Tag Archive: the hindu


Jonathan Hollander    “India stands out in the world for having eight distinct classical dance forms and hundreds of folk dance forms so the richness of Indian music and dance can never be fully understood or explored. There’s always more material to discover,” he explains. The company has also been conscientious about its work in dance as a means of ‘social cohesion’, most prominently in conflict zones around the world, including Thailand, Iraq, Israel-Palestine and North and South Korea. They are also known for their workshops and programmes that reach out to schools and young talent about the importance of dance. Among the most significant of these programmes is the 20-hour ‘Dancing to Connect’ programme conducted by their dancers in over 62 countries. The company, led by Jonathan, was also instrumental in establishing arts education at the school levels in New York Public schools.

When we undertake a programme like this, it inspires us, makes us love our art form even more because we see that it can do something for people. It can bring joy and reveal capacity to other people that they didn’t know they had.” This stems from their deep concern for the world and the need to understand what they, as dancers can do.

“As a team we contribute a lot. When we do this, we set tasks in motion. Young people like to dance, you are not going to teach somebody to dance in 20 hours, but you can create an environment where they feel free to experiment and innovate.

Languet 

Weight of Joy was devised exploring the title’s seemingly contradictory ideas — weight and burden, paired with lightness and joy. Languet asks, “What is the price to pay for a joyful moment? For there are both pure moments of bliss, and others that can harm people.” He began by “asking each dancer for his/her definition of not happiness, but joy. Then my interest lay in the conditions of emergence of joy, where does it come from”…….Creating ways to enable disabled and non-disabled people to dance together, Languet explains, is about moving away from preconcieved notions of a so-called standard model of movement for a normal body. Instead, he gives “everyone tools to develop their own repertoire of movement. It is about re-assessing what can be beautiful.”

Hakanai  

Hakanaï converges the technology zeitgeist with a cathartic dance to evoke nuances of evanescence.Hakanaï, which is Japanese for ‘fleeting’and ‘delicate,’is described as a “choreography that draws the evanescence of dreams and the impermanence of things.” This emotive digital art and dance was created by Claire Bardainne and Adrien Mondot of the Adrien M et Clair B Company in 2013 after careful formulating with a large team of programmers, scenographers, sound designers and visual artists.

The poetics of the precise

….Neha Lavingia’s small-format works may be described as visual haiku. They speak of the precise, the poetics of the minimal. “In the push, pull and shove of life, how often do we take the time to stand, to stare, to wonder, to feel, to experience?” …….

 

Madhvi Subrahmanian, another Mumbai artist, is known for her larger-than-life ceramics that emulate the human form. They evoke a gamut of textures, shapes and shades, but she has scaled down the size of some her works and those are the ones that fit in perfectly with this show. She continues her exploration of and reflection on the urban environment and its disconnect with nature, as she had done in her recent solo show, ‘Mapping Memory’. ‘Mappa Mundi’ maps the routes of her daily journeys while ‘Dilli’ is constructed with cones as markers of time. Her work titled ‘Blue Print’ juxtaposes the city map with a house, directing attention to the human desire for congregation and dwelling.

The works of the three artists are united by their architectural feel and their quietness. While Minimalism as a movement was primarily dominated by male artists (as was painting itself), in the early 1960s artists like the late Nasreen Mohamedi and New York-based Zarina Hashmi created a space for women artists to experiment with minimalism. Mohamedi’s retrospective at The Met Breuer in New York created waves among the cognoscenti.

The spartan nature of her straight lines and grids said much more than daubs of paint could. Her work unwittingly broke several assumptions about ‘women artists’.

It is generally assumed that women paint decorative canvases and dwell only on feminine subjects. While this might be true of many women artists, several male artists too create decorative and autobiographical works.

Gender does not and should not decide the stylistic domain of any artist. One would be best advised to ignore the gender of the artist and enjoy the art, given that it is a universal language that urges us to uncomplicate our lives and go for the simple.

The reclaiming of public spaces is the running theme at this year’s Urban Lens Festival

He could have raged on about it, but was advised by a confidant to get creative instead. The expression of dissent would then last forever, not just stay relevant for the moment. So Prabh Deep started articulating angst and anguish in his rap songs. He now has a loyal SoundCloud following and revels in the endorsement he has been getting, not just from family and friends but, as he puts it, from his “hood” (neighbourhood) as well.

Music gives meaning to his life, makes him feel alive; the street where he has been living for almost two decades is his anchor and inspiration. And the two passions come together in a song called ‘Delhi 18’ (an ode to his pincode). The defiance reflected in their music stems as much from circumstances and situations as it does from the claustrophobia (physical and psychological) they feel in their homes and lives.

The journey of immigrants in Daphna Awadish’s enchanting Journey Birds is across countries. The unique animation presents individuals as hybrids between human beings and birds, those who have flown far away from their original nests to build homes elsewhere. Four narratives — of Nona, Irene, Abraham and Karen — provide commentary as Awadish explores the aching for a homeland and the curiosity for a new habitat. I still don’t know where I want to be, says one of the immigrants. I can’t say whether I am at home here, says another.

 

Political Mother - Hofesh Schecter

Today – Political mother – By  Hofesh Schecter company – Where there is pressure , there is folk dance  ! – harmonious chaos or chaotic harmony ?? Innovative , the dance and music blend into each other  , the moves are emotive and energetic .Overall definitely worth it for the innovative mix of lighting-music-dance , but prefer watching contemporary  ballet ( waiting for a good cb troupe to tour  India…..)

August 24 – the DCH play @MPTF 2014, was more of like “Om Shanti Om”  song in that Farah Khan filck …… less of  theatre,  more of theatre personalities ,   but kudos to the trio for showcasing contemporary / budding  hyderabadi theatre /culture  ( courtesy , open cultural places like Lamakaan , the GZ and AF)

P.S:- ‘Tis been a week of discovering new sounds – thanks to OD @twitter for introducing me to the amazing Gillian welch – country music speaks to the soul

Also , ‘ THE BLACKLIST episodes have some really fab OSTs………….(but worth watchin’ for one-man show- “the Spader” – never disappoints. )

 

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou, a poet and author who rose from poverty, segregation and the harshest of childhoods to become a force on stage, screen and the printed page, has died. She was 86.

Angelou died on Wednesday morning at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, her son, Guy B. Johnson, said in a statement. The 86-year-old had been a professor of American studies at Wake Forest University since 1982.

“She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace,” Mr. Johnson said.

Tall and regal, with a deep, majestic voice, Angelou defied all probability and category, becoming one of the first black women to enjoy mainstream success as an author and thriving in virtually every artistic medium. The young single mother who performed at strip clubs to earn a living later wrote and recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history. The childhood victim of rape wrote a million-selling memoir, befriended Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and performed on stages around the world.

An actress, singer and dancer in the 1950s and 1960s, she broke through as an author in 1970 with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which became standard (and occasionally censored) reading, and was the first of a multipart autobiography that continued through the decades. In 1993, she was a sensation reading her cautiously hopeful On the Pulse of the Morning at former President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration. Her confident performance openly delighted Mr. Clinton and made the poem a bestseller, if not a critical favourite. For former President George W. Bush, she read another poem, Amazing Peace, at the 2005 Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the White House.

Angelou was a mentor to Oprah Winfrey, whom she befriended when Ms. Winfrey was still a local television reporter, and often appeared on her friend’s talk show program. She mastered several languages and published not just poetry, but advice books, cookbooks and children’s stories. She wrote music, plays and screenplays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in Roots, and never lost her passion for dance, the art she considered closest to poetry.

“The line of the dancer — If you watch (Mikhail) Baryshnikov and you see that line, that’s what the poet tries for. The poet tries for the line, the balance,” she told The Associated Press in 2008, shortly before her birthday.

After renaming herself Maya Angelou for the stage (“Maya” was a childhood nickname), she toured in ‘Porgy and Bess’ and Jean Genet’s ‘The Blacks’ and danced with Alvin Ailey. She worked as a coordinator for the civil rights group Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met Malcolm X and remained close to him until his assassination, in 1965. Three years later, she was helping King organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

“Every year, on that day, Coretta and I would send each other flowers,” Angelou said of King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, who died in 2006.

Angelou was little known outside the theatrical community until I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which might not have happened if James Baldwin hadn’t persuaded Angelou, still grieving over King’s death, to attend a party at Jules Feiffer’s house. Feiffer was so taken by Angelou that he mentioned her to Random House editor Bob Loomis, who persuaded her to write a book.

Angelou’s memoir was occasionally attacked, for seemingly opposite reasons. In a 1999 essay in Harper’s, author Francine Prose criticized Caged Bird as “manipulative” melodrama. Meanwhile, Angelou’s passages about her rape and teen pregnancy have made it a perennial on the American Library Association’s list of works that draw complaints from parents and educators.

“I thought that it was a mild book. There’s no profanity,” Angelou told the AP. “It speaks about surviving, and it really doesn’t make ogres of many people. I was shocked to find there were people who really wanted it banned, and I still believe people who are against the book have never read the book.”

Angelou appeared on several TV programs, notably the groundbreaking 1977 miniseries Roots. She was nominated for a Tony Award in 1973 for her appearance in the play Look Away.

In this November 21, 2008 photo, poet Maya Angelou smiles at an event in Washington. Ms. Angelou, author of

https://excerptsandm.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/my-picks-from-brainpickings/

https://excerptsandm.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/still-i-rise-by-maya-angelou/

 Excerpt from the hindu :

Evolutionary mismatch

“Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.” — Socrates.

Darwinian evolution has become outdated and its place is taken by the Lamarckian hypothesis of evolution by environmental compulsions. Darwin himself agreed with Lamarck but the neo-Darwinians, who have a big business interest in keeping the status quo, are at it even now. Even Erasmus was for environmental evolution long before Darwin came into the picture. Most of our pathophysiology of diseases is based on the Darwinian model unfortunately and it has to change for good. Earlier the better.

Daniel E Lieberman is an evolutionary biologist at Harvard. He has written a new book, The Story of the Human Body . I feel this is the right step in the right direction. Unfortunately, medical doctors do not go into evolutionary biology, even if a few of them go into biology. Poor patients have no access to evolutionary biologists. The result is that many of our lifestyle diseases have no clear cause known to the medical world. We are clever people, though. We cloak our ignorance is high-sounding Latin jargon. Words ‘idiopathic’ and the like simply tell us about our colossal ignorance. Even the use of steroids in many of the autoimmune diseases defies logic. They only palliate and the fire is still smouldering under steroid cover. The latter might even make the patient more vulnerable.

The Palaeolithic man is yet to fully evolve to match the much more evolved cultural evolution in the last 200 years. That might take a hundred more years. Thanks to technological advances, life on earth for the so-called civilised man has become vastly different from what it should have been had we just followed the environmental evolution that our ancestors in the Palaeolithic period have achieved. So there is a vast difference between the rate of natural evolution of man and the rapidly evolving cultural evolution that has happened in the society we live in.

One example will suffice. What our ancestors ate and what chimpanzees eat today compared to what we eat in the so-called modern society are poles apart. While most of us have developed a sweet tooth eating lots of sweet foods and refined carbohydrates, our ancestors in the forest were eating very little sweet food. Even today, chimpanzees eat raw food with the best fruit that they eat in the forest being less sweet than carrot! Our need for sweet foods and carbs was necessitated by the demand for more calories to cope with the cultural evolution which has gone much faster than the human body’s evolution.

Lieberman has convincingly showed how many of our killer lifestyle diseases, which might even be called modern diseases like Type II diabetes, many cancers, heart attack, strokes, acid reflux, acne, anxiety, asthma, depression, flat feet, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, lower backpain and osteoporosis have their origins in this evolution-cultural growth mismatch.

Over thousands of years in evolution the human body has acquired a survival mechanism to protect us from our predators. The autonomic nervous system and the RAAS (renin angiotensin aldosterone system) have evolved to keep us alive under stress which is an integral part of life in the hostile environment. These two are useful in any emergency for the fight, flight and fright reaction.

If a man sees a tiger approaching him in the forest he must try to run away. The above mentioned two systems are there to help him run away from the wrath of the angry tiger. Adrenaline and cortisol are the two hormones through which the two systems keep one away from danger. Such a Palaeolithic body today is placed in a very hostile modern society of monetary economy and technologically advanced society where life has got itself transformed into a heartless, cruel rat race.

Our greatest stress today is to acquire mundane things. In that rat race where the world is too much with us we spend most of our energy getting and spending. We have no time to see the good things in nature that give us tranquillity and pleasure. We seem to have sold our soul to the devil. It is a sordid boon. In this rat race we encounter many tigers in life. Our Palaeolithic body produces the same fight-flight response producing adrenaline and cortisol. The latter would be used to run away from the forest tiger in our Palaeolithic age. But the tigers in life today (stresses) do not let you expend the two hormones by running.

The hormones that thus accumulate in the system are the cause of most of the killer diseases. While this is the leading mismatch, there is another equally important mismatch in that our cultural evolution vis-à-vis our biological evolution leaves us today much more sedentary than our ancestors who had to trek miles daily to get their next meal. We hardly move around as the technological comforts have brought everything to our global village. Some of us use our vehicles even to go to the toilet. This compounds the stress hormone damage, causing more grievous injury to our systems.

Although technological advances make life “comfortable,” they do damage our system, causing killer diseases in the bargain. The technological feats add thousands of cancer-producing chemicals to our surroundings adding insult to injury. The bad “Hygiene Hypothesis” or the Germ Theory of disease made all our friends and close relatives, trillions of germs, into our enemies to be destroyed. The antibiotics and antiseptics have started killing us now instead.

Our cultural evolution has been only external without a concurrent internal development to understand the meaning of life on earth and our societal obligations. This self-ignorance leads to more stress in life. Most of us try and change the world to suit our convenience little realising that we should, on the contrary, change ourselves to suit the world to have less stress.

In The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease , Lieberman traces these troubles back to their origins.

This seems to be a more plausible explanation for many of our idiopathic diseases. My own hypothesis of the origin of the many autoimmune diseases has its root in our mind. Whereas every cell in the human body, of which there are more than one hundred trillion in all, loves one another and also the cells of others in the world, our hostility towards fellow human beings confuses our cells. If that mental attitude deepens further into a trait, a time will come when our own cells start hating our other cells, auto-immune disease. I call this the you-me concept.

Let us try and understand human illness in its entirety and try to achieve Whole Person Healing , the future hope for mankind on this planet.

“During moments of strife and ‘dis-ease’, check your flow and redirect your focus to that which is naturally good.” — T.F. Hodge

This article set me on a musing trajectory ……….( I think this wud be a befitting end to this and a gud start for the next – to start striving to take nature as a role model , the lesser the artificial burdens , the easier to be free and sway with the flow like the mighty old tree  – grand yet humbly supple to be swayed by the wind , retaining its  core at the same time – easier  said than done – but worth making a start

Inside the Tagore home

  Inside the Tagore home – The Hindu.

 Excerpt :-

In North Kolkata, big gates lead into Rabindranath Tagore’s ancestral home, Jorasanko. Staircases lead up to wide verandas that skirt rooms with high ceilings, cold black and white marble floors and arched doorways with green louvered shutters. They all overlook a courtyard downstairs. Once, the big rooms were filled with men in their crinkly dhotis and kurtas holding animated discussions and debates on art, literature and politics. In the abarodh or the women’s quarters, mothers, wives, sisters, daughters and daughters-in-law held sway.

Like Tara of Gone with the Wind , or Manderly of Rebecca , Jorasanko drips atmosphere. The great house was packed to the rafters with people, yet there was always loneliness, fear and despair. Within its walls lurked insanity, abuse, infidelity and politics. Aruna Chakravarti gathers all these details and turns out a novel in which she recreates the world of 18th century Bengal, especially the privileged yet cloistered world of women.

Chakravarti’s heroes are the Tagore women. They step into Jorasanko as child brides knowing they will leave it only when they die. Yet, confined as they are, they influence, instigate and shape their famous husbands and each other. As the Tagore men plunge into the heart of the Bengal Renaissance, the women also grapple with the changes. While some of them slide into bewildered despair as the sacrosanct rules of the abarodh shift and slacken, others grab the opportunity to step out of their husbands’ shadows and become women of importance in their own right. But they are no gilded lilies, and Chakravarti describes them warts and all.

Of course, there are the milestone moments of Rabindranath Tagore’s life — his muse and his sister-in-law the melancholic Kadambari; his first composition; his relationship with his father, his struggle with western education; his marriage to Mrinalini…

Jorasanko spans the years between 1859 and 1902 and is a haunting narrative. It speaks of a luxurious lifestyle, but it also raises questions about the status of women, even those married to the Tagores. The Tagore women were complex. The bous or daughters-in-law, whose days were spent between their boudoirs and the kitchens were not above intrigue and politics. Some of them were devious and spiteful. They were also strong-willed and stubborn, like Digambari who refused to accept Western ways, even if her husband flirted with them; Jogmaya who took on the men and split the Tagore family; Jnanadanandini who entered Jorasanko as a child bride but who dared to step out and set up an independent household with her husband and children. She also set a fashion trend and showed the Bengali women a new way of wearing the sari! And, of course, Swarnakumari, acknowledged as a pioneer of women’s writing in India.

Then there were those who suffered. Some silently, others like Tripura vocally, and others like Kadambari who unable to bear the terrible loneliness and pain preferred to die.


She didn’t belong here; had never belonged here. She had left her parents at the age of seven and made this house her home. She had embraced her husband’s family and given it all she had. She had thought it was hers. But it wasn’t… No one would shed a genuine tear if she died tomorrow.

 

  Loss and loneliness – The HinduExcerpt

The poetry of cinema can teach one to care deeply.

  …………..Some of those Indian films which best spoke on those eternal themes of enduring art: love, loss, loneliness and longing.

It is more than 30 years since I first watched Aparna Sen’s sensitive and observant 36 Chowringhee Lane , but I still feel a twinge of grief at the thoughtless betrayal of the lonely, ageing Anglo-Indian school teacher, played to perfection by Jennifer Kendal. Unmarried, her brother is senile and confined to a nursing home, and her friends are slowly dying around her. Her secluded life lights up after a chance encounter with her old student and her boyfriend. They visit her often and fill her home with youth and laughter, and she believes they are her friends. But their only interest in the old teacher is to use her flat for lovemaking when she is away at work. Her eventual discovery of how they used her, her heartbreak and dignity long haunt the viewer.

One of the most aesthetically accomplished Hindi films of all times is Abrar Alvi’s Sahib, Bibi aur Ghulam (Master, Wife and Servant). Set at the turn of the last century, it maps the hopeless and ultimately tragic rebellion of a woman, memorably played by Meena Kumari, married into a decadent feudal household. Unwilling to accept the traditional station of a landlord’s wife, she feels humiliated by her husband’s drunken nights spent in the company of courtesans. She demands respect. In a desperate bid to attract him, she even takes to drinking alcohol like the dancing girls. But he scorns and spurns her, and she ultimately slips into a melancholy alcoholism. As the years pass, and the fortunes of the decaying feudal household crumble, she cannot shed her craving for liquor, and the family ultimately has her killed. In her tortured discontent, we observe the incipient stirrings of feminism, even though her revolt is not against men’s domination as much as their disrespect; and her defeat in achieving a measure of dignity in her marriage destroys her.

(Clockwise from top) Stills from ‘Sahib, Bibi aur Ghulam’, ‘Mathilukal’ and ‘Apur Sansar’. (Below) Nutan in ‘Bandini’.

A similar lingering melancholy pervades Ritwick Ghatak’s Meghe Dhaka Tara (A Star Covered by a Cloud). Sombre and poetic, it describes the fortunes of a young woman in a refugee family in Kolkata from East Pakistan impoverished by the Partition. She supports her family in their penury and hardship, but is cynically used by each of them, unmindful even as she sacrifices her own happiness and dreams. The protagonist’s aching longing is denied by her own goodness and her exploitation by those she most loved. In the haunting final sequence, as she lies dying of tuberculosis, she cries out to her brother: “I want to live”, words that became embedded in the hearts of a whole generation in Bengal to symbolise our doomed yearning for all that we have lost.

……………………..A much lesser known film, but one close to my heart, is Jahnu Barua’s Konikar Ramdhenu (Ride on The Rainbow). It depicts stolen childhoods in a juvenile home for children in conflict with law. A young boy escapes the violence of his alcoholic stepfather to work in a garage in Guwahati. But the garage owner tries to sexually assault him, and the boy hits him with a rod on his head which kills him instantly. The cold, loveless abuse of the juvenile home in which he is incarcerated is powerfully recreated, relieved only by the kindness of the superintendent.

These themes of loss and loneliness are most exquisitely evoked in Satyajit Ray’s Apur Sansar (Apu’s World).

Bimal Roy’s lyrical last film Bandini (Imprisoned

………………..The wistful longing, the pain and humanity of many of these films became part of my own growing years. I learned from them the poetry of cinema; I suffered with their protagonists; but maybe they also taught me to care more deeply.

More @ http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/loss-and-loneliness/article4818915.ece

A lake comes to life – The Hindu. Excerpt

Thousands of ordinary citizens pitching in to revive a 320-acre lake.

It feels like a carnival at Ukkadam, home to the Periyakulam Lake. It is the final Sunday of volunteering, as the monsoons are expected any time now. School children are shrill with excitement, college students jump out of buses laughing and shouting out greetings; picnic umbrellas dot the area. The CRPF, the police and people from the Armed Forces work together in precision, as if performing a drill. Three hundred NCC cadets take up position. A large group of employees from a cement factory talk animatedly, while nearby, the entire team from a Tamil daily has shown up. “Instead of being only the observers who write about events, we unanimously decided to pitch in with volunteer work,” says one of them.

…………….Mud is shovelled into shallow metal and plastic basins (in blue, green and red) and passed from hand to hand. Snatches of IPL talk and loud instructions fill the air. Musicians join the fun. The murasu, melam and thapattam set the pace, and as they vary their pace, from slow to brisk, the tempo of work also increases. There is clapping and dancing. When they are not digging, people are taking pictures on their smart phones. Tempo travellers carrying tea, coffee, biscuits and buttermilk serve free food to the volunteers. Coimbatore’s famous Annapoorna has sponsored upma, khichdi and sweets for everyone.

Periyakulam used to be one of Coimbatore’s biggest lakes – spanning 320 acres, with a catchment area of 63 sq km — but it was gradually asphyxiated by water hyacinth, raw sewage and garbage till it became mere shimmers of water in a sprawling, muddy area, with orange specks interrupting the brown expanse. Last year, Siruthuli, the NGO dealing with water bodies in Coimbatore, took up the matter with the Government. The permit to work on the lake came through at the end of April and on May 1, the de-silting operations began under the direction of Coimbatore Corporation, Siruthuli, Residents Awareness Association of Coimbatore (RAAC) and the Vijayalakshmi Charitable Trust. Corporates have also pitched in. And the people of Coimbatore have showed up every Sunday to lend a hand.

In a little over a month the landscape has changed. Where there was once just garbage and undergrowth, there is now clean and scrub-free ground. Round-the-clock work has cleared the humongous mess and made way for bunds. Five Poclain earth movers swing, dip, scoop and dump vast quantities of soil from one place to another. More than 8000 volunteers pour onto the bed of the lake and imitate those actions. Forming a human chain, they bend, scoop, pass and throw pots filled with soil on to a growing mound that is part of a 20-ft wide, six-and-a-half kilometre long bund around the lake. Four islands have been painstakingly created at the centre of the dry lake. Saplings will be planted on them and along the bund. Seventy per cent of the work is complete.The rejuvenated Mookaneri Lake in Salem. Photo: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

………………Why do they do it? “I know machines can do the same job we are doing and more efficiently, but the personal satisfaction we get is unmatched,” says N. Thulasidas, vice-president of the Indian National Cement Worker’s Federation, who has come with a 52-strong team. “We came prepared for more than just two hours of work. When people come together for a cause such as this, it will definitely succeed. We hope we will soon be able to boat on this lake.”

Lalit Mahesh, who has just graduated from school, has come here with friends from Pollachi. He says, “People can do what earthmovers cannot. They can inspire. To see the work happening firsthand is very satisfying.” Lalit is well aware of the water situation in Tamil Nadu and the world. “Tamil Nadu faces an 11 per cent water deficit,” he says. “By 2045, that deficit will increase dramatically. Already, one person out of three in the world has no access to potable water.”

For 51-year-old B. Ganesh, the lake represents livelihood. It provided his daily catch for 18 years. But it became progressively difficult for him and his fellow fishermen to eke out a living. “The lake used to be so beautiful in the mornings when I set out with my friends for my daily catch. We used to enjoy drinking the fresh water that was available in plenty even a decade ago.” The fishermen have volunteered with clean-up efforts in the past, and they welcome this drive wholeheartedly as well.

Coimbatore shows up: Volunteers included the CRPF, RAF, students, senior citizens and even newly weds. Photo: S. Siva Saravanan

Volunteers included the CRPF, RAF, students, senior citizens and even newly weds.

M. Lukman, a fruit vendor, has spent all his life near the lake. “It teemed with birds, and the greenery and water made it look like something out of an English travel channel,” he says. He hopes this initiative will improve the plight of other wetlands as well, as the livelihood of several fishermen has been severely affected. “Plenty more needs to be done, but I have faith that the lake will be restored to its original glory.”

Many people share this belief. What is happening at Periyakulam is more than just physical shramdaan , or donation of labour, as R. Raveendran of RAAC says. “When the lake comes alive, we will know we had something to do with it. This ownership will ensure that we will never let it come to such a pass again.”

Labour nourished with cameraderie.

100 days of hope – The Hindu. Excerpt

When she spots the camera lens, 72-year-old Rukku flashes a radiant, toothless smile. Her peers quickly catch on the infectious smile, transforming a place of hard labour into something else entirely.

It was at a Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) site that I met Rukku, from Nilgiri district, and a curiously harmonious group of middle-aged and older workers.

“I now don’t need to depend on my relatives for money. I can now buy my grandchildren whatever they want,” Rukku says.

The MGNREGA guarantees a hundred days of wage-employment every year for its members. The unskilled manual work offers livelihood and better financial security in rural areas. Rukku herself earns about Rs. 4,000 a month. She is among the thousands over the age of 65, who work regularly as beneficiaries of the scheme.

Lakshmi, now 65, lives with her husband in Erode. Her children are grown up and live in another city. They do not send her money. Her husband is unwell and too weak for manual labour. She is now the breadwinner of the family.

The scheme also seems to foster a habit of regular savings among the workers.

Under the scheme, these men and women build civic utilities like ponds for ground water recharge, roads, footpaths, children’s playgrounds and burial grounds. The scheme has enabled creation of thousands of farm ponds in the lands of small and marginal farmers and in the farmlands owned by SC/ST communities.

An important feature of implementation of MGNREGS in Tamil Nadu is the active participation of the differently-abled, facilitated by a separate Government order stipulating a special schedule of rates. The tangible benefits have translated into a healthy work atmosphere.

Saravanan, an Assistant Engineer at the site, explains, “Though advanced in age, the workers here are quite able. The camaraderie and a sense of independence from their kin tend to help them get back their health.”

Work is all they’ve ever known. It’s what they do even now, in the evening of their lives. The only difference is that the work now happens amid meals cooked on charcoal fires, the laughter of their grandchildren and the camaraderie of 200 of their peers.

My Musings – Hoping to see more villages like this ……..this can be a plausible solution to check the excessive migration to cities and farmer suicides due to Unemployment and drought in rural india and can also promote Eco-tourism

 

   It takes a village – The HinduEXCERPT

The three S’s — Sea, Sun and Sex — are no longer crowd-pullers when it comes to tourism. They’ve been replaced by the three E’s — Entertainment, Education and Experience. Nothing exemplifies this more than the Sargaalaya Kerala Arts and Crafts Village in Iringal, an hour’s drive from Kozhikode. More than its beautiful scenery and a serene ambience, what has made this place a hit with the tourists is the presence of artisans and craftsmen from across the country and the opportunity to directly interact with them to buy whatever takes one’s fancy. A State Tourism Department venture, the village was designed by architect R.K. Ramesh and built by the Uralungal Labour Contract Co-operative Society, formed by labourers, on 20 acres of barren land situated nearly the national highway. Before the village came up, the site’s only claim to fame was being the birthplace of Kunali Marakkar, the naval commander of the Zamorin of Kozhikode, who fought Portuguese invaders.

Biswajith Roy left his home in West Bengal five years ago and lives in the village fashioning furniture out of reeds and cane. Vezeto and wife Sera Telvo came from Nagaland to seek their fortune in Irinjal. “This place has given us hope. Business is certainly better here than elsewhere but we want to attract more in the comings years,” Sera said, placing colourful artificial flowers in her stall. In other stalls artisans from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odissa sell handcrafted products.

…………………….A crafts academy is being established to improve and professionalise training programmes. The authorities also hope that their proposal to name Sargalya a rural tourism village gets the green signal. Another proposal for support to impart training to 1500 women in neighbourhood is also awaiting Central government clearance. The Saragalaya Art Forum organises programmes like Theyyam and Kalaripayatu for visitors with local artists.

Photo: AP

When protectors turn predators – The HinduExcerpt

Child sexual abuse in juvenile justice institutions [in India] is rampant, systematic and has reached epidemic proportions,’ says a damning report from the Asian Centre for Human Rights.

Even the daily list of rapes that now inhabit our news pages does not indicate the extent of the sickness that is now staring us in the face. According to a distressing report by the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), 48,338 children have been raped in the decade between 2001 and 2011. In these 10 years, there has been a 336 per cent increase in the number of child rapes. Yet, this is only a very partial picture because, as the report emphasises, the majority of child rapes are never reported.

The report is disturbing because it focuses on those institutions where children are supposed to be “protected” — observation homes, shelter homes, children’s homes and special homes designed to take care of children who have been abandoned, have run away or been trafficked. Yet, as the 56 pages of the ACHR report titled “India’s hell holes” details, scores of these children, girls and boys, are raped, sodomised, tortured, forced to work and condemned to live in “inhuman conditions”. The authors of the report conclude: “Child sexual abuse in juvenile justice institutions is rampant, systematic and has reached epidemic proportions.”

Just as stronger laws have been demanded to deal with rape, there are laws to address sexual assaults on children. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2006 was enacted for this purpose. In addition, last year the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 was brought in to specifically deal with such crimes against children. Yet, as the report illustrates, these laws have been rendered toothless with the deliberate violation of their provisions in state after state. For instance, under the law, all homes that shelter children are supposed to be registered. Yet scores of these institutions continue to function without registration or oversight and there is no provision in the law to punish them for this. In any case, even formal registration makes little difference as is evident from what happens in officially recognised institutions. The atrocities against children taking place in such places escape discovery because the mandated Inspection Committees that are supposed to carry out surprise checks either do not exist, or if they do, do not function.

………………………One of the worst horror stories is that of two unregistered homes in Mansarovar and Jagatpura in Jaipur. On March 12, the Rajasthan State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, accompanied by local activists and the media raided the homes and rescued 51 children, 27 girls and 24 boys. Of these, 21 were from Manipur, six each from Nagaland and Uttar Pradesh, four each from Assam, Nepal, Rajasthan and Punjab and two from Delhi. The homes were filthy, the food had fungus and the children said they had been locked into the homes. But that was not all. The girls spoke of sexual abuse including being forced to sleep with the man running the home. A 17-year-old girl from Nagaland said she had been repeatedly raped from the age of 11. The children had been lured to the home with a promise of good food and education. Instead, they were served inedible food and educated in sexual torture. This is only one story. The other 38 documented in the report are equally horrific.

So if children are not safe in these “protection homes” and they are not safe in their own homes, what is the answer? It is evident that just having stronger laws is not enough of a deterrent. At the same time, the demand for instant solutions, even if it is understandable in the face of the daily deluge of such atrocities, will solve little.

The significance of so many more people feeling incensed and angry at this state of affairs is that it will turn the spotlight onto the dark corners, like these protection homes where child sexual abuse has been part of the system. Even if we have woken up to the horror of child sexual abuse because of one atrocity, we must recognise that this malady is not skin deep. It has afflicted the entire body.

‘Success is the freedom to do what I want’ – The Hindu.  – Excerpt

Chandrika Krishnamurthy Tandon came to America at 24; the first Indian woman selected by McKinsey’s after more than 20 interviews. She made partner, then started her own company (Tandon Capital Associates), before turning, in mid-career, to pursue her passion for music.Her first recording — ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ — was a gift for her father-in-law. That led her to form Soul Chants, the company that produced her three albums. Her second album, titled ‘Om Namo Narayanaya: Soul Call’, was nominated for a Grammy. Her third — nine variations on ‘Raghupati Raghava Raja Rama’ — was launched recently in New York.

Over a vegetarian lunch, Tandon discussed her exceptional life.

How was it being a trailblazer — few Indians, no women — in the corporate world?

I interviewed in mid-winter, in a sari, chappals and a borrowed coat. I’d been working with Citibank after graduating from IIM-Ahmedabad. I had no American degree, no visa.  McKinsey’s sent me to Japan, where I learned Japanese, discovered Kabuki and Japanese music.

Then, I had to adjust to life in the U.S. On my second day, I rented a car and left, nervously, at 4.00 a.m. for an hour’s drive to an 8.00 a.m appointment! I had no network, no family. I compensated by working non-stop. In five years, I made partner — one of two, out of 12. It was “move up” or “out.”

What prepared you for this experience?

We lived with my grandfather who read to us every night — Shakespeare, English poetry. He made you feel you can be anything you want. It was inconceivable that I’d apply to IIM, or get in.  At my interview, they asked, “You perform on radio? You speak French? Sing us a French song.” So I did!  What I got from my grandfather was inner unstoppability. Many people are smarter, more talented. I have inner strength. I fought to go to college, went on a hunger strike for business school until my mother agreed to let me go. At McKinsey’s, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. But I wasn’t focused on the lack, I focused on the possibility.

How do you juggle being wife, mother, businesswoman, artiste?

I made major tradeoffs. Life as founder-chairman of my company was brutal: Restructuring an Australian company, I’d fly 32 hours to Brisbane, stay nine days, talk to my nine-year-old via nightly video-conference, micro-arranging her schedule. Returning home, I’d talk to my Brisbane team and work non-stop negotiating other clients. I wasn’t the emotionally available mother I wanted to be. Flying 32 hours every nine days took a toll. Then, I was offered a multimillion-dollar deal, spending four days a week in Europe. I considered it, crying non-stop. I had done mega jobs, working with billionaires, flying on private planes. It was emotionally and intellectually heady. But Lita’s my only child; I wanted to be home with her. I turned down that deal. Professionally and personally, it was catastrophic. Suddenly, I had no identity: a top businesswoman, unsure I even had a business. To quit travel, I had to restructure my company…I missed the excitement but I was there 100 per cent for Lita, everyday. I went into myself, came to a new way of seeing “success” as freedom to do what I wanted. I got into spirituality, searched for answers, for purpose. I’d followed my career mindlessly — among the youngest in my IIM class, accepted into Citibank (which took three out of 116 applicants), then McKinsey’s, and my own business. I never stopped. My life had been other-directed. I re-examined my values: What’s important?

Was music important?  

My happiest times were around music. When I was travelling, I’d go hear music, alone, after work. In New York, I binged — jazz concerts, nights in a row. As children, we had lessons, music was always there; our mother turned on the radio at five! We lived simply: mother cooked, we cleaned. I’d sing as I did chores — Tamil and Hindi film songs, Dean Martin, Listeners’ Choices. At the Alliance Francaise, I sang French songs. McKinsey gave me $5000 to furnish my apartment. I bought an $1800 guitar, a $2000 stereo system, then had no money, so I slept on the floor of my empty apartment. In my only saucepan, I cooked rice and ate it with chutney and yoghurt for the first month. Years later, I requested T. Vishwanathan to teach me. I’d leave home at 4.00 a.m. for his 6-8 Saturday lesson, returning at 10.00 a.m. before Lita awoke. When Indian masters wouldn’t teach me, I found travelling masters. Finally, Girish Wazalwar worked around my schedule, teaching me intensively — all day, seven days at a time.

You teach devotional music…

I started a choir in our temple. Over 100 people come. I compose new music for them, adding verses to bhajans . We sing Shankara compositions. I don’t judge, we enjoy the process every Sunday. There’s no charge, it’s a circle of love, and I’m enriched by it. One woman takes four buses to get there!

A fan of silences:Walter Murch (below) andThe Godfather (Above).

The Godfather

     The music of sound – The Hindu  –  Excerpt :

 Think of sound as a fabric, smooth and cruel like silk or rough and warm like tweed,” said Walter Murch to an audience breathlessly hanging on to his every word.

It was a master class that created images to describe sound. The Oscar-winning ( Apocalypse Now, The English Patient ) sound designer and editor was speaking at the 11th edition of Berlinale Talent Campus. Part of the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival, the theme for this year’s Talent Campus was “Some Like It Hot – Filmmakers as Entertainers” and featured directors such as Paul Verhoeven ( Basic Instinct ) and Jane Campion and actors including Holly Hunter and yesteryear bombshell Anita Ekberg sharing their knowledge and experiences with film students.

Starting at the very beginning, Murch spoke of sound and space in the womb. “Sound is the first of the senses to be turned on at four-and-a-half months.” While in the womb there is no sense of space and self; outside the womb, the child understands causality and sound — how actions such as clapping hands, snapping fingers or dropping a plate creates different sounds, Murch said.

Murch recalled his ground-breaking work in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (1972) to illustrate the use of causality to enrich the narrative. He recalled the restaurant scene where Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) avenges the attempt on his father’s life.“Coppola decided the scene would be in Italian with no subtitles, which meant that unless you understood Italian, the dialogue was unintelligible. Coppola also didn’t want music to dilute the tense scene. The challenge was in conveying the tension in a non-intrusive way. I grew up in New York close to where the scene was shot and decided to use the sound of the train. There is no direct causality as there is no train in the frame but there is a deeper causality. When you use the sound like music, it functions as an X-ray of what’s going on in Michael’s head. He is about to kill two people, and his dream.”

A fan of silences:Walter Murch

Describing film and music as “yin and yang,” Murch stressed on their necessary balance. “Music can be overpowering, like steroids. Filmmakers use music as steroids for emotions; not trusting the audience’ emotion. The Godfather lets the audience feel the emotion without music.”

In Apocalypse Now , Coppola’s 1979 retelling of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness set against the backdrop of madness of war in Vietnam, “Francis wanted the sound to surround the audience; he wanted the explosions to be felt rather than heard.”The iconic opening sets the sonic landscape of the film — the hiss and ominous throb of the choppers are heard before they are seen. As we look at a tightly-wound Martin Sheen in a hotel in Saigon, “We can hear the jungle even though we are looking at a hotel room in Saigon; we are inside Sheen’s head. The sound of the city morphs into the sound of the jungle.”

Murch warns against the danger of over-articulating the surround saying, “You run the risk of taking the audience out of the trance. There is a small window for the sweet spot of between two to three decibels — more is intrusive, less the audience cannot hear. You don’t ever want your audience to say “so what?” You don’t want habituation — getting so used to certain things that it almost disappears like temperature or the sound of traffic.”

Once the floor was thrown open, the questions came thick and fast. One of the first was about working with composers. “Music is what it is; it embodies its own meaning,” explained Murch. “ If you throw music in the end, it isn’t nourishing. If the music is made before the movie is shot, the actors know the partner they are dancing with.”

For all the sound and light of the movies, Murch is a fan of its silences. “Cinema is the only art form that can use silence. Cinema is a theatre of thought. In The Conversation , (1974) Gene Hackman’s character is a sound recordist. The second half of the film does not have much dialogue. Just as you appreciate stars better on a moonless night, you appreciate sound in the absence of dialogue.” Murch cited Touch of Evil , No Country For Old Men and Wages of Fear for the effective use of silence.

What makes an editor? “The ability to work long hours in a dark room and a sense of rhythm and story are the basic requirements. I take pretty detailed notes and study it like an explorer studies a map and then I almost never refer to them again. It is a good training, like artists studying anatomy. I would encourage that kind of discipline,” said Murch . “The crucial point of editing is to know where the cut point is. Never decide by scrolling the scene. You have to feel it by music and emotionally. Every film has a definite rhythmic signature,” he adds.

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A submerged idol of Lord Shiva stands in the flooded River Ganges in Rishikesh. File photo

A submerged idol of Lord Shiva stands in the flooded River Ganges in Rishikesh. File photo

It was like Shiva dancing in rage: Shobha Karandlaje – The Hindu. EXCERPT

Former Karnataka Minister Shobha Karandlaje, who returned to Bangalore after remaining stranded for four days at Rudraprayag in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand, on Friday said it was a harrowing experience as her group of 1,000 pilgrims had to spend sleepless nights sandwiched between high mountains and flooded Ganga river.

“………. I also felt that Lord Shiva was dancing in rage, probably angered due to degradation of ecology taking place in Rudraprayag area,” she said

“We were sandwiched between high mountains and flooded Ganga river downwards. On top of the hill landslides were taking place. For one night I could not even get out of my car,” she added.She said after travelling a while she was stranded in her car at Kandiakhand and had to reach Budla by climbing a hill. .

“We were stranded at Budla for four days,” she said. Ms. Karandlaje said the pilgrims in her group were from West Bengal, Maharashtra and Rajasthan and majority were old women and children. They had minimal food supply and children fell sick and there was no doctor to attend to them. “We could not sleep either due to the rising river water or the possibility of more landslides,” she said.

Causes

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/nature-avenges-its-exploitation/article4834480.ece  

     The catastrophe in the Himalaya is the result of deforestation, unchecked construction of dwellings and large-scale building of big dams

A week is a long time in the Himalaya. In the late 1980s, I visited Arunachal Pradesh as a young researcher, with a keen interest in photography. I walked into the middle of the Dibang river, hop skipping over boulders, until my local tribal guide ordered me to return immediately. He smiled and said, “Sir, these mountain rivers are like daughters, you never know how quickly they grow up.” I was humbled by his knowledge and haven’t forgotten the lesson.

Deforestation

On the television, news of the devastation in Uttarkashi had started pouring in. It was painful to see the buildings, photographed only the previous day, being washed away like toys by the Bhagirathi.

There is little doubt that the present Himalayan disaster has been triggered by natural events, but the catastrophe is man-made.

Let us address the various man-induced drivers. One, there is ample scientific evidence that the Himalayan watersheds have witnessed unprecedented deforestation over a long period. Deforestation as a commercial activity began during the British Raj and has continued unabated after independence. While official estimates say forest cover has increased in the Himalaya, a number of credible independent studies have found significant discrepancies in this claim. The fact is that forests have been diverted for a host of land use activities such as agriculture, human settlements and urbanisation. Massive infrastructure development such as hydropower construction and road building has taken place. Scientific studies indicate that at the current rates of deforestation, the total forest cover in the Indian Himalaya will be reduced from 84.9 per cent (of the value in 1970) in 2000 to no more than 52.8 per cent in 2100. Dense forest areas, on which many forest taxa (groups of species) critically depend, would decline from 75.4 per cent of the total forest area in 2000 to just 34 per cent in 2100, which is estimated to result in the extinction of 23.6 per cent of taxa restricted to the dense Himalayan forests.

FLOODS AND INDIFFERENCE: Massive intervention in the Himalayan ecosystems through manipulation of rivers and their hydrology, is linked to what we are witnessing today.

FLOODS AND INDIFFERENCE: Massive intervention in the Himalayan ecosystems through manipulation of rivers and their hydrology, is linked to what we are witnessing today.

Global warming 

Vegetative cover slows the speed of falling rain and prevents soil erosion and gully formation — the precursors to landslides and floods. Dense vegetation, by evapotranspiration, also stops nearly 30-40 per cent of rainwater from falling to the ground, thereby significantly reducing run-off. Besides holding the soil together, forests and soil soak water from the rain, release it slowly and prevent water flowing as run-off. So, deforestation brings about slope destabilisation, landslides and floods. Given that the Himalayan range is geologically young and still rising, it makes the area vulnerable to erosion and instability. Therefore, it is all the more necessary to take land use change more seriously.

Two, there is mounting evidence that global warming is fast catching up with the Himalaya. In a recent study, we reported that Himalayan ecosystems have experienced faster rates of warming in the last 100 years and more than the European Alps or other mountain ranges of the world. In such a scenario, we expect faster melting of glaciers causing higher water discharges in the Himalayan rivers.

Expanding settlements

Three, expanding human settlements and urbanisation which, besides bringing about land use changes offer themselves as easy targets to the fury of natural forces. While it is important to appreciate the aspirations of the local people and their economic activities, there cannot be a lack of enforcement of land use control laws on the part of local governments and officials. Huge building construction, cheap hotels and individual dwellings at Uttarkashi, on the banks of the Assi and Bhagirathi rivers have been allowed. There is little buffer between the river and the human settlements.

Four, large-scale dam building in recent years has caused massive land use changes with ensuing problems in the Himalayan watersheds. Hydropower and allied construction activities are potential sources of slope weakening and destabilisation. Massive intervention in the Himalayan ecosystems through manipulation of rivers and their hydrology, is linked to what we are witnessing today. Most downstream damage in otherwise flood-free areas is caused by dams and barrages, which release large volumes of water to safeguard engineering structures. Dam operators often release more water during rains than the carrying capacity of downstream areas, causing floods.

Pilgrims

Five, neo-religious movements, linked to changing socio-political developments in India, are responsible for significant human movement into the Himalaya beyond the region’s carrying capacity, whether it is Amarnath in Jammu & Kashmir, Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Hemkund in Uttarakhand.

The heavy pilgrim population has also resulted in the mushrooming of shanty towns, cheap accommodation and numerous ramshackle buildings along river banks.

What is the road ahead? There needs to be an integrated policy on the Himalayan environment and development. Enough information is available in the public domain, which only needs to be put together and looked at in a cohesive manner. Himalayan State governments need to consider imposing high environmental tax on visitors, particularly during summer and monsoon months. Heavily sizing down pilgrim numbers in fragile areas must begin. All vulnerable buildings need to be either secured or relocated away from rivers. Governments must impose penalties on building structures within 200 metres of river banks. Hydropower policy must consider building fewer dams and prioritise those that have the least environmental and social costs. Independent and serious monitoring of the catchment area treatment plans proposed by Forest Departments with funds from hydropower companies needs to be carried out and reported to the Green Tribunal.

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