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The BJP today termed as "false and malicious untruth" reports that it wants to impose a ban on beef in Meghalaya as anothe
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As the violence-hit town turned near normal, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today visited Bhadrak and promised stern
One person died and six others were injured in a communal clash at Vadavali village in Patan district of Gujarat today.
It's that sort of a time.
Leela Naidu, who died yesterday, was on the same list of Vogue's 10 most beautiful women in the world as Maharani Gayatri Devi, the rajmata of Jaipur, who passed away today at age 90.
Both of them, incidentally, were also on Amitabh Bachchan's list of unforgettable women:
I consider the Maharani of Jaipur one of the most beautiful women of this century for her looks, her presence, the way she carries herself and the clothes she wears. In the latter part of her life, she has done a lot for Jaipur in setting up institutions of education and improving the lot of women.
The London-born princess of Cooch Behar was the third Maharani of Jaipur from 1939 to 1970 after her marriage to Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II and was later known as Rajmata or Queen Mother.
She entered active politics on an anti-Congress plank when she founded the Swatantra Party in Rajasthan. She won a landslide victory from Jaipur Lok Sabha seat in 1962 and again emerged victorious in 1971. As Time magazine wrote during her campaign for the 1962 Lok Sabha elections:
...not in the 14 years of Indian independence has there appeared a candidate with her aura and appeal: she is rich, beautiful, intelligent, and a first-rate politician.
The maharani represents the most striking example so far of the return of India's onetime ruling class to national politics. One of the government's first moves in 1947 after independence was to start removing from power the 562 maharajahs who had ruled their states under benevolent English eyes. Pensioned off with handsome privy purses, some of the maharajahs retired to dream of past glories. But about 20 have entered the diplomatic service; another 40 are in politics. None has created the stir caused by the Maharani of Jaipur, who chose to join the new and growing Swatantra Party, a right-wing group that attacks the "socialism" of Nehru's Congress Party and calls for the kind of individualism sought in the U.S. by Dwight Eisenhower. The party's venerable founder is Chakravatri Rajagopalachari, first native-born Governor General of India, who lyrically describes the maharani as "a combination of Sita, Lakshmi and the Rani of Jhansi."
Khushwant Singh described her political career thus:
She fell foul of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi whom she had known since their short period together in Shantiniketan. Indira could not stomach a woman more good-looking than herself and insulted her in Parliament, calling her a bitch and a glass doll. Gayatri Devi brought the worst out in Indira Gandhi: her petty, vindictive side. When she declared the Emergency, Gayatri Devi was among her first victims. She had her Jaipur palaces ransacked by income-tax inspectors. All they found was petty cash. Nevertheless, Indira had her locked up in Tihar Jail. When Sanjay Gandhi got killed in a plane crash, Gayatri rang up Indira to offer her condolences. Indira refused to take her call.
After serving five months in the Delhi Jail for allegedly breaking tax laws, she retired from politics. But she remained a style icon for ever. Way back in 1961, Time had waxed lyrical over her " lithe figure wrapped in a peppermint chiffon saree" and almost 50 years later, when doing a story on the sari, it was still Gayatri Devi that Outlook was reminded of:
Last year, when the magazine turned 13, we asked 13 people what they remembered of their first teenage years. Gayatri Devi told us that she had shot her first panther before she turned thirteen.
As she sat down, one of Cecil Beaton's 10 most beautiful women in the world, I noticed she had retained her flawless complexion although her figure and face were both fuller, her hair, now snow white, framing her face in what used to be called a bob. "Yes, what is it you wanted to know?" she asked briskly. "You came to this palace as a bride, it was your home and now you come as a visitor to the bar and the coffee shop," I began. "Do you feel nostalgic, at all bitter"? "Why should I?" she replied in totally no-nonsense tones. "It is my hotel, I am one of the directors." She made it clear there was no more to be said and we left it at that and avoided the subject thereafter. "Do the tourists bother you?" I asked finally. "Surely they recognise you?" "Fortunately very rarely," she replied. And that was also that, except that her exit was as regal as her entrance.
Why are the social pathologies and the decline of cultural, moral and aesthetic standards in Britain more far-reaching and alarming than similar processes in the United States? Theodore Dalrymple believes that the policies of the British welfare state are responsible as they leave:
"many people in contemporary Britain with very little of importance to decide for themselves. … They are educated by the state (at least nominally) … the state provides for them in old age and has made savings unnecessary … they are treated and cured by the state when they are ill; they are housed by the state if they cannot otherwise afford decent housing. Their choices concern only sex and shopping....
"No wonder the British have changed in character, their sturdy independence replaced by passivity, querulousness, or even, at the lower reaches of society, a sullen resentment that not enough has been … done for them. For those at the bottom, such money as they receive is, in effect pocket money, … reserved for the satisfaction of whims. As a result they are infantilized. If they behave irresponsibly — for example by abandoning their own children … — it is because both the rewards for behaving responsibly and the penalties for behaving irresponsibly have vanished..."
Pratap Bahnu Mehta on how not to make it "into a high-pitched contest, supposedly between a prudish, patriarchal traditionalism on the one hand, and an assertion of freedom and progressivism on the other" and instead have a real conversation on how our sense of self and society is constituted, about "what is shaping our sense of self at different sites: family, school, religious institutions. What sense of lack and what anxieties are we encumbered with?":
If our social mores are producing characters that feel no compunction in beating up women in the name of tradition, if the mere holding of hands seems so threatening, if our sense of self esteem is so fragile that it will express itself in all kinds of violence against “outsiders”, what kind of politics are we likely to produce?
...Secularists lost political traction, because the secular/ anti-secular debate simply degenerated into slogan mongering and a show of force; secularists could not find a way of addressing real anxieties and complex issues. It became more a matter of thumping one’s own self rather than solving real problems. The debate over freedom also risks undermining the cause of freedom. The concept of freedom, in the liberal sense, is still not very deeply embedded in Indian society.
The principle of individual liberty has to be defended vigorously; no majoritarianism can take away individuals’ rights to lead the life they wish to, compatible with respecting others’ rights. On this there can be no debate. But we have to acknowledge that the culture wars we are witnessing about liquor are also about something else. Just around the time that Ashok Gehlot made his notorious statement, journalists in Rajasthan made a big fuss over Vikram Seth having wine on the podium while discussing literature. This fuss was almost laughable.