India Travel News

Window on India
Febuary 15th, 2007

News Bullets

India Inc on buying spree
Corporate India keeps shining. India Inc has refused to stop at the Mittals becoming the world’s largest producer of steel and the Tata’s number fifth. Now the Birla’s flagship Hindalco has acquired the US-based Novellis, the world's largest maker of flat-rolled aluminium products used to make cars and cans. With this acquisition the Hindalco is about to become a Fortune 500 company. India’s Hindalco would be making the aluminium cans used by the Coca Cola in the US market and the frames and other components of aluminium used in making cars by the giants like General Motors and the Ford.

Indian Economy to cross 1 trillion mark in 08
The Indian economy is expected to cross the one trillion dollar mark by the end of year 2008. According to the joint secretary of the finance ministry of the government of India, Sanjay Krishna, the economy would touch the 900 billion dollar mark by the end of this year. India’s economy has been growing handsomely at a pace of nine percent per year for the past four years.

Indians made Australia’s third largest settlers last year
Indians last year elbowed out Chinese to become the third largest settlers in Australia. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has said that last year 12,500 Indians settled in Australia as against 10,970 Chinese. The largest number of settlers came from UK (23,320) and the second largest from New Zealand (20,250). Indians make 10 percent of the migrants to Australia and their number has doubled in the last five years. Melbourne and the Victoria state attract the Indians most.

India to launch three weather satellites
Indian Space Research Organisation will launch next year indigenously built INSAT-3D and Oceansat-2 satellites. INSAT-3D would be one of the three weather satellites being launched in a couple of years. They would improve the weather forecasts and would monitor cyclones and the monsoon. INSAT-3D will be a geo-stationary satellite. Geostationary satellites orbit the Earth's equatorial plane at a height of 38,500 km. At this height, the satellite's orbit matches the rotation of the Earth, so the satellite seems to stay stationary over the same point on the equator. They detect formation of cyclones.

A Government Quote

''The information technology sector should focus on solutions, which would benefit farmers, artisans, weavers and home workers. This is an obligation to the nation and I am sure you will fulfill it,'' said Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in his valedictory address at the NASSCOM meet, in Mumbai, on February 9, 2007.

A reader's quote on internet

''…my company has lost several million dollars because of recent bandhs and protests (in Bangalore city). Next time, I'm not recommending my company to hire IT people in India. China, Philippines, Russia may be, but definitely not India. Its one helluva screwed up society…'' - posted by Spock on February 13, 2007, at 08:23 on


Valentine's Defiance - By Pratap Thorat

The legend of St Valentine and his defiance that began in the third century has reached the 21st century intact. Love is more associated with intense passion and sacrifice than defiance and rebellion, though all these four form the basic elements of that beautiful feeling. By now the word Valentine has become synonymous with love, the world over. But in reality what he spells out is discord to the alien cultures - fierce opposition from the unyielding old order and insubordination by the bubbling teenagers. It is indeed strange that the real spirit of defiance of St Valentine reached them.

In ancient Rome of the third century, Emperor Claudius II carried a conviction that unmarried and celibate men made better soldiers. So he outlawed marriage for all young men. But a Roman priest St Valentine, or St Valentinus, defied the emperor and continued to perform marriages for young couples. He was put to death. This priest attained martyrdom to uphold the right of the young hearts. This is a legend and history does not rush with evidence to support it. They say, there were three St Valentine and all became martyrs. Another legend is that St Valentine used to write letters to his beloved from prison and signed them as - From Your Valentine.

February 14 came to be associated with St Valentine, when Pope Gelasius I first declared the feast of St Valentine, around the year 498. Yet romantic love was never associated with St Valentine till 13th century. The 14th century England and France had a superstition that birds paired off to mate on February 14 and strangely the saint became synonymous with romantic love. Lovers started exchanging notes on this Valentine's Day. Charles, the Duke of Orleans, sent the first Valentine Card to his wife in 1415, when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. The beginning of the 18th century saw popularisation of verses like ''Roses are Red, Violets are Blue…'' In another 50 years France started decorating Valentine Cards with ribbons and laces. British settlers took the Valentine's Day to North America in the 19th century, in the middle of which the Americans started mass production of Valentine Cards. And the first commercialisation of Valentine began.

Over one billion valentine cards are sent worldwide on this day each year. It is the second largest card-sending event, after Christmas. The market reveals that women purchase over 85 percent valentine cards. The other common valentine symbols are roses, heart, red and pink colours and the figure of the winged Cupid. The US started the practice of men sending gifts of roses and chocolates to their wives or girlfriends, in the past 50 years. The satellite television took the Valentine's Day to all the nooks and corners of the globe. The greedy markets followed the television shrewdly and innovatively. The 1980s saw diamond industry promoting the sale of fine jewellery on this day and hotel industry the romantic dinner dates.

In Japan, women give chocolates to their male co-workers, especially the men they like. It is Giri-Choco - the 'chocolate of obligation'. The market has not stopped at that. They have invented a 'White Day' on March 14, when men return the favour of the Giri-Choco, with a strictly white gift.

Barring Japan, all the alien cultures outside Europe and the US have reacted with hostility to the Valentine's Day, though teenagers remain enthused with it. Chinese police confiscate flowers, though the youth persists with celebrations. The self-styled protectors of local cultures have intervened with militancy to prevent the valentine celebrations by the youth, in the Middle-East and India.

Islamist political leadership in Kuwait is worried over the defiance of the young men and women brought in by oil wealth and satellite TV. The young boys and girls embrace valentine much to the chagrin of the Islamist campaigners, though night-clubs, alcohol and mixed parties are banned in Kuwait. The Islamist campaigners deplore that the western thought was breeding illicit relationships in the Kuwaiti young generation.

Celebration of any un-Islamic event is banned in Saudi Arabia. Shops and restaurants cannot even display roses to mark the Valentine's Day. Teachers have been asked to instruct students not to wear red or pink or do anything that would mark valentine. In spite of that Riyadh newspapers could use their skills to carry advertisements of special dinners in some hotels. Patrolling is constant and keen. Yet shops in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and UAE keep making brisk valentine business.

Indians are ever eager to spread arms to welcome new things. It's an open society in which the quest for the new, good or not so good, is permanent. For little over a decade the valentine market has made inroads into India, exorcising especially its urban youth. This enthusiasm has evoked a matching ire from Hindu fundamentalist outfits like the Shiv Sena and the Bajrang Dal.

They look at the Valentine's Day as yet another form of cultural invasion that would be having a corrupting influence on the young Indian minds. They are opposed to the wretched foreign companies selling their products here and their cheap market gimmicks. Militant activists of these parties hit headlines in the past by attacking shops selling valentine cards and heart-shaped balloons, disrupted garden and beach parties and issued threats to shave off heads of the couples participating in them. Yet the defiance of the youth has grown.

This year the innovative Sena activists in northern India have declared that they would catch the valentine couples making love in public places and would take them to their parents insisting on either marrying them off or reforming them. The Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray has said on the eve of the V-Day that India need not look for foreign symbols of love as there were plenty at home. He said that he was firmly opposed to the commercialisation of love by the traders and their nefarious design to impose western symbols and values on young Indians in one or the other guise.

The point is that you must tell the people what to do instead of what not to do. If more attractive alternatives are put forth, the youngsters may be weaned away from the new valentine habits that are settling in.

Around this time ancient India celebrated Vasantotsava, the festival of spring. In parts of contemporary India the Vasantotsava is still the festival of festivals, marked by the exploding energies of young boys and girls in yellow traditional attires and bedecked with yellow flowers. But neither the market forces nor the cultural saviours of India extended their support or brought each other to support these dying festivities of ancient India.

Indian mythology has Kamdev as the God of Love wielding a bow of flowers and shooting rose-decorated arrows at young couples. Kamasutra is an extensive treatise on love-making. Most erotic and passionate love-making couples dominate the temples of Khajuraho. The middle-ages made India forget the long-celebrated eroticism and passion of love-making. Contemporary India is bogged down for long under sexual suppression and even starvation. A young India is coming of age. The fundamentalists and the so called proud saviours of the Indian culture ought to know that surging tides cannot be arrested by merely saying 'No', as you can tackle the ferocity of the force only by channelling it nicely.

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