India Travel News

Window on India
December 20, 2006

News Bullets

No junk food fo students
A blanket ban on junk food and colas in school and university canteens all over the country. Mandatory yoga classes in schools. That is Indian health minister's prescription to fight rising obesity among India's youth.
Minister A Ramdoss is aggressively working to make the proposal into a reality.. He has written to health ministers of different states and will now write to vice-chancellors of universities.
He also wants to ban all smoking scenes in films and wants celebrities to campaign against aerated drinks. It is difficult to disagree with the doc's prescription.

Nuclear big dads
Retired heads of nuclear establishments in India have sounded a note of warning against the nuclear deal with the United States. The chairman of the atomic energy commission Anil Kakodkar assured the former nuclear heads that he would convey their strong reservations to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
His assurance came at a meeting attended among others by M.R. Srinivasan, Homi Sethna, A.N. Praad, Y.S.R. Prasad, P.K. Iyengar and the most trenchant critic of the deal, A.R. Gopalakrishnan. They will now be included in the country's nuclear diplomacy after being sidelined earlier during negotiations for the deal.

IT captains as teachers
The newly constituted IT vision group headed by Infosys's chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy is planning to send IT captains as visiting members to engineering colleges in Karnataka to upgradate the standard of education and bridge the industry-academia gulf.

IIM-Ahmedabad students as interns in a CPM office. Sounds implausible but it could just happen in the new year with the future honchos of business learning first hand how comrade manage themselves, how West Bengal became a success story, the dilemna of marrying elements of the new economy with the Left's alternate economic vision.
The idea of internship came from students during politburo member Sitaram Yechur's lecture at IIM-A on December 9.

Dalmiya booted out of cricket board
Former president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Jagmohan Dalmiya was expelled from the board on December16 and removed from all posts on charges of financial irregularities.
Dalmiya has been given the right to appeal after three years, said BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla after the 29-2 vote at a special general body meeting in Jaipur.


The Last Mughal Remembering 1857 - By Vidyadhar Date

In two weeks we will enter the year 2007. It will mark the 150th anniversary of the rebellion of 1857. The year is momentous for the end of the East India company rule in India and Indian formally coming under the rule of Queen Victoria. Some would say at present we are going back to the East India company days since we are increasingly coming under the domination of the private, corporate sector accompanied by the weakening of the government sector.

The outgoing year marked the release of a highly readable book on 1857 at the Taj Land's End hotel poolside in Bandra, Mumbai, earlier this month. It is curious that it should have been written by a Britisher William Dalrymple who has a lucid style as a writer and speaker....

This has important lessons for India's history writers. Surely, history can be narrated in a language accessible to the general reader. And some of the world's top historians including Braudel, E.P. Thompson , Hobsbawm and E.H. Carr are easily understandable. The annual session of the Indian History Congress to be held this month end under the presidentship of Prof J.V. Naik should take this into consideration.

Dalrymple made some interesting points. Prior to 1857 the British freely intermingled. They married Indians, adopted Muslim dress and manners, many left their properties to Indian wives and their children, learnt Urdu etc.

Two things changed this. The consolidation of political and military power made the British more arrogant and aloof and secondly, the language used by missionaries antagonized the Muslims and Hindus. The language was often more virulent than the Danish cartoons, he said.

Earlier, the Cross and Muslim minarets happily stood side by side. Dalrymple strongly opposed the current talk of American intellectuals about the clash of civilizations. He also said there was need to learn Urdu for a better understanding of the period. This is a very valid point which cannot be overemphasized. There is need to promote the study not only of the mother tongue but also at least one more Indian language, apart from English.

Delhi of 1857 was buzzing with intellectual activity , poetry and music. Scholars came from different parts of the country to Delhi for study. After the mutiny, the British killed most Muslim residents of Delhi and their children and razed most buildings. The Lal Quila and some other monuments were luckily saved.

On the literary front the good news is that Arun Sadhu, a celebrated, socially conscious writer, has been elected president of the 80th annual Marathi literary conference to be held in Nagpur in February next year. The event has national significance because in no other region are literary conference held with such huge popular participation.

Thousands attend the sahitya sammelan and its rich programme of animated literary discussions, poetry recitals and lectures. Sadhu is known for his novels full of social and political realism and insights. Two of his novels have been turned into a political thriller film Simhasan by film director Jabbar Patel. Sadhu also has a rich experience as a journalist having worked in various newspapers ranging from the Times of India to the Free Press Journal where he was the editor. Besides, he is a regular writer for this web site.

Like Sadhu another prominent Indian, Dr Bhagwant Rajaram Kalke, an outstanding heart surgeon, is low-key but he has not got the recognition that Sadhu has got. Dr Kalke has developed a titanium heart vale in 1965 in Lillehel's laboratory in the US. It was the forerunner of the St Jude valve, said to be the most widely implemented heart valve in the world.. He will reach 80 in the New Year and it is hoped he will get some recognition at this stage of his life. He is so unlike heart surgeons who make a lot of money under the table in India for performing operations..

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