The Subcontinental Menu

Meet BSP's "chillar" candidate in Gujarat; Why are crows dying a mysterious death in Assam's Sonitpur. Read all the juicy tidbits here...
The Subcontinental Menu
Illustration by Sajith Kumar
The Subcontinental Menu
outlookindia.com
2017-12-02T12:20:12+0530

Alms For Anjaneya

M.V. Sitalakshmi, 85, has donated Rs 2.5 lakh to Mys­ore’s Prasanna Anjaneya Swamy temple—the money she had saved over the course of a decade of begging at the same temple. After poor health forced her to stop working as a domestic help ten years ago, she did not want to be dependent on her brother and sister-in-law with whom she lives, and hence decided to seek alms at the temple, where authorities looked after her welfare. She says, “Whatever devotees gave me I’d deposit that in the bank. For me, God is everything. If I keep money, people will steal it and that’s why I decided to donate my savings to the temple, which takes care of me so well.”  She wants the money to be used to provide amenities for worshippers and to give them prasada on Hanuman Jayanti each year.

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White Death

Up in the sky, a black crow turns white, goes blind and drops down dead. This is the phenomenon that has defied the understanding of conservationists, veterinarians and residents of Borbhagia village in Assam’s Sonitpur district. It has been happening to both crows and ravens for over a month now, with locals thinking that it was merely a case of albinism when they spotted the first dead bird. However, finding more bodies in the same condition prompted them to contact veterinarians, who collected samples for analysis, but as yet have no definite answers. “This is an unusual development and proper investigation is needed to ascertain the factors behind it. The sample is being tested at the Advance Animal Disease Diagnosis and Management Consortium at the College of Veterinary Sciences. It will take around three weeks for the outcome of the tests,” one veterinarian told the press.


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Pronounced Devotion

Ari vimardanam nitya nartanam/ hariharaatmajam devam aashraye. Words every Malayali knows from Harivaraasanam, the song played at Sabarimala temple as an urakku paattu (lullaby) to put god Ayyappan to sleep. The version universally heard was adapted and set to music by composer Devarajan and sung by K.J. Yesudas in the late ’70s. Now, Yesudas has agreed to re-record the song at the behest of the Travancore Devaswom Board, after ‘errors’ were spotted. Like the omission of ‘swami’, present at the end of each line in the original, and singing the words ari (foe) and vimardanam (destroyer) together as arivimardanam, without a pause. However, the G. Devarajan Master Memorial Trust alle­ges a ‘conspiracy’, saying no musi­cians, priests or Sanskrit scholars have pointed out any fault thus far.


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Lion Vs Tiger

Sri Lanka’s national flag is an object of controversy. The lion holding a sword represents Sinhalese heritage and pride, with the four peepul leaves in the corners holding meaning for Buddhists. The green and orange bands on the left are meant to represent Muslims and Tamils, respectively. The LTTE quite naturally had their own ‘national flag’, featuring a tiger. Now, a provincial minister is at the centre of a controversy for refusing to hoist the Lankan flag at a school ceremony. Kand­iah Sarveswaran, education minister of the Northern Province, was reported as saying that he did not disrespect the flag, but “from the day this flag was introduced, no one with a Tamil nationalist sentiment has accepted it”. The province’s governor has sought legal advice before proceeding against the minister, while other Tamil leaders have characterised Sarveswaran’s act­ions as understandable but counterproductive and as giving ammunition to Sinhalese extremists.


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Chillar Candidate

Election office staff must have had quite the surprise when Gunwant Rathore, BSP candidate for the Gujarat’s Jalalpor assembly constituency, walked in to file his nomination bearing two jute bags full of small change. He had come up with a creative way to protest against the imposition of the cashless economy by submitting his Rs 5,000 deposit in the form of Re 1, Rs 2 and Rs 5 coins, with the lot weighing 15 kg in total. As this was a cash payment, with nothing in the regulations to prevent it, the returning officer had no choice but to accept it and deploy extra staff to count all the coins. 


Pecuniary Centenary

The bearded face of George V, king-empe­ror, could be seen in profile on each of the first ever batch of one-rupee notes, issued in November 1917. Now, the note is celebrating its 100th birthday (the RBI stopped printing it in 1995, only to resume in 2016). In the early days, the one-rupee notes were sent to banks in 25-page booklets, according to Shyju Antony, a numismatist. Antony, who was given some of these first-year notes by his grandfather, also has an array of one-rupee notes issued by independent India, starting in 1948. The denomination has had 60 paper incarnations since then.

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Literary Crimes

Facebook denizens can look forward to Purano Sei Diner Katha (tales from olden times), a series of stories about freedom fighters from the crime archives of the Calcutta police...posted on the cops’ own Facebook page in response to popular demand. The series replaces the success­ful Rahasya Robibar (mystery Sunday), which consisted of more recent true crime stories from the police’s files, written up in a gripping style and posted every Sunday, starting this July. A temporary break was announced in October. The first story, which concerned a 1994 murder, was an instant hit. The series’ popularity surged, resulting in vocal protests when the break was announced, prompting the new series.


A New General System

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Frustrated at being kept away from media glare for some years, Pervez Musharraf seems to be trying his best to claw back to the political centrestage.

“I am the greatest supporter of the Lashkar-e-Toiba,” the former army dictator said. “I know they ( LeT and Jamaat-ud-Dawa) are also fond of me,” he added.

Musharraf’s remarks to a Pakistani TV talk show host comes at a time when the country is finding it difficult to deal with the LeT chief Hafiz Saeed. His release from det­ention, following a recent court order, had evoked strong reaction from India and the US. Both countries hold Saeed responsible for masterminding the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks that led to the death of 164 people and wounding hundreds, including some Americans.

Rallying behind India’s outrage at the court’s decision on Saeed, the US government asked Pakistan to ensure that the LeT chief is kept under detention and tried for his crime. It warned the Pakistani government that its failure to take action against Saeed will adversely affect Washington-Isl­amabad bilateral ties.

As a liberal Muslim army chief, Musharraf had once impressed Americans, who saw him as a close ally in their fight against global terror. At the talk show he said that though he had liberal views, he has no problems with religious political parties.

Musharraf feels democracy in Pakistan must be tweaked according to the nation’s requirements, with the army at the centre of the changes.

Musharraf acknowledged that the role played by the LeT in Kashmir had helped in keeping India on the wrong foot. “This is the biggest force and it has been declared a terrorist outfit by India and the US jointly,” he lamented.

He felt the US’s demand that Pakistan take action against Saeed was an encroachment on the country’s sovereignty. He felt such a demand by Washington was an insult to Pakistan.

The former army dictator felt that the existing democratic system in Pakistan should be tweaked in a manner that suits the country. “We need amendments to the system, political restructuring, electoral reforms, checks and  balances,” Dawn newspaper reported.

According to him, Pakistan’s democracy was not under threat, but needed some changes. However, at the centre of these changes should be the army. “We need to tailor democracy and the parliamentary system to Pakistan’s requirements and in this the most important matter is the army plays a role, he said. “The army needs to be included in the checks and balances,” he added.

Is this Musharraf’s way of getting back to power?


Illustrations by Sajith Kumar

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