On Independence Day, let’s not forget Partition pains - The Daily Guardian
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On Independence Day, let’s not forget Partition pains

The passing of the Independence of India Act by the British Parliament on 18 July 1947 made provisions for India’s division on religious lines, which saw unprecedented violence and killings both preceding and following Partition.

Avatans Kumar

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People desperately boarding trains to survive the horrors of Partition.

15 August 1947 was a momentous day in the history of modern India. However, there isn’t much worth celebrating on that day. The passing of the Independence of India Act by the British Parliament on 18 July 1947 made provisions “for the setting up in India two independent Dominions”, namely India and Pakistan. The violence, however, both preceding and following Partition, is one of the worst tragedies of humankind.

 Despite all the blood and gore that have come to be associated with Partition and the subsequent birth of the modern Republic of India in 1947, the scale of the horror is not known to many. Moreover, it is rarely talked about even in academic circles. In fact, a sustained narrative of euphoria was manufactured to suppress, and then eradicate completely from the consciousness of the masses, a compelling narrative of unimaginable physiopsychological wounds inflicted by Partition.

For British historians, there was an urge to show Partition as a benevolent act, a moral high ground of sorts, that despite 200 years of colonial rule, the civilised British could leave India as friends and even form a Commonwealth. Many others talked about Partition “as an illustration of the failure of the ‘modernising’ impact of colonial rule, an unpleasant blip on the transition from the colonial to the post-colonial worlds,” as wrote historian David Gilmartin in the Journal of Asian Studies (November 1998).

One would have hoped that Indian academicians, historians specifically, would look at Partition with a dispassionate expansive approach. However, the Indian academic class led primarily by Marxist-Nehruvian historians not only reduced Partition to a singular event on a calendar but also an outcome of a purely sectarian politics. For many “nationalist Indian historians”, writes Gilmartin, Partition “resulted from the distorting impact of colonialism itself on the transition to nationalism and modernity”. While Gilmartin may have diagnosed some of the characteristics of post-colonial history writing of Partition correctly, his characterisation of the Leftist-Nehruvian historians as ‘nationalist’ is not without criticism.

The Hindu-Muslim violence that engulfed the Indian subcontinent around the time of Partition was not an isolated event. The history of such violence is long and is rooted, at least in part, in the Islamic theology of iconoclasm and the notion of ‘kafirs’ (nonbelievers).

Despite the frequent and ad nauseam reminder of the ‘Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb’, the barbarism of the Islamic invaders is well documented. In most cases, the perpetrators and their agents themselves have left glowing accounts of the atrocities committed. Millions of idol-worshipping Hindus perished during the Islamic invasion. As historian Will Durant puts it: “The Islamic conquest of India is the bloodiest story in history.” Thousands of Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist temples were destroyed. Many more moortis were desecrated, dismembered, and demolished. Hindus were frequently subjected to the religious tax ‘jajiya’ in order to follow their faith and customs.

Hindus fought valiantly against their religious persecution. Stories of resistance are aplenty, mostly in the form of folklore, as historians have mostly ignored them owing to their ideological moorings. For example, there were frequent attempts involving common citizens to defend and protect Hindu temples and deities. Meenakshi Jain has meticulously collected those stories in her book Flight of Deities and Rebirth of Temples. Jain also writes about the Kashi riots (1809) — one of the earliest large-scale Hindu-Muslim violence on the records. It was a riot that lasted three days, there were losses “on both sides”, Jain quotes William Pinch (Hiding in Plain Sight; the Gosains on the Ghats).

About a century later in 1921, emboldened by the rising Muslim nationalism under the leadership of Muslim elites and scholars such as Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Allama Iqbal, etc, the Moplah riots saw several hundred Hindus butchered in the Malabar region of Kerala. It was an open effort to set up an Islamic state in the area of coastal Kerala. “The blood-curdling atrocities committed by the Moplas in Malabar against Hindus were indescribable,” wrote B.R. Ambedkar in Pakistan or the Partition of India. Closer to Partition itself, on 16 August 1946, the ‘Direct Action Day’ of the Muslim League saw several hundred Hindus perish by the rioting mobs in Kolkata.

Viceroy Louis Mountbatten came to Delhi in March of 1947 with a mandate to end British rule as soon as possible and set a deadline of August 1947 for it. Cyril Radcliff, a British lawyer, arrived on his maiden trip to India to lead the Boundary Commission. With little knowledge of India’s history, culture, demography, and geography, Radcliff was tasked to redraw India’s map in a matter of days. When all was said and done, the sacred land of Bharat — the land of numerous Devis and Devatas; of Rishis and Acharyas; of myths and lore — was divided. Pakistan became a new country on 14 August and India became independent on 15 August 1947.

 Nearly two million people lost their lives during Partition, according to some estimates. The real count could be much higher as usually is the case. It was the most horrific death nobody expected and none deserved. “Early in August 1947 things began to change,” wrote Khushwant Singh in his book Punjab, Punjabi, and Punjabiyat, “The riots assumed the magnitude of a massacre and it became clear that Sikhs and Hindus would have to clear out of Pakistan.” That fear forced one of the worst human migrations in history. It was a tragedy of epic proportions.

As the Indian subcontinent was split-based on religion — Hinduism and Islam — close to 14 million people found themselves in the wrong country and on the move overnight. Many started on an unknown journey — on foot or by trains — hoping they would return ‘home’ one day once the dust settled. After all, most of them had lived there for hundreds or even thousands of years. They belonged to the land which they protected and nurtured with their sweat and blood for their Dharma told them to protect their nation from all enemies with the help of both shastra (weapons) and shaastra (knowledge). It was the land that “bears traces of gods and footprints of heroes. Every place has its own stories, and conversely, every story in the vast storehouse of myth and legend has its place.” (Diana Eck’s A Sacred Geography).

People left their valuables behind, grabbing what they could for what they thought would be a short exile. They handed their house keys to their neighbours. “We picked up whatever we could in our hands, handed the keys of the house to a Muslim friend, Manzur Qadir, and joined the stream of Hindu and Sikh refugees going out of Pakistan to India… Then I realised that the world I had lived in and whose continuance I had taken for granted had ceased to exist,” writes Khushwant Singh of the ordeal.

 Houses, big and small, were burnt down and looted, women were raped, children were separated from their family. Trains after trains arrived at stations overflowing with corpses. These passengers were killed by bloodthirsty mobs en route. They called it “ blood trains”, recounts Nisid Hajari in his book Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition. Those “blood trains”, all too often, “crossed the border in funeral silence, blood seeping under their carriage door,” Hajari writes.

Amid the jubilation that followed the lowering of the Union Jack, the raising of the Indian Tiranga, Jawaharlal Nehru’s ‘tryst with destiny’ speech in Parliament, and the chanting of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, there was a sense of loss, uncertainty and despondency. As Khushwant Singh would write, “The only person who seemed real was Mahatma Gandhi who had refused to participate in the festivities and was going about on foot from village to village exhorting people to stop killing neighbours.”

Avatans Kumar (Twitter @ avatans) writes frequently on the topics of Indic knowledge tradition, language, culture, and current affairs. He is a JNU and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign alumnus.

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When Anil Kapoor gave ‘jhakkas’ twist to dandiya

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Actor Anil Kapoor extended heartfelt Navratri greetings to everyone in a filmy way. Taking to Instagram, Anil posted a particular sequence from his 1988 film Tezaab in which he is seen performing dandiya.
Recalling how the particular sequence was filmed “smoothly and effortlessly” in just one night, he wrote, “Happy Navratri to one and all! This time of year always takes me back to this scene from Tezaab, conceptualised so beautifully by N. Chandra. I’ll never forget how smoothly and effortlessly we shot this entire dandiya scene in one night. One of my favourite memories of this happy festival. “
Tezaab featured Anil Kapoor in the lead role alongside Madhuri Dixit.
Reacting to Anil’s video of performing dandiya, filmmaker and choreographer Farah Khan commented, “Papaji tussi great ho.”
“Ekdum jhakkas,” a social media user wrote.
Meanwhile, on the work front, Anil recently wrapped up his shoot for the much-awaited Indian remake of ‘The Night Manager’, which is an espionage thriller that has a tense cat-and-mouse chase between a covert agent and a secret arms dealer.
The 2016 series features Tom Hiddleston in the lead role. In the remake, Anil will essay the role that was originally played by Hugh Laurie. It will also feature Aditya Roy Kapur and Sobhita Dhulipala in lead roles. The original British series became a massive hit across the globe and earned several awards at the 74th Golden Globe Awards.
Anil will also be seen sharing screen space with Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone in the action-packed ‘Fighter’.  

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Research says Family ties give animals reasons to ‘help or harm’ as they age

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New research shows that the structure of family groups gives animals an incentive to help or harm their social group as they age.
A team of scientists from 17 institutions in six countries, led by the University of Exeter, examined how “relatedness” (strength of genetic links to members of a social group) changes over a lifetime in seven mammal species. This varies from species to species, depending on whether male or female offspring (or both) leave the group into which they are born.
For example, male and female killer whales both stay in the same group as their mother, so females have a growing number of close relatives (their children and grandchildren) around them as they age.
Other animals, such as female spotted hyenas, usually live among fewer close relatives as time passes.
Given that all animals have evolved to ensure their genes-and those of close relatives-survive, these long-term changes in relatedness to the family group give animals different incentives to engage in “helping and harming behaviour across the lifespan”.
“We wanted to know how an individual’s relatedness to their group changes as they age, and what consequences this might have for behaviour,” said lead author Dr Sam Ellis, from Exeter’s Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour.
“We made a model to predict these changes and then tested it using data on banded mongooses, chimpanzees, badgers, killer whales, spotted hyenas, rhesus macaques, and yellow baboons. Our model fitted the real data. This is exciting because it allows us to predict how and why social behaviours can change with age.”
The “ultimate payoff” of behaviour for animals depends on how each behaviour affects an individual and her relatives. When living in a group of close genetic relatives, it might be in an animal’s interest to behave in a way that helps the whole group.
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“Our findings suggest that incentives to help or harm the group change with age, depending on the social structure of each species,” Dr Ellis said.
Professor Darren Croft said: “Across a wide range of species, we see age-related changes in helping and harming behaviour, which can also differ between males and females. Our new work shows that understanding how relatedness to the family group changes with age is key in understanding how the incentives to help or harm the group change across the lifespan, which can potentially explain these differences across species and between the sexes. This research opens the door for future studies by providing testable predictions for how patterns of helping and harming will change across the lifespan, and we eagerly anticipate new work testing these predictions.”
Among the species included in the study, male spotted hyenas, rhesus macaques, and yellow baboons usually leave their birth group once they reach maturity.
In chimpanzees, female offspring leave the group, while in killer whales and mongooses, both sexes usually stay in the group into which they were born.  

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Silicon Durga idol depicting lives of sex workers created

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Furthering a tradition of presenting new themes during the Durga Puja in Kolkata, pandals and idols depicting the lives of sex workers under the ‘Parichai’ (identity) theme have been created for the celebrations during this year’s festival. The pandal has been brought up by the Nawpara Dadabhai Sangh Puja Committee in the city, which was inaugurated by Lok Sabha MP and actor Shatrughan Sinha on Monday.
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In a first for the city, a silicon idol of Maa Durga has been installed in the pandal, which has never been seen before. The idol has been given the form of a mother, through which an attempt has been made to show that even a sex worker has the form of a mother.
Sinha said, “It is a boon by Maa Durga. The entire state of West Bengal is drenched in the colours of the festival. I have been coming to Durga Puja for years, but it is a matter of fortune for me that I am inaugurating this pandal. I am grateful to Saugata ji and Mamata Banerjee.”
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“Prostitution is a profession, but for the common people, is it a profession? We can say which profession we are in, but can they say so? Because we see them from a different perspective. We should change this perspective. Our project is to bring about change in society. We corner them because of what they do. We do not let them enter society. Why can’t they come when they are also doing their job?” he said.
“We have attached the ambience of a mother in the idol which depicts the sex workers. We gave them the silicon form to make it attractive and touching to the people. This is for the first time that an idol of Maa Durga has been made of silicon,” Mukherjee added.
Describing the essence behind the pandal, he said that the sex workers’ lives have been displayed, which seems like a film when a visitor visits the place.

“If we see the pandal from the front, it will seem like a movie. The lives of sex workers have been displayed in the theme. I had this concept for many years, and presented it before other organisers, but they could not show the courage to give it a nod until this time,” he said.
Madan Mitra, TMC MLA, said, “The celebration is showing not only the pride of Bengal but also the magic of Mamata Banerjee.”
Anjan Paul, Organiser and Councillor Baranagar, said, “It was challenging for me to represent the theme. A lot of people are coming to see the pandal. I hope people in lakhs will throng the place in the coming days. I have made this pandal to give a message that they should be included in society. I do not collect money. Our target is to invest Rs 30 lakh in the making of the pandal. However, the exact number will be known only after the completion of the puja.”

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Asha Parekh to become 52nd recipient of Dadasaheb Phalke Award

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Asha Parekh to be conferred with Dadasaheb Phalke Award

The 68th national film awards will be presented on September 30 in accordance with the more than 60-year-old tradition by President Droupadi Murmu and Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur, two years after the Covid-19 outbreak put the coveted event on hold.

As the recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke award for 2020, veteran actress Asha Parekh becomes the 52nd recipient of the honour. The previous Dadasaheb Phalke award was given to the star of southern cinema Rajinikanth.

“Honoured to announce that the Dadasaheb Phalke selection jury has decided to recognise and award Asha Parekh ji for her exemplary lifetime contribution to Indian cinema,” Thakur said.

Industry icons Asha Bhosle, Hema Malini, Udit Narayan, Poonam Dhillon, and TS Nagabharana are members of the Dadasaheb Phalke committee.

She worked in more than 95 films and was the chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification from 1998-2001,” Thakur added. Parekh was also conferred with Padma Shri in 1992.

The National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), which was founded in 1954, is now in charge of organising the awards, which fall under the purview of the I&B ministry, for the first time.

The government consolidated four film organisations in March of this year, giving the NFDC full authority over all matters relating to the production of documentaries and short films, the management of film festivals, and the preservation of films.

In keeping with tradition, Hon’ble President Draupadi Murmu will be conferring the National Film awards this year,” NFDC MD Ravinder Bhakar said. “It is an honour for the winners and I congratulate them.”

Eminent leaders and figures from the film industry make up the national awards jury, which is chaired by Vipul Shah and includes Dharam Gulati, Sreelekha Mukherjee, GS Bhaskar, S Thangadurai, Sanjeev Rattan, Karthik Raja, VN Aditya, Viji Thampi, Thangadura, and Nishigandha as members.

The ceremony is taking place four years after President Ram Nath Kovind only delivered 11 of the 137 awards, breaking with convention, which saw more than 50 award recipients skip the 65th National Film Awards ceremony in protest.

The remaining prizes were given out by former information and communication minister Smriti Irani and minister of state Rajyavardhan Rathore.

In 2018, 70 award recipients had expressed their intention to boycott the event in an open letter to protest the cancellation of the award presentation. However, a number of the letter’s signatories, including the singer KJ Yesudas and the filmmaker Prasad Oak, later turned up. The honorees clarified in their letter that their action was not a “boycott,” but rather a demonstration of their displeasure with the President’s choice.

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Supreme Court live-streaming hearings for first time today

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The Supreme Court went live for the first time on Tuesday when the cases’ hearings, which were planned to be livestreamed during the day, could be viewed online. One of the three cases slated for live streaming was from Maharashtra and pitted Team Uddhav Thackeray against Team Eknath Shinde over a dispute over the Shiv Sena’s symbol, with the Election Commission already involved. This was the second live hearing where the attorney, Kapil Sibal, could be seen arguing.

Live broadcasting was recommended by the Supreme Court around four years ago.

The former chief justice of India, Dipak Misra, had passed the landmark ruling on September 27 on the live telecast of important proceedings, saying “sunlight is the best disinfectant”.

Following discussion on the issue by the whole top court on September 20, it was decided to begin live-streaming constitutional bench hearings this week. Chief Justice of India (CJI) Uday Umesh Lalit presided over the whole court meeting, and all the judges agreed that constitutional matters should be the first to be streamed live on a regular basis.

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The high courts in Gujarat, Orissa, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Patna, and Madhya Pradesh are some of the high courts that broadcast hearings live as well.

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Some Royal staff used to call Meghan Markle ‘narcissistic sociopath’

Author Valentine Low has written a book about the staff who work for the royal families called ‘Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown’. In the book, she quoted many staff who worked for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry during their term as senior royals in the UK.
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“Young women were broken by their behaviour,” the palace source added.
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“Don’t worry. If there was literally anyone else I could ask to do this, I would be asking them instead of you,” Markle allegedly told the staffer, with whom she had been working to execute a plan of sorts.

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