Avantibai who? Read the NCERT textbook

Rani Avantibai rose in revolt against the British during 1857, much like Rani Laxmi Bai

In yet another example of the role played by political pressure in shaping school curriculum, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has found merit in the demand to include Rani Avantibai Lodhi in school textbooks.

Last year, following an uproar engineered by MPs of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Bahujan Samaj Party in the Rajya Sabha during the monsoon session, the HRD ministry had advised NCERT to consider the inclusion of the 19th century freedom fighter in textbooks. The protest had led to two adjournments in Parliament.

The council, apparently convinced by the ‘sentiment’ of the House, has made Rani Avantibai Lodhi a part of popular recall. The freedom fighter has been mentioned in NCERT’s social science textbook for Class VIII – on pages 58 and 59 under chapter five called ‘When People Rebel’ – from the new academic session that began last month.

Rani Avantibai rose in revolt against the British during the country’s first war of independence in 1857. She ruled over the Ramgarh state, today in Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh. She is known to people in the state through folklore and, that apart, there isn’t much information available. The story of her battle with the English has often been likened to that of Rani Laxmi Bai, a must-read in history curricula followed by schools across the country.

(courtesy: MailOnlineIndia & Ritika Chopra)

Read the full story: Avantibai who? Read the NCERT textbook

Related articles

Ansari(Rajya Sabha) TV is soaking up money faster than a sponge does water

Speaker, in a joint session after nomination of Rekha in Rajya Sabha

Speaker, in a joint session after nomination of Rekha in Rajya Sabha

In creating an independent television channel to promote the Rajya Sabha (RS) and its members, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, who is chairman of the Upper House, seems to have indulged in an extravagance that our stretched public resources can ill-afford. Pallavi Polanki  files a very important & explosive report in Firstpost India :

Headed by Gurdeep Singh Sappal, formerly OSD (officer on special duty) to Ansari, Rajya Sabha TV is soaking up money faster than a sponge does water. For 2012-13, the bill will be around Rs 73 crore. In November 2007 when Sappal, then OSD to the chairman, requested the file on the initiative to “launch Rajya Sabha Television, which was eventually abandoned” to be put up for his perusal. Subsequently, in April 2008, when the GPC gave its ‘in principle’ nod to RS TV, the channel was proposed as joint project with Lok Sabha TV, under a common network called the Sansad Television Network. However, what transpired – the launch of RSTV as an independent entity – was neither approved nor endorsed by the GPC. This, despite members of another Rajya Sabha committee, expressing strong reservations about the creation of an independent channel.

… setting up of a new RS TV channel by spending several crores of rupees may not serve any purpose, as it would not be run by experts in the field, thereby leading to production and airing poor quality programmes. Moreover, the exercise to project the members of the Rajya Sabha was not advisable as proceedings were already being telecast by Doordarshan…But that was not to happen.

..No gazette notification was issued on the setting up of the channel…And for 2012-2013, the budgeted expenditure (for the channel)  is an astounding Rs 73.30 crore.

….Raising the question, do we really need more general interest programming using taxpayers’ money — on a channel dedicated to Parliament, when we already have a national broadcast network (Doordarshan) with a fleet of channels catering to everything from news and current affairs to entertainment, sports and more?

Read the full report: Ansari’s Rajya Sabha TV swallows huge state resources

Oldest Indian Parliamentarian Rishang Keishing says, It was so quiet and peaceful then!

For Rishang Keishing (92), the world of Indian Parliament had opened up through the window of a train. After getting elected from Manipur in the first Lok Sabha in 1952, it took four days for him to reach Delhi. He is the oldest parliamentarian in India.

“I had to board an overcrowded train to Delhi at Katihar. The police somehow pushed me inside it through a window,” Keishing, now a Rajya Sabha member, recalls.

For the first time, the man from Bungpa Khunou village saw India beyond Assam.

“I was awestruck when I entered Parliament. I entered the Lok Sabha and saw stalwarts like Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Azad sitting across me. I had only seen their pictures in newspapers. I thanked God for the day,” he tells HT.

Three other MPs of 1952 Lok Sabha are alive: Resham Lal Jangade (Bilaspur constituency), Kamal Singh (Shahabad-North-West) and Kandala Subrahmanyam (Vizianagaram). But they are leading retired lives.

Keishing is politically active and his memory remains razor-sharp. He recalls his first meeting with Nehru: He spotted the Prime Minister in the Parliament corridor and called out to him. The Prime Minister turned back. Keishing asked if some emissaries of Zapu Phizo (the secessionist Naga leader) can meet him.

“No, No, No” Nehru snapped back and questioned why a handful of Naga leaders refuse to accept India’s authority. Keishing, a die-hard Indian nationalist, hit back: “Why are you shouting at me? I have just come to hear ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”

“Nehru followed me and caught me by my arm after a few minutes. He said they should first meet the home minister,” Keishing recalls.

His closest association was with Indira Gandhi. Keishing, then a minister in Manipur, came to meet her and she said, you become the chief minister.

“I said I belong to a small tribe and she replied, ‘In democracy, the size of your community doesn’t matter. What matters is the confidence of people’.”

After his first Rajya Sabha term, Keishing requested Sonia Gandhi to let him retire.

“Soniaji threw a dinner party. After dinner, I walked up to her to say goodbye. She told me, ‘you are re-nominated. Now you rush back to Imphal to file your nomination papers’.”

The biggest regret of the MP is, of course, the deteriorating standard of parliamentary practice.

“It was so quiet and peaceful. Today’s disruptions don’t help much,” Keishing says.

Sunil Gavaskar’s dream at Rashtrapati Bhavan

AJITH PILLAI imagines in his column Straight drive to Raisina Hill  in The Daily Mail about Little Master Sunil Gavasker,  dreaming of being the President of India and delivering his Presidential address:

Friends, cricketers and countrymen, lend me your bats; I stand here to bowl a few long hops to Manmohanji not to praise him; I know the shots he missed and the catches he dropped will live after him; The several good innings he played will be interred with the UPA’s bones: So be it with our PM…The noble Sushma Swaraj hath told you Manmohanji was anti-aam admi. And Sushamaji is an honourable man-oops woman…’

….By now dawn had broken. I decided to call APJ Abdul Kalam for his advice. Without any provocation he asked me if I preferred my eggs sunny side up and I answered in the affirmative. 

‘Gavaskarji, you are so predictable,’ he said in his typical drawl. 

And then he launched into classical Tamil which was not Marathi to me. 

Thankfully, he translated poet Thiruvallur into English although he made me repeat the verses after him. 

‘The axle of a cart loaded even with peacocks’ feathers can break. Think and then undertake work; to think later will bring disgrace.’ 

Rattled I rang up Sidhu for some news. He was apologetic. ‘Sunnybhai, things are bad. Soniaji says the Congress can’t back another Maharashtrian after nominating Tendulkar to the Rajya Sabha. And BJP President, Nitin Gadkari, says you’re unsuitable since you once refused to wear khaki shorts… Guru, I’ve finally learnt that a fat man downsized through surgery is more dangerous than a tree that grows in girth through watering.’ 

Well, there went my Presidential hopes… 

Read more: With Sachin joining the RS, the Little Master deserves to be considered for the presidency

Fine Print: Rajya Sabha to vote on Indian Media Censorship!

The Rajya Sabha is expected to vote on a motion on Friday that seeks to annul rules enabling individuals to demand removal of any content they deem offensive, on the grounds that these guidelines restrict freedom of expression. (courtesy: Bhuvaneshwari Joshi)

Hindustan stands by Katju’s opinion in The Hindu: Media (read, channels) are irresponsible, reckless and callous!

Media cannot reject regulation

Chairman of the Press Council of India Justice Markandey Katju wrote in The Hindu

If red lines can be drawn for the legal and medical professions, why should it be any different for profit-making newspapers and TV channels?

….The way much of the media has been behaving is often irresponsible, reckless and callous. Yellow journalism, cheap sensationalism, highlighting frivolous issues (like lives of film stars and cricketers) and superstitions and damaging people and reputations, while neglecting or underplaying serious socio-economic issues like massive poverty, unemployment, malnourishment, farmers’ suicides, health care, education, dowry deaths, female foeticide, etc., are hallmarks of much of the media today. Astrology, cricket (the opium of the Indian masses), babas befooling the public, etc., are a common sight on Television channels. 

Paid ‘news’ is the order of the day in some newspapers and channels where you have to pay to be in the news. One senior political leader told me things are so bad that politicians in some places pay money to journalists who attend their press conferences, and sometimes even to those who do not, to ensure favourable coverage. One TV channel owner told me that the latest Baba (who is dominating the scene nowadays) pays a huge amount for showing his meetings on TV. Madhu Kishwar, a very senior journalist herself, said on Rajya Sabha TV that many journalists are bribable and manipulable.

 ….Why then are the electronic media people so furiously and fiercely opposing my proposal? Obviously because they want a free ride in India without any kind of regulation and freedom to do what they will. 

Read the full column in The Hindu: Media cannot reject regulation

If Loksabha, a bat would really have come in handy to Sachin

Tunku Varadarajan writes in his column The World On A Page in The Newsweek International

Little Master, M.P.

Until now, the only argument Indians have had over Sachin Tendulkar is whether he is the greatest cricketer ever to have played the game, or merely the greatest Indian cricketer. But with his nomination to the Rajya Sabha—the Indian parliament’s upper house—some of his fussier compatriots are asking what (if any) skills the batsman possesses that would equip him for a legislature. Tendulkar, known to the game’s followers as the “little master,” is a notably apolitical man. He will be the first active sportsman to sit in the upper house, a sedate institution when compared with the Lok Sabha, or lower house—where a bat would really have come in handy.

Tunku Varadarajan is the editor of Newsweek International. He is also the Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow in Journalism at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. He was an editor at the Wall Street Journal from 2000 to 2007.