Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
A tryst with the Moon, Madame Tussauds, the marginalised this Durga Puja
Fancy a flight to the Moon and back this Durga Puja? How about an encounter with Madame Tussauds? Theres also a peep into the celebrations for the marginalised that was initiated by Indian revolutionary Netaji Subash Chandra Bose before independence. Theres much on offer at the Puja marquees (pandals) this year.
 
With India's successful exploits in outer space catching the imagination of the young and the old alike, organisers, over the past couple of years, have hopped on to the space bandwagon to entice the legions of pandal-hoppers to come and have a dekko -- given the myriad options available in every nook and cranny of this bursting-at-the-seams eastern metropolis.
 
However, the organisers at Santosh Mitra Square (Lebutala Park) in north Kolkata, have adopted a different take on their space odyssey.
 
"Due to the frequent earthquakes, it is possible that we might have to colonise the Moon. In our pandal, we have shown how it is possible to build homes on the Moon (Chaander Bari). Through models and figures, we have showcased a human colony on the Moon," a member of the organising committee told IANS.
 
After a lunar realty bite, head to south Kolkata's Baghajatin for an Indian twist to the famed Madame Tussauds wax museum.
 
A glimpse of the chiselled features and cool composure of stars Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and ace footballers Neymar and Lionel Messi at the eponymous pandal will drive out any fatigue one might experience from the night-long pandal-hopping.
 
"We have tried to replicate Madame Tussauds because it stands for excellence in creative expression. Similarly, Durga Puja is a platform for local artists to display their excellence. There are 58 figures made from fibreclay, not wax," Uttam Saha, Secretary, Baghajatin Rabindrapally Sarbojanin Durga Puja Committee, told IANS.
 
"We intend to spread the message that if artists from Bengal are given better opportunities then they too can achieve greatness," he said.
 
On a similar note, the marquee at south Kolkata's Hazra Park by Kolkata's civic workers seeks to accord equality to the marginalised and the downtrodden.
 
The celebration is by the civic workers, for the civic workers and encompasses the Harijans who toil day in and day out as scavengers and clean the city's sewer systems.
 
"The Puja was started in 1942 by Subash Chandra Bose when he headed the municipal corporation and wanted to be inclusive. The caste system was very rigid. Harijans had no place in society but they were important employees of the corporation. Since then, the Puja has continued and involves the employees," Sayandeb Chattopadhyay, Assistant General Secretary of Pouro Karmachari Sarbojanin Durgotsab Committee, told IANS.
 
As part of the tradition, around 2,000 Harijans are invited to partake of the ‘prashad' on Navami (ninth or penultimate day of the Puja).
 
What started out as a simple affair in a park has become a full-scale theme Puja, in the last few years.
 
"The theme this year is from ‘visarjan' (immersion) to ‘bodhan' (welcome), a reversal where we highlight the immersion first and then go onto the welcoming of the goddess. Usually, the visarjan is tinged with sadness, so we decided to take people back to the beginning of the five days when the entire city looks forward to the arrival of the goddess," Chattopadhyay added.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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War remains elusive, political war breaks out in Punjab over border evacuation
The apprehension of an India-Pakistan war may have receded but a full-fledged political war has broken out in Punjab over the central and state governments getting nearly 1,000 villages within 10-km of the international border evacuated following last week's surgical strikes by the Indian Army across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.
 
Opposition parties and leaders in Punjab are blaming the Union Home Ministry and the state's Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Punjab for unnecessarily building up war hysteria and getting the villages evacuated. 
 
The ruling alliance, led by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, is being blamed for doing so to take advantage in assembly elections to be held in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh early next year.
 
Nearly 400,000 perople in the border areas have been asked to evacuate.
 
"There has been no movement bt the Pakistani Army. These days everything can be seen through satellites and technology. Even if a jeep moves, we can see that. The centre and the Punjab government have unnecessarily ordered the evacuation. Thousands of people are being harassed," Punjab Congress president and former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said.
 
Amarinder Singh, a former Indian Army officer who saw action in the 1965 war against Pakistan, being the ADC to Lt. Gen. Harbaksh Singh, a decorated officer who led the swordarm Western Command and turned the tables against the advancing Pakistan Army, alleged that the BJP and Akali Dal built up war hysteria after the surgical strikes to take political advantage in the forthcoming assembly polls.
 
But Badal has a different take on the issue.
 
"Political leaders should shun politics in this peculiar situation. It is unfortunate that several political leaders were continuously politicking at this critical juncture when war clouds are hovering over the country. At this critical juncture, leaders must avoid politics for safeguarding the interests of the country in general and Punjab in particular," Badal said.
 
"The SAD-BJP government doesn't believe in doing politics over the issues concerning unity and integrity of the country. Even my visits to border villages was solely aimed at sharing the grief of their residents and instilling a sense of confidence amongst them. These visits were not even remotely concerned with politics. I am visiting border villages to be amongst the brave people of this region who are ever ready to make any sacrifice for their country but unfortunately my fellow friends do not see anything beyond politics," Badal pointed out.
 
Badal and the district authorities, at some places, have faced the ire of residents of border villages over the evacuation orders.
 
But leaders of the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the newly-formed Apna Punjab Party, are not ready to buy Badal's argument.
 
Several Congress leaders and legislators from border areas, representing various assembly segments from Ferozepur to Gurdaspur, have lashed out at the SAD-BJP alliance over "forcible evacuation of the residents from border villages against their will".
 
"The army continues to remain in peace positions on either side of the border. Captain Amarinder is speaking from his knowledge and experience, having participated in war in 1965 in the same areas," Congress legislators Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Aruna Chaudhry, Sukh Sarkaria and Parminder Singh Pinky said in a joint statement.
 
"While we reiterate our support for strong measures against Pakistan, including surgical strikes, for instigating and abetting terror activities in India, there was no need for evacuation of the border residents," the Congress leaders said, adding that there was no evacuation during the 1965, 1971, and 1999 Kargil Wars or even during Operation Parakaram (2001-02) -- when the Indian Army mobilised in the wake of the attack on parliament.
 
The Congress leaders pointed out that Badal had to face the public wrath in the border villages as the residents did not want to move out.
 
"Better ask your leader as how he was treated by the angry villagers in several villages as they do not want to move out. The BJP is trying to raise the war hysteria for Uttar Pradesh and Punjab elections," the statement said.
 
Reacting to Amarinder Singh, Punjab Education Minister and senior Akali leader Daljit Singh Cheema said his remarks were "aimed at creating mistrust between the Indian Army and the people of the country".
 
Seeking an "apology" from Amarinder Singh, Cheema said that such things should not come from a former army officer when the forces were engaged in dealing with Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  

 

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Indian GDP growth to remain robust at 7.6%: World Bank
Ahead of the Reserve Bank of India's first monetary policy review to be decided by a committee later on Tuesday, the World Bank has said India's GDP growth will remain robust at 7.6 per cent in 2016 and 7.7 per cent in 2017.
 
"In India, GDP growth will remain strong at 7.6 per cent in 2016 and 7.7 per cent in 2017, supported by expectations of a rebound in agriculture, civil service pay reforms supporting consumption, increasingly positive contributions from exports and a recovery of private investment in the medium term," the multilateral lender said in its latest report on South Asia Economic Focus released here on Monday.
 
"However, India faces the challenge of further accelerating the responsiveness of poverty reduction to growth, promoting inclusion, and extending gains to a broader range of human development outcomes related to health, nutrition, education and gender," the report said.
 
According to the World Bank, Indian economic growth remained robust, which is expected to support continued poverty reduction, as in the past.
 
"This year is expected to see some convergence in rural and urban economies, supported by stimulating policies, such as passage of GST (Goods and Services Tax) and civil pay revisions, along with good monsoon," the report said.
 
The central government has set the target of April 1, 2017, for implementing the GST for a thorough overhaul of the Indian indirect tax regime.
 
"Optimism on the growth front needs to be balanced with caution when translating to broad-based poverty reduction. Despite the recent success in poverty reduction, gains have been uneven, with greater progress in states and social groups that were already better-off," the report said.
 
"India faces the challenge of further accelerating the responsiveness of poverty reduction to growth, enforcing inclusion of presently excluded groups (such as, women and scheduled tribes), and extending gains to a broader range of human development outcomes related to health, nutrition, education and gender, where the country continues to rank poorly," it added.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  

 

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