April 04, 2020
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The Subcontinental Menu

Why is Daman & Diu taking the national pledge so seriously? Ever heard of buffalo chocolate? Read all the juicy gossip from the neighbourhood...

The Subcontinental Menu
The Subcontinental Menu

Giant Mushroom  Discovered In China

No other plant may have so much intrigue woven around it as the mushroom. From Egyptian hieroglyphics some 4,600 years ago to 16th century German folktales, the enigmatic fungus finds a mention everywhere. For the average food-loving human, the interest is mostly limited to that one question—whether or not a type of mushroom is edible? This was the first question to be asked once news of the discovery of a mushroom weighing eight, whopping kilograms hit the newspapers in China’s Yunnan province last week. The giant mushroom, with a circumference of 1.8 metres, was found in the Pu’er Sun-River National Park. It is the biggest mushroom to have been discovered in the region.


Daman And Diu’s ‘Rakhi’ Diktat

Perhaps the Daman and Diu adm­inistration borrowed this line from the national pledge: “All Indians are my brothers and sisters”, too seriously this rakshabandhan when they issued a dictat ordering female staff in government offices to tie rakhis on their male colleagues. The circular asked for “all offices and departments to remain open” during the festival, adding that “all lady (sic) staff shall tie rakhi to their colleagues”. The departments were also asked to furnish an attendance report by 5 pm on the next day. Thankfully, the Union Territory’s Department of Personnel was stopped in their tracks due to adverse reactions from employees and strong criticism on social media and elsewhere, so much so that the administration decided to withdraw the circular. The Daman and Diu administration would, hopefully, be mindful of the implications of literally translating patriotic texts.


Parliament Bans Sexist Custom In Nepal

There is much in common between South Asian countries. Several cultural practices are shared among them, and this includes a lot of pre-modern taboos. The deep-rooted bias that much of India has against menstruating women is also found in Nepal. In some Nepali communities, women are dictated by religion to sleep in a hut called Chhaup­adi away from the house during menstruation. This practice is prevalent largely in rural areas of the country. Thankfully, Nepal’s parliament recently criminali­sed the ancient practice in August this year. The new law stipulates a three-month jail sentence or a Rs 3,000 fine, or both, for anyone forcing a woman to follow the custom. However, the law will come into effect in a year’s time.

 Yummy Buffalo Chocolates N/A

SympathetiC to the monotonous, limited variety of cattle fodder available in the market, someone in the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) developed the ‘buffalo chocolate’ for the uncomplaining palate of bovines. The cube shaped ‘chocolate’, initially known as the ‘Urea Molasses Mineral Bar’ is essentially a 2 kg block made of molasses, urea, mine­ral mixture, soyabean meal, maida, even cement and calcite among other things. For optimum effect, farmers are supposed to hang the bar from the roof in the middle of the shed. Cattle can then lick this bar from time to time. One such bar is said to give sufficient energy to two-three cattle or 10-15 goats a day. Unfortunat­ely, after a successful yet brief stint in a cattle mela, the buffalo chocolate is unavailable, since it uses molasses, which is restricted for sale as it is used in making spurious liquor.


Preachers With Star Power

It would be too early to say if it’s a trend of sorts, but after actress Naznin Akter Happy, who became an Islamic pracher almost overnight, it is actor Ananta Jalil who has donned the mantle. Happy’s move had made her the subject of a best-selling book. Jalil, 39, was inspired after vis­iting Mecca earlier this year. “The main reason Allah gave us life…sent us to the earth is to worship him. I learnt it there,” Jalil, who wants to use his fame to draw young Bangladeshis to the faith, said. Jalil has starred in many films and performs all stunts himself. He is also a noted businessman. Jalil made his directorial debut with the 2013 smashhit Nishwartha Bhalobasa. 

Goa Coconut Trees Get Their Former Status Back

Titles may be only the concern of hum­­ans, but it plays a role in the well-being of Goa’s coco­nut trees. In 2016, the Laxmikant Parsekar govern­ment stripped the state’s coconut trees of their status of the ‘state tree’. Activists blamed the move on promoters of real estate, who could now clear their groves. There was a huge uproar. This year comes good news: the Goa cabinet has decided to reinstate it to the status of ‘state tree’. This decision also aims to regulate the felling of the tree in the state.

Beauty Reserved In Arunachal

Be it a ‘Miss World’ contest or a ‘Mr India’ championship, beauty pageants are ruthlessly competitive. If countries compete in top events, there are inter-state contests within national contests. Sometimes, the field narrows further. The 10th Miss Arunachal bea­uty pageant is going to be one such event. In an eff­ort to promote state-wide participation, the organisers have given reservation to three tribes of the state which are considered to be marginalised—Lisu, Nah and Puroik. Auditions for the event will be held from September, but contestants from these tribes will get a direct entry. Organisers think they will be encouraging these communities through the reservation. How much upliftment happens through a beauty contest, however, can be better ass­essed once it’s concluded.  


Sharif Family Sparring 

Nawaz Sharif’s strained ties with sister-in-law Tehmina Durrani is a well-known fact. But they no longer seemed to be confined within the Sharif household.

A series of critical tweets by Tehmina—a vocal women’s rights activist—against the ousted prime minister of Pakistan has only increased Nawaz’s woes. Questions are now being raised by his detractors on how wide the rift is within the Sharif family.

In the wake of Nawaz’s removal after a Supreme Court ruling on the Panamagate revelations, the younger Sharif was to step in. But the possibility of Shahbaz running the country from Islamabad and his son as chief minister of Punjab apparently made the elder Sharif nervous.

Initially, some close aides of Nawaz raised questions on how prudent it was for the Pakistan Muslim League (N) to oust Shahbaz from the chief minister’s post in Punjab and bring him to Islamabad. A few days later, Nawaz himself exp­ressed doubts and stated that it was best that brother Shahbaz was left undisturbed in Lahore. No wonder he is keen that Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the interim prime minister, should continue for the rest of the term till parliament elections are held next year.

Shahbaz’s wife Tehmina tweeted that Nawaz should have got rid of his ‘immature advisors’. It’s they who made Nawaz change his mind about Shahbaz.

Tehmina, the third wife of Shahbaz Sharif, tweeted recently that Nawaz should have got rid of his “immature advisors” who went on an overdrive to defend him during the Panamagate rev­elations about his family’s ill-gotten wealth. Since much of the media propaganda was being handled by Maryam Sharif, Nawaz’s daughter and heir-apparent; the tweets have got special political significance.

“Please fire your ‘failed’ media team. Banish all sycophants from sight. They are responsible for your statesmanship becoming an ‘under 19’ game,” she tweeted.

Tehmina was also extremely critical of the massive rally that Nawaz and his supporters held in Lahore, disrupting normal civic life for the entire day to protest his ouster.

“The government does not have authority to block a main road that belongs to the state and people for its own use. This is an illegal order,” she said. Many in Pakistan are, however, not sure whether Tehmina’s anger was genuinely to highlight the common man’s misery or was it frustration being vented for being denied the “first lady” status.

Maybe Nawaz should start with some serious repair work at home before embarking on his countrywide mass contact programme.

Illustrations by Sajith Kumar

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