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Kalpana deserves acclaim

Kalpana Dash’s perseverance and successful ascent of the Everest at the age of 42 (Spectrum, Oct 5) deserves notice and acclaim by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation. Kalpana’s next tryst, the summit of Kanchenjunga is technically far more challenging and if she is able to conquer it then she will be the first woman in the world to do so. Good luck to her.

The first woman to conquer the Everest was Junkie Tabbai in the 1960s at the age of 64. A housewife and a mother of two, she was the only woman in an all-male Japanese expedition.

Of course, two decades later when the route to the summit of Everest was made into a ‘road’ and a commercial enterprise, men nearing 80, too, have stood atop the Everest.

Lt-Gen BALJIT SINGH (retd), Chandigarh

Kathak katha

Shovana Narayan’s piece “Forgotten Pages of History” (Spectrum Sept 28) was very interesting and informative. Like kathak villages, history reveals that there were villages where particular skills were practiced e.g. “Peepahlivan” was a village of peacock-tamers.
There was a popular saying: ”Katha kahe so kathak kahlaye”. Indeed, “kathiks” were traditional story-tellers who retold tales from mythology, epics, Rigveda through dance in temples to please gods.

With the advent of Mughals, kathak lost its originality. Thus, this “bhakti pradhan nritya” became a “shringaar pradhan nritya” performed to please kings and nawabs.

India is home to most fascinating dance forms, but most of these have sadly been eclipsed by Bollywood, TV and sports mega entertainment.

Vanishing audiences have demotivated the performers as audience appreciation is required to perform better. Of course, kathak can never be used commercially to market products. Perhaps dance therapy can be used in hospitals to combat ailments like stress. It’s not only healthy but spiritually uplifting, too, as a special method of meditation.


Origin of graft

Jaspal Bhatti in his “Unsolved riddles” (Spectrum, Sept 21) has expressed an interesting view on the origin of corruption. Social scientists have never ever taken the subject seriously and it has remained ‘un-researched’ so far. Proper research in this field would have lead to a thorough understanding of the human nature. Corruption is an action of super smartness whereas honesty has been relegated to unprogressive thought. Perhaps corruption is a chronic disease and has a genetic link. Really “Ram Rajya” will prevail if there was no corruption in this world.


Of love triangles

M. L. Dhawan, in his article “Affairs to remember” (Spectrum, Sept 7), states that in RK Films’ Sangam, Gopal (Rajendra Kumar) refuses to marry Radha (Vyjayanthimala) as he cannot betray his dead friend Sunder (Raj Kapoor). Actually, this is not so. Gopal does agree to marry Radha when everybody presumes Sunder to be dead.

Moreover, I feel that any discussion on romantic triangles would be incomplete without a mention of B. R. Chopra, who is considered to be the master of such themes. His film Ek Hi Raasta revolved round Ashok Kumar, Meena Kumari and Sunil Dutt; Naya Daur around Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanthimala and Ajit; Gumrah ( Rajendra Kumar, Mala Sinha and Nanda); Hamraaz ( Raaj Kumar, Vimmi and Sunil Dutt); Dhund ( Sanjay Khan, Zeenat Aman and Danny); Karm (Rajesh Khanna-Shabana Azmi-Vidya Sinha); and Nikaah ( Raj Babbar-Salma Agha-Deepak Parashar).

Interestingly, even a multi-starrer like Waqt, basically revolved around the romantic triangle of Raaj Kumar, Sadhana and Sunil Dutt.


Sheikh’s dilemma

In “Sheikh wanted a neutral Kashmir” (Sat Extra, Oct 4), Khushwant Singh has very deftly drawn a picture of the life of Sheikh Abdullah, his family and his qualities like his melodious voice, inclination to sufism and secular outlook.

But as far as his political life is concerned, I feel he was a divided personality. Throughout his political career, instead of deciding about which way to go, he was always fascinated by the idea of ruling Kashmir and pass on the crown to his descendants.

However, as always, there is a big difference between fantasy and reality and he could never come to terms with this fact. As a result, he was bitter with the Centre and imaginary foes like Hindus fundamentalists often blew hot and cold. Thus, despite all his nobility he ended up as a tragic hero.

Ironically, his descendants, too, are living in the same edifice of imagination and are fast losing relevance in the present political scenario in the state.

R.K. MALHOTRA, Chandigarh

Maharaja’s handicaps

In his letter (Perspective, Sept.7) , K.J.S. Ahluwalia, wonders “how the woman who brought disgrace to the Maharaja and the Sikh community could be elevated to a respectful podium overnight”.

He further said that “Maharaja Ranjit Singh suffered from two setbacks — one eye and his relation ship with Moran”. By her research Manveen Sandhu had brought out the truth about the social status of Moran. People considered Moran as a Kanjri, a dancer or a prostitute, whereas she was a dancer and a literate woman.

Secondly, the Maharaja was never found wanting because of the loss of one eye during the military campaigns and his conversation with the British General’s adventurers and the representatives of the Governor- General.

All were surprised about his curiosity and inquisitiveness regarding domestic and foreign matters. Edward Thomson in Making the Indian Princes writes “His conversation is like a nightmare”.

It is, thus, not correct to comment that the Sikh community suffered due to his relationship with Moran because in those days such things were common among Indian Princes and were, in fact, much more prevalent in England and France.




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