Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Lost and Found - Grand Daughter

It all happened during the recent wedding of one of my nieces.

In my post ‘The Daughter-in-law’ dated 21.07.2013, i have narrated how our daughter-in-law entered our house. It was the daughter of this daughter-in-law. She had a baby, a little more than six months ago. She had stayed with us for about a month after she joined our family and then had left with her newly-acquired husband for his place of work. She came back to have her baby here, stayed with us for about a month after that and they had left for Bhopal again. She recently visited us again, with the infant, and stayed with us for about two months. The marriage of this niece of mine was solemnized during this period. 

The incident happened during the marriage-reception. When the wife, the daughter-in-law and i started for the venue of the reception, i was entrusted with the pleasant task of holding, taking care and being in charge of the baby’s safety. 

At the reception everything started off well. The baby was very comfortable with me. When the time for the photo-session came, the bride wished to hold the baby and be photographed with her. Then almost every member of my extended large family wished to be photographed holding her. Seemingly, the baby enjoyed the attention she received and indeed became the centre of attraction. She seems to be of very social nature and is very comfortable with everybody and even with perfect strangers to her.

After the family photo-session, the ladies started their talkathon sessions and the baby was returned to me. I moved around with her to meet the guests and acquaintances. They played with her and she responded warmly. 

Then the time for me to partake of feast came. I handed the baby to one of my nephews, telling him to continue holding her till i take her back and not to hand her to anybody else. Since it was a fairly large area with a large number of guests, i told him to be at that spot only and not move to some other spot, so that i could come and take her back after having dinner. 

When i came back to the spot, there was no trace of either the nephew or the baby! So i moved on in search of them and after quite some time, could locate the nephew but he was alone! When i asked him about the whereabouts of the baby he stared at me blankly and said that a relative had taken her from him. After further search, i could locate this relative but the baby was not with her! She told me that someone had taken the baby from her. She did not remember who had taken the baby! So, i started my wild-goose-chase again but without success. I became a little desperate. So i asked all our relatives whomsoever i could find, and enquired whether he/she had seen the baby. Some said “Yes” and some said “No”. I hoped that she would cry, or at least whimper so that i would know where she was but no baby-cry came from any corner.  I was losing my nerve.

I asked the baby’s mother, my wife and some relatives to join me in the Great Search.
The baby’s mother was hopeful that she would be somewhere there but my wife, the Great Worrier that she is, was restless. She heaped on me all the epithets about how careless and negligent i was. I started sharing her worry that someone might have removed the bracelets of gold and the anklets of silver that we had put on the baby. The wife started even worrying that some child-lifter must have entered the venue and would have kidnapped her. And she went on to wail that the kidnapper would ask for ransom!

I went on rebuking the nephew whom i had handed over the baby and he bore all my barking silently.

The army of searchers for the baby had spread over almost the whole area of the venue. Often we would run into each other during our Operation Baby-Search and ask each other the same question.

Then, at long last, i got a glimpse of the baby from a distance. I heaved a silent sigh of relief and ran like an Olympic athlete – a short distance runner – to the spot and almost snatched the baby from a perfect stranger. She cast a queer look at me. Of course, i recovered my composure immediately, apologized and explained how we had been desperately searching for the ‘lost’ baby. Thankfully, she understood and responded with a smile.

I looked at the wrists and the ankles of the baby. The bracelets and the anklets were sitting there, safe.  

The baby’s mother was happy at my success in retrieving her but the grandmother was still in her angry worst! She kept on raving and ranting about how undependable, negligent, careless, and untrustworthy and whatnot  i was! 

 The baby rewarded me with a smile which seemed to me as a little mischievous.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Odissi Dance Based Movie

The reigning queen of Odia movies is Archita Sahu, who is also an accomplished exponent of Odissi dance. The Odia movie ‘Thukul’  is an Odissi-dance-based movie in which Archita plays the central role of an Odissi danseuse, twists and turns in her life and love . The lead male role in this movie is played by Babushan, son of Uttam Mohanty and Aparajita. Both Uttam and Aparajita used to play the lead roles in Odia movies.( Now they are playing character-roles.)

Here are some snap-shots of Archita:

The film has been directed by Prashant Nanda, who in his younger days, himself was the lead actor in many Odia movies. He was senior to me one year in College and was the Secretary of our College Dramatic Society for one year. The story and the dialogue are also by him.

Thukul’ in Odia is a word used in children’s games. When a player needs a short break in the game to attend to some other work, she/he says “Thukul”.  When a player says this, the game is suspended till this player returns and gives a green signal to resume the game. The single word Thukul is uttered to stop the game. However, to release it, elaborate words, in poetic form, have to be said. The whole thing has been demonstrated in the beginning of the movie. In the film, the lead players utter this word when they want to stop the other from doing what he/she is doing or going to do at that particular time. This technique has been used in the film to set turning points in the story. However, when the word is used in the film on one of the occasions,, it did not seem to me to have added much value. The word and the technique have been very effectively and meaningfully used subsequently. 

Here is the full movie:

Source of videos: YouTube

By the way, a question now comes to mind. After the English spelling of ‘Orissa’ became ‘Odisha’ on 4.11.2011 after passing of The Orissa (Alteration of Name) Bill 2010 and the Constitution (113th Amendment) Bill,2010 in the Parliament, should Odissi dance, which has its origin in Odisha, be now called ‘Odishi’ as the word is pronounced in Odia? A Member of Parliament from Odisha, during the discussion of these Bills in Parliament, went even to suggest that the English spelling of name of the State should be changed to ‘Odissa’. Was this in reverse gear to synchronise with the prevalent English spelling of  Odissi dance?   

Saturday, 7 March 2015

'Secular' and 'Socialist' Republic

An advertisement released by Government of India on our Republic Day this year, carrying a picture of the Preamble of the Constitution of India was criticized by the Congress Party for the reason that it did not contain words added by an amendment made in 1976 by Indira Gandhi. The photograph was of the original Preamble as adopted by our Constituent Assembly on the 26th November, 1949. The original Preamble page as also the other pages of the Constitution were hand-written in beautiful calligraphy, designed and decorated by painter B R Sinha of Jabalpur who was at Shantiniketan with the famous painter Nandalal Bose.

The original Preamble read as:

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
   JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
   LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
   EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
   and to promote among them all
   FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and unity of the 

The framers of our Constitution were fired by the highest ideals and were nationalists and democrats to the core. The above original wordings of the Preamble show their ideals in a pithy and very concise form.

The well-known British political theorist Ernest Barker included our Preamble in his famous book, ‘Principles of Social and Political Theory’, first published in 1951(i.e., soon after our Constitution came fully into force on 26.01.1950), after its table of its contents. He treated our Preamble as a ‘key-note’ to his book. In the Preface to the book, he explains why he included the Preamble to the Indian Constitution in the book. In his words, “It seemed to me, when I read it, to state in a brief and pithy form the arguments of much of the book; and it may accordingly serve as a key-note. I am proud that the people of India should begin their independent life by subscribing to the principles of a political tradition which we in the West call Western, but which is now something more than Western.”       

I had read this book in my post-graduate course in Political Science in 1968-70. It is still with me and is one my favourite books.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, during her haughty days, declared National Emergency in June, 1975, curbing all Fundamental Rights including Right to Life and Liberty. This Emergency remained in force for 19 months till early 1977. During this period, she amended (42nd Amendment) the Constitution extensively. One part of this was amending the Preamble, changing the words ‘Sovereign Democratic Republic’ to ‘Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic’, and adding the word ‘integrity’ after the word ‘unity’ in the original Preamble. The extensive changes made in the Constitution included making the life of the Lok Sabha 6 years instead of 5 years as originally provided in the Constitution.

This was the period when the then sycophant Congress President proclaimed, “Indira is India and India is Indira.”!!! Indira Gandhi so much believed in her own Government propaganda about her popularity that she got the Lok Sabha dissolved one year before the amended period of 6 years and ordered fresh election, hoping that her party would be re-elected with a thumping majority and she would become Prime Minister for another 6 years. But her calculations went awry and utterly wrong; Congress Party was thrashed miserably in the Elections that followed and she herself was miserably defeated. Voters punished her for all the excesses by her and by her the then Yuvraj and heir-apparent younger self-willed son Sanjay.

The Janata Party Government led by the Gandhian liberal Morarji Desai took office, one of whose first tasks was, by the 44th Amendment to the Constitution, to undo the wide-ranging changes made in the basic structure of the Constitution. Yet, due to the adamant and obstructionist attitude of Congress Party which was in majority in the Rajya Sabha, the original form of the Preamble could not be restored.

Now, what were the gains by adding the words ‘Secular’, Socialist’ and ‘Integrity’ in the Preamble? When the Preamble already envisages freedom of belief, faith and worship, what does the word ‘secular’ add up? When the Preamble envisages ‘unity’ what value does the word ‘integrity’ add?

Adding the word ‘Socialist’ had a purely political motive to garner the bulk votes of the underprivileged and was in line with her much-publicised slogan ‘Garibi Hatao’ (Remove Poverty). How is it that even almost 40 after this amendment, during most of which period Congress was in power, ‘garibi’ is yet to be ‘hotaoed’? As the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thacher said, the trouble with 'socialist' policies is that you eventually run out of other people's money to distribute.

Now, let us look back at the thinking in the Constituent Assembly when the proposed Preamble was being discussed:          

During the Constituent Assembly debate on the 15th November,1948 , a member, Prof KT Shah suggested that the words, “Secular, Federal, Socialist” be inserted into the Preamble.

Dr B R Ambedkar, Chairman of the Drafting Committee, explained why the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ were not included in the Preamble.
He said: “Sir, I regret that I cannot accept the amendment of Prof. KT Shah. My objections, stated briefly are two. In the first place the Constitution, as I stated in my opening speech in support of the motion I made before the House, is merely a mechanism for the purpose of regulating the work of the various organs of the State. It is not a mechanism whereby particular members or particular parties are installed in office. What should be the policy of the State, how the Society should be organised in its social and economic side are matters which must be decided by the people themselves according to time and circumstances. It cannot be laid down in the Constitution itself, because that is destroying democracy altogether. If you state in the Constitution that the social organisation of the State shall take a particular form, you are, in my judgment, taking away the liberty of the people to decide what should be the social organisation in which they wish to live. It is perfectly possible today, for the majority people to hold that the socialist organisation of society is better than the capitalist organisation of society. But it would be perfectly possible for thinking people to devise some other form of social organisation which might be better than the socialist organisation of today or of tomorrow. I do not see therefore why the Constitution should tie down the people to live in a particular form and not leave it to the people themselves to decide it for themselves. This is one reason why the amendment should be opposed.”

He then added, “The second reason is that the amendment is purely superfluous.”

The last remark applies equally to addition of the word ‘integrity’ to the word ‘unity’.

A few questions come to mind. Did not the framers of our Constitution believe in secularism? Did the country become more secular after the amendment in 1976?

The Directive Principles of State Policy incorporated in the Constitution enjoins the State to follow some principles while making laws. These are not legally enforceable but the Constitution says that these shall be "fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the State "to apply these principles in making laws". Article 44 in this Chapter says " The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India." Those who are now declaring from their house tops that they are "secular" are strangely keeping quiet when a vocal section is opposing tooth and nail, enactment of a uniform civil code to govern the personal laws like marriage, succession etc. for all citizens of India!   

Now, let us remember that the term ‘socialism’ means different things to different people. The concept ranges from the liberal Fabian socialism to the extreme Communist ideology of ‘From each according to his capacity; to each according to his needs’ and ownership of all property by State. It has been aptly said, ‘Socialism is like a hat which has lost its shape because everybody – with differently sized heads – wears it.’!

 Before re-unification Germany divided by Allied Forces after World War II, the communist East Germany, politically and ideologically controlled by the then communist Soviet Union, was officially named as ‘German Democratic Republic’!

Now a last question: Can we subsequently alter the Preamble and still say that it was adopted on the 26th November, 1949? 

By amending the Preamble, are we not tampering with its sanctity and sacrosanct nature?

Monday, 2 March 2015

Introduction to Odissi Dance

In my post 'Goddess of Odissi Dance' dated 29.09.2012, i have appended 3 videos of Odissi Dance performance by the legendary danseuse Sanjukta Panigrahi. The the second of these videos includes a demonstration of the nuances and intricacies of Odissi Dance.

Here are a few videos on introduction to Odissi dance form (Source - YouTube):

Here is a video on Odissi Dance Jewellery and Costumes

Here is another guide to Odissi dance make up: