Election Temperature in Okhla

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By –Moonis Ahmad & Kinley Tshering

As the mercury drops in Delhi, the election fever is on the rise. The capital’s Okhla constituency is gyrating to the tunes of several candidates offering early New Year gift in the form of promises.

For 70 assembly seats in Delhi, 875 candidates are running. The congress which ruled the roost for the last two terms in Okhla is already feeling the heat. Several candidates from across major parties political parties are running for the election.

Dr S.A Muneem Pasha, a faculty in the department of political science at Jamia Millia Islamia, says that there are several issues that will decide the election’s outcome. “Incumbency, price rice, regularization of colonies and the alleged terrorist encounter are some dominant issues that will affect Congress,” he feels.

The competition for the Okhla constituency is tough with claims and counter-claims among the candidates. “The area was in the news for all the wrong reasons after the alleged terrorist encounter. There is huge disgruntlement amongst the people here,” says Wasif Sattar, a development sector professional living in Okhla.

The incumbent Congress MLA, Parvez Hashmi, is hoping to win the next term on the grounds of development work. He feels that congress has always been the welfare party and will come out victorious.

A potential challenge to the supremacy of congress is being seen in the form of Wasim Ahmad Gazi, who is trying his luck on the Samajwadi party ticket. He feels that the people of Okhla are simply fed up with the present MLA. “He (the present MLA) is unapproachable and in the recent furor around the encounter killing, his true face was exposed,” says Gazi. “He is biased and didn’t even speak of justice for the purported L 18 encounter.”

Raza haidar, contesting on the CPI (M) Candidature, has several arguments to put forth. He argues that Congress has always been anti poor and a party which believes in giving fringe benefits to the minorities. “The recent encounter of suspected terrorists needs serious attention. The sitting MLA from congress didn’t take any stand on the controversy surrounding it. Price rise will also kill its chances,” he says.

Kamran Siddiqui, an independent electoral candidate, has several grouses from the present MLA. “Congress has defied the cause of Muslims who are time and again betrayed. The recent encounter killing of suspected terrorists had placed the Okhla neighborhood on the back foot. Whether it is Babri Masjid or L-18, Muslims have always been targeted and victimized in the name of terrorism.” he says.

Another theory which is doing the round is about how Bhartiya Janata party is aiming to capitalize on the split in the Muslim vote bank. “Congress is spreading this phobia amongst the Muslims in order to garner support,” feels Asad khan, a computer engineer with CSC. Asad, a congress loyalist is planning to exercise a different choice this time. The BJP candidate Surenda Bidhuri is working on his campaign by highlighting on terrorism and security, along with price rise. The delimitation of constituency by the election commission will work to his advantage. Similar views are held by Bahujan Samaj party candidate, Brahm Singh.

Vikas Shukla, a student of Jamia Millia Islamia and a local resident feels that the encounter issue will dictate the electoral results in this area. “I want the best candidate to win so that the grievances of Okhla residents are heard,” adds Vikas.

The results that will be declared after December 8 will decide the outcome of this area and of the party which will celebrate New Year in pomp and style. Till then it is congress versus the rest.

CNG Woes

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With soaring petrol prices, CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) might seem
like a cheaper option. It has the added advantage of being environment
friendly too. But, recent accidents which were caused due to gas
leak pose one question. How safe is CNG? Nazia Jafri, Neha Sethi and Sheeba Naaz try to
clear the air around CNG issues.

Interview with Dr.Bindeshwar Pathak

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Dr Bindeshwar Pathak

Dr Bindeshwar Pathak has dedicated his whole life to eradicate scavenging in India and implement proper sanitation in the country. There is still lot of work to do, but in Alwar, Rajhastan, there will be no scavengers by the end of the year. Marie Naudascher interviewed this down to earth and ambitious gandhian in the Sulabh center, New Delhi.

How did the idea to eradicate scavenging in India come to your mind ?

I have always been deeply inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas. From October 2nd 1968, the date anniversary of his birth, I took the vow to fulfill Gandhi’s ideal to restore human dignity of the Untouchables who were cleaning night soil. In 1915, Gandhi settled in India after a long stay in South Africa with a strong will to liberate the Untouchables. He wanted to clean India first, then to get the independance. He once said "I may not be born again, but if it happens I would like to be born a scavenger".

As a sociologist, you have been living with scavengers to know how they live and work before starting the Sulabh movement.

Yes, I have been living three months among the scavengers of Jagjevam Ram colony, in Bihar. I lived there as a scavenger so I could see how to help them the most. I come from a Brahmin family. When I was a child, around 6 years old, I touched an Untouchable, just to know what would happen. I was then forced to swallow cow dung, cow urine and water from Ganga to be purified. It was a huge scandal in my family. But this issue kept bothering me ever since. Why Untouchables ? What have they been doing to deserve such a humiliating fate ?

Have you faced any problems from your relatives or family for leading such a movement ?

Of course, my father-in-law was very angry with me. I told him I had started turning over a page of history. I did not know if it would be successful, but I had to give it a try. Today, some people are jealous of our success. People think I am wealthy, which is wrong. We have taken loans from the bank. And all political parties are supporting Sulabh.

Have you always followed Gandhi’s path in your work ?

Yes, it is very important as an NGO not to criticise anyone. We have never had confrontations with anyone or the government. Through peacefull means, I saw the problem, then worked on an alternative solution. First, I developped the two-pit system technology myself. Then I went from house to house to discuss with people and try to convince them, little by little. They were reluctant at first, but I was able to make them listen to me. I explained the toilets they had stinks, bring mosquitoes… in 1973, someone in Bihar accepted to have my toilets, then people began to trust me.

What are you the most proud of ?

I think we succedded in changing the way people see the sanitary issues and the Untouchables.

In India, economic prosperity can be achieved but changing the mind of people is very hard. Now, people talk about toilets and this is just the beginning. Liberating all the scavengers has been made possible thanks to the technology.

From where do you get your strengh ?

First, you have to be thoroughly interested and passionate about your subject. Moreover, I believe in all the religions, I go through all the holy books. I believe in humanity. Jésus said that if you look at the downtrodden, you are closer to Go


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पहलवानों को लोग अक्सर मेट पर या अखाड़े में लड़ते हुए देखते है। लड़ाई से पहले, और लड़ाई के बाद वो क्या करते हैं, उनकी ज़िन्दगी कैसे बीतती है, इसके बारे में कम ही लोग जानते हैं, या जानना चाहते हैं। जितनी मेहनत अखाड़े में अपने प्रतिद्वंदी को हराने में लगती है, उससे कही ज्यादा चुनौती भरी उनकी ज़िन्दगी होती है। ये कहानी उन पहलवानों की है जो इस क्रिकेट के दीवाने देश में, अपनी लगन और अपने खेल की चाहत में सब कुछ समर्पित कर देते है।
छोटू पहलवान अखाड़े के शुरूआती सबक सीखते हुए

दंगल के बाद बदन धोता पहलवान

अभ्यास के बाद कुछ फुर्सत के पल

कुश्ती के बाद आराम

फोटो फीचर : गार्गी निम

New Fashion Flavours

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Photo Courtesy: Renu Tendon

Boundaries are fast melting and one often finds varied cultural flavours and inspirations doing the rounds on our runways. Kunal Majumder takes a close took at designers who have merged cultural identities and have drawn inspiration from Islamic patterns.

More than global, Indian fashion designers are making an effort to glocalise their fashion stance. The current Indian fashion scene is redefining boundaries by borrowing from national as well as international cultures. One such borrowing trend recently spotted on the runways finds its roots in Islamic culture. There are designers in both India and abroad who are infusing Islamic nuances in their creations. For instance, British designer Sophia Kara made an outfit composed of a hooded abaya with a matching niqab (face veil) in shocking pink over a salwar as part of her Imaan collection. That’s not all, high-end designer labels such as Hermès and Gucci are picking Muslim trends by doing a range of scarves and a number of other garments. But let’s just put aside international design trends and take a look at the Indian fashion industry. Islamic influences can be spotted in our part of the world in elegant kaftans, toga dresses and zuave pants. One is now able to see a lot of cultural exchange on the globe. Here's one such positive influence.

The underlying thought in Islamic fashion is that of modesty. Hence, while picking Islamic influences, designers have to make sure that they create clothes that don't violate the Islamic dress code. Kaftans, ponchos, zuave pants and different version of culottes, all find their roots in Islamic fashion. The perfect example of this can be Kareena Kapoor’s kaftan look in the chartbuster Mauja hi mauja from the movie Jab We Met. Headscarves are an important component of Islamic ensemble and Renu Tandon is probably one of the few Indian designers to experiment with this accessory the most. Many Indian designers use Islamic silhouettes on Indian ramps – Malini Ramani, who has a major customer base in the Middle East, is one such designer. Other than her, designers like Rohit Bal, Zubair Kirmani and Monapali have drawn heavily from Islamic architecture and art forms.

Motifs and Designs
Middle Eastern and Turkish motifs and silhouettes are the new rage on the Indian runways. In the floral family flowered stems, jasmine, rose, and lotus motifs are the most
popular. Geometrical designs inspired from various Turkish and Mughal monuments can be found sitting on a number of dresses and famous Mughal jaalis have found an expression in many a designers’ works.

Ritu Kumar, Meera Muzaffar Ali and Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla use traditional embroideries like chikankari and zardozi, which originated from Persia (Iran). A wedding trousseau by Tahiliani or saris by Kumar are unimaginable without zardozi, intricate
patterns in gold and silver studded with pearls and precious stones.

Zubair Kirmani, who hails from Kashmir, has successfully used the famous Kashmiri kashida work on his clothes. Kashida is a form of embroidery that draws inspiration from flowers, creepers, chinar leaves and mango motifs. Here’s a lowdown:

Rohit Bal
Rohit Bal is famous for his geometrical motifs that he picks from various Islamic structures. He claims that his latest collection – Siyaahi – was inspired from the ancient city of Constantinople. “The intrinsic inspiration is the art of the Iznik tiles of ancient Turkey. Their heritage of distinct deep blue and meticulous, intricate glazing evokes whispers of Mughal influence,” says Gudda.

The collection comprised a range of voluminous evening gowns, arabesque motifs in all shades of turquoise, blue and silver. The entire collection was full of pleated outfits, cone-shaped skirts, over-dimensional puff sleeves and ballet inspired tutus. Huge leafy creepers in silver ran across voluminous long skirts; long elegant overcoats and vests came in elaborate jacquards and rich embroidered silks.

Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla
Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla can be easily crowned the royal Mughal couturiers. Their work has always involved revival of heritage crafts. Chikankari, zardozi, sequins and beadwork are highlights of any Abu Sandeep creation. The designer
duo claims to have given zardozi a modern dimension by reworking it on different materials and colours. They started using sequins and beadwork way back in 1989 by applying this embroidery technique on black and white chuddars carried
with plain crep-de-chine outfits.

Renu Tandon
Renu Tandon seems to have specialised in Middle Eastern fashion. Her last collection at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week was targeted at customers from that region. “I maybe targeting customers from the Middle East but my dresses will also appeal to the Indian market because a lot is common in both the cultures,” says Renu. Her collection named Mystic included a lot of tunics and kaftans. The collection also included scarves designed to match the dresses. In terms of motifs, she used the classic Islamic floral designs and colours in hues of black and violet.

Pali Sachdeva of Monapali insists that her inspiration is not just Islamic. She calls it an “amalgamation of forms, arts and mediums”. “A Monapali ensemble could be hand painted or could have a Mughal motif set in a western silhouette,” says Pali. Her last collection reflected this quite clearly. Although her design and motifs were not Islamic, her silhouettes were. Loose toga dresses, long kaftans and Islamic
drapes were prominent in her collection.

Zubair Kirmani
Zubair Kirmani is another designer who is influenced by the Islamic way of life. His latest collection was all about tones of blue, maroon and copper with some black. “My collections are influenced by movements like Sufism. I also use a lot of geometry in design,” says Zubair. His work is intricate. He uses a lot of appliqué work and kashida. There is a refreshing use of muted hues and shades of white. Zubair uses a mix of traditional Islamic and modern silhouettes.

Meera and Muzaffar Ali
Sufism is intrinsic to all Meera and Muzaffar Ali creations. Everything – right from their silhouettes to designs – is inspired by the Islamic culture. Their label called Kotwara uses traditional hand embroideries and places them on modern silhouettes. Zardozi and chikankari are essential to Kotwara's couture. The most unique part of their collections is the use of khatati and Urdu calligraphy. The designer couple is credited with experimenting with traditional Islamic silhouettes like toga and kaftans and making it contemporary and modern.


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Mass Media Research: An Introduction (7th Edition)
Authors: Wimmer, R.D. & Dominick, J. R.
Publication: Wadsworth
Price: $ 32.92
Review by : Mr.K.S.Kusuma
Mass Media Research in India is offered as a compulsory paper at postgraduate level and undergraduate level courses. These vary from Journalism, Mass Communication, Public relations, Mass Media etc. Research books on Mass Media by Indian writers are almost insignificant in number. The debate of whether these courses to be treated as part of social sciences or professional studies still a debate in Indian Higher education. But the nature and applicability of these courses made these courses has been considered as one of the social science branches. Since the perspectives, theories and practices are adopted from various social sciences like sociology, psychology, linguistics, anthropology, history etc., the research practices also allow the same social science methodologies, tools and techniques to be used in mass media research.

Even though the social science research books are used as reference material for mass media research, there is a strong requirement for the communication insights, media examples and case studies to explain these methodologies for mass media or communication research purposes.

Keeping the above expectation and requirement in mind, 'Mass Media Research: An Introduction' by Roger D. Wimmer, Joseph R. Dominick is a useful resources for teachers and students. This is refered by many Indian and foreign universities as text book in this field. In this book each method has been explained step by step, with suitable examples, where the teachers of a particular country can replace them with the culturally viable examples and case studies. The introductory chapter 'The Research Process' is an overview of the introduction to the scientific orientation. But this is not sufficient for in depth understanding of the debates in philosophy of research traditions.

In the second chapter, 'Elements of Research' levels of measurements and rating scales has been explained lucidly. But discussion of variables in depth is a major lacuna. Sampling chapter is explained with box items, case studies made this topic simple and engaging. Some of the research methods like ethnographic, case study, historical, semiotic are have not dealt in depth like content analysis or survey methods.

The major strength of this text book is the 'Introduction to Statistics' as chapter 10. This is one of the neglected part of research in Indian media education and better to mention that it is made the most tough job for media or communication research students. This breaks the myth and allows the practitioner to learn statistics step by step.

Chapters 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 deal with research applications in various media like print, television, internet public relations, advertising etc. These examples and case studies are quite useful to apply theories and research methods to analyse the processes of media and communication.

The formatting of the book will trigger interest in any reader. some of them are index of the topics covered in each chapter, diagrams, box items-some of them titles 'An Inside look' will give a possible alternative dimension then the chapter content. Key terms at the end of the chapter and internet sources for the topics discussed in the chapters are added advantage. For teachers and research students, elaborate references and questions and problems for further investigations sections proved worth keeping this a compulsory source for mass media research. For the quick reference, the name index, glossary and elaborate bibliography strengthens the desire for a mass media researcher to have a copy of their own.

I would suggest the student researchers to have a quick look at last chapters on researching various media for easy understanding of the research applications.

Finally an added advantage is that useful website of Wimmer and Dominick (www.wimmerdominick.com) will give access to teachers and students to share their experiences, resources, and problems in research. Re-search doctor is an exciting area for young researchers to pose their queries to the authors.

Mr. K. S. Kusuma is a faculty in AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi