While the rest of the state has received satisfactory rainfall this monsoon and has about 80-90% of water storage in dams, Marathwada has less than 50%. Farmers, who were elated with robust start to the season in June, are now a worried lot. “It has not rained all of August (Shravan month as per Hindu lunar calendar) If it does not rain during Ganesh festival and after that, the crops will suffer,” said Ramdas Raut, a farmer. Although the water storage this time (46%) is much higher than that of last year (11%), it is hard to tell how bad it would get if it does not rain this month. Even now residents are getting drinking water only once in two or three days. One needs to check on the check dam project announced by the state government and if they would be of any use now.
After Dombivli Fast a gut-wrenching film on life of a common man made Dombivli famous, the once-culturally thriving and throbbing township of Maharashtrians and south Indians, was in the news again. Going by the ticket sales on central railway, Dombivli sold more tickets (2.18 lakh) than Thane and CST (formerly VT) during April to July quarter. The suburb has grown haphazardly and mind-numbingly fast and anyone who travels during rush hours from Dombivli to south Mumbai and back will so not be surprised about the data. Dombivli, unfortunately, also made it to the headlines for another tragic incident. Even as crimes against women continue to rock the city, a middle-aged single mother succumbed to injuries after she fell off a train when a thief pulled her bag.
Black Magic Not Working?
Last week two people were arrested from Nasik for trying to perform black magic ritual to cure an ailing person. They have been booked under the new Maharashtra Anti-superstition and Black magic Ordinance and two more have been detained. It is heartening to see that locals are aware of the new ordinance and are reporting cases to the police. However, killers of Dr Dabholkar, who championed for this cause all his life, remain at large and the case is still shrouded in mystery. The society takes ages to move on from superstitions and rituals but we already seemed to have moved on and the public clamour for arrest of his killers is weakening.
It is that time of the year again. Mumbai has welcomed Lord Ganesha and lakhs, not thousands, are queuing up before different pandals for darshan. The ten-day festival that started on September 9 will culminate on September 18 with the famous immersion processions when a sea of humanity meets the real Arabian Sea from early afternoon till wee hours of the following morning. Started by Lokmanya Tilak during freedom struggle, the ethos of social awareness and upheaval may have taken a backseat over time, and now it is mostly about blaring speakers, political mileage, Bollywood pujas and mannats for a better life. One of the most popular mandals Lalbaugcha Raja, which gets crores in donations (in gold and silver too), started a dialysis centre for the poor last year. Here's to hoping that more will follow suit and engage in social activities, even after the party is over.
The occasion clearly did not demand politicking but then any platform is a platform for a seasoned politician. At a function to release a book on memories of late Vilasrao Deshmukh, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar took two aims with a single arrow. After praising the former chief minister of Maharashtra, who died last year, for “taking quick decisions after understanding a person’s needs,” he went as far to say that “present administration acts as if paralysed and their hands shake (get tremors) if they have to sign a file.” As if the veiled attack on the procedures that the present CM likes to follow was not bad enough, he went ahead and said that they (NCP) have to stay mum because they have to work together. One wonders which quick decisions got Mr Deshmukh in Pawar’s good books and perhaps also got him to be the chief minister despite Congress getting one seat less than NCP in the past assembly election. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan did not waste much time and responded with a terse reply that rules and regulations need to be followed and the files that require scrutiny have to be studied. Watch this space.
The Royal Bombay Yacht Club Residential Chambers and the Lal Chimney Compound, two heritage buildings from Mumbai were selected for the The Unesco Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. It comes as a whiff of fresh air because all we have had is demolition of heritage compounds and crumbling and creaking buildings all monsoon. The awards may give a boost to conversation architecture, which is often considered to be niche and unviable territory. Vikas Dilawari, well-known conservation architect who worked on these projects (apart from several others in the past) told Mumbai Mirror in an interview, “We need to really think about what legacy we're leaving behind because of redevelopment. I'm not saying that quality of life is less important than heritage. But is demolition the only solution?"
A Protective Father
Kanga League cricket tournament used to be very important many years ago, not only because it was the only “monsoon cricket tournament” but it was said to be good practice for handling British weather conditions. However, over the years it seemed to have lost its sheen, as matches got cancelled because of rains on several days of the tournament. A new version of the same was launched last week and high point of it was the debut of Sachin Tendulkar's son Arjun. The tournament will now be played towards the end of monsoon. And disturbed by the disproportionate media interest, the little master had to issue a statement of request: “My son has just played his first Kanga League game. And today, I am going to play a protective father. Even though my father was an author, not once was I asked in my childhood to follow in his footsteps. I would request everyone to treat Arjun as just another 14-year-old kid. I would request you to leave him alone and (let him) be himself.”
He Came, He Spoke, He Conquered
Zubin Mehta, internationally acclaimed conductor, who recently performed Ehsaas-e-Kashmir at Srinagar, was in town to unveil the 150 years' logo of St Mary’s School (ICSE) in Mazgaon. Accompanied by his charming and well-spoken wife, the duo had the student crowd of about 1500 children, rapt in attention. An emotional Mehta choked while speaking about his memories of the school and he thanked the school for the strong base of education. The maestro even expressed regret about not learning Hindi (he chose French instead) — “tum eisa kaiko bom padta hai.” “Each one of you, you have to decide pretty well what you want to do,” he told the children. His wife Nancy urged every child to take one child off the street and impart them the same education that they received at this school and said, “You have a responsibility to love another as you love yourself.” No political questions from the media were allowed. That is a different matter, but the joy on happy faces was not to be missed.