POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Mar 19, 2013 AT 23:36 IST ,  Edited At: Mar 19, 2013 23:36 IST

Radio Pakistan has been on Youtube for some time now. Last October, the I&B ministry followed suit and now along comes Akashvani — All India Radio

The above excerpt from a speech by B.R. Ambedkar at the Constituent Assembly on December 17, 1946, is one of the 74 recordings so far available on the channel

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Mar 19, 2013 AT 23:36 IST, Edited At: Mar 19, 2013 23:36 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Oct 24, 2012 AT 02:26 IST ,  Edited At: Oct 24, 2012 02:26 IST

For a long time now, Radio Pakistan has been putting out treasure troves from its archives on Youtube. It is heartening, therefore, to see the I&B ministry follow suit finally. The Films Division has long had a functioning, albeit klutzy, website where these archival recordings were already available, but putting them on Youtube would certainly make them accessible to a larger number of people. In the typical sarkari way, though, the recordings seem to be just dumped without any context or theme, making browsing through the uploaded material a chore. At least separate playlists for special archival material of classical music, documentaries and notable historical speeches etc would be a good idea, otherwise, as the uploads of regular, news-related programmes increase, browsing and trawling through a lot of such material would make it tedious to find recordings of interest and relevance. In any case, here is some of what caught my eye:


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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Oct 24, 2012 AT 02:26 IST, Edited At: Oct 24, 2012 02:26 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Dec 13, 2011 AT 22:59 IST ,  Edited At: Dec 13, 2011 22:59 IST

Mario João Carlos do Rosario de Brit de Miranda, aka Mario Miranda (1926-2011). RIP.

 As if the year hadn't been cruel enough already, Mario de Miranda died in his sleep in his ancestral house in the early hours of Sunday, December 11. He was cremated yesterday, in accordance with his wishes, at his village in Loutolim.

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Dec 13, 2011 AT 22:59 IST, Edited At: Dec 13, 2011 22:59 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Oct 27, 2011 AT 21:48 IST ,  Edited At: Oct 27, 2011 21:48 IST

Mukul Kesavan on the controversy over A.K. Ramanujan’s essay, Three Hundred Ramayanas

The reason Hindutva militants attacked this essay is not difficult to understand. Hindutva seeks to re-make the diversity of Hindu narratives and practices into a uniform faith based on standardized texts. When Ramanujan tells, in scrupulous translation, Valmiki’s version of Ahalya’s unfaithfulness, where Indra is emasculated by the sage Gautama for cuckolding him, the Hindutva right is embarrassed and appalled because it likes its epics sanitized.

If the members of the academic council and the vice-chancellor are appalled by the Ahalya story, they should know that their objection is to Valmiki’s Ramayana, not Ramanujan’s essay. They should also reflect on the implications of a decision that suggests that the academic guardians of the University of Delhi believe that their Honours students shouldn’t be introduced to an unexpurgated version of Valmiki’s Ramayana, that even references to the original of this epic text, should be bowdlerized or purged on the surreal ground that they distort the “…traditions of Hindu Culture…”

...A university’s academic guardians must know that there have been attempts in other times and places to fabricate an authorized past, to speak for an authentically Indo-European people, to concoct an ‘Aryan’ canon. Ramanujan’s essay is an intellectual antidote to projects such as these, it is a text that revels in the incredible diversity of our epic narratives. [Read on at the Telegraph: Three hundred Ramayanas
- Delhi University and the purging of Ramanujan

PS: For those interested in the Ramanujan poem Kesavan quotes: Some Indian Uses of History on a Rainy Day 

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, in the Indian Express, takes the debate forward:

The exclusion of A.K. Ramanujan’s great essay from the syllabus of the Delhi University highlights the ways in which both the Left and the Right have reduced a great tradition to an impoverished political totem. In the process, both have elided larger questions. The deeper crisis is that our public culture no longer has even the minimal intellectual resources to engage in a serious debate over different “meanings” of Ramayana. The invocation by the Left of a diversity of traditions is technically correct. But in this invocation, diversity is merely a formal gesture. We like the fact that there are diverse Ramayanas. But we don’t want to have the space to discuss any one of them. It is a bit like Amartya’s Sen’s invocation of the unilluminating phrase “argumentative”. We wear the term argumentative as a badge of honour. But are embarrassed by everything the tradition argued about.

...The Left and Right in India share one deep premise. The tradition, in its final analysis, has to be reduced to the social question. Whose group interests does a particular narrative serve?

...But once texts are reduced to the social question, the contest over them will be a contest between raw group power. There will be no space for larger questions of meaning, ethics and ontology. So this Diwali, we wonder what is left of Ram, beyond personal piety on the one hand, and sectarian enlistment on the other. [Read on at the Indian Express: Questions Lit Up]

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Oct 27, 2011 AT 21:48 IST, Edited At: Oct 27, 2011 21:48 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Dec 24, 2009 AT 00:09 IST ,  Edited At: Dec 24, 2009 01:06 IST

The rather bizarre news of a wedding reception in Ghalib's haveli yesterday shouldn't really be surprising.  After all we are a nation that doesn't even seem to care despite the fact that earlier this year there had been reports of  35 "national monuments" having gone missing.

As a building, Ghalib's haveli has hardly anything remarkable about it, and it was just many of the rented houses Ghalib happened to live in. Despite the report, it does not really have any of the personal possessions of the great poet and had been done-up after much neglect earlier, at best as a tourist destination so that one gets to visit the physical space the maestro once inhabited. Which is, of course, not to say that it is perfectly okay for people to hold wedding receptions in it. What was remarkable about the story was how blasé everyone sounded.  As a friend put it in a mail:

Sad. But the usual blaming of the govt. is foolish. After all, it was the groom's family that thought it was a splendid idea. Their guests were not upset. And sure no neighbor thought it was wrong. Parts of the structure are still held by some individuals who can't give a damn for Ghalib. The whole building should have been acquired, if the Ghalibwalas were serious. Delhi folks are not museum-goers, nor do they care for heritage buildings. So are the gentle folks of Lucknow too.

Talking of heritage and buildings, there is some good news about Ghalib's mazaar (do scroll down to see the mysterious sightings of his cat, dog and goat too!). Ghalib wouldn't possibly give a damn about either of the above two bits of news either and would certainly be happier if his poetry was read, recited and remained a living tradition. Talking of which, when the recent Liberhan commission was being discussed in Parliament, Congress's Abhishek Manu Sanghvi recited "gazab kiyaa tere vaade pe aetbaar kiyaa..." and attributed this Daag Dehlavi sh'r to Ghalib. No one contradicted him. He followed it up with a Mir couplet - or so he said: 

nahii shikvaa mujhe kuchh bewaafaaii kaa hargiz
gilaa tab ho agar tuune kissii se kabhii nibhaaii ho

And many  MPs -- I heard three myself in the course of one Rajya Sabha session -- cutting across party lines, recited: 

tuu idhar udhar kii naa baat kar
yah bataa ki Kafilaa kyon luTaa
mujhe rahjano se garaz nahin
terii rahbarii kaa sawaal hai

It got to be so repetitive that one MP (Congress's Rajeev Shukla) who arrived late, and perhaps did not know how often the sh'r had already been quoted, was badly jeered when he launched right into it. But he wouldn't relent and carried on nonchalantly, "chaar baar bolaa gayaa tou ab paaNchvii baar bhii sun lo... "

I had meant to go over the proceedings to see which shaayars were popular with our MPs but somehow never got round to doing it. I do, however, recall at least one Ghalib sh'r was quoted by Najma Heptullah: aah ko chaahiye...And I think they did do "hamko un se wafaa kii hai umiid..." as well.

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Dec 24, 2009 AT 00:09 IST, Edited At: Dec 24, 2009 01:06 IST
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