Our soldiers our heroes

first_imgAs I write this, India celebrates its 43rd Navy Day. For the uninitiated, every year December 4 is celebrated as Navy Day to commemorate the start of Operation Trident during the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971. Not something many of us, at least from our smartphone generation, are aware of, are we? I mean, why do we even need to know? Not like it’s a festival that brings new clothes and parties with it, or a public holiday so we can catch up on our sleep, or a dry day that we need to stock up on liquor! Also Read – Find your own happinessWe belong to a generation that laughs at Indian war films, considers the Armed Forces a ‘bad’ career choice, and has little, or no, respect for the men and women in uniform who tirelessly watch over us, guard us, keep us safe so we can live freely and sleep peacefully. Clearly, ’99, 26/11, have had no effect on us. Let others die for the nation. Why us? We belong to a generation with parents who aspire to have money-minting engineer/banker/lawyer children. None of my friends are in the Forces. And, none of my friends’ friends are either. Which is what amazes me. Didn’t our parents live through ’65, 71? Don’t they have enough to thank our Forces for? Evidently not. Instead of taking pride and showing them our gratitude, we’ve taken them for granted. Also Read – Into the wildJust the other day somebody remarked during the course of a discussion, “Why is it such a big deal if a soldier dies? Why must we weep over every war casualty? They were just doing their job. They signed up for it!” I was too stunned to utter even a word. We were in a room full of people, most of whom seemed to agree with her. Dear girl, you know who you are. And, I also know you’re reading this. There are a few things you need to know. It IS a big deal if a soldier dies. Hell, it’s a big deal if anybody dies, and more so when it’s somebody who has lost his life trying to protect you! We WILL cry over every war casualty. If we don’t, then we aren’t humane enough. And, finally, it isn’t a soldier’s ‘job’ to die. His job is to protect, and yes, if that means at the cost of life, then that too. We should be indebted to these selfless, brave souls, and instead, we have the gall to belittle their tremendous sacrifice? Today isn’t about the various scandals that have rocked our Armed Forces over the years. Today isn’t about the Government’s seemingly step-motherly treatment, or the controversial AFSPA and its repercussions either. Today is about a young man who spends his childhood dreaming of being a soldier, undergoes backbreaking, rigorous training for years to become one, sacrifices relationships, friendships for his first love-his nation, plays with fire to keep his countrymen safe, and if necessary, doesn’t blink an eye before giving up his life for the nation and its people. Today is about us, and how as a society we continue to show absolute neglect and indifference towards our soldiers! The military life isn’t about free rations, cheap alcohol, and fancy parties like most of us believe. It’s a life full of sacrifice, extreme stress-both physical and mental, inhumanly long hours, zero recreation, and constant life risk. Very few have the heart to do it. By failing to show our gratitude to those blessed few, we fail them. If this continues, there will come a day when there will be nobody to protect us. Is that where we wish to head?The day cricketer Phil Hughes died, Naik Kulvinder Singh of the Indian Army died fighting militants in Kashmir. How many of us even knew about it? None of the national dailies mentioned it. Both 26-year-olds laid down their lives doing what they loved best: batting for their country. Yet, there was one marked difference. This was shared with me by a soldier and I quote him, “…while Phil’s passing was mourned by…the world…Naik Kulvinder Singh’s name was reduced to just a footnote, a sad statistic in this ungrateful nation’s history.”Why? Yes, we are a selfish nation, but are we so heartless that we can’t even honour someone in death?? Reams are dedicated to cricketing heroes and Bollywood superstars. But, what about the real heroes for whom there are neither second chances nor retakes? Don’t they deserve some respect, too?Let’s not continue to be a nation of ingrates. It’s time we got up and saluted the selfless souls who watch over us. Who needs guardian angels when we have soldiers? Our soldiers, our heroes- let this be our motto! Jai Hind.Malini Banerjee is a snotty single child, mountain junkie, playback singer, Austen addict, and dreams of singing alongside Buddy Guylast_img read more

With her loving mercy

first_imgThis autumnal festival, popularly known as Shardotsav, celebrates the power of Shakti, symbolised by the Goddess Durga, who slays asura to re-establish peace and sanctity on earth again. Bengalis all over the world during these days rejoice to their heart’s content, reconnecting with friends and relatives. Durga Puja is not simply about celebrations and feasting. The actual carousing of the Puja is all about enlightenment of soul and the celebrations of the goodness over evil. It is about the triumph of truth over false and right over wrong. Durga Puja is about sustaining the mass believe of emergence of an almighty savior whenever evil tries to take over the goodness in the universe. Durga Puja is an occasion when the familiar sound of dhak, Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’dhunuchi nachh,the mild fragrance of shiuli, give a familiar tug at every Bengali heart. Spread over five days, Shashti, Shaptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami, multiple rituals are performed, though vermilion play ( Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with Netflixsindur khela) – probably four-century-old and perhaps the most glamorous captivates Bengalis like nothing else. As per mythology, since on Vijaya Dashami evening, goddess Durga returns to her husband’s home, hence all married women, mostly in white or yellow sarees with red borders, are seen honouring the goddess and each other with ‘sindur’. This ritual is all about resplendence accompanied with sweets and the sound of drums and cymbals.  The origin of public celebrations of Durga Puja can be traced back to the 16th century. With the ascent of the Mughals, Durga Puja became more of a status symbol. The annual festival soon became the most celebrated. It was an ocassion to make merry with friends, relatives, neighbours and acquaintances. Hosted for over a week, Durga Puja is considered one of the most expensive festivals of India. The social and ritualistic significance has also been modified to a certain extent. Durga Puja celebrations at Matri Mandir, Safdarjung Enclave, has been associated with grandiose and splendour in decoration. Each year thousands throng the Mandir premises to partake in the celebrations and appreciate the creativity and hard work that is evident in the intricate and imaginative themes in Pandal decorations. This year the theme is – ‘Go Green’ – back to the simplicity of life!They explored the vast diversity that is our country and rediscovered the Tribals in the East. Untouched by the madness of the cities, their concept of progress lies in co existing with the environment without disturbing nature. That is the essence they have depicted in the decoration this year. Progress is symbolized through the invention Boats as the main mode of transport, as they lived along the river banks, and the biggest invention of all, the Wheel. The entire structure and framework has been constructed out of environment friendly products and every piece used in decoration reflects the minimalism that marked human race when civilization began. The main entrance showcases the time wheel (Samay Chakra) and evolution of man.  The other entrance exhibits Tribal Goddesses found at the entrance of ethnic villages. Tribal handicrafts are on display in abundance. To realize this vision, more than 80 artistes from across West Bengal and Odissa have been working tirelessly for over 40 days. Extensive use of bamboo, raw wood, feathers and others natural products help build the ambience. The endeavor has been to capture the grandiose in simplicity and create, not only a visual treat, but also to give a message to conserve nature.In keeping with the practice of theme-based pandals, this year Co-operative Ground Durga Puja Samity will be celebrating its 40th Durgaotsav where they will portray SAT-CHIT-AANANDA (EXISTENCE – KNOWLEDGE – BLISS). SAT-CHIT-AANANDA is a Sanskrit phrase which means the existence of Gods and Goddess amidst the common people and imparting Knowledge to them and making their life bliss. Co-operative Puja’s theme for 2015 depicts a village scenario where Devi Saraswati, Devi Lakshmi, Ganapati and Karitikeya are amidst the common people and empowering them with knowledge, prosperity and good health. While Devi Saraswati is imparting Vidya and Cultural fulfilment, Kartikeya is teaching the secret of Good Health by daily exercise and attaining Perfection through Archery. Devi Lakshmi and Ganapati are enabling the prosperity and development of the Village. The entire Pandal depicting the above theme has been created by eco-friendly material such as Thatch, Jute, Mud, Bamboo and most importantly Areca Nuts’ bark. Areca Nuts bark (Supari Tree bark) which is an eco-friendly product is usually produced in Southern or Eastern parts of India. The bark is usually hard in form and thus they are shaped into various plates, bowls and spoon. In fact, co-operative puja has been serving Bhog (Langar) to the mass in these plates from last 19 years. In sync with the Pandal, the Idol have been created within a background of the Half Shaped Areca Nut Plate and been made with eco-friendly material and Colours. Catechu or Cutch tree (brown), Gamboge tree resin (dark mustard yellow), Himalayan Rubhada root (yellow), Indigofera plant (blue), Kamala tree (red), Madder root (red, pink, orange), Myrabolan fruit (black). The above colours have been used keeping in view the “Clean Yamuna Project” and we are trying to protect it from artificial, chemical based colours. The streets of Chittaranjan Park locality, adoringly christened “Delhi’s mini-Bengal”, delightfully transform into a whirlwind of colors, textures, aromas and culinary pleasures and the entire area comes alive with the sounds of children’s laughter, elderly gossips, trance-inducing religious hymns and gyrating beats of drums that refuse to die down even in the late hours of night – Durga Puja is here and it is that time of the year when the Bengali population gears up to adore and offer obeisance to Goddess Durga, the sophisticated Hindu feminine deity, and in this profound tradition they are joined by hundreds of thousands of residents of the city who turn up at CR Park for a taste of the enviable culture and delectable culinary delights that the Bengalis are renowned for. Though the whole place wears a festive look complete with lights, music and crowds that tend to spill out on the arterial roads and side lanes, the mainstay of the wonderful celebrations remain the numerous, brilliantly-lit grand “pandals” (makeshift temples composed of cloth and paper over a bamboo framework) which are erected in the larger community parks and temple arenas and house idols of the Goddess and her hallowed accomplices, it is around these pandals that it appears that a major fair is in progress where there are joyrides, restaurants, food stalls, shopping counters and souvenir stalls, in fact, at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, each of these extravagant temporary structures, raised primarily through corporate sponsorship (with nominal religio-charitable donations to indicate collective social participation), are constructed at the cost of several million rupees after immense thought and enormous labor and bear a uniquely distinctive and often thematic appearance which eventually culminates into being a major draw for the visitors, spiritual-seekers and photographers for whom this entire festival of colors, lights and humanity is an offer to delve some more into the city’s inconceivably diverse culture and traditions. India is a land of holy places, holy rivers, and large religious festivals. Almost every aspect of life is infused with religious gestures, rites, and meaning. The importance of Hinduism as India’s most dominant religion extends far beyond the private sphere into the public realm. Every year hundreds of religious festivals and pilgrimages are celebrated all across this vast and diverse country, and being able to witness or participate in one or several of them is a great cultural or even spiritual experience for foreign visitors.  Among India’s most colorful and lively festivals is Navratri (Festival of Nine Nights), and Durga Puja is one of the most popular versions of this festival celebrated in Eastern India, especially in the city of Kolkata (Calcutta) in the state of West Bengal. For five days each year, the city takes on a festive atmosphere and comes to a complete standstill, when temporary temples spring up all over the city to honor the Hindu goddess Durga. Hundreds of thousands of worshippers from Kolkata and all over India visit these temples to pay their tribute.last_img read more

Vanilla yoghurt makes us feel good

first_imgEating vanilla yoghurts with lower fat content gives people a stronger positive emotional response, says a new study.“We were surprised to find that by measuring emotions, we could get information about products independent from whether people like them,” said lead author Jozina Mojet from Food & Biobased Research, Wageningen University in the Netherlands.The researchers used a new method called an emotive projection test to determine the effect of different yoghurts on people’s moods. Three groups of at least 24 participants were each given a pair of yoghurts to taste. The pairs of yoghurts were of the same brand and were marketed in the same way, but had different flavours or fat content. The team then tested their emotions using four methods, including the new emotive projection test. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The researchers found that vanilla yoghurt elicited a strong positive emotional response, supporting previous evidence that a subtle vanilla scent in places like hospital waiting rooms can reduce aggression and encourage relationships among patients and between patients and staff.The team also looked at the sensory effect of the yoghurts. There was no difference in the emotional responses to strawberry versus pineapple yoghurts, but low-fat versions led to more positive emotional responses. The research was published in the journal Food Research International.last_img read more

Hanging restaurant sees stellar response

first_imgKolkata: The popularity of the country’s first hanging restaurant at New Town is growing fast, with 100 young couples enjoying their dinner there on Valentine’s Day.Remarkably, all 50 tables at the restaurant had been booked over phone on Thursday morning. A special menu had been prepared for the occasion. The restaurant remains open from 7 pm to 10 pm. The lights have been arranged to enhance the ambience. State Urban Development and Municipal Affairs minister Firhad Hakim had inaugurated the restaurant last Saturday. It is a part of the Biswa Bangla Gate which was opened by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from the dais of the 43rd Kolkata International Book Fair on January 31. Though there are 72 seats, the restaurant will be opened with only 50. The viewing gallery will remain open from 12 noon to 5 pm and visitors will have to buy entry tickets online. They will be allowed to stay for an hour. There is free Wi-Fi connection on offer as well.last_img read more

Childrens magical performance charms the audience on Day 3 of theatre festival

first_imgThe third overseas theatre troupe of the festival, Center of Artistic Creativity, Egypt, headed by Md. Habib performed ‘Flashback’. The short play based on the classic, Romeo-Juliet, was presented in dance-drama style. However, the event of the evening was Kalindi Bratyajon’s children’s workshop based production, ‘Bhombol Sardar’. The young artistes stole the heart of the gathering at the Academy of Fine Arts with their enthusiasm and what seemed far superior spontaneity and acting skills than adults. Credit goes to the director of the production Sumanta Roy and the initiatives taken by Bratyajon in developing young talents to flourish and engage with nuances of theatre and culturally rich Bengali literature for children, much before they face the harsh reality of their lives. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfThe 31 bubbly, pint-size energy bombs, in the age group 4 years to 14 years, flaunted their on-stage artistry, on the inaugural show. Bratya Basu, the convener of the festival, reiterated the importance of reading and engaging with children’s literature of Khagendranath Mitra, Lila Majumder, Bibhutibhusan Bandyopadhyay, Rabindranath Thakur etc. along with English literature of the kinds of Harry Potter and others. He thanked the guardians for keeping faith in the enormous power of theatrical art form having massive potential to add positivity, confidence, and vigour in tender minds. In the end, Sangita Chakraborty of Ashokenagar Natyamukh was felicitated as a promising young director of theatre in Bengal.last_img read more

Extortion Over 50000 Twitter Handle Sets a Chilling Precedent

first_img 2 min read Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. Twitterverse, take heed: The caché of possessing a highly sought-after Twitter handle has apparently escalated to the extent that hackers are now prepared to extort users for access to their usernames.The California web developer Naoki Hiroshima, for instance, says he was offered as much as $50,000 for his account, @N, while attempts to steal the name were recurrent. In a post published today, he recounts the cunning and systematic machinations that ultimately forced him to relinquish @N after a hacker compromised both his PayPal and GoDaddy accounts.Hiroshima had registered @N back in 2007. His new handle? @N_is_stolen.Related: The Only Thing Scarier Than Self-Driving Cars Are the Hackers Waiting to Attack Them Initial attempts to access the account were fairly pedestrian. A hacker contacted Hiroshima through Facebook messages asking him to change his Twitter login info, and then e-mailed Twitter in an attempt to reset the email address and password.When Twitter demanded more information, the hacker set his sights on Hiroshima’s GoDaddy account, which comprised various domain names that he’d paid for with a credit card attached to a PayPal account. Here’s where it gets scary: The hacker later admitted in an email to Hiroshima that he’d simply called PayPal and “used some very simple engineering tactics” on one of its agents to obtain the last four digits of Hiroshima’s credit card over the phone.Related: Uh, Did Your Refrigerator Just Send Me an Internet Virus? Then, in order to poach the GoDaddy account, the hacker told a GoDaddy agent that, “I had lost the card but I remembered the last four.” In a terrifying turn, the agent then allowed the hacker to simply guess the first two digits of the card number — all that was needed in order to gain complete access to Hiroshima’s domains. “I got it in the first call,” the hacker later admitted — part warning, part boast. “Most agents will just keep trying until they get it.”According to Hiroshima, the experience sets a chilling precedent: “To avoid their imprudence from destroying your digital life,” he wrote, “don’t let companies such as PayPal and GoDaddy store your credit card information.”Related: Target’s Security Breach Stresses the Need for Better Cyber Security January 29, 2014center_img Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Register Now »last_img read more