Friday, February 27, 2009

Who pays for the government’s jingoism through ads?

The traditional hulla-gulla (noise and din) that was associated with electioneering is passé now. The focus has shifted to ads in major national dailies. But there is a catch. GoI ministries are not loosening their purse strings for these ads.

CJ: Arindam Roy, 7 hours ago Views: 164 Comments: 2

THE CONGRESS-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has been splurging full page and half page advertisements in major national dailies in New Delhi and Mumbai.

“Though all political parties have every right to speak of their achievements, they also need to be sensible about the plight of the masses,” said Eshna, who works with an event management company in Mumbai.

She added, “The government is screaming about its achievements from rooftops, despite recession and economic slowdown. There seems to be a total disconnect between the political parties and the people.”

These ads are released by various ministries of the government of India. The peg seems to be Bharat Nirman. Sample some headlines:

• Coal - the mainstay of India’s energy security, issued by the ministry of Coal
• Five glorious years of growth, issued by the ministry of New and Renewable Energy
• Foundation stone of new integrated terminal building of the airport at Vadodra, issued by the Airport Authority of India
• Inauguration of new terminal building of the airport at Surat, issued by the Airport Authority of India
• Five years of sunrise sector
Needless to add these ads feature photographs of the respective ministers, local MPs, MLAs, other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

There is a major catch. Though several ads are appearing on behalf of the ministries, the payments for these ads are not being made by any ministry, informed two senior bureaucrats, on conditions of anonymity. They are working with two ministries, in New Delhi.

In a telephonic interview, one of them said (ministry’s name withheld on request), “Our ministry received complaints under the right to information (RTI) from some applicants. The complainants asked questions like, with whose permission these ads are being released, who finalised the designs, who decided whose photographs must be published in these ads, etc.”

He added that the complaint was possibly a protest against publishing Sonia Gandhi’s picture, as one complainant even mentioned her name. “The process of reply would take its time (all RTI complaints have to be dealt within a fixed time-frame), but the fact is that no ministry is making any payment for these ads.”

When asked to clarify, he just mentioned, laughing, “Sorry, you are being too nosey.”

The second bureaucrat, after initial hemming and hedging explained that he would give a hint. “All economic ministries (which have PSUs, etc under them) are asked to ‘arrange’ these ads. If you look at the Civil Aviation ad, you may see small inserts of various private airlines in it. Rest I leave for you to decide....”

Thus, it’s clear, from his oblique admission that PSUs and private players pay for the government’s achievements. He clarifies, in a matter of fact way that these PSUs and private players have been funding elections, one way or the other, all these years.
Meanwhile, the Congress MLA from City North, Allahabad, Anugrah Narain Singh, in an exclusive interview, explained that ad war is a common feature in the run up to the election, as well as during the polls. In the recent past, the ad spend of major political parties has been on the rise.

“The traditional hulla-gulla (noise and din) that was associated with electioneering is passé now. Ever since the election commission (EC) has tightened its noose, banned rampant postering, defacing of walls – a welcome change, certainly, the focus has shifted to the media. Press conferences, space selling by newspapers have replaced the tamasha on the roads,” he explained.

Singh added that the EC allows the government to speak of its achievements. Party manifestoes too find a place in the ads. Defending the UPA government, he said, “There is nothing wrong with such ads. Congress does not twist facts.”

Replying to the possible date of the model code of conduct coming into force, he informed, “Thursday (Feb 26) is the last day of the 14th Lok Sabha. The EC may announce the model code of conduct, coming into force, from any day, in the first week of March, this year.”

He pointed out a full-page write-up with photographs, published in a local Hindi daily, speaks eloquent about a Brahman Maha Sammelan, at KP Ground, of Bahujan Samaj Party, on Wednesday (Feb 25).

The full page matter is a cross between an advertisement and an editorial report. Though a little shabby, it’s nothing short of an advertisement. It’s worth pointing out that while Times of India mentions such insertions as advertorials or ‘Response feature’, several other newspapers, including large publishing houses, often flout these norms with impunity.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My chapter in a book on Communication Management

Religious Events as Tools of Communication: A Case Study of Kumbha Mela at Allahabad , By Arindam Roy (chapter 4.7, pp 331 to 336)

Title : An Introduction to Branding & Marketing Communication Management

Author : Ujjwal K. Choudhary & Rupak Ghosh etc.

Publisher : Manak Publications Pvt Ltd, Delhi

YOP : 2007

Pages : 361

ISBN : 81-7827-153-2

Price : 700.00


My EPW report quoted in ILO, Geneva paper

Bonded Labor in India: Its Incidence and Pattern

My report on Kol tribal (Roy, Arindam, “Breaking the Shackles: Kol Tribal Labourers”, Economic and Political Weekly, Feb. 5, 2000) has been quoted in a prestigious study: Bonded Labour in India: Its Incidence and Pattern, By Ravi S. Srivastava, Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour; DECLARATION/WP/43/2005


[Please see pp 17-18 of the Working Report of Ravi S Srivastava ]

5.2 Bonded Labour Systems among Tribals

The Scheduled Tribes belonging to Orissa, Chhatisgarh, Harahan, Madhya Pradesh,
Southern Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and
Gujarat, who have suffered a gradual erosion of access to traditional livelihood systems, have long been subject to exploitative debt relations leading to loss of land and bondage to non-tribals. The National Commission on Rural Labour devoted some attention to this issue.

Prasad (2001) has reported that in Dakshin Kannada and Udupi districts in Karnataka, the Koraga tribal community of nearly 10,000 people suffers under a system of bondage called Ajalu. The Malekudiya tribal community in Belthangady Taluk of Dakshin Kannada district has been held in the plantations of the masters called Hebbars. The community is denied mobility or the freedom to have their own gardens which could give them some economic independence.

In Orissa, a survey by the NGO Action Aid and twenty other organisations in Malkangiri district, carved out of Koraput, identified 704 bonded tribal labourers. The organisations concluded that there were possibly thousands of tribals from thirteen different tribes working as bonded labourers to landlords in the district (Mander, 2003). The tribals, who had lost most of their land to non-tribals, lived on the brink of subsistence and had no option but to take loans from landlords. In exchange, they or their children were required to work for the landlords for little more than food and some other minor perquisites. Their low wages were adjusted against the interest on the loans they had taken.

The NHRC examined a number of complaints regarding the status of Kol tribals in the districts of Chitrakoot (Madhya Pradesh), Allahabad and Mirzapur (Uttar Pradesh).
These have stated that due to dispossession from land, loss of rights to forest produce, illegal quarrying and control of mafias over mining, the Kols were living in bondage and were denied minimum wages. Many of these complaints were upheld by the Commission, which also took the view that the existing system of auction of mining rights, which gave a virtual monopoly to dominant economic interests and prevented tribals from bidding through their self-help groups (SHGs), was totally unjust and led to the exploitation of the tribals (NHRC Annual Report 1999-00).

The NHRC set up an Expert Group in 2000 to examine the problems of the Kol tribals and to develop measures for their social and economic upliftment. According to their
Report (NHRC,2000),the system of bondage was widespread in the Shankargarh silica and sandstone mining region of Allahabad. The silica lease rights for 6 villages were placed with one feudal landlord who mined the area both legally and illegally with the help of contractors. Although a large number of bonded labourers had been released after the promulgation of the Bonded Labour System Abolition Act, very few had received rehabilitation grants. The system of bondage still persisted in the area. In some villages, SHGs formed by tribals had been given sandstone mining rights, leading to a tripling of their income (Roy, 2000; NHRC, 2000).

[Please see p 34 of the Working Report of Ravi S Srivastava ]

6. Elimination of Bondage: Nature and Scope of Interventions

The existence of bonded labour is an affront to basic human dignity. There has been some change in the nature and incidence of bonded labour in India as a result of various factors, including the impact of social change and social movements, economic modernisation and State intervention. While these processes have impacted positively on the unfree status of labour in traditional agriculture and in some other sectors, the incidence of bonded labour still remains high in some segments of unorganised industry, the informal sector and in the relatively modern segments of agriculture in some areas.

The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act created a legislative framework for the elimination of bonded labour in 1976. But, as both the Supreme Court and the NHRC have shown, its implementation by the States has generally remained weak.
The Supreme Court of India has, in a series of judgements, given directions to improve the situation and since 1997, under its direction, the National Human Rights Commission has been directly involved in monitoring the situation and making reports to the Court. In its order of November 11, 1997, passed in the writ petition No. 3992 of 1985 – PUCL vs State of Tamil Nadu and others, the Supreme Court has entrusted to the NHRC the responsibility of monitoring the directions of the Court issued from time to time and the implementation of the provisions of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act.

The NHRC started monitoring the implementation of the Act in 13 states identified as Bonded Labour Prone states. These are: Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar,
Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. The Commission has appointed two Special Rapporteurs, Mr. Chaman Lal and Mr. K. R. Venugopal, who have been constantly reviewing the situation in bonded labour prone states and sectors.

The Special Rapporteur in the Northern States has focused on the carpet belt of Uttar
Pradesh consisting of the districts of Varanasi, Bhadohi, Mirzapur, Jaunpur, Sonbhadra and Allahabad, where most of the children employed are migrants from the state of Bihar and Jharkhand, working under extremely oppressive conditions against some petty advances paid to their parents. Their cases are invariably found to be attracting the provisions of the Bonded Labour System Abolition Act (Chaman Lal, 2003). The Special Rapporteur has also focused on the problem of Kols in the Pathar area of Uttar Pradesh and has held regular review meetings with officials in the States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan. He has also been assisting the Commission in monitoring and reviewing the situation in other North Indian States and in ensuring that rehabilitation of bonded labourers, especially migrant labourers, takes place on a long-term basis.

In the Southern states, the Special Rapporteur, Mr. K. R. Venugopal, has tried to move in a convergent direction by involving and influencing a number of departments and by including policy making within the ambit of his work. He has particularly highlighted the issues of bonded quarry workers in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and bonded labour in silk weaving and powerloom industries in Tamil Nadu. He has held regular meetings with officials in the States of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

The Special Action Group constituted by the NHRC and the institution of the Special Rapporteurs has breathed some life into the legislative system and has given support to the grass-root NGOs that have been involved in taking up issues of bonded labour. Further, in September 2000, the NHRC constituted an Expert Group headed by Mr S.
R. Sankaran, to make an assessment of the Bonded Labour situation in the country, examine the extent and effectiveness of the Bonded Labour Laws and enforcement mechanisms and review the functioning of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme for the rehabilitation of the released labourers. The Commission has also constituted groups to study the problem of bonded labour and child labour in a number of areas, including the Kol tribals in Uttar Pradesh and the lock makers of Aligarh.

The identification of bonded labourers continues to present difficulties, and only a small number of bonded labourers are actually identified, almost always due to the persistent efforts of NGOs (NHRC Annual Report, 2000-01). But among those labourers who have been identified and released from bondage, the NHRC finds that the rehabilitation of migrant labourers is being totally neglected (Chaman Lal, 2003).

This is also the view of the Supreme Court of India.49 There can be no doubt that effective prevention of bondage amongst vulnerable groups and the rehabilitation of freed child and adult bonded labourers are complex issues, requiring sustained action from governments, NGOs and the international community.

The Ministry of Labour, Government of India had initiated a Centrally Sponsored Scheme under which Rs 4,000 was initially provided for the rehabilitation of each bonded labourer, to be equally contributed by the Federal and the State government. The amount has since been gradually raised, reaching Rs. 20,000 in May 2000. The Central government also provides assistance for surveys, awareness campaigns and evaluations. Released bonded labourers are given priority in a number of government programmes, such as the distribution of government land, and some States have initiated specific programmes for their rehabilitation. But, by and large, the process of rehabilitation is frequently delayed, particularly in the case of inter-state bonded migrant labourers, and the degree of concerted convergent action required on the part of the administration is rarely forthcoming. Prosecution of employers is also weak.

Since the bonded labourers are very poor and assetless, some can relapse into bondage, while others may experience only a very marginal increase in income. Not being from an entrepreneurial background, bonded labourers may not be able to earn significantly higher incomes or even retain their assets (Mutharayappa, 2002). The National Human Rights Commission has been trying to make the states undertake rehabilitation of the bonded labourers through convergent action, and through helping the bonded labourers form groups or cooperatives which can take up economic activity on a sustained and viable basis. As discussed earlier, in Allahabad district, the Commission has supported the granting of mining leases to SHGs of Kol tribals and opposed a system of action which excludes these groups from bidding for the mining rights.

Since bondage results from severe deprivation arising from lack of assets and adequate livelihood opportunities, a key focus of rehabilitation has to be on providing assets and means of livelihood to the bonded labourers. Efforts to do this are more likely to succeed if the poor are empowered and collectively organised, and if they have the capacity to undertake new activities. Vidyasagar (2001) notes that the distribution of land to 44 bonded labourer families in Kodaikanal was successful because the labourers were given other infrastructural facilities and were supported in their endeavours by an NGO. More importantly, the labourers were used to cultivating land in a similar ecological setting. In another case, cited by Vidyasagar, bonded labourers who were working in stone quarries in Pudukottai district were released by the district administration during the early ‘90s, which also took the initiative in rehabilitating them. The workers were organized into co-operative societies which were provided with quarrying contracts. The rehabilitation money was pooled together to purchase trucks for transportation. Women were given authority within the societies and provided proper training to enable them to fulfil their functions. The Tamil Nadu Government amended the rules under Section 15 of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957, to allow the grant of stone quarrying leases to the released bonded labourers. This became one of the very successful cases of rehabilitation of bonded labour in Tamil Nadu (Murthy 2001).

In the case of the Kol tribals engaged in quarry mining in Shankargarh district of Allahabad, a protracted process of empowerment and organisation led to formation of groups and to demands for lease rights. Due to a supportive district administration and the arduous work of organisations like Sahyog, Sankalp and Mahila Samakhya, the kols gained mining rights in a number of villages, were able to overcome the opposition of contractors and nearly treble their income over a short period of time, drastically reducing bondage in the area.50 However, crucial issues of building managerial capacity and cohesiveness among the self-help groups still remain important.51

Similarly, eleven Sahariya families freed from bondage in a quarry with the help of
an NGO, Bandhua Mukti Morcha, were given lease rights to a 70-bigha quarry in
Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradesh. This has resulted in higher incomes for the labourers and high royalties for the government. The district administration started a number of convergent schemes to help the released labourers, including the opening of a school and the grant of land. When the contractors refused to pick up the stones, the families were given a tractor and trolley for transport (Bal, 2003). The district, according to BMM, has over 15,000 bonded labourers still working in the stone quarries.52

50 Roy, 2000. Interview with Justice Amar Saran, a former member of the Vigilance Committee in Allahabad, and member of the NHRC Group formed to investigate the condition of the Kols in the Pathar area of Uttar Pradesh.
51 Interview with Sheba Jose, Convenor, Sahyog.

52 For more details, see the CEC submission to the Planning Commission. (CEC 2001b)

[Please see p 41 of the Working Report of Ravi S Srivastava ]



Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Condition
of Service) Act, 1996, Ministry of Labour, Government of India. Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition), Act, 1970, Ministry of Labour, Government of India. Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, Ministry of Labour, Government of India
Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Service)
Act, 1979, Ministry of Labour, Government of India
Minimum Wages Act, 1948, Government of India
Bonded Labour System Abolition Act (1976), Government of India

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15, July 21-August 03.

Rao, Rukmini (1997). “Bonded by Caste and Gender: The Feminization of Poverty in
Rural India”, Political Environments; Fall (Issue No. 5): 1-7.

Roy, Arindam (2000). “Breaking the Shackles: Kol Tribal Labourers”, Economic and Political Weekly, Feb. 5.

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Italian publication: Co-authored a book on Kumbha Mela

Kumbha Mela.
Pellegrinaggio indiano

Autore/i: Delahoutre Michel - Titoli dello stesso autore
Deleury Guy
Roy Arindam

Notizie: Fotografie di: BAMS photo - Rodella Giuliano Radici
Con 150 fotografie a colori
Tradotto da: Alberto Pelissero
Prezzo: Euro 72,30
Argomento: Religioni / World religions
Commento: Nel febbraio 2001 in India ad Allahabad, alla confluenza fra Gange e Yamura, si è svolto un grande pellegrinaggio di oltre otto milioni di persone. Due fotografi italiani vi hanno partecipato. Uno studioso di arte indiano, uno di induismo e un giornalista indiano suggeriscono una lettura precisa di questo grande evento.
Anno di pubblicazione: Settembre 2001
Pagine: 208
Collana: Varie fotografia
Disponibilità: Disponibile
ISBN: 8816-60272-4


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Child labour in rural areas with a special focus on migration, agriculture, mining and brick kilns

By Neera Burra

d. Children working in mines and quarries

The working of children in mines and quarries is banned. However, the incidence of child labour, whether as part of family labour or as individuals recruited for work continues regardless. Stone quarrying is one of the biggest sectors attracting migrant labour. According to Santulan, a Pune-based NGO, there are 4-5 million workers in this sector in Maharashtra alone of which 800,000-10,00,000 are likely to be children.

Arindam Roy writes about the Kol tribes of Shankargarh, a block just 50 kms from Allahabad where he says almost every person in the area is a bonded labourer, forced to work for silica sand mining sub-lessees. The major occupation in the area is mining of silica. The rate is Rs. 150 per tractor load. Two persons can be expected to mine and load a tractor in 3 or 4 days.

According to Roy, “The slavery of kols is complete. Their children, eight years upwards are not spared either. When children are not breaking the stones, they are made to carry headloads (‘taslas’) to the waiting trucks or tractors. For each head load, they are given a pebble (‘kauri’). They are paid Rupee 1 for carrying 40 head loads, at the rate of 2.5 paisa per head load. After running endlessly, carrying some 400 head loads, these little children are paid about Rs. 10”

(Matter quoted from: Roy, Arindam (2000) “Breaking the Shackles. Kol Tribal Labourers”, Economic and Political Weekly,February 5-11, Vol. XXXV, No. 6, pp.425-426.)

NOTE: Neera Burra is a Sociologist and works on the issue of child labour and poverty. This report draws extensively from her earlier research work. Child_Labour_in_Rural_areas_with_special_focus_on_Migration_Agriculture_%20Mining_by_Neera_Burra.pdf

SP's ties with BJP exposed: Malviya.

Publication: Asia Africa Intelligence Wire

Publication Date: 22-APR-04

COPYRIGHT 2004 Financial Times Ltd.

(From The Times of India)

Byline: Arindam Roy

ALLAHABAD: Satya Prakash Malviya, a veteran Socialist, is contesting as the Congress candidate from Allahabad parliamentary constituency. He is pitted against MM Joshi, Union HRD minister of BJP, three-time winner and the Samajwadi Party candidate Reoti Raman Singh, the transport minister of UP.

Malviya was yet to begin his campaign trail on Wednesday morning. His Allapur residence was abuzz with party workers. In an exclusive...

Read the full article for free courtesy of your local library.

(Link: )

The Lion of the Goddess Durga

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The lion of Durga is a gift from a Greek goddess
Arindam Roy
Merinews 11 October 2007, Thursday

Durga was created by the powers of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. They opened their third eye and she was born. Various gods decorated her with weapons. A Greek goddess’ gift was forgotten, it seems. A report on the evolution of Durga iconography.

THE WHITE LION of Mahisasur-mardini (Durga) has been imported from Greece. The lion, as a vehicle, was incorporated in the Durga iconography between sixth century AD and 12th century AD. It was ‘imported’ from (read, gifted by) the Greek goddess, Nanaia.

We find occasional representation of Nanaia riding a lion on some Kushan coins and seals. Historians point out that on the basis of the development of the Durga iconography, it might be said that the prominence of the war-goddess grew in 700 years.

In the early Kushan period, around first century AD, Durga was a lesser goddess. The terracotta figurines and stone sculptures of this period depict the goddess with two or four hands, wrestling with the demon (Mahisasur), locked in hand to hand combat. Most of these figurines and sculptures were excavated at a site called Sonkh, near Mathura. It forms a rich legacy of the Mathura Art. For 300 odd years, during the Kushan period, the lion is not seen.

"The Mahisasur-mardini icon of goddess Durga, as we see it today, evolved in the Gupta period, undergoing changes in iconography. Around this time, we find examples of Devi with eight, 10, 12 and even 16 hands. As her stature grew, her iconography evolved," informed Dr Sriranjan Shukla, the assistant keeper of Allahabad Museum, in an exclusive interview.

Durga is the most widely worshipped aspect of Shakti, till today.

The Gupta period is a time of transition. Referring to a sandstone relief, of the latter part of the fifth century AD, of a Chandrasala (which were placed outside temples to indicate the ruling deity), we see Mahisasur-mardini combating the asura (demon). It shows the goddess place one of her feet contemptuously on the head of the vanquished demon. She lifts his hindquarters by the tail and pins him down with her Trishul (trident). A short male figure, as her attendant, establishes her glory. He is a gana of Shiva, consort of the goddess. The locks of the gana and the goddess are elaborately treated, in the style of that period.

The Kushan artists of the Mathura Art School are credited to conceptualize Mahisasur-mardini, or the form of Durga defeating the buffalo-demon. From a lesser goddess, depicted in terracotta figurines and sandstone relief, she attained glory in the Gupta period. Most of the Puranas were authored in the Gupta period, which was a golden era of Indian art, literature, trade, commerce and polity. It was a time of peace and prosperity.

Shukla explained, "The sculpture of the Gupta period is marked by serenity, poise and calm, which is reflected in the face and postures of the images. There are few ornaments. The divine beings are comfortable disposition, as they are in Lalit-asana and Sukha-asana. There is liveliness and energy in the art of this period. Even the standing images are not static. For example, a standing image of Lord Buddha, show a foot raised, knee bent, moving forward. This was the spirit of this era."

Dr Sunil Gupta, an art-historian, said, "It was probably in Gupta period, between fourth century AD and sixth century AD that Durga icon was introduced in Bengal. The worship of the female principle is reflected in popular terracotta art, since ancient times, in Bengal. I have seen the famous mother goddess figurines, in terracotta, from the ancient port of Tamralipti (presently, Tamlute, in Midnapore district, West Bengal) in the Ashmoleon Museum, Oxford. This is from the first century AD, and the icon is not that of Durga. It was only natural for the people of the eastern state to accept Durga and assimilate it in their lifestyle."

Swami Harshananda, of Ramkrishna Math, in his book, ‘Hindu Gods and Goddesses’, says, "Lion, the royal beast, her mount, represents the best in animal creation. It can also represent the greed for food, and hence the greed for other objects of enjoyment which inevitably leads to lust. To become divine (Devatva) one should keep one’s animal instinct under complete control. This seems to be the lesson we can draw from the picture of the Simhavahini (the rider of the lion)."

(Link: ) --- PHOTO CAPTION: A rare image of Mahishamardini Durga from the 5th AC found at Chadrashala, M.P. Preserved at Allahabad Museum PHOTO CREDIT: Bhaswati Bhattacharya

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Do stars shiver in cold blue sky?

Arindam Roy

I ask again:
Do stars shiver in cold blue sky?

You smile…

You hold me tight on your breasts
Afraid that I like my twin would leave and go…

With drops of milk,
I suckled my brother’s life from you

A hurt lily dwelled in your eyes.
You hid the gnarled beauty of your roots
To bloom in my fractured dreams, but

I sought my revenge, dear Mummy.

Perhaps I shivered
And wailed, when you slapped me hard –
To arrive in countless fears, hopes and dreams
When miles lay between us

You wept –
My pain returned through your tears
When you heard, a youth
Was slain, by a bullet in Bombay
Like a fool, you made my
Stern father nervous that night.

But, now I let all your
Joys and fears evaporate
Like mists of swirling cloud
From my sweet, child-like mouth

With soft flap of wings
You burst forth like a bird on flight,
You gushed with the strength of a newborn river:
Free, spreading your wings
In the slight flutter of your raucous breath;
And, your listless eyes lay still.

I am mad, a howling lunatic
I say that I cannot live without you

Perhaps the silly doctors would never know
The little game that we two played:

The silly doctors pronounced you dead –
From when have they become judges, O Mummy?

I laugh and play…
I am mad, a howling lunatic.

No, don’t be sad:
You did not go!

It was my command that you leave, and
You left –
You obeyed me, like I did as a child

The wheel moved full circle
I took my revenge, dear Mummy.

The revenge of your selfless love
I hurt you and fought with you:
Madly in love with you,
I even bade you goodbye!

You suffered in silent coma,
Tormented by fever
Spaced across four days and nights
As your brain swam within your skull
In a pool of blood,
It clotted all over your organ
The way I soiled
My crisp clothes as a child…

Amidst fears and hope,
Unmindful of loud crackers
And starry sparklers
You lay still,
With me watching you, helplessly –
As you had watched my twin brother
Die in baby gasps – until
His listless body was snatched from your youthful lap.

You told me that you had wailed and cried
But, they took his frail, still body from you!

My prayers were his curse,
His prayers, my curse:
Did he conspire with daddy?
Did he also call him ‘Bapi’?

Together, they were waiting for you…

You warmed a cold October night
With agonizing fever,

I ordered you to leave…

And I told you
That perhaps we will meet in another life!

Go, go away Mummy,
I am mad, for I love you madly.
And if you don’t go now
I will never be able to leave you.

No, you did not leave me, Mummy
I cast you, away:
Like a broken toy,
Like a love letter that lost its meaning.

Your framed picture, garlands and all,
Hangs like a shrunken, empty net
Against a white wall,
Flanked by pictures of
My father and uncle, on either side;

I hold you in my thoughts –
You held me too, tight, in your countless worries and joys!

You once told me that you would die
If something were to happen to me.
Though nothing happened to me,
I let you die…
It’s morning, now –

You look at me with a smile
From your frame on the wall

Let me confess,
I no longer feel the sadness
That I felt, when I lovingly smeared
‘Ghee’ on your still, sweet face and breasts
And washed your forehead with salty tears –
As you once oiled and bathed me

I no longer feel the pain,
That I did, when I
Torched your howling pyre
Beside the cold, grey Ganga

My pain has gone,
It’s a huge void, now

Vacant like the cold blue sky –
Without a bird,
Silent like a tomb,
Lost in deep slumber
For centuries, stellar years;
Older, perhaps, than the wrinkled earth!

You, now, sleep sound amongst the stars –
As I, a child, slept quietly
In the circle of your arms crushed on your soft kind breasts.

(I lost my mother on October 26, 2003, to brain hemorrhage. She was in deep coma for four days, battling with life)

Wheeling out Wheelers?

Arindam Roy

[Wednesday, July 07, 2004 11:20:43 pm TIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

ALLAHABAD: With one fell swoop, Lalu Prasad has probably killed off a 126-year-old railways landmark — A H Wheeler & Co — a company that paid Rs 1.38 crore annual royalty to Indian Railways, amounting to 80% of the money earned from allowing bookstalls at stations.

For Lalu it was a colonial vestige that had survived on swadeshi platforms. "Angrez chala gaya, lekin Wheeler rah gaya," he said in his rail budget speech.

That the Allahabad-based company, which runs 258 bookstalls nationwide with 300 employees, is 100% Indian is not something it had publicized. Wheeler CMD Aloke Bannerjee was surprised. He said, "Our track record is very good. I have not seen the new bookstall policy, which has been framed. We have had long associations with the railways."

He hoped the new policy which jettisons the system of sole selling rights won't shut doors for business with the railways. "We hope that we would continue to work with them."

He said there was confusion regarding the name AH Wheeler. "It sounds like some foreign company, or MNC. But the fact is that Wheeler is a 100 per cent Indian company."

Amit Bannerjee, a director, said, Wheeler's contributed 80% of the bookstall income of the IR. In the year 2002, Wheeler paid royalty to the tune of Rs 1.38 crore, out of a total revenue of Rs 1.66 crore. Sources said Wheeler's contract could not be renewed after 2002 as the railways were busy formulating a new bookstall policy.

(This report was also carried in Economic Times)

Politicians late, even in offering solace

Arindam Roy

[Wednesday, June 02, 2004 12:29:53 am TIMES NEWS NETWORK]

ALLAHABAD: Hundreds of shanties were reduced to ashes. Seven persons, including four children, were burnt to death on Sunday afternoon. The city was shocked.

However, politicians reached the site a day later, on Monday. "They gave the affected people slogans instead of bread," said Siddhartha, a financial consultant. Three prominent politicians, former Union HRD minister MM Joshi (BJP), CLP leader Promod Tiwari (Congress) and newly elected MP from Allahabad Reoti Raman Singh (SP) were all there to console the Kareli fire tragedy affected people.

It took them a full day to realize the gravity of the loss. The dead provided fodder for politics.

Loss of the minority community was a godsend opportunity for political parties. However, the sympathy that the leaders of various hues expressed was more of a lip service.

Where they were when they were needed the most? The chink in their armour was, therefore, visible, felt political observers. Singh paid Rs 50,000 to next of kin of each deceased. The cheques were handed over on Monday. He assured them compensation of Rs 1 lakh, other than Rs 50,000 to the seriously injured and Rs 25,000 to those with minor injuries. An ex gratia payment of Rs 6,000 was made to all who suffered loss. Land for their rehabilitation is also on the cards.

'MNCs are representatives of imperialist forces'

Arindam Roy

[Friday, May 28, 2004 12:28:01 am TIMES NEWS NETWORK]

ALLAHABAD: Rejection of the BJP-led NDA government by the people of the country, which was anti-people, has deeper implications. Senseless privatisation and sale of profit-making companies, leading to large scale VRS in the industry, along with suicide by farmers, called for a change. And change has happened, said KK Shukla, a lecturer of sociology.

In an interview, he added, the rise of globalisation is an extension of industrial growth, which occurred on a large-scale since the Second World War. The imperialist nations, or the centre of the development, traditionally depend on the periphery, the third world countries, providing a prototype of the supply and profit markets that had existed.

It is expected to grow with the global capitalism, represented by the multinational companies (MNCs).

He hoped that with the participation of the Left, in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, the statement that development would have a humane face sounds credible.

"For a vast majority of the people of the periphery (third world nations), development does not yield a better life or a brighter future, but intensifies misery and exploitation," he opined.

The hope for them, Shukla said, is to break the global capitalism and move ahead like Cuba, Vietnam, China, North Korea, etc. Quoting Lenin, he said, there are strong notions to expect that the 'centres of accumulation' would shift from more advanced to less advanced areas, in search of cheap labour, accessible natural resources and higher profits. And that any division of the world would be disrupted by changes in the relative strength of different imperialist powers.

When 'Bua Mahadevi' wrote to PM Rajiv

Arindam Roy

[Saturday, May 22, 2004 01:09:28 am TIMES NEWS NETWORK]

ALLAHABAD: Well-known Hindi poetess Mahadevi Verma had penned a warm personal letter to Rajiv Gandhi on February 1989. On the occasion of Rajiv's 13th martyrdom year, which was observed on Friday (May 21), HN Mehrotra, an advocate, who had handed over the said letter to Rajiv, shared its contents with TNN.

We present the translated version of Verma's letter, losing some of the lyrical expressions of her facile pen.

She wrote, "Perhaps you do not know me very well. But, I knew your father, Feroze, very well. He was a class fellow of my younger brother. He called me ' didi '. I had seen your mother Indira Priyadarshini when she was a girl of five. To keep India united she gave unparalleled sacrifice.

"I am pained, when I recall the cruel incident. She has handed over a great nation to you. Your achievements make me confident that you will not allow the Himalayan-like great Bharat Mata to bow down.... May you live a hundred years and enhance the glory of the nation!"

Mehrotra recalled meeting Rajiv, in Delhi, with the said letter. He said, his wife, Sonia Gandhi, carried forward the Nehru-Gandhi family tradition of sacrifice. Rajiv and his mother were assassinated for the cause of the nation; Sonia relinquished her claim to prime ministership, despite the overwhelming verdict.

PM seeks support for Joshi

Arindam Roy

[Monday, April 26, 2004 02:06:23 am TIMES NEWS NETWORK]

ALLAHABAD: Change is knocking at the doors of the greatest democracy of the world. A 100-crore strong nation, full of diversity, its progress in the democratic process has surprised the world.

People worldwide are looking towards India, said Prime Minister Vajpayee while addressing a mammoth rally at Sewa Samiti Vidya Mandir grounds, here on Sunday night.

He said, though China was more populated than India, we were competing in other areas. Neighbouring countries look at India, eagerly. They wish for democracy and people's empowerment, which they lack.

The elections have been peaceful, barring a few violent incidents. Not much importance should be given to these disturbances. In Jammu and Kashmir, a handful of terrorists are stopping people from voting. But the more the hindrances, more resolute are the masses, who at the risk of their live, exercise their franchise. "They know the value of each and every vote, they know the meaning of sitting in the parliament," Vajpayee asserted.

Today, India is more united, strong and progressive with secure future. Taking a dig at the opposition, he said, "They cannot see any development done by us, though the whole world is aware of it."

There was a time, when Indians —- those who could afford —- would go abroad for treatment. Now, foreigners are rushing to India for treatment. They say that our health care is better, they are looked after well and the affection that they get forces them to return to India, again and again, he said.

Some countries have complained that their citizens were rushing to India for treatment. He asked, "When all doors of the world open, how can it remain closed for the sick and the feeble?"

"Vote is the key to future. It can make us or mar us. It can help us make a strong nation," Vajpayee explained. He talked about the value of vote, the importance of mandate and the need for returning BJP and NDA parties with two-third majority. It became a refrain in the later part of the PM's speech. He said, fractured mandate stops progress. It hinders from making India, a dream nation.

He said, the coalition government was run successfully. Without naming the Congress, he said, those who opposed it are running bare foot, all over, looking for coalition partners. He said, "Mayawati mili, na Mulayam miley," amidst peels of laughter.

Commending MM Joshi, he said, he has lots of responsibilities. "I often forget how many ministries he is looking after." The scholar and scientist minister often guides him. He appealed to the people to vote for Joshi, Bind and Bhariti, all three candidates, quickly adding, also me, as people laughed and clapped.

He arrived at 7.55 PM, amidst slogans, "Bharat Mata ki teen dharohar/Atal, Advani, Murli Manohar," and "Ek Bihari sab par bhari, Atal Bihari, Atal Bihari."

SP’s ties with BJP exposed: Malviya

Arindam Roy

[Wednesday, April 21, 2004 10:59:31 pm TIMES NEWS NETWORK]

ALLAHABAD: Satya Prakash Malviya, a veteran Socialist, is contesting as the Congress candidate from Allahabad parliamentary constituency. He is pitted against MM Joshi, Union HRD minister of BJP, three-time winner and the Samajwadi Party candidate Reoti Raman Singh, the transport minister of UP.

Malviya was yet to begin his campaign trail on Wednesday morning. His Allapur residence was abuzz with party workers. In an exclusive interview with TNN,

Malviya described both his political opponents as ‘seasoned politicians.’ Though BJP and SP were busy in hate campaign, no one indulged in mud slinging against him.

"Just a few days back, I met Joshi in a wedding party. In fact, he was going out, when I was entering the place. When Joshi saw me, he rushed to me. We hugged each other, warmly," he said. He explained that though Joshi and Singh were political opponents, with ‘mathvedh’ (ideological differences), but there was no 'manvedh' (clash of interests) amongst them.

He said, Vajpayee has a tarnished past. "Our PM had turned approver of the Britishers in 1942, when he was arrested with several others in Bateshwar Bazar, in Agra on August 27. He had said that he was at a distance of 100 metres and that he had not caused any harm or had ransacked government property," Malviya said.

He added, the saree tragedy once again exposed the true face of the BJP. It had also exposed the SP. Mulayam Singh Yadav did not visit those who died, but he went to Lalji Tandon’s residence. His body language revealed his closeness to the BJP. He added, "Yadav did not open the Babri Masjid case. He is cheating the Muslims. Even LK Advani was let off in the Ayodhya case on technical grounds."

When asked why he left the Socialist fold and joined hands with the Congress party, he said, Sonia Gandhi too asked the same question. He was the general secretary of Lok Dal, which was headed by Ajit Singh, son of Charan Singh.

There were reports that he was negotiating with the NDA. Malviya had told him that if Ajit were to join the NDA, he would quit it that very day. Further, the Indian polity is maturing, now. Slowly, a two party like situation is emerging on the national scene.

The contest is now between Congress and its allies, on one hand and BJP with its allies, on the other hand. His Socialist leanings kept him away from the saffron brigade. Congress was, therefore, the logical choice. It was during the Parivartan Rally at Lucknow, which were twice postponed, that Malviya’s joining the Congress was announced. He explained that he was seeking people’s mandate after 14 years. It was in 1980, when he had contested the UP assembly polls. Before that he was a corporator, in 1970, and mayor in 1972-73. He had defeated Joshi in the mayoral polls.

BSP candidate cries foul

Arindam Roy

[Saturday, April 10, 2004 01:38:40 am TIMES NEWS NETWORK]

PRATAPGARH: The BSP candidate from Pratapgarh, Shiv Prakash Mishra alias Senani, has faxed a formal complaint to the chief election commissioner on Friday afternoon about the misuse of jail premises.

He said in the complaint that the Pratapgarh district jail is being used as residence-cum-office of the Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate Akshay Pratap Singh alias Gopaljee, from the day of his filing nomination papers on April 5.

Sharing the contents of the letter with Times News Network, he said, "The election cannot be free and fair, till the district jail is used as SP party office," and pleaded, "it should be allowed to function as district jail."

The letter explained, "Before filing his nomination papers, on April 5, 2004, Gopaljee organised meetings, performed 'puja' and left for filing his papers from the jail. In the light of these facts, the fairness of the poll is in grave danger."

The district and jail administrations are acting in favour of legislator and Pota accused Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya, under his influence.

Mishra also demanded that penal action be initiated against Raja Bhaiyya who should be shifted from Pratapgarh to any other jail.

"Pratapgarh parliamentary constituency (No. 20), is hyper sensitive, wherein Pota accused Akshay has taken undue advantage of being released on bail. He is a notorious criminal, against whom nearly 37 criminal cases are listed in Pratapgarh and Sultanpur districts," Mishra wrote.

He added, "Raja Bhaiyya, a Pota detenu, is conducting and coordinating the election of Gopaljee, who used the jail premises as his election office, even after he was bailed on personal bond."

Gopaljee and KN Ojha, PRO of Raja Bhaiyya were not available for comments. Their cell phones were out of the network area.

Meanwhile, on the complaint of the Congress candidate Rajkumari Ratna Singh, the Election Commission has tightened its noose.

A barrier has been put up outside the Pratapgarh jail and CISF jawans have been posted to keep a vigil on the movements of the visitors. All visitors are being thoroughly searched about 150 metres from the jail gate.

On the basis of intelligence report that election is being conducted from the jail, the district administration acted to save its skin.

Recently, district magistrate RS Verma sent a letter to IG prisons, requesting to post DIG jail on the polling day.

Taking cognizance of the DM's letter, the administration has decided that a DIG would be posted in the jail within a couple of days, according to sources.

Kaif's father missed the action, yet again

Arindam Roy & Abbas Ali

[Thursday, March 25, 2004 10:58:57 pm TIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

ALLAHABAD: The euphoria was unending. People came out in large numbers to celebrate India's first-ever One-day International series win on Pakistan.

They burst crackers, sprinkled colours, fired gunshots and danced to rejoice the victory of the local lad, Mohammad Kaif and Saurav's boys in blue.

Talking to TNN Mohammad Tarif, father of Mohammad Kaif said, "The Indians created history by winning the One-day series and I'm confident that India will win the Test series also". He is superstitious about watching the match. He said he and his wife, Qaisar Jahan had gone to some place, on Wednesday.

"His (Kaif's) rise to importance in the team has been hard work, patience when dealing with tough situation" Tarif added. Outside Kaif's Cooper Road house, in Civil Lines, there was a riot of colours and crackers.

If Jaya comes will Joshi go?

Arindam Roy

[Saturday, March 06, 2004 03:26:43 am TIMES NEWS NETWORK]

ALLAHABAD: Will Jaya Bachhan contest from Allahabad, as most people in this city believe? In that case, will HRD minister M M Joshi, three times MP from this seat, play safe by fighting from another 'safe' seat?

The possibility of Jaya Bachchan as a Samajwadi Party candidate has already charged up Allahabad. So much so that Joshi, who'd created some sort of record by scoring a hat-trick, might be tempted to hedge his bets.

Jaya already has a toehold in UP: she's the chairperson of UP Film Development Corporation.

The buzz is that Joshi is considering playing it safe. He is looking at Uttaranchal and might contest from a safe seat there simultaneously.

Former UP chief minister Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna who represented Allahabad had also played safe by contesting from Pauri Garhwal in 1980 as a Congress candidate and later as an Independent in 1982.

Although BJP sources trash the chances of the minister leaving the city where he has done 'so much', Joshi dropped hints about a move at a press conference on February 24.

He had said that he was awaiting the BJP's directive and would contest from wherever the party asked him to. He also said that Jaya was most welcome.

As for Jaya, local SP folks claim that Amar Singh has convinced her to contest from Allahabad, where Amitabh defeated Bahuguna with a huge margin of 1.9 lakh votes.

(Also published in Economic Times)

BJP's fear exposed by Priyanka, Rahul's entry

Arindam Roy

[Sunday, February 01, 2004 10:48:11 pm TIMES NEWS NETWORK]

ALLAHABAD: BJP's protest against the entry of Priyanki and Rahul in politics has exposed the mental hollowness of its leaders and revealed their fear, said Rita Bahuguna Joshi, the president of the All India Mahila Congress.

She added that she would request Sonia Gandhi, on behalf of the party, to field either of them from Allahabad, in the forthcoming parliamentary election. Talking to the Congressmen of Jasra and Shankargarh, she said the party was ready to face any eventuality, under Sonia Gandhi's leadership. The BJP and its allies were a worried lot.

Lambasting the BJP leadership for launching a smear campaign against the Gandhi family, which had sacrificed two leaders for the country, Joshi said that the countrymen would teach them a befitting lesson. Taking a dig at the feel good factor, she said that more than 30 crore people were below the poverty line and human development index was 136 amongst 176 countries. There are 3.5 crore registered unemployed people in the country. Farmers, weavers and labourers commit suicide.

And in a country where the plight of women continues to be deplorable, how could its Prime Minister feel that there was a feelgood factor?

Commenting on the sad state of affairs in Allahabad constituency, she said that while MM Joshi took up big projects, he remained unaware of the condition of people of the country. While Shankargarh and Koraon, 50 primary schools had been closed, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, that he talks about held no meaning, she said.

The Rs 1.5 crore drinking water project of the Congress government was gathering dust and was steeped in corruption, but Joshi is blind to it. For four years, the Women's ITI building has been lying vacant, with leaky roofs. Triveni Sheet Glass has retrenched 80,000 employees, but these seem to be of no concern of the BJP minister, she remarked.

GRP unhappy with Railway minister's decision

Arindam Roy

[Saturday, January 31, 2004 12:41:32 am TIMES NEWS NETWORK]

ALLAHABAD: Presenting the interim railway budget in the Parliament on Friday, Railway minister Nitish Kumar said some sections of the IPC is vested with the Railway Police Force, after taking it away from the Government Railway Police (GRP). The GRP, which is a part of the state police force(s), is upset about losing its powers. This was revealed by sources in the North Central Railway (NCR), here.

Sources pointed out that there have been several cases of crime, on the trains in the past. Instead of controlling the crime, the GRP, many a times were found to be aiding and abetting it. In some cases, they were directly involved in it.

On Friday (January 30), two GRP constables were involved in robbery, in coach number 03568A of 2388 Dn, Jan Sadharan Express. Action is being taken against them.

Earlier, on July 22, 2003, a dalit woman had filed a case of rape against a GRP constable on Orai railway station. It was said, she was regularly ‘insulted’ by the said policeman. Finally, on the night of the said day, he overpowered her and outraged her modesty. The outcome is not known.

On February 17, 2003, a police squad snatched goods and bashed up passengers, between Tundla and Ferozabad stations. A year before this, on February 6, 2002, 50 police personnel looted cash and edible items from the pantry car of Delhi bound 2027 Kerala Express at Karari station, at 10 AM. These policemen caught hold of a person, Shennoy, who was beaten blue and black. When his colleagues wished to intervene, they were threatened. Afraid that they would be shot at, they remained mute spectators. The railway officials registered a case of dacoity. No one has still been punished, sources said.

Between April and September 2003, there were 22 cases of drugging in NCR trains. Of these, 12 were in Allahabad division, two in Jhansi division and eight in Agra division. There were five cases of dacoities (robbery with violence), four in Allahabad and one in Jhansi divisions. The number of robberies was four (three in Allahabad and one in Jhansi divisions).

Sample Hindustan Times reporting (2002)


Arindam Roy
Varanasi, February 26, 02

SUSAN Koscis, the vice president of Arts and Culture, of the International NGO, Search for Common Ground, quoted a line from a Work War II Musical, “You have got to be taught to hate and to fear,” to explain how conflicts and mistrusts are “Inherited’.

These become ‘educated biases’. The Musical, she explained, was set in South Pacific, describing the ‘torments’ of an American soldier, who fell in love with a girl from that island.

On the second day of her visit, she conducted a two-hour workshop on, ‘Media and Conflict Resolution’, at the Malaviya Centre for Peace Research (MCPR), the BHU, with the aid of video clip-pings. Dr Priyankar Upadhyaya, the convener of the center , had organized this interaction.

Recalling some reports of the Washington Post, she said one day there was a report that Palestinian terrorists had killed innocent people, the Israelis.

Next day, there was a report that Israeli soldiers, in order to protect themselves, had to open fire. Some innocent people, possibly a kid, died.

Thus, while the Palestinians were described as ‘terrorists’, similar acts by the Israeli soldiers were. ‘explainable’ and ‘logical’. The media in the US is liased in favour of Israel. It is not balanced or objective reporting, as it ‘influenced’ the views of the readers.

She said, some of the ‘operative’ words for journalists that help resolve conflicts are accurate, balanced; clarifies and raises consciousness; looks into the fundamental beliefs and issues; encourages diversity and exchange of ideas; provocative but non-judgmental; respects both sides, or as many sides there are, to a conflict, and sees the conflict in its totality.

Ms Koscis said that ’empowerment of people is central to resolving crisis, as it gives them a better understanding of their conflict. It is necessary for those caught in the ‘web of conflict’ to connect with each other as human beings.

She said, “I don’t know who heroes are. But hundreds of journalists in South Africa, the Balkans and Macedonia, on the other side of the conflict, and investigated the real facts, are certainly heroes.


Arindam Roy
Varanasi, February 25, 02

MEDIA has an important role to play in solving inter-ethnic conflicts, said Susan Koscis, vice president of arts and culture of the leading international NGO, ‘Search for Common Ground’. She felt that socially conscious film makers help strengthen the influence of film and video in transforming conflicts.

In an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times, she said, the role of the journalists is not to transform the society directly, but to be accurate to provide the readers as much context as they can. They should be careful that the views of both sides in a conflict are presented to the readers.

Koscis said, “Try to be balanced. Journalists cannot be neutral but they should leave ‘bias’, as much as possible, out of the story. It is important to ‘respect’ the conflicting views”.

Talking about how her NGO helped resolve the conflicts between Macedonia and Albania, she said, a 10 day workshop of the journalists of Macedonia and Albania was organized. A prominent lady journalist of the Los Angeles Times, who know both, the languages, conducted this programme. She trained them in investigative journalism, of looking beyond what was being said by an official or a minister. The veracity of their claims had to be ‘tested’, rather than merely reporting their speech. It brought about a change in attitude.

The Macedonian and Albanian journalists teamed up together and explored the facts. New vistas opened up for them. Many of them, with their own initiative continued to do a lot of stories together. They understood each other better. These stories were published in Macedonian and Albanian newspapers. The people too got an Insight into the facts, which helped weed out lot of ‘misgivings’.

Her NGO is working in 10 odd countries. On the first day of her two-day visit to the city, two films were screened on Monday, in the Senate Hall of Swatantra Bhavan at BHU. The first film, ‘Just a Little Red Dot’, is a dramatization of a true story that occurred several years ago in Canada.

It explored the conflict of a young Sri Lankan girl, when she entered the fifth grade. She finds herself alienated in the new environment. Other children tease and taunt her, as she is a newcomer, who cannot speak English and wears a little red dot (Bindi) on her forehead. The film shows how children and their parents revert to prejudice and fear. A conflict is born.

The school teacher helps resolve the conflict. The Sri Lankan girl distributes little red dots to her classmates. Soon it becomes a ‘cool thing’. The situation is transformed. The barriers between the kids break down. She said, though the film made for children. It helped resolve the inter-ethnic conflict for adults, as these children took up the role of educating their elders.

The second film, ‘Long Night’s Journey’ is an award –wining documentary. It depicted South Africa’s struggle to come to terms with its Apart held past. Four stories help raise broader is sues about how the black and the white communities tried to heal their wounds. It is about building a new South Africa from the ruins of hatred.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

20 lakh take dip at Sangam on Makar Sankranti

A huge rush of devotees had converged at the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati from the wee hours of Tuesday-Wednesday night. The best period of the shnan (bathing) for Makar Sankranti was between 4.30am and 9am.

CJ: Arindam Roy , 14 Jan 2009 Views:296 Comments:0

AS THE sun moved into the summer solstice on Wednesday (Jan 14), 20 lakh pilgrims bathed in Triveni Sangam, on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. No untoward incidents were reported during the second important bathing day of the six-week fair, the annual Magh Mela, according to the district magistrate Rajeev Aggarwal.

A huge rush of devotees had converged at the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati from the wee hours of Tuesday-Wednesday night. The best period of the shnan (bathing) was between 4.30am and 9am, according to Alok Tripathi, a devout who has been bathing in Sangam for last 14 odd years.

The annual Magh (which coincides with the Hindu month), began on Magh Purnima (Jan 11). The arrangements are thorough and foolproof, as it is often likened to a mini Kumbh Mela, said a mela official, talking to merinews.

Pilgrims had started arriving for the Sankranti bathing, at the Mela area, from Tuesday (Jan 13). They came in tractors, bullock carts and trolley rickshaws. Some from nearby places walked slowly. The Sangam area had a colourful look, as people of various age groups rubbed shoulders and walked slowly. While some groups sang kirtans, others raised the cry, ‘Har Har Gangey’, ‘Ganga Mai ki Jai’, as they trudged along to the river banks.

Rekha Devi, a young mother, dragged her two half asleep children, at the Sangam Nose, at 4.30 am. Her son, who was barely eight years old, protested more than his sister. She appeared to be a couple of years elder to him. Rekha had some flowers and change of clothes in a plastic shopping bag. She was not interested in talking. I heard her children’s loud wail, as they were dragged into the Sangam waters. Soon, a wave of pilgrims arrived and I lost Rekha and her two children in the maddening crowd.

An old couple, in their eighties, was walking slowly to the river, aided by their sons and grandsons. The entire family was deeply concerned about the elders. They were asking the impossible crowd to give them a little way.

When the crowd parted, it seemed no less a miracle than the parting of the sea by Moses. All this was seen at about 6 am, the same day. A poor, childless widow, Suggi, in her seventies, told me that she had saved a fistful of grains from her daily meals, for years. The small savings that she generated, each day, year after year, helped her attend the fair this year.

It is interesting to see a temporary township spring up. It’s made of bamboo, tins and tents. Rows of shops and wayside vendors lend to the colour and mood of this vibrant fair, which is as old as Vedas, said Rahul Pandey, a Sanskrit scholar.

The entire Mela area has been subdivided into several sectors, with a sector magistrate looking after each sector. The district magistrate Aggarwal, who is also the Mela Adhikari, is heading the team of meal officials.

By Wednesday evening, the administration heaved a sigh of relief, as there were unconfirmed reports of a possible terrorist attack, according to a section of the media.

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Integrate social studies with science: Justice Katju

The social program must form an essential part of the concept of Science Conclave, as it offered numerous opportunities for encounters and dialogue between young researchers and Nobel laureates, said Justice Markandey Katju at IIIT-A.

CJ: Arindam Roy, 22 Dec 2008 Views: 1086 Comments: 1

IT WAS final curtains for Asia’s first Science Conclave organised at Indian Institute of Information Technology – Allahabad (IIIT-A), on Sunday (Dec 22), at the Jhalwa campus, with a happy note.

Supreme Court judge, Justice Markandey Katju, speaking as the chief guest at the valedictory session held in the pandal asked the scientists to pay their equal attention towards social science for all-round development of the society.

Illustrating the things in depth, he successfully elaborated all the aspects of economics in collaboration with science to the students. He sought integration of social studies with science. “The social program must form an essential part of the concept of Science Conclave because it offered numerous opportunities for encounters and dialogue between young researchers and Nobel laureates and also between the young scientists themselves,” he said.

Elaborating the worldwide market recession, Justice Katju said if we fail to solve this crisis then despite having good science degrees, students remain out of jobs. Therefore, he urged the scientific fraternity to think over this critical aspect and then develop most appropriate technology in the country.

He suggested that scientists to help in making product strong and cost effective. He called upon the scientists to join hands in overcoming from the economic recession.

He asked the science students to give equal emphasis on reading economics, social science and other books, so that it may help in broadening of their thought process. This spectrum of thinking will increase resulting in the opening of new scientific thinking towards the challenging aspects of economic recession.

Elucidating the concept of Science Conclave, the IIIT-A director Dr MD Tiwari said that it was in the wake of promoting the scientific temperament and invigorating the studies and researches of sciences after the World War II that successful efforts were made at Lindau, Germany where since 1951, meetings of Nobel laureates had been continually held by the Council for Lindau Nobel Laureate meetings and Foundation Lindau Nobel Prize winners meetings at Lake Constance.

“In every meeting, about 20-30 Nobel laureates participate and some 500-700 students and young researchers come from all over the world to listen to the laureates' lectures and engage in discussions with them in an open and informal setting. Representatives of universities and academic institutions select participants based on strict criteria provided by the Council”.

Dr Tiwari further said that IIIT-A Science Conclave provided all participants with exceptional opportunities to take part in valuable scientific and personal contacts, cutting across national and cultural boundaries. The concept of bringing together Nobel laureates and students / young scientists in a relaxed and informal atmosphere remained the key denominator for the success of the meetings.

These unique events also attracted regularly many representatives of the media and their reports encouraged a dialogue between science and society. All contributed to a general understanding of science, a demand of increasing importance to the society. This meet provided a globally recognised forum for exchange of knowledge between Nobel laureates and young researchers.

In the morning session Dr. D.N. Talwar head of the department of Physics, Indiana University, Pensivliyana, US, addressed the students. He talked about nanotechnology and its implementations in daily life and technology. He illustrated the things by examples of Cathedral in Paris, Blue Mosque in Istanbul and strongest sword. He told how in the ancient time also this technology was in existence. That is how they were able to make coloured glasses, which never faded with passing time, even six centuries.

Talking about the strongest sword, he said that it was made of wootz steel, the composition of which we have come to know recently. All the colour effect he said were because of plasmonic effect and a new emerging field of science is coming up called nanophotonics.

Prof M Radhakrishna organising committee member informed as many as 1113 students comprising 984 students (659 male, 295 female), 146 teachers (122 male and 24 female) took part in the Science Conclave.

The PRO Pankaj Mishra’s initiative helped in wide coverage of the event in print, TV and the only online media,

The cultural evening saw Shovana Narayan present her vivid classical, dance while main attraction of the Saturday evening were noted Gazal singer duet Bhupendra and Mitali. They enthralled the audience rendering melodious gazals and Hindi film songs. It was their first visit to the city. They promised to come again, in the Sangam city, where knowledge, myth and history confluence.

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Daksha Sheth expresses the agony and ecstasy of dance

Daksha Sheth’s dance tells you that she has broken barriers to release her supreme artistic creativity. Dance is her catharsis, her agony and ultimate ecstasy. Her fluid movements and effortless grace holds you spellbound.

CJ: Arindam Roy, 20 Dec 2008 Views:1319 Comments:0

DAKSHA SHETH, a prominent danseuse and choreographer in India enthralled the Science Conclave participants presenting fusion of western and Indian music at Indian Institute of Information Technology-Allahabad (IIIT-A), on Thursday (Dec 18) evening.

The gutsy and dynamic dancer Daksha started her career with traditional dance. During 18 years, she was a traditional dancer and as such she was making a living and doing well. But she wanted to switch over to contemporary dance - and worked hard for many years to make a breakthrough in this field.

Daksha’s dance tells you that she has broken barriers to release her supreme artistic creativity. Dance is her catharsis, her agony and ultimate ecstasy. Her fluid movements and effortless grace holds you spellbound.

She presented various compositions at IIIT-A. She began with Ganesh Vandana (the text is from the Sama Veda). The music was composed by Devissaro.

The main elements of Daksha’s dance performances are a blend of the traditional with the modern. She gives expressions to her artistic talent, gaining the liberty of free verse in her dance forms.

Though she has retained elements from the traditional dance forms, she amalgamated it with modern music, clothes and movements in an interesting way.

Daksha adapts electric guitar music to the old Kathak footwork, complete with ankle bells and gracious arm movements. She combines classical Indian martial arts, yoga, Kathak and Chhau dance techniques.

Daksha - famous as one of India´s most prominent dancers - has a dance studio in New Delhi, which symbolises for the modern Indian dance what Merce Cunningham is for modern dance in the western world. Here, traditional techniques are given new energy and new expressions in a way which attracts best dancers from around the country.

She is one of the most sought-after teachers in both classical forms and new Indian dance.

Her dance company has won international acclaim for its dance-theatre production that brings together performing artistes from many disciplines drawing on the wealth of their traditions.

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Adopt technology to dispose pending cases: SC judge

Justice PP Naolekar of the Apex Court asked Nobel scientists at IIIT-A to devise such technology that can help in disposal of legal cases in the Indian courts. It was essential to adopt suitable technology for streamlining pending cases.

CJ: Arindam Roy , 20 Dec 2008 Views:1816 Comments:0

SUPREME COURT Justice PP Naolekar has asked scientists to devise such technology that can help in disposal of legal cases in the Indian courts.

Addressing at the Science Conclave at Indian Institute of Information Technology-Allahabad (IIIT-A), Justice Naolekar on Saturday (Dec 20) said that 30 years ago only 20- 30 cases had to be witnessed lying pending before the courts but now several cases were in queue to be finally disposed off in Indian courts. Therefore, he urged the science fraternity to develop a technology in order to expedite the pending court cases.

Owing the welfare of the citizens of the country as main concern of the judiciary, it was essential to adopt suitable technology for streamlining pending cases.

He said application of mind was essential requirement in delivery of judgment considering the complication of facts and witnesses. Justice Naolekar lauded the initiative taken by IIIT-A to promote the basic science and research in India through organising this Nobel scientists’ congregation.

In his welcome speech Dr M D Tiwari, IIIT-A director said that technologies, whatever aspect they are concerned with, are dependent on scientific methods and methodologies. Newer and newer scientific researches, sharpen, update and advance technologies. The world today is highly competitive and technologies, if not updated and upgraded, fall sick and are rendered off-beat and un-competitive. So there is constant scope for upgradation of technologies that is possible only with the held of latest scientific researches. He presented Science Conclave momento to Justice Naolekar.

Later, students and teachers had marathon informal discussions with Nobel scientists over tea in the pandal.

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Nobel laureate Martin Perl: Young see things better

Nobel Physicist Dr. Martin L. Perl said that sound health, dedication, good colleagues and friends are necessary to be progress in one’s field. Basic and applied researches are equal and have great significance, he said.

CJ: Arindam Roy , 19 Dec 2008 Views:1737 Comments:0

ON THE fifth day (Friday, Dec 19) of the country’s first Science Conclave, at the Indian Institute of Information Technology-Allahabad (IIIT-A), several activities kept the participants busy throughout the day.

In the morning, an open panel discussion comprising of Prof Martin L Perl, Prof Harold (Harry) Walter Kroto, Prof Jerome Issac Friedman, Prof DN Talwar, Dr M D Tiwari, Prof GC Nandi, Prof Radhakrishna and Prof US Tiwari was organised in the huge pandal which discussed upon several aspects of science education in the world.

The panel members concluded that science and research can only be motivated with the help of all social classes, government, industries and educational institutions. The panel members replied a volley of questions asked by students and teachers present in the pandal.

Later, addressing the students Nobel Physicist Dr. Martin L. Perl said that sound health, dedication, good colleagues and friends are necessary to be progress in one’s field.
During the interactive session with students he enlisted these three things as important to keep going with one’s work.

He put forward some of the famous questions related to astronomical sciences like the possibility of life on other planets, whether space is curve or flat, etc and looking for newer methods to investigate into these areas, as he believed that the “young see the things better”.

Prof Perl said that the important thing in research is that you should never take any argument personally, on yourself. He emphasised on the fact that every research converges to give a proper result and the result should be such that it should be mutually agreed upon by everyone.

On being asked that how did he chose his field, he said that he was obsessed with the elementary particles of atom and also discussed about his perception of the Big Bang theory, the black hole, the new concept of “antigravity”, relative stability of elementary particles.

When asked that what other fields he would select if he has given an opportunity once again, he said that he would like to do research on medical sciences, specially brain and the nerve sensing.

Prof Perl also discussed his education till high school, his inclination of becoming a successful engineer to do some ‘interesting things’ and how he turned toward sciences on the suggestion of his professor that exploring sciences would be much ‘more interesting’. He also spoke about the availability of resources at that time in the US due to threat of Russian technologies.

He also dealt on religion, as it is the way of life and doing charity to help the poor is the best way of life, when asked about any religion constraints he had to face .There was a lot of discussion about the ethical issues hampering researches to which Dr. Mishra answered that researches must go on if it is in benefit of mankind.

Prof Perl also answered a query related to basic research and applied research, stating that both these are equal and have great significance.

He ended the session reiterating the effect that one should work in the areas of one’s interest and enjoy it to have the best output, and the work atmosphere should be full of good friends such that everyone is happy working together with due to respect for each and every person.

The mathematics department continued attracting a large number of students in the Science Conclave for attending the interactive session with Noble laureates. Prof Jerome Isaac Friedman answered the queries of the students. He was ready to enhance their knowledge.

Prof. Friedman inspired the students by telling them about his high school life and by informing how he got interested in Physics after reading a book on theory of relativity by Sir Albert Einstein. He asked the students to develop an interest in the field of science and enjoy the work which they do because this will give them the true satisfaction, even greater satisfaction than winning a Nobel Prize.

He also urged the students to enhance their knowledge about humanity because it is better to become a good human being first and a scientist later. For the students, who will form the future of the world, his message was to keep their mind open, to be ready to take risks and also not only to think about the problem but also the solutions to these problems.

Students asked their queries, which Prof Friedman answered, readily. There were questions relating to importance of mathematics and he answered by explaining the use of mathematics in every field of science, like physics, chemistry and biology. Especially for physics he said that both go hand in hand and without mathematics there would not be any development in modern physics.

He said that everything in mathematics represents something in the physical world but these are our constraints that we are able to understand only a few amongst them. Then there were many questions related to Hadron Collider, atomic clocks and also about the work related to the discovery of quarks and he took a great delight answering these queries.

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