue of Mahatma global canvas in years to come. Manish Chand is Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network, www.indiawrites.org, a portal and e-magazine-journal focussed on international affairs, emerging powers and the India Story

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Mapping new frontiers in

India-Africa ties

The third edition of India-Africa Forum Summit saw a marked enhancement of India’s development partnership with the African continent text | Manish Chand

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elebrating shared histories and intertwined dreams of over two billion people, the third edition of India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) began in New Delhi with “sacred chants of faith” and an enthralling multimedia cultural performance, setting the tone for the revitalisation of relations between the two emerging growth poles of the world. Vedic chants commingled with the African song Kealebog, encapsulating “one beat, one rhythm and one vision” of a shared future, bristling with multiple possibilities. IAFS-III was unique in many respects as it brought leaders and representatives of all 54 countries to India together for the first time. The October 26-29 summit, which was attended by 41 heads of state/ government, unveiled a “dynamic and transformative agenda” of mutual resurgence by dove-tailing

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the India growth story with Africa’s Agenda Interlinked dreams 2063. IAFS-III also saw Prime Minister Modi In his speech at the plenary of the summit, engaging in bilateral meetings with nearly all PM Modi enunciated a robust vision of shared leaders of African countries who had come ideas and kindred dreams that animate the for the summit. It was preceded by important common journey of India and Africa to reinitiatives aimed at building up a knowledge fashion the evolving global architecture and bridge and bolstering peopleto create new opportunities of to-people contact which was partnering in each other’s growth The October 26-29 reflected in the Editor’s Forum and story. “Today, the dreams of summit unveiled Academics’ Forum. This intense one-third of humanity have come a “dynamic and across-the-board engagement with together under one roof. Today, transformative Africa has underscored the Indian the heartbeat of 1.25 billion agenda” Government’s overarching plan to Indians and 1.25 billion Africans of mutual upgrade India-Africa partnership are in rhythm,” he told African resurgence in key areas including economic, leaders at the plenary of the developmental and strategic, summit. “We will raise the level signalling India’s intention to be a major and of our support for your vision of a prosperous, equal partner of the resurgent continent in days integrated and united Africa that is a major to come. partner for the world,” he stressed.

President of India Dr Pranab Mukherjee with the heads of delegation and spouses of the African nations at the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi

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Enhanced development partnership

The summit saw a marked enhancement of India’s development partnership with the continent which pivots around the trinity of capacity building, concessional finance and human resource development. PM Modi announced Line Of Credit (LOC) worth US$ 10 billion in concessional credit to Africa, apart from an additional grant assistance of US$ 600 million which included an India-Africa Development Fund of $100 million and an India-Africa Health Fund of $10 million. The total financial pledge for projects to be executed over the next five years (till 2020) is more than double of the LOCs and grants committed by India over the last two summits. The

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breakup of the financial commitment suggests a new template whereby concessional finance is separated from IndiaAfrica Development Fund, and the first ever dedicated health fund for buttressing public health infrastructure in Africa has been demarcated. The $100 million development fund will be used for setting up training institutes and other showpiece projects of India-Africa development cooperation which will be finalised in the plan of action to be launched with the AU next year.

Building youth bridge

The summit opened up new pathways for developing the most precious resource of Africa and India – the overwhelmingly young population, with more than 60 per cent in the age bracket of 20-35. PM Modi underlined India’s unflinching commitment to assist Africa in leveraging its demographic dividend. This was reflected in more than doubling of scholarships for Africans to

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50,000 over the next five years. India decided to expand the Pan-Africa e-Network, a defining digital connectivity project that encompasses 48 African countries for tele-medicine and tele-education.

is especially significant as policy-makers want India’s economic engagement with Africa to focus on value addition and training rather than just making profits and conquering new markets. The summit signalled India’s India also Economic ties: intention to scale up its role decided to expand Raising the bar in infrastructure development the Pan-Africa IAFS-III enlarged the scope of the in Africa. New Delhi pledged e-Network, a India-Africa economic partnership commitment to enhancing capital defining digital by focussing on integration of outflows to Programme for connectivity Africa in regional and global Infrastructure Development in project supply chains, promoting Africa (PIDA). Agriculture was infrastructure development and identified as a major focus area regional integration. The commitment to with African leaders pitching for a greater role promote Public-Private Partnership (PPP) by of Indian expertise and technology in spurring encouraging Indian businesses to set up skill a green revolution in Africa with the objective development units in African industrial zones of bolstering the country’s food security.

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Blue revolution

coastal and ocean studies. “We will cooperate Amid the growing salience of maritime for sustainable development of Blue Economy security and nautical commons in India and that will become an important future driver Africa, IAFS-III mapped out a blueprint for of our prosperity. For me, it is part of a larger joint development of the blue Blue Revolution to reclaim our economy and what PM Modi blue skies and blue waters as IAFS-III called “the blue revolution.” we move on the path of clean mapped out a The Delhi Declaration 2015 development,” said Mr Modi. blueprint for joint charts out a detailed plan for development of development of blue economy Upgrading strategic blue economy for which includes combating partnership better maritime illegal and unregulated fishing, The major takeaway from IAFSsecurity managing marine resources, III, said Indian officials, was the exploring non-marine resources, forging of a more comprehensive conducting hydrography surveys, promoting framework for proactive collaboration on eco-tourism, developing renewable energy, a range of cross-cutting issues, including disaster risk reduction through modern early terrorism, piracy, cyber-security, climate warning tools, pollution control and other change, sustainable development, WTO

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negotiations and UNSC reforms. Against the backdrop of the rise of militant groups in the continent such as Boko Haram, al-Qaeda in the Maghreb and Al Shabaab, India and Africa decided to step up their counter-terror cooperation through enhanced intelligence sharing on the activities of these groups. India pitched strongly for the UN adoption of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT), with most African leaders agreeing to support it. Looking ahead, the summit underscored the convergence of India and Africa on fast-tracking the expansion of the UNSC, with both sides supporting permanent seats for India and Africa in a reformed UNSC. “We emphasise the need for an early implementation of the UNGA Decision 69/560, so as to make a decisive push for achieving concrete outcomes on the United Nations’ Security Council reform agenda,” said the Delhi Declaration.

The way ahead: 3S mantra

The third edition of IAFS, therefore, scored high on the three “S” mantra: Skill, Scale and Speed. The focus on speed was reflected in the decision to match grand declarations with concrete time-bound action by setting up a joint monitoring mechanism to track implementation of agreed projects and ensure that there is no gap between ideas and action. The contours of the review mechanism will be fleshed out in the follow-up meeting next year which will finalise the plan of action to implement the IAFS-III agenda.

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Various cultural programmes made IAFS-III a memorable experience

The summit reinforced and buttressed the three pillars of India-Africa partnership – Trade, Technology and Training – and reinvigorated the template of South-South Solidarity that is central to the flowering of the 21st century. “Afro-Indian solidarity has evolved from the eradication of colonialism and racial discrimination to become the embodiment of South-South Cooperation that is holistic and contains geopolitical, cultural, educational, technical and economic components,” said South Africa’s President Mr Jacob Zuma. IAFS-III also spawned new plans for partnering in innovation, promotion of an entrepreneurial culture and digital economy which will link the youth and creative community of the two regions. From combating poverty, illiteracy and hunger to fashioning a democratic global architecture and promoting green and sustainable development, the road ahead will be fraught with challenges but working with their cumulative wisdom, India and Africa will not only overcome but will script a new chapter in human redemption and collective empowerment. “Today, we pledge to walk together, with our steps in rhythm and our voices in harmony. This is neither a new journey nor a new beginning. But this is a new promise of a great future for an ancient relationship,” said Mr Modi. Manish Chand is Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network, www.indiawrites.org, a portal and e-magazine-journal focussed on international affairs, emerging powers and the India Story

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TRIBUTE

Life and times of

Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar

A social reformer, a champion of human rights and an emancipator of the downtrodden masses, Dr Ambedkar dedicated his life to awaken the social conscience of modern India text | Narendra Jadhav

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harat Ratna Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, reverentially called Babasaheb Ambedkar by his followers, was undoubtedly one of the most illustrious sons of India. He entered the socio-political scene in the early 1920s and played a crucial role in the social, cultural, economic and political transformation of India during the closing decades of the British Rule. After India became independent from the British Rule in 1947, Ambedkar was responsible for creating the Constitution for free India. Ambedkar was a great social reformer, a valiant champion of human rights and an emancipator of the downtrodden masses of India, who dedicated all his life to awaken the social conscience of modern India.

Ambedkar’s life is an incredible saga: born an untouchable boy, humiliated every step of the way from the childhood to youth, who went on to be at almost impossible odds to secure the highest and most reputable degrees from world class universities – MA and PhD from Columbia University, USA, and DSc from the London School of Economics besides Bar-atLaw degree from London. He then returned to India and devoted his life to the destruction

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Indians today are governed by two different ideologies. Their political ideal set in the preamble of the Constitution affirms a life of liberty, equality and fraternity. Their social ideal embodied in their religion denies them Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar

of the caste-ridden old order, characterised by that Ambedkar was voted, in August 2012, injustice and denial of human rights. Without as the “Greatest Indian after Gandhi� in an being favoured either by family fortune or e-poll initiated by some TV channels with an political lineage, but by the sheer grit of his will overwhelming majority of votes. and backbreaking hard work, supreme courage In the light of these facts, it is grossly unfair and selfless sacrifice, he overcame bitter political to characterise Ambedkar simply as a leader of opposition and perils of caste discrimination the Untouchables or Dalits as is often done even to become the principal architect of the in otherwise responsible quarters. Ambedkar Constitution of Independent India. He then was not simply a leader of Untouchables, not proceeded to build the safeguards of affirmative even only a leader of the oppressed people of action for establishing a more equitable society India. He was a national leader. His erudition, that is capable of delivering social his mass movements and his role in justice to millions of downtrodden, the government and outside clearly Dr Ambedkar thus heralding in India a new age show that he was a patriot of a ensured a of social equality and rationalism. sterling order. greater number In this process, Ambedkar came to In the course of his most of seats for the the forefront not only as a valiant eventful life, Ambedkar made untouchables in upholder of the Indian Republic but outstanding contributions as a the Poona Pact also emerged as the touchstone for scholar, educationist, journalist, the conscience of modern India. as an authority on Comparative Most statues of Dr Ambedkar in the country Religion, as a policy-maker and administrator, depict a stocky man, invariably dressed in a blue and as a parliamentarian, besides being a jurist suit and red tie, holding a book under his arm who became the principal architect of the which, of course, represents the Constitution Indian Constitution. of India. Such statues can be found everywhere In spite of being a statesman and a mass in India, in villages and in cities, usually at leader, Ambedkar always remained a reflective crossroads. Every year, on December 6 (the thinker and erudite scholar. He was also a death anniversary of Ambedkar), around two prolific writer. Perhaps no other mass leader million Ambedkarites throng Chaitya Bhoomi in India has produced anywhere close to the in Mumbai to pay homage to the hero they voluminous writings that he did. The sheer worship as their saviour. It is also not surprising volume is astonishing even for a full-time

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Google search trends reflect Dr Ambedkar’s timeless relevance and popularity and shows him to be the third most searched historic Indian personality after Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. In terms of search interest from within India, queries on Babasaheb continue to gain significant search interest from Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, Puducherry, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Rajasthan and Karnataka

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Dr Ambedkar had penchant for reading and writing. He had penned a number of books that dealt with myriad topics ranging from politics to Buddhism, from caste to gender discrimination. Some of his major writings are Essay on Untouchable and Untouchability, Buddha And Karl Marx, Who Were Shudras?, Philosophy of Hinduism and more. He died on December 6, 1956, while working on his latest book, The Buddha and his Dharma, which was published after his death.

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Religion must mainly be a matter of principles only. It cannot be a matter of rules. The moment it degenerates into rules, it ceases to be a religion as it kills responsibility which is an essence of the true religious act Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar

scholar: 22 books and monographs completed finally on religion – Magnum Opus: Buddha and and published plus 10 books left behind His Dhamma. incomplete at various stages, 10 research Ambedkar also delivered a very large papers, articles and book reviews besides number of speeches – 537 speeches, to be hundreds of articles in Marathi in various precise, on a wide range of subjects and at fortnightly newspapers. diverse regional, national and international The range in Ambedkar’s works is also equally fora. Among the subjects, the speeches ranged amazing. On politics: 11 books and monographs from social, economic and religious issues to including treatises such as Pakistan or the those relating to law and Constitution, besides Partition of India (1940), What political. The forums included Gandhi and Congress Have Done the Bombay Province Legislative The Central To Untouchables (1945); the Council, (and later) Bombay Government is classics such as Federation versus Legislative Assembly, Round planning to observe Freedom (1939), Ranade, Gandhi Table Conferences hosted by the Dr Ambedkar’s and Jinnah (1943); States and British government in London birthday as Minorities (1947) and Thoughts in the role as a Labour Member National on Linguistic States (1955); on of Viceroy’s Executive Council, Bandhutva Bhav or economics two pathbreaking Central Legislative Assembly Samrasata Diwas treatises – The Evolution of (as the first Law Minister of Provincial Finance in British India Independent India), (1917) and The Problem of The Rupee: Its Origin Constituent Assembly (as the and Its Solution (1925); on sociology – a timeless Chairman, Drafting Committee for contribution such as Annihilation of Caste (1936) the Constitution of India) and the besides a remarkable essay on Castes in India: Parliament (Opposition Member, Their Genesis, Mechanism and Development Rajya Sabha). In addition, Ambedkar (1918); on anthropology – two provocatively gave a large number of public original treatises – Who Were the Shudras (1946) addresses as the most prominent and The Untouchables: Who Were They and leader of the social and political Why They Became Untouchables (1948) and movement inspired by him.

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Extracts from the book Ambedkar, An Economist Extraordinaire by Narendra Jadhav

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The analytical

planner

The contributions of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar as an economist emanate from a clear and consistent economic philosophy text | Narendra Jadhav

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here is no doubt that Dr Bhimrao agricultural economist, while his struggle for Ambedkar’s contribution to the industrial labour gave him a distinction the Indian economic thought as a labour leader. Ambedkar’s incisive has been varied and diverse. analyses of the economic dimensions of social Indeed, it has been multimaladies in India, such as the dimensional. To illustrate his caste system and untouchability, Dr Ambedkar’s scholarly contributions, such as placed him in a unique position in struggle for administration and finance of blending economics and sociology, the industrial the East India Company, and while his perceptive analysis of labour gave him The Evolution of Provincial the strategy of India’s strategy for a distinction as a Finance in British India fall in the economic development, made him labour leader arena of public finance, whereas an authority on Indian planning.

The Problem of the Rupee: Its Origin and Its Solution could be classified under the discipline of monetary economics and international finance. Ambedkar’s role in abolition of the Khoti system and Mahar Vatan qualified him as an eminent applied

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Focal points of Ambedkar’s academic contributions

In his first book, Administration and Finance of the East India Company which provides a historical review of the changes

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Dr Ambedkar believed that finances of a country should be judged from the viewpoint of development expenditure

in administration and finance of the East India of the East India Company, in 1858, the heavy Company during the period 1792-1858, the focus load of the so-called Indian debt was “placed on really is on demonstrating how injustice was the shoulders of the poverty-stricken natives inflicted upon the Indian people by the British. who had no voice in the doings of the (East Ambedkar believes that India) Company”. Ambedkar finances of a country should concludes his analysis stating Ambedkar’s be judged from the viewpoint that “the immenseness of India’s contributions as an of development expenditure contribution to England is as economist emanate such as the public works (that astounding as the nothingness of from a clear and is, railways, roads, canals etc). England’s contribution to India.” consistent economic Observing that during 1834-48, Ambedkar’s concern for the philosophy the single city of Manchester oppressed which found expression in England had spent on water in the above-mentioned book, alone, a larger amount if money what the East was even more pronounced in its sequel titled India Company had spent on all public works The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British all over India, he demonstrates the iniquitous India. While it dilates on the evolution of the treatment given to the Indian people by the Centre-State financial relations in British India British. He also points out that with the abolition during the period, 1833 to 1921, the accent

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once again is really on demonstrating a faulty fiscal system marked by injurious taxes (for example, land, salt as well as customs) and unproductive and extravagant expenditures (for example, on military employment of the Europeans without much spending on education or public works). Subsequently, when Ambedkar wrote his magnum opus, Problem of the Rupee, which offers an insightful historical analysis of the evolution of the Indian rupee through the period between 1800 and 1921, the common man remained as the focal point of his analysis. This becomes evident from his perceptive analysis of the choice of currency standard for India. The then mainstream view, as advocated is, therefore, likely to lead to generation of by economists like John Maynard Keynes excessive liquidity, fuelling inflation, which and others, favoured the “gold exchange jeopardises socio-economic stability and standard” as the ideal currency standard for hurts the poor the most. India on the ground that it offered flexibility. According to them, the liquidity Thrust areas of creation in the economy Ambedkar’s Mass In the book, under the “gold exchange Movement Problem of standard” is not constrained Ambedkar’s successful struggle the Rupee, the by the availability of gold in against the Khoti system common man was the economy and the resultant liberated a vast majority of the the focal point flexibility of operations was rural poor from an extreme of Ambedkar’s deemed to be desirable for the form of economic exploitation. analysis country’s future development. His successful agitation against Ambedkar conceded the the Mahar Vatan emancipated flexibility offered by the “gold exchange a large section of the rural oppressed from standard” but argued that it was a mixed virtual serfdom. His Bill relating to the blessing. He emphasised upon the need for activities of the money-lenders aimed at some regulator by which the discretion preventing their malpractices which were left to the issuer of currency is regulated. hurting the poor and the ignorant. According to him, the “gold exchange Ambedkar’s empathy towards the standard” does not offer any such anchor and downtrodden could best be exemplified by

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Lokamanya Tilak emphasised Swa-raj while Ambedkar fought for making it Su-raj. That was the attitudinal difference between them. On the industrial front, when Ambedkar realised that while the prevailing trade unions seemingly fought for the rights of the workers, they were totally indifferent to the rights of Untouchable workers as human beings. Ambedkar founded a labour party in 1936 which was “independent” from the mainstream Communist-led India’s first Prime Minister Pt Jawaharlal Nehru at the Constituent Assembly labour movement. In fact, the manifesto meeting at Council House Library, New Delhi, to frame the Indian Constitution of the Independent Labour Party prepared by Ambedkar still remains a unique and distinctive expression of the problems of the oppressed and the depressed in India. It has drawing a contrast between him and some been a guide-post for subsequent poverty earlier national leaders like Lokamanya alleviation programmes in India, including Bal Gangadhar Tilak. In 1903, the British the 20-point Economic Programme. government attempted an amendment to A distinctive feature of Ambedkar’s the relevant act aimed at curtailing the contribution as an economist is his rights of the Khots who were perceptive analysis of economic landlords, Tilak vehemently dimensions of social maladies, Lokamanya opposed it. Earlier, in 1899, such as the caste system and Tilak emphasised when the British Government untouchability. When the caste Swa-raj while had started moving against system was defended on the Ambedkar fought the authority of the Khots, it ground of the time-honoured for making it was Tilak who wrote a series principle of economics, for Su-raj of provocative articles in instance, the division of labour, his daily, Kesari, supporting Ambedkar came out with a hardthe Khots against the British. Tilak, who hitting critique in his Annihilation of Castes. himself was born in a Khot family, fought Ambedkar succinctly observed that against the British to protect the rights of the division of labour embedded in the the Khot, but he did not think it fit to give Chaturvarnya is “not spontaneous, it is expression to the exploitation of the rural not based on natural aptitudes”, nor is it poor at the hands of the Khots. In contrast, “a division based on choice. Individual Ambedkar launched an agitation the sentiment, individual preference has no Khots so as to emancipate the rural poor. place in it. It is based on the dogma of

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Left to right: Eminent leaders at the first session of the Constituent Assembly of India; Pt Jawaharlal Nehru signing the Indian Constitution; Dr Rajendra Prasad signing the Indian Constitution on August 10, 1950

predestination.” He compared the Indian to appoint tasks to individuals in advance, social structure with a tower that has many selected not on the basis of trained original storeys but no staircase. In this system, he capacities, but on that of the social status of argued, one must die on the floor on which the parents.” one is born. Ambedkar emphasised that According to Ambedkar, the caste implicit in the caste system was “an hierarchy system has impeded economic growth and in which the division of labourers were development in India. The Caste System graded one above the other” restricts the mobility of labour and argued, “Civilised society as well as capital, which breeds undoubtedly needs division of inefficiency into the production The process labour. But in no civilised society process, thereby hampering of economic development calls is division of labour accompanied economic growth. The process for continuous by this unnatural division of economic development calls changes in socioof labourers into watertight for continuous changes in economic patterns compartments.” socio-economic patterns. The Ambedkar’s attack on the caste Caste System, on the other hand, system was not merely aimed at challenging advocates perpetuation of the traditional the hegemony of the so-called upper castes, socio-economic pattern and, as such, is but had a broader connotation of economic detrimental to economic development. growth and development. Ambedkar argued Ambedkar, in his States and Minorities, in that the caste system reduces the mobility of fact, laid down a strategy for India’s economic labour as well as capital. He said, “Social and development. The strategy placed “an obligation individual efficiency requires us to develop on the State to plan the economic life of the the capacity of an individual to the point people on lines which would lead to highest of competency to choose and to make his point of productivity without closing every own career. This principle is violated in the avenue to private enterprise and also provide caste system insofar as it involves an attempt for the equitable distribution of wealth.”

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Even while drafting the Indian The economic philosophy underlying Constitution as a legal luminary, the Ambedkar’s contribution to the evolution of economist in Ambedkar was very Indian economic thought and in addressing much alive. He strongly recommended India’s economic problems is now clearly democracy as the “governing principle evident. This philosophy could be captured of human relationship” but emphasised in his own phrase: Bahujan Hitaya, that principles of Equality, Liberty and Bahujan Sukhaya. Fraternity which are the Ambedkar’s economic cornerstones of democracy philosophy is couched in should not be interpreted social, religious and moral Ambedkar’s narrowly in terms of the political considerations. The focal economic philosophy rights alone. He emphasised point of this philosophy is the underscores on the social and economic oppressed and the depressed. Liberty, Equality dimensions of democracy and This economic philosophy and Fraternity warned that political democracy underscores Liberty, Equality cannot succeed where there is and Fraternity. The essence of no social and economic democracy. While his philosophy aims at giving life to those addressing the Constituent Assembly, who are disowned, at elevating those who Ambedkar, in fact, argued that their are suppressed, at ennobling those who objective in framing the Constitution was are downtrodden and at granting liberty, to lay down the form of political democracy. equality and justice to all, irrespective of their He gave expression to the objective of castes and creeds. The establishment of a economic democracy by incorporating in the casteless democratic society based on pradnya Constitution what are called the Directive (intellect), sheel (character) and karuna Principles of State Policy. (compassion) is the essence of this philosophy. Extracted from Ambedkar: An Economist Extraordinaire by Narendra Jadhav

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MILESTONE

Preamble of the Indian Constitution

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Of the people, for the people,

by the people

The Indian Constitution, the longest of any sovereign nation in the world, provides a comprehensive framework to guide and govern the country, keeping in view its social, cultural and religious diversity text | Sumant Batra

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distinctive document with framework to guide and govern the country, many extraordinary features, keeping in view her unique social, cultural the Constitution of India is the and religious diversity. It establishes the main longest written constitution of any organs – executive, legislature and judiciary, sovereign nation in the world. The original defining their powers, demarcating their text of the Constitution contained 395 articles responsibilities and regulating the inter-se in 22 parts and eight schedules. It came into relationship. It inter alia lays down the basic effect on January 26, 1950, the day that India structure of governance and the relationship celebrates each year as the between the government and the Republic Day. The number of people. The rights and duties of The original articles has since increased to 448 citizens are also spelt out. The text of the due to 100 amendments. Constitution applies to the state of Constitution The Constitution was framed Jammu and Kashmir with certain contained 395 by the Constituent Assembly of exceptions and modifications as articles in 22 India, established by the members provided in Article 370 and the parts and eight of the provincial assemblies Constitution (application to Jammu schedules elected by the people of India. and Kashmir) Order, 1954. It is Dr Sachidanand Sinha was the the mother of all other laws of the first president of the Constituent Assembly. country. Every law enacted by the Government Later, Dr Rajendra Prasad was elected its has to be in conformity with the Constitution. president. Dr BR Ambedkar, the chairman The preamble to the Constitution declares of its Drafting Committee, is considered the India to be a Sovereign Socialist Secular chief architect of the Indian Constitution Democratic Republic and a welfare state which provides a comprehensive and dynamic committed to secure justice, liberty and equality

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for the people and for promoting fraternity, activity. The seventh schedule contains three dignity of the individual and unity and integrity legislative lists which enumerate subjects of of the nation. The objectives specified in the administration viz union, state and concurrent preamble constitute the basic structure of the legislative lists. The Central Government Indian Constitution which cannot enjoys exclusive power to legislate be amended. The opening and last on the subjects mentioned in the The objectives sentences of the preamble: “We, Union list. The state governments specified in the people... adopt, enact and give have full authority to legislate the preamble to ourselves this Constitution� on the subjects of the state list. constitute the signifies the power is ultimately And both the Centre and the basic structure vested in the hands of the people. state can legislate on the subjects of the Indian Although Article 1 of the mentioned in the concurrent list Constitution Constitution says India shall be a with the residuary powers vested Union of States, the Constitution in the Central Government. provides for a federal structure with clear It can be said that India has cooperative division of powers between the Centre and the federalism. The Constitution provides for the states, each empowered by the Constitution Parliamentary form of Government with a to enact and legislate within their sphere of bicameral legislature at the Centre consisting

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of Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) and Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament). While the Lok Sabha consists of the elected representatives of people, the Rajya Sabha consists of representatives elected by the state legislative assemblies. The President is the nominal head of the state and the Parliament. In actual practice, the Prime Minister, aided by the Council of Ministers, heads the executive and is responsible for governance. An impartial judiciary, independent of the legislature and the executive, is one of the main features of the Constitution. The Supreme Court of India is the highest court of the country and acts as guardian of the Constitution and serves as the final court of appeal. Each state has a High Court as its highest court. Under powers of judicial review, the Supreme Court and High Court can declare a law as unconstitutional or ultra vires if it contravenes any provisions of the Constitution. This power of judicial review constitutes a middle path between the American judicial supremacy on one hand and British Parliamentary supremacy on the other. In order to ensure the impartiality of the judiciary, the judges are appointed by a process free of influence of the executive. The judges can only be removed by a rigorous process of impeachment to be approved by both the houses of the Parliament. The Constitution vests many fundamental rights in citizens. These are (i) Right to Equality, (ii) Right to Freedom, (iii) Right against Exploitation, (iv) Right to Freedom of Religion, v) Cultural and Educational Rights and vi) Right to Constitutional Remedies. These rights are justiciable and an individual can move the Supreme Court or the High Courts if there is an encroachment on any of these rights. However, Fundamental Rights in

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MAKING OF THE CONSTITUTION Dec 9, 1946

Constituent Assembly meets for the first time in Parliament’s Constitution Hall, now known as the Central Hall

Dec 13, 1946

Pt Jawaharlal Nehru moves an eight-point objectives resolution which serves as a road map for the Constitution

Aug 14, 1947

At the stroke of midnight, the Constituent Assembly assumes the responsibility for making laws for Independent India. It proposes to form various panels, including Fundamental Rights and Union Powers, to draft the Constitution

Aug 29, 1947

An eight-member panel appointed with Dr Ambedkar as chairman to prepare the Draft Constitution

Nov 4, 1947

The Draft Constitution prepared with some of the fundamental ideas coming from different constitutions around the world

Dec 11, 1947

Dr Rajendra Prasad elected President of the Constitution drafting body. Later, he becomes the first President of India

Nov 26, 1949

Constitution of India approved. It comes into effect on January 26, 1950

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MAJOR AMENDMENTS

1951

The 1st Amendment highlighted reasonable curbs on free speech and established the 9th schedule that secures laws from judicial scrutiny. The Supreme Court, in 2007, ruled that if those laws breached the basic tenets of the Constitution then they can be struck down

1956

The 7th Amendment set the way for reorganisation of states along linguistics lines

1960

1961

The 8th Amendment prolonged the period of reservation of seats for SCs, STs and Anglo-Indians in Lok Sabha and state assemblies till 1970. It has been magnified every decade thereafter. In 2006, the 93rd Amendment allows 27% quota for OBCs in government and private educational institutions

After the 12th Amendment, the former Portuguese colonies of Goa, Daman and Diu became part of India. In 1975, the 35th and 36th Amendments saw Sikkim becoming a part of the Indian Union

1971

The 26th Amendment revealed the abolition of privy-purse paid to former rules of princely states

1975

The 39th Amendment negated the judgement of Allahabad High Court invalidating then PM Indira Gandhi’s election to Parliament which partly impelled the declaration of Emergency

1976

The 42nd Amendment passed during Emergency curbed fundamental rights, laid some fundamental duties and also added the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ to the Preamble

1977-78

The 43rd and 44th Amendments restored civil liberties post-Emergency and removed the Right to Property from Fundamental Rights

1985

The 52nd Amendment showcased disqualification of lawmakers in case of defection from one party to another

1988

The 61st Amendment reduced the voting age from 21 to 18 years

1992

The 73rd and 74th Amendments offered direct election in Panchayats and urban local bodies

2002

The 86th Amendment offered Right to Education till the age of 14 and early childhood care till the age of six

2014

The 99th Amendment created the National Judicial Appointment Commission. SC struck it down in 2015

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There is no resting place for a nation or a people on their onward march

We want deeper sincerity of motive, a greater courage in speech and earnestness in action

Dr Rajendra Prasad after the Constitution was adopted on January 26, 1950

India are not absolute. Reasonable restrictions can be imposed. By 42nd Amendment in 1976, fundaments duties were added in the Constitution to remind people that while enjoying their right as citizens, they should perform their duties for rights and duties are correlative. Another novel feature of the Constitution is that it contains a chapter on the directive principles of state policy, that are in the nature of directives to the Government to implement them for establishing social and economic democracy in the country. Though not justiciable, these principles are considered fundamental in the governance of the country. There are many autonomous institutions set up under the Constitution which perform a key role, such as, Election Commission (responsible for holding free and fair elections), Public

Sarojini Naidu, Constituent Assembly member

Service Commission (responsible for selection to main government services) and an Auditor General (for independent audit of accounts of the government and its agencies). One of the strengths of the Constitution is that it is a dynamic instrument that can evolve with time either by its interpretation or amendment. On paper, an amendment to the Constitution is a difficult affair, and normally needs, at least, two-thirds of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha to pass it. However, the Constitution of India is one of the most frequently amended constitutions in the world so as not to stand in the way of the growth and development of the nation and her people. The success of the Indian Constitution, for a country as diverse and complex as India, continues to intrigue, impress and inspire experts around the world. The author is a corporate and policy lawyer

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EXPLORE

A land full

of surprises

Chhattisgarh, in the heart of India, is endowed with a rich cultural heritage and offers a unique experience to the discerning traveller text | Shubhda Chaturvedi

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CHHATTISGARH Two metre high Rudra Shiva statue at Tala; Facing page: Lakshamana Temple

GOOD TO KNOW B  EST TIME TO VISIT Between October and February H  OW TO REACH By air: Swami Vivekananda International Airport, Raipur is well-connected with major Indian cities By train: Two major railway stations- Raipur and Bilaspur- connect the major railway stations in India By road: NH 6, NH 16 and NH 43 connect all the major cities of the state to other parts of the country

Tala ruins

Ruins of the Devrani and Jethani temples on the banks of river Maniyari at Tala or Talagaon are located within a single complex and stand side-by-side.

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Map not to scale

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hhattisgarh boasts of virgin locations with a melange of unique cultural and ecological identities, ancient monuments, rare wildlife, exquisitely carved temples, Buddhist sites, palaces, waterfalls, caves and rock paintings. Its natural beauty, with 44 per cent forest cover and 32 per cent tribal population, attracts nature-lovers from across the world. With three national parks and 11 wildlife sanctuaries full of unparalleled natural beauty, the state has established itself as an important wildlife destination on the tourism map of India. Not only this, its archaeological sites and temples retain its rich heritage of carvings and sculptures. The state also happens to be a major Buddhist centre.

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Artefacts displaying the diverse crafts of Chhattisgarh

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Photo courtesy: Santosh K Misra

Chitrakote Waterfalls

Chitrakote Waterfalls

best experienced during and after Chitrakote Descending from about 100 ft monsoon months, between July Waterfalls, and widening up to 150 m in and October. known as the monsoon, Chitrakote Waterfalls, Niagara Falls known as the Niagara Falls of Bhoramdeo Temple of India, is the India, is the largest waterfall in Popularly known as Khajuraho largest waterfall the country. River Indravati, a of Chhattisgarh, the Bhoramdeo in the country tributary of river Godavari, is Temple is located at Bhoramdev, the source of this horseshoe21 km from Kawardha. It is shaped waterfall, located near Jagdalpur famous for the captivating 11th century Lord in Bastar district. The stay options near Shiva Temple on the banks of River Sakri. Chitrakote are the Dandami Luxury Resorts The temple was built by King Ramchandra of and Cottages. Chitrakote Waterfalls can be Nagar dynasty.

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Clockwise from above: Bhoramdeo Temple, monks at a monastery and Surang Tila

Sirpur

Teevardeo Buddhist Surang Tila: Unearthed Monastery: According Teevardeo in 2005-06, the temple can to an inscription found Buddhist be reached by a flight of 37 during excavation here, the Monastery dates steep limestone steps and Teevardeo monastery dates back to the times is dedicated to the Trinity back to the times of Somavasi of Somavasi of Brahma, Vishnu and King Teevardeo. The doorway King Teevardeo Shiva. Built in Panchayatan to the monastery depicts in style of architecture, with stone chapters from Buddha’s the main temple in the centre and four life and stories from Panchatantra. others in the corners, Surang Tila was built by Mahasivagupta Balarjun in Lakshmana Temple: Dedicated to Lord the 7th century. Vishnu, the temple dates back to Circa

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Above and right: Tribal dance forms of the state; Below right: Sirpur International Dance and Music Festival

SIRPUR INTERNATIONAL DANCE AND MUSIC FESTIVAL Visiting Sirpur can be a lifetime travel experience as it transports one back in time. A historical site with rich legacy, Sirpur is a holy town of astonishing temples and Buddhist viharas. The town’s culturally rich ambience provides the perfect canvas to the Sirpur National Dance and Music Festival against the backdrop of the Lakshmana Temple, an architectural masterpiece of the 7th century. The fourth edition of this festival will be organised between January 29 and 31. Conceptualised by Chhattisgarh Tourism Board, the festival proffers a first-hand experience of a rare union of art and culture, music and dance. Over the last three editions of the festival, national and international artistes like Pt Chhannulal Mishra, Madhavi Mudgal, Prahlad Singh Tipaniya, Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pt Birju Maharaj, Rahul Sharma, Ustad Shujaat Khan, Teejanbai, Vikku Vinayakram, Wadali Brothers, Pete Lockett, George Brooks and Leonard Eto have been a part of the event.

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625-650 AD. It was built by Queen Vasata, the widow of King Harshgupta and stands on a platform inside a pillored mandapa.

Champaran

Located around 60 km from Raipur, the hamlet of Champaran is renowned as the birthplace of the saint Vallabhacharya, the reformer and founder of the Vallabh sect. A beautiful temple has been built here as a mark of respect to the saint. The Champakeshwara Mahadeva temple is another attraction here.

Kutumsar Caves and Kailash Gufa

Tourists arrive at the Kutumsar Caves and Kailash Gufa in Kanger Valley of Bastar district to get a glimpse of its natural beauty. The interior of the caves are always dark which makes it difficult to traverse its narrow pathways. Exhibiting splendid formations of stalactites and stalagmites, the Kutumsar Caves are about 1,327 m long and about 35 m below ground level. Kailash Gufa is located on a small hillock and resembles Kutumsar Caves. Discovered in 1993, the Kailash Gufa, 100 m long, houses stalactites and stalagmites

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Photo courtesy: Santosh K Misra

Clockwise from left: Kutumsar Caves, birthplace of Vallabhacharya in Champaran and antelopes at one of the sanctuaries in Chhattisgarh

galore. Reverberations caused here are strangely musical and it is forever pitch dark inside.

Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary

Located in Mahasamund district, Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary is a small but important wildlife spanning over 245 sq kms. The flora at the sanctuary primarily comprises of tropical dry deciduous forest of teak, sal, bamboo and terminalia. The wildlife includes tigers, sloth bear, flying squirrels, jackals, four-horned antelopes, leopards, chinkara, black buck, jungle cat, barking deer, porcupine, monkey, bison, striped hyena, wild dogs, chital, sambar, nilgai, gaur, muntjac, wild boar, cobra and python. The sanctuary has a sizeable bird population with prominent ones being white-rumped vultures and green avadavat. Recently, Chhattisgarh Tourism Board has launched Sirpur Heritage Walk and Walk With The Tribe. In an agreement with New Delhi-based India City Walks, the tourism board is also aiming to promote water sports, hill biking, camping locales, cycle tours and caravan tourism.

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PROGRESS

Striking the

perfect balance

India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) reflect a multi-pronged and comprehensive approach to fight climate change

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he Conference of the Parties (COP), under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), has been the leading international initiative to find a collective global response to one of the most pressing challenges facing the planet today. And over the years, India has made a meaningful contribution to this effort. At the COP 21 summit, held between November 30 and December 11 in Paris last year, too India took on a strong leadership position to play a more active role in shaping the world’s response to climate change. After two weeks of intense negotiations, 196 nations signed what is being hailed as a ‘landmark’ deal to

limit carbon emissions through Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), restrict the rise in global temperatures to below 2ºC of pre-industrial levels, and make the world economy carbon neutral by the second half of the century. They have pledged $100 billion a year to finance the effort of countries towards cleaner technology but there is no specific liability on each country and no means to enforcing it. In this context, India made three important moves: First, it put greater emphasis on incorporating clean fuel and green technologies while, of course, still underlining the importance of the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR).

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Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Mr Prakash Javadekar, addressing a press conference on INDCs in New Delhi

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Second, it launched the International India’s INDCs, a necessary pre-summit Solar Alliance inviting 120 solar-abundant input that had been declared last October, countries to join the quest for affordable have already set the bar high and were crucial solar power that would eventually replace in ensuring success in the negotiations. The the fossil fuels of today. The alliance was INDCs stand on three primary platforms: The launched by Prime Minister Mr Narendra reduction of per capita emissions, an increase Modi, alongside French President Mr in both the share of renewable energy in the Francois Hollande. India is making the initial country’s energy basket and in forest cover. investment of $30 million and setting up In the first case, India has pledged to cut the the alliance’s headquarters in emissions density of its Gross the country but the plan is to Domestic Product by 33 to 35 INDCs reflect eventually raise $400 million per cent by 2030. This will bring on a multifrom membership fees and emissions down to pre-2005 pronged and international agencies. levels. In the second case, India comprehensive Finally, India pushed for will ensure that at least 40 per approach to equity in climate finance, cent of all its energy needs are fighting climate suggesting developed countries, met through renewable sources of change which prospered on the back of energy by 2030. In the third case, a fossil fuel-powered it has pledged to increase its forest industrial movement, now pay back cover to such an extent that it will be able to to the planet by helping developing absorb an additional 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of countries finance their shift from carbon dioxide by 2030. Overall, the INDCs cheap but dirty fuel to clean but reflect on a multi-pronged and comprehensive expensive fuel. This will ensure that approach to fighting climate change. They developing countries can continue reaffirm India’s long-term commitment to on the path of fast economic growth, making a meaningful contribution to the which they desperately need if new global processes that will help the world, they are to pull thousands out particularly the emerging economies, transition of poverty, in a sustainable, ecotowards a low-carbon economy while balancing friendly manner. the demands of fast-paced development.

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Designers par

excellence

While our fashion aesthetics go back to the ancient times, there is an emerging ethos laced with innovation and an unmistakable Indian-ness text | Shruti Tomar

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nspirations are aplenty in India but today’s women designers are taking the heritage of the country to newer heights. Whether they are old hands who have put India on the global fashion map or the new kids on the block or

Ritu Kumar – The stalwart

One of the country’s foremost designers, Ritu Kumar has a unique style that reflects the ancient traditions of Indian craftsmanship in contemporary vocabulary. With a background in art history and museology which enriched her horizons, Ritu’s understanding of ancient

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the ones who have been at it quietly, it is time to celebrate women designers and their craft. From digging out age-old design traditions to blending the vintage with the new, these women designers are bringing out the best India has to offer.

designs and innovative use of traditional crafts has created a new classicism. She holds the status of a revivalist in the fashion industry and has successfully bridged the gap between traditionalism and modernity. Ritu is the first woman to introduce “boutique” culture in India.

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Sneha Mehta – Kukoon-ed in fashion

Sneha Mehta’s international lifestyle and keen sense of aesthetics get reflected in her unique designs which have a contemporary spirit of adventure. Sneha’s USP has been her unique hand crafted capes that use the world’s finest and rare fabrics which are warm, lightweight and soft. “To emerge as a strong woman is not about giving in to self-doubt and backing down from such challenges but to believe in your true inner calling,” is Sneha’s firm belief.

Shilpa Sharma – Brain behind Jaypore

Of her 20 year corporate career, Shilpa Sharma spent 12 in retailing with Fabindia and eight in FMCG marketing at Marico Industries & Cadbury’s. Then she dumped it all to follow her dream of sourcing, curating and designing India’s most beautiful products, for Jaypore, an online portal that reveals to the world what Indian fabrics, aesthetics and legacies hold. “I wake up happy that I got out of the nine-to-five grind when I did because it helped me discover what I really care about,” shares Shilpa, one of the three partners in the startup.

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Nivedita Saboo – Neo-couture

Nivedita Saboo is an alumnus of NIFT Delhi with a gold medal represents dynamic Indian fashion across the world. She has helmed important roles as the fashion director for Mr India and Mr World pageants along with Miss India World and Miss Universe contingents. She is also on the advisory board of various fashion schools as a mentor. In Bollywood, she has created ensembles for Akshay Kumar in Singh Is Bliing. Taking her brand international, Nivedita showcased her collections at the Korea Fashion Week, London Bridal Week, Paris Fashion Week, Hong Kong Fashion Week and the coveted red carpet of Cannes.

Payal Jain – Meticulous crafter Seamlessly blending Indian recherché and craftsmanship with modern-day Western silhouettes, Payal Jain crafts pieces of precision. She describes her brand ethos as having, “A Western body with an Indian

soul.” Influenced by arts at a young age (Jain’s mother is a musician and father a design engineer), her world is pervaded by the creative fluxes including dance, music and fine arts.

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Nandita Raipurani – Dreaming big Born and brought up in a small town, Nandita Raipurani had big aspirations and the mettle to make it even bigger. A dreamer with creativity in abundance, she reflects India in her exquisite designs with a unique sense of casual sophistication. Nandita is a true believer of wearable fashion and her collections are cognisant of the same. A lot of

design experimentation in the details and a balanced approach is the USP of her creations. She effortlessly brings together beautiful inspirations of various cultures and eras that keep her dreamer and observer’s essence intact along with design partner Hemant. Organisation and balance are the cornerstones of her personality and design.

Mamta Gupta – The entrepreneur alchemist

Mamta Gupta is known as “The Entrepreneur Alchemist” in the fashion industry. A textile, fashion and interior designer who has been mentoring startups, individuals and brands for over a decade, Mamta’s own journey took off with a thesis on Kanjivaram silk saris while studying textile designing. Between 1984 and 2011, she started a variety of ventures and buzzaria culminated as her one-stop-shop for all things “Made in India”.

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Another milestone in India’s

urbanisation journey

A bird’s-eye view of the city of Amravati, the new capital of Andhra Pradesh INDIA PERSPECTIVES

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Amravati, the new riverfront capital of Andhra Pradesh, will be the first greenfield Smart City in the country text | Chandreyee Bhaumik

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new chapter was added in India’s Smart Cities Plan when Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of Amravati as the new capital in the state of Andhra Pradesh recently. To be located on the banks of River Krishna, Amravati will be the fifth planned city in the country after Chandigarh, Bhubaneswar, Gandhi Nagar and Naya Raipur. It will also be the first greenfield Smart City in the country. The historic town of Amravati is located around 15 km from Thullur, the epicentre of the state’s new capital, which will be built between Vijayawada and Guntur towns. In Hindu mythology, Amravati is believed to be the abode of the king of gods, Indra. It is a Pali word which means “abode of the deathless” referring to nirvana. The city was earlier known as Andhra Nagari. As home to the Satavahana dynasty around 2,000 years

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ago, Amravati is famous for Buddhist sites including a stupa built during emperor Ashoka’s reign. In order to transform Amravati, the Andhra Pradesh government is working on a grid plan wherein the streets will

be planned at right angles to each other. The grid plan dates back to the times of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro of the Indus Valley Civilisation with blocks being divided by a grid of straight streets, in east-west and north-south directions.

Indian Prime Minister Mr Modi laying the foundation stone of the new capital of Andhra Pradesh

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Left to right (from facing page): Glimpses of the Master Plan for Amravati

Further, each block was sub-divided by approval for a 26 km Metro project small lanes. in Vijayawada, the biggest urban Meanwhile, the Capital Region agglomeration near Amravati, at an Development Authority (CRDA), has been estimated cost of `6,823 crore. There set up to plan, coordinate, execute, finance are plans for providing a greenfield and promote Amravati. The organisation airport too. The region will be home has taken the responsibility of procuring to residential townships, educational around 33,000 acres from institutions, gardens, water farmers who, in lieu, have bodies, recreational spaces, been promised plots in waterfront and more. Special The success of Amravati is the developed capital. focus is being levied on not only relevant Depending on the type of pedestrianisation with 25 for Andhra their landholding, owners km walkways that will be Pradesh but to have been offered plots. linked to open green spaces India as a whole Plans to also underway to facilitate a walk-toto develop expressways work environment thereby and semi-expressways to promoting the use of nonencompass the new capital city. The motorised transport. infrastructural plan – conceived by The success of Amravati is not only Jurong International Holdings Pte Ltd and relevant for Andhra Pradesh but also Surbana International Consultants Pte Ltd to India as the Union Government has – incorporates a bus rapid transit system embarked upon large-scale urbanisation which will be upgraded to a mass rapid programme with an investment of `1 transit network with four lines in future. lakh crore under the Smart City and Atal Going by the records, the Union Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Government has offered an in-principle Transformation (AMRUT) initiatives.

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An artist’s

playground

Dungarpur is home to one of the oldest continuously-inhabited buildings and one of the oldest private palaces in India

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mong all the erstwhile princely capitals of Rajasthan, Dungarpur in southeast India is perhaps the least explored. Surrounded by the Aravallis, it has managed to maintain its mysterious identity for many centuries. Along with some of Rajputana’s best palaces, it was

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probably the seat of an architectural tradition or maybe an artist’s playground. At least so it seems when you reach the town. Dungarpur happens to be the elder branch of the Sisodiyas of Udaipur while the younger branch ruled Mewar. When Rawal Veer Singh Dev (1278-1303) became the ruler of

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Facing Page: Distant view of Juna Mahal; Left: A wall painting, done up in natural colours and gold dust, at Juna Mahal

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Exquisite murals and miniature paintings adorn the walls of Juna Mahal

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Map not to scale

GOOD TO KNOW B  EST TIME TO VISIT February and March H  OW TO REACH Dungarpur is 79km from Dabok Airport, Udaipur, and is wellconnected to major cities via rail and other cities with motorable roads

Vagad, most of the region that of suitable accommodation, forms the part of the presentthe construction of a doubleThe foundation day Dungarpur, Banswara and storeyed building of four of the old palace Chhappan tract of Udaipur rooms with some hutments of Juna Mahal district, became a part of his and barracks started in 1282. and the town of kingdom. But Rawal Veer Singh This was the foundation of the Dungarpur was Dev conquered the area which old palace of Juna Mahal and laid in 1282 was then known as Dungar Dungarpur town. Meanwhile, Na Gharan by defeating a Bhil Rawal Veer Singh continued chieftain. To keep control over the territory, a with his capital at Vatpadrak. Within an representative ruler was stationed there along year of assuming power, his successor Rawal with an army contingent. In the absence Bhoochand (1303-1331) decided to move the

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capital to Dungar Na Gharan and started developing facilities for a palace complex and a new capital. Thus, Dungarpur was created of territorial aspirations of the younger kin of warrior clans. While some people claim Dungarpur was named after Dungaria, a powerful local Bhil chief who was defeated by Rawal Veer Singh, others say it could have been named after the Guhilot ruler Rawal Dungar Singh who fortified the town.

Juna Mahal

The pristine white Juna Mahal was built when a few members of the Mewar

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Facing Page: The ceilings in Juna Mahal have detailed stories of former princes; Above: Sheesh Mahal has a stunning combination of mirror and glass mosaics; Below: Floral frescoes at Juna Mahal

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Resembling a fortress Juna Mahal houses the most vibrant palaces embellished with frescoes, miniature paintings, glass and mirror inlay work; Below (Facing Page): Queen’s meeting room

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Facing Page: A wall painting of Lord Krishna with Radha; Above: a royal procession depicted in colours

dynasty split and found a glasswork in the interiors. new kingdom in Dungarpur. It is a visual documentary of Juna Mahal Located at the foothills of erstwhile princes, their hunts was made from Dhanmata hillock, it is one and wars, their administrative Dawra stone of the oldest continuously prowess at durbars, social with splendid inhabited buildings and one events, divinities and even construction style of the oldest private palaces going-ons of daily life. Each in India. Constructed from floor at Juna Mahal is a Dawra stone, it is a live documentation of marvel. Mirrors and tiles are placed artfully over 700 years of breathtaking paintings while blue and white English porcelain and splendid construction style. Built on plates received as gifts are a high platform and spread over seven stuccoed in the walls. Windows storeys, the palace also has a two-storey made from green and blue Parewa basement. The construction of the first stone, attractive arches and palace at the site was started in the late 13th articulate stone pillars add to the century by Rawal Veer Singh Deo. As and beauty of Juna Mahal. Glass and when requirements arose and conditions wall paintings in Mewari style in permitted, rulers kept adding wings various rooms of the palace are and quarters. simply extraordinary. The palace What surprises one the most is the was in use until the mid-20th finest of frescoes, beautiful miniature century. Thereafter, it fell into a paintings and splendid mirror and state of disrepair.

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ART

From royal courts

to fashion ramps

For centuries, Kashmiri shawls have caught the fancy of kings and common men alike text | Lakshmi Prabhala

Above: Weaver making the famous shawl; Right and facing page: Kashmiri shawls and stoles on display at a store

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ashmiri shawls are globally famous for their fine texture and embroidery. Woven on handloom from a rare variety of soft wool and embroidered by artisans who have perfected the needlework over generations, these shawls are considered to be a status symbol. The word shawl is derived from Persian word shal and is worn folded across the shoulder. The production of Kashmiri shawls started in the 16th century Mughal with emperor Akbar providing it a great impetus. In fact, he is known to have influenced the weaving, dyeing, design and even draping of this garment. In his court, high-quality shawls were and gifted to favoured diplomats and courtiers. In the late 18th century, Kashmiri shawls found their way into the wardrobes of the Europeans through men who worked for the East India Company. The shawl, with its exotic origin from a distant land, not only became a high fashion product but a status symbol due to its exorbitant cost. Towards the end of the 19th century, Kashmiri shawls began to show a more pronounced influence of European designs.

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Above: Kashmiri shawl-making in progress; Right: A woman adorning a multicolour Kashmiri stole

The best quality shawls from Kashmir are made of Pashmina, the wool from a species of the wild Asian mountain goat. The fleece was grown as a natural protection for the animals against the severity of the winter in these regions. The soft and fine fleece used for Kashmiri shawls grows under the coarse, woolly, outer coat, in the underbelly of the animal and is painstakingly collected from the shrubs and rocks as these animals rub off their fleece when the summer approaches. The finesse of these shawls is the result of an enormous amount of hard work and skill. The fine fleece is extracted from the fleece collected leaving out inferior fleece and hair which usually constitutes only one-third of the total weight. The women then spin the fleece into yarn and men ply the loom to weave the yarn into a shawl. The undyed shawls are made vibrant after dyeing with natural pigments. Shawls with embroidered patterns are called amlikar or amli which require time as well as skill.

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Left: Needles used to make Kashmiri pashmina shawls; Below: An emerald coloured Pashmina shawl with intricate thread work

On a plain Pashmina shawl, design motifs used to lend it different variations. Thereafter, are inspired by nature like a leaf or a flower. it is elaborated with embroidery. However, The design outlines are further highlighted with there is a difference between these two types. silk or woollen threads. Depending on design Whereas a patchwork loom shawl is created intricacies, different styles of embroidery are from separate narrow strips, a patchwork used. While the aari style is often used to produce embroidered shawl comprises of a number of larger and more traditional Kashmiri irregularly shaped pieces joined designs using thick needles, sozni together, each balancing the shawl’s Patchwork is is preferred for intricate and finer predominant colour. one of the most designs using thin needles. A few years back, British and important Patchwork is one of the most Asian models draped in Kashmiri characteristics important characteristics of shawls walked the ramp in London of Kashmiri Kashmiri shawls wherein patterns at the first-ever fashion show to shawls are woven on looms in long strips. promote Brand Kashmir. A number These are around 12-18 inches of Indian designers have showcased long and one to two inches wide. Created on Kashmiri shawls in their collections. Earlier this primitive looms, these design strips are then year, designer duo Hemant-Nandita presented cut to the required length and hand-sewn a collection of serape, a blanket-like shawl together with almost invisible stitches. Pieces in folksy prints and a vibrant colour palette may be separately woven, cut up in various inspired from Kashmir at the Amazon India shapes of differing sizes and sewn together Fashion Week.

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Creating wonders,

block by block

India is one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of block printed fabric in the world text | Vani Malik

From trees to animals to famous international buildings, all find a way to Indian hand block printing designs

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he first mention of block prints in India can be traced back to the 12th century. Over time, the southern, western and eastern coasts in the country became popular hot spots for high quality hand block printed textiles and soon India became one of

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the largest manufacturers and exporters of block printed fabric globally. Reason why the art form flourished in India was due to its acceptability by the royalty. In India, three types of block printing have long been in use. The first is direct printing where the fabric (silk or cotton) is bleached and

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then dyed. Thereafter, it is printed, first using as long back as the 17th century. The families the outline blocks followed by the ones to fill of Paithapur in the state have been famous colours. The second is resist printing where for creating intricate blocks and print textiles the areas that need to be protected from the using mud-resistant technique called Sodagiri dye are covered with a clay-resin mix. It is then prints. Another village, Dhamadka is famous washed with the dye spreading for block printed fabric, ajrakh, into the protected areas through with geometric patterns. In Kutch cracks, producing a rippled effect. region, popular patterns include Gujarat and This is followed by block prints black and red designs of animals, Rajasthan to create more designs. The third birds and dancing girls. Other are the most is discharge printing wherein famous hand block centres in the prominent the fabric is first dyed and then a state include Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, centres for hand chemical is used to remove the dye Porbandar, Jetpur and Rajkot. block printing from the areas that have designs in In Rajasthan, hand block other colours. These areas are reprinting is one of the top treated so that they can be re-coloured. recognised textile crafts with different regions Gujarat and Rajasthan are the most boasting of their own techniques, designs and prominent centres for production of hand colour schemes. While Sanganer is famous block printed fabrics. In fact, a number of for calico-printed bed covers, quilts and saris cities in Gujarat started exporting painted wherein the outlines are first printed and and printed calicoes (a tightly woven cotton thereafter, colour is filled in, Bagru is famous cloth having repeating, often floral designs) for its Dabu and Syahi-Begar prints wherein

Far left: A model wearing jacket and skirt with floral patterns; left: A hand block printed stole; below: A cushion cover with multicoloured hand block print

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Clockwise from above: A wooden block used for hand block printing; a hand block printing artist at the International Trade Malaysia (INTRADE 2011) Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; a woman printing a pattern on a piece of cloth

the former are designs in a combination of yellow orchre or cream with black and latter are prints in which portions are hidden from the dye by applying a resin paste. Like most Indian crafts, hand block printing is passed from one generation to the next. With a tool kit including hammers, drills and miniature chisels, intricate patterns or designs are carved on to a block of teak wood with a wooden handle. These blocks vary in size and shape. But before these wooden blocks are used, they are soaked in mustard oil for a week to ensure the wood does not crack up when exposed to dry conditions of the printing process. The process of block printing is a timeconsuming and requires skill and teamwork. The three main tools of a block printed fabric are wooden blocks, fabric and dyes. With an incredible hand-eye coordination, the first block is aligned to the bottom left

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An intricate hand block print

corner of the fabric. A sharp tap releases the textile workers called Chhimba create floral dabu (a smooth paste which combines welland geometrical designs in Punjab, Andhra sieved and soaked black earth, tree gum and Pradesh is home to the block printing a powder from wheat grains paste to merge method which is applied to create exquisite together) onto the cloth. The same process kalamkari (a combination of hand painting is repeated along the length and and block printing) paintings. width of the fabric. To prevent Hand block printing artists To prevent the the design from smudging, in West Bengal’s Serampur design from fine sawdust is scattered over district create contemporary and smudging, fine the wet dabu once it has been traditional designs in bold and sawdust is printed. The printed portion is vibrant patterns. scattered over then sealed from the subsequent With global audience the wet dabu dyeing process. As soon as the increasingly becoming sawdust has been scattered, the environment-conscious, this fabric is taken out in the sun to dry. age-old art form, replete with eco-friendly Apart from Gujarat and Rajasthan, the advantages, has gained worldwide popularity art form thrives in the states of Punjab, West with the use of dyes made from natural and Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, vegetable sources for making abstract designs Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. While and creative products.

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Harvest

of goodness

Makar Sankranti, an ancient harvest celebration that dates back to the Sangam era, may well be termed the beginning of the Indian festival season that reaches its crescendo with Diwali text | Madhulika Dash

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he fascinating aspect about Indian festivals, their grand scale of celebrations aside, is that even when most find their origins steeped in mythology and legend, each of them has been curated with a lot of thought to well-being and nature. Take Makar Sankranti for instance. Known by different names across India – Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Lohri in Punjab, Magh Bihu in Assam, Sankrant in Bihar and Poush in West Bengal – the legend and the science behind the biggest harvest festival are similar. It is said that during this period, the

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Gajak or sesame seed jaggery

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Clockwise from right: Pheni; Patishapta Pithe; rice flour-based sweet dish from Andhra Pradesh

began in early Sangam Era was not just to celebrate the start of the new agriculture season (which over the years became the Hindu New Year) but also to ensure that old food items are consumed well to make space for fresh stocks. This is the reason Sun – who in Vedic studies is considered that bonfires are an integral part of the to be the single important source of energy festival. Bonfires in the middle of a town and life on Earth – visits his to allow people to let go of old wayward son, Shani, for a few things is still an integral Makar days. This solar movement Sankranti tradition across Tradition of results in a change of climate the country. letting go of and is often marked by longer This also explains the use the old is still and warmer days and less chilly of rice, wheat, sesame, jaggery, part of Makar nights: a sign of approaching coconut, sugarcane, milk and Sankranti summer and harvesting to coconut – a farmer’s staple – in celebrations begin. However, the cycle takes the traditional Sankranti spread some time to complete and the across states that celebrate reaping to commence. Makar Sankranti – the festival with the exception of Assam celebrated over two to four days – defines where the traditional Magh Bihu meal that phase. If old Vedic literature is to be includes pork, fish and chicken dishes like believed, the idea behind the festival that khorisa gahori (pork cooked with bamboo

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shoots), patot diya maas (fish steamed in banana leaf), jaluk diya kukura mangkho (Assamese-style pepper chicken) and kaji lemu (Assam lemon). Yet each region offers a distinct menu to indulge in. Like in Maharashtra, a meal signifying Makar Sankranti will be til laddoo and gulachi poli (thin brittle chapati with a stuffing of the season’s fresh jaggery, roasted gram flour, sesame seed powder and fragrant spices such as cardamom) which is served along with fresh ghee, bhogichi bhaji and bajrichi bhakri. Easy to digest yet high on flavour, the meal is simply delicious and apt to keep one healthy during the change of weather. Ayurveda hails the sweet combination of til (sesame seeds) and gur (jaggery) which forms an integral part of celebrations as the perfect culinary antidote that prepares the dietary

Anticlockwise from left: Sesame seed, jaggery and gajak for the celebrations; til ke laddoo

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CUISINE

system for summer and its effects, other than gur being the perfect sweetener. In West Bengal, where Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Poush, khejur gur (date jaggery) is used extensively to sweeten the high-on-dessert meals which include old favourites like dudh puli (thin rice pancakes doused in fragrant milk), puli pithe, gokul pithe, doodh puli, patishapta pithe and others. Til and gur are the omnipresent ingredients in the prasadam offered to Sun God as part of the celebrations. Be it as ellu bella in Karnataka which is a rich mix of til (sesame seeds), sharkara (jaggery), dry coconut and groundnuts that is distributed as a goodwill gesture or the elaborate Makara Chaula, a special newly harvested rice mixed with sugarcane juice, jaggery, grated coconut, banana, dry fruits and milk in Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.

FACTS ABOUT MAKAR SANKRANTI

Rajasthani Ghevar

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On Makar Sankranti, the Sun enters the sun sign of Capricorn or Makara (the Indian rashi). The festival falls on the equinox and day and night on this day are believed to be equal

According to the Gregorian calender, this is one of the few Indian festivals that falls on the same day every year

Makar Sankranti generally marks the beginning of the Kumbh Mela in Uttar Pradesh and in Kerala, Shabrimala ends on this auspicious day

In Maharashtra, married women are invited home for haldikumkum on this day


Khorisa Gahori

The slow-fire cooked, less-on-spice Here ariselu, a rice powder and jaggery khichdi made in Uttar Pradesh is often speciality and other rice and milk desserts sought-after for its rich yet simple taste. Its are a commonplace along with chaklis unique taste is attributed to the seasoned and til chikkis. earthenware it is cooked in and the rice However, the Sankranti must-have is the used, often the kernels chaffed from the first puffed rice called kurmura. While it is a part cut. In Rajasthan, where the of the snacks offered to guests festival is a three-day gourmet during Lohri in Punjab, Kerala, affair, the onset of the festival Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and West One dish unique is often determined by the new Bengal, kurmura laddoos (balls to the festival stalls of clothes, jewellery and of sweetened puffed rice) are and a must try utensils that mushroom in a a worth relishing is Kurmura, puffed rice market. On Sankranti day, huge too. Legend has it kadahis are bought out to create that while the til delicacies like ghevar, pheni, gur came from King gajak, til-patti, pakode and kheer. Legend has Kulothunga Chola III’s kitchen it that when Lord Krishna lifted Govardhan and was offered to the crowd that Parvat to shelter his villagers from the fury gathered to watch the bonfire of Lord Indra, ghevar was his favourite and dances, the kurmura laddoo morning meal. was an innovative royal offering The feast gets better and more ricefrom Ahom King Swarganarayana intensive as one heads down south where Suhungmung to the crowd that Makar Sankranti is said to have originated. came to the feast hut.

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CUISINE

Winter

break

Relish these mouth-watering delicacies during the cold months

SARSON KA SAAG

(Mustard greens with spinach) Preparation Time 30 minutes Cooking Time One hour Serves 4 Ingredients 1 kg mustard leaves (sarson ka saag), 500 g spinach, 1 cup water, 3 green chillies, salt to taste, 5 tbsp ghee, 1 large onion chopped, 8 cloves of garlic crushed, 2� chopped ginger, 4 tbsp makki ka atta (coarsely ground corn kernels), 1 tbsp butter to garnish Method The mustard leaves should have thick and tender stems. Wash them. Peel the stems by breaking a bit off the top and pulling down the length of the stem. Cut the leaves finely to ensure a fibre-free result. Wash the spinach and chop finely. Put water in the pressure cooker and bring to a boil. Add mustard greens, spinach and green chillies. The quantity may seem a lot but add it in batches and when it shrinks, add the next batch. When all the greens have fitted into the pan, add salt and a little water if needed. Bring to pressure (first whistle) and then cook for about 30 minutes on low heat. Remove the lid and cook to evaporate excess water. Cool and transfer to a blender. Blend in a coarse puree. Put the pureed saag back in the pan and cook on low heat.

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Put ghee in a separate pan, fry the onions until they turn light brown. Add garlic and ginger and fry till golden brown. Pour the saag and continue cooking for about 10 minutes, stirring continuously. Sprinkle makki ka atta into the saag, 1 tbsp at a time, stirring vigourously after each addition. Reduce the heat and cook for another 10 minutes until the saag gets a yellow tinge and becomes thick. Transfer it to a serving dish. Put a dollop of butter and serve it piping hot with makki ki roti.

MAKKI KI ROTI

Preparation Time 10 minutes Cooking Time 30 minutes Serves 4

Representational image

Ingredients 2 cups makki ka atta, 1 tsp salt, 1 grated white radish, ½ tsp carom seeds (ajwain), hot water as required, 4 tbsp oil, 3 tbsp butter Method Put makki ka atta in a bowl. Add salt, radish and carom seeds and mix. Add water, little at a time and knead to form a dough. Divide the dough into balls. Rub each ball with wet hands to give it a smooth texture. Sprinkle more water if required to prevent the roti from breaking. Put a ball of dough on a wet plastic sheet. Roll it into a round roti, one-eighth of an inch in thickness. Dip your fingers in water to prevent the dough from sticking. Heat a griddle (tawa), bring the plastic sheet close to griddle and carefully slip the roti onto the griddle. Cook on medium heat till one side is done. Dribble with a little oil and cook the other side till done. Butter the hot roti generously. Serve immediately. Courtesy: Fabulous Flavours: Brunch, High Tea, Cocktails, part of a series of cookbooks brought out by the External Affairs (Ministry’s) Spouses Association, New Delhi

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CONVERSATION

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Nothing is more imperative than a free

and equal world

Vidya Balan welcomes the change in the viewing preferences of Indian film audience with an increased appetite for varied genres text | Aarti Kapur Singh

V

idya Balan is happiest redefining have no physical resemblance with her. I feel her roles rather than defining them. granddaughter, Raima, who looks like her should Since her debut in Parineeta a be doing it,” she says. decade ago to the not-so-successful Vidya has, however, agreed to play actress Bobby Jasoos, she has done it with amazing Geeta Bali in a special appearance in Marathi consistency. Ultimate success for any actor film, Ek Albela. The biopic, on yesteryear actor is when the audience cannot Bhagwan Dada, traces the late actorimagine anyone else in that role. director’s life and the difficulties he All of Vidya’s All characters played by Vidya faced while making his 1951-musical portrayals have had her authority stamped Albela which featured Geeta Bali. on the silver on them. Post-marriage, Vidya “It is an honour to be playing the screen have has cut down on her assignments effervescent actor even if it is for a her authority and has turned down 10 biopics special appearance,” she says. stamped on them including ones based on the lives The actor feels there has been a of actors Meena Kumari and change in the viewing preferences Suchitra Sen, former Indian Prime Minister of Indian cine-goers with an increased appetite Indira Gandhi, supercop Kiran Bedi, vocalist for varied genres. “More and more small-budget MS Subbulakshmi and former Pakistan prime movies are now releasing in theatres and with minister Benazir Bhutto. “Though I loved the festivals like Mumbai Academy of the Moving script of the biopic on Suchitra Sen but I feel I Image (MAMI), things are going to get better,”

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CONVERSATION

Left: President of India Dr Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Padma Shri award to Vidya Balan; Right: Vidya in diverse roles in Bollywood

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observes Vidya. “The MAMI festival was The year 2015 was significant for incredible. I have been to MAMI earlier but Vidya as she completed a decade in the this edition was special with the opening at film industry. She says she will continue Gateway of India and getting mainstream to engage herself in encouraging Indian industry people on board. As a jury member, cinema on a global platform. Making the I was amazed with the talent. Also, the most of her personality, Vidya, not only as selection of films was incredible. I had an an actor but also as a person, has worked amazing time,” says Vidya. towards promoting gender Whether it was her poignant equality. For the fourth year The year 2015 role in Kahaani or the desperate in a row, Vidya was seen as the was significant hunger for success as Silk face of the Indian Film Festival for Vidya as Smitha in The Dirty Picture of Melbourne that started in she completed or as an independent 2012. This year, the theme of a decade in the single mother in Paa, the festival was “equality” as film industry Vidya has always stood suggested by Vidya. “Equality for what she believes in - trespassing society norms as well as gender inequality. At a recent public function, she chose to swim against the tide by refusing to return her national award, saying, “This honour is by the nation and not the Government. So, I do not want to return it.”

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is something I feel very passionately about... and in today’s times, nothing seems more imperative than a free and equal world. I believe art and films can help condition and change mindsets and attitudes. I am overjoyed to see wonderful films in recent times, celebrating and embracing the diversity that defines us all,” she says.

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Indiaperspectives jan feb16  

Indiaperspectives January February 2016

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