POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Sep 01, 2015 AT 21:16 IST ,  Edited At: Sep 01, 2015 21:16 IST

On July 23, 2015, we had carried a story on how a PhD researcher came across one of the oldest fragments of the Holy Quran in the Birmingham university library. 

Initial tests showed that, with a probability of more than 95%, the parchment was from between 568 CE and 645 CE.

Recent reports about the carbon dating of these fragments reveal some interesting facts.

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Sep 01, 2015 AT 21:16 IST, Edited At: Sep 01, 2015 21:16 IST
POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Aug 27, 2015 AT 22:17 IST ,  Edited At: Aug 27, 2015 22:17 IST

DNA recently carried a piece on the history and diversity of sambar, the South Indian staple. 

The piece is strewn with little bits of information that most people don't know about. 

For instance, did you know that the quintessentially Tamilian sambhar was a Maratha creation?

The piece claims:

A family tradition – of sorts – is believed to have introduced sambar to the world. The story (with many deviations) goes that Shahuji Bhonsle, second Maratha ruler of Thanjavur (who reigned from 1684-1712), was to welcome cousin Sambhaji – son of Shivaji – to his palace. But preparations for a royal feast were hindered as kokum, used for Maharashtrian amti, was unavailable. So were supplies like moong dal, in whose place toor dal was used.

The article also talks about how sambar is not a homogeneous thing. It has many variants found across Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. In fact, 'sambar' is rarely called so in most Tamilian homes.

kuzhambu, an umbrella term meaning 'gravy', is commonly used. Especially when there's rice, rather than idli or dosa, on the plate. "As for varieties, there's paruppu urundai sambar/kuzhambu, in which the dal is balled into kofta-like dumplings and cooked in the masala. And muttai kuzhambu – egg sambar

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Aug 27, 2015 AT 22:17 IST, Edited At: Aug 27, 2015 22:17 IST
POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Aug 24, 2015 AT 05:08 IST ,  Edited At: Aug 24, 2015 05:08 IST

Around Independence Day, Rahul Ram, Sanjay Rajoura and Varun Grover came up with a lovely song on Indo-Pak relations after 68 years of Partition.

In response, a Pakistani has come up with an equally riveting song about how India and Pakistan must give peace a chance. Pakistani Army officer Muhammad Hassan Miraj's version is about how films and politics across the border have stereotyped the concept of the "enemy" which has take roots deep in the psyche of both the countries.

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Aug 24, 2015 AT 05:08 IST, Edited At: Aug 24, 2015 05:08 IST
POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Aug 21, 2015 AT 00:10 IST ,  Edited At: Aug 21, 2015 00:10 IST

Teesta Setalvad's organisation, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), has doggedly pursued cases linked to the Gujarat riots of 2002. It has systematically fought 68 criminal cases, and 120 people have received life imprisonment because of their efforts. 

A piece titled 'Longtime Critic of Modi Is Now a Target' in the New York Times dated August 19, 2015, discusses the persecution and the kind of slander campaign that Setalvad and her husband have had to face, especially at the hands of the CBI, especially now that Narendra Modi is in power at the Centre, since Setalvad's campaign is to hold him responsible for the Gujarat 2002 riots:

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Aug 21, 2015 AT 00:10 IST, Edited At: Aug 21, 2015 00:10 IST
POSTED BY Maheshwer Peri ON Aug 17, 2015 AT 15:59 IST ,  Edited At: Aug 17, 2015 15:59 IST

I met Seenu at Savera, a 3.5 star hotel in Chennai. He was not ​only ​serving me some delightful food but kept an eye on my table from the corner of his eye. He serves at the hotel by the day and does his MBA in hospitality by the night. His earnings are just about enough for him to live life.

Seenu wasn't intrusive but was around every time I needed him. And as I started talking to him, I grew more interested in his thoughts, his career and his life. He is from Arakkonam in rural Tamil Nadu. He moved to Chennai in search of a career. Seenu is a farmer​'s son.​

But his love for agriculture hasn't diminished. He sounded angry at the way agriculture has been ignored and our farmers ditched by an ungrateful nation. He feels that the green revolution is the biggest war India had ever won. He says he would have loved to continue being a farmer had the circumstances for agriculture remained what they were - rains, water, markets, fertilisers, crop protection, remunerative price etc.

​Seenu blames the callous attitude of successive governments. He thinks that the resolve of farmers to continue pursuing agriculture is put to test by all of us. The farmer of today is ignored, discouraged, unwanted and left to fend for himself against uncertain nature and unsympathetic market economy.

And then he presented me with a book he has authored - 'Uzhavanin Magan' meaning 'Farmer​'​s Son'. It is in Tamil and unfortunately I can't read it. But the title, the illustration and his anger communicated with me. It is his story of how he was forced to give up farming and move to the city in search of a livelihood. It is the story of India, our agriculture, farmers, governments. It is the story of ignorance, callousness and ungratefulness.

This book was released last week in Chennai. He spent his 6 months​'​ salary to publish just 500 copies. It is his expression of anger. It is his way of goading an ungrateful nation. It is real. It is stark. Read it. And if you happen to be in Chennai, drop by at Malgudi Restaurant at Savera Hotel, Chennai to show your support. Maybe, after you speak with him, you will empathise with our farmers as much as a jingoistic nation does with our soldiers. Hopefully, Jai Jawan Jai Kisan will not just be a slogan.

I wish Seenu well. More importantly, I wish we can work on a clear policy for agriculture to ensure that millions of Seenu's continue to pursue agriculture as a commercially viable operation. Because, when we have nothing to eat, there is nothing to fight for.

Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan!

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POSTED BY Maheshwer Peri ON Aug 17, 2015 AT 15:59 IST, Edited At: Aug 17, 2015 15:59 IST
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