|Faith Leaders Lead Anti Trafficking Interventions|
|When Sita, 14, was taken away from her village near the north Bengal city of Siliguri last year by a woman known to the family, her parents really panicked but they knew what action they had to take. Without losing any time they got in touch with the child protection group of their village, which in turn contacted the local police. Though much effort was involved in tracking her, Sita was eventually rescued from a sex slavery racket being run by a circus on the India-Nepal border. While the teenage girl is home safe, the traffickers are firmly behind bars.
All this would have been impossible without the support and initiative of Hindu and Muslim religious leaders in the border areas, who have been mobilised and trained by local non government organisations as well as the police to tackl...|
|Upper-caste origins of Uttam Kumar's legend|
|Post-independence Kolkata a Hindu bastion|
|On the eve of the recent death anniversary of Tollywood actor Uttam Kumar, the Kolkata-based intellectual circle erupted with praise for the long deceased actor. The universal appeal the actor still holds in almost all corners of this side of the fence of Bengal is somewhat astonishing and certainly cannot be attributed entirely through the commercial success of his films or the attempt of the current government administration to use his cult to gain popularity. Uttam Kumar's appeal lay somewhere beyond these everyday matters and although unlike Ray, he was an insignificant figure in world cinema, his popularity did not dwindle away even after so many years after his departure. But often a man is more than a man, an actor becomes more than his acting skills and summation of his artistic a...|
|Turkey Joins the War - Sort Of|
|Last Friday, Turkey joined the war against Islamic State (IS), the terrorist-run entity that now controls eastern Syria and western Iraq. After four years of leaving the border open for supplies and recruits to reach IS, the Turkish government sent planes to bomb three IS targets in Syria.
At the same time, Ankara ended a four-year ban on its anti-IS "coalition" allies using the huge Incirlik airbase near the Syrian border. There was rejoicing in Washington, since coalition aircraft (mostly American) will now be much closer to IS targets in Syria, and Turkey will also presumably close its border with Syria at last. But there may be less to this change than meets the eye.
On Saturday, Turkey broke a two-year ceasefire with the PKK, a Kurdish revolutionary group that fought a 30-year war ...|
|The river did it..!|
|I remember driving up to the Grand Canyon and listening to a little boy from the same hotel I was staying. "Mother!" he said as he stood at the edge of the canyon and looked down at the river below, "that river down there finally got its way didn't it?" The mother looked at her son a question mark on her face, "It wanted to flow on level ground ma and leveled the huge mountain to get its way!"
Gary Player for years was a great competitor in national and international golf tournaments. People constantly said to him, "I'd give anything if I could hit a golf ball like you."
Upon hearing that comment one day, Player responded impatiently: "No, you wouldn't. You'd do anything to hit a golf ball like me, if it were easy! Do you know what you have to do to hit a golf ball like me? You've got t...|
|'IAS': The new buzzword in Kashmir|
|Several years back, when a local boy topped IAS examination, the larger-than-life-mystique imbued media hype to a decibel level that the bitter experiences of 'ragdha ragdha' (anti-Indian agitation) vanished into a forgotten past. Paradoxically speaking, the Kashmiri nation that only some time back had agitated against the Indian rule, puffed up to celebrate the wunderkind feat of a fellow Kashmiri joining Indian ruling elite. The overwhelming response from the Kashmiris was unbelievable. The writing was on the wall. 'Ragdha-ragdha' was symptomatic of the scores of grumbles reared by the Kashmiris, one of which was their loss of key positions in the state bureaucracy. The implied urge of integration (of Kashmiris) into the Indian mainstream, needed a serious thought by GOI. The spree of K...|
|Women and Cricket..!|
|If you think women are not into cricket you should hear what happened to my bachelor friend Prem when he returned home after a night out with the boys: His mother who's been longing to see a bahu in her home looked at him strangely: "When will you stop bowling so many maiden overs?" she asked thoughtfully.
"Whoa! Whoa!" cried Prem, "what are you saying mother?"
"That, its about time you bowled a maiden over!"
"How am I supposed to bowl a maiden over when I've been bowling too many maiden overs?" asked Prem.
"It's time you took a wicket!" replied the wise woman.
"What ball should I bowl?"
"Maybe a bouncer, a doosra or try spin but one that will get her clean bowled, or even caught!" said his mother a twinkle in her eye.
"What if she bats, cross bat?" asked Prem.
"Then bowl a dead b...|
|Making the right moves|
|Can we trust them? This is the burden of comments both in India and Pakistan after the meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif. The reaction is no reflection on the effort the two are making to break the ice. However, it shows that even after 70 years of partition, the enmity between the two countries remains as entrenched as before. Any step taken to lessen the distance between the two is viewed with doubt and suspicion.
Not many people in the two countries dare to cross the line, apart from the border, which has come to be drawn between the two over the years. Both live under the fear of hostilities because of the threat one perceives from the other. Yet, there is no getting away from the fact that unless the two countries develop trust in each other they cannot ...|
|Live with love..!|
|Very often I look down at my dog lying at my feet and wonder what he must be thinking as he hears about some communal clash taking place so often either in our cities or somewhere in our country!
For that matter what do the birds that fly above us think as they see man killing man because they do not agree with the way someone of another faith, worships!
In an ancient Temple, a number of pigeons lived happily on the roof top. When the renovation of the temple began for the annual temple feast the pigeons relocated themselves to a Church nearby. The existing pigeons in the Church accommodated the new comers very well.
Christmas was nearing and the Church was given a facelift. All the pigeons had to move out and look for another place.
They were fortunate to find a place in a Mosque nea...|
|Bihar elections 2015|
|Most political observers and commentators seem to agree that the coming elections to the Assembly in Bihar will not only be important but perhaps definitive in suggesting the shape of mainstream political life in India till the next General Election in 2019.
To put the matter baldly, if the Bharatiya Janata Party were to score a victory in Bihar, it might be on course to take the all-important Uttar Pradesh as well. This for two reasons: one, the party would have proved that the arithmetic of any secular conglomeration set up to thwart its march had proved inadequate to the BJP's hold among the voters; and, two, that the "hulabaloo" that has been underway with regard to allegations of corruption and sundry wrong-doing against its Central and State Ministers had been set aside by the hoi ...|
|FROM THE ARCHIVES|
|An ugly scar on democracy|
|Today, the RSS can hide behind 'democracy', as Hitler did in 1933. But this is a degraded, communalised distortion of democracy, without equal rights for citizens, but charged with a bellicose ethno-religious identity. Hindutva militates against India's constitution, which defines citizenship in universal terms, independently of such identities - unlike the BJP and Shiv Sena.
India's national election has produced the worst conceivable outcome by giving an outright majority to the Bharatiya Janata Party under a man who is widely believed to have been complicit in mass killings of citizens belonging to one faith, and who even 12 years on hasn't been fully exonerated by the country's legal system despite its compromised nature and vulnerability to manipulation.
Make no mistake. Despite...|
|Stop being a crab..!|
|Quite often we are likened to crabs who pull each other down whenever one tries to escape from the box it is being held captive in.
In 1936, American Jesse Owens seemed sure to win the long-jump competition at the Olympic games. The previous year he had jumped 26 feet, 8 1/4 inches - a record that will stand for 25 years.
As he walked to the long-jump pit, however, Owens saw a tall, blue-eyed, blond German taking practice jumps in the 26-foot range. Owens felt nervous. He was acutely aware of the Nazis' desire to prove "Aryan superiority. " And as a black son of a sharecropper, he knew what it is like to be made to feel inferior.
On his first jump, Owens inadvertently leapt from several inches beyond the takeoff board. Rattled, he fouled his second attempt too. One more foul and he wo...|
|It's time to treat transgenders as citizens|
|As the makeshift fashion runway at an upscale hotel in Kolkata explodes in a hue of psychedelic blue, a bejewelled middle-aged woman in a gorgeous sari draped in the style favoured by Bengali homemakers walks confidently with a child in tow, waving at the admiring audience. Wearing heavy make-up, her unruly mass of hair fashionably tousled, she struts in sporting a million dollar smile and effortlessly joins popular Hindi film actor Soha Ali Khan and a host of Bengali film industry celebrities for a children's charity fundraiser. This woman may not be a paparazzi favourite from the glamour or art world but she is certainly an icon: she is Manabi Bandyopadhyay, the first transgender in India to head a college in West Bengal.
An academician, who had underwent a male-to-female sex change o...|
|Sauce for goose is not sauce for gander|
|Do not disrupt Parliament;
It is not good; in your time,
Corruption was an issue because
You were doling "populisms"
Left , right, and center-so
"Disrupt Parliament" ordered
Then our Corporate mentor.
Disrupting Parliament, our leader
Taught, is Parliamentary practice too;
So, full throttle, party men,
Into the Well you go.
Our corruption may be both more
Brazen and bigger than yours,
But the big barons understand
We are not throwing money
Just on people but going for
Something great and grand;
Having cut spending on useless
Things like Agriculture, Health,
Education, our corruption is
Entirely in the interests of the nation.
Sadly, you demand that of us
Which we had of you, putting thus
Our smart city and bullet train
Into an anti-national stew.
This is not good,...|