Elections vs IPL

By Journalism student

By: Joydeep Hazarika, Sanjeev Srivastava, Sumit Singh

The General Elections and the Indian Premiere League (IPL) collide with each other this April. And a question arises. Which of these is more important for the people?

As India prepares to welcome the summers this year, two events of epic proportions collide with each other. The 15th General Elections and the 2nd edition of the Indian Premiere League (IPL) are taking place together this April. And already preparations are underway for the coverage of these two events.

Now the only thing remained to be seen is which one scores over the other in terms of coverage. The importance of IPL over elections is something which has divided opinions among various circles. As we look into them, we find that the story is splitting into two halves. It is one section which thinks that the elections will not be affected by the IPL. While the other section thinks that the elections will be affected by the IPL.

Qamar Agha, who is a political analyst and hosts a few TV shows, says that the elections will not be affected by the IPL. He says that the people will always give more importance to their right to vote under any circumstances.

Echoing his thoughts, students from Delhi University, who are ever conscious of their rights, give out full support to the elections. For them, it is a celebration of their existence in democracy and they are very vocal about their support to the elections.

Now as far as those people are concerned who feel that the IPL will affect the turnout of voters in the elections, we find that there is a section who believes that the political machinery of the state has rotten beyond doubt. It is a reflection of those Indians who are frustrated from the existing corruption in politics of this country. It is a sign of the unrest that is brewing within from quite some time.

Subrata Mukherjee, who is the convener of the Asian Political Science Association and a former professor of Delhi University, feels that the way people view the elections will remain the same whether there be any IPL or not. He is among those people who feel that the state machinery has rotten down and the corrupt politics has totally disinterested the people in events like the elections.

But some people wouldn’t still go out of their way to take any side. They still want to view it as a platform where these two events will go off without affecting each other much. Chetan Chauhan, a former cricketer turned politician, feels so.

So in this age of publicity and hype, the war for coverage between the elections and the IPL is more about the prominence of democratic ideals and the entertainment quotient of cricket.

As there is a division in thoughts, we find that people are divided in their opinion regarding the importance to be given to the General Elections or the IPL.

Feasting on a Fast

By Journalism student

By Ektaa, Gaigongmai, Shilpi, and Helen
Modern India has made strides in the field of science and technology. However all this takes a back seat when the festivities start. Navratras the nine day Hindu festival of fasting will see many observe the fasting without really knowing its implication on their health.
Navratras come twice in a year, the biggest in September/October, called Sharad Navratras, and the Vasanta Navratras in March/April. This festival sees the worshipping of goddess Durga, in her nine avatars. Navratras is a traditional festival of Hindus and it is today a well practised event.
These nine days see devotees observing fast for nine days continuously, and following a strict diet. It’s widely believed that these nine days of fasting will help the devotees to lead a pure life.
“The Navratras are a way of cleansing ones soul; also they make it possible for the people to get closer to the divine power”. Says Manoj Jha, a priest at the “Mata ka Mandir” New friends’ Colony New Delhi.
Millions of Hindus in India observe this fast religiously. Traditionally allowed only one meal a day, they carry on with their daily work without any complaint. They believe faith gives them the power to fast for such a long time. A special diet is prescribed for the people who fast, a diet consisting of fruits, milk and non-grain, non-cereal products.
However many people are not aware that not eating for such long hours, and not eating regular normal food can also have an adverse effect on the health of those observing this fast. While devotees keep on praising the positive effects of fasting, voices are being raised in the medical spheres. The Navratras diet itself is not completely harmless for the body. Certain persons are more exposed to the side effects of this fast than others.
Charu Dua a dietician at Pushpanjali Crosslay Hospital New Delhi says “I won’t advice my patients to follow Navratras, especially to those who are suffering from diabetes, heart problems, or who want to lose or just maintain their weight.”
Navratras diet is “a rich food”, full of carbohydrates, which are basically sugar fats. For example, potatoes and the kuttu flour, especially used during this festival, are rich in these nutrients.
For people in sane health, Navratras can also create troubles. After 9 days of fasting, they may lack vitamins, sodium, potassium and proteins. All these vitamin deficit results in weakness and dizziness. Regarding the proteins, Charu Dua explains that during the festival people eat half of the amount of proteins they normally need.
Nevertheless, Charu Dua adds that “there are healthier ways to fast”. She recommends lots of fruits, milk, and curd and sago products. For her, “100% fasting is not recommended. People should at least take two proper meals a day”.
But facing tradition, religion and superstition, scientific advice is falling on deaf ears. As people insist on fasting the normal way .

Mortuary is no mystery

By Journalism student

The sight of a corpse leaves many with a palpitating heart. We think it is very difficult to be in a morgue handling the dead day in and out. Death, for man, has always been difficult to come to term with. And we all want to stay away from a mortuary. But “science”, says Dr. Sunay Kumar, senior resident doctor, forensic medicine at the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, “has proved that the fear of dead is a misplaced notion.”

“This sealed room has all the skeletal remains of the Nithari serial killings case. It is critical until the trial goes on”, says Dr Adarsh Kumar, Asst. Professor, forensic medicine at, AIIMS. A dead body is as important as those alive to ascertain the cause of death. When there is no evidence, a dead body is the greatest witness of the dead.

Autopsy is what helps to know the reasons behind the death. The forensic experts in the mortuary along with their toxicology counterparts make a dead tell the tale of their death, of their claim for justice and peace and the pain and frustration they underwent while alive.

But a lot of facilities and care is required and the results can be, at times, startling. Dr. D. N. Bhardwaj, additional professor of forensic science and toxicology at AIIMS, recalling one of the autopsy says, “Everyone believed the death to be a murder, but it was a road accident, where the person was hit by a truck.”

Dead bodies can be of great research value. Organ donation especially eye donation is another thing being actively promoted. Dr. Adarsh Kumar, assistant professor of forensic medicine at AIIMS says, “There can be no substitute of a dead body for research purpose. And there are a few NGOs who are promoting contribution of dead bodies.”

Even in a hospital mortuaries are the most ignored places. Discussing the problems of mortuaries Dr. Kumar says that good infrastructure is limited to metros. Even at AIIMS, the lack of enough hands does affect the quality of autopsy. Another major reason is the lack of enough remuneration. “Forensic experts are the highest paid people in Australia and England.”

Dr. Sunay Mahesh, senior resident, forensic medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi says, “the stigma attached to this department is another major reason why the department struggles for enough manpower.

But apart from monetary consideration, the stigma attached to the job is especially for the 4th grade staffs who actually manhandles the body is significant.

“Life is a great surprise. I do not see why death should not be an even greater one.

Wrote Vladimir Nabokov in his 1962 novel ‘Pale Fire’

The obviousness and the triviality of death is enough to recognise that misconceptions about dead be removed.

A ‘Ban’ Smoked Away

By Journalism student

By Reyaz, Anubhooti, Karishma

Prachi Dutt (name changed) was 10 years old when she tried smoking for the first time. Since then, ‘let me try it once’ has became a habit. Today, eleven years later, she cannot stop smoking even on her college campus, although the university has been declared a smoke- free zone.

Like Prachi, there are many others who openly flout this ban in various colleges and universities across Delhi. And they seem to have no qualms about it.

Rahul (name changed), a student of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) said, he is sure he would not be caught because he is certain authorities don’t care. “Everyone smokes openly here; even the staff and professors indulge in it. And no one says anything, neither the guards, nor the administration.”

Anand Kumar, a guard at the university concurs. “Students do smoke in the campus. But they hide the cigarette when they see us,” he said.

Apam Kharingpam, an Assistant Professor at the same university believes that smoking zones should be created at various places in the universities, just as in restaurants and airports. “The government earns a lot of money from chain smokers like me. So, I think it is hypocrisy on the part of the government to ban it in certain places and to sell it at others.”

Though the law is being openly defied by many, authorities seem to be sitting pretty after installing hoardings and banners everywhere. Professor Gurmeet Singh, the Proctor of Delhi University says, “We conduct regular classes and awareness campaigns to sensitise the students. More than going behind the students with a stick in our hand, we believe in educating them. We conducted a survey after we started the campaign. And the results show that 23 percent of the students have quit smoking after the campaign was started.”

But going by the number the people who smoke in the campuses, the ground realities seem very different. Monika Arora, Director of Hriday, a NGO working with students against smoking, questions the validity of the claim. “I don’t know how scientifically proven that survey is.”

She, however, agrees that the government and the administration are doing their best to spread awareness about the no-smoking campaign. “Change cannot be brought overnight. But going by the no-smoking hoardings and banners that have come up in the city, it appears that University administration and the government are putting in a sincere effort.”

A possible reason why the students are taking the ban lightly could be that the authorities have not been harsh while implementing it. Though the ban has been in place for quite some time now, there have been no strict actions as of yet in these universities.
Mukesh Ranjan, Assistant to Proctor of JMI says, “I am aware that the university is a smoke free zone. But I have got no official instruction yet on as to how to go about implementing the ban.”

Gurmeet Singh says, “A student can be fined Rs.200 if caught smoking in the campus. But there have been no fines as of yet because we do not want it to be a punitive effort. We want the students to understand for themselves.”

Whether the students understand or not, the fact remains that personal choices of a few are putting the health of thousands at risk. And the open defiance of the law by the educated masses goes on to prove that it is high time that stricter measures are taken so that bans like these are effectively implemented.

Quick facts
o India is the second largest producer of tobacco in the world.
o 25 crore population in India are regular tobacco users.
o Tobacco worth Rs 24,000 corers is sold annually.
o The government has to spend Rs 27,000 corers annually on free health services to offset the harm caused by it
o Every 30 seconds, one person in India dies of diseases related to tobacco or gutkha.
o Every two seconds, 1 Indian child tries tobacco for the first time.
o 4 million children below the age of 15 years use tobacco regularly.

Sources: Data compiled from the Ministry of Health and Women Welfare, Government of India, American Cancer Society, National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3), The World Health Survey, 2003.


By Journalism student

By: Shariq Haider Naqvi, Ranish Hangloo, Pariksht Shingal.

From traditional household utensils to medical remedies, clay plays an integral part in the life of Indians.

Clay culture, an ancient form of art, is as fascinating as snake charmers and computer geeks that have captivated foreign audiences.

45 years old potter, Rajinder Singh, says he inherited this art from his father. Playing with clay was a childhood enthrallment that later became my profession. Rajinder’s wife Maya Devi who also makes clay pots however feels their children never showed any interest in this form of art.

Clay a refined form of soil is utilized extensively across India. Since the Harrapa civilization, clay has acclaimed traditional importance.

Singh adds with a witty humor that poor people in India still use earthen pots to store and cool water while refrigerators are a property for rich folks.

An age old history to support this form of art also tells about the sculpture making as a traditional craft.

While shaping fingers of an earthen goddess idol, Ajay Kumar Haldar, a sculpture maker says it is creativity mixed with interest, and use of clay in sculpture making is an interesting hobby.

In the recent times Plaster of Paris (POP) is proving biggest challenge for these creative clay artists. POP as compared to clay costs less and one does not need to slog much while designing sculptures.

Kamala Singh, a housewife who decorates her house with clay decorative says earthen pots have their own importance. During Diwali, (festival of lights), Diyas(small earthen pot) made of clay are still used to garnish houses and also Gamlas (earthen pot) are used to grow plants and are significant for those who want to make theirs gardens look good.

Not only for embellishment, clay is still, used by rural or poor class in India for plastering walls and make kuccha houses (temporary/ delicate).

Interestingly, ancient form of Indian medication, Ayurveda has also given importance of soil and its derivates for medical treatments.

Different form of clay can be used for curing ailments of liver, stomach and skin infections, says Dr. Tanuj Veerbhan an Ayurveda doctor.

Tanuj adds, those who want to keep cool state of mind should apply Multani Mitti (Herbal Clay) on their forehead when required.

Also Multani Mitti is used for cosmetics and beautification purposes too, and this is gaining popularity worldwide.

As herbal treatment does not have any side effects, one should use Multani Mitti to look young, said 20 years old Ghazala Naqvi who uses clay for beautification.

Unbelievably, a fraction of the Indian population takes clay to be a unique and clean material that is used for washing hands besides its other important uses.

Rehabilitation of artist slum

By Journalism student

- Niha Masih, Ankita Khare, Vincent Drye

Almost a quarter of people in Indian cities live in slums. As the national capital, New Delhi gears up for the upcoming Commonwealth Games 2010, many slum dwellers are being displaced from the city.

However, the residents of Kathputli Colony can look forward to a brighter future. This slum will be the first to benefit from the ‘in-situ slum rehabilitation scheme’ of the Delhi Devlopment Authority. Instead of being relocated in other parts of the city, the inhabitants will be provided flats on the 5.22 hectares of the slum land.

“Earlier, slum dwellers were given plots at different parts of the city; it was very difficult for the slum dwellers to settle far away from their present place of work so they used to come back,” says Minister of Urban Development, Ajay Maken.

As the name suggests, most of the residents of Kathputli (Puppet) Colony are Indian traditional artists, some of who are internationally renowned for their skills at puppetry and different forms of folk dances.

Under this plan, these people will shift from the sordid houses to an eleventh storeyed building with lift facilities. “Each family is given a separate bathroom and toilet; they are also given two rooms so that there is a private and a public space inside the flat” says Mitu Mathur, architect with Gian P Mathur and Associates, the consultancy in charge of the plan. Moreover, the ground floor will be dedicated to their artistic and commercial activities.

There doesn’t seem to be much awareness as people are still apprehensive about the implementation of the scheme. “Only they know whether people with IDs or ration cards will get flats” says Guddu, a slum dweller.

Accommodations are planned for 2800 families. This goes in-sync with the number of residents with valid ID Cards, confirms Gian P Mathur and Associates. However, according to sources, the slum population is much higher.

Yet, around 50 per cent of the land will be given to the private builders for their own profit-making purpose. On this land, they will develop a commercial centre along with “high category residential apartments”.

The gist of this public private partnership is to socially mix the area and to give a boost the artistic activities of the community. Speaking about the contract, Mitu Mathur explains: “It is a very profitable venture in terms of money and of respect from the community. Also it is very important for us to develop a scheme which is attractive to the developers.”

The foundation ceremony took place in mid February but the construction is yet to begin.

Fibre in fashion

By Journalism student

Kriti Gupta, Gaurav Shukla, Arvind Kumar

New Delhi: Two thirds of the total jute production takes place in India. Over the years, jute has become associated with industrial activities – it was used as sacks, covering material and so on. Its rough, coarse texture made it unpleasant for daily use. But all this is changing.
With growing concerns about plastic choking the world, there is a move towards natural fiber and jute seems to be in the lead. The ban on plastic initiated by the Delhi government has given a new lease of life to the jute industry. Market promotion officer for Jute Manufactures Development Council, D Mukherjee explains, “Jute is the best option. Paper bags are not durable while cotton bags are very expensive. Jute bags cost Rs 3 or 4 per piece.”

While most industries are panicking at this time of recession, due to the aforementioned reasons, the jute industry is growing at a rapid pace. It is estimated that once the plastic ban takes full effect, Delhi will need 1 lakh jute bags per day.

Seema Malhotra, Founder of Scope Plus (an NGO working for underpowered), tells us why she began using jute, “Our main purpose was to provide eco-friendly alternatives to schools and colleges. The response was excellent. The only thing was that they wanted it cheaper.” They started with bags, but soon expanded into folders, notepads and so on because of the positive reaction of people. She continues, “Now that the government is giving subsidies, it should become easier to achieve a lower cost.”

From the service sector to the private sector, going natural seems to be the trend. Even the fashion industry is experimenting with this fabric in clothes and accessories. Designer Samant Chauhan has used jute in his previous collections to add texture to the cloth. He elaborates, “Jute is a unique fabric. I’ve been using it not only with the silk, but also I’ve used a lot of jute accessories in my collections.”

Shaan Thadani, a noted fashion expert and owner of the store WHITE, critiques the way the fiber has been used thus far. “We must be able to sustain what we create and make it eco-friendly. It’s very important and so I think we should look into fabrics like jute. But till now, I haven’t seen any innovations in fashion that are practical. It has been used interestingly as banners and accessories, but there is a lot more that needs to be done.”

People it seems are also becoming environmentally conscious. Marie, a housewife, reminisces, “When we were children, we used jute for sack races. Now I use it in more products – clothes, bags, household furnishings, etc. Natural fiber is the way to go.”

From dreary sacks to designer-wear, jute is definitely under-going a makeover. Giving the term “golden fiber” a new meaning altogether.