A first in 47 years record that Modi broke with panache

PM Modi’s resurgence as the hot favourite to lead the nation tells you nationalism is all that counts

Saugand Tujhe Is Mitti Ki Ye Desh Nahi Mitne Doonga

PM Narendra Modi

At a huge congregation on victory day, PM Narendra Modi told a jam packed gathering, rest assured, whatever I will do it will be for the good of the country. He said this country is thanked immensely for reposing faith in the BJP. He said the poor who needed to be given their due will gain because this government wants to take you along.

The feeling one got from talking to people though was a slight pain during the elections. There were stories of how jobs had been lost, there were cases where demonetisation hit the trader hard. There was usual rhetoric about how 15 lakh did not reach accounts and ofcourse the divide was way high than expected.

What gets clear with the result now is that nationalism has been a trump card that the BJP played well and have been able to encash votes to break a 47 year old record, joining the league of Iron Lady Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.

 The idea that here is a government that will go that extra mile to enter Pakistan and blow up terror camps is a deeply entrenched idea, which becomes obvious.

As a young journalist I have followed Narendra Modi and his tenure, I realize that the one thing that is rather a reality now is that Modi has left no other option. As a case in point now the average voter when voting, irrespective of the candidate votes for Modi.

Needless to say the campaign solely rested on the shoulder of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.

Experts who are being quoted maintain that controlling the narrative vis a vis national security has helped reap dividends.

India entered her election when Congress managed to taste victory in some states, the economy was in bad shape. Jobs were not as good as expected, economic slowdown and job fears haunted the nation.

For Modi the Balakot airstrikes post Pulwama gave India reason to believe that they were ruled by a gutsy man at the helm.

There were repeated calls by the Indian premier to hit the heart of Pakistan and hit them hard.

While Modi often seen as the Hindu Hriday Samrat has sweeped these elections, the BJP stayed away from issues of unemployment, price rise and economic hardship.

Even as a strong Rafale expose story broke, the grand old party could do little to dent the vote of the BJP.

Even Rahul Gandhi’s Chowkidar Chor Hai could do little to save the sinking Congress.

The Hindu Khatre Mein Hain line interestingly caught the fancy of many a voter.

For many poll watchers the Kedarnath visit in itself was steeped in symbolism from the religious hue.

Not just did this wipe out Congress and the much-hyped  mahagathbandhan, in India’s most populous state it gave Hindutva an edge over the  caste cauldron of SP-BSP.

Even in Didi’s Bengal BJP played the Hindu card to the hilt. Doing sword-wielding rallies during Ram navami, charging Mamata of playing with Hindu sentiments and the controversial illegal immigration all aided to the eventual rise of the Modi 2.0 era. 

The rainbow coalition of SP, RLD and BSP could do little to halt the Modi juggernaut.

The Hindutva push by the BJP was evident given that they pushed faces like Jaisiddheshwar Mahaswamiji in Sholapur, Yogi Adityanath and even Pragya Thakur.

Much like the usual plan, even 2019 has been the brainchild of the Chanakya of BJP, Amit Shah.

Spearheading one of the most divisive campaigns in recent past, Shah now is looking at occupying a prominent post  after the win. Some reports say he could be Home Minister..

Despite voter discontent on issues like lack of jobs and farm distress the BJP has managed to surass their performance back in 2014.

Amit Shah had launched a vitriolic attack against Muslim immigrants where he likened them to termites.

As an ace strategist Amit Shah has run 29 elections from municipal bodies to parliament losing none.

Travelling 150,000 km to address 161 public rallies he covered vast swathes of India in election season.

Opinion widely suggests that the Congress got too over confident with wrong lessons from wins in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

An editorial in a leading publication points out – Congress made two fundamental errors in campaign strategy. One, it played to Modi’s strength. Two, it bet its bottom rupee on a negative campaign, trying to stoke anger against Modi.

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In season of political one upmanship, the Atal – Rajiv bonhomie is passe

For Modi, late Rajiv Gandhi might be Bhrashtachari No 1, but Rajiv was a very dear friend to the late Atal Behari Vajpayee

PM Narendra Modi’s utterance about former PM Rajiv Gandhi being Bhrashtachari No 1, and his consequent death has reaffirmed our fear that politics in India has reached its lowest ebb.

It is even more surprising that the comment comes from a party whose PM face Atal Behari Vajpayee had once shared a superb bond with the late Rajiv Gandhi and his family. Atal Behari Vajpayee is still remembered for his rein in Lucknow, as MP. Political watchers continue to maintain that it is the charisma of Vajpayee that makes people attracted towards the BJP in the prized Lucknow constituency.

Known for his comments during poll time, the  current Prime Minister may be reminded that both Vajpayee and the Gandhis shared such a close bond that when Vajpayee fell ill, Rajiv pitched in for help keeping aside politics.

20 years older than Rajiv Gandhi, Vajpayee considered him a younger sibling. It was none other than Vajpayee who made this candid confession after Gandhi was assassinated in 1991.

It is now in public domain that when the going got rough for Vajpayee, Rajiv Gandhi got him treated.

He had said he was alive because of Rajiv. The Congress and the BJP had political differences then, and that continues even today but decency levels had not nosedived then.

It was 1988 Atal Bihari Vajpayee was suffering from a kidney ailment. Having lost a kidney in 1985, he was battling for life and death now. When Rajiv Gandhi came to know of this he helped Atal by getting him treated in the US.

Rajiv included him in India’s delegation to the UN and gave him a chance to get treated. His treatment was done in New York. This episode has been quoted in a book – The Untold Vajpayee: Politician and Paradox by journalist Ullekh NP.

Rajiv Gandhi instructed officials that Atal Bihari Vajpayee come back from the US only after treatment. Interestingly ten years later when he went to US for treatment, he was PM.

Vajpayee has also been recorded as someone who praised the Leader of Opposition in 2003, for honouring the rights for consensus of foreign policy.

A Hindu report had then talked of Vajpayee citing Sonia Gandhi as evidence of vibrancy of Indian democracy. Reportedly back then the Gandhis were highly concerned of his well being during the Parliament House attack in December 2001. He had got a call from the Gandhis then.

Vajpayee died at the AIIMS hospital at the age of 93, following a prolonged illness.

Rajiv Gandhi served as the 6th Prime Minister of India from 1984 to 1989. He entered politics after his mother was assassinated. As the youngest Indian Prime Minister at 40, he faced massive hardships with major personal losses.

From a professional pilot to politician, his life had toil. He was heir apparent to mother Indira Gandhi, after brother Sanjay Gandhi died in an aeroplane crash in 1980. After winning Amethi, Rajiv became general secretary of the Congress and organised the 1982 Asian Games.

After Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984 by her bodyguards, Gandhi was appointed Prime Minister.  Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure had both ups and downs. His rule saw the Bhopal Gas Tragedy and the Shah Bano case.

It was his achievement to reverse the coup in Maldives, intervening and sending peacekeeping troops to Sri Lanka in 1987, leading to open conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). He was killed by a suicide bomber from LTTE. He was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna. The Bofors scandal was during his regime.

Among the most noted development projects that were spearheaded by his regime were the overhaul of national education policy and major expansion of the telecom sector.

Battle of Saragarhi: Now a storyline for a Bollywood flick

Literature and cinema is replete with stories like 300, Charge of the Light Brigade, LoC Kargil, Border – that talks of the Battle of Longewala, 21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897 and then the latest being Kesari.

Both 21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897 and Kesari celebrate the valour of 21 blue blooded men who take on the collective might of 10,000 tribesmen for a span of six hours.

120 years after the incident happened, the story is being told through Kesari where Akshay Kumar plays the protagonist, Havildar Ishar Singh.

Once a subject of a Netflix series, now a film – The Battle of Saragarhi dates back to the 19th century. Saragarhi, a tiny, non descript village was then the North-West Frontier Province.

Few hours outside Peshawar near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border it saw a bloody clash that gave 21 soldiers a place in India’s glorious history.

The clash that took place nearly 2 decades after the Second Anglo – Afghan War saw 21 soldiers from the 36th Sikh Regiment of the British Indian Army clash with over 10,000 Pashtun tribesmen.

The prime reason behind the war was that the British Army were trying to gain control of the hilly Central Asian provinces. A long conflict with local tribes and clans.

Saragarhi was set up as a signalling station–to relay messages between Fort Gulistan and Fort Lockhart in Afghanistan. 21 soldiers from the 36th Sikh Regiment guarded the post.

As news brokeout of attacks in September 1897 everyone stood alert.  By 12 September morning, a dust cloud gave vent to their worst fears. A Signalman Gurmukh Singh sent the message that a band of tribes were coming.  A reply spelt out that Saragarhi will have to hold fort.

For the next six hours, the 21 Sikh soldiers led by Havildar Ishar Singh kept wave after wave of the Afghan warriors at bay. Each shot by the 0.303 calibre single-loading rifles were fatal. The Afghanis were awestruck. They tried to buy peace but the war continued.

Low on ammunition, Saragarhi asked the British command for help. None arrived.

Ishar Singh and his men fall back to secure the last line of defence. He single handedly held on, with his pistol and sword. At the end even Signalman Gurmukh Singh takes the plunge. With a shout of “Jo Bole Sau Nihal, Sat Sri Akal,” the 19-year-old fights on. He kills nearly 20 of them.

The 21 bravehearts kill 180-600 Afghan tribesmen. Each soldier dies a valiant death giving Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan enough time to prepare. Saragarhi fell, but was soon recaptured by the British forces.

The Battle of Saragarhi is considered to be one of the greatest last stands in history.

The detachment at Saragarhi had 1 NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) and 20 ORs (Other Ranks) and commander Havildar Ishar Singh was the leader of this unit.

When the bravado of the 21 blue blooded men became public knowledge, all 21 soldiers were awarded the prestigious Indian Order of Merit Class III award. Historically it was a first when each and every member of a unit won the gallantry awards for a single battle.

Each year, 12th September is celebrated as the Saragarhi Day in honour of the sacrifices made by those 21 brave soldiers

Three gurdwaras – Saragarhi, Ferozpur and Amritsar have been made to commemorate their sacrifice

Murad aka Ranveer Singh’s Khalibali in the Dharavi Gully strikes a chord

Gully Boy was waiting to happen. It was an idea whose time in India had come. And why not? For long aspiring rappers who rose from the gullies lacked a voice. The Zoya Akhtar film that is now a proud member of the 100 crore club has finally been able to fill that need gap.

Murad Ahmed is any other ambitious youngster who would want to hit the high life. Like any other creative soul, he aims for the stars but needs the right kind of guidance in his choice of field. He is a poet but then little does he know that poetry married to a beat can create rap for the musical soul.

A final year college student, he lives in Dharavi. Has an abusive father, Aftab who brings home a second wife. Troubled by the happenings at home he takes to rap to vent his emotions. He raps while his steady girlfriend is preparing for the role of a surgeon. Both meet secretly until one day when the cat is out of the bag.

A chance meeting with MC Sher gives Murad that reason to believe that even he can. Siddhanth Chaturvedi aka MC Sher turns Murad’s understanding of rap around. Constant egging gets him to come out of his cubby hole and take to rap battles, record tracks, upload a Youtube video that goes viral and even get to meet the right kind of people that gives his life new meaning.

Meanwhile there is the parallel narrative of Murad’s romantic liaison with Safeena played by Alia Bhatt. His camaraderie with friend Moeen and an irritating father who marries for a second time causing distress at home. Some of the elements that add to outbursts by Murad by way of rhyme and rhythm.

Murad has to even work as a part-time chauffeur after his father is injured. After uploading a video on YouTube, it is a Berklee College student Shweta (alias Sky) who reaches out to Murad and offers to collaborate for a new song. The accompanying video gains popularity. With growing proximity between Sky and Murad, Safeena rebels. The final turning point comes when Murad opens for international sensation Nas. On one end he reconciles with Safeena. On the other he is getting good reviews. By the end Murad’s family and friends watch as Murad, the winner, opens for Nas.

Gully Boy is about the two sides to the Mumbai life. One of the skyscrapers and the other of slums. It is about being poor, living in the ghettos but still having one’s integrity intact. It is also about having your voice and not getting suppressed in the din.

In true blue Bombaiya style, the dialogues, the punchlines and the lyrics epitomize the life at Maximum City. What does not click is the character Kalki Koechlin plays, that of Sky. 

A 2 and a half plus run time the length could have been pruned carefully but still, the film does not bore so to speak.

The Gully Boy starcast boasts of Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Vijay Raaz, Vijay Verma, Amruta Subhash, Sheeba Chaddha, Kalki Koechlin and Vijay Maurya

Written by Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti, and directed by Zoya, Gully Boy is co-produced by Ritesh Sidhwani, Zoya and Farhan Akhtar under the banners of Tiger Baby and Excel Entertainment productions. The film takes inspiration from street rappers Divine and Naezy.

OST is composed, and performed by a bevy of musicians, MCs, and producers, such as Divine, Naezy, Sez on the beat, Rishi Rich, Dub Sharma, Jasleen Royal, Ace, Ishq Bector, MC Altaf, MC TodFod, 100 RBH, Maharya, Noxious D, Viveick Rajagopalan, and others.

Having received plaudits for the film internationally the Zoya Akhtar directorial was released in India on 14 February 2019 on 3350 screens and in the overseas market on 751 screens.

As of 21 February 2019 the film has grossed ₹128.59 crores from India and ₹42.70 crores from overseas.

As India sees a new revolution in the rap scene with new entrants making a mark each day, Gully Boy promises to bring back the spotlight on both the underdog and the small town rap gods who may be struggling to make a mark in the cut throat competitive world of today.

Books in the Art Forms: Where books marry art in its purest form

Lucknow’s art enthusiasts in for a bookish treat

Lucknow is a city that is rapidly growing. From the land of tehzeeb, tameez and qayeda where Arts and Culture have had a long glorious history, there has been a sudden shift in the arts scene.

 What started off at Arts College where youngsters once trained to create artworks now the new crop of artists is also getting a chance to showcase their talent to the world via unique collaborations. All this thanks to art galleries like Kalasrot and art exhibitions.

But the one thing that art has not been able to do is to marry literature and art to promote the importance of books in an era when reading is a dying habit.

Arts curator and artist, Bhupendra K Asthana and 12 other artists this winter came together to showcase Art in the form of books working on a concept called Installation Art.

The core idea behind this unique standalone event at the Lucknow Book fair was to ensure the idea of books surviving the tests of time.

The art exhibition at the Sangeet Natak Akademi lawns was the brainchild of artist cum curator Bhupendra K Asthana. Each exhibit at the stall was created out of used books.

Interestingly the entire exhibition is the handiwork of young artisans who have made a mark in the arts world after immense struggle.

Bhupendra Asthana says that increasingly people have been veering away from reading habits and what best way to promote reading than do so by a work of art. Artisans in this unique exhibition try to recycle old books to present them artistically to the new generation.

The litterati and the culturally attuned folks have been turning up in large numbers. Asthana says it is a matter of pride that we have been able to pull off this exhibition for the first time in India.

In an era where literature and discussions around it have been part of drawing room discussions in the city for decades, the art exhibition brings unique perspectives that give art appreciators and artists an impetus to take the scope for artistic excellence to the next level.

Many of whom coming from across India have struggled hard to achieve international acclaim.

As a city that is known to have a strong bond with Arts, Lucknow’s Arts college, State Lalit Kala Akademi and Rashtriya Lalit Kala Akademi have over the past several decades done stellar work to take Art in its purest form to a wide audience.

Despite best efforts by artisans of the state, many have had to move to metros like Mumbai and Delhi for greater exposure and recognition. Exhibtions like these have gradually changed things for good.  

Artists in the past half a decade have suddenly seen greater opportunities to showcase their talent at the local level. The young crop of artists are showing newer ideas and greater affinity for the arts scene in the city.

Books in the Art forms as a group art exhibition features the works of Bhupendra K Asthana, Anil Bodwal, Aurva Singh, Rajesh K Singh, Binoy Paul, Vikrant Phise, Dheeraj Yadav, Sunil Kali, Jalaj Yadav, Ambrish Mishra, Gyanendra Pratap Singh, Mangesh Narayanrao Kale and Ravi Prakash.

All these artists have been picked from across the four corners of India.

Each of these artists have tried to break away from the usual mould and do something unique. With innovation and creativity the artworks of these artists attracted a lot of people from the city.

Among the popular concepts that the artisans have worked on are the overtaking of books by gadgets, books as information transmitters with a lock and key model, Mangesh Kale’s art talks about how books talk to us, one award winning exhibit has the national honour of the Lalit Kala Akademi, one shows the close bond between nature and books and above all the save environment theme is an underling factor by virtue of these exhibit.

For a city that has given to the world greats in every field, exhibitions of this nature remind us that creativity and originality always sells in a world that is seeing copycats aplenty.

A Walk Down Memory Lane

A recently concluded conference of the All India Advocate’s Council was host to a unique display of trivia, celebrating the life and works of Acharya Nandlal Bose, whose artwork brings to life the ethos of the Indian Constitution.

Such a sight on Amity University campus gave students, faculty and staff a chance to cherish a historic creation that makes India proud. Arts students on campus saw how arts and crafts have played a crucial role in boosting national pride.

The artwork of Bose and his students makeup a distinct part of the Constitutional legacy of India. Organizers part of the advocates council said, “The collection has been specially arranged with help from the Law Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad and the MoS Law and Justice PP Choudhary.” The artwork on display was curated out of a special collection the Law Minister boasts of at his residence. 

After India broke away from the shackles of British rule in 1947, the Constitution of India was drafted to guide the working of the Independent Indian government. Historians believe that the Constituent Assembly took over two years to finalise a draft of the Constitution. After making over 2000 amendments, the Assembly wanted the Constitution to be adorned with artworks adding to the brilliance of the Constituent Assembly.

PM Jawaharlal Nehru approached Prem Behari Narain Raizada to beautify contents of the Indian Constitution with his fine calligraphy.

As artistic individuals it was Nandalal Bose and his students who brought the rich history and heritage of India alive in the Constitution. Ornating pages of the first manuscript of our Constitution with art, it is one of his most prized achievements. Pages of the first draft are mostly stylized with unique borders, headers, and backdrops.

Complex patterns on edges and covers in gold added a new sheen to the Constitution.

Each part of the Constitution begins with a phase or scene from India’s national history. Mostly depicting Vedic Period, Mohenjodaro in the Indus Valley, the Gupta and Maurya empires as well as the Mughal era.

Each page of the Constitution has been beautifully crafted by Nandalal Bose and his students. The special artwork using gold leaf and colours made from stones illuminate the text beautifully.  These are reminiscent of the Ajanta murals.

Nandalal Bose also drew the emblems for the highest awards given by the Government of India such as Bharat Ratna and Padmashri. He was himself, awarded the Padma Vibhushan for his amazing contributions to modern Indian art in 1954.Born in Bihar in December 1882, Nandalal Bose created more than 7000 portraits mostly housed in the National Gallery of Modern Arts, Delhi.

Nursing a broken heart with a hot cuppa at Bewafah Chai wala

Drive past the road outside Fun Republic Mall and move towards Metro City, you will find a number of small food stalls, carts and vendors serving different food cuisines. Some six tea vendors out here serve you hot piping tea. But one tea hangout catches your eye. It’s Bewafah Chai wala.

It is a tea corner that serves couples madly in love, with tea at a rate of 15 rupees.  Those who are broken hearted get a discounted price of Rs 10.

Bewafah Chai wala has entered the new territory just a month and a half back and they are already taking the internet by storm with a quirky name.

Ask the founder Romil Sharma, a Delhi boy, why the term Bewafah, he says, “ One night Jassi, Adi and I were sitting together and we suddenly decided that we will share our pains that we have got overtime with the world. We will connect with those who may have got ditched or  have an achy breaky heart and that is how Bewafah Chai Wala happened.”

Bewafah Chai wala is run by Romil Sharma who hails from Delhi along with Jaskarman Gill who is from Punjab and Aditya Singh a Lucknow lad.

Inspired by companies like TATA and P&G, Romil and his team are aiming at encashing the power of feelings to take their brand to a larger than life status.

They are targeting an age group of 16 to 35/40 for massive gains. Like any other young startup, millenials are playing on Romil and teams mind.

Between 10 to 45 rupees you will get to savour novel food experiments like Tandoori Chai, Badnaam coffee, Friendzone sandwich, Sasta Tikau Burger, Brozone Bun Makhan , Beimaan Macroni,  Firangi fries and Bereham – chilli potato among others. Tea is underrated, beyond the small kiosks, we would add a tea cafe soon adds Romil.

He says, “Challenges are what any entrepreneur would face. At a time when tea retailers are aplenty, we use our ideas and marketing for a better outcome. Someday we want to take on Chaayos, which is a big name in Northern India and local players like Chai Peeni hai.”

Romil says, “ Our USP is the way we make our tea especially the dhokewala chai which is a two way process. We first cook our tea and we also heat up the kulhad to add that extra feel to the tea that is served in it. Saffron added as an extra element gives our tea the out of the box feel.”

For youngsters wanting to go pro with a business the message is loud and clear, “As entrepreneurs the mantra is keep experimenting, do not bask on your laurels and don’t give up.”

They are currently near CMS Gomti Nagar which is currently under renovation and one is outside Fun Republic. They plan to expand to Kapoorthala and Hazratganj soon. The founders do not rule out a nationwide expansion if all falls in place.

Khoda Pahad Nikli Chuhiya says Congress on PM Modi interview

Lambasting the BJP in the strictest of terms after PM Modi gave a long interview to news agency ANI, Congress spokesperson, Randeep Surjewala said the PM was all about I, me, mine and myself.

Referring to the interview that claimed to set the tone for 2019 elections, he said it was “khoda pahad, nikli chuhiya ” terming it a monologue of Modi.

Speaking minutes after Modi gave his first interview in 2019, Surjewala said, “Modi’s lies have destroyed India’s societal fabric trampling upon constitutional bodies.” “Instead of expressing regret Modi has only peddled lies. The nation suffers as Modiji dithers,” he said.

Questioning Modi on promises and terming the interview a parody, Surjewala questioned Modi on the promises he had made in 2014. Rainsing 10 separate issues, he said the powers that be must speak up on – demonetisation, GST, bank frauds, black money, Rs 15 lakh in every account, Rafale corruption, price rise, national security imperiled, farm distress and acche din.

“The first interview of 2019 has put entire future in perspective. Only 100 days left for Modiji to bid goodbye,” said Surjewala.

Calling it a “fixed interview”, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma tweeted: “PM Modi did not spare our people of his penchant for false promises, hollow claims and propaganda even on the New Year day. The habitual peddler of untruths and lies has signalled a nasty narrative for the 2019 election campaign.”

The much talked about Modi interview covered issues like demands for a Ram temple in Ayodhya, Urjit Patel’s resignation as RBI governor, demonetisation, mob killings, the BJP’s defeat in three Hindi heartland states and its prospects in the coming national elections.

Training guns at the grand old party the PM accused Congress leadership of delaying the legal process in clearance of Ram temple construction and politicising the 2016 surgical strikes.

PM Modi trains guns at Congress, sets tone for 2019 clash

In a 95 minute interview to the news agency ANI, the PM Narendra Modi spoke at length about his tenure and what he feels will set the tone for the next general elections in 2019. In his first interview on the first day of the new year, he said, the elections that are due in the next 100 days will see a direct faceoff between the coalition and the public.

During the course of the interview, he spoke on various issues—ranging from RBI governor Urjit Patel’s resignation to demonetisation and a mahagatbandhan, or Grand Alliance, of opposition parties against the Bharatiya Janata Party and its NDA allies in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Modi quashed predictions by political pundits saying that BJP will do much better than those who believe that they will not get more than 180 out of 543 seats in Lok Sabha.

His response came as a rebuttal to questions on whether the public was largely considering a Mahagathbandhan aa an alternative to the Modi regime.

His view was that the upcoming elections will see the public repose faith in Modi much like the past four and a half years. He went on to say that let the public decide whether the regime has delivered or not.

Modi was also questioned on whether he believed that India was heading towards a US style election which would see Modi and Rahul clash for the most coveted post.

He said, public will decide the agenda, who is for the aspirations of the people, who is against the aspirations of the people.”

He further stated that whether supremely corrupt forces will be given importance will be decided by the people of the nation. He was speaking on the coalition sought to be formed by some anti-BJP parties.

Responding to the sticky 180 club reference, he was candid to say, “Is there any scientific study? In 2013 too, the same set of persons used to talk the same thing about BJP getting less than 180 seats. That narrative continues.”

He also cleared that his hunch was that one must not downplay the intelligence of the common man.

Referring to fissures within the grand alliance, he said, there is no unity among them in any way, nor any articulation about what to do for India.

He rubbished the combined effort of the grand alliance.

Modi made it known that the anti-BJP coalition failed during its experiment in Telangana Assembly elections and local polls in states like Assam and Jammu and Kashmir.

The Prime Minister was asked about unhappiness expressed by some BJP allies, like Shiv Sena, from time to time and whether they were indulging in “muscle flexing”.

His attention was particularly drawn to Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s apparent attack on him,. He was also reminded of the ‘chowkidar chor hai (guard is the thief) jibe , echoing Rahul Gandhi’s oft repeated line of attack on Narendra Modi.

He emphasised that he was “committed to give importance to regional aspirations” .

The Prime Minister noted that the BJP, despite getting full majority in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, took every ally along, adhering to the coalition dharma. “Even today when we run the government, there is consensus in decision-making,” he said.

Asked whether he expected more parties to join the NDA, Modi said that process has been continuing since 2014.

Asked whether any move of film stars-turned-politicians Rajnikanth and Kamala Hassan want to join NDA and improve NDA’S footprint in South India , he said, “We are continuously striving to expand our base.”

Asked about the heated Ram Mandir debate, he said any decision on bringing an ordinance on Ram Mandir can be considered only after the judicial process gets over.

When questions were shot at PM Modi on demonetisation disaster, he said, “ demonetisation wasn’t a jolt. We had warned people a year before, that if you have such wealth (black money), you can deposit it, pay penalties and you will be helped out. However, they thought Modi too would behave like others so very few came forward voluntarily.”

Taking a dig at Pakistan, he said, “Ek ladai se Pakistan sudhar jayega, yeh sochna bohot badi ghalti hogi. Pakistan ko sudharne mein abhi aur samay lagega.

Clearing the air around surgical strikes, he added,  “I gave clear orders that whether you get success or failure, don’t think about that but come back before sunrise. Don’t fall for the lure and prolong it (the operation). “

Speaking on the triple talaq ordinance he said it was brought after the Supreme Court verdict. We have said in our BJP manifesto that a solution would be found to this issue under the Constitution. Most Islamic countries have banned triple talaq. So, it is not a matter of religion or faith.

On Sabrimala he said, India is of one opinion that everyone should get justice. There are some temples, which have their own traditions, where men can’t go.

On Ganga, he said that as a son he had done an honest effort to cleanse Ganga of all the ills that it faced.

Rubbishing claims that Ayushaman Bharat was a failure, he said, “The poor are (being) given insurance of up to ₹5 lakh under Ayushman Bharat Yojana. A large number of people were suffering (for want of healthcare), today they have got treatment. How can I consider this a failure?”

India should be judged on the basis of its response in Doklam. And nothing has happened with India that can be considered as deceit, he said.

If a Congress worker turns up to be Christian Michel’s lawyer, then it is worrying, he added.

Referring to the recent assembly election losses, he said, in Telangana and Mizoram, nobody gave the BJP any chance. In Chhattisgarh, a clear mandate was given, the BJP lost. But in two states (Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh), there was a hung assembly. We are discussing what we lack.

Talking of a broader coalition dharma, he said, in 2014, we took everyone together. Even today when we run the Government, there is consensus in decision-making. We do not want that we should grow at cost of allies.

Taking a jibe at Congress, he said, “It is a speciality of Congress-led alliance that allies are those who have come out of Congress after raising their voice against the Congress.”

INPUTS FROM ANI

17 Shringars : How Nagas purify self before Royal Bath

Naga sages courtesy Google

Spiritual beautification: Nagas are said to indulge in 17 types of Shringar believed to be more complex than the 16 shringars women indulge in………

To deck oneself up, in terms of a woman is called Shringar, in Hindi. Essentially, a woman has 16 types of Shringar or beautification that they indulge in, however a Naga Sanyasi indulges in 17 different forms of Shringar.

Every Naga sage has his own style of looks and tika in specific. Many are even fierce by mannerisms, but the 17 types of Shringar is an inextricable part of any Naga sage. This is something that is followed religiously before going for a Shahi snana.

It is learnt, Nagas first deck themselves up, then they pray to their respective gods and gurus and then they go for their shahi snan. Of the 17 Shringars are a langot ( a piece of cloth or the lioncloth ), ash, sandal(chandan), iron or silver bangles also called kada, those with long hair properly brush it and groom it, a garland of flowers is worn along their waste, a tika sacred roli are applied. Nagas strictly wear a rudraksha garland which is considered an auspicious entity. They also carry a damroo (mini drum), pliers and a pot or kamandal as other adornments.

Nagas claim, people take a dip in the holy Ganges for purification but for them it is purification first before they take the dip. The learned claim, Nagas are pure at heart and are by and large simple in nature. They keep playing around in their akhara and it is like their den, where they bring the environment alive.

Hours before the Nagas go for a Shahi Snan, each Sadhu undergoes a cleansing exercise. This exercise of grooming with adornments is believed to be tougher than the 16 Shringars of a woman.

Before indulging in the process of decking oneself up and going for the Shahi Snan, the Nagas stay awake for one whole night and pray to Lord Shiva. They also pray to the deity of the akhara concerned.

Question remains, are the seventeen shringars about show or do they have some significance? Well sages and the learned claim, these have their own meaning. According to them, there is a physical, astrological and yogic interpretation of every element of Shringar.

The tilak represents the official deity of the specific Akhada. If for Aavahan akhada it is symbolic of Ganesha, for Juna, it is Maharaj Dattatreya. A tika and its position is also symbolic. It is claimed, its being at the centre of the forehead, between the eyebrows is relevant as, this is the point of the body’s agya chakra. The tilak it is believed boosts concentration. The ash is something that cuts the Nagas away from the world, giving them a unique identity. The tika, the damroo, the trident, the tilak, the matter hair, all are symbols to show that one is a follower of Shiva.

The inception of the Shringar tradition is from the time the sect was a fighting force. The Nagas were warriors who were raised to save the Sanatan dharma. Like every army, they have their unique style of getting ready and displaying their strength.

The Naga Shringar has also been documented in books. The Dandeshwar Vidhaanam — a set of rules prepared by Adi Shankaracharya prescribes the Shringar to be done by a Naga Sanyasi.

Interestingly, there is a seventeenth item on the Nagas’ Shringaar list – one which they claim separates them from the rest of the world. Ash or ‘bhaboot’, they say, establishes their unification with the supreme god.

There are a total of 5 important days for snanas during the Kumbh Mela, of which 3 fall in the category of Shahi Snana.

All 13 akharas on the day of the Shahi snana take a holy dip, while following a set order which was set way back during the British period. The Naga sadhus, a martial order of ascetics move about either naked or scantily clad with matted hair and ash smeared amongst various other shringars use before the royal bath.

The procession of moving into the water is a spectacle in itself as the head of the group of ascetics in question is perched atop an elephant, horse and chariots which are beautifully decorated. These sights and musical bands are a unique blend of austerity.

The first to move out are Mahanirvani and Atal Akharas, followed by Niranjani and Anand and then Joona, Awahan and Agni.

They are further followed by Nirvani Ani, Digambar Ani and Nirmohi and Naya Udasin, Bara Udasin and Nirmal akharas in the same order. History has it, in the past this order was fixed in the British period when a clash erupted among ascetics of different akharas at a Kumbh congregation.

Each akhara has a fixed and allotted time. The time ranges from 30 minutes to about an hour. The timing depends on the size of the respective procession. Even the routes taken to go for the royal bath is taken into consideration here. The idea is to keep members of rival akhadas apart from each other so as to avoid a clash.

On the whole the 17 Shringars, the royal bath and the idea of cleansing oneself before going into the holy Ganges are interlinked. While for the Naga Sadhus, this is a ritual which is not only a show of pride and strength but also living up to the tradition that has been  followed over ages; for common man it is about realizing how in some of the simplest of people lies the complex.

The Nagas in other words have both shades of the simple and the complex. The multiple mysteries surrounding them remain, and in future too will.

Months ahead of 2019 polls, Twitter is India’s new political Kurukshetra

As a winner Rahul Gandhi is doing things differently….

Even before heated campaigning starts on ground ahead of general elections, the Twitter-  verse is now witness to a different kind of battle. Two poles of the political spectrum, Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi are playing challengers to beat each other hollow.

The Congress President, Rahul Gandhi has outsmarted a tech savvy PM Narendra Modi on Twitter which has led to electoral gains in a string of states in the country. Even as saffron giant Modi is followed on Twitter globally, Rahul is proving to be an equally promising tweeter.

One year after Rahul officially got coronated as Congress President his activities have soared exponentially. His tweets are attracting more engagement than those of PM Modi.

Modi has a strong following of 44.7 million, on the contrary Rahul is at 8.09 million. But the numbers aside the Gandhi scion is having the last laugh.

When assessed by some media houses it has gotten even clearer that based on ‘retweets per tweet’, ‘replies per tweet’ and ‘likes per tweet’ ;  Rahul Gandhi has steered ahead. Both at par when it comes to the number of tweets, but differ when it comes to issues that they are vocal on.  While Modi generally tweets about issues like new decisions, diplomacy and others, Rahul talks on jobs, infrastructure, farmers. A knack to engage in personal skirmishes online however is higher with Rahul Gandhi.

Reportedly Rahul enjoys over 8,000 retweets per tweet in comparison to less than 4,000 for PM Modi. Rahul Gandhi boasts of 30,000 Likes per tweet, while PM Modi has over 15,000 likes per tweet.

TOI reports in terms of replies per tweet, Rahul Gandhi has over 3,500 whereas Modi has around 1,000.

Rahul in recent years has been seen participating more actively in issues that matter politically. Many see the wins in Hindi heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan a fruit of Rahul gandhi’s labour.

Much like 2014 and following elections, social media war rooms and their use cannot be discounted in the next general election. Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook will likely play a pivotal role in manifestation of parties’ and individuals’ and  gauging pulse of the people.

Rahul Gandhi’s directly opening fronts against the PM has earned him quite a few fans online.  These tweets get a lot of engagement, especially from the millennials.

Many of Rahul Gandhi’s tweets are also in Hindi, which find a higher traction among his followers.

Even though there are accusations that numbers on Rahul Gandhi’s social media have been artificially inflated, it is clear Congress president has made his presence on social media known.

CDRI stands testimony to Physicist Stephen Hawking’s Lucknow connect


Stephen Hawking 

People who boast about their IQ are losers

– Stephen Hawking

Lucknow has been witness to many literary, cultural and scientific revolutions. In the land of the Sepoy Mutiny, the existence of institutions like CIMAP, CDRI, KGMC and SGPGI are testimony that science has been an intrinsic part of the legacy that Lucknow boasts of.

Not surprisingly the city has a strong connection with noted physicist Stephen Hawking, who has fascinated the scientific world with theories that have left many awestruck. Battling Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), he was heir to Frank Hawking who served the Central Drug Research Institute at Lucknow’s Chhattar Manzil in the late 50s. Frank had also headed the National Institute for Medical Research in England.

Interestingly even Stephen’s sister had studied in a school in Lucknow.

Back in the day while writing his book – My Brief History, Hawking chronicled his Lucknow connect in the book published by Bantam Press.

If the account in his memoir is to be believed his family lived in a house rented from a former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

Hawking sadly neither got a Nobel Prize, nor did he get good grades.

His inquisitive mind made him the talk of the school and his teachers often referred to him as‘Einstein’.

Often considered the last word in Quantum Physics, there was a time when he lost a bet on black holes.

An atheist he could talk at length about possibility of aliens in the universe say reports.

A man who stayed away from spotlight, he made several appearances on screen. Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Simpsons, Futurama to name a few. He even appeared on ‘The Big Bang theory’, a popular television serial that jokes at the arcane mysteries of theoretical physics.

Hawking’s early work (in collaboration with Roger Penrose) was on singularity theorems in Einstein’s general Theory of Relativity. His bestselling book ‘A brief history of time’, and sequels, have drawn public into esoteric realms of space, time and blackholes.

Stephen Hawking on 14 March,2018 passed away in the early hours, leaving behind a rich intellectual legacy that will dominate theoretical physics for generations.