ART MAKES YOU CARE ABOUT THINGS, SAYS MAHIMA TYAGI - The Daily Guardian
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ART MAKES YOU CARE ABOUT THINGS, SAYS MAHIMA TYAGI

Student, writer and filmmaker Mahia Tyagi shares her views on art and her experience of performing on the international stage.

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Student, writer and filmmaker Mahia Tyagi

Mahima began her stint with writing at a really young age and her English teachers in school were to thank for that. She was about five years old when she wrote her first poem. “Not a day goes by for me without cherishing what it is to be a writer and to wield the power of the pen,” said Mahima.

Speaking of what drove her to pursue it after school, she shared, “I was awarded a certificate of recognition by the HRD Ministry in 10th grade. I also, since an early age, associated my self-esteem with academic success. In 12th grade, I suffered a bit of a setback academically and the career path I had in mind went out of the window. But as one door closes, another one opens, and I applied to some universities I had dreamt of when I was young, and managed to get into all of them! I then chose the one I wanted the most and that has been one of my best decisions.”

Tyagi believes in the power of her pen and that, with her writing, she can bring about a change in society. “Writing is art and any kind of art can bring about as much change as extensive political lobbying can. So, if you have the right intention in mind, your art is one of the strongest mediums to do that. I witnessed that firsthand when I competed in an international poetry competition.” Mahima had discussed with her poetry coach about talking about colonialism in front of a panel of judges with mostly white people of British origin. But her coach gave her the green signal. “I remember when I finished reciting my poem, there was a brief pause. That was the final moment for revelation – is this going to work or am I going to lose faith in this entire process? And I got applauded by everyone there and it meant a lot to me because it made me realize that if I truly believe in something, no matter how bold or outrageous, it’s going to arouse an emotion among people,” said Tyagi.

Elaborating more on her poems, Mahima said that she dabbles between socially motivated themes and more lyrical or personal poetry. Studying abroad, in a strange way, has brought her closer to the social fabric of her own country, she admitted. “When we look at something from a distance, we’re able to see it in its entirety and that’s what I was able to do. I came closer to the issues I had grown up seeing but never really noticing, like human trafficking, the class divide or the religious divide,” she said.

Mahima, also passionate about filmmaking, shared, “I realised that poetry is storytelling and so is filmmaking. I think films are visual poetry. The idea is to extend a narrative for people to observe.” She continued, “I started to make videos, and my passion for films came into being. And so poetry, filmmaking and public speaking blended together for me, and it became art, which is something that I really feel passionately about.”

Talking about her sources of inspiration, Mahima said, “Inspiration is everywhere, especially when you have a drive and really care about things. A lot of it also came from fieldwork that I have done. I wrote a little collection about the Rohingya community when I met these people. They are beautiful people and their stories are so compelling and evocative that you can’t help but gain inspiration.”

Sharing her future plans, Mahima said that she believes that one needs to have a cause in life and then have the means to bring that to fruition. She added that the cause should be to bring change in the attitudes and taboos which persist in society. “The idea is to wake up every single morning, care about something and try to change what it is that prevents me from caring about things,” she said.

Conveying her message to the youth, Mahima said, “There is no singular method to bring about change. I think you just need to believe and care and use your privilege to bring about that change. One of my favourite authors, Nikesh Shukla, says, “Get where you want to be, and then throw a line back” and I think that’s a beautiful way to look at life.”

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‘Startup is all about scaling up’: Disha Singla, Co-founder, Supreme Incubator

In an exclusive interview with NewsX, Disha Singla talks about her journey, the future of startups, and how Supreme Incubators is leading the way for new startups in India.

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Disha Singla, Co-founder of Supreme Incubator, recently joined NewsX for an insightful conversation as part of its special series NewsX India A-list. In the exclusive interview, Disha spoke about the inception of Supreme Incubator, the functioning of a startup incubator, future of startups in India and how her organisation is paving the way for young entrepreneurs to lead a change.

Speaking about the inception of Supreme Incubators, Disha said, ”A couple of years ago, I went to a business school in the USA to pursue my degree with a major in entrepreneurship. I spent a lot of time around startups there. In fact, my own startup was incubated by my university. I got connected with mentors and potential investors over there while working with other startups, who were at the same initial stages. All of this inspired me to further pursue my passion. When I came back to India, I hosted some events here and received a great response. We started receiving applications from all over the country and we connected those startups to potential investors and mentors and received phenomenal feedback from them. It has been two years now since the inception of Supreme and it has been going great. We are focussing on Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, we uplift the startups by connecting them with potential investors, experts, and specific mentors so that they are able to grow in a short period of time.”

Giving our viewers an insight into the functioning of an incubator, she said, “An incubator takes action towards creating an adept ecosystem by connecting them with experts and advisors. These mentors are expert in their domains and have led their own successful ventures. They are leading large corporations so they know how to run large organisations. We at Supreme have mentors from different fields, some mentors are experts in business and technology while many of them are experts in artificial intelligence.”

Further emphasising how Supreme is different from other incubators, Disha expressed, ”We focus more on a personalised approach. Every start-up, which is accepted in our cohort, gets personalised assistance and guidance as per their industry type. We provide industry-specific mentors to them so that they receive mentorship and guidance throughout their tenure, which will help them to move in the right direction in the least possible time.”

When asked about her views on the start-up ecosystem in India and how it has changed and evolved over the years, Disha said, ”The startup ecosystem has definitely developed at a very fast pace over the last 10 years, especially over the past 5 years. When I was in high school, I used to keep up a lot with news-related to business. Earlier, when we used to hear the word ‘startup’, we had to understand what it is but now everyone seem to say that they want to get into the start-up ecosystem. Startup is all about scaling up. There are a lot of challenges and the success ratio of startups are very low. Yet everyone is excited about this term ‘startup’. We have also seen a lot of companies coming up in India, with so many success stories. I think everyone gets motivated to pursue the field that they are passionate about.”

Finally, on a concluding note, Disha shared her vision of the company and expressed that the company is looking forward to work with startups that offer different niches and who are determined towards uplifting and volunteering for a social cause. ”At this point in time, as an incubator, we accept startup applications from different industries so, in the coming years, we definitely want to get into different niche segments and to connect to those startups which are focussed on non-profit ventures and startups doing some social cause. we would definitely like to pursue startups from these niches as well,” she stated.

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Fashion isn’t just about a fashion show, catwalk, behind the scenes or what we see on Instagram: Rina Dhaka

In an exclusive interview with NewsX, Rina Dhaka, one of India’s most celebrated fashion designers, spoke about her journey so far, changes in the fashion industry and much more. Read on!

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Rina Dhaka, one of India’s most celebrated fashion designers, joined NewsX for an exclusive interview as part of NewsX India A-List. She burst on to Indian fashion scene in the late 80s and has showcased her work at The Louvre Paris, and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York among many others.

Talking about her incredible journey so far, she said, “When I came around, there was no such career path for people in designing as such. There was late Rohit Khosla as a designer and there was Ritu Kumar in the northeast. But this whole industry as such didn’t exist. My journey, in fact, is what youth is, youth is all about innovation. That was the need of our hour. Our hour means, me and my contemporaries like Rohit Bal and Tarun Tahiliani; we all came around at a time and we were very heady with that period of time. There was no concept really about money, it was all about creativity, craft and trying to pursue some kind of fashion. In fact, at par with the rest of the world, there was really no design industry, even in the west. There were high street stores like Selfridges, Bloomingdales in America. Designers, as a category of clothing, came about the same time as us. And look where it is today. We have schools of fashion, we have students coming out of these great schools every year and there is a booming trade and industry. When we found the FDCI, we were just nine members. Over a cup of chai every evening and a few laughs, we created this body of FDCI. Today it itself has millions of followers on Instagram and it runs successful events like fashion weeks, which can help designers in India and internationally come together and get work. So yes, fashion has really been a long way and my journey is that journey too.”

Expressing her views on how the landscape of the fashion industry changed over the years, especially with inclusion of issues that matter to young people like body positivity and inclusivity, she said, “Lakme approached me to do a plus-size show and we did the casting for plus sizes. This was, i think two years or maybe two and a half years ago. There were 300 models, who came for audition, we only announced an hour before. Fabulous, body positive, not shy, very confident, and frankly, they could do runways anywhere. These are plus-size models. And one of the girls I picked out from a crowd called Sakshi. She has gone on to be on the cover of every national magazine. Today, she is India’s most celebrated model. Now in fashion weeks, we have to have a better ratio of plus-sized models as well. This is where the journey of inclusivity has got us and then the noise that we made in the years prior to that, took us there. I’m really happy that it’s no more about a size eight, which is called a sample size and passion because we always made samples are the first pieces on that size, which was the model sizing. Today, a sample size is also a plus size.”

When asked about the difficulties faced by the fashion industry in the past one year and are things coming back to normal, she responded, “Fashion is actually one of the trades which teaches you, especially for all of us who have been designers and my contemporaries. We are always in competition, we’re always running to the next season. We’re always pressured against, what we call a deadline, and the deadline has the word ‘dead’ and it’s not a fake word. It really is that you have to die before you finish the clothing.  You are really as good as your last collection or your last show. The year was hard. Everything was shot and the costs were high. There was also the demand totally shrunk. People realised that. My own very old client, who always has to buy something new that I have to offer, who is also like my muse, said, ‘Rina, what have I been doing with my life? Where am I going to go wearing these coats? I don’t know what I’m going to do, I have no need. I have decided not to be an active consumer anymore’.  This was like what the industry faced, especially the luxury industry of ours. In terms of exports as well, there were a lot of uncertainties, fears with stores, closing down, customers patterns, buying patterns and needs changing. ‘How do you reinvent yourself’ was something we all learnt. We’re on that journey now, we’re on that road now. I must say we’re like roaches, we will survive because our trade has taught us such. So, you can’t write us off as yet. We just go through, go through this.”

On a concluding note, she shared a piece of advice for the young designers and said, “Have strong health. Don’t ever ignore your health because you need health. A lot of these children go out and eat on the roadside food. Some of them succumb to jaundice, there were a lot of interns who would get jaundice because of the water, in the early days, not now maybe now they’re more aware. Second, Fashion isn’t a fashion show or a catwalk, behind the scenes or what we see on Instagram, or social media or television. In reality, it is quite dreary and dreadful. It is a lot of pursuit. You go into these dirty lanes following your garment or where it’s made to get it done. One has to be prepared for the monotony of the daily life that you need to pursue to stay in the grind of completing your work. ”

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Sachin Sinha on how IQLECT’s BangDB is solving data-related problems

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Sachin Sinha, founder and CEO of IQLECT recently joined NewsX for an insightful conversation on data analytics and Artificial Intelligence as part of its special series NewsX India A-List. On a mission to solve data-related problems using AI, his company aims to create a cost-effective AI-enabled data analytics platform. IQLECT’s novel database BankDB performs 2X better than most of the leading big products in the market.

“We want to simplify and democratise the way data is being ingested, processed, and analysed so that any big or small company can leverage the intelligence of data, apply it in the ongoing operations, and take the benefits of the data. We work towards simplifying the whole procedure and make it available for everyone, not just the big enterprises,” said Sinha.

IQLECT presents a method of converging everything data-related to its clients so that one doesn’t need to collect different data from different sources. He shared, “We have created a platform and if you think of it as a black box, then what comes at the top is the set of domain-specific solutions. We have created different applications that cater directly to all kind of domains, where all the user has to do is a sign-up and get ready to receive benefits of the platform.”

Speaking about the range of product lines offered by his company to its clients, Sinha said, “Let’s say if someone is running a consumer internet service, and wants to understand every single user in a better way so that they can ensure engagement to have a better conversion rate at the end of the day, they can use our ShopIQ app. Once you plug it in, you will start getting all the intelligence instantly which is the core of your every single customer on the visitor domain. You can then decide what appropriate action needs to be taken.” When asked about the expansion of his company, he replied that not only big but small businesses are also collaborating with the organisation and the company’s focus is currently on the infrastructure domain.

Talking about their most highlighted product BangDB, a novel database and first of its kind from Asia, that performs 2X better than most of the leading big products in the market, Sinha emphasised, “We want to analyse the data as it is being generated. If you see this from a layman’s perspective, data, like vegetables, are perishable. If you don’t use it immediately, its value gets decreased by 80% so you need to capture the data to extract the intelligence. BangDBcomes with an inbuilt streaming engine and processing workflow which you can utilise to ingest any kind of data. As long as you have BangDB, it can ingest any kind of data irrespective of its shape, colour, and size.” What makes the product novel is that it has been completely built in India from scratch.

On the incorporation of AI in BangDB, he expressed that the product allows the user to have a predictive analysis as it requires latency in terms of rapidness. “You need AI to be present where the data is instead of taking the data to the AI. Since BangDB deals with the data, we can’t offload the responsibility of AI to the user. Hence, what we have done instead is integrate both the AI and the data so the data remains right where the BangDB is. Once you have the BangDB, you have the AI as well as the streaming which will allow you to easily ingest the data and the AI would then do the predictive analysis.”

Throwing light on its market functionality in India, Sinha said that the risk-taking capabilities in the market have increased over the years. BangDB has filed for dozens of patents and already got a few along with backing from many leaders. The community version of the database is available free of cost and allows the user to ingest and extract data and intelligence. As IQLECT looks to take head-on some of the leaders in the global market, he said, “We are the only company from India which has created such a high-core tech platform.”

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FROM A MARGINAL PLAYER TO THE CUSP OF POWER: BJP’S BIG RISE IN BENGAL

The BJP, which had a vote share of 0.58% in the 1982 Bengal Assembly elections, is now all set to take part in a neck-to-neck battle with the current ruling party in the state. Despite facing violent attacks, the party has seen a meteoric rise thanks to its key strategists, the RSS’s careful organisational skills, and the TMC’s many faults.

Debaroopa Bhattacharyya

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) contested the West Bengal Assembly election for the first time in 1982. The primary objective of the party was to create a nucleus for a future third force in West Bengal politics. The party contested 52 Assembly constituencies and got around 1,29,994 votes in the state.

From a vote share of 0.58% in the Assembly election in 1982 to over 10.16% in the 2016 Assembly elections, and from 0.4% in the 1984 Lok Sabha elections  to over 40% in 2019, the BJP has come a long way in Bengal, laboriously treading on a road mired with thorns of propaganda, bloodshed and violence, losing 130 of its dedicated cadre and over 1,500 still  in captivity, embroiled in false cases filed against them by a ruling regime that seems to be getting increasingly insecure by the growing popularity of the saffron party among the masses. 

The BJP leadership wanted to rejuvenate the party with fresh faces before the 2016 Assembly elections. The central leadership wanted an organisation man and a new face to take on the TMC. Dilip Ghosh was brought in. He hailed from the Jungle Mahal’s Gopiballavpur.

His predecessor had been hesitant to launch full-scale verbal volleys at the Bengal CM, but Dilip Ghosh did not mince words in his scathing attacks upon Mamata Banerjee and her government. People thought the BJP was reluctant to take the TMC head-on, but Dilip’s arrival changed that perception for good. He took on Mamata right, left and centre. It gave confidence to workers and to voters too.

However, that landed him in situations where he and his convoy were attacked several times by the cadre of the ruling party in Bengal. 

Sadly, after Mamata came back to power with an overwhelming majority in 2016, utilising the many attacks on the BJP state president, the BJP was not able to capitalise on plenty of existent issues to launch an aggressive campaign against the TMC. Sambit Pal, in his book The Bengal Conundrum, observes that be it in the May 2018 Panchayat elections or the proposed Rath Yatra in December 2018, the BJP leadership was busier fighting the TMC government in the courts rather than on the streets of Bengal. When the BJP planned five Rath Yatras in December 2018 across the state, culminating in the Modi rally in January 2019 at Kolkata’s Brigade Parade Ground, the TMC refused permission citing law and order issues. The BJP in turn did not aggressively campaign against the Mamata government and instead took the matter to court. Many such incidents exposed the BJP’s lack of organisational capabilities to act as a formidable opposition.

Around this time, the BJP launched the mantra of “win the booths, win the Assembly”. Despite early setbacks, Amit Shah set a target and directed each worker to visit at least 4-5 houses in every booth. The idea was to spread out to around 80,000-odd booths in the state and form a strong organisational net. Over the next year, the BJP recruited around 200 vistaraks for West Bengal. 

In the meantime, attacks on BJP karyakartas continued. In Purba Burdwan Kalna district, BJP MP (nominated) George Becker was attacked when he visited the locality to attend a booth vistarak programme. This was not an isolated incident. Women leaders were not spared either—Mahila Morcha president Locket Chatterjee was also attacked in Birbhum district. BJP Yuva Morcha president Debjit Sarkar was arrested during a bandh called by the party against the killing of a school student in Islampur in North Dinajpur. The students and local people were protesting in Islampur against the appointment of an Urdu teacher when they actually needed teachers in other subjects. The boy met his end when the police opened fire on the agitating crowd. 

THE BACKEND ARCHITECTS

In 2018, while Ram Lal and Shiv Prakash were already looking at boosting the organisational setup in the state, Amit Shah brought in Arvind Menon as deputy to Kailash Vijaywargiya, who was working as an observer for West Bengal. His job was to help Bengal BJP leaders mobilize grassroots workers and leaders to form booth committees, which was the goal of the national president. He started with North Bengal in 2018 to give a necessary boost to the workers and organisation, mixing with villagers and common people, thereby installing confidence in grassroots BJP workers. Meanwhile, Dilip Ghosh, working closely with strategist and defected TMC leader Mukul Roy, declared that the BJP was ready to take on the TMC in 60% of the areas. The BJP state president stood by the state party leaders and kept reiterating that the BJP was ready to take on Mamata Banerjee. 

In 2018, the BJP’s electoral progress and success in the Jungle Mahal districts, especially Jhargram and Purulia, directly reflected the organisational boost. In Jhargram, the BJP bagged the majority of seats among 24 Gram Panchayats and 10 were hung as no party got a majority. In Purulia, the BJP got 10 Zila Parishad seats while the TMC got 25. In the Panchayat Samiti, the BJP was victorious in 142 seats and in Gram Panchayats, they won 644 seats. Mukul Roy can claim credit for this spectacular victory of the saffron camp because he used his sources in the TMC to extract unhappy workers from that party to vote and work for the BJP. 

However, in May 2018, two BJP workers were found dead in Purulia in close succession. One of them was Trilochan Mahato, whose body was found hanging from a tree with the following written on his shirt in Bengali: “This is for indulging in politics from such a young age of 18. Been trying to kill you since the vote. Failed. But today you are dead”. This incident shook the state BJP thoroughly. The murder of two BJP workers in a district where the BJP had fared well exposed, on the one hand, their growing political acceptance and strength and, on the other, their inability and weakness in protecting their own cadre from such violence and atrocities. 

Amit Shah further brought in the architect of Tripura victory, RSS Pracharak Sunil Deodhar, for a brief period to Bengal to assist Shiv Prakash, Arvind Menon and Kailash Vijaywargiya. The result of these behind-the-scenes architects’ relentless perseverance resulted in extending the party’s organization in a large number of villages and towns before the elections in 2019. From 452 mandal committees in 2015, the BJP reached 1280 in 2019. Setting up 12,407 shakti kendras and appointing 10,266 full-time shakti kendra pramukhs, many BJP district units got new party offices, bringing in much enthusiasm among the grassroots workers.

ROLE OF THE BJP IT CELL 

Another organisation that gave the party and its leaders, workers and supporters the much-needed push was the IT Cell. Shiv Prakash brought in Ujjwal Pareek, a Kolkata boy, to head the BJP’s social media team in Bengal. The IT Cell’s job was to operate the “BJP4Bengal” Facebook page as well as its Twitter handle, apart from the 50,000-odd WhatsApp groups. When Mamata Banerjee reacted belligerently to the “Jai Shree Ram” slogan in West Midnapore’s Chandrakona, the IT Cell stitched together a video which asked the question, “Is it a crime to chant Ram’s name in Bengal?”. That video was made viral and it stoked a fire among Bengal’s masses, awakening their dormant Hindu religious sentiments, especially among the youth in the suburbia. 

THE RSS ANGLE

The RSS through its shakhas and other social organisations has been able to influence people at the grassroots immensely. RSS activists don’t work directly for candidates but for ideas and issues which align with the RSS-BJP ideology. They form different organisations in different areas, for instance, in Hooghly during the last elections, they formed an outfit called the Hooghly Zila Janakalyan Samiti. This outfit’s job was to distribute leaflets and carry out a door-to-door campaign.

Until a few years ago, the RSS had about 700 shakhas in South Bengal and about 300 in North Bengal, but the figure went up in South Bengal to 1200 and to 400 in North Bengal by 2018.

It is the RSS which helped to capture and consolidate the Matua vote for the BJP before the 2019 elections, closely working with the Matua  community and organising “mochchab” every fortnight. A “mochchab” is a community programme where members of the community socialise and share a meal together. The RSS used these informal meetings to discuss the NRC and Citizenship Bill/Act to gain the confidence of the community in favour of the saffron camp. Sambit Pal mentions in The Bengal Conundrum how, apart from organising mochchabs, the  RSS also kept working with frontal organisations like the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram which works in tribal areas running hostels and schools like Ekal Vidyalaya and involving people in social activities, mass marriages, etc. The VKA did not directly participate in BJP politics but their social influence helped BJP gain popularity and credibility among tribal and backward populations in North Bengal. Other organisations like the Sree Hari  Satsang Samiti helped the BJP make headway through the RSS activities without much publicity and politicking. 

The Sangh outfits were also like a protective umbrella, always standing in support of Hindu groups whenever there were communal clashes in the state. Saffron flags in minority-dominated remote villages showed how these organisations helped to turn the story around for the BJP and also mobilised Hindu voters across suburban and rural Bengal, observes Pal. 

With every by election in West Bengal since 2016, the BJP has gained in vote shares at the cost of the Left front. This vote shift peaked in the 2019 Lok Sabha election with the BJP winning 18 out of 42 seats. The BJP’s vote share shot from 10% in 2016 to over 40% in 2019, with the Left’s vote share declining from 27% to 7.5%, the Congress’s share collapsing by 7% and the TMC falling by 2%. In numbers, roughly 1 crore voters seem to have shifted their allegiance from the Left towards the BJP. 

Dibyojyoti Basu, a senior journalist, opines that the main reason for the BJP’s rise in Bengal is the tyrannical nature of the Mamata Banerjee government. “Extortion and Chanda Raj are back with a bang in Bengal, much to the consternation of businessmen, commoners and the overall hoi polloi. People are disgusted with the misrule. Thus the cry for change,” he says. 

TMC’S MINORITY APPEASEMENT POLITICS

Excessive minority appeasement by the TMC has also driven the Hindu voters away from it and towards the BJP. Once in power, Mamata Banerjee rolled out several Muslim-specific policies such as granting an allowance or stipend to imams and muezzins, extending scholarships to Muslim students of Class I to X, offering reservation to Muslim OBCs, banning the telecast of a drama series by controversial author Taslima Nasrin on the demand of conservative Muslim clerics, and making Urdu the second official language in districts where the Urdu-speaking population was more than 10%.

The Mamata government also gave a grant of Rs 300 crore to the Aaliah University, which was started during the Left front’s rule, and constructed special hostels for Muslim girls in districts.

Additionally, Mamata Banerjee increased the number of tickets given to Muslims in the Bengal Assembly elections. She covered her head and attended prayers in mosques, mixed Arabic words with Bangla in public meetings, roped in influential urbane Urdu-speaking Muslims and also gave more weightage to Urdu-speaking Muslims in her cabinet as compared to the previous Left government.

This kind of blatant appeasement of minorities has not augured well with most Bengali Hindus. Dibyojyoti Basu adds, “For the sake of Muharram processions the Mamata government postponed the Durga Puja immersion ceremony. The chief minister had also in the recent past objected to Ram Navami celebrations in Bengal.”

Dr Jayanta Gupta, a renowned gynaecologist in Kolkata, says that the TMC has resorted to minority appeasement to expand its vote base without any particular vision for the overall development of the state. The dole-outs have multiplied in 2021 keeping the election in mind, with Maa Canteen serving egg curry and rice for Rs 5, the Swasthya Saathi Card that promises treatment at government and private hospitals at shockingly unrealistic subsidies (no wonder the card is being turned down by most hospitals), financial grants to “paara” clubs (local clubs) working under the TMC banner at the expense of taxpayers’ money, etc.

Rampant corruption unleashed by the ruling party and widespread unemployment are also part of the cancer that is rapidly eroding Bengali society and unabashedly exposing the can of worms that the TMC has opened, resulting in the Bengalis’ patience wearing thin. The citizens of this state are now looking for change and the BJP with its pragmatic vision and nationalistic tone is increasingly finding a place among the masses, Gupta says. 

What further adds to the BJP’s armoury is rampant corruption and widespread unemployment in the state, along with the widespread anger among the Matua community for being stateless and homeless in India for so many decades. The recently passed Citizenship Bill actually fulfils the Matua demand and hence gives the BJP a strong support base in the region. To add to Mamata’s worry is growing claimants for Muslim votes in the state—from AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi to the Indian Secular Front is backed by Islamic cleric Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui.

CONCLUSION

If several opinion polls are to be believed, it will be a neck-and-neck contest between the TMC and the BJP. It is already showing signs of going down to the wires for both the camps. It remains to be seen how the BJP will further galvanise public opinion against the ruling regime, now that the CBI enquiry into various scams has engulfed the Chief Minister’s nephew, Abhishek Bandopadhyay, and his wife, Rujira Narula. 

The road to Nabanna still remains an uphill climb for the BJP because the steepest peaks will unravel themselves now that the election schedule has been announced by the Election Commission. 

The writer is founder and editor-in-chief of Tribe Tomorrow Network. The views expressed are personal.

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‘ANGANA MOREY’ HITTING NO. 2 ON BILLBOARD GLOBAL CHART A PLEASANT SURPRISE: SHREYA GHOSHAL

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Singer Shreya Ghoshal recently got candid with NewsX in an exclusive interview as a part of its special series NewsX India A-List, wherein she spoke about her latest song release Angana Morey, her musical journey and more. Angana Morey is garnering a phenomenal response in India and around the world.

Not only the song is being loved by the listeners but is also smashing records of singers like Selena Gomez and has made it to number 2 on Billboard’s Top Triller Global chart. Angana Morey is even more special to Shreya as it is in collaboration with her brother Soumyadeep Ghoshal.

Expressing her gratitude to all the love and appreciation coming her way for Angana Morey, Shreya said, “While making this song, we did not have any such expectations. It’s a pleasant surprise and a great feeling. The fans are rejoicing. Somewhere they always hoped that Shreya or as they call me Shreya Di will make it to the Billboard one day. It’s a sweet gesture, I am elated and hope it’s the start.”

Sharing insights from the making of Angana Morey, she expressed, “Angana Morey was born in the lockdown so it was an interesting experience. Soumyadeep is a fabulous musician. This was our second project together. Over the phone and on video calls, we only talk about music and the possibilities of doing so many different things. He pushed me into it and said that don’t worry about what the trends are or what are people doing off late, you should do whatever you want. That is how Angana Morey was born. This is a very different song from my kitty and that’s why I went Indie. When you are doing independent music, you have no pressure of following any rules. So I broke all of them and did a slightly classical-based number with very modern, electronic and transient, groovy elements in it.” 

Shreya spoke about her first song and how that proved to be a game-changer for her, “The first song that I did would always be the most momentous experience and time of my life. Bairi Piya from Devdas changed my life. I was around 16-years-old. Being called for a song like that by Sanjay Leela Bhansali for a film of that stature was unexpected. It was amazing and since then there has been no looking back. There have been many more such songs, milestones, concerts, world tours, and experiences that have added many more layers to my life and how my journey has moved from here to there but it’s too hard to count them now. I am blessed but I will always look back at my first song, my first film as the most sentimental, the most emotional and important milestone of my life.” On a concluding note, she crooned Ghar More Pardesiya from Kalank.

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Why mental health and psychological fitness is so important in sports

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In a special series on NewsX presented by CatFit, titled ‘Importance Of Mental, Emotional And Psychological Fitness In Sports’, two leading young sportsperson, international cricketer Arundhati Reddy and international badminton player Srishti Jupudi, shared their journeys as sportspersons in India and how mental health plays a major role in them delivering their best performance.

Addressing the importance of mental health and training in sports, Arundhati spoke about how she entered the world of sports at a very fragile age. At the time when she was playing domestic cricket there were certain days when she wasn’t able to perform. She said how she barely knew the importance of mental well-being or a certain frame of mind a sportsperson has to be in to enhance their skill and perform better on the ground. “Especially at such a top level, when you know that you are under scrutiny all the time, it comes to be a huge responsibility. The pressure to perform well is always there and it is very important to be mentally strong and tough,” she said.

Adding to Arundhati’s remarks, Srishti, who embarked on her sports journey in her teenage years, talked about her psychological and mental training. She stated how at the top level, when you are an international and professional sportsperson, it becomes more of an act of psychological warfare. She explained the ‘20:80 formula’ that functions in international sports, which denotes that 20% constitutes one’s skill set and physical training, whereas the larger part, i.e., 80% constitutes mental toughness and the psychological mindset of the player.

”Playing at the top level and surviving in a highly competitive environment has made me realise how strong-headed one has to be. I started following my mentor and coach’s advice for my mental well being and started to observe the changes which occurred in a linear manner, and eventually, I made it my routine,” Srishti added.

She also spoke about her mantras which have helped her keep moving forward and given her strength and resilience. Srishti underlined that one must constantly visualise their goals and work on their growth and progress.

Arundhati also talked about her training regime and how a lot of effort has to be put into hardcore strength and physical training. “We, the Indian team, put a lot of effort in preparing well for tournaments. For me, it’s more about the visualisation of my goals. It was during the lockdown when I started paying attention to my mental health and realised that I had not taken a break in decades. During the lockdown, I had a lot of time and began to do meditation regularly, and it has helped me a lot,” she shared.

Catfit as an organisation has been playing a significant role in improving the overall mental as well as physical well being of sportspersons. Talking about the initiative, Mr Arpan Dixit, Global Head of Catfit, said, “We started back in 2017 when we realised that there is a lack of mental health awareness and a need for mental and psychological trainers for people in sports. Catfit arranged a team of trained psychologists, mental health trainees, nutritionists and physical fitness trainers and began a regime of the military application and special forces tactics for sports.” Explaining this further, he underlined how within this special regime, sportspersons are first given a psychological questionnaire where the team analyses the level of resilience each person has, identifies issues and concerns arising out of the analysis, make a plan for their training and assign them a psychological and mental toughness trainer who is from the special forces or part of the ‘Black Cat’ commandos.

Arundhati then spoke about careers in sports and how parents often hesitate to send their children to the field. She spoke of how her mother has been an inspiration and given her constant support. ”Being a sportsperson herself, my mother has taught me a lot and always motivated me to pursue my dreams and I think every parent should just let their child do what he/she dreams of,” she said.

Wrapping up the conversation, Srishti said that India holds a lot of scope in terms of sports and many government policies and incentives now exist which help even those coming from poor financial backgrounds and other rungs of the social hierarchy. “Even if I have quit playing badminton, I think that my active engagement in sports shall help me forward on the leadership path that I want to embark upon. There are many incentives like Khelo India, different types of quotas are available for sportspersons and there are other avenues one can choose from,” she added.

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