Iron Lady of India in Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

An Indian woman who has spent nearly 12 years fasting to protest against a law that gives special powers to the armed forces has been featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

Irom Sharmila Chanu, 40, has been on a hunger strike since 2 November 2000 in the north-eastern state of Manipur.

She has been force-fed through a pipe in her nose since November 2000.

Ripley’s site features a cartoon on the activist and describes her as “the iron lady of Manipur”.

Ms Chanu has repeatedly rejected requests to call off her fast until the government withdraws the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

The act gives sweeping powers to the armed forces when they fight separatist insurgents or leftist radicals – powers which critics say are often misused.


Kshetrimayum Onil, a trustee of Just Peace Foundation, a non-governmental organisation based in the state capital, Imphal, told the BBC that he sent an e-mail to Ripley’s site about Ms Chanu’s struggle in mid-March.

“Lucas Stram, one of the researchers from the Ripley’s team, sent me a link to the cartoon page a few days back,” Mr Onil said.

Ms Chanu’s years of fasting have made her into an iconic figure in Manipur.

The state has a population of about 2.5 million people and a huge force of army, paramilitary and state police. They have been fighting at least 12 insurgent groups since 1980.

The government and the army maintain that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is necessary to restore normality in the state.

But civil society groups allege gross human rights violations by troops and policemen.

Ms Chanu’s hunger strike started after soldiers of the Assam Rifles paramilitary force allegedly killed 10 young Manipuri men in November 2000.

She has been arrested many times and taken to hospital where she has been force-fed a liquid diet through her nose in a bid to keep her alive. (courtesy: BBC)

IPL cheer-girls are teachers, gymnasts & acrobats, not strippers!!!

Angela Carson a Californian, the media spokesperson for the Karnataka Premier League writes in her article The naked truth about the Indian Premier League cheerleaders in her blog: Angela’s Adventures in Bangalore 

The writer (centre) with the RCB White Mischief cheerleaders (from left) Kaylé Koegelenberg, Melissa Burke, Daniella De Silva and Nadine Theron.

These girls are smart, have huge hearts, warm personalities, volunteer their time to charity and can dance your socks off!

No one likes to be falsely labeled or judged. Sadly, I did it before I heard how ridiculous I must have sounded when I heard my buddy make his outlandish claims about women he’s never met. Thank goodness my “fight for the underdog” and “women’s equality” gene kicked in because if not I would have never spent a fun afternoon with Melissa, Nadine, Kaylé and Daniella – who for me were ambassadors for all of the white cheerleaders in India. These girls adore India, respect and are friends with the players and their wives and girlfriends, have a good head on their shoulders and dance their hearts out cheering for our one common goal – an IPL victory! 

….Here in India, although the girls do have official public relations obligations, one thing that touched me the most about them was the activities that they schedule into their own free time, away from the cameras and the limelight. In Kolkata they spent time at Mother Teresa’s Mother House charity where they all felt in awe of the impact she’s had on the world.  They also visited and donated their own time to an orphanage, which they all said left a lasting impression on them and has touched them more than any other experience to date in India.

Melissa Burke (26) team captain. … After high school, Melissa went on to university to study psychology and organisational psychology and next year plans to return to complete her honours and start a career in child psychology because of her passion for helping the young. …She water skis, wake boards and last year took a course in meditation, which she continues to practice here in India .

Nadine Theron (youngest of RCB cheerleaders)…At the age of four she started acrobatics training and is the only member of the RCB cheer team who does acrobatics, including front and back flips, to pump up the crowd at matches. Nadine holds her associate teachers certificate to teaches acrobatics to children. 

Kaylé Koegelenberg is 22, from Windhoek, Namibia…the town where Angelina Jolie and Brad Pritt’s daughter was born…. She’s been dancing since the age of five and has played so many sports – including hockey – that I couldn’t write them all down! 

Daniella De Silva(21) AKA Danimal, is the team joker. She started taking gymnastics classes at five and then modern dance classes at six, which she continued along with hip hop through high school.  ….. she will stay back in India and move to Mumbai after IPL is done. She hopes to make it big in Bollywood one day and work alongside Shahrukh Khan. In Hindi, she’s learned to count up to 23 so far, and is picking up the language quite quickly with a zealous and fun passion for pronunciation!

Back home most of the girls are involved in at least one, if not more, charity organisations. Melissa helps build new schools and improve the infrastructure in townships (slums) and hopes to work with premature babies as a kangaroo therapist.  Kaylé believes in giving her time, not money, and donates her time to underprivileged children’s homes. She’s now going through orientation and background checks in order to spend more time with those kids teaching them to play hockey, although she admits that struggling to generate funds to buy one hockey stick for each kid is a challenge.

Read the full article: The naked truth about the Indian Premier League cheerleaders

(Angela Carson is a Californian who moved to Bangalore in April 2011. Aside from writing for magazines, newspapers and various websites, she heads up the MarCom team for a leading Indian BPO company. She also works in the exciting world of cricket public relations as media spokesperson for the Karnataka Premier League. Angela is also a blogger)

Two Indians in Obama team

Deepa Gupta, Illinois

Deepa Gupta, Illinois

The U.S. Senate recently confirmed the nominations by President Barack Obama of two Indian Americans: Deepa Gupta, of Illinois, as a member of the National Council on the Arts for a term expiring Sept. 3, 2016; and Anuj Chang Desai, of Wisconsin, as a member of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission for the term expiring Sept. 30 this year (2012).

Gupta is a program officer for Media, Culture and Special Initiatives at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, where she manages the Foundation’s grant making in arts and culture in Chicago and the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

She previously served as a senior associate at McKinsey and Company. She is a board member of the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois and an advisory board member of the Cure JM Foundation.

Gupta earned her M.B.A. from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University and an M.P.A. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She has an A.B. in Public Policy and Biology from the University of Chicago.

Desai , who teaches in both the University of Wisconsin Law School and the School of Library and Information Studies, has also taught as a visiting professor at the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing, China, the National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan, and the National Tsing Hua University in Hsinchu, Taiwan.

Before joining the University of Wisconsin faculty in 2001, Desai practiced law at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Delhi men are flirts !!!

She is full of life, energy and most importantly always smiling. Remember the girl with red streaked hair in Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na? Meet Sugandha Garg, the next ‘it-girl’ on the block! The ‘spontaneous’ actor was recently in Delhi for her show It happens only in India, which showcases some of the most amazing and quirky stories from across the country. 

Last seen on a television show, What’s with Indian Men Sugandha says, “Indian men are really close to their moms, they are ‘momma’s boys’. But, they take real care of their women. On the other hand, they are really confused about the concept of the ‘modern’ woman.” Ask her about the men in Delhi, she laughs and says, “Men in Delhi are slightly aggressive, they are possessive and even flirt.”

Gul Panag, former Miss India and Bollywood Actress, complained about eve teasing in Delhi on Twitter, a social networking website. According to Gul Panang’s tweet : “Delhi men won’t let go of any opportunity to touch women.” After reading this tweet post many inhabitants of Delhi felt offensive. According to them just because of the misdeeds of one or two people, we can not blame the whole city.
However, Gul Panag was defensive and later said that she has full right to generalize the statement as it is not about a celebrity but about every women in Delhi. She strongly felt that women of Delhi would agree to her experience. Apart from Gul Panag, few other bollywood celebrities are of the same opinion. In an interview with Hindustan Times, Minnssha Lamba, actor and model said ” Men are same every where .. their behavior depends on their social conditioning” Sophie Choudry, a singer, also said “The average Delhi Guy still has a slightly regressive attitude towards women.”

Aamir Khan, the ideator behind ‘desi-leaks’ SATYAMEV JAYATE

Anything Aamir touches turns into gold. We all know that. But it’s not just a magic trick. No, he listens to people, to their concerns, what moves them. He is reading society like a book. Then he starts thinking… for a looooooong time he does just that.  You can hear Aamir thinking during the long silences when he seems to disappear from watchful Bollywood eyes. You know the jolly monster that glows in the dark with hundred thousand eyes and then spits out gossip, lots of it, well, he knows how to hide from it.  Aamir has found a way of tricking the Bollywood-Yeti into believing nothing is going on with him… and then he appears on stage and pulls out.

And everyone is in awe. This time it’s a TV show which promises to cover a lot of grey areas.  Satyamev Jayate  promises to become the desi Oprah show, the desi Wikileaks.

The first episode dealt with the barbaric practice of female foeticide and it got a HUGE response.  I hope he will focus on a couple of other issues, such as animal cruelty, the need for nationwide and organized sanitation program, garbage collection, public waste baskets,  which I still haven’t discovered yet, not even one! OMG, so many issues I can think of, starting from minimal wages which should be raised, child labor,  abuse of young daughter in laws, touching upon  the very difficult subject of  homosexuality… I wonder how far Aamir will go and what he will investigate next.

Meanwhile, he successfully shook up the nation with his first show. It will be interesting to see what follows.

One last thing, people who criticize Aamir and claim he is preachy are probably those who got good cards dealt in life. I think it’s wonderful that he takes up the concern of people, that he cares. He puts himself out and tries to make a difference. He could have made another gory movie like Ghajini, which was gold at the B.O., instead he chose to use his fame, his time to create a show that might change the mindset of people, and opens their eyes towards something unjust that they keep ignoring partly because they don’t know how to fix it. I salute Aamir for what he is trying to do. I hope  he will make this show available on DVD – with subtitles, and I wish him great success. (courtesy: thebollywoodaddict)

read up on the show and how  100,000 people called in after the show to talk to Aamir.. movie_story.aspx?ID=ENTEN20120202290&subcatg=MOVIESINDIA&keyword=bollywood&nid=207996

Photo Treasure: 1912, Kolkata at the high point of British Raj

H Hobbs & Co, 4 Esplanade East, Kolkata, lit for the British royal visit. The shop sat next to the Military (Ordnance) Department. Harry Hobbs (1864-1956) arrived in Calcutta to work as a piano tuner in 1883. In 1893 he established his own company, H Hobbs and Co Ltd which advertised as ‘Pianoforte importers, repairers and tuners, player pianos and extensive library of perforated music. Agents for Ky-Ko non-electric fans’. Hobbs lived above the branch on 4 Esplande East until his death in 1956 (apart from travel to the UK and abroad). The shop itself moved to 9 Esplanade East and then 21 Old Courthouse Street. For a period before and then again during and after World War II, he was also ‘Special Director’ Manager of Spence’s Hotel (now demolished). He was a succesful businessman and Calcutta character, writing a number of newspaper articles and books on Calcutta life. By the time of his death his obituary made the claim that he had been the oldest living European in India. Information on Hobbs from various sources including from ‘The Chingri Kal Chronicles’ by Malcolm Tucker, Hobbs’s grandson.

An impressive collection of photographs of India, dating more than a century ago, have been discovered in a shoebox in an Edinburgh institute, London. However, identity of the photographer is a mystery.
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 and mostly detail life in Kolkata, which was a major commercial hub.
The plate-glass negatives were found by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland in Edinburgh.

“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,” the commission said. The negatives had been wrapped in copies of the Statesman newspaper dating from 1914.
“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,” the commission said.
However, the commission does not have any details about the provenance of the rare photographs. “Among the theories are that the photographer was a British civil servant headquartered in Kolkata, or was connected to the jute trade, as many Scots were at the time.,” the commission 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,” RCAHMS architectural historian Clare Sorensen said.
“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 unusual. Our experience as an archive has shown us that some of the most interesting discoveries can be made in the most unlikely of places,” she added.
The commission approached John Falconer, curator of photographs at the British Library, who correctly identified some of the locations.
The 178-photograph collection includes images detailing 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. The photographs show Kolkata’s buildings lit up at night in tribute. The collection also includes photographs of ships arriving at the Chandpal Ghat, the main landing place for visitors to Kolkata along the Hooghly river; and pilgrims gathered for a religious festival on the Maidan in the centre of Kolkata.
The collection also includes photographs of Britons playing tennis and socialising as part of their day-to-day lives in India in the early 20th century. The photograph collection can be viewed online at (…).

Jewel In The Town: Teen Murti Bhavan, only library in the world having monumental photo archives

Teen Murti Bhavan: 20 acres of land, divided into two expansive floors, and stocking over 2,59,000 books, 18,223 microfilm rolls, 51,322 microfiche plates, 500 periodicals, 1,95,000 photographs and 11,000 collections of manuscripts!

Treasure trove of political secrets

Baishali Adak
The Teen Murti Bhavan library has photo archives and century old papers besides historic books. Inspite of a lack of dedicated readers, Delhi does not lack libraries. Public and private libraries can be located in almost every district of the Capital city.

However, there are a few which are special in their historicity, purpose of establishment and book stock. One of them is the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML). This magnificent library, located in the Teen Murti Bhavan complex, is a gem in terms of the archival material it has stocked over the years. Besides rare historic books, you will find here photo archives, micro-films documenting centuries-old newspapers and hand-written letters and files by political leaders difficult to find not only elsewhere in India but across the world.

Teen Murti Bhavan, the official residence of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, was converted into a museum and library after his death in 1964. At that time, the library had part of Nehru’s personal book and letters collection and some donated by political leaders. Over time, it acquired more books and papers and now stands over atleast 20 acres of land, divided into two expansive floors, and stocking over 2,59,000 books, 18,223 microfilm rolls, 51,322 microfiche plates (a small sheet of microfilm on which many pages of material have been photographed), 500 periodicals, 1,95,000 photographs and 11,000 collections of manuscripts!

Professor Mahesh Rangarajan, director NMML, informs, “This is the world’s leading resource centre on political, social, economic and religious history of modern India starting from Raja Rammohun Roy to contemporary times with special emphasis on the Indian nationalist movement and the Nehruvian era. Today, we are supporting many research scholars and historians through study material and the Nehru Memorial Fellowship. The only problem is that not many are aware of this treasure trove of knowledge situated right in the middle of Delhi.” It goes without saying that the most impressive part of the library is its manuscript section. It houses carefully preserved collections of letters and papers of not only politicians but historic institutions, eminent businessmen, diplomats, academicians, scientists, bureaucrats and educationists. One of the oldest papers is that of the 1885 All India Congress Committee (AICC) meeting in Bombay detailing resolutions passed therein.

Besides, they have the original manuscript of Discovery of India handwritten by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1944 at the Ahmednagar Fort jail.

Other than thousands of letters by and to Indira Gandhi, Jayaprakash Narayan, C Rajagopalachari, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel etc., we also have here letters written to Nehru by Mahatma Gandhi undersigned as ‘Bapu.’

NMML is also the only library from the world over to have a huge stock of photo archives. These include black and white pictures of 15 August 1947 midnight session of the Indian Parliament; President Dr. Rajendra Prasad signing the Constitution on 24 January 1950; refugee camps across North India; the Commonwealth Prime Minister’s Conference in Belgrade in 1961, the UN General Assembly in 1948 and several others.

Other than this, there is a section devoted to digitising fragile newspaper records in the form of microfilm rolls and microfiche plates. One can view the 1780 edition of Hickey’s Bengal Gazette, copies of Amrit Bazar Patrika from 1905 onwards, Times (London) 1785-1996, Census of India papers 1872-1931 and Madras Mail 1868-1981 etc.

The books include selected works by Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, their various biographies, excellent and rare books on the history of India and many other countries and scores of books on a variety of subjects like Sociology, Political Science, Economics and Geography.

Every year the NMML opens up some of its manuscripts which had remained closed because of confidential reasons until a certain time. These include private papers of Indira Gandhi, V K Krishna Menon, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit and other leaders. So, besides general knowledge on Indian history, NMML holds in its folds, many political secrets waiting to be revealed. Be patient. (courtesy: Deccan Herald)