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INDIA VOL 26 NO. 8 NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2012

PERSPECTIVES

INSIDE

HERITAGE India’s Rich Legacy of Handicrafts FESTIVAL A Christmas Card From Shimla

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES Unfurling the Asian Dream CINEMA Amitabh Bachchan

TRAVEL Five reasons to visit Goa


INDIA THIS MONTH December 25-January 25 MAMALLAPURAM DANCE FESTIVAL Watch Kuchipudi, Odissi, Bharatanatyam, Kathakali and Kathak dancers from across India perform at the backdrop of rock sculptures. Where: Mahablipuram, Tamil Nadu December 15-January 31 KUTCH RANN UTSAV Watch artisans at work and explore the rich crafts legacy during the fair. Shop for textiles, shawls and rugs and go on camel safari or hop on to a hot air balloon. Food, music and cultural programmes are its other highlights. Where: Bhuj, Gujarat

December 27-29 SUNBURN FESTIVAL The 6th edition of Asia’s biggest dance music festival will feature artistes like Audiogramme, Above and Beyond, Jalebee Cartel and Laughing Buddha. Where: Candolim Beach, Goa December 23-29 INTERNATIONAL ODISSI DANCE FESTIVAL Enjoy a week of Indian classical dance by renowned dancers like Sonal Mansingh, Gayatri Chand and Meera Das. Foreign artistes from Russia, France, Italy, Mexico, US, Japan and Peru will also entertain the audience. Where: Bhubaneswar, Odisha

December 2012-January 2013

December 27-31 VISHNUPUR FESTIVAL Also known as the Poush mela, it has been given the status of national fair. The festival celebrates the rich heritage of this temple town known for its terracotta temples and silk saris. Other highlights include local handicrafts, cultural music and dance. Where: Bankura district, West Bengal

December 29-31 MOUNT ABU WINTER FESTIVAL A tribute to Rajasthan’s tribal life and culture, the three-day festivity includes ceremonial processions and folk performances by artistes from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana. Poetry reading sessions, kite flying, hot air ballooning, water sports and fireworks are its other attractions. Where: Mount Abu, Rajasthan

January 8-9 BIKANER CAMEL FESTIVAL A procession of bedecked camels is the highlight of the two-day event. The animals decorated in typical Rajasthani attires dance and take part in various competitions. Evenings are enlivened by folk music and dances. Where: Bikaner, Rajasthan

January 9-12 INTERNATIONAL KITE FESTIVAL Watch 150 fliers from across the world as they fly kites of different shapes and sizes along the banks of Sabarmati. A light and sound show, workshops and training on kite making are other events on its sidelines. Where: Ahmedabad


editorial note he New Year is here and a fresh set of resolutions is in place as we make a sincere effort to make 2013 better than the last year. It’s winter in Delhi and the nation is getting ready to celebrate its 64th Republic Day this January. To celebrate the good tidings, we bring you a special double issue that not just offers a list of gift ideas from India, but also assists you in planning a vacation that you have been waiting for. In our Heritage section, discover the rich handicraft tradition that is popular across the globe for its functional and aesthetic appeal. The palette is varied and vibrant with myriad hues of silks and cotton from Bengal to south India, ornate wooden collectibles, handmade jewellery from Orissa, Jharkhand and Nagaland, and colourful Madhubani, Pithora and Warli paintings. This tradition is also a source of livelihood to millions. Indian classical dance is creating a mark in the global arena. The art form has fascinated foreigners so much so that the number of international students coming to India to learn classical dance is increasing by the day. In this issue, we take a look at a few students who have followed their passion. What is more fascinating is that these foreign residents have built cultural bridges between nations, nationalities and people by propagating the Indian dance forms in their respective countries. As we look back at the year gone by, India had many reasons to cheer about. Year 2012 should be specifically remembered as the year of sportspersons as they dominated the scene right from London Olympics, where India witnessed its highest medal tally ever, to the field of cricket with Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th century and mega indoor sports such as billiards and chess, with Pankaj Advani and Viswanathan Anand bagging their eighth and fifth world title, respectively. The section, Newsmakers 2012 also recognises the Indian business and thought leaders, entertainers and activists who left their imprint on the year gone by. In Global Perspectives, we take a look at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Cambodia, which has set the stage for the Summit that is expected to result in the adoption of a Vision Statement which will chart the future direction of ASEANIndia relations. With the hope that this magic spell of good tidings continue, here’s wishing you all a Happy 2013!

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Riva Ganguly Das

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INDIA

PERSPECTIVES

November-December 2012  VOL 26 No. 8/2012

Editor: Riva Ganguly Das Assistant Editor: Ashish Arya

MEDIA TRANSASIA TEAM Senior Assistant Editor: Urmila Marak Creative Director: Bipin Kumar Editorial Coordinator: Kanchan Rana Design: Ajay Kumar (Assistant Art Director), Sujit Singh (Visualiser) Production: Sunil Dubey (DGM), Ritesh Roy (Sr. Manager) Brijesh K. Juyal (Pre-Press Operator) Chairman: J.S. Uberoi President: Xavier Collaco Financial Controller: Puneet Nanda Send editorial contributions and letters to Media Transasia India Ltd. 323, Udyog Vihar, Phase IV, Gurgaon 122016 Haryana, India E-mail: feedback.indiaperspectives@mtil.biz Telephone: 91-124-4759500 Fax: 91-124-4759550

India Perspectives is published every month in Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Bengali, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Pashto, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Sinhala, Spanish, Tamil, Turkish, Urdu and Vietnamese. Views expressed in the articles are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the Ministry of External Affairs. This edition is published for the Ministry of External Affairs by Riva Ganguly Das, Joint Secretary, Public Diplomacy Division, New Delhi, 0145, 'A' Wing, Jawahar Lal Nehru Bhawan, New Delhi-110011 Tel: 91-11-49015276 Fax: 91-11-49015277 Website: http://www.indiandiplomacy.in Text may be reproduced with an acknowledgement to India Perspectives For a copy of India Perspectives contact the nearest Indian diplomatic mission.

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NEWSMAKERS 2012


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India This Month

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Heritage: Gifts From India

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Festival: A Christmas Card from Shimla

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Global Perspectives: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Visit to Cambodia

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Comments: Aung San Suu Kyi’s Speech on Jawaharlal Nehru’s 123rd Birth Anniversary

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Campaign: India Is...

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Newsmakers 2012: A Look Back at the Year That Was

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Cinema: Amitabh Bachchan, India’s Most Enduring Superstar

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Culture: Language of the Soul: Indian Classical Dance

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Travel: Five Reasons to Visit Goa

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Profile: S.B. Mujumdar, Founder and Chancellor of Symbiosis International University

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Sports: History of Chess

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Review: Power of Printed Picture

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Verbatim: Anna M.M. Vetticad, Film Journalist, Writer and Teacher

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COVER PHOTO: A FOREIGNER PERFORMING AN ODISSI DANCE COVER DESIGN: BIPIN KUMAR

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gifts india HERITAGE

from

India’s rich tradition of handicrafts is not only popular in the country, but also in huge demand abroad. Whether it is the exquisite hand-printed textiles from Rajasthan, or the exclusive wall decor displaying the royal culture, or the intricate wood crafts from Srinagar, there is something special for everyone and they make perfect gift items during the festive season. India Perspectives unwraps some of them that represent the country’s cultural diversity...

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MARBLE CRAFT Jaipur and Agra are home to this extraordinary art work where the artisans have been passing on their skills from generations. From furniture, sculptures, figurines to vases, candle stands and other decorative items, marble craft holds a timeless appeal. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal, is the greatest example of marble architecture.

JUTTI Specific to Punjab and Rajasthan, this footwear is embellished with golden threads and colourful beads. The popular handcrafted jutti, made of different shades of leather, is not only a part of the ceremonial attire but also used casually by both men and women. The shimmering juttis adorned the feet of kings and queens of India and wealthy landlords earlier. NOVEMBERďšşDECEMBER 2012  INDIA PERSPECTIVES

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WOODCRAFT Decorative carving and inlay work with copper and brass wires, painting and lacquering are some unique woodcraft forms prevalent in India. Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh is popular for its intricate wooden work. Hoshiarpur in Punjab is famous for its lacquer work. Mysore and Bengaluru are known for handicrafts such as boxes, trays and key chains made from sandalwood. Kashmiri craftsmen are famous for their interesting array of wood work. Art pieces from Rajasthan are also in great demand.

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LEATHER CRAFT

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Shoes, jackets, lamp shades, pouches, handbags, leather garments, gloves, belts, wallets and stuffed toys made from leather are exported worldwide. Craftsmen from Rajasthan are known for their skilled decorative saddles, beautiful lamp and lamp shades. Kashmir is also famous for its ornamental leather products. Madhya Pradesh and Santiniketan in West Bengal are popular for its embroidered red leather items like shoes and bags.

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PAINTINGS India is known worldwide for its court paintings and folk styles. Miniature paintings in the Kangra style, Patachitra, folk paintings of Madhubani, Pithora, Warli, have moved on from walls to canvas and other media. The scroll paintings used by bards for story telling also adorn the walls be it the Phad from Rajasthan, Patta paintings from Bengal or Cherial from Andhra Pradesh.

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CREWEL EMBROIDERY A fascinating needle art similar to chain stitch, called crewel or aari embroidery, is in great demand worldwide. The beautiful embroidered fabric done with wool or silk thread on a closely woven ground fabric, typically linen or cotton is a speciality from Kashmir. They make excellent household furnishings, wall hangings, bedspreads, rugs, cushion, pillow and duvet covers.

BLUE POTTERY Blue pottery of Jaipur is the most exquisite and best known ceramic craft of the world. It is called ‘blue pottery’ as it is designed in vibrant blue. Various traditional and contemporary articles like dinner sets, flower pots, soap dishes, trays, lamp shades and jars are much coveted items. Delhi, Amritsar in Punjab and Rampur in Uttar Pradesh are other places to buy the glazed pottery from.


METAL CRAFT Uttar Pradesh is the largest brass and copper making state in India. Embossed, enamelled and burnished brass vessels, coffee tables, vases, candlesticks, beer mugs, statues, door knobs and knockers, drawer handles, and mirror frames are only a fraction of what is produced here. Brass workers in Varanasi, UP, specialise in engraving stylised flowers, vines, leaves, birds and geometric octagons on polished brass.

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TRADITIONAL JEWELLERY The jewellers here specialise in making lightweight, hollow gold and silver ornaments. Kundankari and Meenakari jewellery from Rajasthan, temple jewellery from Tamil Nadu stand out for their uniqueness. Tribal jewellery made from beads, wood, clay, shells and crude metal from Nagaland, Jharkhand, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh can be found across the country. While Mysore is renowned for gold filigree, silver filigree work stands out from Cuttack, Odisha, and Karimnagar in Andhra Pradesh. The account is incomplete without a reference to the exquisite silver jewellery from Gujarat, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir.


CLAY CRAFT The exquisitely crafted terracotta hanging lamps, hand-made diyas (lamps), figurines, pots, toys, wall hangings, candle stands have many international buyers. Terracotta handmade designer decorative tiles have also gained immense popularity worldwide. West Bengal, Bihar, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh are famous for making clay and terracotta idols of Hindu gods and goddesses.

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TRADITIONAL TOYS The handcrafted string puppets from Rajasthan, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Odisha are the most popular and they make perfect wall hangings. Banrutti in Tamil Nadu is known for clay dolls. Wooden toys of Andhra Pradesh are also very popular. Bridal dolls from West Bengal, Tripura and Manipur are in great demand.

APPLIQUE WORK The appliquĂŠ work of Odisha is an inseparable part of the temple tradition. It is used as canopies during the annual Rath Yatra or the Chariot Festival at Puri to protect the chariots of Lord Jagannath. The colourful lamp shades, garden umbrellas, bed covers, pillow covers, wall hangings and even handbags are popular gift items. The motifs vary from beautiful animals, birds, flowers and leaves.

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CANE AND BAMBOO CRAFT The vast repertoire of bamboo and cane products include floor and tablemats, lamp shades, trays, baskets, jewellery, handbags, furniture, mugs, musical instruments, dolls and toys. The best places to buy these eco-friendly products are from Assam, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Tripura, Kerala, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.


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WEAVES AND TEXTILES Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh remains most reputed for its silk brocade saris. Weavers create five yards of sheer poetry. Birds, flower motifs, all gorgeously worked in gold, silver and copper wires trail all over as you drape the graceful fabric across. Kanjeevaram silk sari from the south with its beautiful swan borders and elaborate design, patola from Gujarat, paithani from Maharashtra, Lucknow chikan, tussar from Bihar, eri and muga silk from Assam, bomkai from Odisha, Kantha and Batik from West Bengal are much coveted. The intricate designs are found not only on saris but also on stoles, dress materials and shawls.

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FESTIVAL

A Christmas Card from

SHIMLA John Dayal travels back to his childhood to meet the angels and shepherds on the white hills

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ostalgia can always make it snow on the Simla hills on Christmas eve. That is how I remember Simla, long before it changed its name to Shimla and lost the white cover on the most important morning of the year, December 25. Papa had been posted there in the early 1950s, straight from Srinagar. It was a new country, revelling in its new-found freedom, and yet desperate to forget, the trauma of Partition, which had spared neither the valley of Kashmir nor the dales of New Shimla, heavy with refugees seeking new homelands and new livings. This was prime time for army pioneers, and men of the Survey of India. The structure of the Forces made it certain that men of the sea and the wide rivers were seeing the High Ranges for the first time in their lives. And for the younger lot still on a belated honeymoon, their firstborns could legitimately claim the heritage of

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the Himalayas, as to those heights-born. Not so easy on the young mothers, toting their first or first two children in a strange land, no joint or extended families for support, not even really the comfort of common languages. The melting and mixing machine of the Forces ensured the neighbourhood, clinging to rented rooms and barracks on the hillside off the Mall Road, had a motley mix of tongues and cultures, food platters and grandma tales on how to bring up a family. It was fun and the weather and the company had much to do with it. The mix ensured we would not be talking of a Western Christmas-card Christmas, as perhaps celebrated in Bombay (now Mumbai) and Goa, if only they could buy the snow with their money. It was also not just the routinely festive appam (pancake made from rice), stew and sweets of the south, or the gujiyas

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(crescent-shaped fried pastries) and shakkar-paras (deep-fried sweet crackers) of the northern plains. The cake could be bought from the few excellent shops on the Mall as a universal equaliser, but the variety came from the cultural mix. That is where my mother learnt to make kheer (milk-based dessert), the pulao (a rice dish), and the aforementioned chicken stew. The shakkar-paras could be kept in the tin box long after the cake had been consumed, and the curry was just a memory. But of course I am getting ahead of my story. Memories of food will always alter such memoirs. As every child knows, Christmas begins long before Christmas, perhaps a month before, and it has nothing to do with the Lenten season of Advent or anything so religious. It has to do with anticipation. There is a sharp chill in the air, there are mornings and evenings of fog, or, rather, low clouds that either

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rise from the valleys or descend from the peaks to straddle the tall firs and the shrubs with bright red bunches of flowers in a nice game of hide-and-seek. The sharp slope down the Mall on either side, one leading to the St Thomas school, where a few boys were admitted to an all-girl establishment as concession to the families of the Forces and Survey of India, had always provided for some delectable, if dangerous, slides with improvised wheeled boards, and the young males were looking forward to do the run without wheels once the slope had turned white. There was some carol singing to be had, or heard, and in multiple languages, but I now do not fully remember if mother ever took us to a midnight service. The morning service more than made up for it. As always during winter and even in summer, mother would give us our thrice-a-week bath late in the evening, just


CHRISTMAS BEGINS LONG, BEFORE CHRISTMAS,

PERHAPS A MONTH BEFORE, AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE LENTEN SEASON OF ADVENT OR ANYTHING SO RELIGIOUS. IT HAS TO DO WITH ANTICIPATION

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CHRISTMAS DAY ALWAYS DAWNED BRIGHT

AND AS CRISP AS OUR SHIRTS. ALLELUIA! IT HAD SNOWED THE PREVIOUS NIGHT AND CLEARED UP JUST IN TIME FOR THE SERVICE

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before tucking us into bed. There was just not time enough, or enough hot water, in the mornings for a bath before school or before church. The flannels and sharply pressed shirts, the halfsleeve sweater and the blue-green school blazer — we were either too poor or too staid to have more than one woollen suit any winter, and anyway we were growing so fast that nothing would last us more than six months — were neatly folded by the bed, ready for the morning. Christmas Day always dawned bright and as crisp as our shirts. Alleluia! It had snowed the previous night and cleared up just in time for the service. The Army three-tonner, or perhaps two one-tonners, would roll along, halting just to pick up the small family of four off the barrack or the house, and trundle on. Mixed with the aromas of rich cake and gujiyas, for me, is always the smell of freshly spilled petrol, leaking from the cap

of the high-placed fuel tank on the one-tonner. I can imagine why some people smell petrol to get a high. Church services, I suppose, have not changed for centuries, and perhaps never will. It is time of rejoicing and repentance, to be thankful to the Lord for giving us his only Son. It is the time and occasion to see Christ as a vulnerable human being, a tiny babe just like your own little brother, perhaps sobbing in his sleep or gurgling in delight, as we did, at the sight of the sheep and lambs the shepherds would be herding on the mountainside. Shepherds for us were real things, very real. And if you lived in Simla, then, so were angels and choirs in the heavens. As I close my eyes on Advent this year, celebrating my own 65 years, I can still smell the snow, the cake, and the petrol. And imagine the shepherds and the angels on the white hillside, playing peek-a-boo with the clouds. 

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (fifth from left) with other leaders at the 10th ASEAN-India Summit in Phnom Penh

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES

UNFURLING THE ASIAN DREAM Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Cambodia has set the stage for the first-ever commemorative summit India will host with ASEAN leaders in New Delhi TEXT: MANISH CHAND

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nimated by his vision of an arc of prosperity across Asia and soaring dreams of an Asian century, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh traveled to Cambodia from November 17-20. The trip saw a distinct surge of India’s Look East Policy and a forceful re-affirmation of New Delhi’s growing bonds with this dynamic region, home to tiger economies and cuttingedge innovation and enterprise. In a confluence of economic and strategic interests, Manmohan Singh participated in the 10th ASEAN-India Summit and the 18-nation East Asia Summit (EAS) that underlined India’s growing stakes in this region which has emerged as a repository of hope in gloomand-doom times of the global slowdown. Besides multilateral diplomacy, Dr Singh also held bilateral talks with a host of leaders on the margins of the summit, including Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Sinawatra

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and Sultan of Brunei Darusssalam, Hassanal Bolkiah. At the summit, meeting with 10 leaders of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), India pitched closer economic integration and connectivity as the twin focus areas that have the potential to transform the interlinked destinies of countries in the region. Phnom Penh, the historic and charming Cambodian capital, has a special resonance as it was here that India held its first summit with the ASEAN and began a win-win journey that is crossing new milestones every year. “As we gather for our 10th summit in the country that hosted the first such event, let me reaffirm that India attaches the highest strategic priority to its relations with ASEAN,” Manmohan Singh said. Conjuring up a robust vision of a resurgent Asia and the larger region, what he has famously enunciated as an arc of prosperity, the prime minister said: “A future of peace,

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (left) with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Phnom Penh

ENGAGING CHINA: A FAREWELL TO PREMIER WEN It was a meeting bristling with nostalgia, warm sentiments and mutual reaffirmation of taking India-China relations to new heights in the next decade. This was the last meeting of Manmohan Singh with Wen, who makes way for the new Premier Le Keqiang in March. The two leaders fondly recalled 14 meetings they had in the last seven years in Beijing and New Delhi as well as in world capitals on the margins of various multilateral summits. Alluding to Wen’s two visits to India in 2005 and 2010, Manmohan Singh lauded the Chinese leader’s personal endeavour to make the bilateral relationship “stronger, wider and deeper.” “We established good working relationship and friendship between us. This is a reflection of friendship between our two great nations,” said Wen. The two leaders decided to build on concrete achievements of the last few years which saw bilateral trade soaring to US $75 billion, and a host of confidence building measures, including the border mechanism to maintain peace and tranquility on the frontiers. The Chinese premier described his experience of working with Dr Singh as “memorable” and voiced confidence that the new leadership, which takes charge next year, will give greater importance to ties with New Delhi. Manmohan Singh conveyed his sense of satisfaction at the multi-faceted architecture of bilateral engagement that has been firmed up, including multiple meetings between foreign ministers and new initiatives such as maritime dialogue, setting up of media forum and dialogue on west and central Asia. Pitching for greater Chinese investment in India’s infrastructure sector, Manmohan Singh also pushed for greater market access to Indian pharmaceutical, IT and service sectors to bridge the widening trade deficit. The Chinese leader promised to address issues related to trade deficit which is estimated to be around US$ 27 billion in Beijing’s favour.

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Nothing illustrates the growing India-ASEAN synergy more than the blossoming of trade, business and investment ties. The free trade agreement, which was sealed in 2009 and became fully operational in August 2011, has borne rich fruits

stability and prosperity in the Asia Pacific requires increased cooperation and integration in the region. ASEAN has shown the way in this regard.” He pitched for the ASEAN’s centrality in the ongoing project of renaissance and renewal in the region. “We support the objectives of an ASEAN Community by 2015, the Initiative for ASEAN Integration and the ASEAN Master Plan on Connectivity,” he said, encapsulating the three pillars that underpin the future of India-ASEAN cooperation. Nothing illustrates the growing India-ASEAN synergy more than the blossoming of trade, business and investment ties. The free trade agreement, which was sealed in 2009 and became fully operational in August 2011, has borne rich fruits. Bilateral trade has breached the target and has spiralled to US$ 80 billion. The two sides are looking to conclude an agreement on trade in services and investment promotion before the December 20-21 Commemorative Summit in New Delhi. This landmark pact, as Manmohan Singh has said, will be “a springboard for rapid expansion in economic relations” between the two sides. Connectivity, physical, institutional, mental and spiritual, was the reigning mantra and the way to go. A web of rail, road and sea links has the potential to integrate India’s 1.2 billion population, with its overwhelmingly young workforce, with ASEAN’s 600 million people and entwine the region that boasts the combined Gross Domestic Product of US$ 3.8 trillion. The dream of a road trip from India to Bangkok

and onwards is inching incrementally to fruition. The summit saw the leaders pushing the showpiece project of the Trilateral Highway linking Thailand and Myanmar with India, also called the Friendship Road. India has built a significant chunk of its stretch of the 1,400 km Trilateral Highway, which seeks to connect Moreh in Manipur, northeast India, to Mae Sot in Thailand. The proposed new highway is expected to be completed by 2016. Increased connectivity seeks to position people at the heart of this burgeoning relationship. The Cambodia summit gave a thumbs-up to a host of initiatives India has undertaken in the run-up to the Commemorative Summit that promises to connect the hearts and minds of nearly 2 billion people of the two regions. A car rally has been kicked off from Yogakarta in Indonesia and will culminate in India’s northeast. INS Sudarshini, an Indian naval ship, is docking at ports of the ASEAN countries, reviving and building on an ancient sea route link with the region. Moving beyond commerce and connectivity, India has also firmed up a multi-faceted partnership with the ASEAN. The growing engagement in areas such as defence, maritime security and counter-terrorism bear testament to a relationship that has acquired greater strategic heft. This identity of perspectives and shared imperatives was also reflected in the 18-member EAS, an evolving forum that is emerging as a premier institution for crafting an open, balanced and inclusive security architecture in the

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Dr Singh (right) with US President Barack Obama (fourth from left) and other leaders at the 7th East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh

India has pitched for greater economic integration with the larger East Asia Summit (EAS) region that also includes the US and Russia. Speaking at the EAS summit, Dr Singh welcomed the launch of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations

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Dr Singh with the Sultan of Brunei Darusssalam, Hassanal Bolkiah

region. In this context, Dr Singh made it clear that in view of proliferation of other initiatives like the ASEAN Regional Forum, India sees ASEAN as “the bridge to the East.” “We can create an open, balanced, inclusive and rule-based architecture in the region for our collective security, stability and prosperity,” said the Prime Minister. Building upon its closer engagement with ASEAN, India has pitched for greater economic integration with the larger EAS region that also includes the US and Russia. Speaking at the EAS summit, Dr Singh welcomed the launch of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations. In his interactions, India’s proactive and affirmative role in the ASEAN and in the larger region came in for appreciation from all leaders. “As you know, the ASEAN group has decided on greater integration in creation of an ASEAN community by 2015,” said Sanjay Singh, Secretary (East) in

India’s External Affairs Ministry. “India has been supportive, especially through projects and programmes focused on the CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) countries. These are programmes which deal with English learning, vocational training and entrepreneurship development, basically programmes for developing capacities,” he added. The Cambodia meet has set the stage for the first-ever Commemorative Summit India will host with ASEAN leaders in New Delhi from December 20, which will celebrate 20 years of the country’s ties with the bloc and the 10th anniversary of ASEAN-India Summit-level partnership. The best is yet to come, as Manmohan Singh said memorably in Phnom Penh after his meeting with Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, which is to take over as chair of the ASEAN for 2013. —Manish Chand is a senior editor at IANS

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COMMENT

“Our movement for democracy in Burma is firmly rooted in Gandhi’s principle of non-violence” here can be few occasions in life more fulfilling than those on which debts of kindness and friendship can be repaid. These past few months have furnished me with many opportunities to thank people and organisations and governments for their staunch support for the democratic cause in Burma and for me personally. The sympathy and understanding we received from around the world enabled us to continue with renewed vigour along our chosen course in the face of immense difficulties. Words of thanks alone are barely an adequate return for encouragement and help given in generous measure when we were most in need. Today, I wish to thank you for the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Prize that was awarded to me in 1995, the year I was released from my first term of house arrest. The links between the independence movements of our two countries and my personal ties to India imbued the prize with a special meaning for me. The thoughts and actions of the leaders of the Indian independence movement provided me with ideas and inspiration. Our movement for democracy in Burma is firmly rooted in the principle of non-violence that Gandhi made into an effective political force even against the most powerful opponents. His influence on my political thinking is widely recognised. The influence of Jawaharlal Nehru on my life in politics is less well known. “Panditji” was a name known to me since I was little past the toddler stage. My mother spoke of him as a revered friend, almost a father figure, both to her and to my father. I had little idea of his importance as a statesman beyond the fact that he was the Prime Minister of India. To my infant mind he was the kindly old man who had provided my father with two sets of uniform, the smartest he ever possessed… After my father’s death, Nehru continued to keep an avuncular eye on my mother from afar. Whenever she went

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to India or whenever he came on official visits to Burma, he made her feel his concern for her well-being and the wellbeing of her children... The year I went to Oxford, 1964, was one of the most significant turning points in my life. It was also the year Nehru died. Next to the overwhelming grief of the people not just in India but in all parts of the world, I remember most vividly reports of the poem by Robert Frost found on his desk. Oxford did not take me away from India for I made many Indian friends there. After my marriage, my husband’s work in Himalayan studies took our family frequently to the north of the country. My last sojourn in India was spent as a research fellow in the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies in Shimla from 1987 to 1988. The year of Nehru’s birth centenary, 1989, was the year I was placed under house arrest for the first time. It could be said to be the year of my political coming of age. When I joined the movement for democracy in 1988 the whole country was in a state of upheaval and my major concern was to try to unite the myriad political groups that had emerged from the cracks in totalitarian rule into a strong, coherent force for democracy. Each day was more than eventful: discussions, debates, public meetings, founding the National League for Democracy (NLD), touring the country to explain the aims of our party to the people. The State Law and Order Restoration Council had announced that elections would be held in 1990 and the election laws were made public in April 1989. The Central Committee of the NLD was divided over whether or not the party should contest the elections. I pointed out that the laws made no provision for the transfer of power and that I did not believe the military regime would step down unless the winner turned out to be the erstwhile Burma Socialist Programme Party. We were still undecided with regard to the

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election issue when I was placed under house arrest in July... House arrest meant that external activities suddenly came to a halt. It was also an indication that our struggle would be difficult and long. I would have to decide how I would chart the course of my life for the foreseeable future. Among the ‘maps’ I used to see me through the years that headed into the unknown were Nehru’s autobiography and Discovery of India… There was, however, also much in Nehru’s books to make me feel we had many things in common. I was struck by the fact that the very first fragment of poetry he quoted in Discovery of India was from one of my favourite poems, one that had lodged itself in my memory almost instantly at my very first reading of it, Yeat’s An Irish Airman Foresees His Death... Yet even in our liking for the same lines there was a difference. Nehru wrote of wanting to experience again ‘that lovely impulse of delight’ that ‘turns to risk and danger and faces and mocks at death.’ I had remembered the words as ‘that lonely impulse of delight,’ and I could not check to see which version was correct as I did not have the poem to hand. To me, ‘lovely’ changed the entire meaning of the poem. I wished I could have discussed the matter with Nehru himself. Was it not essentially lonely, rather than lovely, to delight in what would seem at least inexplicable if not outright undesirable, to most of those around us? When, after the years of house arrest, I managed to look up the poem I found that ‘lonely’ was indeed the right word. Was ‘lovely’ a misprint in my copy of Discovery of India or had Nehru misread the line? To mull over the meaning of a word, to build a whole philosophy on the interpretation of a poem, these are pastimes in which prisoners, particularly prisoners of conscience, engage, not just to fill empty hours but from a need to understand better, and perhaps to justify, the actions and decisions that have led them away from the

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PANDITJI WAS A NAME KNOWN TO ME SINCE I WAS LITTLE PAST THE TODDLER STAGE. MY MOTHER SPOKE OF HIM AS A REVERED FRIEND, ALMOST A FATHER FIGURE, BOTH TO HER AND TO MY FATHER


Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi displays her book during the Nehru Memorial Lecture in New Delhi

normal society of other human beings. To begin with, what exactly is our conscience? My father once spoke about the need to be able to stand confidently before the court of his conscience. But this court, how broad is the range of its jurisdiction? Did it restrict its mandate to our convictions and our public commitments or would it also enquire impartially into the love and care we owe in our private relations, our obligations to friends and families? This is a question that must surely trouble all who, regardless of the condition of near and dear ones, accept distress and danger in the name of a cause or a belief. Nehru explores this dilemma in writing about his wife Kamala. In 1934, while serving one of his many terms of imprisonment, it was suggested to him “through various intermediaries” that if he were to give an assurance, even an informal one, that he would keep away from politics for the rest of the term to which he had been sentenced, he would be released to tend to his ailing wife. This roused a deep indignation in the proud independence fighter. “Politics was far enough from my thoughts just then, and the politics I had seen during my eleven days outside had disgusted me, but to give an assurance! And to be disloyal to my pledges, to the cause, to my colleagues, to myself! It was an impossible condition, whatever happened. To do so meant inflicting a mortal injury on the roots of my being, on almost everything I held sacred. I was told that Kamala’s condition was becoming worse and worse and my presence by her side might make all the difference between life and death. Was my personal conceit and pride greater than my desire to give her this chance? It might have been a terrible predicament for me, but fortunately that dilemma did not face me in that way at least. I knew that Kamala herself would strongly disapprove of my giving any undertaking, and if I did anything of the kind it would shock her and harm her.” “Early in October I was taken to see her. She was lying

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THE LESSON NEHRU LEARNT IS ONE WE HAVE TO LEARN AND RELEARN, AGAIN AND AGAIN, ALONG THE LONG AND DIFFICULT JOURNEY TO GOALS THAT CAN ONLY BE WON THROUGH HARD WORK AND PERSEVERANCE

almost in a daze with a high temperature. She longed to have me by her, but as I was leaving her, to go back to prison, she smiled at me bravely and beckoned to me to bend down. When I did so, she whispered: ‘What is this about your giving an assurance to Government? Do not give it!’” The above passages fascinated me. The monumental egoism: ‘my pledges,’ ‘my colleagues,’ ‘myself,’ ‘the roots of my being,’ ‘everything I held sacred.’ The briefest appearance before an impartial court of conscience before deciding that he would be doing Kamala more harm than good by doing what was repugnant to his principles. And Kamala’s own words put the seal of approval on his decision. Yet in full awareness of the egoism and some possible self-deception on the part of Nehru, I have to confess that I wholly endorsed his stand on the matter. After my release from my first term of house arrest, I made public speeches to supporters who gathered in the street outside my garden at weekends. On one such occasion, I spoke of the above episode and urged the families of democracy activists to cultivate Kamala’s fortitude and dedication. Such are the exigencies of dangerous causes. The lesson I really learnt, however, was not to deceive myself, or others, with the claim that we are making self-sacrifices when we follow our conscience; we are simply making a choice and possibly an egoistic one at that... The ones who make real sacrifices are those who let us go free to keep our secret trysts with destiny. Politics is about people and people are about relationships, whether at a private or public level. The two Indian leaders to whom I feel closest are undoubtedly Gandhi and Nehru because many of the challenges they faced along the path to independence are the ones we have been facing over the course of our struggle which will mark its quarter century next year. The survival of their relationship, which was both personal and political, in spite of their many differences is one of the triumphs of Indian

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politics. When Gandhi decided to withdraw the Civil Disobedience movement, Nehru was deeply distressed. He railed: “Why should we be tossed hither and thither for, what seemed to me, metaphysical and mystical reasons in which I was not interested? Was it conceivable to have any political movement on this basis?” The doubts that arose in his mind over Gandhi’s methods caused Nehru intense agony. In his cell in Alipore Gaol, life appeared to him “a dreary affair, a very wilderness of desolation. Of the many hard lessons that I had learnt, the hardest and the most painful now faced me: that it is not possible in any vital matter to rely on any one. One must journey through life alone; to rely on others is to invite heartbreak.” The lesson Nehru learnt is one we have to learn and relearn, again and again, along the long and difficult journey to goals that can only be won through hard work and perseverance. At the same time, if our hearts cannot cleave to our colleagues, if our loyalty to those who share our values and aspirations becomes strained, or we have reason to doubt their loyalty, we are cast adrift into a wilderness of uncertainty. During one of my periods of isolation, I jotted down on a piece of paper that if I could be sure of one, just one, totally trustworthy, totally reliable, totally understanding, totally committed friend and colleague, who would keep faith with me and with the cause in which we believed throughout the vicissitudes of this existence, I could challenge the combined forces of heaven and earth. In isolation, one tends towards melodrama. When I heard on the radio, suddenly and unexpectedly one day, that the Central Executive Committee had expelled me from the party for the simple reason that I happened to be under detention, I felt myself to be in a curious no man’s land, far away from everything except my own volition. I realised that pressure must have been exerted on the party and that it must be going through a very difficult period.


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Aung San Suu Kyi was gifted a thangka painting during her visit to Lady Sri Ram College, New Delhi

Finally, I decided that it was for me to keep faith with my party as long as it kept faith with our cause, regardless of their official position with regard to me. I thought of Nehru’s ability to keep true to Gandhi in spite of serious differences between them and it strengthened my conviction that we had to cleave to comrades and colleagues despite dissension and disagreement... Gandhi once said that Motilal Nehru’s most striking quality was love for his son: “Motilal’s love for India was derived from his love for Jawaharlal.” This comment led me to wonder if my love for Burma derives from my love for my father, whom I do not really remember. His image for me is inseparable from his part in the independence movement of our country, which often in my mind merges with our present struggle for democracy that has not yet come to an end. In spite of the strong ties of love, temperament and

blood between his father and himself, or perhaps because of it, Jawaharlal Nehru was able to accept Gandhi as a father also, a political, spiritual father whom he could regard as the light of the people of India. The nature of such political, spiritual kinship binds us with a fastness difficult to put into words, as cold as calculation (“we fall unless we stick together”) and warmer than any personal passion (“we need one another to keep the core of our being intact”)… Today, as I thank all of you for honouring me with the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Prize, I would like to express my deep appreciation for the leaders of India who became my most precious friends because their lives helped me to find my way through uncharted terrain. The discovery of Nehru was also a discovery of myself. — Excerpts from Nobel Peace Laureate and Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech at Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial, New Delhi, on November 14, 2012, the 123rd birth anniversary of the former Prime Minister

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CAMPAIGN

Visual Journey Continues

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TEXT: MEENAKSHI KUMAR

ore than a year ago, a global photography and video campaign ‘India Is’ was launched. The idea was to invite entries from people across the world on their impressions of India and thereby, highlight the country’s soft power. What was unique about the campaign was that it was online—a challenge that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) was willing to take. A year later, the challenge has paid off beautifully. In its first year, India Is has received over 245 video entries from 42 countries across the world. The Global Video Challenge received 235 eligible entries, 50 per cent of which were from international participants. Such an overwhelming response served as an impetus for the organisers to carry on with greater zeal. Akshay Tandon, a Mumbai-based entrepreneur who is the brain behind the initiative, is “satisfied” with the way it turned out. “The journey has been an incredible one because we created something focused around the country and pushed it only through digital and online avenues and managed to receive a positive response,” he says. “Overall, we were satisfied with the way the initiative was received and how people from all across the world responded and interacted with India Is,” he adds. The highest international entries, interestingly, came from the US, a total of 22. This was followed by France, which sent 10. The UK and Canada had eight entries each while Australia had six. Romania, too, sent five entries. One of the high points of the campaign was to receive entries from countries such as Serbia, Peru, Armenia, Palestine, Panama, Mexico and Ethiopia. “Several of the entries displayed a creative spin on the themes given and used film beautifully to portray their points. The initiative showed that there are so many different perceptions and experiences that visitors, as well as those who live in the country have about India. These differences and experiences came through beautifully in the short films received,” notes Tandon. Fortunately, the videos and photographs brought out interesting facets of India rather than focusing on stereotypes. In its second year, a Global Photography Challenge was launched around three themes: ‘India is Incredible’, ‘India Is Unforgettable, It Stays With You’, and ‘India Is Wherever You Are’. The Photography Challenge was open for entries till November 30, 2012. From November 9, 2012 a Video Challenge was launched based on the themes: ‘India Is Incredible’; ‘India ls Unforgettable, It Stays With You’ and ‘India Is Wherever You Are’. The contest closes on February 9, 2013. India Is has tied up with YouTube for this contest. For the winners, the prizes range from a stay at exotic getaways across India courtesy Taj Holidays, a photo shoot for travel magazine Condé Nast Traveller and an all-expenses paid trip to India for outsiders. All details of the contest can be accessed at www.indiais.org. So, let this incredible visual journey continue. 

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NEWSMAKERS

TOTAL RECALL TEXT: MANNIKA CHOPRA

o what was 2012 like? It was after all the year India turned 65, Bihar 100, SMS’ 20 and the year summer Olympics were held in London. Was it a year of joy, hope, tears and treachery, a cloud with some assorted bronze, silver and golden linings? Or, as someone once suggested of 2008, it was a year that need not be remembered. What ever the kind of year 2012 was, it was full of newsmakers that in every sense of the word have impacted and influenced perceptions and people. A whole array of business and thought leaders, entertainers, sports stars, activists, who for good or for ill left their imprint on 2012. Some of our newsmakers were certainly controversial, despicable even, others maybe predictable but all of them were certainly worthy of being tagged newsmakers.

So here is India Perspectives’ random, and self-admittedly, unscientific selection of people who have had an effect on 2012. Next year, who knows, this inventory could look completely different. As the great 21st century philosopher-newsmaker, Chetan Bhagat once said in a speech, perhaps with a reference to instant headline heroes: “…we are like a pre-paid card with limited validity. If we are lucky, we may last another 50 years. And 50 years is just 2,500 weekends. ” While not recording in any pecking or chronological order, we have started with some illustrious newsmakers in the field of business. Such as Cyrus Pallonji Mistry who was

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CYRUS P. MISTRY, DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF TATA SONS, WAS HANDED THE BATON OF THE TATA GROUP BY RATAN TATA

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CHANDA KOCCHAR, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF ICICI BANK, PROVED SHE IS A WORTHY SUCCESSOR TO M.V. KAMATH


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YUSUF HAMIED IS RESPONSIBLE FOR TAKING ON MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES AND BRINGING DOWN THE COST PRICE OF ESSENTIAL DRUGS

handed the baton of the Tata group by Ratan Tata. Chanda Kocchar, managing director and chief executive officer of ICICI Bank, as a worthy successor to M.V. Kamath, deserved a special mention too. In the area of manufacturing, names like Yusuf Hamied, the most talked about man in the pharmaceutical circles, emerged. A scientist and chairperson of Cipla, Hamied was single-handedly responsible for taking on multinational companies and bringing down the cost price of essential drugs, including those for cancer and HIVAIDS. N. Chandrasekharan appeared in our Newsmakers’ Who’s Who for making TCS a force to reckon with in the Information Technology sector. A Catholic priest-turned-social worker, Kulandei Francis made headlines this year when he was presented the highest civilian honour in Asia, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, for bringing a positive change in the lives of many living in the rural areas. There were tears, mostly of joy, and some of sadness in the sports arena. First off, the

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SUSHIL KUMAR IS THE FIRST INDIAN INDIVIDUAL ATHLETE TO WIN TWO MEDALS IN TWO CONSECUTIVE OLYMPICS

London Olympics saw wrestler Sushil Kumar, the first Indian individual athlete to win two medals in two consecutive Olympics — London and Beijing. Helped by Vijay Kumar, who also won a silver medal, they brought India its highest Olympic medal tally. Shuttler Saina Nehwal won the country’s first medal in badminton, and boxer MC Mary Kom from Manipur received oodles of media attention when she won the bronze medal at the Olympics. Cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar made his hundredth international century in Dhaka even as critics and carpers had said that he had passed his sell-by date. Nobody said it was going to be easy and yes, he did buckle under the pressure at times but his numerous fans, nerves frayed and raw, kept hoping. Finally, it happened: the Master Blaster made another significant entry in the world’s cricketing statistics. Still on cricket, 24-year-old Virat Kohli from Delhi sealed his place as a potential captain

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SACHIN TENDULKAR MADE HIS HUNDREDTH INTERNATIONAL CENTURY IN DHAKA


THEORETICAL SCIENTIST ASHOKE SEN WON THE FIRST FUNDAMENTAL PHYSICS PRIZE OF US$ 3 MILLION FOR HIS WORK ON STRING THEORY


PHOTO: LAKSHMI PRABHALA PHOTO: DIJESHWAR SINGH/TEHELKA

TESSY THOMAS, PROJECT DIRECTOR FOR THE AGNI MISSILES SERIES, WAS DUBBED INDIA’S MISSILE WOMAN

this year by his sterling performances, which were nothing short of amazing, in all the three formats of cricket. He was also presented the International Cricket Council One Day International Player of the Year Award of 2012. The year saw the mushrooming of other world titles and records: Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand, who successfully defended his world championship for the fifth time, was once again the King of 64 squares. At twenty-seven, Pankaj Advani clinched the World Billiard Championships, making it his eighth world title. In the field of science, the Indian Space Research Organisation launched its 100th mission into space with PSLV C21 rocket. Tessy Thomas, a key defence scientist overseeing the Agni missiles series, established that it is possible for a woman to juggle home, hearth and missile technology at the same time. Then we have theoretical scientist Ashoke Sen, who became one of the richest professors of the world when he won the first Fundamental Physics prize of US$ 3 million for his work on string theory. In the realm of entertainment, India celebrated 100 glorious years since the release

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of the country’s first full-length feature film, Raja Harishchandra. Also in the frame was an action-thriller with the unlikely name of Ek Tha Tiger which became the second-highest grossing Bollywood films of all times. Cinestar Aamir Khan was headline fixture when he showed that television could be an instrument of social change through his weekly programme Satyamev Jayate. And while songs floated in and out of Bollywood perhaps one that ruled the radio waves most consistently was the unaffected, Why this Kolaveri Di? Translated loosely as, Why this Rage? the crossover Tamil-English song was officially released in the end of 2011 but it makes our list as the song went viral in 2012. In the literary world, three Indians featured in the Man Asia Literary Prize list — Anjali Joseph for her autobiographical work, Another Country, Jeet Thayil for his début book, Narcopolis and Malayalam author Benyamin for his novel, Goat Days. Thayil’s novel has also been shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature (2013) and the 2012 Man Booker Prize. India’s first indigenously created low-cost tablet Aakash 2 grabbed headlines as United

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CINESTAR AAMIR KHAN WAS HEADLINE FIXTURE WHEN HE SHOWED THAT TELEVISION COULD BE AN INSTRUMENT OF SOCIAL CHANGE


JEET THAYIL’S DEBUT NOVEL NARCOPOLIS WAS SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN ASIA LITERARY PRIZE

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UN SECRETARY GENERAL BAN KI-MOON UNVEILED INDIA’S FIRST INDIGENOUSLY CREATED LOW-COST TABLET AAKASH 2 AT THE UN


LEGENDARY MUSICIAN PANDIT RAVI SHANKAR WAS A PIONEER IN TAKING INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC TO A GLOBAL AUDIENCE. HOMAI VYARAWALLA, INDIA’S FIRST WOMAN PHOTOGRAPHER, HAD CAPTURED INDIA’S GREATEST POLITICAL LEADERS AND EVENTS THROUGH HER LENS

Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised India as a “super power” in the field of Information Technology as he unveiled the low-cost gadget at the UN. Sadly, there were other, more solemn milestones. Former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral, the initiator of the Gujral Doctrine and perhaps a most reluctant newsmaker, passed away in December. So did Shiv Sena’s Bal Thackeray, cartoonist and political leader. Verghese Kurien, a social entrepreneur and the man behind India’s most successful dairy cooperative also died leaving an intimidating legacy as did Homai Vyarawalla, India’s first woman photographer, who thorough her lens captured India’s greatest political leaders and events. Music lovers, crossing continents and cultures, were in a state of mourning when the virtuoso sitarist and composer Pandit Ravi Shankar passed away at the age of 92. The iconic musician, labelled “the godfather of world music” by the Beatles' George Harrison, effortlessly transcended divisions between the East and the West, placing the sitar on the world map. Now that this purely subjective list is done and dusted, despite Bhagat’s earthy wisdom, with so many strong contenders maybe this year’s offerings will not fade away. Our A-list of newsmakers may remain etched in history for years, and years: it’s a daunting thought. 

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CINEMA

BEING BACHCHAN At 70, India’s most enduring superstar is both a youth icon and a role model for the elderly TEXT: ANNA MM VETTICAD

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f you believe that advancing years are a disqualification for being a youth icon, perhaps you’ve not met Amitabh Bachchan. The actor who just turned 70 has an enviable body of work from the 1970s and ’80s that’s still alive in public memory, but there’s more to his iconic status than just that. Other actors have had illustrious careers, but none in India have had longevity in quite the way he has enjoyed it. His energy levels and packed diary at this age are the stuff that Bollywood folklore is made of. But a better insight into his continuing appeal may be gained from these comments he posted on the social networking site Twitter in the very early morning hours of October 28, as hordes of fans waited for a tweet from him the way they do every single day:  “T 914 - If you thought I was not going to come ... you have a thing coming ... back from work on KBC and another award for Best Host KBC !!” And then:  “T 914 - Must leave all of you now ! Still got to do Blog and FB ... and it’s already 3:40 AM !! Love and GN ..” “T914” is an indicator of the superstar’s uniquely ordered world, where posts are numbered to indicate how many days he’s been tweeting. KBC is Kaun Banega Crorepati — the Hindi version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? — a TV show that revived Bachchan’s sagging career when he first began hosting it 12 years back. And yes, at 3.40 am once he was done with tweeting that day, he did move on to write on his blog and stop by Facebook before retiring to bed.

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There is no secret to being Amitabh Bachchan. It’s simple: He is hard-working and productive even today, more energetic than many teenagers, more enthusiastic about technology and new media than most of his younger co-stars

It turns out then that there is no secret to being Amitabh Bachchan. It’s simple: He is hard-working and productive even today, more energetic than many teenagers, more enthusiastic about technology and new media than most of his younger co-stars. He is in touch with reality enough to make course corrections where required. He is not sidelining the youth to take over jobs they deserve better; his age and experience are very much a part of his job profile. While his turn as a paternal host on KBC has been a huge success and he’s had a handful of film hits since 2000, there have been many more films and performances that have been clobbered by critics and tossed out by audiences in the past decade. However, through all these ups and downs, his professionalism and relevance have never been in question. None of this would have been possible if Bachchan was not so self-driven. Constant reminders of what might otherwise have been come from the lives of his industry colleagues … A sad memory floats through my head, of watching the legendary Dev Anand’s last film in an empty hall last year, knowing I would not have bothered if it was not compulsory research for my book. In the last couple of decades of his life, Anand produced, directed and starred in film after film that drew almost no viewers and even less media coverage. Bachchan, on the other hand, has kept his finger on the pulse of the public and the press despite his unparalleled success. Back in the 1970s, Bachchan stormed the box office in every avatar possible: action hero, tragic lover, brooding thinker. His on-screen clashes with those in authority mirrored off-screen India’s disillusionment with the establishment, three decades after we had sent our colonisers packing. By the 1990s though, age and Bollywood clichés seemed to have rung the death knell on a remarkable career. The industry struggled to see beyond the Angry Young Man label that had been bestowed on him when he was … well … a young man. And so he spent a decade fighting the same old fights in films, romancing heroines

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Today, Bachchan remains a giant among Indian movie stars with a fan base spanning generations, he has inspired Bollywood to write hero roles for elderly male characters and he is currently one of India’s highest paid brand ambassadors

young enough to be his daughters in real life, and worse, playing roles of men much younger than his actual age. A once-adoring audience seemed to have moved on, and Bachchan suffered repeated failures at the box-office. A lesser man would have been devastated. Amitabh Bachchan was not that man. The actor has often been accused of arrogance – in muted whispers by industry colleagues, and more openly by the press – yet no one can deny that he learns from his mistakes. At the turn of the century he put an end to the pretence of youth, let the grey in his hair show, stepped into the role of an elderly educationist in a film and took a risk that any major Hindi film star would have baulked at back then: he became a TV host. Today, Bachchan remains a giant among Indian movie stars with a fan base spanning generations, he has inspired Bollywood to write hero roles for elderly male characters (not elderly actors pretending to be young) and he is currently one of India’s highest paid brand ambassadors. He does all this as he battles health problems that have dogged him since a near-fatal accident in 1982 and as a survivor of myasthenia gravis, a rare and potentially incapacitating auto-immune neuromuscular disease. This is a man about whom a young colleague on KBC wrote on Facebook the other day: “…not once did it occur to me that the most professional, hardworking, energetic, prepared, on the ball, charming, eloquent, courteous, witty, charismatic person on the KBC set was also perhaps the senior most person under the roof!!!! If at age 70 I’m only half these things, even for a few hours a day, a few days a month, I’ll think of myself as a goddess.” So to all the labels bestowed on the country’s most visibly robust septuagenarian – The Big B, one-man industry, India’s biggest superstar – add these two: youth icon and role model for the elderly in a nation that has very few. (Anna MM Vetticad is the author of The Adventures of an Intrepid Film Critic. She is on Twitter as @annavetticad)

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TEXT: CHITRA BALASUBRAMANIAM

rt knows no boundaries and the inclination of foreigners towards Indian classical dance forms like Mohiniyattam, Kathak, Kathakali, Odissi, Bharatanatyam and Chhau is testimony to the fact. These foreigners are no longer curious spectators, but they have mastered the art to such precision that their perfect body movement, finesse and facial expressions have left the audience spellbound. What is more fascinating is that the Russian, American, Japanese, German, Indonesian, Malaysian, Italian and Croatian dancers have built cultural bridges by propagating Indian dance forms in their respective countries, thus strengthening the bond between nations, nationalities and people. The number of foreign students coming to the country to learn Indian classical dance is growing by the day. “Anyone who comes here for a couple of years is a serious student. All of them aspire to learn and use it in his or her profession,” says Jayalakshmi

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CULTURE

SOUL LANGUAGE OF THE

Today Indian classical dance is an international integrator, as foreigners are not only learning the art form but also propagating it abroad

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Eshwar, a multi-faceted talented artiste and a Bharatanatyam exponent, has a large number of students from Russia, Canada, Poland and other countries learning under her. She happily recalls meeting one of her students in Beijing who had taught the Tillana piece of Bharatanatyam to 40 men. “They of course performed like a modernistic dance movement. But it was set to the music of the traditional Tillana. In India, it is difficult to get men to dance and she did it with nearly 40 of them in Beijing. I was surprised and honoured. I still have the DVD with me,” she says proudly. As Asha Ponikiewska from Warsaw, Poland, a Bharatanatyam Dancer says, “I have been learning under Guru Jayalakshmi Eshwar for the last 10 years. I was a student of Indology at Warsaw University and could speak Hindi and Sanskrit well before coming here. The response today for Indian culture has changed a lot. People are more aware about it.” She performs whenever she is in Warsaw besides conducting workshops for students. Asha, who loves Indian culture, also learns Seraikella Chhau and teaches the dance form. She adds, “I run a blog in Polish on Indian culture and dance. It is a fascinating country. I want to change the image of India from that of a country of elephants and tell people about its wonderful tradition of dance, music, theatre and yoga.” Similarly, Shima Mahdavi from Tehran, Iran, has been a student of Bharatanatyam under Geetha Chandran and Kathakali under Rajendran Pillai. Kathakali with its theatrics appealed to her immensely as she has a theatrical background. Her mantra is, “Any country I go to, I will definitely


The Russian, American, Japanese, German, Indonesian, Italian and Croatian dancers are building cultural bridges by promoting Indian dance forms in their respective countries

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These foreigners are no longer curious spectators, but they have mastered the art to such precision that their perfect body movement, finesse and facial expressions have left the audience spellbound


perform and of course teach and carry a part of all that I have seen and learnt here... the rich culture, religion, history, people and dance.” This seriousness in learning also transcends understanding the art form in its entirety. From being just performers they delve into the depths of Hindu philosophy and spirituality. Many of them also take up yoga and learn other dance forms. Ileana Citaristi from Italy has been learning Odissi in India from Saswat Joshi. Anandini Dasi from Argentina is proficient in both Bharatanatyam and Odissi. After having learnt it for a long time, today she runs two schools in Buenos Aires and another one in Uruguay,

where she, along with another visiting faculty from India, teaches Bharatanatyam and Odissi. She is now working hard to set up a gurukul for Gotipura called Rasa Ambrit Natya Yoga. She adds, “Indian traditional dance is the language of the soul. It is the bhakti (devotion) yoga. One just has to watch and listen and the heart will understand. Today, dance and music are the only entertainment and Indian traditional dance is for the soul.” For many of these students, India seems to be their karmabhoomi (the land where one works) and spreading the word about Indian culture is what they happily undertake. 

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TRAVEL

TOUCH AND

GO From beaches with water sports, to the endless heritage monuments, to the colourful carnivals and flea markets, Goa has it all. Embark on an odyssey with India Perspectives and explore the land of sand and sun


carnival

DAZZLING HUES AND MUSIC The streets come alive with processions, floats, dances and non-stop music during the three-day festivity TEXT: VA LER I E R O DR IGU ES

o see Goa at the peak of its festivities is during the carnival celebrations. This festival is more like an extravaganza of pageantry, music and colour as each of the main towns in the state hosts its own impressive parade of beautiful floats. As the floats wind their way through the streets accompanied by lively dancers moving in rhythm to the lilting music, the parade is a sight to behold. The festival is a legacy of several hundred years of Portuguese rule. While some consider it to be a relic of ancient pagan rituals honouring the gods of fertility, nature and wine, others consider it a festival that marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The three-day festivities begin on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday which usually falls in late February or in the first fortnight of March. The carnival festivities have evolved over time and today the main attractions are its beautifully decorated and colourful float parades. There are different categories of floats — from the traditional to the funky — with attractive prizes for each category. The first parade is held in Panjim followed by pageants in the other cities. Atop the main float is King Momo, the mock king of revelry and chaos who presides over the festivities. As King Momo and his entourage all attired in colourful costume pass by, they wave to the crowds who respond with enthusiastic cheers and shouts of ‘Viva Carnaval!’ With many aspirants vying for the honour of being selected as King Momo, entries are invited a month before the festival and a selection committee chooses the brawniest and the best. Beautifully attired dancers captivate the onlookers as they move in step to the beat of the music. The parade winds its way through the streets and comes to an end as King Momo reads aloud his decree — a joyous proclamation exhorting his subjects to enjoy three days of merrymaking.

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FANCY DRESS COMPETITIONS, STREET PLAYS, BOAT AND CANOE RACES, KARAOKE PARTIES AND CARNIVAL DANCES WITH TOP BANDS PLAYING ARE THE OTHER ATTRACTIONS


PHOTO: INDIA PICTURE


beaches

WAITING TO BE EXPLORED Head for the beaches in the northern nook, if you have had your fill with Panjim, Calangute and Baga TEXT: AN SH U MAN SEN

ost Goan sojourns begin and end with ferry rides in Panjim. I was curious to explore Goa beyond this. So I headed north, to the beaches that lay beyond the picturesque Vagator. The northernmost cluster of beaches, from Keri to Morjim, can all be accessed through Siolim, a small town with big colonial houses. Some of them, like the very upmarket Siolim House, have been converted into resorts. The ride from Siolim onwards is fantastic, and a small detour into the lush countryside is worth it. Tiracol Fort defines the northernmost extremity in Goa’s coastline, and offers fantastic views of the adjoining Keri and Arambol beaches. The road to Tiracol skirts the coastline, and one gets fleeting views of the Arabian Sea from the road bends. There’s a quiet serenity about Arambol even when the main beach is full of day trippers. A short stroll southwards will lead you to what many think to be Goa’s most spectacular beach, Mandrem. With almost no shacks, and a stunning backdrop of coconut trees and brown hillocks, Mandrem might well be one of the quietest places in Goa. The adjacent beaches of Ashwem and Morjim are a continuation of Mandrem’s quiet laid-back atmosphere. Morjim beach is well known for its Oliver Ridley turtle population. My next objective was to hit the southernmost beaches of South Goa. My friends advised me to ride farther down to the beaches of Palolem and Agonda. The landscape here is greener. Palolem beach borders Goa’s southernmost town — Canacona. Despite the profusion of shacks and hotels, the broad shallow beach and the rocky outcrop/island at the northern end make Palolem one of Goa’s most beautiful beaches. Palolem’s backdrop is that of a thickly forested hillside that frames the beach-crescent beautifully. The sunset views from the Palolem beach are spectacular.

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PALOLEM BEACH BORDERS GOA’S SOUTHERNMOST TOWN, CANACONA. DESPITE THE PROFUSION OF SHACKS AND HOTELS, IT IS ONE OF GOA’S MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACHES

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adventure

THRILL TRAIL BY THE SEASHORE The beaches of Goa have transformed themselves into an exciting zone for the adrenaline junkies TEXT: AN SH U MAN SEN

t is two in the afternoon and Calangute Beach is full of sand, with a swarm of people stamping over it. A group of curious bystanders are huddling around a muddle of patched-up, colourful and synthetic cloth, which is actually a parachute on the ground. A man comes up to me and asks, “Want to go parasailing?” I am flashed an indemnity form for water sports that repeats, ‘Entirely at my own risk’. I autograph the form, wear a life jacket and step into a complicated network of straps. I am given a set of instructions before being strapped on to a parachute that is, in turn, strapped on to a long rope from the motorboat. The boat zips into the horizon, and within a matter of seconds, I am off the sands of Calangute. As the parachute soars higher, it is all slow motion. The Arabian Sea looks deeper and the horizon is pushed farther, as I keep rising. The boat twists and turns before I find myself hovering above the beach. The red flag goes up on the boat and I tug the rope to my right. The landing is near perfect. Parasailing is only one of the many water-sports options available in Goa. It all started when some foreigners began jet-skiing in Calangute. The scene picked up after more and more Goans got into the sport, and the bigger hotels set up adventure sports facilities. The main water-sport hub in Goa is the Calangute-Baga stretch. Jet skiing is the second most popular water sport in Goa. The skis in Calangute and Baga all look modern and funky. Most domestic tourists, however, prefer speedboat rides, which allow as many as six passengers onboard. The rides are longer, but less exciting. After a while I go jet skiing. As the sun dips into the sea, we zip through the first incoming wave and bob over the lesser ripples. The raw exhilaration is as difficult to describe, as the after-effects are impossible to comprehend.

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PARASAILING IS ONLY ONE OF THE MANY WATERSPORTS OPTIONS AVAILABLE IN GOA. IT ALL STARTED WHEN SOME FOREIGNERS BEGAN JET-SKIING IN CALANGUTE


flea markets

SPLURGE ON LOCAL ITEMS Goa’s Portuguese heritage and easy-going laid-back atmosphere make for an eclectic shopping experience TEXT: AN SH U MAN SEN

hopping in Goa’s flea markets is an experience in itself. The Wednesday market in Anjuna has everything that one could easily find in any of India’s metropolitan cities. “The best time to shop is half-an-hour before six, when the market shuts,” says Jacqueline, a Canadian tourist. The market area next to the beach is also the most interesting, since the wares are arranged in the midst of a palm grove. There’s a small restaurant in one corner that hosts a jazz band every market day. There are tattoo artists vying for space with music CD sellers. The flea market has its origins in the 1980s when hippies would sell off their disposable belongings for a longer stay in Goa. Over the years, however, the market has reinvented itself, with hippies having virtually vanished from the Goa scene. The all-night Ingo’s Saturday market in Arpora is equally popular with tourists. The Friday market in Mapusa caters mainly to the locals, so it’s a different experience from the flea markets. This is a good place to look for local feni, sausages, spices and cashewnuts. The antique shops in Mapusa and along the highways of North Goa stock very interesting and valuable articles. Old Portuguese colonial furniture is of special interest. Goa is extremely well represented in the national fashion scene, and there are some exquisite fashion boutiques in the old Portuguese quarters of Panaji. Panaji is the place to shop for Goan jewellery, and there are lots of shops in the town centre. The government-owned Craft Complex in Panaji’s Neogi Nagar is a good place to buy authentic Goan handicrafts. Every major beach in Goa also has a vast hinterland of curio shops, T-shirt vendors and music shops. If you miss the flea markets, these are the next best places to find the latest fashion accessory.

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THE ANTIQUE SHOPS IN MAPUSA STOCK VERY INTERESTING AND VALUABLE ARTICLES. OLD PORTUGUESE COLONIAL FURNITURE IS OF SPECIAL INTEREST

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architecture

WALK THROUGH PAST HERITAGE Visit the old churches, explore the forts and get a feel of the palatial houses to unravel a rich legacy TEXT: AN SH U MAN SEN

he Portuguese heritage is evident in Goa along its coastline and in the major towns of Margao, Panjim and Mapusa. What is now called Old Goa was one of Asia’s most legendary medieval cities and most of Goa’s important heritage monuments lie in its vicinity. An important port in the Portuguese spice trade, Old Goa’s past affluence is reflected in its grand monuments. The cluster of churches in the town centre has been declared World Heritage monuments. Built in 1594, the Basilica de Bom Jesus is perhaps Goa’s most important religious structure. This church was elevated to the status of basilica 50 years ago, and it houses the relics of St. Francis Xavier. The basalt façade of the basilica is richly carved and built in the Renaissance style. The imposing Se Cathedral, across the road, was built even earlier in 1562 by Dominican missionaries. The central Goa town of Verna, too, has its share of colonial houses. A stroll down the road will give you an idea of the area’s architectural richness. The large market town of Margao has some imposing church architecture of its own. The Latin Quarter, adjoining the Holy Spirit Church, is full of old colonial houses, and a walk around its winding streets is highly recommended. The Fontainhas Quarter in Panjim is my favourite place to walk about in Goa. It is full of narrow lanes with colourful old houses. What is amazing about Fontainhas is the sheer variety in colours that one finds in every street corner. There are single houses that have been painted in five colours and yet their aesthetic charm remains intact. St. Sebastian Chapel is the main church of Fontainhas, and the nearby Immaculate Conception Church is situated on a high plinth. The list of heritage monuments in Goa is virtually endless and the best way to explore the built heritage is to just walk. 

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PHOTO: INDIA PICTURE

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GETTING THERE By Air: Both international and domestic flights operate to and from the Goa Airport at Dabolim. By Rail: Goa is served by the Konkan and South Western Railways, and is connected by a large number of trains from all over the country By Road: Goa is connected to Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala by National Highway 17.


PHOTO: INDIA PICTURE


PROFILE

THE VISIONARY S.B. Mujumdar has provided a ‘home away from home’ to international students


TEXT: BRINDA GILL

he plight of international students moved S.B. Mujumdar to set up the Symbiosis International Cultural Centre in 1971. Mujumdar, then a professor of Botany and rector of a boys’ hostel at Fergusson College, Pune, wanted to reach out to students, especially from Afro-Asian countries, who faced numerous difficulties, be it in getting admissions to good colleges or facing indifference from city residents. He was driven by a passion to give the foreign students a ‘home away from home’, and to this day he is guided by the motto vasudhaiva kutumbakam (the world is one family). “The centre’s ethos of promoting international understanding and the welfare of international students was inspired by the ideals of integration and understanding of Visva Bharati, a university founded by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore,” the soft-spoken Mujumdar says. “I believe quality education has the power to transform society and mindsets. This led me to initiate several need-based programmes.” As Pune had only one law college, he started the Symbiosis Law School in 1977 with just 1,200 students, the Symbiosis Institute of Business Management followed in 1978. Primarily established to forge a relationship between foreign and Indian students, Symbiosis has steadily established institutions across levels from kindergarten schools to postgraduate institutes. Today, Symbiosis has 43 educational institutes, offering 200 different courses. Around 30,000 oncampus students from different parts of India and almost 75 countries study at the institute’s Pune, Bengaluru, Nashik and Noida campuses. “Courses at the institutes go beyond learning from books with an emphasis on being integrated with the real world. For instance, the management students get industry experience and law students get practical training. Comprehensive distance learning courses have also been developed, as I feel distance learning is one of the finest modes of education being affordable and specially convenient for the employed”, says Mujumdar. The 77-year-old is an unassuming man and has never given up his simplicity, his only vision is to make Symbiosis world-class in providing quality education. His relentless efforts have not gone unnoticed. Mujumdar, who is now Chancellor of Symbiosis International University, recently was honoured with the Padma Bhushan, one of India’s highest civilian awards. While Symbiosis spans a gamut of multi-lingual, multi-national, multi-cultural and multidisciplinary educational institutions, Mujumdar is not resting on his laurels. “My next endeavour is to establish institutes for vocational training as I feel India needs skilled manpower”. The vision of an educationalist, in tune with the educational needs, has been a gift to students and their families. 

PHOTO: SHIVANI BAKSHI

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WAR GAME SPORTS

VISHAL SAREEN TRACES THE HISTORY OF CHESS FROM THE TIME OF THE MAHABHARATA TO MUGHAL INDIA


ixty-four squares. Two sets of sixteen pieces: eight pawns, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, a queen and a king. It might be just a game, but it is also a summation of man’s culture, society and intellectual advancement. The way the chess board is set up and the use of the pieces is a history of man in miniature. The different chess pieces on the board represent a cross-section of life with its many ceremonies, grandeur and wars — epitomising the interplay of the lives of ordinary people and the rich class. There is ample historical evidence, native and foreign, indicating that the origin of chess can be traced to India. The Mahabharat has one of the oldest references to the game in the form of chaupar, a gambling game played with dice. It was played by two, three or four players and although the pieces (infantry, cavalry, elephants, chariots) move in a similar way as the modern chess pieces, which

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piece you move is chosen by the roll of a dice, giving it a totally different flavour to the game. It is believed that when such gambling games became a bit too popular, one Indian king was concerned and gave orders for a new game that would have the ability to enhance mental qualities. The replacement around that time was chaturanga. Chaturanga was played on an 8 x 8 unchequered board, called Ashtapada. It is also believed the board had some special markers, the meaning of which is unknown today. These markers were not related to chaturanga, but were drawn on the board only by tradition. Great chess historian H.J.R. Murray has conjectured that the Ashtapada was also used for some race-type dice game in which these markers had a meaning. In India, the game was one of the important means of recreation among maharajas (kings) and aristocrats. In the Mughal era, emperor Akbar was known to have played chess with human ‘pieces’. The game reached the common man in the mid-19th century with the rich displaying expensively crafted pieces, while the poor used rough wooden lumps, the height of the pieces distinguishing one from the other. The chess-boards used by the Indians were unicoloured, the black squares being the European invention in the middle ages. Shatranj, as it was known in Persia, adopted much of the same rules as chaturanga, and also the basic 16-piece structure. In some later variants, the darker squares were engraved. The game spread westwards after the Islamic conquest of A child participates in a championship in Kashmir


AFP

The chess boards used by the Indians were unicoloured, the black squares being the European invention in the middle ages


AFP

Chess has been often mentioned in Bollywood, but the greatest tribute to the game came in Satyajit Ray’s film Shatranj ke Khiladi


Persia and achieved great popularity. A considerable body of literature on game tactics and strategy was produced from the eighth century onwards. Chess has been often mentioned in Bollywood, but the greatest tribute to the game came in Satyajit Ray’s film Shatranj ke Khiladi (The Chess Players, 1977). Based on a story by Munshi Premchand, it is set in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, in 1856, just before the Indian Mutiny, and depicts the downfall of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah at the hands of the British with exquisite irony and pathos. India has shown greater creativity than probably any other part of the world in the range and quality of its games-related artifacts. Since the game had a major role in Indian culture and people had a natural flair for gaming, it resulted in brilliant aptitude for artistic design. The black-and-white chequered floor design has been favoured since the time of kings. It is also seen to give a different look to various artifacts like jewellery boxes, bed covers, saris and fabric by textile industry. Indian furniture also acquired the chess designs in the form of tabletops. Ornate chess boards are an item of decoration and are available in myriad variety. They are made of materials as diverse as camel bone, wood, marble and glass. Antique chess sets are collector’s items. Miniature paintings also depicted the game of chess between the king and queen or his office-bearers. The paintings were also used to explain the game to novices.  A still from Shatranj ke Khiladi


Master of the Game Viswanathan Anand remains the undisputed world champion in the most cerebral game mankind has ever invented, writes Keshada Madhukulya he story of chess in India would be incomplete without Viswanathan Anand, who claimed his fifth world championship title in May 2012. Anand has not only succeeded in bringing India’s name on the world map, but has also motivated other Indians to follow in his footsteps. The grandmaster, who turned 42 on December 11, however, is not sitting quietly with his laurels. He still aims for perfection. Says his wife Aruna Anand: “He always aims to better his games. He is a person who is trying to improve everyday.” For a person who has ruled the chess world for the past 25 years, he humbly said: “I simply hung on for dear life,” after beating Boris Gelfand of Israel in the tiebreaker for the fifth title in Moscow. The chess wizard, however, rates the 2012 championship as the most difficult in terms of intensity. “For him, each championship is important. He has the fondest memory of each one of them, as all of them are played after intense preparations. But he rates the recent world championship as the most special,” says Aruna. “Definitely it was special. It was a close contest. Very few people have achieved what he has done. I feel proud to be a part of such a person’s life,” she adds. Anand’s journey to the top began from his own home, when he was just six years old. He picked up the nuances of the game from his mother Susheela, who sharpened his mind by making him solve puzzles. He won his first ever title at the National Sub-Junior Chess Championship in 1983. A year later, when he was 15, he went on to become the youngest Indian to win the title of International Master, followed by several feats, including the national chess title (thrice). Thereafter, there was no dearth of laurels that came his way. He was the first Indian to win the World Junior Chess Championship (1987) and became India’s first

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grandmaster (1988). In the 1990s, he lived his dream by playing at the World Chess Championship, though he could not win the title. In 2000, he edged past Spain’s Alexei Shirov in the best-of-six game final in Teheran for the world crown. Anand’s spell of magic continued with many more international titles. At 28, he won the 2007 World Chess Federation, FIDE World Championship. Besides the world number 1 ranking to his credit, his feat has earned him some of the highest civilian awards from the Indian government like the Padma Vibhushan, Padma Shri and India’s highest sports honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna. No wonder then why many youngsters draw inspiration from the grandmaster. India’s youngest grandmaster Parimarjan Negi says: “I have always been motivated by him. What he has achieved is incredible. As a seven-yearold, it was great to know that an Indian won the world champion in 2000. I just love to see him playing, and try to imitate him in every possible way.” India might have produced many promising talents in the past but for now he is the undisputed king. 


AFP

BESIDES THE WORLD NUMBER 1 RANKING TO HIS CREDIT, HIS FEAT HAS EARNED HIM SOME OF THE HIGHEST CIVILIAN AWARDS FROM THE INDIAN GOVERNMENT


EXHIBITION

POWER OF PRINTED PICTURE TRACES PRINTMAKING’S EXCITING JOURNEY IN INDIA

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rint art came to India in the 16th century when visiting European Jesuits brought printing presses to Goa, perhaps to print religious tomes. Thereafter, the printing industry grew under the British. What followed later were the vernacular printing industry and bazaar prints or calendar art. Artist and scholar Dr Paula Sengupta, who has done comprehensive research on the subject, curated an exhibition, The Printed Picture: Four Centuries of Indian Printmaking at Delhi Art Gallery from October 13 to November 3. The show encapsulated the history of printmaking giving it its rightful place in the scheme of the art world and recognising the technique and craft that goes into producing printed works. There were over 200 works of prints, lithographs, serigraphs, calendar art and advertorial posters displayed across three levels taking the viewer from the early ages of print art to contemporary times. The curator felt the

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need for such a show as there was no exhibition spanning the history of printmaking in India. The exhibition was a fascinating look into the world of printmaking: The process of transforming or copying an original work of art using a plate, block of stone, stencil, wood to make limited impressions or prints for sale. It showcased interesting works of various local schools of printmaking of Calcutta (now Kolkata), Bombay (now Mumbai), Mysore and Lahore. From various techniques and individual styles of artists of Santiniketan, works of pioneering printmakers like Somnath Hore, Jyoti Bhatt and younger artists like R. Palaniappan and Anupam Sood and almost 150 artists were on display. An impressive two volume book on the exhibits and curator’s thoughts were released on the occasion. This was an exhibition with a socio-historical perspective that shows the vibrancy and colourfulness of printmaking. —Sudha G Tilak

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VERBATIM

“INDIA HAS NOT BEEN MOWED DOWN BY HOLLYWOOD” NNA M.M. VETTICAD is a prominent film journalist in India. Through 18 years in the profession, she has worked with several top media organisations and hosted her own television talk show. The Delhi-based writer-journalistteacher spoke to Urmila Marak soon after the launch of her first book, The Adventures of an Intrepid Film Critic (Om Books International):

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How would you describe your book? The simplest way of describing it is that The Adventures of an Intrepid Film Critic is an overview of the Hindi film industry told through an account of a year in which I stuck to a New Year resolution to blog reviews of every single Bollywood film released in India’s National Capital Region, without missing a single one. Beyond that, the book is a story of how every film industry mirrors the society it is drawn from, with all its political and social prejudices. You watched 121 films for the book. Any moment when you felt you couldn’t handle it? Quite to the contrary, as the months went by I became addicted. I was sitting alone in theatres watching films – good and bad – that no one else was watching, that others were not writing about. Equally addictive was the unprecedented challenge involved in tracking down the teams of many obscure films. As a critic, are you gentler on small films than big ones? Never. My reviews are always and only dictated by a film’s content. But yes, if I discover a beautiful small film that’s been poorly marketed, I feel driven to talk about it on the social media to help spread the word among the public. Any thoughts on the occasion of 100 years of Indian cinema? We are the only country in the world that has thriving film industries in multiple languages which remain the primary choice of entertainment for domestic audiences. We have not been mowed down by Hollywood’s budgetary and marketing might. We must celebrate that. Should Indian filmmakers work harder to get noticed at international awards? Yes, because a bigger platform helps. However, the solution should not lie in altering our filmmaking sensibilities to cater to international tastes. The solution lies in investing in better scripts, not taking the intelligence of the domestic audience for granted, not focusing on the lowest common denominator alone but on every layer of India’s audiences, and then marketing our films like hell in India and abroad! 

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“We are the only country in the world that has thriving film industries in multiple languages which remain the primary choice of entertainment for domestic audiences

’’


PHOTO: DIJESHWAR SINGH/TEHELKA


Profile for Indian Diplomacy

Ip nov dec 2012  

India Perspectives issue: November -December,2012

Ip nov dec 2012  

India Perspectives issue: November -December,2012

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