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Saturday, 26 May 2012

It’s my pet theory that you have never really explored a new destination till you’ve seen its market. It was with this in mind that I set off to the floor above the local taxi stand in Gangtok. Extreme pressure on real estate and not much in the way of flat land means that Gangtok has many examples of unlikely business “tie-ups”: The loan-disbursing department of the state government shares space with a popular restaurant; an upmarket curio store doubles up as a cyber café and every cigarette stall does roaring business in car-mirror danglers.
Fiery: The dallae khursani is consumed fresh, not dried.
Fiery: The dallae khursani is consumed fresh, not dried.

So it was no surprise that the city’s vegetable market was located at the shared taxi stand (as distinct from the outstation taxi terminus). And what a treasure trove the market was! The flaming scarlet cherry-like objects were the tear-inducing cherry peppers, one of the hottest chillies of the region, though they pale in comparison to the bhut jholokia of Nagaland. Dallae khursani, as the fiery devils are called, are only sold and consumed fresh — never dried. If you don’t think you’ll be able to make it to the market again soon, you can buy dallae chutney, sold in plastic containers in multiples of 100g.
There are mushrooms on sale that look like enoki but are not, a vegetable that resembles asparagus spears but is not, ferns, nettles, dried and fresh yak cheese, bamboo shoots and fermented soya beans and an intriguing vegetable that the vegetable seller assures me is “sweet karela”.
There are three varieties of tiny dried fish, though God knows that Sikkim is far off from any sea; loads of common vegetables such as gourd, okra and tomato, even spices such as cumin, coriander seeds and panchphoranin deference to the tourists, many of whom are from West Bengal.
The strangest thing is that in spite of a thriving local cuisine, all you get in restaurants (besides shahi paneer and mutton korma) are momos and thukpa. Had I not buttonholed a near stranger and begged him to host me for a Sikkimese dinner, I would never have stumbled upon the delicacy of sliced, steamed bamboo shoot with crumbled chhurpi, the locally made paneer.
Cooked minimally, it was accompanied by thick slices of steamed pork; Sisnu, a subtly flavoured soup of nettle leaves; and an intriguing vegetable dish made of mustard and other leaves collectively calledgundruk and only eaten fermented. If gundruk was surprisingly close to Korean kimchi, Sikkim’s kinema or fermented soy beans is very similar to a popular Japanese cold starter.
There’s a curious reluctance on the part of hoteliers and restaurateurs to serve tourists the food of the state: It seems almost like a conspiracy to keep it a well-guarded secret and to unleash one culinary cliché after another on visitors. You cannot even call Sikkimese food bland: not with fresh dallae khursani and the pounded version to eat with your rice.
Chhurpe with Chillies
Sikkimese food does not take long to cook. There are no spices to speak of — only fresh red chillies. The only similarity with Indian cooking is the other ingredients added along the way: ginger, garlic and onions. Although Sikkimese chhurpe (which means curdled milk and usually refers to fresh paneer or to the dried version, which is a hard rock-like substance — an acquired taste) is often made of cow’s milk, as opposed to yak’s milk, it has a completely different taste from regular paneer, having more of a fresh, milky flavour.
250g paneer, mashed with the back of a fork
3 fresh red chillies or
3 dried whole red chillies soaked for an hour in water and then chopped coarsely
1 small knob of butter
1 tsp ginger, finely minced
1 tsp garlic, finely minced
1 small onion, chopped
Heat the butter in a kadhai or wok, add the onion and sauté till translucent. Add the ginger and garlic and stir continuously to avoid sticking to the wok. Then add the mashed paneer and salt. After the water content of the paneer has evaporated, add the chillies, stir to mix thoroughly and serve.
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Indian National Trust for Art & Culture Heritage banks on community-centric model for conservation

by Rachna Singh, TNN | May 4, 2012, 02.32AM

JAIPUR: People-centric initiative is likely to be a leading strategy for INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art & Culture Heritage) to preserve the country's culture and heritage given the encouraging results its pilot project on orans or Dev Banis in Sirohi has received. The project has shown how communities, instead of waiting for the government, can take the reins in their own hands to work for conservation.

According to Maj. Gen. (Retd.) L K Gupta, chairman, INTACH, "We had written to the ministry of culture to evolve a policy that looks at managing conservation with the people and not for the people. The entire initiative has to be community-centric where people know the pleasures of their own effort."

Three projects in Sirohi are a pointer to the promise that this model of conservation holds. "There are two projects in Sirohi that we had initiated. The first one was about reviving a 350 year-old 'talab' that used to re-charge all the borings and 'baoris'. Last year, we collected Rs four lakh and dug out one lakh tonne mud from the talab bed. The pond was ready before the monsoon. Fortunately, we had good rains and now we have all our water reservoirs re-charged. In what the government would have spent at least Rs 25 lakh we managed with Rs 3.5 lakh," said Ashutosh Patni, convenor, INTACH, Sirohi.

"As a result, the motivation is high among people as they had direct involvement with the project. Every evening about 250-500 people gather at the site monitoring the work and chalking out further plans", he said.

INTACH has also taken up a project on orans (sacred grooves). There are about 40 orans in Sirohi but the agency has now begun work on getting the listing more factual.

"There was a superstition among the people that they should not pick a twig from the sacred grooves. We held workshops in 17-18 orans and here the temple priests were the agents of change as people trust them," said Ashutosh.

Because of the superstition prosopis juliflora (vilayati babul) had started proliferating as a pest. But since the last three months a Vikas Samiti was formed that initiated a 'babul' removal project.

"We intend to finish the work by monsoon. Before the rains set in we will plant 10 orans with tree species that combat climate change and are also animal edible," said Ashutosh.

Communities in Sirohi also formed 'Paryavaran Suraksha Sansthan' and took up tree plantation on a150 bigha 'Goshala' or wasteland known as 'Kalka Tapovan.'

"The land belongs to the government but we have been given a free hand to develop it. Last year, we planted 7,200 trees out of which 7,000 have survived. All this has been possible with minimum expenditure because people's feelings are attached to the project," explained Ashutosh

Monday, 14 May 2012

May 14, 2012, 1:00 am

36 Hours in Hyderabad

The Taramati Baradari, a pavilion said to have been built for a king’s courtesan.

Kuni Takahashi for The New York TimesThe Taramati Baradari, a pavilion said to have been built for a king’s courtesan.

Situated in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, “Hyderabad is a juxtaposition of old and new unlike any other city in India,” Shivani Vora writes in The New York Times.
While Microsoft, Google and other technology giants have offices in the glass and steel structures in the district known as “Cyberabad,” the history of this more than 400-year-old city is “just as alluring as destinations like Jaipur and Agra, with sites like the 13th-century Golconda Fort, once home to the famous Kohinoor diamond, and the iconic Charminar monument in Hyderabad’s teeming Old City,” Ms. Vora writes.
In the past, Hyderabad was often overlooked as a tourism destination. But in recent years, sleek hotels, restaurants and night spots that cater to the 20- and 30-somethings working in the information technology industry have been attracting jet-setters from around the world who come to discover the past and experience the rapidly evolving present.

New bridge to take burden off Salimgarh Fort

Richi Verma, TNN | May 14, 2012, 02.17AM IST

NEW DELHI: The decade-old deadlock between Archaeological Survey of India and Northern Railway over construction of a new bridge near 16th-century world heritage site Salimgarh Fort is finally on the way to being resolved.

An alternative realignment of the bridge, which will serve the dual purpose of protecting the national monument while allowing the railways to maintain its link with the eastern states, has been approved at several levels. The proposal is in the process of getting an NOC from National Monuments Authority. Through this alignment, the new line will join the existing railway line before the fort.

The railway line connecting Shahdara to the Old Delhi railway station is more than 150 years old. The railways argued that it had to be replaced with a new bridge to maintain connectivity with the eastern states through rail. With the old railway line throwing up problems, the railways proposed to build a new bridge for which construction started in 2003. However, the work was stalled in 2007 when the ASI intervened. It objected to the construction of the bridge as it involved demolition of a portion of the monument's wall, though crores had already been spent on the project.

It was imperative that a new bridge built as the old iron bridge, built in 1867AD, was no longer structurally sound. Moreover, over 150 passenger trains and numerous goods trains passed through this line. Intach was asked to come up with a solution. It proposed the railway track, which was earlier going through Salimgarh Fort, be shifted north and pass over the Yamuna through the realigned bridge. As the diversion is outside 100m radius of Salimgarh, the new construction will fall under the regulated zone. The plan was accepted by the railways and thereafter submitted. "The construction will be carried out 30m upstream and parallel to the existing road-cum-rail bridges over the Yamuna. According to the Survey of India's site plan, it falls 100m away from the outer wall of Salimgarh Fort,'' said an official.

"Later on, the existing railway tracks, which pass through the protected area of Salimgarh Fort, will mostly be shifted to the recently constructed Ring Road bypass for connectivity with the new Yamuna bridge and construction of walls, piers, etc in the regulated area,'' said an official.

The proposed site for construction was visited by the competent authority for Delhi, Vijay Singh, NMA officials and officials from Northern Railway earlier this week. While NMA officials have consented to the plan unofficially, they said a formal NOC would be granted shortly. Singh added that a number of recommendations had been made in his report. The Intach report talks about improving the environment around the monument, which has also been incorporated as a prerequisite for the NOC. "The part of the old bridge made by the British is still conspicuous by its architectural style but the new road passing along Salimgarh Fort for the Commonwealth gaidge looks shabby. There are some old buildings like a pump house, etc which are abandoned and dysfunctional along the wall of Salimgarh Fort on the eastern side and illegal rickshaw stands and parking sites are openly creating a chaotic environment,'' reads the report.

Singh said improving the ambience around Salimgarh was critical. NOC will be granted to the railways, an essential public utility, as an exceptional case pending the framing of heritage bylaws for protected monuments falling on the proposed alignment. "The railways has been asked to incorporate elements of art & architecture of the Old British Bridge and Salimgarh Fort in the facade of the road under the rail bridge already constructed. The new bridge has to be constructed in a way that it improves the ambience around the bridge and Salimgarh Fort by removing encroachments, dilapidated and abandoned structures and checking undesirable activities,'' said Singh.

Varanasi Nagar Nigam to rid ghats of crude graffiti

Swati ChandraSwati Chandra, TNN | May 13, 2012,

VARANASI: The Varanasi Nagar Nigam (VNN) is seeking help of the Indian National Trust for Art and Culture Heritage (INTACH) and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for technical assistance in removing paint from the walls of the world famous ghats that have been defaced by locals with cheap graffiti and crude advertisements.

According to additional municipal commissioner Sachidanand Singh, as many as 200 cheap graffiti and advertisements painted on the stone walls of the prestigious ghats have been identified in a recent survey conducted by the VNN.

"The defacing of the walls is illegal under Sarvajanik Sampati Suraksha Adhiniyam, also it is incorrect to put up advertisements destroying the neutrality of the heritage under the Indian Tourism Corporation (ITC)," informed Singh. According to him, most of the paintings on the walls are basically advertisements of various roof top cafes, motels, lounges, music and yoga centres that have sprouted in the lanes and bylanes near the Ganga.

"A notice has been sent to all the people who have defaced the walls of the ghats. However, we have yet not taken the action of removing paints from the stones as it may damage the walls. For that matter, a meeting with the experts of INTACH was held four days ago. We will also seek technical help from conservators of ASI in removing the paints from the walls of various ghats. The money required for the purpose will be charged from those who have defaced the walls," informed Singh while speaking to TOI on Sunday. FIRs will also be lodged against such people in future.

It may be mentioned here that wall painters of the city have defaced 84 ghats that are also considered the heritage stretch on the western banks of the Ganga. The formidable red stone walls, built years ago to withstand the mighty Ganges in its full-fury, are now being pathetically defaced by cheap graffiti and crude commercial advertisements to attract tourists.

The painted advertisements of yoga training centres, motels, lounges, restaurants, cafe and many other joints have come up from Asi Ghat to Mansarovar Ghat as the stretch is popular in backpackers who would come and stay in the serpentine lanes in the close vicinity of the river and practice music, yoga, religion, palmistry and such areas of learning, while ghats like Dasaswamedh and Sheetla are full of painted advertisements of books, Benarasi sari and handicrafts

Sunday, 13 May 2012

People's Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI), a non-governmental campaign for protection of languages, has embarked on documenting 'live' languages among diverse communities in the northeast as part of its efforts to safeguard the cultural heritage of the country.

Once we are done with the documentation, it will provide a comprehensive view of the languages that are still alive and used by the different communities in the country. This is a first-of-its-kind of exercise. The idea is not to find out the number of speakers of a particular language, but to provide a comprehensive view on the languages that are still alive," he said.

Devi said that the documentation work in Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Manipur is at an advanced stage, while it's picking up in Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.


Whether in waking or in dream a Jnaani will not slip from his Real State which is sometimes called the Fourth or Turiya state.   
We cannot by our own buddhi, unaided by God's Grace, achieve Realisation of Self.                                                                                      -->  Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharishi.


राम राम नमोऽस्तु ते जय रामभद्र नमोऽस्तु ते
रामचन्द्र नमोऽस्तु ते जय राघवाय नमोऽस्तु ते।
देवदेव नमोऽस्तु ते जय देवराज नमोऽस्तु ते
वासुदेव नमोऽस्तु ते जय वीरराज नमोऽस्तु ते॥१॥

राघवं करुणाकरं मुनिसेवितं सुरवन्दितं
जानकीवदनारविन्ददिवाकरं गुणभाजनं।
वालिसूनुभृदीक्षणम् हनुमत्प्रियं कमलेक्षणं
यातुधानभयङ्करं प्रणमामि राघव कुञ्जरं॥२

रावणानुजपालनं रघुपुंगवं मम दैवतं।
सूर्यवंशविवर्द्धनं प्रणमामि राघवकुञ्जरं॥३।

शातकुम्भमयूरनेत्रविभूषणेन विभूषितं।
भानुवंशविवर्द्धनं प्रणमामि राघवकुञ्जरं॥४॥

दण्डकाख्यवने रतं सुरसिद्धयोगिगणाश्रयं
शिष्ठपालनतत्परं धृतिशालिवालिकृतस्तुतिं।
कुंभकर्ण्णभुजाभुजंगविकर्त्तने सुविशारदं
लक्ष्मणानुजवत्सलं प्रणमामि राघवकुञ्जरं॥५॥

श्रीधरं मिथिलात्मजाकुचकुङ्कुमारुणवक्षसं।
देवदेवमशेषभूतमनोहरं जगतां पतिं
दासभूतजनावनं प्रणमामि राघवकुञ्जरं॥६॥

वेदपारगतैरहर्न्निशमादरेण सुपूजितं।
पैतृकोदितपालकं प्रणमामि राघवकुजरं॥७॥

रावणान्तकमच्युतं हरियूथकोटिसमावृतं।
नीरजाननमंबुजांघ्रियुगं हरिं भुवनाश्रयं
देवकार्यविचक्षनं प्रणमामि राघवकुञ्जरं॥८॥

कौशिकेन सुशिक्षितास्त्रकलापमायतलोचनं
वासवादिसुरारिरावणशासनं च परां गतिं
नीलमेघनिभाकृतिं प्रणमामि राघवकुञ्जरं॥९॥

भक्तिमुक्तिफलप्रदं धनधान्यपुत्रविवर्द्धनं।
रामचन्द्रकृपाकटाक्षदमादरेण सदा पठेत्
रामचन्द्रपदाम्बुजद्वयसन्ततार्पित मानसः॥१०

निगमसरसिरत्नं नित्यमासक्तरत्नं
निखिलसुकृतिरत्नं जानकीरूपरत्नं।
भुवनवलयरत्नं भूभृतामेकरत्नं
प्रकृतिसुलभरत्नं मैथिलीप्राणरत्नं॥११
॥इति श्री राघवाष्टकं॥


Saturday, 12 May 2012

‘I deplore duplicity'

by Anjana Rajan
Source: The Hindu   
What is your idea of happiness?
To love and to be loved.
What is your greatest fear?
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Which living person do you most admire?
My mother.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My super-sensitivity.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Wicked duplicity.
What is your greatest extravagance?
What is your favourite journey?
To Mount Kailasa and Manasarovar.
Who is your favourite painter?
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
On what occasion do you lie?
When the truth can be hurtful without improving the situation.
What do you dislike most about your appearance?
My high forehead. People find it intimidating.
Which living person do you most despise?
None. I don't hate anyone.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
‘Love you!'
What is your greatest regret?
Not to have danced for the penguins in the Arctic. I once saw an ad in which Zubin Mehta was conducting an orchestra of penguins, and I thought, if he can do it, why can't I?
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Yet to happen.
When and where were you happiest?
In my mother's womb.
What is your present state of mind?
Lake Placid, and occasionally Mount Vesuvius.
How would you like to die?
What is your favourite motto?
Never say die.
Eminent classical dancer Sonal Mansingh is known for her pioneering work in Odissi, which was a relatively unknown form when she began learning it in the 1960s. She is also adept at Chhau and Bharatanatyam and brings to her performances as much scholarship as creativity. A Padma Vibhushan recipient, she runs the Centre for Indian Classical Dances in New Delhi and has held significant positions in the cultural field, including Chairperson of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, member of the General Council, Indian Council for Cultural Relations, and member of the jury, National Film Festival.
The Proust Questionnaire is a fortnightly feature which derives its name from the French writer Marcel Proust, whose personality-revealing responses to these questions went on to popularise this form of celebrity confession. This questionnaire was administered by ANJANA RAJAN 

Friday, 11 May 2012

Sikkim: Astad Deboo to perform dance recital on Tagore’s works

source: iSikkim & Sikkim Mail

State to celebrate 150th birth anniversary of Tagore

Gangtok, May 10, 2012:

Dance maestro Padmashree Astad Deboo will be performing dance recital on May 17 on the ‘Interpretation of Tagore and his works’ at Defense Auditorium commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. The event has been organized by the Cultural Affairs and Heritage Department, Government of Sikkim.
The Governor of Sikkim Balmiki Prasad Singh will be present as the chief guest of the day along with the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling as the guest of honor said, Commissioner –Cum Secretary of the Culture Department, Nalini G. Pradhan. She added that the event is also the part of the State Day celebration.
Pradhan also placed an introduction of Astad Deboo who has been described as a pioneer of modern dance in India. He has extensive training and knowledge in Kathak and Kathakali styles. He is the recipient of Sangeet Natak Akdemi Award in 1996 and Padmashree in 2007- honours given by the Government of India in recognition for his contribution in contemporary dance. Deboo has been described by many as a “Father of Modern Dance in India.”
The Secretary also highlighted Deboo’s impressive career which include the command performances for the royal families of Japan and Thailand, performed with Pink Floyd at the Chelsea Town Hall in London, choreographed and performed a site specific work at the Great Wall of China, was commissioned by Pierre Cardin to create a dance for the legendary Maya Plissetskaya – prima ballerina of the Bolshoi ballat company, was also invited to perform at the Washington DC, USA. He was also filmed by Channel Four of London for his innovative works. For many years, Shri Astad Deboo has been working with deaf children in India, USA, Mexico and Hong Kong. He has collaborated with Indian martial arts practioners, puppeteers, actors and musicians, creating distinct and innovative works across many genres.
During the conference Pradhan also highlighted the programs and activities of the Department towards promotion of art and culture of all ethnic communities of Sikkim and its conservation. She also informed about the ongoing projects and activities coordinating with the Tourism department for promotion of pilgrimage tourism. The department is providing various schemes to the people of Sikkim like Appreciation Pension, Samajic Sewa Bhatta, Traditional Houses, Community centers and public library.

source: Sikkim Mail

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Unexplored potential of Community Radio in the North East

Intro: As on, November 2011, there were 121 functional community radio stations in India, of which the north-east operated only two. North-eastern States are in urgent need of this medium, writes PRIVAT GIRI for Media South Asia...

The prospect unlocked by the February 1995 landmark judgement of the Supreme Court that the airwaves or frequencies are public property, still seems to be awaiting recognition from the educational institutions, non-governmental organisations, and civil society in Sikkim and other north-eastern States.
The approval of the Community Radio Policy by the Government of India in December 2002 was a follow-up of this judgement. Initially, only the well-established educational institutions, including IITs/ IIMs, were eligible to get licences for setting up community radio stations. The matter has now been reconsidered and today all the non-profit organisations such as the civil society and voluntary organisations can apply for licence.
The liberation of radio technology in the public domain is the most crucial development in the history of radio broadcasting in India. The history of radio is older than the history of Independent India and since its early days, radio broadcasting has been a government enterprise fully controlled and managed by the Government of India. It is enthralling to ascertain that radio was introduced in India not by the government but by a handful of members of the British civilians during the late 1920s and early 1930s who promoted community listening systems on the rural outskirts of Lahore, Delhi, Peshawar, Madras, and Calcutta.
One of the most influential champions of rural development and community broadcasting was Frank Brayne. Brayne directed the powerful radio technology towards eliminating social ills of rural life, empowering women, and imparting education on health and hygiene. Unable to sustain under the expansionist policy of the government-controlled All India Radio, by 1937, all the operations were taken over by the government (then British). With their closure went the commitment of broadcasting towards development, participation, and social change. Though the idea of community broadcasting was short lived, it has set the basis for the future use of radio technology at the community level.
It is under this framework I argue that the initiative of the government to sanction frequencies at no cost to community radio programme is an opportunity revisited and a breakthrough in attaining those unfulfilled dreams of using radio for community development and social change. The community radio policy guidelines are specifically designed to involve the “community” in all aspects of management and programme production. It has an approach that is different from conventional broadcasting. Community radio’s fundamental priority is to give voice to the voiceless and make its audience the main hero.
So, where do Sikkim and other north-eastern States place themselves in this unexplored arena and how can they make use of this great technology? As on, November 2011, there are 121 functional community radio stations in India of which the north-east operates only two. Both these stations are based in Assam and are run by educational institutions, Gauhati University and Krishna Kanta Handique State Open University. In Sikkim, one NGO and Sikkim University have applied for a licence. The situation is more or less the same in the other north-eastern States. Tamil Nadu, with its 20 operational stations, has the highest number community radio stations.
The figures from the north-eastern States make one wonder why the non-profit organisations from this part of India are first from the bottom in the realm of community radio. The question also demands investigation to affirm how the community radio can be used here. In March, a three- day workshop on “Community Radio Awareness” was hosted in Sikkim by Sikkim University and organised by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India in collaboration with Commonwealth Education Media Centre for Asia. The workshop was in particular an exercise to orient the NGOs in Sikkim and the adjoining region, on the various aspects of community radio technology and its uses.
Although only a handful of NGOs attended the workshop in comparison to their huge presence, the major subject that concerned all those present was funding. The cost of establishing an ordinary radio station comes to around Rs. six lakh, and the government has no provision for funding a community radio project. However, in the context of north-Eastern States what is more severe than the crisis of funding is the reluctance and increasing dilemma among the concerned on how and where to direct this technology.
North-east India has been identified as one of the most vulnerable regions with regard to drug abuse and spread of HIV/AIDS besides domestic violence. The latest figures show 2114 HIV positives cases the seven north-eastern States, almost 91% in Manipur. Further, several studies have revealed inextricable connections among drug abuse, spread of AIDS, and domestic violence. Of the nearly two lakh IDUs (Intravenous Drug Users) in India, 50,800 are from Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, and Meghalaya.
Gary Lewis, representative of United Nations Office on Drug and Crime, has reported that the issue of drug abuse and HIV/AIDS in the north-east region has reached “terrifying dimensions”, with Nagaland and Manipur showing strong links between drug abuse and HIV transmission. Experts from NACO have also held that HIV/AIDS epidemic in the north-eastern States is spread by intravenous drug-users who pass it on to their partners by way of unprotected sex.
Research by Equal Access, supported by the UN Trust Fund in Nepal, has found that HIV positive women are likely targets of violence and discrimination. To address this challenge and the link between violence against women and HIV, Samajhdari, a weekly grassroots radio programme, has been effectively broadcasting programmes highlighting the link between HIV and violence, and o informing the listeners, particularly women, on ways to stay safe.
The civil society, voluntary organisations, and NGOs in north-east should learn from the good experiences of the community radio programmes such as ‘Samajhdari and make use of radio technology for tackling the immediate concerns of society. There are also several other areas where community radio may be employed. North-east India is home to a multitude of conflicts ranging from separatist movements to inter-community, communal, and inter-ethnic conflicts emerging out of diverse outlook of its people and their culture. Such conflicts are halting the emancipation of society from all social odds and undermining the progress of the country. Against such backdrop, community radio can be used as a vehicle to facilitate and contribute in unification and integration of various stakeholders involved in the conflict, ultimately bringing the diverse communities towards peaceful co-existence.
North-east India is also seismically one of the six most active regions of the world, the other five being Mexico, Taiwan, California, Japan, and Turkey. It is placed in zone 5. The region has experienced 19 large-scale earthquakes including the great earthquakes of Shillong (1897), Assam-Tibet border (1950), and Sikkim (2011). The recent earthquake in Sikkim uncovered huge flaws in the formal disaster management institutions of the State and their inability to cope with the situation. Prof. Mahendra P Lama, Vice-Chancellor, Sikkim University, in an interview with The Hindu, said: “The robust system of community-based voluntary management of natural calamities, which remained the most pre-dominant phenomenon for centuries, is fast vanishing. The disaster management task has become government centric whereas traditionally it used to be essentially community centric.”
During such crises, community radio can serve as an alternative to the formal disaster management institutions and simultaneously help the affected people sustain and rebuild their community. It can facilitate people’s participation and also assist in restoring community-based voluntary management of natural calamities. WQRZ-LP, a non-profit low power FM radio station located in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, operating in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is an overwhelming example of such an exercise. It was successful in providing vital emergency communication – including information related to evacuation procedures, search and rescue operations, and distribution points for food and water, when other local media outlets had gone silent.
In addition, community radio can provide a platform to those individuals and groups, whose voices are often being marginalised by the profit-oriented commercial media enterprises, to express the distinctive needs and socio-political interests. Its colossal potential can be directed towards reflecting and promoting local culture, encouraging participation and democratic process, promoting development and social change, and good governance. This will contribute in the integration of the people of the north-east region with the rest of India. Likewise, the government should also assist the organisations concerned in the north-east in the process of establishing a community radio station by providing funds. If the government could commission 22 transmitters the 1982 Asian Games, which was seen as a prestigious event, it also becomes imperative on its part to support community radio which caters to the  to diverse needs and interests of society.
[The writers is an MA student at Sikkim University. This article was originally posted by Media South Asia on its website,, and is reproduced here by arrangement with the writer]

Adventurous trek up the monolith

Maitreyi Ananth
The view from the top at Savandurga is breathtaking, especially at night with the city lit up. Photo: Chayant Gonsalves
The view from the top at Savandurga is breathtaking, especially at night with the city lit up. Photo: Chayant Gonsalves
The view from the top at Savandurga is breathtaking, especially at night with the city lit up
Trekking, as they say, is an experience you struggle through, but somehow manage to romanticise. “Why would anyone ever climb this?” I wondered as I wheezed my way up one of Asia's largest monoliths, 33 km west of Bangalore, off Magadi Road.
Two hills on a rock
Savandurga is a single rock, which has two large peaks known as Biligudda and Karigudda, and broken fort walls.
“According to the Gazetteer of 1897, the fort dates back to 1543 and was built by Samantha Raya, who was a feudatory of the Vijayanagar kings,” says Meera Iyer of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
Rulers such as Tipu Sultan and Kempe Gowda, and British Governor Lord Cornwallis were among those associated with the fort.
Depending on how adventurous you are, you can reach the base of the hill by bus, car or bicycle.
Approaching the hill, you come to realise how massive this rock actually is.
During the monsoon, glimmering lines of water make their way down all the way from the top of the hill.
Savandurga is a great place for birdwatchers. Oriental honey buzzards, yellow-throated bulbuls and blue rock thrushes are just some of the birds sighted. Among other fauna are species of snakes, butterflies and spiders. In the forest around the hills, there have been sightings of elephants, bears and even leopards.
Path less travelled
There are two main routes that lead to the two peaks.
Not many people choose the overgrown route that lies behind the hill. That is perhaps what makes it a better route with lush tree cover most of the way, and broken stone steps.
The more commonly used route is challenging, but you get to rest at two parts of the fort wall that are still intact. Unfortunately, you may have to sit amid garbage.
After what might seem like forever, you reach a small shelter on the top beside a huge rock-pool. The view from the top, along with the whipping wind, is breathtaking, especially at night with the city lights in the distance.
A short walk takes you to the highest point in the hill where there is a small Nandi shrine.
Burial site
“Between 1,800 and 3,000 years ago, a community buried some of its dead here and then built huge stone memorials for them,” Meera says. “That makes Savandurga a megalithic site.”
The memorials were arranged in circular forms, and in archaeological digs, skeletons, copper coins, and terracotta pots have been found.
Despite Savandurga becoming highly touristy, a visit to this place is certainly worth a full day.
Exploring the forests around requires permission from the Forest Department.
Adventure sports and packages are offered by groups, which include rock climbing, caving and camping.
Some of them are Thrillophilia: (9686020000, 9686120000, and Nature Admire (9845079414, 9482894170). 

4 years on, monuments await protected status

Richi Verma, TNN | May 10, 2012, 12.11AM IST

NEW DELHI: In 2008, the Delhi government's archaeology department signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with India National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Delhi Chapter for conservation of 92 monuments. Four years on, the project seems to be stuck in limbo. So far, not a single monument has received final notification and 48 have made it to the preliminary notification stage. Out of these, at least 30 monuments have received objections from the public that need to be resolved. What's worse is that the three-year pact expired last year and is awaiting renewal.

The project was conceived way back in 2008 to bring the government's attention to relatively obscure monuments in the city and restored before the Commonwealth Games. Fifteen monuments, including Bara Lao Ka Gumbad and Gol Gumbad, Darwesh Shah ki Masjid were conserved and turned into prime tourist attractions and another list of monuments that needed to be protected was drawn. Bringing them under the protection of the government was important so that they receive similar attention like the 174 centrally-protected monuments under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). However, conservationists claim that the delay in notifying these monuments is only making them more vulnerable to vandalism or encroachment. "Many of these monuments are located in congested lanes and crowded areas. They can only be protected against encroachment if they are notified as soon as possible. The delay will only exacerbate problems," said a source.

Of the 48 monuments that have received preliminary notification, many have been encroached upon and their facades have been damaged. Bagichi Ki Masjid in Mehrauli is one such example. It has been taken over by locals and painted white and green. Two Mughal-era wall mosques located in Mehrauli Archaeological Park also have been painted over.

"Notification of monuments is a long-winded procedure. Revenue details for each monument have to be verified and authenticated before the nod for final notification can be given," said a senior official. Manpower shortage in the archaeology department is another plausible reason for delay in notification. Sources in the government, however, said that the final notification would take place within the next two months after necessary approval from the LG. "We are hoping that the 48 monuments are notified soon," said a source.

Sikkim Scientist to attend Global Conference in Lepcha costume

source: Isikkim

Scientist LP Sharma to wear indigenous Lepcha costume in the 13th Global Geospatial Conference at Quebec, Canada.
Gangtok, May 9, 2012:
The Speaker of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly (SLA), KT Gyaltsen also the Chief Guest for the programme, today presented a set of traditional Lepcha costume to Scientist LP Sharma who will be  promoting the Sikkimese Cultural Tourism through indigenous Lepcha costume for the 13th Global Geospatial Conference scheduled to be held from May 14- May 17, 2012 at Quebec, Canada.
The programme was organized by the Mutanchi Lom Aal Shezum [MLAS], an NGO from Dzongu, North Sikkim in collaboration with the Sikkim Lepcha Association/ Renjyong Mutanchi Rong Tarjum (RMRT). Scientist Sharma will be wearing the offered attire during his presentation at the said international conference amidst 200- 300 Scientist assembled from all corners of the world.
The Speaker foremostly congratulated and conveyed his best wishes to the Scientist for the forthcoming conference on behalf of the Sikkimese people. Quoting the lines “Manche ko jaat nai Manche”, from a poem written by the Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling, the Speaker explained that it does not matter from which community we belong to, for the ground reality is that we all are human beings in the end as humanity stands above all. And as far as Sikkim is concerned, the unity in diversity in the State is our biggest strength, he added.
People should take Scientist Sharma as a role model for he, though coming from a different community has opted to showcase a part of the Sikkimese culture by flaunting the traditional Lepcha costume in an international forum. This in a way will let the world know and build the people’s inquisitiveness about the community, State and the diverse culture and tradition of the nation as a whole, he added. Advising the elders of the society belonging to different communities to work towards preserving the rich cultural heritage of their respective communities, Gyaltsen said that the youth shall learn from what their elders teach them. Further, mentioning that the natural resources and natural society gave birth to the States’ culture and nature tourism, he added that it is a must for every individual to contribute in their own ways in conservation of the resources and society in order for the said tourism sections to flourish.
Similarly, the Chief Guest also addressing the students present during the programme talked about the importance of education. Also mentioning that the present Government under the dynamic leadership of the CM has laid numerous opportunities for the people of Sikkim especially to the students, Gyaltsen directed the students to make wise use of these opportunities for it will definitely help them in building a bright future. Quoting that “so are your thoughts, so shall you become”, he asserted that in order to gain positive results, a positive change in mindset is required for attitude and perception plays one of the major roles. Along with all these opportunities and a positive mindset, hard work and value of time is also a must, for without any struggle and time management one cannot prosper, he underlined. Lastly, appealing the students to make education their priority and study hard the Chief Guest again quoted, “knowledge is power and positive knowledge is absolute power”.
The Speaker also remained hopeful that in the coming future more delegates from the State will get an opportunity to represent the State and the country as a whole in international level where they can promote the culture and tradition of other communities residing in the State.
Scientist Sharma during his brief address expressed his gratitude to the Speaker along with the MLAS and RMRT for presenting him the traditional Lepcha costume. Also acquainting a brief report on his scientific activities, he informed that he has been working in the field of IT  since the past 18 years. Notifying that his research work on land management and land services has been placed in 2nd position in Asia, the Scientist mentioned that he has introduced 7 new methods in his PhD thesis in addition to already proposed methods by the Senior Scientists. His research works has also been published by international publishers, he added.
Furthermore, the Scientist explaining on why he chose to wear a traditional costume in an international conference said that through such activities he is trying to make the State’s and the nation’s presence felt in a global level. It also helps gain recognition as a distinct identity through our rich culture and tradition. He had once worn traditional Nepali attire during a similar international conference earlier, said the Scientist. He will also present a special package of cultural heritage of India comprising of brochures and write-ups by the Tourism and the IPR Department to the Minister of Natural Resources of Canada, Joe Oliver during the inaugural session of the said conference.
The MLA Menlom Lepcha and former MP of Rajya Sabha OT Lepcha were also present during the programme. The President of MLAS Mika Lepcha gave a brief review of activities of the NGO while the President of RMRT spoke about the importance of Lepcha Culture. The General Secretary RMRT, Dr OT Lepcha delivered a brief introduction of Scientist Sharma to the gathering. The welcome address was delivered by RMRT General Secretary, TT Lepcha while the vote of thanks was given by RMRT Joint Secretary, Amos R Lepcha

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

1931:View from the Howrah Bridge, looking at the bathers and merchants on Chotulal's Ghat, on the east bank of the River Hooghly.source

Indian Glass Plate Negatives

Lost Imagery of India Discovered

4 May 2012
A century-old collection of photographs of India has been discovered in the RCAHMS archive.
The rare and fragile glass plate negatives, which date back to around 1912, show life on the subcontinent at the high point of the British Raj.
The 178 negatives were found in a shoebox for a pair of grey, size 9, Peter Lord slip-on shoes, and were stored in their original five-by-eight-inch plate boxes, wrapped in copies of The Statesman newspaper dating from 1914. Founded in 1875, The Statesman is one of India’s largest circulation English language newspapers, and is still published today.
Highlights from the imagery include celebrations for the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Calcutta in 1912 – the only visit by a British monarch to India as Emperor of the subcontinent – with the city’s buildings lit up at night in tribute; ships arriving at the Chandpal Ghat, the main landing place for visitors to Calcutta along the Hooghly river; pilgrims gathered for a religious festival on the Maidan, the large urban park at the centre of Calcutta; and merchants selling their wares outside the eleventh century Jagganath Hindu temple in Orissa.
RCAHMS architectural historian Clare Sorensen said, "We don't know for sure how the negatives came to be in our collection. We receive archive material from countless different sources, from architectural practices to generous donations from the public, and sometimes take large amounts of material in at once, and often documentation for historical deposits does not exist.
"Over time all this new material will be inspected and catalogued as part of our collection and then made available to the public. It's fantastic that a small shoe-box contained such a treasure-trove of photographic imagery, but in some ways it's not unsual. Our experience as an archive has shown us that some of the most interesting discoveries can be made in the most unlikely of places."
Research by RCAHMS is ongoing into the identity of the photographer and the origins of the collection and we’d ask anyone with further information to contact As the negatives were still wrapped in newspapers from 1914, it is possible that they were transported back to Britain from India at this time, and have remained unopened until now.
All 178 negatives have now been digitised, and you can browse a selection of the best images in our online gallery.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Conservation of Vikramshila
The Minister for Culture and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja has said that the ancient site of Vikramshila Mahavihara in Bihar is a protected monument of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and is in a good state of preservation. The conservation and maintenance work of the monuments is a continuous process and it is attended at this site also on regular basis depending upon the need of repairs and availability of resources.

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha today she said, Vikramshila Mahavihara is one of the prominent Silk Road Sites in India and it is currently on UNESCO’s Tentative List.


(Release ID :83337)

Protected Monuments in Karnataka

The Minister for Culture and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja has said that the details of centrally protected monuments of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in the State of Karnataka are given in Annexure.

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha today she said, the details of funds allocated and utilised for conservation & preservation of protected monuments in Karnataka during the last three years and allocation for the current financial year are as under:

S. No.
Funds allocated and utilised (inRs.Lakh)
1755.00 (Allocation)

She said, the conservation work of protected monuments in the State is attended to regularly, depending upon the need of the repairs and availability of resources and they are in a good state of preservation.