In a last-minute rethink, the State Congress on Monday changed its candidate for the Bhoranj Assembly seat. The party has now fielded Promila Devi from the seat instead of Prem Kaushal, who was about to fill his nomination papers.Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said he did not know the reason behind the move. Mr. Kaushal was considered very close to the Chief Minister.The bypoll in Bhoranj was necessitated after the death of former BJP Minister and senior MLA Ishwar Dass Dhiman. The State BJP has made his son Anil Dhiman, a physician, as the party nominee from Bhoranj. Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal and State BJP president Satpal Satti accompanied Mr. Dhiman on Monday to file his papers for poll scheduled for April 9.Discontent hits CongressMeanwhile, reacting to MLA Balbir Verma’s switchover from the Congress to the BJP, the Chief Minister said he “is not concerned about who is going where”.He claimed that his party had better candidates in the Chopal constituency of anterior Shimla district than Mr. Verma. It is believed that Mr. Verma, who was an associate member of the Congress in the Vidhan Sabha, left the party over the Chief Minister’s decision to make Dharamsala as another capital of Himachal Pradesh. The State BJP has maintained that the Chief Minister’s move to undermine the importance of Shimlaas the capital town has annoyed many senior Congress leaders and that there might be more switchovers over the issue. Bone of contentionDharamsala is the headquarter of the Kangra district, which has the maximum number of Vidhan Sabha seats. The Chief Minister had earlier shifted the Winter Session of the Vidhan Sabha from Shimla to Dharamsala. The smart city project was also given to Dharamsala, despite the latter not fulfilling the required conditions, said a BJP spokesperson.He added that the government, which is reeling under a debt of ₹42,000 crore and is not being able to pay the salaries of its employees, was bent upon making another capital.There is also confusion among the government employees over the probable shifting of their offices from the main capital to Dharamsala.
All convicts in the jails of Uttar Pradesh, whether petty criminals or notorious mafia dons, should get the same food and treatment, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has told state officials.The Uttar Pradesh chief minister’s remarks came at a review meeting of the state’s Home, Vigilance and Jails department late last night.There have often been reports and allegations in the past about certain prisoners enjoying privileges in jails including the use of phones etc.He said the same food should be given to all convicts -petty criminals or mafia dons — lodged in jails and ordered installation of mobile phone jammers, an official spokesman said.He has also warned officials of the jails department against any leniency shown towards notorious criminals and asserted that they should not be allowed to use medical treatment as an excuse.In the meeting, the chief minister stressed on effective checks on corruption in all cells of the police and identification of staff members having links with criminals and anti—social elements, the spokesperson said.
Tabling the draft earlier, Mr. Drabu called for “serious and sincere discussion to protect the autonomy and the exclusive constitutional position”. “The government will consider all the suggestions the lawmakers will make,” he said.PDP hits out at NCRuling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Nazir Ahmad Yatoo said, “The NC in order to score political mileage from the GST issue wants bloodshed under its garb. We don’t need lessons from the NC about safeguarding J&K’s autonomy,” said Mr. Yatoo.Traders protestMany traders unfurled black flags on shops here against GST as the authorities detained several trade bodies’ leaders who tried to take out a protests march.“We will not allow J&K to lose its taxing rights. Our demand is that the J&K government should seek further amendments to the 101 amendment to safeguard taxing rights and fiscal autonomy,” Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries spokesman Faiz Bakshi.Inter-State trade at J&K toll post Lakhanpur, according to Mr. Bakshi, has come down by 70%. “Only vehicles carrying essentials are entering into the State. We are staring at a grave crisis,” Mr. Bakshi said. Ruckus breaks out inside Jammu and Kashmir Assembly over GST rollout Consensus over the Goods and Services Tax (GST) continued to elude the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly on Tuesday.State Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu and Public Works Minister Naeem Akhtar tabled the GST resolution before the two Houses for a debate. Both the Houses witnessed chaotic scenes as Opposition leaders barraged the Treasury Benches with allegations, resulting in multiple adjournments.“We wish to know modifications made to the 101 amendment of the Constitution before extending it to J&K,” said CPI (M) leader M.Y. Tarigami.Several Opposition parties, including the National Conference and the Congress, oppose adoption of the GST in its current form and demanded safeguards to protect the State’s fiscal autonomy.“Section 3 bridges J&K with the Government of India, and Section 5 gives the State authority to use the (taxing) powers. There is Section 12 that prevents any change in the Section 3 and 5. Why this kind of change is being brought about?” asked Congress leader Rigzin Jora.
Pakistani troops violated ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Uri sector in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, but there was no loss of life, police said on Sunday.The ceasefire violation took place near LoC at Manga Kamalkote in Uri last night, a police official said.He said the shelling by Pakistani forces damaged a cow-shed and a house, both belonging to local.However, no loss of life was reported, he added.
Two days after the followers of the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda went on the rampage and clashed with security forces in Panchkula, the epicentre of Friday’s violence, a sense of fear is still palpable among the local people in this otherwise peaceful city, which is now limping back to normality.“As I peeped through the window and saw the agitated mob rushing past on the street, the memories of Partition were rekindled … I told my wife, who was sitting beside me, to stay calm, but yet the fear was evident in her eyes,” Balraj Katiyal, a nonagenarian residing in Sector 4 of Panchkula, told The Hindu. Mr. Balraj’s son Dalip said: “The scene was scary, they [Dera supporters] started throwing stones and torching vehicles soon after the verdict in the rape case was announced,” he said, adding that the government should have taken note of the huge build-up of Dera followers.“Once the security forces used tear gas, the followers started running for shelter. A few scaled the wall of my house and tried to barge in. We were afraid they would harm us,” said Mr. Dalip, a retired bank employee.“Even before the verdict, the way the number of Dera supporters was swelling in the city was creating a sense of fear among us. While the situation is calm now, the past three or four days were frightening,” he said.Rakesh Agarwal of Panchkula said the failure of the State government to judge the situation had put the life of city residents at risk.Lax action“Our lives were at stake and it was all due to the government’s laxity. My maid told me that Dera followers had started gathering in nearby villages at their relatives and friends’ places. The government ignored the early signs and ultimately it was the local people who suffered,” he said. “For the past five days, my family and I have been cooped up inside the house due to the panic across the city. The day the Dera supporters created mayhem, the city’s sky was covered in smoke. The visuals I witnessed from my roof were chilling,” he said.Seema Bhardwaj, a resident of Sector 2 of the city, said she heard loud howling voices from the street. It was enough to create panic in the family. “As I heard the howling I rushed to the roof and saw the mob vandalising vehicles on the roads. Soon they [Dera supporters] attacked the security forces. For almost an hour, they created mayhem. As they assembled outside my house, it sent a shiver down my spine. I was worried they would harm us,” she said. “What my family and I went through the past few days was a terrible experience. We were virtually locked inside our home.”
“We can’t step out of the hostel for even 10 minutes without being harassed. Half-a-dozen boys follow us, passing lewd comments,” says Kumari Akanksha, a second year Arts student at Banaras Hindu University (BHU).“What makes it worse is that if we complain to the warden or the proctor, they resort to moral policing. They scold us for going out in the evening or question us about our dress,” added the student, who lives in the Mahila Maha Vidyalaya hostel inside the BHU campus. Almost every woman student The Hindu spoke to echoed Ms. Akanksha’s complaint about the unsafe nature of the BHU campus.The fresh controversy in the varsity was triggered by the molestation of a fine arts student on Thursday evening. But the students’ grouse was not restricted to this particular case. They feel the campus is generally unsafe, given its poor lighting, lack of CCTV cameras, and uncooperative, misogynist security guards.“There have been attempts to snatch my phone. I dread walking outside in the evening.”The poor lighting makes it easy for hooligans to molest or harass women and escape without being identified, said Aishwarya Singh, a Sociology student. “Instead of protecting our basic rights and ensuring that the culprits don’t get away, the administration is trying to impose a curfew on us. We don’t want locks, we want lights,” Ms. Singh said.Following the molestation incident, the woman students submitted a memorandum to the Dean of Student Welfare. It states, “Boys come from outside and engage in objectionable acts like masturbation. They pelt stones, and use filthy language while passing by.”Even woman professors feel the campus is unsafe. Professor Shobana Nerliker says there have been attempts to snatch her phone on at least two occasions. “I dread walking out in the evening. BHU is not safe for women,” she said.The professor also defended the students’ right to demand better security. “On the one hand, PM Narenda Modi talks of empowering women, while on the other women demanding their rights are being oppressed. The students were only asking for security, weren’t they?” she said.At the heart of the girls’ demand is the regularisation of the curfew timings. While the boys can stay out of their hostel till 10 pm, the girls in most hostels need to be back by 8 p.m.Roshan Pandey, one of the many male students agitating for equal timings, says that even with the obvious differential treatment, the 8 pm curfew for girls is strictly enforced, while the 10 pm deadline for boys’ hostels is only on paper. “In practice, the boys have 24 hours access,” said Mr. Pandey.Shradha Singh, proctor, admits that the women students have “genuine demands” and claims she promised to raise these before the administration. However, before any action could be taken, the protests turned violent, she says.“I had asked the girls to give me time till 5pm on September 23. But the girls satisfied with our promises were suddenly hijacked by the boys. What could we do? We also started work on the CCTVs. But the boys come and break them with bricks.”
She said reports suggesting that the SP and BSP had entered into an alliance for 2019 were “baseless and wrong” and being spread by mischievous elements.She said she had only appealed her supporters and party workers to vote for the “opposition party candidates in the strongest position” to defeat the BJP in Phulpur and Gorakhpur.The former chief minister though hinted at that her party did not rule out a strategic transfer of votes with the SP in the upcoming Rajya Sabha and Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council to keep out the BJP’S extra nominees.”Except in Karnataka [where she has alligned with Dewe Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular)] the BSP has not entered into any alliance or understanding in any other state. Final decision will be taken when 2019 Lok Sabha elections are declared,” Ms. Mayawati said.As per the strategy, the BSP will support the SP getting its MLCs elected in U.P., while the SP will help Ms Mayawati’s party send a candidate to the Rajya Sabha. It is not yet clear if she will contest the election to the upper house. Though SP president Akhilesh Yadav has gone all out to ensure a united opposition front including the BSP and Congress, in the by-polls, he has not yet reacted to Ms. Mayawati’s fresh remarks.Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath dismissed the idea that a combined force of the SP and BSP would be any threat to the BJP.Ms. Mayawati’s clarification came hours after her Gorakhpur and Allahabad office-bearers declared support to the respective SP candidates.A combined SP and BSP force, if resonated on the ground, has the potential to stretch out the BJP, at least in Phulpur, the seat it won for the first time in 2014 under the Modi wave.That year, the BJP won both Phulpur and Gorakhpur, securing over 50% votes on each seat, 13% more than the combined vote of SP and BSP. However, in the 2017 Assembly election, while the BJP and its allies won all 10 Assembly segments in Phulpur and Gorakhpur, the SP and BSP combined defeated the BJP candidate on six of them. In addition, in Gorakhpur Rural the combined vote of the SP and the Nishad Party, which is this time directly alligned with Akhilesh Yadav, was more than the BJP’s tally. In another seat in Gorakhpur, Campierganj, the combined vote of the Nishad Party, BSP and Congress [the SP did not field a candidate as per an alliance understanding] was more than the BJP’s vote. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Sunday indicated that it would extend support to the Samajwadi Party (SP) in the Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha bypolls scheduled for March 11.However, BSP president Mayawati clarified that the decision this did not amount to a formal alliance between the two parties.Also Read U.P. parties pulling out all stops to win Gorakhpur, Phulpur polls
Rajasthan is promoting crop diversification as a way of shielding farmers against the vagaries of nature. The farmers have made use of the soil health cards issued to them for selecting crop patterns on the basis of productivity of land and the local agro-climatic conditions.With low land productivity and increasing use of pesticides in agriculture adversely affecting nutrients in the foodgrains, farmers are also taking up horticulture, dairy farming, pisciculture and food processing to augment their income.State Agriculture Minister Prabhu Lal Saini has said that the government would promote the policies for export of spices and processing of agricultural produces and publicise them among the agriculturists. He said ₹7,400 crore had been released to provide relief to farmers in the instances of natural calamities during the last four years.“Farmers coming to mandis with their crops are extended all facilities, including food at highly subsidised prices under the Kisan Kaleva Yojana,” Mr. Saini said while addressing a convention of Rajasthan Krishi Paryavekshak Sangathan in Bhilwara. He pointed out that an assistance of ₹143 crore had been paid to the families of 1,300 farmers who had met with accidents while performing agriculture and irrigation-related works. He called upon the Krishi Paryavekshaks to act as a bridge between the State government and farmers.
Incessant rains for several hours on Tuesday morning wreaked havoc in the Millennium City leading to water-logging in most of the city’s roads and massive traffic jams. The traffic movement on the Gurugram-Delhi expressway was also badly hit at several points due to waterlogging. More than three hours after the rains stopped around 8 a.m., all major intersections of the city – Rajiv Chowk, IFFCO Chowk, Netaji Subhash Chowk, Signature Towers, Atul Kataria Chowk and Hero Honda Chowk– were inundated leading to traffic snarls. The motorists travelling from Jharsa Chowk to HUDA City Centre through Signature Towers had a tough time as they remained stuck for around an hour. “The U-turn towards the HUDA City Centre metro station was completely choked around 11 a.m. and no policeman was seen anywhere nearby. Some motorists then got off their cars to manage the traffic on their own,” said Rakesh Kumar, a resident of Sector 15 Part-II. Similarly, the stretch extending from HUDA City Centre metro station to Netaji Subhash Chowk on Sohna Road also witnessed congestion due to slow moving traffic. “It took me around four hours to reach the Gurugram courts premises from Saket in Delhi. Usually it takes me only an hour,” said Vineet Sethi, a resident of Sainik Farms. The water-logged roads also hit the plying of school buses forcing some of the institutes to declare it a holiday. Besides, the internal roads in Sector 15 Part-II, Sector 14, Sector 23, Sector 24, Sector 46, Sector 29, Sector 44, Sector 45, Sector 46 and DLF areas were also flooded causing inconvenience to the motorists. The Gurugram Police maintained that its personnel were deployed “on each and every point trying to regulate the traffic”.
Four students were injured when the police fired tear- gas shells to disperse agitating students who tried to raid the house of K. Yugindro, the acting Vice-Chancellor of Manipur University, on Saturday night. The students, representing six students’ bodies, are demanding unconditional release of six MU professors and 10 students.They were arrested during the September 20 raids on MU hostels. Chief Minister N. Biren justified the raids, saying in the past a professor was gunned down while two others, including the then V-C Prof. N. Bijoy, were kneecapped. However, as part of the ongoing negotiations, police and paramilitary personnel were withdrawn from the campus.“The teachers and students were arrested on the basis of an FIR filed by Prof Yugindro. If the FIR is withdrawn, the arrested persons could be released,” the CM had said.However, Prof. Yugindro sent a letter to Union HRD Ministry on October 1, contending that Governor Najma Heptulla and Mr. Biren were siding with “terrorists”. Both the Governor and the Chief Minister have not publicly reacted to this serious charge. Veteran politician and former Minister O. Joy said: “The charge is outlandish and highly condemnable.”Meanwhile, in response to an PIL, the Manipur High Court gave time to the MU authority till October 11 to restore normality on the campus. The Division Bench of Justices N. Koteswor and Kh. Nobin said after this deadline, the court would intervene to restore normality.After 85 days of closure of the MU, classes and official work were resumed once the V-C, Prof A.P. Pandey, was given forced leave. However, the academic atmosphere was vitiated when Prof. Yugindro was appointed the V-C in charge.Girl students have been on relay hunger strike demanding release of the teachers and students. A two-member inquiry committee headed by N. Nandakumar, retired acting Chief Justice of the Meghalaya High Court, is looking into the charges against Prof. Pandey.Though police and security personnel were withdrawn from the campus as part of the interim agreement, the police have beefed up security measures on the MU campus.Armed and riot police have been deployed in the Thangapat areas of Imphal where the house of Prof. Yugindro is located. No vehicle is allowed in the locality.
The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Tuesday, in an interim order, stayed the State government’s ordinance increasing reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) category to 27% from the earlier 14%. The Congress government in the State had issued an ordinance on March 8 increasing the reservation in the OBC category to 27%. A Division Bench of Justices R.S. Jha and Sanjay Dwivedi on Tuesday stayed the State government ordinance which increased the percentage of reservation for OBCs. Petitioners Ashita Dubey, Richa Pandey and Suman, all MBBS students who had appeared for NEET 2019 for admissions to postgraduate medical courses, had challenged the State government’s ordinance on grounds that it violated provisions of Article 16(4) of the Constitution, their counsel Aditya Sanghi said. The government’s quota move had led to reservation in the State reaching 63%, a breach of the 50% cap on reservation, the counsel said.‘No quota above 14%’ It is directed that the respondents shall not provide reservation of more than 14% for the OBC category in admission made to colleges on the strength of the ordinance which is a subject matter of this petition, the court said. The court has sought replies within two weeks from the State director for medical education and the principal secretary of the medical education department.
Poor people living in the remote areas of Kandhamal district do not want elections to destroy the peace and harmony of this communally volatile region.Blaram Pradhan, a resident of Sikaketi village under the G. Udaygiri Assembly segment of Kandhamal Lok Sabha constituency, is clear that they want to forget the gory communal violence of the past. A church and several houses were damaged during the 2008 communal riots in Sikaketi. Women of the village allege that it was the handiwork of outsiders and assert that they do not want to get divided by outsiders again. This Christian-dominated village has 135 families. However, during the last panchayat elections, the village elected unopposed a Hindu woman, Saristri Pradhan, as its panchayat ward member. Be it a Hindu feast or Christmas celebration, families here are always together. “Our unity has been strengthened after the communal riots. We have decided to vote as per our choice and not let the election campaign destroy our amity,” says Ms. Pradhan. According to the villagers, two days ago when a candidate contesting in their Assembly seat organised a feast in their village, all of them attended it. “We are adopting the same attitude towards all political parties that visit our village,” says Rojanti Pradhan. In Badapanga, a Hindu-dominated village near Sikaketi, Madan Majhi declares that they do not want to get polarised along religious lines. “We should vote for a suitable candidate and not vote for an undeserving one along religious lines,” he says.Political activists allege that their rivals are trying to influence the voters along religious lines. Arun Sahu of Daringbadi says people who suffered due to communal violence do not want to become prey to such polarisation again. He alleges that outsiders who come to Kandhamal during election campaign usually try to fan divisive feelings.According to social activist Kailash Dandapat, people will vote on developmental issues and not along religious lines.
How does a spider catch a fish? Could a mat of carbon nanotubes suck water from thin air? And what really drove the passenger pigeon extinct? Science’s Online News Editor David Grimm chats about these stories and more with Science’s Sarah Crespi.
Read it at Times of India Related Items
Nitin Sawhney is very comfortable in his own skin as he lounges in a hotel room in San Francisco in old jeans. But he prefers in his music to go beyond his skin. Like to a 150 piece orchestra from India. Nelson Mandela. Miles Davis. Flamenco guitar. “The whole world is my palette that I can select different shades from,” says Sawhney, 39. “I am not trying to fuse music together; I feel that’s really contrived. I just try to make music I believe in.”Nitin Sawhney’s beliefs though can be a matter of some controversy. His album Beyond Skin, which Elle magazine dubbed “the album of the year”, begins with Atal Behari Vajpayee announcing the successful conclusion of India’s nuclear tests in 1998. It ends with the father of the atomic bomb Robert Oppenheimer quoting Krishna from the Bhagvad Gita “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” I believe in Hindu philosophy I am not religious; I am a pacifist I am a British Asian. ” My identity and my history are defined only by myself – beyond politics, beyond nationality, beyond religion and beyond skin. – Nitin Sawhney, Beyond Skin,1999 “A lot of people have interpreted this to mean it’s an anti-nuclear album,” says Sawhney. “It is in a way since I am very anti-nuclear. But it is much more about the hypocrisy of nationality and religion.” He explains, “Here you have a Hindu prime minister saying how proud he is of the bomb and then you have a German scientist using Hinduism to condemn the bomb. I thought it was a great way to encapsulate the album.”Beyond Skin went on to be nominated for Britain’s prestigious Mercury Prize. Sawhney moved on to two more albums since then, Prophesy and Human, as well as the scores for the television special Second Generation and other films like Anita and Me, set Shakespeare to music and produced Varekai with Cirque D’Soleil. He’s written for Sinead O’Connor and remixed for Paul McCartney and Sting. But if his music teacher at school in Britain had his way, Sawhney would never have ended up in music at all.His music teacher in senior school was a member of the openly racist anti-immigrant National Front. Once he heard Sahwney practicing Indian classical ragas on the piano and burst in demanding to see the sheet music. “I said what do you mean?” remembers Sawhney. “He said you can’t be playing piano without sheet music. I said I was improvising with Indian classical music and we don’t have sheet music because it’s an oral tradition. He looked at me as if I was a freak and said, ‘Get out’ and banned me from the music room.”Sawhney snuck in anyway. When he heard the teacher approaching he just switched to Bach two part harmonies. But the music teacher was not a case in isolation. Sawhney was one of the only Asians among 700 kids in his school in Kent. The area was such a bastion of neo-Nazis he was routinely beaten up or followed home by a van full of abusive members of the far right shouting threats.“It was a very weird thing growing up in that environment and very isolating,” says Sawhney. Though his father listened to Indian classical music and his mother was a trained Bharatnatyam dancer, they pushed him towards a more stable career like law. Sahwney, in fact, did study law at Liverpool University before he decided to follow his muse. But he doesn’t blame his parents. “As immigrants their main priority was survival. And they want their kids to do well. At that time there was no precedent for Asian kids in England to make their own music.”What his struggles with his own dreams as well as with the far right contingent in his school and neighborhood did do was make him really grapple with issues of nationality. His parents, immigrants from India, knew for sure where they came from. Even as they struggled to create new lives in an often unwelcoming Britain their roots were secure. Sawhney found his very being under attack, his place in British society constantly challenged. “I guess if someone tends to attack you on the basis of something you tend to become quite defensive about that,” he says. “So over time I was making music that was having an almost miltiantly Asian vibe to it.” But in the end he realized that was another way he was being manipulated, his music put into a box, his musical palette circumscribed. When he called record labels and introduced himself, “they said we don’t do Bhangra. And I’d say neither do I.” His music in fact roams the world for influences and Sahwney credits sources as diverse as the Velvet Underground and urban R&B. He has used new British vocalists like Reena Bhardwaj, flautist Ronu Majumdar as well as the voices of his own father and Nelson Mandela. What he’s never used is his own voice. A review in the BBC described that as a Nitin Sawhney shaped hole in his music.Sahwney, not surprisingly disagrees with that assessment. “It’s like being the director of a film,” he says. “You don’t want to play all the parts yourself.” He confesses that sometimes when he listens to solo albums he finds it strange to hear one voice on all the tracks. “For one or two tracks it’s great. Then you are like please let’s hear something else.” Being in some ways behind the music is a lot more freeing for Sawhney.“You are thinking of creating sonic images. Not sitting there worrying about the ego trip of one singer or one musician.” But Sawhney says society still prioritizes nationality above artistic expression.“If an Asian artist makes a film or makes music it’s still the main thing that people talk about. This is an Asian thing” says Sawhney. “I think I am a great worry to the retail industry because they wanna stick everything in a box to categorize and simplify,” retorts Sawhney. Instead he would like to embrace his diverse musical influences and not compromise the artistic nature of his work to “fit into some stupid category that they have invented for the convenience of the store manager.” In fact, according to Sawhney, the world music section with its five albums from India and six from Africa and eight from Cuba is nothing short of “apartheid in record shops. It’s about segregation, not integration. And I believe in integration”It’s a concept he finds increasingly under attack everywhere. After 9/11 he resisted coming to an America that he found frighteningly unilateral, especially after he heard about a man in a New York mall who was arrested after he hrefused to take off a T-shirt that said “Give Peace a Chance.” But now he says after meeting groups like Project Ahimsa which have raised money for the victims of the 9/11 backlash he feels a little more relaxed knowing that there are other dissenting voices out there. Meanwhile in his native Britian, despite the record-breaking success of a film like Bend it Like Beckham, he sees growing “paranoia about immigrants and asylum seekers. In fact asylum seeker itself now carries a negative connotation.” He points to a recent survey that found 39% of British teenagers believe the single biggest political issue is regulation and control of asylum seekers.He recounts a joke by extreme right wing comedian Bernard Manning scoffing at the people like Sawhney and his parents claiming to be British. According to Manning if that were the case then a dog born in a stable should call itself a horse. Tony Blair’s own Home Secretary David Blunkett floated ideas for a test of Britishness for newcomers. Sawhney is appalled. “Who will define what Britishness is. I thought we lived in a multicultural pluralistic society where people’s values are respected. What he’s tried to do is eradicate the diverse nature of British society.”The idea of Britishness is nonsensical to Sawhney, because he finds the whole concept of nationality befuddling. “That’s just something that happened to you by chance,” he says sharply. “You just happened to be born in that particular geographical landmass. That doesn’t make you better than anybody else.”Yet Sawhney has learned to channel his anger not just into shimmeringly beautiful music but he can also get a laugh out of it. He was one of the original moving spirits behind the hit British comedy series Goodness Gracious Me which poked fun at Brits, South Asians and British desis with equal vigor. He still remembers the episode about “Going for a British” where a group of Indians go to an English restaurant and harass the waiter as they try to order the blandest thing they can find.But even that says Sahwney had a context. He had often seen how loutish English people would go to Indian restaurants and “get pissed out of their heads, throw food around and poke fun at the waiters who were mostly very quiet and humble.” After that episode aired on television a cab driver told him, “You know you were in that sketch last night, that really made me laugh. I do that all the time. I go to Indian restaurants and have a bit of a go at the waiter but I never thought of it that way.”That’s what Nitin Sawhney hopes people will get out of his music – that they will look at the world again and say “I never thought of it that way.”‘Lately the sunshine makes a different shape around meLately my music has a different sound to show meLately I ask questions of the world but no one ‘s listeningTell me when I go to sleep what will the morning bring me?Falling, falling, falling or am I flying, flying, flying?– Nitin Sawhney, Human, 2003 Related Items
Descriptions of magnificence and splendor don’t begin to capture the stunning beauty of the temples of Khajuraho.A visit to the town of Khajuraho, which has an airport of its own and is well connected by road from Gwalior and Varanasi, is an intriguing experience. The local economy is set to welcome the tourists. Everyone, starting with the the rickshaw-wallahs and the cab drivers who takes you to the hotel, sizes you up. Among other things, they are curious why you would come to see the temples famous worldwide for their erotic images. In this age of pictorial pornography and widely available images of the temple structures themselves, what prods you to spend all that money to visit an arid town, with almost no other attraction to see the temples? If you are a couple, with the airs of being newly married, and there are a few of them, then it titillates them. It must be some feat to start your married life with the education of sculptures that are immensely erotic and suggestive. If you are a Westerner, the locals are not amused. They know that it does not take much for goras to be thrilled by anything that is exotic – the erotic simply adds to the excitement. Visitors from Japan, Hong Kong and the East, for whom the temples seem to hold intense attraction, appear strange, but elicit sympathy for their wanton hunger for things erotic. If you are a single male, you invite knowing stares. The locals are quite amused by your attraction to the sculptures, which you seem to consume all by yourself. Either you are an eccentric scholar who is going to hang out there for a while or a pretty desolate traveler in the land of love and lust.Then there is that NRI crowd. A rickshaw-wallah surmised that the returning Indians come to Khajuraho to test the power of their earnings. What they could not see earlier, and what they are embarrassed not to have seen before, they come to see with their means. For them the taxi, van or rickshaw fares are higher and most importantly, these people, he said, do not want to share rides with others. They want to ride alone. Of course, no generalizations are fair, but it is always a good starting point to read the landscape of a place you are visiting. Somewhere in books or tourist literature you learn that only ten percent of the sculptures in Khajuraho are erotic. This might dampen your enthusiasm a little, as the erotic is what gives these temples their notoriety. Men, women, animal-like figures, and gods all join in a feast of erotic poses, in breathtakingly beautiful sculptures, opening up several sex manuals on how to realize physical intimacy in a variety of unions. If you want to read the impressions on the faces of visitors, I suggest you turn your back against the sculptures, pretending to tie your shoes or taking pictures of the other temple across from you. You will see visitors facing the sculptures, dropping their jaws at the explosive sexuality of coital positions between men and women, with several formulations of singular and plural possible between them. These stunned and admiring faces say a lot about how advanced the reality of those who built them from the 9th through the 14th century was compared to our imagination.The temple guards, all males and employees of the Archeological Survey of India, are happy to share their tales of visitors. There are two kinds of visitors: those interested in detailed and patient studies of each sculpture, who take copious notes and stick around for few days (at least) to take photographs. They are the studious types, not quite charmed by what is going on around them. They are only a few, but they come too. The rest move through the temples, of which only one is used today for active worship, quickly. They are the typical visitors. The guides to the site tell you that it takes under four hours to see the 14 Western temples. These visitors are mainly interested in erotic sculptures, as that is why they have come. Some are intensely busy taking photographs while some move with efficient speed having pretended that they have absorbed all that there is. The other two groups of temples, for which there is no entrance fee and which require auto rides, are on the Southern and Eastern sides of the town.The guards are self-taught experts in these sculptures. This is one government job they did not know they would get. To make the most of it, they have little mirrors in their hands. With plenty of sunshine to help them, they will point you toward poses in sculptures that are explicitly titillating. While they are guiding you to what they think you are interested in, they will tell you in wonderful Madhya Pradesh Hindi or in broken English that those are “Kama Sutra” poses. They are perpetuating a stereotype, but that is what most need and they have to earn a living too. The guards are amused and amusing features of these temples. In their painful boredom of being alone in the arid land, they are entertained by the strange, alien creatures that seem to visit continuously from all corners of the world. In return, they offer you quick courses in erotica, almost reading your minds or tell you stories of other visitors, historical tid-bits which may just not be true. Once you have seen the temples, there isn’t much to do in town. The much publicized light show, which is strewn together by the voice of Amitabh Bachhan, occurs next to the Western temples. Using the backdrop of the temples as a stage, it offers a quick history of the building of the temples and their discovery by a British hunter in 1838. It is an attractive feature of the place, and even if you have done your homework, it does offer a way to grasp what one can in a place now considered a tourist destination.All temples should be seen at the crack of dawn. The Western temples simply look spectacular in the sunlight of central India. The sculptures on the outside are waking up as the light caresses them. And you don’t quite notice the sexuality of the sights you behold. Instead, the whole world is opening up to you in its sensual essence.The temples are intensely sensuous. Aren’t they all in India. But here, in the Chandela tradition, each square foot is sculpted. There are levels of sculptures and multitude of layers of details. There are gods and goddesses, both within and throughout the temples, tempering the spirits as our eyes rest on them. It is clear that those who built the temples and those who hold them dear in their worship, were devotees of Shiva. No wonder, the gods here are forcefully passionate and tender at once. Goddesses move within the spectrum of malevolence, only containing energy in restraint until the moment it is required and benevolence that seeks justice in generosity. One never forgets that these are places of worship and that makes the rest of the experience even more meaningful. All we have to imagine is large groups of sculptors, some seasoned and apprentices, gathering together at sun rise, beginning their craft with a prayer and then dedicating themselves to actualizing what they imagined. These are products of human imagination as much as the erotic sculptures are. One does not think of divinity in seeing these gods. It is pure admiration and sensuality. A culture once made gods playful, sensuous and then embodied all that in carnal forms. There is no guilt here. As the sculptors made their art, they must have stepped back to examine the flaws to correct them and features they admired. Once that art took form, they stepped back and worshipped them even more, except now that worship was displaced from the admiration of their own work to the divinity of spirits that made the work possible. So when we are worshipping gods, we are really admiring the artists who gave shape to our imagination.The life surrounding these artists and their patrons who commissioned them had a prominent place for animals. A life so integral to animals and not dependent, as some apologetics would have you believe, placed great emphasis on their depiction. So we have gods that are like animals and animals with the powers we could have attributed to gods. Elephants, horses and monkeys figure distinctly among these sculptures. All of them seem equal to the human form, participating in everything with pure joy. There isn’t one animal figure that seems as if it is dragged into something, or tired, or weighted down by burden. Monkeys are playing with those who are intertwined in sex. There are varahas, Shiva’s nandi adoring activities of war, everyday life and worship and other mystical beings, synthesized as spirits from the imagination of sculptors. They are engaged in war, combat and also in unions with women. The sculptures are puzzling and to the newcomer, the befuddlement requires serious unlocking of studied knowledge.The 80 temples, of which 22 survive, were built over four centuries by Chandela warriors. They depict everyday life, of which worship, sexuality and sensuality are a part. The temples are laced with graceful depictions of war and everyday life. The images of dance, music and marches all appear to be of joyous people. That brings you to the realization that the period in which the temples were built and the people who built them must have been happy people indeed. It is unlikely that this was a representation meant to sugarcoat everyday suffering. With hundreds of workers and sculptors required to put these buildings together, their own lives had to be reflected in what they did. The female form is dominant to the sight in the sculptures of all temples. Apsaras and sarsundaries turn grace into unlimited seductiveness. As they dance, adorn themselves, paint and present postures that are inviting as they are contemplative, these women truly seem as if they come from celestial abodes to bless our carnal yet mortal existence. There is no way to turn your eyes away from them. What strikes you most is the incredibly respectful world they open up. None of them appears to be “consenting” in the way that the Western idiom of the gaze reduced the female figure. They are inviting but hardly objectified. If you are an expatriate returning to your early world or a foreigner witnessing these grace-defining beings for the first time, you cannot but notice their distinct claim to respect and admiration. They bring to you a world very difference from women in Western paintings who struggle to present themselves from the commodities they have become in the privatized gaze that falls on them.And that is perhaps the greatest characteristic of these temples. The nudity in them is public. For a temple where worship is most important, it is intriguing for any Westerner to see this nudity in public. For the uninformed, it is a cultural jolt. It draws stark contrast with a culture that developed forms of seeing that promoted illicitness, guilt and above all, dehumanizing objectification. Seeing nudity in public in the West is damaging to one’s moral standing and yet, all technologies of seeing, from photography and painting to film, promote and then condemn such acts of seeing. That is precisely why the West is still struggling in practice and philosophy with the erotic. This culture, in the temples of Khajuraho, understood what nudity is, a form to which we all belong and therefore, well within our desires of public celebration. That is where the jaw dropping experience at these temples comes from.There are sculptures of sex between men and women in positions that have since become a matter of popular lore. It is still a disputed claim that these sculptures are depictions of Kama Sutra, that luscious attraction of the rest of the world. Countless sex “manuals” derived from Kama Sutra, the photographic and video forms of which promotethe athletic aspects of sex, shamelessly copy or directly use the sculptures of Khajuraho. The film Kama Sutra by Mira Nair, which was filmed on site at the temples, simply exaggerated those claims, adding to the stereotyping about the Kama Sutra and India. Very few of us venture to read the Kama Sutra itself, which even in its translation by Richard Burton, is a biased and misunderstood text. Above all, it is without visuals. The mythology of eroticism and the sexuality of Khajuraho moves in to make up the void. Eroticism in Indian temples is not uncommon at all. Konarak in Orissa stands as another example, but images of fornication, foreplay and polyphonic sexuality are to be found in places of worship all over India. The Shri Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), which requires that you strip your clothes and wear a single cloth for worship, contains a multitude of erotic images in the most common and yet unassuming places. It is a place of celebrated devotion. The Nilakantha temple near Baroda and the Adiniitha and Chowmukhi temples at Ranakpur near Udaipur are other examples of temples with erotic images. As Sudhir Kakar points out, there is nothing embarrassing by such temples and reason to believe that they are a product of a “degenerate” era. Indeed, these temples are testimony to a culture that is mature in recognizing and respecting an area of our lives that is essential, in romance and in worship. Sexuality is a form of worship. If a visitor does not come away with that feeling, it is difficult to locate the difficulties one may have in understanding that.The utmost value in staring at these sculptures, which challenge your imagination and sink you into depths of profound admiration, is in their carnal beauty and grace. As you stare at the sculptures and begin to let your eyes travel through their contours, the sculptured figures return their gaze on you. They ask you to see everything in its sensuality, including the objects around. The space between objects adorns the objects and gives them their distinct existence. They look at you, examining the gaze that looks at them. You wonder if you have the preparation to really appreciate what they speak of and what they show you.Sex and sexuality are taboo and the morality of the Western culture is so ridden with guilt over what ate entirely simple issues. Even those who prohibit others to have sex have it themselves. It is an orientation of the mind, they say. Here at Khajuraho, we hold the lessons that sex is well beyond the mind, well beyond the coded desires of the bodies and certainly far beyond the boundaries set by our technologies. It is something to be cherished, something to be understood.These sculptures at times seem to scream that sexuality is not contained in anything. All our existence is sensual and sexuality is only a part of it. Genital pleasures confine, not define our sexuality. These global temples of erotica inform us that sex is only a small, if not insignificant, part of our lives. Related Items
Gorgeous stars, glamour, emotion, passion, sex, melodrama, music, dance, pop-patriotism riding on parampara and timeless values, spinning its own version of realism to attract, entice and seduce a star-struck constituency of non resident Indians (NRIs) and second generation overseas Indians – gullible, impressionable, disconnected totally from the real Indian experience and completely blown by its mesmerizing blend of masti and magic!Is this simplistic, cutesy representation of India manufactured to suit B-towns’ vested interest, vulgarizing the intrinsic, rich and multi-layered character of a nation by presenting it in a comic-strip, cardboard-cut-out, easy-to-love-and-digest package? Is the Yash Chopra (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge) Karan Johar (K3G, KANK) and Vipul Shah (Singh is Kinng) brand of punjabiyat an accurate snapshot of Incredible India? Or are we getting too touchy and overreacting to a medium that is meant to dramatize and hype life in an entertaining fashion and ignoring a hard fact that is there for all to see… Bollywood’s triumphant global march. Aloo ChhatThe world is taking cognizance of the power and reach of Bollywood, as countries vie to have Bollywood shoot films there, offering tempting packages, facilities, amenities and even lip-smacking subsidies. Fiji (the latest Bollywood struck country) is allegedly willing to give producers a thumping 35% payback on the costs of shooting. King Khan signing on as South Korea’s cultural ambassador to promote its tourism by luring Indian filmmakers to shoot there reaffirms Bollywood’s red hot footprints on the international map.Celebrated Theatre Director Feroz Khan (Tumhari Amrita, Gandhi v/s Gandhi, Salesman Ramlal, Salgirah) is singularly unimpressed: “Bollywood’s approach today is direct and single-minded: Reduce everything to a level of mediocrity that instantly allows mass-consumption! B-town is a planet focused on offering an alternate reality promising bharpoor entertainment without fullstops.” The worst part, says Khan, is that Bollywood is aggressively elevating mediocrity to excellence.He is equally critical of the “sexy re-mix” of the Indian experience by Bollywood that guarantees the “feel-good” factor, because NRI audiences “are not looking for reality. As for responsibility and commitment, the B-town guys have only one mantra – the Box Office. Period.” Delhi 6Script writer Javed Akhtar (Zanjeer, Sholay, Don) begs to differ. “Anyone who believes that the NRI is gullible, impressionable, ignorant or plain dumb vis-à-vis cultural and social influences, is mistaken. Two things need to be understood immediately. One, there is a huge community of solid professionals – doctors, lawyers, engineers, bankers, architects, IT and finance experts, businessmen – who invade this NRI space with distinction and pride. Are they all culturally regressive and under-privileged?”In any event, Akhtar says if NRI kids “choose” to patronize Bollywood films, then they do so of their choice. “No one is forcing them to go ra-ra over the SRK (Shah Rukh Khan) road shows or Singh is Kinng. Also, if the non-Bollywood fare was really so fabulous, surely they would find their own audience.”Kunal Basu, the celebrated author of The Japanese Wife and Oxford-based professor of management studies rejects the market driven defense as naïve and a disservice to NRIs. “The Indian diaspora continues to be Bollywood’s largest customer-base in the West. In addition, Bollywood has also entered the popular, mainstream consciousness in North America and Europe as the most significant Indian cultural import of the last decade. Whenever there is a big Bollywood event in the UK, for instance, supernovas like SRK and Big B (Amitabh Bachchan) arrive, are feted and dutifully interviewed by all the major TV channels. Shilpa Shetty – post the (in)-famous Big Brother show – has become the face of Bollywood in Britain. Imagine! Everyone (never remotely interested or knowledgeable about Bollywood) seems to have heard of her. Umpteen books continue to be written on and about Bollywood and launched with glitzy fanfare. BBC Channel 4 regularly shows B-town movies on certain days of the week. All this aggressive, sharp and big bucks marketing, over time, has positioned Bollywood, in the absence of any other significant cultural import from India, as the Big one!” Kal Ho Na HoBasu points out that in the 1970s overseas Indian cultural influences were driven by people like Ravi Shanker, representing a culture of a distinctly higher order. That space has been dumbed down by Bollywood. This dangerous spin, Basu says, has resulted in two negative consequences. Second and third generation NRIs weaned on Bollywood’s version of India, is shocked, disgusted and disillusioned once they arrive here. The abject poverty, corruption, pollution, dirt, dust and chaos that colors every major metro city turns them off India, may be for life. In addition, Bollywood’s vice-grip and money and marketing muscle blocks the market for any other Indian cultural import.Kolkata-based, art-house film director Rituparno Ghosh, acknowledges the validity of some of the criticisms, but he also counters with some hard-hitting questions for Bollywood-bashers. “If the non-Bollywood films have found no audience, exposure or support among the NRI community, whose fault is it? What has this fraternity – me, included – done to win audiences or any kind of ground swell in the NRI space? Surely, even within the NRI domain, there are enough bright, young, educated, intelligent, curious, open-minded and culturally-driven kids who are interested to know and sample India’s other cinema. How have we addressed their needs? Why blame them? They have had little or no connect with any other cinema and therefore, naturally, perceive the Bollywood product as the Indian reality.”Ghosh says that to the NRI sensibility, an Adoor Unnithan, Girish Kasaravalli or Buddhadeb Dasgupta film will never be as exciting, fun, glamorous or entertaining as a Bollywood blockbuster. “Let’s face it. Our kind of filmmakers, quite honestly, make niche films for a niche audience. Why on earth should they suddenly want their products to be hugely popular abroad, even with the NRI community?” Dev D“In a globalized world, you enjoy all the advantages of globalization, but the moment things don’t work your way, you moan and groan ” Finally, he says, “If the other guys feel so strongly about championing their product, they should go out and do something. Symposiums, seminars and panel discussions are not the answers. Focused and aggressive action is.”Aparna Sen (who gave us classics like 36 Chowringhee Lane, Mr and Mrs Iyer, 15 Park Avenue) has a more nuanced perspective on the controversy. “Two things need to be immediately contexted while discussing this theme. One, the undeniable connect that most NRIs have with Bollywood. It’s a hugely emotional thing and has to do with nostalgia and roots completely impervious to background, culture, education, social status, reason or intellect. The other point is slightly different and deals with Bollywood’s aggressive insistence on presenting a pseudo, Indian identity through an upper-class, North-Indian, male-female prototype. This is a construct imposed on the Indian identity, an artificial kind of ‘oneness’ foisted on India through films and loads of the Saas-Bahu kind of serials. For example, Sangeet is strictly a North-Indian custom; so is karva-chauth. Thanks to these two they are tremendously in vogue, among the younger generation everywhere, even in Kolkata. Homogenization can often be dangerous because by gaining a little you seem to lose the beauty of your own roots. Is it, then worth it? Remember the beauty of India lies in the multilayered charm not in a forced and contrived, filmy, pan-India image.” Singh Is KinngRespected Kolkata-based film and theatre critic Samik Bandopadhyaya, who has tracked Bollywood for years, is scathing in his criticism: “It’s a little frightening, actually. Why? Because there seems to be an entire academic community – co-opted by Bollywood – engaged in the single-minded business of valorizing and championing this cinema… presenting it as authentic representation of the political reality and social forces at play. It is an agenda aggressively fronted by some so-called scholars – Nasreen Kabeer being the foremost of them – who travel the university and campus circuit across USA. Canada, Australia, UK to spread and power the message. It is done in a quiet and insidious manner. All this lends the movement the required credence and respectability with this academic-scholastic color in the form of Studies in Indian Cinema, a source of great significance. This, in turn, hugely impacts the thinking of even the non-diasporic community because of its pseudo-serious nature and brilliant packaging.” Related Items
The Rajasthan government on Friday appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the Pehlu Khan lynching case and examine the previous investigation to find the lapses, if any, which had led to the acquittal of the six accused by a Sessions Court in Alwar earlier this week.Nitin Deep Blaggan, DIG (Special Operations Group), will head the SIT which includes SP (CID-CB) Randheer Singh and Additional SP (CID-CB) Sunil Kumar.The SIT will examine the lacunae in the investigation from all angles and fix responsibility for the prosecution’s failure to produce clinching evidence in the court, while examining whether there were attempts at tampering with the evidence or weakening the case. Sources in the Chief Minister’s Office said Ashok Gehlot had called a meeting with senior officers on Friday evening to discuss the re-investigation.
The BJP-led NDA in Bihar, which has been ruling the State for about a decade and a half, owes an apology to the people of Patna, who have been reeling from inundation following heavy rain, Union minister Giriraj Singh said here on Wednesday.The firebrand BJP leader also attacked the Nitish Kumar government, saying an alert had been sounded ahead of the downpour, but it failed to ensure attentiveness in the administrative machinery, which could have lessened the severity of the crisis.“It is not a failure of the people of Patna. It is our failure. Residents of the city have reposed so much of trust in the NDA, especially the BJP. We owe an apology to them,” said Mr. Singh who is the Lok Sabha MP of Begusarai in Bihar.Mr. Singh, a former member of the Nitish Kumar cabinet, is a known detractor of the Chief Minister and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi, a senior BJP leader.“The government issued an alert asking the people to be on guard. But was it on guard itself? Had it been so, people would not have been compelled to suffer so much of misery,” he said.On Tuesday also, the BJP leader accused the State government of corruption in flood relief and claimed that “floods seem to have become an occasion for celebration for the State administration”. Bihar floods: NDRF rescues Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi from his residence Bihar flood: NDRF rescues Deputy CM Sushil Modi from his residenceVolume 90%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard ShortcutsPlay/PauseSPACEIncrease Volume↑Decrease Volume↓Seek Forward→Seek Backward←Captions On/OffcFullscreen/Exit FullscreenfMute/UnmutemSeek %0-9Live00:0001:1701:17 Children wade through a waterlogged road after heavy rain at Rajendra Nagar. An overcrowded boat ferries people in high current on the flooded Ganga at Digha Ghat in Patna. Patna has been a BJP stronghold since the 1980s when Lalu Prasad’s RJD held sway over Bihar. In the 2015 Assembly polls, which the BJP-led coalition lost badly to the Grand Alliance then comprising Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), RJD and Congress, all the four seats that cover the city were bagged by the saffron party.BJP legislators who have won from the city include State minister Nand Kishore Yadav, while Sushil Modi who is now a Legislative Council member, was a four-term MLA from the now-abolished Patna Central constituency. An overcrowded boat ferries people in high current on the flooded Ganga at Digha Ghat in Patna. Security personnel rescue NCC cadets stuck in a waterlogged camp after heavy rain at Rajendra Nagar. An overcrowded boat ferries people in high current on the flooded Ganga at Digha Ghat in Patna. People wade through a waterlogged road after heavy rain at Rajendra Nagar in Patna. Security personnel rescue NCC cadets stuck in a waterlogged camp after heavy rain at Rajendra Nagar. Fishermen catch fish in the flooded river Ganga in Patna. Patients leave NMCH in Patna after waterlogging in the hospital. Patients leave NMCH in Patna after waterlogging in the hospital. Fishermen catch fish in the flooded river Ganga in Patna. Children wade through a waterlogged road after heavy rain at Rajendra Nagar. A view of submerged tracks at Patna Junction. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar inspects the rise in water level of the Ganga river,in Patna on Thursday, (This photo has been released by I & PRD,Bihar Govt). A view of submerged tracks at Patna Junction. People wade through a waterlogged road after heavy rain at Rajendra Nagar in Patna. A rickshaw passes through a flooded road in Patna. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar inspects the rise in water level of the Ganga river,in Patna on Thursday, (This photo has been released by I & PRD,Bihar Govt). A rickshaw passes through a flooded road in Patna. The State capital was pounded by 342.5 mm of rainfall between September 27 and 30, as against the State average of 255 mm, an official release said.At least 42 people have died in rain-related incidents in the entire State during the period following torrential showers.
While preparations for celebrating the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev are apace, the ruling Congress is at loggerheads with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab over the holding of a key event at Sultanpur Lodhi.In the run-up to the Assembly byelections on October 21, both parties are slugging it out to woo the Panthic (Sikh) voters against the backdrop of the celebrations. The byelections are to be held for four Assembly constituencies in the State.The Congress and the SAD have been trading charges with each other over the politicised preparations. While the SAD has accused the Congress-led State government of “trying to create a new history” by holding a separate programme from that being organised by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) at Sultanpur Lodhi, the Congress has alleged that “the Badal family” was trying to create hurdles and attempting to exploit the occasion for petty political gains.As the tussle over the event continues, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said, “Religious institutions have their own sphere and the SGPC, a democratically elected religious body, has been conducting all religious functions. The Congress should not try to create a new history.” The Punjab government is celebrating Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary over a week from November 5-12.Punjab Rural Development and Panchayats Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa on Sunday alleged, “The ‘Badal’ family was creating hurdles in the joint celebrations of [Guru Nanak Dev’s] 550th anniversary as the design was to lord over the celebrations,” he said, adding that Mr. Sukhbir Badal was now purposely spreading the misinformation.