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'Helathy Beer' in Andhra Pradesh; What's Sri Lanka doing to keep it's cricketers fit? Get all the juicy gossip from the neighbourhood...

The Subcontinental Menu
The Subcontinental Menu

If It’s Tagore,  Tread Lightly

Censorship operates at multiple levels, as our film-makers have discovered. Priyanka Chopra, Bollywood and Hollywood star, wants to make a Bengali-Marathi bilingual, Nalini, on the ‘relationship’ between the 17-year-old Rabindranath Tagore and his London-educated friend—and English tutor—Annapurna Turkhud. Tagore had been sent by his elder brother Satyendranath Tagore, ICS, to learn English etiquette in Turkhud’s family in Bombay in 1878-79. Priyanka’s production company wants to shoot in Visva-Bharati University, but the latter has sought the full script and set up a panel to decide on the request. The panel would examine whether Tagore’s ‘dignity’ would be maintained in the film based on his friendship with Anna, whom he referred to as ‘Nalini’ in two of his poems. Director Ujjwal Chatterjee (Escape From Taliban) says Tagore himself had admitted to the relationship.

Grin And Beer It With Cheers

At a time when chief ministers of others states have either imposed total prohibition or are contemplating a move, the Andhra Pradesh government has decided to promote beer in a big way. Reason: it is a healthier opt­­ion than other forms of liquor. The state’s prohibi­tion and excise minister Kothapali Samuel Jawahar says that the government would set up beer parlours that will serve locally-brewed beverage with lesser alcohol content. “I am not saying it is a health drink, but it is healthier than other drinks,” he says. “We will int­roduce locally-brewed beer with far less alcohol content than branded ones.” The minister avers that the people’s drinking habits cannot be changed, but they can at least be provided drinks that have less alcohol. Since many state governments are under pressure from anti-booze act­ivists to impose prohibition ever since Nitish Kumar’s edict in Bihar, beer lovers in Andhra have a reason to say cheers to their government’s move!

Crossword Honour For Mumbaikar

In its Independence Day special, The New York Times published a crossword of Mangesh Ghogre, a resident of Navi Mumbai, based on the theme of ‘The Fourth of July’. The 37-year-old investment banker says he collaborated with an American crossword constructor to create the commeorrative puzzle. “The underlying thought was to prove how crosswords can cross national boundaries and bring people closer,” he says. Ghogre says that Will Shortz, the Times crossword editor, had selected his crossword months before. “This idea was not attempted before,” he says.  According to him, Shortz receives about 100 crossword submissions weekly. “I have got this opportunity after 20 years of waiting,” says Ghogre, whose puzzles have been published before in The Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.

Too Fat To Play A Match

Sri Lankan cricketers, over the years, are hardly known for fitness. But now, the government has served an ulti­matum to the national squad to either get figting fit in three months or get booted out. The step came after the ent­ire squad for the current series against Zimbabwe was found to be unfit. None could meet the international fitness standards, according to sports minister Dayasiri Jayasekara. After Sri Lanka failed to make it to the semi-finals of the recent Champions Trophy, the minister had said that many players were too fat. “The typical body fat amount a player is 16 per cent but most Sri Lankan players had over 26 per cent,” he said.  But pacer Lasith Malinga, who weighs 80 kg and failed one fitness test, compared the minister to a ‘monkey’, saying he knew nothing about cricket. He was subsequently slapped with a 50 per cent fine of his last week’s match, besides a six-month suspension. The players are selected by an independent panel but need approval of the ministry before represening Lanka.

A Homely Cattleshed

A woman from Kumbala in Kasargod district of Kerala has converted her two-room house into a cowshed due to rampant theft of cattle in the area. Ummaliyumma, who lives alone, fears that her two cows and four calves, her only sources of livelihood, might be taken away if they are kept out. Taking precaution, she has brought all of them inside her house and converted one room and the kitchen into their permanent home.

Dengue: A Lankan Combat Strategy

The Lankan government has decided to deal with dengue fever on a war footing. Facing one of the worst outbreaks of dengue, which has killed 225 people this year and infe­cted 76,000 others, Colombo has sought the help of its armed forces. Earlier this week, 400 soldiers and policemen were deployed to  help clear away rotting garbage, stagnant water pools and other mosquito-breeding grounds. Authorities say people’s failure to clear puddles and piles of trash after last month’s monsoon rains had compounded the problem.

In Nepal, They Also Count Luck

In the parliamentary democratic system, political acumen and reputation are not enough. Despite having all these attributes, a candidate may also need some luck. The municipal polls in Nepal are as tightly contested as the parliamentary elections. In the Kamal Rural Municipality of Jhapa district, the chairperson and his deputy were elected on the basis of their luck. Menuka Kafle of CPN-UML was elected as chairperson through a lucky draw. She and her closest rival, Hukum Singh Rai of the Nepali Congress, were both tied at 8275 votes each, and it was decided that the winner should be decided through a lucky draw. In a similar fashion, Benu Shiwakoti of UML was elected as the vice-chairperson of the local unit.

‘Try CIA Man Again’

Despite its heavy reliance on the United States for many aspects of its development and military materiel, Pakistanis have a dim view of Uncle Sam. This manifests in the desire to punish the “Big Brother” whenever an opportunity comes their way.

In keeping with that spirit, a demand is now being made by a former senator of the ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League (N), to extradite and try an erstwhile CIA contractor, Raymond Davis, for murder.

Davis, while working in Pakistan for the CIA, had killed three Pakistani nationals some years back. Though he was arrested and jailed by the Pakistani authorities, he was subsequently released on paying millions of dollars as blood money to the affected Pakistani families.

PML-N leader Zafar Ali Shah has written a five-page pet­ition in Urdu to Pakistan’s Supreme Court, seeking action against not only Davis but also a host of former officials and party leaders.

He has sought “lifetime disqualification” against Asif Ali Zardari, former army chief Pervez Kayani, retd ISI chief Shuja Pasha and Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, named as respondents in the petition. Shah wants action against all these people so that none of them is vested with any constitutional, political or state responsibilities in the future.

The petition to extradite Raymond Davis from the US comes soon after the publication of his memoir, where he says how he killed two people.

Interestingly, the petition comes in the wake of Davis’s memoir, Contractor: How I landed in a Pakistani Prison and Ignited a Diplomatic Crisis that hit book stands in Pakistan recently. Shah demanded that a full bench of the apex court be constituted to take up the matter since it involved the national security of Pakistan.

Call it sheer bravado or total disregard for human life, Davis gave details in his memoir of how he killed these people in Pakistan on January 27, 2011. While Davis shot down two people, a third person was killed by a car that was sent to rescue him and which was speeding down the wrong side of the road.

The CIA contractor was released two months after the incident after he paid $2.4 million to the families of those who were killed as ‘blood money’. After his acquittal of all charges, Davis returned to the US. But now, the demand is to get him extradited, so that he can be tried before a full bench of the Supreme Court. The petition has asked the court to summon the complete case record and inquire the role played by all those who got him released.

Illustrations by Sajith Kumar

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