Group President, Group Managing Director & Editor In Chief: Dr.Shelly Ahmed
Showing posts sorted by date for query Odisha. Sort by relevance Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by date for query Odisha. Sort by relevance Show all posts

Sunday, August 20, 2017

India’s Pioneering Women Qazis Ask Muslim Men: Have You Read The Quran?

Newly trained women Islamic clerics, or Qazis, have started work in towns across India, offering an invaluable support system to Muslim women, and inviting opposition from orthodox circles.

Iqra's world fell apart in six months.

In her telling, it began, as it often does, with marriage. The 23-year-old's marriage to Ali was an exchange programme of sorts. Ali was her cousin, son of her khaala, her mother's sister. In turn, Iqra's brother married the same khaala's daughter. Her khaala also became her mother-in-law. Such marriage between first cousins is commonplace among Muslims in South Asia.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Exclusive: Race To Rashtrapathi Bhavan

2019 Calculations May Decide BJP’s Choices For President, Vice President. The unexpected is widely expected. The Modi government likes to surprise, keeping its cards close to its chest until it has to play them. We will know the name of the BJP's nominee for the post of President of India on 23 June and it may be none of the names in speculation until 22 June.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The big question: Is yoga for power or fitness, wisdom or devotion?

Today, any understanding of yoga is often obscured by a grand media war to dominate the discourse on yoga.

They say Jesus could walk on water, and turn water into wine. Many have postulated that he was a yogi, with siddha powers. That he must have learned it in a Hindu or Buddhist monastery in India during his missing years. This yoga-of-power is very different from the popular, and sanitised, yoga-for-fitness of the global village, or the yoga-for-devotion of the religious and the spiritual.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Odisha's Night Terror: 'How The Forces Shoot At Defenceless Villagers?'


Five people, including a child, were allegedly killed in firing by security forces in July. An inquiry is underway but villagers have no hope for justice.

On the overcast morning of July 26, Rahula Nayak, a subsistence farmer in his 20s, joined a few hundred villagers, mostly Kond Adivasis, making their way to Gumudumaha, a village in mourning, nestled in the Eastern Ghats in south-central Odisha’s Kandhamal district.

Spotlight: More Than 10,000 Indian Companies Have Defaulted On 'Provident Fund' Payments


The numbers of defaulting companies and institutions is growing.

It should have taken 30 days for Sanjaya Kumar, 27, from Odisha to withdraw his father’s provident fund of Rs 40,000, the post-employment rainy-day or retirement stash that companies must compulsorily deduct from salaries.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Mr President, How Is The Idea Of 'Common People' To Stay Overnight At Rashtrapati Bhavan?


President Pranab Mukherjee deserves to be applauded for having initiated an In-Residence programme. But why keep it an exclusive club of the talented?

It is always a fine idea to nurture those who are creative, innovative and inspired. It is finer still to have as their nurturer the President of India. Pranab Mukherjee therefore deserves to be applauded for having initiated an In-Residence programme, which has seen a clutch of artists, writers, “innovation scholars” and “inspired teachers” to stay, for varying lengths of time, in the resplendent quarters of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

At the last count, 141 of them have been hosted by Rashtrapati Bhavan. Lucky them!

The most recent In-Residence guests of the President were reputed novelist Amitav Ghosh and his wife, Deborah Baker, an accomplished biographer and essayist. During their five-day stay at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Ghosh tweeted pictures of the dining table where the great leader Nelson Mandela had breakfast, the regal bedroom in which the writing duo stayed, and the impressively groomed horses in the President’s stable. Ah, you could almost hear them neigh!

Those photographs mesmerised us all, but also had a few of us sigh and ask silently: Mr President, Sir, will the living quarters of Rashtrapati Bhavan ever host us common citizens?

Some are more equal...
At this question, you are likely to wonder whether the talented are special citizens. Oh, yes, they do indeed constitute a category of their own – it is their specialness which had them apply for the In-Residence programme and a committee of experts to vet and clear their names for a stay at Rashtrapati Bhavan, all expenses paid.

By contrast, common citizens are those whose commonness condemns them to a life of anonymity. They are unsung, forever caught in a struggle to overcome their mediocrity. It is they who constitute the masses. They are those who merge into the sameness of crowds. Nobody knows them other than people in their villages, neighbours in urban residential colonies, colleagues in offices, and the few with whom they studied or are friends with.

Yet a nation, more so a democratic one, has them as its pivot. Do not think poverty is the trait common to all who constitute the amorphous mass of people. What binds them is their sheer ordinariness, people like you and me, for whom living with a smile would seem creative enough.

It is we, the ordinary, who will never be housed in Rashtrapati Bhavan. And that’s an irony.

This is because, as the Rashtrapati Bhavan website grandly declares,

“The might and authority of the people of India, which pervades this Republic is represented by the President of the country, whose official residence is the Rashtrapati Bhavan… (Emphasis mine).”

The President represents us, the ordinary folks, which is why it hurts a wee bit that it won’t be our fate to stay in the stately Presidential Estate that sprawls over 320 acres. Not for us to arise in the morning to glimpse at its enchanting verdure in the early morning sunlight and to listen to birds twitter.

Rashtrapati Bhavan desperately requires us ordinary folks, if not for anything, but to shatter its exclusivity, which, notwithstanding Mukherjee’s efforts, is still daunting. Built to flaunt Imperial power and authority, to communicate to Indians the permanence of the British Empire, it is perhaps only the spirit of our ordinariness that can indigenise Rashtrapati Bhavan and overturn its architectural symbolism. Our living there, for even a day or two, will communicate to the world the power of people, the power of ordinariness.

Power of ordinariness
No doubt, it would be a gargantuan problem to choose from common citizens who should stay in Rashtrapati Bhavan. Our mediocrity precludes the possibility of laying out qualification criteria to sift people. Our sameness will ensure that lakhs and lakhs of applicants meet the minimum prescribed standard. Rashtrapati Bhavan cannot possibly accommodate them all.

This is why Rashtrapati Bhavan should evolve a lottery system, inviting people to buy a ticket, online or issued at designated ticket counters, for a price. Determine the number of visitors Rashtrapati Bhavan could host for an overnight stay every year. Draw lots on a given day and publish the list of lucky ones at the Rashtrapati Bhavan website, detailing who stays there on which date.

Obviously, the lottery ticket shouldn’t be priced high. Since it charges Rs 25 a person for a day tour of Rashtrapati Bhavan, it could also be the price of a lottery ticket. Or, better still, it could be sold at Rs 10, which is what you dish out for a railway platform ticket.

Call it People’s In-Residence Project. Advertise it and it is bound to elicit a massive response. The excitement it will generate will forge a close link between the people and Rashtrapati Bhavan. More significantly, the proceeds from the lottery could finance the People’s In-Residence Project.

The President, obviously, should have the discretion to invite whoever he thinks is worthy of it. For instance, he could ask Mandodari Nayak, wife of Raghunath Nayak, to spend time in Rashtrapati Bhavan. A gardener at Birla House in 1948, Raghunath chased and caught Nathuram Godse after he assassinated Mahatma Gandhi and tried to flee. The Odisha government recently announced an assistance of Rs 5 lakh to Mandodari, who languishes with her family in a remote village in the state.

Or the President could invite the daughters of MM Khan, the NDMC legal adviser who was allegedly killed because he refused to take bribe from a hotelier for a favour. Or Rashtrapati Bhavan could host families of soldiers and officers killed in firefights with militants. Or of activists who dared to fight for the poor and were murdered.

Ordinary folks all, whose extraordinariness doesn’t arise from their creativity but from a sense of what they consider as their duty. The President could as well use Rashtrapati Bhavan to humanise the relationship between people and the state.

Perhaps a good many chosen through the system of lottery, or beneficiaries of the discretionary quota, will find Rashtrapati Bhavan intimidating – its commodious rooms, for instance. It is possible they would be unfamiliar with the etiquette pertaining to meals served in courses and even use of western-style toilet. Some of them could prove irritatingly boisterous or alarmingly rustic for the regal protocol of Rashtrapati Bhavan, which, as we all know, was the Viceroy’s House under British rule.

But they will not become an eyesore to the President nor offend his sensibilities. It cannot be anyone’s case to insist that the guests stay in the quarters where the President resides or, for that matter, sleep in the chambers where the Viceroys did – and where visiting heads of state do now. It is another matter that to have ordinary folks spend their nights there would be a telling way to express the will of us ordinary folks.

They could be accommodated in any of the buildings dotting the 320-acre of Presidential Estate. Nobody will insist on dining with the President nor having a personal audience with him, busy as he keeps.

But in case the President does indeed decide to converse with common citizens, he cannot possibly hope to discuss the finer points of painting or the art of writing. Most of them perhaps will not even have a sense of history, not even of the Republic through which pervades their “might and authority”.

But rest assured, the President’s guests will not be boring. They could tell him about their trials and tribulations, their small dreams and petty aspirations. They could tell him why they love the Republic despite its ideals often having been betrayed, or about the crushing hardships they labour under – and, above all, how they struggle to overcome their drab plainness.

About the Taj Mahal, poet Sahir Ludhianvi wrote that the emperor who built it used his wealth to mock the love of the poor. Likewise, to read about the talented staying overnight at Rashtrapati Bhavan, we find our ordinariness such an obstacle, such a cross to bear.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Swachch Bharat's Mothers, Babies In Peril: 343 Hospitals In 6 States Struggle With Hygiene, Toilets


Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan is acheived by Modi's government but the reality is quite different,  as many as 19% of the facilities did not have wash basins near toilets and patient-care areas.

Half the post-natal wards of primary healthcare centres lacked toilets, as did 60% of larger community health centres in Madhya Pradesh, which has a higher maternal mortality rate than war-torn Syria.Open defecation was allowed within 38% and open urination in 60% of health facilities (PHCs, CHCs, area and district hospitals) in Odisha’s Ganjam district, which has the same maternal mortality rate as the impoverished African country of Gabon.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Superstar Rajinikanth, Star Cricketer Tendulkar, Star Politician Modi: Are Indians Prone To 'Celebrity Worship Syndrome'?


The euphoria of epic proportions surrounding Kabali, which was released on Friday, poses one important question: Why do Indians have such an astonishing penchant for idolisation? 

Be it Rajinikanth or Sachin Tendulkar or Narendra Modi-or Indira Gandhi in the past-Indians, especially those who live south of the Vindhyas, stretch their adulation for their icons to extremes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Opinion: Is Holding Simultaneous Elections For Lok Sabha And State Assemblies Necessarily A Good Idea?


Will doing so address the real challenges of governing? What is the evidence from other countries?

The idea of holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies has gained some ground recently. In December 2015, a parliamentary standing committee recommended a move in this direction by streamlining elections into two phases – one concurrent with Lok Sabha elections, the second in the mid-term of the Lok Sabha.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Narendra Modi Is Serious About Ending India’s Endless Cycle Of Elections


India’s most prolific political campaigner is turning out to be the biggest proponent of ending the country’s unending cycle of elections.

Amid his interview blitzkrieg on July 05, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi once again backed the idea of synchronising the country’s state and national election cycles.

In an interview to the Economic Times newspaper, Modi argued that simultaneous elections would better reflect the popular mandate, apart from causing less disruption to the business of governance.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Crop Damage Hits Tomato Supply; Prices Surge Up To Rs 100 Per Kilogram


Tomato prices in most retail markets across the country have doubled to up to Rs 100 per kg in last 15 days due to sluggish supply owing to crop damage.

Earlier this month, prices of tomato - a key kitchen vegetable - were ruling in the range of Rs 20-40 per kg, as per data maintained by the Consumer Affairs Ministry.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Frank Opinion: When Did Civil Service Become Synonymous With Self-Service?


In 2008, I was in Chandel district of Manipur on field work. As I went about listening to local people's stories about their lives and aspirations, most of them kept praising this particular woman administrator, an IAS officer. She was from South India, they said, and yet she was able to blend in with local people and was very responsive to their needs. As I walked towards the office of the Block Development Officer (BDO), 

I understood what they meant. It was an office with an open door, and there were no "middle men" to stop people from meeting the officer. The people waiting outside did not have the look of being intimidated by power.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

For 'Make In India' To Work, India First Needs To Become Globally Competitive


A survey of industrial clusters in four states shows Prime Minister Narendra Modi's big idea isn't exactly working.

Bhoday Sales Corporation is tucked inside the industrial zone of Ludhiana. A small machine tooling factory with a net worth of not more than Rs 10 lakh, it makes manufacturing equipment for other plants in the city.

Of late, it has fallen on bad times. Sales are down. At one time, says its founder, 68- year-old Maan Singh, the company used to make four power presses a month. It now makes one a month.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Terror Tactics: Why 'Saffron Terror' Is Not A Myth?


By shielding Hindu terror suspects, the Modi government is making a big mistake. It should learn from Pakistan’s blunders.

The National Investigation Agency recently decided to drop all terror related charges against the 2008 Malegaon blast accused, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur. The decision of the NIA to overlook earlier findings of investigative agencies against Singh has been along predicted lines under the Narendra Modi regime.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Defeated In Odisha, Is Posco Conquering Maharashtra?

Maharashtra’s coastal district of Sawantwadi is set to see some change, come 2016. Almost 33 thousand acres in size, it has lately been gaining popularity as a tourist spot and for its wooden handicraft industry. But it is in the news these days as it’s set to host South Korean giant Posco, which has signed a MoU with Uttam Steel, promoted by the Miglani family, to set up a 3 million tonne per annum integrated steel plant.

POSCO stays undeterred by the unsuccessful attempt to set up a steel plant in Odisha. The 12 billion dollar project lays dormant as the Center and the company have come to an impasse.

Friday, August 07, 2015

India’s Sanitation Puzzle: Missing The Complete Picture?

The focus on ending open defecation and ensuring a toilet in every home is a limited one. Lasting success will require a much larger focus on sanitation.

Among its many areas of focus, the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) promises to provide toilets for all and make the country Open Defecation Free (ODF) by October, 2019; a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, whose 150th birth anniversary, would fall that year. The fervour engendered by this mission is truly commendable, and is revealed in the physical progress in the construction of toilets. Swachh Bharat Mission – Gramin lists an addition of 21 lakh toilets in 2014-15, and 58 lakhs in 2015-16. Swachh Bharat Urban reports 10 lakh sanctioned toilets and 3.5 lakh completed.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Get Featured: ‘Do Indian English Writers Have Any Relevance In Global Scenario Other Than 'Indianness'?’

By Suchitra Menon
The explosive Malayali writer KR Meera talks on the need to preserve regional languages in literature and the value of translation.

KR Meera is among Kerala's most celebrated contemporary writers. Born in 1970, she worked as a journalist for many years, writing short stories on the side. In 2006, she gave up her job to write fiction full-time – which, as her prolific output reveals, she really does. 

The provocative and disturbing tale of a young Bengali woman appointed state executioner, Aaraachaar was originally serialised in Madhyamam Weekly and published as a book by DC Books in 2012.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Focus: Why We Adopted The System Of 'Cheating' Today?

By Ragini Khanna in Delhi
A frustrated aspirational society is linked to upsurge in foul exam means. Based on compelling evidence of widespread cheating in the 2015-16 All India Medical Examinations held last month, the Supreme Court recently ordered the Central Board of Secondary Education to conduct a retest. Earlier in March, Indian and foreign media featured prominently parents and relatives scaling school walls and buildings, to pass answer chits to students taking secondary school examinations in Bihar.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

India's 'Summer' Has Become Worst In Last Two Decades

The sweltering heat continues to rise in India—as does the death toll. More than 2000 people have now died due to the scorching heat, mostly in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. And, while this isn’t the deadliest of heat waves in recent years, Indian summers are becoming more severe, longer, and more frequent.

India’s “high temperature” (HT) days—with a maximum temperature of more than 37 degrees Celsius between the months of March and June—have sharply risen over the last four decades, according to a 2015 report by three Indian meteorological department scientists.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Special Report: Brain Behind Modi's 'Chai Pe Charcha', Coins 'Nashte Pe Charcha' For His Rivals

On April 8, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was busy launching Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana in New Delhi, a few kilometres away his chief strategist and blue-eyed boy Prashant Kishor was busy in a presentation. 

The power-point presentation 'Citizen's Alliance' was for Modi's key opponent Nitish Kumar's election campaign for the upcoming Bihar assembly elections. The state is slated to go for polls in September-October this year.