Friday, December 7, 2001, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


Multimedia gives IGNOU the reach
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 6
The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has expanded its multimedia approach to education in order to reach the remotest corners of the country using all available modes of communication.

IGNOU has different components of instruction system including printed material, audio cassettes, video cassettes, audio programmes on AIR, video programmes on the Doordarshan national network, interactive radio counselling, tele-conferencing, internet and CD-Rom, practicals at study centres, telecast from Gyan Darshan educational TV Channel and broadcast from Gyan Vani educational FM radio network.

To cater to over 7 lakh students, the 46 Regional Centres are located in almost all the important cities of the country. The 650 study centres are spread out across the country, with 54 centres in the most remote and inaccessible areas of the north-eastern states, the tribal belts of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and Bihar.

People living in the remote area of Jammu and Kashmir and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands can also access programmes offered by IGNOU. IGNOU has 63 special study centres for disadvantaged groups viz women (29), jail inmates (10), SC/ST (9), minorities(5), physically challenged(6), and visually handicapped (4). Study centres have been opened at places like Tihar Jail, (New Delhi) Sabarmati Jail, (Ahmedabad) and Bangalore Jail (Bangalore). IGNOU programmes are popular with the inmates who view these as a step towards future rehabilitation.



The fall of a shooting star
Rana A. Siddiqui

WATCH a movie on a contemporary sepoy and witness him emerge a winner in the end despite the countless sins he commits. Even if he happens to be from an old film, he will not meet a tragic fate in the end for a tragic conclusion is not acceptable to the audience! Call it coloured or moulded to suit the audience’s demand, today’s films on a warrior, small or big, end quite predictably.

But renowned playwright Vijay Tendulkar’s Ghasiram Kotwaal is not today’s hero number one who fights the corrupt world and emerges triumphant at the end. He is a simple, poor, gullible Brahmin who moves to Pune in search of employment, finds himself trapped by the devouring corrupt system which labels him a thief, insults him, bashes him and finally forces him to adopt wrong methods to avenge himself.

He becomes a servant to the chief (pradhan) of Maharashtra, namely Nana Farnavis, takes undue advantage of his weakness for damsels and rises to the position of kotwaal to veil his misdeeds and avenge those who had bashed him. So he avenges his enemies and even makes the pradhan dance to his tunes. But he is doomed tragedy. The same Brahmins whom he avenges kill him on the order of the pradhan! The pradhan is powerful, he can’t be overpowered.

A blend of fact and fiction, the play was based on the political, social and economic system prevailing in India. Originally in Marathi, the tragi-comedy, translated by Vasant Dev and directed by Arvind Gaur, was enacted at India Habitat Centre by Asmita Theatre Group.

The play began with an invocation to of Lord Ganesha and Goddesses Laxmi and Saraswati by Brahmins of the city. To pounce on an offer of free food, all Brahmins jostle each other when a poor Brahmin, Ghasiram, who has come to Pune in search of employment, also sits with them to eat. But one of the Brahmins raises a false alarm about his dakshina being stolen–just to have more from the pradhan. Ghasiram is hauled up without being cross-questioned. Despite pleading innocence, he is labelled a thief and is kicked and punched. Similar incidents happen to him repeatedly. All this forces him to transform into a daredevil set to transgress all limits of decency to be powerful. He serves the pradhan of the city to reach his target. The ambition to reach the zenith of power makes him send his young daughter to the harem of an aging pradhan. In return for this favour he gets loads of money. After Ghasiram finds that the pradhan’s desire for his daughter is growing deeper by the day he scares him, warning him that people in Pune are getting to know of his misdeeds. To keep them silent, he demands the position of the city kotwaal. Lured by the beauty of the girl, the pradhan grants him his wish.

The most important man of the city, the kotwaal, closes brothels, amputates thieves, bans venturing out after midnight and free mixing of any man and woman other than spouses. In the guise of a moral –keeper of the city, he scripts shame on the Pune sky and thus rises from the slumber of poverty. His doom comes when he finds that the pradhan, after keeping his daughter for a long time, gets her murdered and marries a girl of 14. He comes to kill the pradhan but, illiterate as he is, he is forced to bow before his power and an intellectual outpouring of logic. “Look, don’t get excited. Life and death is in the hands of God. We are mere puppets in His hands. I am the chief and you are just a kotwaal. We both have to resort to our own ways of surviving, says the chief.

But the kotwaal has to be punished for his daring! He is sentenced to a horrifying death. Wounds are to be inflicted on him, they are to be filled with vermilion, he is to be hanged upside down on camelback, dragged by an elephant, paraded around the city and lastly left for a mob of Brahmins to stone him to death! The order is carried with full honour and a three-day celebration is observed on the occasion. The moral stays clear—- do not try to combat a powerful politician..

Ghasiram is being played by Chandan Anand and the pradhan by Tarun Chauhan. They have done full justice to the powerful roles entrusted to them. The narrators of the story, Rajesh Bakhshi and Sheeraz Usmani, made the play all the more interesting by their flawless narration. Colour was added to the otherwise tragic play by sonorous folk music and the voice of Dr Sangeeta Gaur and the perfect dance steps (lavni) by Gulabo (Amita Valia and Priyanka) besides the element of humour in bits and pieces. When the kotwaal beats up a person up who ventures out of home after midnight without a permit as he has to fetch a midwife as his wife is suffering prenatal pain the kotwaal asks him why he was not aware that his wife would give birth after midnight. After all, it is his wife! Similarly, the pradhan wants to get married twice.



An enigmatic work from a self-taught artist

THE language of painting is formal. It is also opaque. It is a language of cognition and not one of analytical apprehension, thus said J. Swaminathan, a renowned painter. The sentence seems to hold much water if seen through his son S. Harsha Vardhana’s recent paintings on view (till December 12) at Gallery Espace at New Friends Colony, New Delhi. They are all abstract, bestowed with a serene appearance in cool shades of blue, gold, silver, green and peach and orange done on paper. Most of them have recurring triangles, cones and lines, which are sometimes flat and somewhere flowing, giving them an enigmatic look.

This self-taught artist, who started working as a freelance painter in 1993 after quitting the lucrative bio-medical and diagnostic industry, has earlier worked on dry pastels without brush. His recent work is an experiment with metallic colors and a few spots that he sports in each one of them. What makes them special is the mix of dark shades redone to assign a cool impact. Interestingly, even black shades produce the same ambience when mixed orthodoxly with little silver and gray shades in his untitled painting. In fact, most of his paintings are untitled.

The fascinating factor in this show is the liberal use of almost all colours under the sun in an amazing mix of different shades. If in one painting you see five to six tinges of blue, adjacent and superimposed, you might find six tints of yellow in another. The third might make you stay long to have a glimpse at the contrasting blend of peach, yellow, black and golden so harmoniously done that they yield a tranquil effect which otherwise might look like a ball of hotchpotch work. The artist is not a conscious maker, so his work is not planned. The ideas, or more aptly, the forms keep evolving while he paints. Thus, rather unsubtle geometrical elements have evidently crept into his recent work. “Earlier his works used to be more defined. Now he seems to have been experimenting with new ideas, forms and colours,” says Anchal Shinde, the curator. The artist, who has several solo and group shows in India and abroad, is admired among his fans for his figurative works. The paintings cost between Rs 9, 000 to Rs 1.5 lakh.


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