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PANDU RAJAR DHIBI: REVISITING A FORGOTTEN PAST OF BENGAL

ASI reports show the importance of the Pandu Rajar site in the studies of proto-historic era Bengal. Yet, it is unfortunate that the artefacts from the site were not taken up for advanced studies and scientific analyses.

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The history of Bengal goes long back archaeologically, wherein tools from the Stone Age era dating back to almost 20,000 years have been found from various sites. The Mahabharata talks of this area as divided into different kingdoms: Magadha, Banga, Pundra, Anga, and Suhma. Each part was ruled by different tribes, and the languages they spoke belonged to the non-Aryan group of languages (Nishadas or the Austro-Asiatic, Alpine-Dinaric, etc) still extant among some of the tribal communities, such as Kol, Khasi, Santhal, Bhil, and Shabara. The other adjoining janapadas of Bengal at that time were Kalinga (modern Odisha), Videha (now Nepal), and Assam which the Mahabharata mentions as Pragyajyotisha. Bengal also finds mention in the book Indica, written by Megasthenes, who referred to it as Gangaridai.

Some archaeological excavations in the 1960s-70s in the core area of Raarbhumi (Birbhum and Bardhaman) in West Bengal brought about revolutionary changes in the study of Bengal history. Among these the most important site is known as the “Pandu Rajar Dhibi,” in the valley of the river Ajay, near Bolpur, district Bardhaman. The Raarbhumi is fed by the seasonal Ajoy, Mayurakhhi, Kopai, Bakreshwar, Kunnur, and Damodar rivers, while the rivers Subornorekha and Kangsaboti feed the adjoining districts of Medinipur, Bankura, and Purulia. This entire area is the purabhumi or the original fertile tract of prehistoric and ancient Bengal, where settlements from the Stone Age era grew up beside the banks of these roaring monsoon-water-fed rivers, and agriculture started.

Near the Pandu Rajar dhibi is the village Bonkoti where excavations had revealed innumerable microlithic tools made of wood and crystal. Another village beside the Damodar river had produced similar archaeological artefacts of microlithic tools made of crystals and other crushed stones; it was thus clear that the place was most likely a factory for producing such tools. While such artifacts of Neolithic and Chalcolithic era are commonly seen across the Raarbhumi and the adjoining three districts, the excavations at the Pandu Rajar Dhibi changed the course of studies into the pre-proto historic and ancient Bengal.

The ASI reports of the excavations at Pandu Rajar Dhibi during 1962-65 have revealed that Bengal during the latter half of the 2nd millennium BCE had in place a well developed urban culture, with towns having well planned streets and pavements. The residents lived in citadels, and houses that were made of unfired clay reinforced with reeds, while the floors and walls were of plastered beaten laterite. The houses were rectangular to square or round, framed with thick wooden or bamboos posts, the roofs sometimes showed terracotta tiles, floors had lateritic pellets or rammed moorum or terracotta nodules, and the  walls had reeds plastered with mud from both sides.

Use of copper was known, domesticated animals and livestock were kept, while agriculture (rice, sugarcane, and other crops) and commerce formed to be the backbone of their economy. Daily diet of the inhabitants seems to have been of rice, meat, and fish. Their potteries consisted of various kinds of bowls, basins, vases, storage jars, dishes, etc. The dead were buried in east-west orientation, while the worship of matrika figures (fertility figurines, mother goddesses) seemed to be popular.

The most interesting aspect of Pandu Rajar Dhibi, however, was the fact that the town seemed to be a trading settlement. Various artifacts proved that the people here carried on trade not only with other parts of India (Chalcolithic central India and Rajasthan), but also with foreign countries. A sea-faring group of people they would travel in ships built by themselves, and various discoveries at the Dhibi (of 2000 BCE) showed that they had close trade relations with Crete and other Mediterranean nations. The chief trading items with foreign countries were spices, cotton fabrics (likely fine cotton or muslin), silver, gold, ivory, copper, and also probably sugar (always a prominent commercial item in ancient Bengal trade). A seal and clay label with inscribed signs of Cretan A symbols found at the site shows the commercial links between the two places. Besides the Dhibi, other sites such as Tamluk, Midnapur, Harinarayanpur, and Chandraketugarh in West Bengal have also yielded vases of Egyptian and Cretan types, along with sealings and potteries showing distinct Egyptian and Cretan traits.

The 1962-65 ASI excavations at the Pandu Rajar Dhibi revealed four layers of varying periods, of which Period III belongs to around 1000 BCE; Period II is said to belong to the 1012+-120 timeline; while Period I belongs to the earlier times of around 2000 BCE (if not earlier). In the 1964 excavation various artefacts showed that the people living there knew the use of iron, and probably smelted at the site. A Seal and engraving revealed that a writing pattern of sharp linear pattern once existed in the 2nd millennium BCE in the area around the Ajay valley.

The ASI reports of 1962-65 and a later report on the site by M.K. Dhavalikar (1973) show the importance of the Pandu Rajar site in the studies of proto-historic era Bengal. Yet, it is quite unfortunate that the artefacts from the site were not taken up for further advanced studies and scientific analyses. Owing to a complete lack of attention and apathy, the site discoveries got removed from limelight and were soon relegated to the background by the late 70s. Today not many people (including those that live in the nearby districts) know the name of the site; leave aside being aware of its historical importance. Casting a veil over proto-historic and ancient Bengal had started from the late 70s, and has been so successful that today many Bengalis have either forgotten or are not even aware of their rich heritage that once ran parallel to the late Harappan era.

The author is a well-known travel, heritage and history writer. Views expressed are personal.

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You need to have a social media presence to build a brand: Anshuman Sharma

In an exclusive interview with NewsX with NewsX Influencer A-List, Anshuman Sharma opened up about his viral videos, his association with the music industry, his latest projects and much more.

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Music and comedy influencer Anshuman Sharma joined NewsX for an exclusive interview as part of NewsX Influencer A-List. In the candid chat, Anshuman opened up about his viral videos, his association with the music industry, his latest projects and much more.

Speaking about his viral videos on Ritviz, Badshah and others, Anshuman said, “I used to make fun stuff on Instagram like dialogue remixes and stuff. There was this dialogue remix that I made on someone that kind of sounded like Ritviz. People were tagging Ritviz in the comments. I listened to his music and then I realised that I do kind of did sound like him. There were already these videos already on the Internet by International YouTubers, who showed people on how to make a Micheal Jackson or Drake song in 2 minutes. I thought why not do it with Ritviz since I already know how it sounds. I could just create a track and put a video on it. It got a million views on Twitter and 2 million on YouTube.”

Talking about his association with the music industry and the songs he’s working on right now, Anshuman said, “I have been working with Salim Suleman. I have done a couple of background music tracks along with them. I did background music for Coolie No 1, which we featured Varun Dhawan. I did Disco Dancer 2.0 featuring Tiger Shroff. They recently released an album called Bhoomi, so I did various songs in that album including one for Sunidhi Chauhan and one for Sukhwinder. Those are folk songs mixed with Jazz, so I have been working on stuff like that.”

Sharing how his journey with Salim Suleman started, Anshuman said, “I used to put videos of me playing the keyboard on Instagram. I sent some of those videos to various composers like Vishal Dadlani, Salim Merchant and AR Rahman. Luckily, Salim Merchant saw my video and my DM. He followed me back and he said it is great. After 2-3 months, I was going to do MBA but then somehow I decided that MBA is not for me. I decided to message Salim Merchant and asked if I could intern with him. He said yes. I left everything and just went for it.”

When asked about making spoofs on artists and if he ever contemplates about not making them fearing it might hurt somebody and hamper his future prospects, Anshuman responded, “There is never a conflict because I don’t try to bring them down. I keep it as less offensive as I can. It is basically just picking out certain things from their music and telling people that this is mostly this type of stuff that they have been doing and present it in a fun way. I don’t make fun of them.”

On the new trend on having a social media presence to build your own brand, Anshuman commented, “If I take examples of songs, a lot of songs are hit songs but people don’t know who made them, unless it is a big composer. In order to tell people that, you need to build a brand and you need to have that social media presence. Once you have a following, they will know who you are and your songs would have better chance of becoming hit songs.”

Check out the entire interview on NewsX YouTube:

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When I started, the goal was not to become a social media influencer: Vishnu Kaushal

In an exclusive interview with NewsX as part of NewsX Influencer A-List, Vishnu Kaushal spoke to us about his journey to become a social media influencer, having an alternative career plan and much more.

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Disrupting the Internet with his comedy and style videos, Vishnu Kaushal joined NewsX for a candid chat as part of NewsX Influencer A-List. In the exclusive conversation, the comedy content creator spoke to us about his journey to become a social media influencer, having an alternative career plan and much more.

Talking about his journey of becoming a social media influencer, Vishnu said, “I am 24 right now. I started making videos in 2013, which makes means when I was 16. I did not have the idea of short form content back then or all those things. When I started, the goal was not to become a social media influencer. It was to become a creator and make a living while creating and doing something I loved. That was just the goal. However, it took me a while. I made videos for 4.5 years without getting any sort of recognition or virality. I gave up the idea of doing this for a living, then Instagram reels came along and my videos started to find the right set of audience. It all started clicking really well because I had all this experience to write a joke and deliver it in the best way. I had the perfect opportunity and I had the baggage of 4 years of content, where I already knew what I wanted to say. I got the right outlet when reels came along. It really did it for me and that’s when it grew up.”

When asked if it is difficult to create short form content than long form content because one only gets 30 seconds to woo the audience, he responded, “For someone who grew up making long form videos, for them it is definitely tougher because they are used to dealing with nuances, building a premise that is longer and delivering a joke. But, for a GenZ kid, short form content comes easily. They are very intuitive with their content. They know how to do it. I have done short form content for a while and I still can’t make a video less than 45 seconds because I think to myself, ‘What do I do in 45 seconds?’. My videos are usually 45 seconds to 1 minute. I think it is more about conditioning. Once people find their length and wavelength, it comes naturally. Long form and short form are very different. Comparing them is tough.”

Speaking about having an ‘alternate plan’ to content creation, Vishnu said, “There was always an alternate plan. This was the alternate plan. I started making videos in my 12th grade. I was in my college when started this. For the first 4 years, I was doing my B-Tech in computer science engineering while I was making videos in college. I was also working with an organisation back then, so I was doing college, working on something and making videos. After college, I got an internship/job and I was doing that. I was into social media marketing, PR and advertising, then I got a call from MenXP, asking if I want to come and audition. Until I got that call, I never stopped having this one thing, i.e my day job. I always was making videos. For me, making videos was never a profession. For me, it has always been the time I can do whatever. That time is my time. Creating videos, after coming back from my college or job, was my time. It has always been fun for me.”

Check out the entire interview on NewsX YouTube:

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REPUBLIC DAY CELEBRATIONS

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The National Flag is hoisted above the Clock Tower (Ghanta Ghar) on the occasion of the 73rd Republic Day, at Lal Chowk, in Srinagar on Wednesday. ANIIndian Air Force’s Rafale aircraft leading MIG-27, MIG-29 and Sukhoi aircraft in a fly-past above Rajpath during the 73rd Republic Day parade, in New Delhi on Wednesday. ANIPresident Ram Nath Kovind presents the Ashoka Chakra (Posthumous) to Babu Ram, Assistant Sub-Inspector of J&K Police. The award was received by his wife Reema Rani and son Manik Sharma, at the 73rd Republic Day Celebrations, at Rajpath, in New Delhi on Wednesday. ANIA dance performance going on during the 73rd Republic Day Parade, in front of Vidhan Sabha, in Lucknow on Wednesday. ANIArtists take a selfie after the conclusion of the 73rd Republic Day Parade, in Jammu on Wednesday. ANIThe Arunachal Pradesh tableau, based on the theme “Anglo-Abor (Adi) Wars” on the Rajpath during the 73rd Republic Day Parade, in New Delhi on Wednesday. ANIIndian Army’s Akash missiles on display during the 73rd Republic Day Parade, at Rajpath, in New Delhi on Wednesday. ANIBorder Security Force (BSF) women Dare Devils perform a stunt during the 73rd Republic Day Parade, at Rajpath, in New Delhi on Wednesday. ANIParamilitary personnel march during 73rd Republic Day celebrations, in Leh, Ladakh on Wednesday. ANICentral Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel celebrate after winning the first prize for march past at the 73rd Republic Day function, in Patna on Wednesday. ANI

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ITA Awards 2021 will be held in March this year: Anu Ranjan

In an exclusive conversation with NewsX as part of NewsX India A-List, Anu Ranjan gave us an insight into her association with ITA.

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As the countdown for ITA Awards 2021 begins, Producer Anu Ranjan joined NewsX as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Anu Ranjan gave us an insight into ITA, her association with ITA and the preparations for this year’s ceremony, especially amid a Covid scare.

Speaking about her association with ITA 2021 and what has the journey been like, Anu Ranjan said, “This is our 21st year. I started it and I have been there since its inception. It is just that because of what has happened the previous year, we have been running a few months late.

Talking about the inception of ITA awards, she shared, “It was an idea told to me by my friends while we were walking on the beach. They were saying that there are no TV awards and that was in 2000. I used to live in America and I moved to India after I got married. The Emmy’s was something that we had always seen so I said ‘Okay, let me try doing it’. It just so happened that TV started at the same time. All the KBCs and K Series etc all started and ITA was launched the same year.

When asked what has changed in the past 2 years considering the Covid-19 outbreak and the protocols that have been put in place, Anu Ranjan responded, “Last to last year, it was fab. There were 10-15 thousand people. We had it in Indore. It was perfect. Last year, we had to have it a studio. What we did was instead of having a 3-hour live show; we kind of extended it over 2 days. We did one act and let them all go. We had 10 awards with just 30 people and then continued.

On recognising actors who have amazed the audiences in the OTT space in ITA Awards 2021 nominations, she said, “This year, we have got OTT at par with TV. So far, TV was 80% chunk and OTT was 20%. Now, what has happened is that it has become 60-40. TV is still a little heavier. There is a lot happening here and the good thing is that all the artists, more or less, the same. Whether you are doing television, films or web, it is the same people and they are very widely recognised and accepted by all. That has made a very big difference. We started OTT 3 years ago and that time we had 14 show entries. This year, it goes into 100+. Every single network, all 8-10 of the platforms, all actively participating in the ITA awards.”

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Amity Mumbai IT students win Hacktoberfest 2021

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Six students of Amity University, Mumbai won Hacktoberfest 2021 challenge. Atherva Patil, MD Asshar, Ameya Gawade, Devarsh Bela, Kaustubh Kadu, Yash Sharma, all students of Amity Institute of Information Technology have participated and won the prizes. The Hacktoberfest 2021 Challenge was organised by Digital Ocean, Appwriter, Intel Devmesh and deep source to promote the open source software. Participating in Hacktoberfest leads to personal growth, professional opportunities, and community building. It begins with meaningful and quality contributions to open-source software.

 On these achievements of students, Prof. A W Santhosh kumar, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Amity University Mumbai, said that, “The success of the IT Students in Hacktoberfest 2021 competition, is right step to enhance the IT Skills of the students. This participation is not only promoting the open source but also encouraging to the students to contribute into the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The young generation students have wisely selected for the Plantation of the trees, which shows their awareness towards the environment.”

Faculty mentor and Head of the Institution, Dr. Manoj Devare said that, “To have used Innovative Teaching and learning pedagogy of Indirect Gamification to involve the students in the learning of the advanced IT Tools of DevOps. This year, six students have shown their skills in the Hacktoberfest 2021. The competition›s mix of UG and PG students has created a healthy environment. It was interesting to see how the students were helping each other succeed in submitting the PRs. Students have learned from their peers and understanding the Distributed Version Controlling System, forking the repositories, and using Git and GitHub tools made them more confident to make them Industry-ready.”

The GitHub and Git Version Controlling System are important tools for the Team of programmers working on the IT Projects. GitHub is the popular tool among the programming community to submit their daily contributions into the Project Repositories. Similarly, the open-source community is involved in pushing and pulling the program code into the public and private repositories. The Automation of the software development processes in the Development and Operations (DevOps) smoothly handover the completed software modules from the Developer to the Operations Team. In Continuation to this, the Participation of the IT Students in the Hactoberfest 2021 makes them Industry ready, and also contributing into the Sustainability. Participants in Hacktoberfest came from all over the world and represent thousands of unique skills sets in programming and Software project management.

The students have won prizes for the T-Shirts, Stickers, and selected tree plantation to reduce carbon footprints contributing sustainable environment.

All six winners are pursuing their BCA, BSC-IT and MCA programs from Amity Institute of Information Technology. Yash Sharma, student of BCA second year and one of the winner of competition said that, “I have completed Hacktoberfest›21; indeed, it was a great month-long journey got to collaborate on new ideas, projects, and tech stacks, around the world. The best part was its learning curve, networking, adding value, and building this open-source community more strongly. I have made successful contributions to frameworks like React Native, Angular, Python, etc. also was part of an organization like Appwrite.”

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‘Suspense thriller’ is a genre that leverages itself to the audio space: Anshuman Jha

In this exclusive interview, actor Anshuman Jha talks about his debut in the audio-based medium with the audiobook ‘Bombay Stranglers Ke Khauffnaak Tapes.’ He extensively describes his experience working on the project with writer Piyush Jha.

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Anshuman Jha

Actor Anshuman Jha’s debut Audible Original, Bombay Strangler Ke Khauffnaak Tapes, written by author Piyush Jha, is gaining acclaim from the fans of the emerging community of audiobook-lovers. We hosted Anshuman for a frank interview as part of our special series, NewsX India A-List. Below are the excerpts from the interview:

We firstly asked the actor about what convinced him to take up his first audio-based project. To this, Anshuman replied, “For an audio debut for me, something had to be unique and exciting enough.” Expressing gratitude for the role, he said, “All credit for it should go to Mr Piyush Jha who’s an exceptional writer. He has written some bestselling books including Mumbaistan which I really like.” According to the actor, Piyush had made up his mind to cast Anshuman as the narrator in the ideation stage itself.

Talking about the audiobook, Anshuman stated, “Bombay Strangler… is essentially a suspense thriller. It’s a genre I personally love. It’s a genre that also leverages itself to the audio space.” He described his experience with the audio-based medium and said, “I have heard it and I was really amazed because it sucks you into the universe, and to think that you don’t have any visuals and still be so mesmerized and so affected by what you’re listening.”

“It can be done simultaneously. So you could be driving and listening; you could be cooking and listening… It’s not something that needs all your focused attention,” said Anshuman while talking about why the new medium is a disruptive force in the entertainment industry.

We then asked Jha about the extra efforts he had to put in to convey expressions using just his voice.”A bit of both because by nature, the way I am, I can’t do anything just like that. So I asked Piyush sir what’s the space,” said the actor. He added, “The beauty about Bombay Strangler… is that it happens over a space of ‘X’ number of days.” Explaining that the script required a lot of tension in the storytelling, Anshuman said, “There had to be a lot of energy.”

Speaking about challenges he had to overcome for his debut role in an audiobook, Anshuman revealed, “For me, the preparation was how to break my pre-conceived notion of being subtle with voice because I had to be subtle in a different way.” Appreciating the support he received from the production team, the actor stated, “I’m very, very grateful that I got to be a part of it.”

For our last question, we asked Anshuman about his plans for 2022, to which he revealed his biggest plan of the year, “I think I’m gonna get married this year, firstly. That’s gonna happen because it’s been long pending and we’ve been waiting for COVID to go.” He further expressed hope of the world getting rid of the pandemic. “Before a flame extinguishes, it gives its last sparks. So I hope it’s the last bit that it’s doing and now it leaves us,” said the actor hopefully.



Watch the full interview here:

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