Friday, August 2, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


American India Foundation to fund schools in India
Our Correspondent

New Delhi, August 1
As part of its Digital Equaliser Programme in India, the American India Foundation (AIF) will fund at least 100 new schools in the country to cater to under-resourced children.

The programme equips under-resourced children with a complete programme that includes computers, connectivity, collaborative projects, curriculum content, teacher training and sustainability.

The AIF has joined hands with Schools Online. Ms Lakshmi Pratury, Director, Digital Equaliser Programme, AIF, will spearhead the programme. She said, “The various centres all across India have benefited tremendously from their exposure to the Internet. They have realised the impact Internet could have on their lives and how critical a tool it is in today’s life. The feedback we have got from teachers, students and heads of institutions is that the Internet has changed their lives drastically”.

There are about 56 centres at present in the country wherein 1,000 teachers and 25,000 high school students have been trained on basic computers and Internet skills. Some of these centres have also been provided with curriculum content for high school. More than 35 schools have already set up their websites and at least 100 teachers and 70 students have submitted their projects to AIF.

Ms Pratury adds, “ The combined objective is to organically grow this programme and reach out to as many people as possible. We plan to offer curriculum content in addition to Internet capability at our new centres”.


Court seeks reply on special VIP vehicle nos
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 1
The allotment of special registration numbers to VIPs and others has been challenged in the Delhi High Court on the ground that they are being allotted on “extraneous consideration” and “without proper guidelines.” Taking cognizance of the public interest litigation filed on the issue, a Bench comprising Chief Justice S B Sinha and Justice A K Sikri has sought a reply from the Delhi Government and the Police Commissioner by August 26.

The PIL file by advocate Vinod Manchanda alleged that Transport Department of the city government has been allotting single digit, double digit and other fancy numbers to VIPs on “extraneous consideration” without proper guidelines.

Seeking to restrain the government from allotting such numbers without adherence to any rules, the PIL said: “There are virtually no guidelines in allotting single digit and double digit numbers or any other fancy numbers and it is being done on the whims and fancies of higher officials of the Ministry of Transport of Delhi Government and the Transport Department.”

Seeking a further direction on allotment of single digit and double digit numbers to deserving persons in the VIP category, petitioner’s counsel O P Saxena alleged that to oblige some non-deserving politicians and powerful bureaucrats the Transport Department “opens new series of single digit or double digit numbers, even if a few numbers have been already allotted in a series opened earlier.” “The Transport Department has opened as many as 20 new series for registration to meet the ever growing craze among politicians and bureaucrats for these numbers,” the petition said. 


CJ releases newsletter on legal services
Our Correspondent

New Delhi, August 1
The first newsletter of the Delhi Legal Services Authority, ‘Nayaya Kiran’, was released in the Capital’s high court today.

Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Justice of India, Mr Justice B. N. Kirpal, focused on the legal services for the underprivileged. He urged the judicial fraternity to find innovative ways in handling litigation for the poor. Mr Justice Kirpal also suggested the launch of mediation-cum-conciliation centres to provide solutions to litigants in the shortest possible time. He suggested that all cases pending for over 10 years should be referred to the Lok Adalats.

Mr Justice G. B. Pattanaik, who was also present, said that legal literacy campaigns should be stepped up. He added, “There is no point in offering rights without making people aware of it”. A digest of the Delhi High Court cases was also released. Mr Justice S. B. Sinha, Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, said, “ The publication of these three journals indicate renewed interest in initiating programmes, which will facilitate people at large”.


Giving woman’s expressions voice on canvas
Garima Pant

Art lovers had a unique treat last week. A group show, titled ‘A Group Of Painters’, at the Lalit Kala Academy showcased paintings ranging from the depiction of tribal women to capturing their various moods and feelings. The show included works of Anup Giri, Asim Pal and Swapan Kumar Palley.

Anup Giri has focused his attention on the tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar islands. The daily life of the women in these areas has been captured magnificently by the artist. Also, the lives and daily routines of the women from Rajasthan and the Bastar region have been given equal importance.

He has tried to encapsulate the essence of our tribal culture and traditions. The light hue used adds more life to the his works. Apparently, he holds a special and soft corner in his work for the weaker sections of the society.

Asim Pal, through his works like ‘Exploring’ and ‘Unknown’, has given absolute focus on women. The problems faced by them, the their emotions as they are expressed, their varied expressions in day-to-day life and their reactions to big and small incidents like someone touching them. He has tried to give a woman’s expressions voice by drawing them on his canvas.

Tribute to Shankar

‘A Symphony of Dreams’, an exhibition to commemorate Shankar’s centenary year, is on display at the Lalit Kala Academy. K. Shankar Pillai, the founder of Children’s Book Trust, was also a celebrated cartoonist, an author and an illustrator. He gave up cartooning and took to writing to pioneer the movement that has today given children an identity distinct from their parents. A man with great vision, he wove dreams for children and made them happen.

He was one of the most adorned men in India. He was the recipient of numerous awards like Padma Shree, Padma Bhushan and many more. According to Alka Shankar, his daughter-in-law and a celebrated author herself, whose many famous books include ‘Indira Priyadarshini’ and Shankar’s biography, “He was a very inspiring person. In fact, he is still the source of inspiration for our organisation. He loved to entertain and often used to give three parties in a week. I was his aid and was never allowed to leave his side. He had great faith in me. He was a very big-hearted person. He found majority of his characters among the common men. He was very fond of his family and especially his grandchildren. His biggest pillar of strength in his life has been his wife and without her, he would not have made it to such great heights.”

After ‘Shankar’s Weekly’ was started in 1948, each and every issue of this humor-packed magazine was eagerly awaited by readers. As Alka puts it, “He wanted to concentrate on children’s work more and more and so he decided to close down ‘Shankar’s Weekly’ in 1975.”

The Shankar’s International Dolls Museum, which has one of the largest collections of costume dolls anywhere in the world, has a large compilation of dolls gifted personally by Jawaharlal Nehru, Mrs Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and other famous dignitaries. Shankar’s last dream - a centre for children, is now in the making at Chanakyapuri.

The exhibition, ‘A Symphony of Dreams’, showcases an array of selected works of Shankar ranging from cartoons, dolls from the museum and selected paintings from the Shankar’s art competition held every year. It is a rare bundle of treat that has been put on display at this exposition. A must watch for all die-hard Shankar fans to pay their tributes to this great artist.


A press conference was held by Osian’s to announce its forthcoming curated exhibition- auction-publication, ‘A Historical Epic: India in the making 1757-1950, From Surrender to Revolt, Swaraj to Responsibility’.

The conference was addressed by Neville Tuli, chairman of Osian’s, who is also the curator and author of ‘A Historical Epic’. He stressed on the need to redefine the role of history and how each individual identifies with it. ‘A Historical Epic’ takes forward the concept of how the Indian struggle for independence proceeded.

The project is a part of Osian’s ongoing process of reshuffling the manner in which fine arts and aesthetics, history and finance gel to build a new and sustainable infrastructure for placing the arts in the developmental framework of India. The show will be held in two parts, from August 1 to August 8 in Art Today, and from August 5 to August 9 in The British Council.

Three phases of life

An exhibition of paintings by Sudip Chatterjee and Somnath Maity is on display at Shridharni Gallery at Triveni Kala Sangam. The artists present strikingly different artworks, which somehow add to each other’s beauty.

In Sudip Chatterjees’ words, “Life to me is like a railway track wherein the three main pillars or stations are birth, sex and death. In my work, I have tried to highlight these three phases of life.” His work, titled ‘Victims’, depicts four women in white, one of them crying, does move the observer. It melts your heart and wants you to reach out and extend a helping hand and all your sympathies to them. Luminous as his work is, he has preferred to work on mixed medium.

Somnath Maity, on the other hand, says, “I had basically come from a village, with a predominant rural background. When I reached Kolkata, the life over there baffled me. The huge structures, buildings of all sizes, the suffocating life and people everywhere puzzled me a lot. I have used these structures as the underlying theme for my paintings. These are constructions of lights, forms and space.” He has used only oil medium for this present set of paintings. His work truly symbolises the busy and chaotic lifestyle of Kolkata, very unique of the ‘City of Joy’.

Five decades of Yash Chopra

‘Yash Chopra - Fifty years in Indian cinema’ by Rachel Dwyer is another addition to the numerous books written about an Indian film maker, Yash Chopra, by a foreigner, signifying the fascination our film industry holds for them. The book looks at the journey of the career of one of the biggest icons of the Hindi film industry. Yash Chopra, a name that is synonymous for romantic glamour, beauty and diligent modernism within the conventional tradition.

The book spans Yash Chopra’s five decades as a director, giving an in-depth portrayal of some of his classic works like ‘Deewar’ and ‘Kabhi Kabhi’. It also journeys into the story behind the enormous box office hits he gave to the industry during the ’90s, including ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’, and the other genres he successfully delved into through films like ‘Darr’ and ‘Mashaal’.

Starting from his directorial debut in 1959 with ‘Dhool Ka Phool’, all his major ventures have been dealt with inside out, providing a detailed account of how the idea was conceived to major and interesting instances associated with the films. The complete story line has been presented along with the complete characterisation. On several occasions, where the dialogues have been translated as it is from Hindi to English, it has added a lot of unintended, yet loads of, humour.

Lata Mangeshkar, who has sung in numerous Yash Chopra’s films, has forwarded the book. She gives a very pleasant account of her association with Yash Chopra, and her memorable recording sessions with him.

Varied analysis of other influences on his cinema, his rich lineage as being continued by his son Aditya Chopra, are complemented with interviews with his family, colleagues, film stars, contemporaries and critics of film industry.

Rachel Dwyer, who is a senior lecturer in Indian Studies at SOAS (Department of South Asia), University of London, has tried to paint a portrait of Yash Chopra through the book. But one just gets the feeling that somehow you just end up reading screenplays of his various films rather than about the man himself.

The writer’s method to throw light on the personality just through his work, and that too with only the story, crudely translated dialogues, and very few words from the man himself somehow dampens the reader’s spirit.

Bhakti Sangeet

MRS Music Company has released its new cassette, ‘Wah Re Jahan Tera Gorakh Dhandha’, based on Bhakti Sangeet. Vipin Sachdeva and Ritu Singh have rendered the bhajans with lyrics by Suraj Malhotra and Mahavir Singh. The music has been composed by Virender Negi. The cassette has a total of seven bhajans. A great way to start your day.


Rich harvest of Austrian films for Delhiites
Our Correspondent

New Delhi, August 1
“Elektrische Schatten” (Electric Shadows), a festival of Austrian films, begins in the Capital tomorrow. The festival has been organised by the Embassy of Austria in India in collaboration with
Habitat Film Club. It is a festival of silent films from the Austrian Film Archives. This is the second time such a retrospective of Austrian films is being held. London is the only other venue apart from Delhi where these films have earlier been shown.

It is believed that a film reflects the socio-economic milieu of a society and the country at large. Desires, aspirations, worries, fears and inhibitions of the Austrian people during the inter-war period are reflected in these films. The aftermath of World War I and its repercussions on Austrian society are reflected in the films. The people’s struggle to form an egalitarian society amid social and political turmoil prevalent in Europe in those times is also depicted very realistically.

It also focuses on the forgotten works of Marlene Dietrich, who did not wish to be remembered as having worked in mute films. The festival also documents the economic depression of the late 1920s.The cinema halls during the screening of the films sometimes provide a pianist and even orchestra to complement the silent pictures on screen.

Sascha Film company was set up by Count Alexander “Sascha” Kolowrat- Krakowsky as a hobby. German giant UFA held a keen interest in Sascha Film Company, which proved helpful for Viennese film producers. By the end of the World War I Sascha accounted for a large proportion of the 300 feature films produced in Austria. By the 1920s the films started laying more emphasis on contemporary and artistic themes for experimentation. The films were interrogative in nature and even produced exposes on the passing of the Habsburg dynasty. Many talents in the form of Michael Curtis, Marlene Dietrich and Hedy Lamarr were also introduced to the world through these films.

By the end of the 1920s Austrian cinema had grown by leaps and bounds and had travelled a great distance from being an object of eccentric curiosity for stag parties to a domain for adventurers, revolutionaries and writers. The era might have come to an end but its electrifying shadows still dance on our screen today.

Some of the films being screened in the festival are “City without Jews” and “Sodom und Gomorrah” by Michael Kertesz (Curtis).

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