India’s Oprah, Aamir Khan

Aamir Khan(Sataymev Jayate)’s efforts may make a dent where the Indian health secretary can’t.

Tripti Lahiri writes in her column in  WSJ‘s INDIAREALTIME:

…In a culture that reveres Bollywood, and celebrity in general, his (Aamir Khan’s)  efforts may make a dent where the health secretary can’t.

……..In the first of 13 episodes, Mr. Khan began with one-on-one conversations, Oprah Winfrey-style, with two women about how they were treated after giving birth to daughters.

…….“Satyamev Jayate” takes elements of the female empowerment talk show associated with Oprah Winfrey, journalism, public service announcements and reality TV interactivity and throws them all together. Only in geeky India would a movie star feel the need to add graphs and charts to the mix.

…….Will the Rajasthan government respond to Mr. Khan’s letter and audience SMS’s? Will the trials proceed faster and will the show change attitudes that are deeply entrenched? It’s a little too early to be upbeat about any of these things — Mr. Khan may well be preaching to the choir — but unlike some of the skeptics among the Twitterati, we’re happy to give Mr. Khan lots of props for devoting 90 minutes to trying.

…..In the meantime, the show seems likely to continue its focus on women and children – and is likely to be as bleak next week. We’re guessing child abuse, from the spot that showed a woman telling Mr. Khan, “Believe what your child tells you,” as he wipes a tear from his eye.

Read the full article: India’s Oprah, Aamir Khan

Bollywood, not Aishwarya Rai has ‘pregorexia’!!

Lacy Jaye Hansen a graduate of Wichita State University and a two-time Boston Marathon finisher writes in her column Aishwarya Rai Pressured by Bollywood Fans to be Skinny after Baby in

As other Ash supporters have stated, she is on a professional break, and her looks shouldn’t have any bearing on her celebrity. This excuse didn’t fly with most commentators in Bollywood as they are only giving her one year to get back to perfection.

“One year down the line, if you want to have a debate whether she looks the way she used to, then that’s fine.”

This obsession with unnaturally skinny pregnant women is bad enough in the US. It has officially been given a name as of late,pregorexia. Eating disorder specialists are warning that many women are under the pressure to not gain too much weight during their pregnancy and what little they do gain they need to lose quickly after. This issue is clearly even worse for those in the limelight of Bollywood.

True supporters of Aishwarya are urging the media to back off as “She’s enjoying her life and her new baby, and doesn’t give a damn about what the rest of us think of her or her body. And that’s good reason for all women – pregnant or not – to celebrate.”

(Read the full column: Aishwarya Rai Pressured by Bollywood Fans to be Skinny after BabyWhen not training for her next run Lacy Jaye Hansen is a busy wife and mom.)

Japani Bodhu: Immortalising the Bengali ‘voice’ of Bose’s Azad Hind Radio in Tokyo

Writer, Scholar and noted Historian Surajit Dasgupta wrote on his blog

Bongo-Mohilar Japan Jatra: Hariprobha Takeda (1912)

Bongo-Mohilar Japan Jatra: Hariprobha Takeda (1912)

A documentary film on my aunt, Hariprobha Takeda, a remarkable woman who was far ahead of her times, made by a Bangladeshi filmmaker, Tanvir Mokammel (The River Named Modhumati, Lalon, Quiet Flows The River Chitra, Lalsalu, etc.) premieres in India in June. Here is a news item from The Daily Star

From a nondescript woman in Dhaka to Tokyo, where she read news in Bangla on radio for Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose‘s Azad Hind Fauj, travelling in the dead of night every day risking her life through bomb-ravaged streets of Tokyo during the Second World War.

That is the exceptional story of Hariprobha Basu Mallik, who married a Japanese entrepreneur Wemon Takeda, and travelled to Tokyo in 1912, and whose life has been recreated on the celluloid by eminent Bangladeshi director Tanvir Mokammel in his latest documentary, “Japani Bodhu” (The Japanese Wife) set to be premiered in Dhaka next month.

Born in 1890, Hariprobha would have remained a largely forgotten figure but for her “Bongo Mohilar Japan Jatra”, a memoir of her journey to Japan in 1912, considered the first book on that country by any woman from the subcontinent. The book was first published from Dhaka in 1915, Mokammel told The Daily Star.

Read the full posting by Surajit Dasgupta: Bongo-Mohilar Japan Jatra: Hariprobha Takeda

‘Bengaluru’ – formless, even viscous!

Girish Karnad, the winner of the 1998 Bharatiya Jnanpith award,  a playwright, actor, film director, and arts administrator writes in THE DAILY BEAST

It was not so long ago that Bangalore was competing only with Singapore.

It was not so long ago that Bangalore was competing only with Singapore.

…..The current joke is that the only buildings to remain unscathed by the onslaught may be Vidhana Soudha, the building that houses the legislature, and UB City, a complex that is a hideous combination of the Empire State Building and Internet kitsch, built by a liquor baron.

……The emergence in the ’60s of the liquor industry, with its intractable deals and infinitely manipulable accounting, seems an inevitable response to the demands of the new democratic politics. And liquor barons virtually took over the running of the city. They built cinema halls, started newspapers, built schools, opened restaurants, produced films, invested in real estate, and even hosted public parties in honor of politicians. Then in July 1981, tragedy struck. More than 300 died on a single day from drinking illicit liquor, and the aura surrounding alcohol began to pall.

 …..That these firms grew without bowing and scraping to the government has caused no little resentment in the Vidhana Soudha.The new IT prosperity has created a young, energetic, educated, and wealthy working class, transforming Bangalore into a consumer’s paradise of shopping malls and office complexes with glass-fronted exteriors. The insatiable demand for “good English” has renewed the anxiety that Kannada may die out in the city. In 2006 Bangalore was renamed Bengaluru.

……But the main loss has been the sense of a stable, coherent city. The experience of the city has become formless, even viscous. Everyone is trying to get somewhere, and distance has become the only real object of daily concern. Instead of shrinking the city, the flyovers, underpasses, and elevated trains seem continually to expand it, pushing people farther and farther away from each other.

Read the full column: Girish Karnad Reflects on Bangalore, India

US has begun warming to chief (prime) minister Narendra Modi

James Fontanella-Khan in Charanka, Gujarat, and James Lamont in New Delhi writes in Financial Times:

.…Such turbocharged growth, coupled with a report on the riots from a Supreme Court-appointed team that exonerated Mr Modi, has made the chief minister a possible prime ministerial candidate for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party in 2014 parliamentary elections.

……“It is stupid if you are not in Gujarat,” Ratan Tata, the chairman of the Tata Group, once said in a ringing endorsement after moving his Nano plant from West Bengal to the state.

…..Not only has Mr Modi led an economic transformation built on the supply of electricity and improving roads, he has pulled off a remarkable rebranding of the state, largely centred on himself.

….Admirers say he has the instincts of a chief executive with little tolerance for underperformance among his officials. His critics say the “media hype” is intended to clean up his image, arguing that the communal riot and Mr Modi’s divisive, overtly religious stance make him unacceptable to India’s voters.

……One senior western diplomat says that while Gujarat’s boasts do not always live up to scrutiny, the international community is being forced to engage with Mr Modi in support of their business executives.

…..The US, which denied Mr Modi a visa in 2005 due to “particularly severe violations of religious freedom”, has begun warming to Gujarat’s chief minister. Peter Haas, the Mumbai-based US consul general, recently stood at Mr Modi’s side at the inauguration of the Gujarat Solar Park, praising the state’s government for creating the conditions and incentives for investment.

Read the full story in Financial Times: Modi puts Gujarat growth on a fast track

Aamir Khan (satyamev jayate) can bring a revolution in India

Dr. Mitu Khurana, a pediatrician & the mother of the 5-year-old twins guddi & pari, is the first woman in New Delhi to file a complaint under India’s PCPNDT Act, which bans sex determination tests.

Dr. Mitu Khurana, a pediatrician & the mother of the 5-year-old twins guddi & pari, is the first woman in New Delhi to file a complaint under India’s PCPNDT Act, which bans sex determination tests.

 Rachna Srivastava writes in Bollygraph:

Shabana Azmi: Watching Aamir Khans TV show on female foeticide. SUPERB. Bravo Aamir.. What a huge service u r doing. Bless u. Jeete Raho. Khush raho. Aamir Khans show can bring a revolution. Thoroughly researched covers all aspects touches emotional chord n forces us to reexamine ourselves

A sure exposition brought before us which acts as an adjuvant , in unearthing the human in us.” Satyamev Jayate” unraveled all emotions in the very first episode itself, leaving us expecting more out of it every week, taking the journey around in India along with the superstar Aamir Khan. We all have inflated respect for this Khan even more now.

The eyes were left misted when we heard the dolorous story of Mitu Khurrana, who comes from a very well educated family and was also married off in a family well settled and well educated. Her case impinged all souls and left everyone with an array of unanswered questions and mixed thoughts.

Post the show twitter was flooded with tweets from the celebs, like:

Preity Zinta: Watching Aamir Khan on Satyamev Jayate discussing Female Foeticide ! I love this effort from him & thank him as a Woman !

Poonam Pandey: #SatyamevJayate reminds of the Sunday Time Slot whn use to watch #Mahabharat as a teen evn by skipng some sunday mtchs Bravo “Aamir Khan”

Neha Dhupia: #nowwatching @aamir_khan address the unreal problems of real india … I’m a fan as always! #satyamevajayate. Respect @aamir_khan #satyamevajayate !

Farhan Akhtar: Satyamev Jayate. A show with a heart.

Mandira Bedi: A reality show in its truest sense. Some stirring & troubling realities of our times.. I applaud @aamir_khan

Zoya Akhtar: #AamirKhan proves that being a real hero is about affecting change and not about 6 packs and sexy backup dancers. Respect. #Satyamevajayate

Vishal Dadlani: Aamir coulda made 3 Cr. a day for any kinda TV show. He CHOSE to make his airtime worthwhile. May his tribe increase. #satyamevajayate.

Satyamev Jayate is very well researched and well grounded in terms of numbers and figures. Aamir surely has double-checked his homework. He also broght along two audacious journalists,Meena Sharma and Shripal Shaktawat from Rajasthan,who had conducted a sting operation seven years back in clinics and hospitals across India  on the barbaric cases of infanticide, bringing to the actual front the real faces of the doctors that were involved ,who can just for some amount of money, kill the child in the womb. The cases are still lying open in Rajasthan court and has been divided to different sub-divisional courts and since years the accused doctors have their licenses intact and they are continuing with their practices.

Through the show Aamir has brought the issue in front of the public and has promised to write a letter to the Rajasthan Court, pleading them to constitute fast-track courts and the cases should be brought in the limelight and be resolved as soon as possible. Aamir, has also seeked public support which can be expressed via sms or feedback on their web portal

On the ending note, Aamir talked about a “magic wand” which lies in the hands of common people and every individual who had witnessed the show.He showcased a small success story of a small district in Punjab named Nawanshahr, where people with their continued efforts saved around 2000 girls.It is a pledge that we need to take in order to stop injustice that is spreading its roots and would some day,if not controlled, devour our whole country,leaving it in ruins.

Read the full report:  Satyamev Jayate – Aamir wins hearts !!