NSCN-IM settles for ‘shared sovereignty’

first_imgIn the two years that the Centre signed a framework agreement with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) to find a solution to the decades-old Naga sovereignty issue, the outfit has recruited around 5,000 new cadres, a senior government official said. He said NSCN-IM, one of the largest groups representing Nagas, has been recruiting locals on the ground that they would be recruited in the central armed police forces, once the final agreement was signed. The details of the framework agreement are yet to be made public.On May 9, NSCN-IM issued a statement saying as of now the Nagas have agreed to co-exist with India under “shared sovereignty.” In 1997, NSCN (Isak-Muivah) signed a ceasefire agreement for an indefinite period with the Centre. On August 3, 2015, the government had signed the ‘framework agreement’ with the NSCN-IM for finding a final solution to the vexed Naga issue.Last year, while extending Armed Forces Special Powers Act in three districts of Arunachal Pradesh, Centre in a notification cited “extortion and intimidation” by the cadres of NSCN-IM as one of the reasons for doing so.The notification said that “Naga underground factions including NSCN-IM and NSCN-K continue to indulge in extortion, area domination, recruitment of locals and inter-factional rivalry.”Asked about the statement, a top government official involved in talks with the NSCN-IM told The Hindu that it is “not necessary to react to every statement they make. We are in the right direction.”The concerns around NSCN-IM recruiting fresh cadres was shared by officials with home minister Rajnath Singh at a high-level meet on Monday to discuss various issues pertaining to the North East.“In 2015, when NSCN-IM signed an agreement, it had 2,000 cadres in its fold, after that they recruited 5,000 more. The current strength is 5,000 as 2,000 deserted the ranks. It’s a worrying trend, as they are promising them jobs in central forces,” said the official. Security forces have also been raising the issue of extortion by the NSCN-IM in different parts of Nagaland and Manipur and asked it to stop such activity.On August 3, 2015, the government had signed the ‘framework agreement’ with the NSCN-IM for finding a final solution to the vexed Naga issue. The agreement was signed in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the outfit’s leader T Muivah at the prime minister’s residence“The framework agreement contained various demands of NSCN-IM and a separate passport and flag was also demanded by them then. The government of India’s reply was very clear on this that we don’t agree to this,” said another government official. The NSCN-IM has been in talks with the Centre’s representative for last 17 years, even since it had entered into a ceasefire agreement in 1997.The talks seem to have lost steam after the death of Isak Chisi Swu (86) last year. Naga outfits envisage a “Greater Nagalim” comprising the contiguous Naga-inhabited areas of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur with Nagaland and also a large tract of Myanmar.last_img read more

NPF agitation against Nagaland governor continues for the third day

first_imgThe agitation by Naga People’s Front(NPF), which is demanding ouster of Governor P.B. Acharya for allegedly creating a constitutional crisis by dismissing the Shurhozelie Liezietsu government and installing the T.R. Zeliang government, continued for the third day on Sunday.Mr. Liezietsu and his supporters NPF MLAs Thongwang Konyak, Yitachu and C.L. John and NPF Central general secretary Akho Leyri exhorted the party workers to remain loyal to the party.“Money and muscle power may help them (dissidents led by Mr. Zeliang) may lead the government for sometime, but the NPF Party will once again return to power as it is the backbone of Naga identity,” Mr. John said.The present imbroglio within NPF started following a dissident move against Mr. Liezietsu government by 36 NPF MLAs led by Mr. Zeliang on July 8 last.The governor had dismissed Liezietsu government for failing to turn up for the confidence vote in the assembly on July 19 and had appointed Mr. Zeliang as the new Chief Minister, who proved his majority in the house on July 21.Meanwhile, Raj Bhavan sources confirmed that Governor Acharya, who had been out of station for few days returned to Kohima on Saturday. Monday is the last day of the protest spearheaded by NPF Central Youth Wing.last_img read more

Justice sought in Dalit’s death

first_imgDalit groups here have demanded action in a case of alleged custodial death of a 15-year-old boy at a police post near Chandwaji in Jaipur district last week. No action has been taken against any of the policemen named in the first information report registered in connection with the incident.In a report, the Centre for Dalit Rights (CDR) said here on Friday that the minor Dalit boy, Ajay Kumar Raigar, was tortured in custody after he met senior officers to complain about his repeated detention following any criminal activity in the region. The police post’s staff forcibly took away the boy from his house on October 13 morning.Though the policemen got an injured Ajay admitted to a private hospital on the Jaipur-Delhi national highway later in the day while claiming that he fell from their motorcycle and was hit by a speeding truck, the CDR has disputed the theory. “We have eyewitness accounts of his torture,” CDR State coordinator Chanda Lal Bairwa said.last_img read more

Haryana mulls death penalty for rape of girls below 12

first_imgFollowing a spurt in rape cases, the Haryana government is mulling over enacting a legislation for awarding death penalty to those guilty of raping girls aged 12 and below. “We will enact a law to provide for capital punishment for those found guilty of raping girls aged 12 years or below. Besides, we will make a request for setting up fast-track courts for dealing with rape cases to ensure speedy justice to the victims,” Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said on Saturday.He was speaking after laying the foundation stone for a sugar mill in Karnal.Appeal to mediaMr. Khattar said that though the police were dealing with such cases under the law, it had been decided to make provision for harsher punishment for rape.Mr. Khattar urged the media not to create sensation by publishing reports on rape incidents without verifying facts. He said figures for the last year revealed that 25% of the complaints registered at police stations were found to be fake. He said that usually relatives and near and dear ones of the victim were found to be involved in about 75% of the rape cases. It was the responsibility of the society to create awareness among the people against such mentality.As many as nine rape cases were reported in Haryana in the past one week, with three cases reported on Thursday itself.last_img read more

College run by BJP MLA’s family gets eviction notice

first_imgA day after Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Ashish Deshmukh said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis should resign for failing to address farmers’ issues, the Nagpur district administration on Saturday served an eviction notice to a medical college run by Mr. Deshmukh’s family, on the grounds that the land leased for the college was being used for commercial purpose.The notice, issued by Nagpur District Collector Sachin Kurve said the administration provided 27.17 hectares of land on lease to VSPM Trust for a medical college and a hospital. The VSPM trust, run by the Deshmukh family, constructed the Lata Mangeshkar Hospital and a medical college on the land. “It has been found that the land … is being used for commercial purposes without taking prior permission of the district administration. Such acts [violate] this office’s orders dated March 13, 1990, and December 7, 1991. Why should not 27.17 hectares of land be taken back from you?” the notice said. The trust has been given seven days’ time to reply to the eviction notice. Mr. Deshumukh and his father, former State Congress president Ranjeet Deshmukh, did not respond to phone calls from The Hindu. The Katol MLA’s younger brother, Amol Deshmukh, who is part of Congress’s research wing, said he was not aware of the notice as he was in Delhi till Saturday morning. This is the second such notice to the Deshmukh family in the last week. A private bank has claimed that the family failed to repay a business loan of around ₹5 crore and has threatened to seize Mr. Deshmukh’s property.last_img read more

Two arrested for raping mentally challenged woman in West Bengal

first_imgA mentally-challenged tribal woman was gangraped in West Bengal’s South Dinajpur district and tortured by her tormentors, who inserted an iron rod into her private parts before escaping, police said on Tuesday. Two persons have been arrested from Itahar in neighbouring North Dinajpur district in connection with the crime.The 27-year-old survivor has been operated upon and is in the critical care unit in Malda Medical College Hospital.The two suspects, aged 45 years and 50 years, were produced before the Gangarampur sub-divisional court on Tuesday and remanded to police custody for 11 days.Police said the woman has no family as her parents are dead and she had been tortured and thrown out of her marital home in Bihar. She had gone to a fair at Patirajpur on the inter-district border on Saturday evening from where she was taken away by several persons and gangraped in an agricultural field under a bridge.The woman was tortured and an iron road was inserted into her private parts and left there, the police said. Locals sighted her on Sunday evening and called in the police, who rushed her to Raiganj district hospital where she was operated upon. She was later referred to the Malda Medical College Hospital.The police complaint was filed by one of her neighbours.Search is on for the others who were involved in the crime, Superintendent of Police, Prasun Bandopadhyay, said.last_img read more

Coast Guard chopper makes emergency landing in Raigad, Maharashtra

first_imgAn Indian Coast Guard helicopter made an emergency landing six nautical miles north of Murud near Alibaug on Saturday afternoon.Officials said that the Chetak helicopter was on a routine patrol when some technical difficulties were detected around 25 minutes after it took off, due to which an emergency landing was made near the Nandgaon beach in Murud.The Indian Navy sent three helicopters to respond to its call. The Coast Guard and Indian Airforce, too, sent a chopper each. All four crew members were rescued and flown to the INHS Ashvini Naval Hospital, where one of them, a lady pilot, is currently being treated for her injuries.A probe is underway into the reason behind the mishap.last_img read more

Amritsar train mishap: Footage show people taking selfies from tracks

first_imgAs scores of Dussehra revellers watching the burning of Ravana effigy were mowed down by a passing train near here, the disturbing video footage of the accident showed many across the railway tracks filming the celebrations on their mobile phones when the tragedy struck. Punjab Minister Navjot Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who was the chief guest at the programme, later said nobody knew how the accident happened as people were enjoying and also taking selfies standing on the tracks. Many, including political leaders, took to Twitter to express dismay over the selfie culture during such tragic incidents.“What a mindless & entirely avoidable tragedy! Watching this video you’d be hard pressed to imagine the scale of the tragedy considering the way people are nonchalantly filming away on their phones even after the train has run over people!,” former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted. Aam Aadmi Party leader Preeti Sharma Menon tweeted, it was so unbelievable that the train ran over the crowd “and they continued filming”.A witness told reporters near the accident site that the scenes were reminiscent of ones witnessed during the partition of the country when millions of people lost their lives in violence. For several mothers, who were till just moments ago celebrating the festivities, the few fateful moments changed the life forever. Shock and disbelief were common emotions. “I have lost my child. I want him back,” said an inconsolable mother. A local resident said they have been requesting the authorities and their representatives in legislatures to talk with the railways and make sure trains are slowed down near this section of the track during Dussehra. “But no one has listened,” he lamented.There was also anger among the people. “The driver didn’t blow the horn,” alleged one of the witnesses.last_img read more

Rural polls test for BJP in Assam; campaign for first phase ends

first_imgThe two-phase panchayat elections in Assam would be the first major test for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party that is facing opposition from one of its two regional allies over the Centre’s bid to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in Parliament.The first phase is scheduled for December 5. Campaigning for this phase in 16 districts ended on Monday.The panchayat elections have attained significance for the BJP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The party’s performance in the 2016 Assam Assembly elections proved crucial to its ‘Congress-free’ campaign that saw it capture power in five other north-eastern States.The run-up to the rural polls was marked by the souring of ties between the BJP and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which has been threatening to pull out of the three-party coalition if the Citizenship Bill is cleared.The Bill seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslims who fled persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan till December 31, 2014.The AGP, which claims to bat for sub-regional aspirations, and more than 50 organisations of indigenous communities fear that the passage of the Bill would lead to the dumping of “lakhs of Hindu Bangladeshis” and threaten the Assamese identity.The panchayat elections have coincided with a series of protests against the Citizenship Bill. The BJP has accused the AGP of forging an “unholy alliance” with the Congress and the Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) for the rural polls.“The Citizenship Bill was first amended during the time of the AGP, which had betrayed the people of Assam by agreeing to 1971 as the cut-off date for ejecting foreigners instead of 1948. It is now hand-in-glove with the parties that want Assam to be ruled by Bangladeshis,” Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said at rallies on the final day of campaigning.Agriculture Minister and AGP president Atul Bora countered by saying the rural voters would show the BJP its place.According to the State Election Commission, 78,571 candidates are contesting 26,808 seats across 2,200 Gaon Panchayats in Assam. .Unlike the AGP, the BPF has maintained its alliance with the BJP.The second phase of polling is on December 9 and the counting will take place on December 12.last_img read more

Mann to take charge as AAP’s Punjab chief again

first_imgThe Aam Aadmi Party’s senior leader and Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann will be reappointed as its Punjab unit chief on January 30. The event will be attended by Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and the party’s in-charge of Punjab affairs Manish Sisodia.The decision to reappoint Mr. Mann as AAP’s Punjab unit president comes days after the party’s core committee unanimously rejected his resignation and forwarded its decision to AAP’s National Political Affairs Committee for a review, said an official statement on Tuesday. Mr. Mann had tendered his resignation last year following AAP convener and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s apology to former Akali Dal Minister Bikram Singh Majithia for alleging involvement in the rampant illegal drugs business in the State.last_img read more

Modi, Kejriwal have opportunistically used Anna Hazare, alleges Raj Thackeray

first_imgMaharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Monday lambasted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, saying both had opportunistically piggybacked on anti-graft activist Anna Hazare’s ‘Jan Lokpal’ movement only to callously disregard him today.“I have urged Anna not to put his life in danger for this apathetic and useless government. This [BJP-led NDA] is a government of liars, and the biggest liar of them all is Prime Minister Narendra Modi… this is an utterly shameless government. It has not the slightest sensitivity to whether Anna lives or dies,” said Mr. Thackeray.Mr. Thackeray, along with other MNS leaders and party workers, visited the veteran anti-graft crusader in his village in Ralegan Siddhi in Ahmednagar district as his indefinite hunger strike against the Centre’s failure to appoint Lokpal and Lokayuktas and resolution of farmers’ issues entered its sixth day on Monday.“It is only because of Anna Hazare and his agitation for Lokpal and Lokayuktas that Modi and the other BJP leaders and Arvind Kejriwal are in power. But Modi and Kejriwal have used and then conveniently jettisoned Anna,” said the MNS chief.’PM had reneged on his promise’Mr. Modi had tweeted on December 18, 2013 on the need to implement the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, but reneged on his promise, Mr. Thackeray said. “After five years in power, the Modi government has done nothing to appoint a Lokpal…this is a government of dishonest people.”Mr. Thackeray had a half-hour talk with Mr. Hazare inside the Yadavbaba Temple (where the activist is on his hunger strike) and requested the latter to end it in view of his steadily deteriorating health.“I have requested him [Mr. Hazare] to give up his fast and instead tour the State with me to bury this [BJP] government,” he said.Likewise, he expressed his ire at Mr. Kejriwal for failing to enquire about Mr. Hazare’s health and observing common courtesies. “Whoever had heard of Arvind Kejriwal before Anna’s Lokpal movement? But today, he does not even bother to visit Anna or ask after his health,” said Mr. Thackeray.Mr. Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah, he alleged, were subverting the autonomy of every institution in the country. In the coming general election, it would be the people of the country versus the Modi-Shah duo, he said.“The pressure that is being exerted on bodies from the RBI to the CBI to toe the BJP’s line is deplorable. A CBI Director is dismissed in a cavalier fashion while two RBI Governors have resigned as they would not conform. The blame in this case lies only with Modi and his arrogance,” Mr. Thackeray said.Prior to Mr. Thackeray’s meeting, water activist Rajendra Singh met Mr. Hazare and expressed concern over the latter’s declining health. Mr. Singh said he was worried that the Centre would display the same apathy towards Mr. Hazare as it had done in the case of environmentalist G. D Agarwal, who died last year after refusing to budge from his indefinite hunger strike in Haridwar over the government’s inadequate efforts to clean up the Ganga.Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena has lent support to Mr. Hazare’s strike. Its president Uddhav Thackeray has hit out at the BJP for “playing with Mr. Hazare’s life”.last_img read more

M.P. Congress MLA demands SIT in cow slaughter row

first_imgA Congress MLA has written to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath demanding setting up of a SIT and transfer of the Khandwa District Collector for invoking the National Security Act on three persons accused of cow slaughter. Bhopal Central MLA Arif Masood, in his letter sent on Friday, termed the NSA move “one-sided”, adding that the kin of the three accused had met him and had alleged that the Collector had not heard their side.‘Slaughter shameful’ He said cow slaughter was “shameful” but reiterated that the Collector’s move to invoke the stringent NSA was unjustified. He demanded constitution of a Special Investigation Team to probe the case and the Collector’s transfer in order to have a “fair” probe.Mr. Masood said on Saturday, “I have written to the Chief Minister and urged him to intervene in the matter. The action taken by the police and district officials was on the basis of information given by an informer. The side of the accused should have been heard before invoking NSA.” He claimed the minority community leaders from different parts of the country have also spoken to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in this regard. Earlier last week, the authorities had slapped NSA on three accused, identified as Shakeel, Nadeem and Azam, for allegedly killing a cow in Khandwa, and jailed. Justifying the action, Khandwa Superintendent of Police Siddharth Bahuguna had said Nadeem, alias Raju, was a habitual offender and had been held earlier in a cow slaughter case as well as other criminal cases.Communally sensitive Khandwa is a communally sensitive area and such an incident might affect its peace and harmony and therefore, he had said, such a move was made against the three. According to Moghat Police Station in-charge Mohan Singore, acting on a tip-off that a few persons were involved in cow slaughter, a team raided Kharkali village near here on February 1. While the accused fled from the spot, a large knife and beef was seized from there, he said. The three were arrested on February 2 and Khandwa Collector Vishesh Gadpale later invoked NSA against them, Mr. Singore had informed.last_img read more

Assam’s tea country where lethal liquor takes lives

first_imgSpurious ‘sulai,’ or country spirit, has often taken lives in Assam. But the cheap liquor was seldom a large-scale killer until more than a week ago when it felled 157 people in and around two tea estates in eastern Assam’s Golaghat and Jorhat districts. The disaster forced the State to crack down on illicit breweries that allegedly thrive on a nexus between bootleggers and excise and police officials.Where did the tragedy happen?On February 21, death struck at the Halmira Tea Estate in Golaghat when plantation workers gathered to celebrate a birth. Local hospitals soon began to fill with patients from villages around Halmira and Borhola Tea Estate in Jorhat district. Preliminary investigations pointed to the ‘sulai’ having come from the same source. The tragedy happened within a certain radius of the two estates not far from each other, but social activists involved with the health of plantation workers said it could have been anywhere across Assam’s tea-growing areas comprising 65,000 major and small gardens.What caused the deaths?Excise Minister Parimal Suklabaidya said a lethal combination of methanol and liquid molasses claimed the lives of plantation workers. The National Human Rights Commission took note of the methanol content and issued notice to the State government, asking it for a report on the cause of death and the action taken. Excise officials said ‘sulai’ traditionally involved fermenting molasses and breaking it down to ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, and carbon dioxide at a controlled temperature. A process of distillation over firewood yielded the clear, pungent liquor with alcohol content of up to 45%. But high demand and commercialisation saw illegal manufacturers using the cheaper methanol, an alcohol that provides the same kick as ethanol and occurs naturally at low levels in fermented drinks, but is far more toxic. If not produced by standardised factories, a higher dose of methanol can cause multiple organ failure.Why are gardens affected?A survey done a decade ago by an NGO in 64 tea estates of Sonitpur district revealed 87% of plantation workers aged above 40 were addicted to alcohol. This addiction, activists say, is a colonial hangover; the British planters made rectified spirit easily and cheaply available to the earliest plantation workers to let them forget the trauma of being uprooted from their central Indian homes 170 years ago. Alcoholism coincided with another habit the British introduced — salted tea — to counter dehydration.What are corrective measures?In 2017, the BJP government amended the Excise Rules for “scientific brewing” and to end the control of the country liquor market by a few barons. Companies were offered licences, expected to fetch ₹200 crore in annual revenue, to bottle hygienic country spirit. A firm in Jorhat set up an automated plant to produce ‘sulai’ with 12% alcohol. But illicit brewers have been cashing in on the demand with cheaper stuff that sells higher on weekly pay day or during a social occasion, as was the case in Halmira.last_img read more

ScienceShot: The Climate of Middle-Earth

first_imgOne does not simply model the climate of Mordor; unless, of course, you are the University of Bristol’s Dan Lunt, who has created a climate simulation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Using supercomputers and a model originally developed by the U.K. Met Office, his study compares Middle-earth’s climate with those of our (modern) and the dinosaur’s (Late Cretaceous) worlds. The Middle-earth model (pictured, showing predicted ground coverage: with grass in light green, trees in darker green, desert in yellow, and ice in white) reveals that the Shire—home to the Hobbits—would enjoy weather much like England’s East Midlands, with an average temperature of 7°C and about 61 cm of rainfall each year. An epic journey to Mount Doom, however, would see a shift in climate, with the subtropical Mordor region being more like Los Angeles or western Texas. The study—released today on the University of Bristol’s website and available in English, Elvish, and Dwarvish—also shows that the elves probably sailed from the Grey Havens because of that region’s prevailing easterly winds, while the dry climate east of the Misty Mountains is formed by a rain shadow. Lunt, who undertook the work in his spare time, hopes his work might create interest in the possibilities offered by climate modeling. His paper shows how any climate (imagined, real, or future) can be simulated, he notes, while discussing both the strengths and limitations of such models as well as the importance of understanding how climates are affected by increased levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.See more ScienceShots.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

MIT Gayin Dooriyan

first_imgNothing quite erases the distance (mit gayin dooriyan) for the 20 million NRIs worldwide than Bollywood. Sangita Shresthova took Bollywood with her when she moved to Prague.“Indian cinema has for some peculiar reason, thankfully for us, got into the hearts and minds of people outside Indian shores, and that’s why we are all here,” says Amitabh Bachchan, the legendary film star who has acted in more than 160 Indian movies.Increasingly now U.S. universities are beginning to pay attention to the unrelenting Bollywood phenomenon. Shanti Kumar conducts a graduate-level seminar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as part of its Media and Cultural Studies program. Priya Joshi teaches a Bollywood course at the University of California at Berkeley and Vamsee Jaluri at the University of San Francisco. The University of Wisconsin-Madison also convenes an annual Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference on South Asia.At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, the Department of Comparative Media Studies offers two Bollywood courses taught by Tina Klein and Tuli Banerjee, whose favorite Bollywood actor is without a doubt, Amitabh Bachchan. Akhil Narang: “Some of my non-Asian friends have a hard time figuring out Bollywood.”Klein says she developed an interest in Bollywood from her work in transnational cinema and the Diaspora. Banerjee, who was exposed to Indian cinema from an early age, says Bollywood was integral to her course on Indian popular culture. She says students in her courses learn and understand the relationship between pop culture and the social imaginary of India as a nation through this medium.While Bollywood fans may be surprised to learn that their trivial pursuits are treated with such gravity by academics at prestigious universities, Klein says: “American academics have been studying popular film and popular culture more generally for a long time now. As Asian film becomes better known in the U.S., academics become more interested in studying it. I think as more young people with family ties to South Asia become professors, they are bringing it into the classroom as well.”Banerjee’s course examines the elements of the formulaic “masala movie, music and melodrama, the ideas of nostalgia and incumbent change in youth culture, as well as shifting questions of gender and sexuality. Using various Bollywood films, we come to grasp how the film industry is organized and how it shapes what we see on the screen.”Aswin Punathembekar, an MIT almunus, currently pursuing his PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says “The most important thing to do here is to get away from the idea that the Hollywood mode of film production and aesthetics is the ‘right’ way and that all other cinemas are somehow not the norm. Most journalists writing in the West make this assumption that Indian cinema is little more than a poor imitation of Hollywood. The fact of the matter is Indian cinema has evolved its own aesthetic system, derived from a range of influences (Sanskrit and Parsi theatre, mythologies such as the Ramayan and Mahabharata, folk performance/music, etc.). Aswin Punathembekar: “Most journalists writing in the West make this assumption that Indian cinema is little more than a poor imitation of Hollywood.”“Indian cinema, like cinemas in other nations, is best understood in relation to the socio-cultural and political contexts within which it operates, to which it responds. It should be studied because as a culture industry, it has enormous influence on various individual, social and political levels.“It plays an extremely crucial role in constructing identity (national, regional, religious, gender, sexual, linguistic, and so on). Think about all the ways in which Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, etc. are dealt with in Hindi cinema, or gender stereotypes, questions of sexuality…the list is endless!”In the MIT Bollywood classes, elements of Indian cinema are dissected, examined under the microscope, and serve as grist for term papers. Students argue over their favorite stars – Shahrukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Vivek Oberoi, Hrithik Roshan, Preity Zinta and Zayed Khan – and films – Dil Wale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Dil Se, Jal Ho Naa Ho, Main Hoo Na.At one particular class they could come to an agreement on their worst film. LOC (Line of Control) bombed as far as everyone was concerned. Bad plot, bad songs and bad acting was their consensus, notwithstanding the fact that the movie had an all-star line-up.“Some of my non-Asian friends have a hard time figuring out Bollywood. They even ask if the songs are a ‘break’ in the film, rather than coming to understand how much of an integral part they are of the film,” notes senior Akhil Narang. Tracy Daniels: “I love the songs and even though I don’t understand Hindi, the themes break the language barrier.”“If, for instance, the couple in question are in the house in the scene of the film and the song takes place in the kitchen, chances are it’s in ‘real time’ and should be seen as such. If the song changes from the present place/situation totally, to some exotic lands, well then, it’s now the ‘fantasy aspect’ of the film, but it still relates to the plot itself. Then there are the songs you internalize with, like Dil Se,” says graduate student Parmesh Shanai.Actor/producer Shahrukh Khan once explained Bollywood to novices: “The Hindi film is like Titanic, everything is told to you. This is going to happen, the ship will hit an iceberg and just in case you don’t know it, let me show you at the beginning of the film how it happened. Everything is explained, you don’t have to think too hard, just enjoy the moments. Films are very basic. You follow the story, you enjoy it, it’s full of emotion and whenever you get a little bogged down, a song will come.“A Hindi film is a complete variety entertainment show and you don’t have to worry about whether you’ll understand the film or not. I think films should not give social messages, or pass value judgments, or tell you what’s right and what’s wrong. Films should make you laugh, cry, sing, dance, have a good time and come back home, that’s all.”Now what could be simpler than that folks?Students and faculty alike are clearly having a blast. Sajan Saini: “I grew up watching Hindi movies every weekend at a rented theatre where my parents ran the shows for local Indians living in Montreal.”“What I like most about the class is how the information we gain can be interwoven into many aspects of life, literature, etc.,” says senior Neil Sengupta.Tracy Daniel’s enthusiasm bubbles forth as she explains how the class enlightened her on Indian culture, ideals, as well as the color and splendor of the sets and costumes. In a paper entitled, “Bollywood Dreams: Visions of a Wet Sari”, she writes, “The sari is draped with numerous connotations of life, love, and sorrow, yet never is it more provocative than when drenched by Bollywood Cinema. The ‘wet sari’ sequence was popularized in the 1970’s and 80’s films of Raj Kapoor, who shrewdly exploited gratuitous titillation in the face of the importunate censorship looming over Indian filmmakers at the time. Pooja Kaul re-appropriates the sari in a manner that is equally suggestive, yet diverts itself from the seemingly gratuitous nature of Bollywood by grounding it in classical traditions of expression and emotion.”Commenting on the films themselves, she says, “I love the songs and even though I don’t understand Hindi, the themes break the language barrier. It’s easy to understand that two people are in love or see the turmoil between families.”Graduate student Sajan Saini, who has a growing personal interest in documentary filmmaking and script-writing, reminisces, “I grew up watching Hindi movies every weekend at a rented theatre where my parents ran the shows for local Indians living in Montreal. I thought Amitabh was ‘The Man.’“During my teens, I went through a long phase of disenchantment with Bollywood. Since the time of DDLJ, I’ve found myself returning to a Bollywood, that’s been dynamically improving its narrative trends… and as a moviegoer, I’m beginning to appreciate and respect more the spectacle-driven entertainment value and technical proficiency of the Bollywood pot-boiler. Parmesh Shanai: “There are songs you internalize”“Film makers like Mani Ratnam, Farhan Akhtar, and the super-cool Ram Gopal Varma have gotten me excited about Bollywood’s growing levels of narrative maturity, or at the very least character-intensive plots. And what I find particularly interesting, is how the aged Amitabh Bachchan has begun opening up new plot structures for Bollywood: stories about older characters and the personal struggles they are enduring, as opposed to college-based youthful love stories.”Film scholar and MIT alumnus, Sangita Shresthova, who now finds herself living in Prague, Czechoslovakia, wasn’t leaving Bollywood behind when she moved. She not only teaches traditional Indian and Bollywood dance there, but also recently organized a festival of Bollywood films with a Czech film maker who’s very interested in Bollywood films and an Indology scholar, who studied with her at Charles University.She told Radio Prague, “Our objective really was to bring Bollywood to Prague, and I think we’ve succeeded in doing that. We also really wanted to motivate the South Asian community here to be more active, and I think maybe we’ve succeeded in that.” The Bollywood juggernaut rolls on.  MIT instructor Tuli Banerjee  MIT instructor Tina Klein Related Itemslast_img read more