Unrecognized schools challenge Delhi Government to find whose students are performing better

At a time when unrecognized private schools in Delhi have once again come under threat of closure since the Delhi government has ordered cessation of “all educational activities” in these institutions before the next academic session begins, some unrecognized schools in Delhi are challenging Delhi Government to conduct a study to know whose students are performing better.

Citing anonymity, the manager of one such unrecognized private school says it is because of students who study in unrecognized schools till a certain level and then move to Government schools that the pass percentage of Government schools becomes respectable. He challenges the Delhi Government to conduct a study in schools run by the Government itself to find whether students who have come to Government schools in Classes VI or above are performing better or those who have studied in the Government run schools since Nursery or Class I.

The manager also cites an example of certain girl students from his school who took admission in Class VI in a neighbouring Government school. He claims that during the half yearly examinations, all the first three positions in their section were bagged by girls who had moved to Government school after completing Class Vth from his school. But since the Government does not recognize any category as unrecognized schools, all such students are clubbed together as those who have studied privately at home till taking admission in Government schools. “This will make it difficult to conduct a study,” says he but adds “even if such students include few who have not studied anywhere and took late admission under RTE, the performance of students who entered the Government school set-up in Class VI or later will stand out far better than those who have studied there since the beginning.” This is mostly due to the unrecognized effort of the unrecognized schools that the Delhi Government is now considering closing.

Principal of another private school who is now scurrying to a recognized private school to allow her students to appear from the recognized schools says the writing was already on the wall since the Delhi Government has started claiming to have added more than 5000 rooms last year. It is clear now that the purpose of adding these rooms was not to provide better education to the already high enrolment since RTE came into effect but to stifle the unrecognized schools which, despite their meagre resources, are providing good basic education to students from low income households in Delhi.

It is to be recalled that the Delhi government has recently issued show-cause notices to several teachers for ‘abysmal’ results in pre-boards. Mathematics pass percentage in some sections of Government schools stood at abysmally low of 10% or even lower with some sections recording 0% and 3% pass percentage as well.

Government has issued show-cause notices to teachers in whose sections such low pass percent was achieved without realizing that teachers at senior levels don’t carry a magic wand to make those students brilliant within a year who have moved up to higher classes from the equally abysmal teaching standards in lower classes.

RNI News

Child artiste Shabih of Ahlcon International rocked the stage amidst professional performance by theatre groups in Komal & VK Pahuja Theatre Festival

Shabih of Ahlcon International School on stage in a memorable performance

It was splendid mono-acting performance by a 9-year old student from Ahlcon International School on the theme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-publicized ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ Abhiyan that received standing ovation from the audience at 4th Komal & V. K. Pahuja Theatre Performance held at Delhi’s hub of activity India International Centre yesterday. Shabih performed as a guest artiste in the day-long theatre festival attended by various prominent theatre groups including Anvaratt Theatre Group of Indore, UPTA Group of Meerut, Rahul Thapliyal’s group, Theatron Theatre Group, Soch Theatre Group, Shanjha Sapna Group and Nepathya – the theatre society of PGDAV College, University of Delhi.

Child artist Shabih (in centre) along with (from left) Sangeeta Sahni of Ahlcon International School, Supriya Pahuja of Komal & VK Pahuja Foundation, Monika Sawhney of Ahlcon International School and mother Tanveer Fatima

The event now an annual fixture of the city was organised by Dr. Supriya Pahuja and Meenakshi Pahuja in loving memory of their parents Komal & VK Pahuja. Inaugurated by Dinesh Ahlawat, the Festival saw presence of prominent personalities including Sheila Dikshit (former Chief Minister of Delhi), Prof. Kiran Walia (former Minister in Delhi Govt), Prof. Dinesh Singh (former Vice Chancellor – Delhi University), among others. Rajesh Dua and Sanjay Dhoundiyal were given Life Time Achievement Award. Komal & VK Pahuja Foundation is known for promoting cultural, sports and theatre activities. The event was anchored by Sandeep Mishra in his inimitable style, who introduces himself as the spokesperson of Dera Sacha Sauda in Delhi. He was ably supported by Ms. Lata.

The day-long Komal & VK Pahuja Theatre was judged by an eminent panel of jury which included renowned actor and director Dr Bikram Kesharee Mohanty, Manuv Mehra and Rakhi Chauhan Mehta. On stake were three awards for Best Production and an award each for Best Director and Best Actor. In the end, the Best Director Award was won by Nitesh Upadhyay for play Yeh Ishq Ishq (Anvaratt Theater Group).

Anvaratt Theater Group of Indore performed a play Ye Ishq Ishq, directed by Nitesh Upadhyay. This was followed by Kali Raat Ka Humsafer by UPTA Meerut, directed by Bharat Bhushan. Also a heart-rending performance was Panchlight by Theatron Theater Group. Rahul Thapliyal directed Mera Wajood (A Compulsion) enthralled the audience next.  Directed by Parminder Singh, it showed the plight of sex workers and how the society puts the blame on the female while the males who patronizes the profession and frequent red light areas escape the blame. Parichaya, directed by Rajiv Kohli and assisted by Pranav Shekhar of Soch Theater Group was a beautiful display of acting talent by artists who mesmerized the audience through depicting the pathos of parents who educate their children only to lose them later in their old age, owing to the charm of a better life abroad or developing personal careers in distant lands. Ashish Modi and Rani Sonkar through their  wonderful display of acting talent kept tickling the emotions of the audience amidst good acting display by Manoj Aryan and Arsh Khan. And none could escape from laughing whenever Sahil Arora entered the stage in his splendid comic act as a house servant.

A very excellent display of acting talent was also visible in the enactment of Othello by Nepathya – theatre society of PGDAV College (University of Delhi), which was followed by Chitthee by Shanjha Sapna, directed by Ishwar Shunya.

A scene from Panchlight by Thetron Theater Group

Amidst all this excellent rendering of theatre skills by trained professionals, child artiste Shabih showed that despite being of tender age and an amateur, she has got the talent to perform and win accolades while performing in the company of such talented professionals from various theatre groups. She showed the plight of a young girl, whose wish to go to school remain unfulfilled as circumstances forced her to work as a housemaid. For nearly seven minutes of her on-stage mono-acting performance Shabih managed to stir the emotions of many in the audience through projecting the emotions of the girl child and her resolve to study amidst circumstances that do not allow her to do so. This performance could serve as a great promotion for the already-publicized Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Abhiyan, which is one of the flagship social welfare campaigns by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Shabih Fatima, trained by her teacher Monika Sawhney and promoted for this stage by Sangeeta Sahni, is under the tutelage of Ashok K. Pandey – Principal of Ahlcon International School. Ahlcon International School is one of the foremost schools in East Delhi, which is known for promoting art, culture and sporting talent among the kids beside their overall educational development and grooming the students for their future lives.


Games Municipal Corporations play?

A thriving businessman living in New Brij Puri in EDMC’s Shahdara South division, Mehboob Ansari believe that everything is up for grab in this country, by hook or by crook, if you have the money to purchase it. Needless to say, he blatantly uses his money to “purchase” services and favours from erring clerks in municipalities who are ever willing to pass on favours for a little bribe. In one of those rare moments when he opens out in front of others, consequence of a boastful sway of character, Ansari told this correspondent how he has paid money so that the officers look the other way while he got his buildings constructed. Ansari who owns several houses in the locality, which are given on rent, is a habitual offender none of whose houses have been constructed after obtaining the requisite permissions from the authorities. On the contrary all of them, he boasts, have been constructed by paying the floor rate to the junior engineers in the municipal corporations to look the other way.

Look the other way, this is exactly what the municipal corporations do! Social Workers Association which claims itself to be a watchdog since 1987 for implementing, rectifying, altering and/or reforming the society, in the larger interest of the common public, brought the case to the knowledge of the then EDMC commissioner Amit Yadav through a letter dated December 4, 2015 (the copy of which is available with this correspondent) in which it highlighted how few house-owners were targeted for constructing their houses while few others were let go for the same offence.

It so happened that few houses were being constructed in New Brij Puri at the same time. EDMC officers swooped in on the colony and sealed all the houses, including the house of Mehboob Ansari which too was getting constructed. Ansari swung into action and by evening the seal of his house was removed while the remaining houses in the colony remained sealed for more than a year. All construction remained suspended in the other houses while Ansari completed the construction, in a blatant mockery of the law and its executioners. No heed was paid to the complaint by the Association, nor was a need felt by the EDMC to respond.

Without naming Ansari, the letter written to Amit Yadav refers to the 4-5 houses in the colony (New Brij Puri) that had been sealed and said: “it is true that civic rules need to be followed but what is the logic of few houses being sealed while rest continue to be made at a stone’s throw distance. Both were equally flouting the rules, but the authorities decided to seal some and leave some.”

Signed by the secretary, the letter further said: “I wish to bring to your notice that other houses were being built even when few others were sealed and houses are being built even now when the earlier ones remain sealed. Gossip is that owners of those houses which got sealed didn’t do ‘something’ which the others who were left did.”

“It is also being said that one of the house owners, who had shifted on rent to another premise, so that his house could be built,  had taken loan for the purpose and was expecting to return it through rent when the house would be complete, died of heart failure a few days after his under-construction house was sealed. I have heard that even the sealed houses are given a green signal by officials to rebuild, when the file goes to some corners of the MCD office, that too in lieu of certain ‘favours’. Incidentally, some of the sealed houses, have already started rebuilding after opening up the sealed lock.”

The letter asked EDMC to respond whether any policy decision has been taken in this regard. It said: “We wish to know what policy decisions have been taken in this regard and how is it that the same fate does not befall two different people, who both are guilty of the same ‘crime’.”

Social Workers Association, claims its Secretary, is yet to get a response for the letter sent through registered post, way back in December 2015. Meanwhile, the status quo continues wherein houses in all municipalities are getting constructed on regular basis, but at the same time erring junior officers see to it that construction is stalled unless their palms are greased.

The million dollar question is how it is possible that the houses are sealed and de-sealed, without documentation. When asked, a junior clerk in EDMC gave away the answer. Some houses need to be sealed to show that the zonal officers are not keeping a blind eye to the rampant illicit construction. The house owners who try to ‘act smart’ by paying no heed to the JE’s repeated visits or try to negotiate fall to the guillotine. Once sealed, the construction has to remain stalled for some time, until the matter subsides and the file gets buried under the heap of more files. Then, if the house owner pursues ‘in the right earnest’, he is given a go-ahead to remove the seal silently and finish the construction. This is the modus operandi, which could not be substantiated because the EDMC Commissioner did not respond to the pointed questions sought by the Social Workers Association.

The question that remains unanswered to this day is how Mehboob Ansari’s house was sealed and then unsealed the same day so that he could continue with his construction. Apparently, despite his boastful self-aggrandizement, there are some secrets that people like Ansari still do not divulge.

The incumbent LG at Delhi is known for strictly enforcing the regulations. It remains to be seen how he pulls up the municipalities to fall in line and make their houses in order, particularly amid the repeated rhetoric of the Aam Aadmi Party regarding corruption in our municipalities.

RNI (Real News Intl) News Agency

Centre Committed to Sustainable Development in Order to Combat Climate Change Challenge, Says India’s Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water & Sanitation Minister

The Centre is committed to its agenda of sustainable development and combating climate change challenges is a very important part of it, said Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Hon’ble Minister of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water & Sanitation, at the concluding session of the National Convention on Innovations in Green Highways late Wednesday evening in New Delhi. “Mother nature allows us to utilize but not overexploit it. Overexploitation of natural resources culminates in climate change and other attendant problems,” Shri Tomar said.

It is with the aim of achieving sustainable growth that the government is committed to greening of national highways and roadways through the National Green Highways Mission (NGHM), Shri Tomar added.

Standing (from left to right): Shri Ranjan Chatterjee [Former IAS and Member Expert Member, National Green Tribunal (NGT)], Shri Lal Singh Choudhary [Minister for Forest, Environment and Ecology of J&K ], Shri Narendra Singh Tomar [Hon’ble Minister of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water & Sanitation], Shri AK Bhattacharya [Mission Director, NGHM] and Ms. Induja Rai [Adviser, NGHM]

Standing (from left to right): Shri Ranjan Chatterjee [Former IAS and Member Expert Member, National Green Tribunal (NGT)], Shri Lal Singh Choudhary [Minister for Forest, Environment and Ecology of J&K ], Shri Narendra Singh Tomar [Hon’ble Minister of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water & Sanitation], Shri AK Bhattacharya [Mission Director, NGHM] and Ms. Induja Rai [Adviser, NGHM]

Talking about the initiatives taken by Jammu & Kashmir on environmental conservation, Hon’ble Choudhary Lal Singh, Minister for Forest, Environment and Ecology of J&K informed the gathering about the massive tree plantation drive undertaken by the J&K Forest Department last monsoon. Invoking the need for systematic planning of infrastructure projects such as roads and highways, Shri Choudhary said, “Construction of national highways by the Centre should be planned in such a manner that it doesn’t interfere with the surrounding tree cover. Similarly, disposal of construction waste, too, should be undertaken in a proper manner avoiding disposing the waste in median construction.”

Speaking on this occasion, Dr. A.K. Bhattacharya, MD, NGHM, observed that expert opinion of 220 experts from 100 organizations from 18 states and several international experts from diverse fields had participated in the Convention and contributed towards the road-map for implementation of Green Highways project and in the development of a research plan. “It is our objective to develop the concept of green highways under a sustainable business model. In this direction, we are also looking at introducing newer innovations,” observed Dr. Bhattacharya.

Ranjan Chatterjee, Expert Member, National Green Tribunal (NGT), Delhi, said “The NGT is looking towards evolving the best possible ways of protecting people living in settlements located close to national highways against dust and noise pollution by using tree cover along them as a strong buffer.”newlogo

Three MoUs were signed on the concluding day between the NHAI regional offices and Forest Development Corporations of J & K, Maharashtra and ITC. “Best Management Practices Manual for Green Highways” authored by Ms Induja Rai, Advisor, NGHM was also released. The manual documents the global best management practices for highways plantations and has the Green Highways Vegetation Management Charter providing guidelines for undertaking plantations along highways. Following this, declaration was done for launch of Delhi Chapter of Bamboo Society of India which aimed at policy advocacy and liaisoning with different agencies for development and promotion of bamboo related initiatives.

The aim of the National Convention on Innovations in Green Highways was to collate information on innovations and research in the field of green pathways, both locally and globally. Research, training and capacity building requirements for the project stakeholders were identified and analyzed at the forum.

 Eminent national and international experts discussed varied themes such as global trends in green highways, recent researches and technologies in the field, accruing carbon credits through green highway plantations, plantation as a road safety tool, scope of roadside bamboo plantations and operational models to involve local communities in the 11 high-level technical sessions spread over three days. Going forward, these deliberations are expected to provide a robust framework for the proposed ‘Centre for Innovations in Green Pathways’.

National Green Highways Mission (NGHM)

The National Green Highways Mission (NGHM) was established by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) under National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) with a vision to develop green corridors along national highways for sustainable environment and inclusive growth. The NGHM has been entrusted with the task of planning, implementation and monitoring roadside plantations along one lakh km network of national highways.

How will trees be planted along one lakh kilometre network of national highways?

3-day convention to develop detailed road-map and framework


RNI News:

The National Green Highways Mission (NGHM) has been entrusted with the task of planning, implementation and monitoring roadside plantations along one lakh kilometre network of national highways. To conduct this task effectively, the NGHM needs to adapt learnings from other parts of the world and undertake new research and test innovations at pilot scale so as to implement them later on larger scale. With this perspective, NGHM is organizing a three-day convention from 7th November at Madhyanchal located at Delhi’s Vasant Kunj in which experts from various related fields will put forth their views and highlight the hurdles in the way.nitingadkari

The National Green Highways Mission (NGHM) was established by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) under National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) with a vision to develop green corridors along the national highways for sustainable environment and inclusive growth.

newlogoMinister of Road Transport and Highways will be the Chief Guest in the inaugural session. Dr. AK Bhattacharya (Mission Director, NGHM), Mr. Raghav Chandra (Chairman, NHAI), Mr. Vijay Chhibber (Ex Secretary, MoRTH), Dr. CK Varshney (Ex Professor and Dean, JNU), Mr AP Frank Noronha (DG, PIB), Dr. Hans Friederich (INBAR, China) and Mr. Anuj Sharma (DGM, NGHM) will put forth their views in the inaugural session. On this occasion, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Green Highways Project will be signed with the World Bank, ITC, INBAR, Yes Bank and TERI.

The purpose of the convention is to create a knowledge centre known as ‘Centre for Innovations in Green Pathways’, which will work under the supervision of NGHM, and serve as a platform to undertake research, innovations, trainings, capacity building programs and advocacy in the field of green highways and pathways. Various technical sessions have been kept with this purpose in mind, so that experts from various fields may express their observations.

Outlook magazine has taken up the responsibility of executing the event, informed S. Ramesh working as GM.

No place for lotus in PM Modi’s official program at Gurgaon!

Call it lotus or coloured flower, such installations were removed from the premises

Call it lotus or coloured flower, such installations were removed from the premises

Lotus might well be the official emblem of the party in power, but when it comes to having lotus installations in PM Narendra Modi’s official programs, there is no place for it. Though officers in the Haryana Government discount this claim and cite other reasons for removal of lotus-resembling installations from PM Narendra Modi’s official program, there is a large number of art-lovers, including socialites and members of civil society who are displeased over art being sacrificed at the cost of politics.

Sun and lotus was apparently the theme created by Seerat Narendra as décor for the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande’s visit to the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) on Gurgaon-Faridabad Expressway when the later came on an official visit to India. The same installations were also supposed to adorn the Devilal Stadium in Gurgaon at the time of Republic Day celebrations. However, if accounts of those present at NISE are to be believed, the installations of lotus were ordered to be removed from the premises by officials present there, ostensibly to remove the political touch from the PM’s official program. But this act has left the art-lovers fuming!

RNI talked to Seerat Narendra who confirmed that certain officials asked her to remove the installations that resembled lotus a shade prior to the visit of the dignitaries. Seerat removed the lotus-resembling flowers which were later used to give colour to the ambience at Devilal Stadium.

Seerat Narenda standing next to her lotuses, seen by others as coloured flowers

Seerat Narenda standing next to her lotuses, seen by others as coloured flowers

Says Seerat: “Lotus is our national flower. The artistic installations had to be removed because some narrow minded official linked it to a political party. This is very sad. Will they stop respecting or using the Tri-Colour of our respected national flag (something which we all treasure) because the same colours are also depicted on the flag of another political party?” Seerat is emphatic that politics should be kept out of art. “Please keep politics out of art and learn to appreciate the hard work of artisans and artists who slogged to create a beautiful installation,” she says with a degree of annoyance.

Meenu Gaddi who attended the Republic Day celebrations at Devilal Stadium liked the décor put up there by Seerat extensively. She is disappointed at the manner in which the installations were asked to be removed from NISE premises and wish people have a broader view, when it comes to appreciating art and craft. “Would we stop using our hands for whatever… just because we didn’t vote for the Congress,” she says.

Seerat Narendra removing the lotuses from NISE premises a shade prior to the commencement of the event

Seerat Narendra removing the lotuses from NISE premises a shade prior to the commencement of the event

A journalist working for a mainline English daily too felt it was silly and disappointing to remove the lotus-similar installations. “Lotus is one of the most beautiful flowers and comes with a very strong message that your surroundings can never dim your inner light. It’s very juvenile of the official to connect lotus with a certain political party or its ideology,” says she vehemently.

Madhuri Bhatia, a freelance actor, singer and dancer and a great connoisseur of art rues that such beautiful installations went unappreciated and wasted. “If a connection has to be drawn to a particular party, anything and everything can be attached,” tells Madhuri.

An intellectual of repute, Ramaa Shanker agrees that politics have reached such levels that it cannot be changed. An art lover and an artist herself, Madhura Phatak too is of view that art and artists should not suffer because of the myopic view of some people. Madhura feels sorry the way things are shaping up in our country.

T.L. Satyaprakash, IAS & Dy Commissioner - Gurgaon

T.L. Satyaprakash, IAS & Dy Commissioner – Gurgaon

While the artists and art-lovers have been expressing their disappointment because art had to give way to politics, the district administration has an altogether different take on this. T.L. Satyaprakash, IAS and presently serving as Deputy Commissioner Gurgaon is of view that the art installations were not removed because of their resemblance to the symbol of a political party. RNI talked to the Deputy Commissioner who said the flowers were not resembling lotus, instead they were coloured flowers. Lot many flowers were made for the Republic Day program at Devi Lal Stadium, he told RNI. Initially it was felt that some of the flowers could be used to beautify the NISE premises but then a decision was taken to keep the ambiance plain. “We were told French people don’t like colours, etc.” said the Deputy Commissioner. When asked who took the decision to remove the artistic installations, he said possibly it was the Director of NISE. However, one thing that is clear is that floral designs were installed and then removed at the behest of certain officer.

Seerat, on the contrary, maintains French would have taken pride in showing the work of their artists. “Think of the artisans and artists who worked hard only to portray a beautiful image of the country,” says Seerat. All that she, along with other art lovers, want is to keep art out of politics!

RNI News


Iram Saeed

Iram Saeed

Timor-LesteHave you ever heard of Timor-Leste? For those unaware, Timor-Leste is one of the world’s newest countries and also one of the poorest. Situated in South Asia between Indonesia and Australia, the half-island nation is home to a young and culturally diverse population of just over 1 million. The long fight for freedom that people of the region undertook resulted in nearly one-third of the population perishing. Nearly each family of the newly made country has seen near and dear ones killed during the struggle period.

Bella Galhos with colleagues

Bella Galhos with colleagues

Timor Leste has significant petroleum resources, but owing to the fact that most institutions are young and inexperienced, having limited human resource capacity, and poor infrastructure, the country is facing severe health challenges, particularly those affecting women and children. The country’s capital Dili is remotely connected to the Indian capital Delhi (interestingly, Delhi too in Hindi is written as Dilli). Despite the challenges, Timor-Leste has worked with diligence and courage since independence to establish its democratic institutions and a viable economy.

There is also a great need to improve agricultural capacity and performance; encouraging private sector competitiveness; building democratic institutions and good governance mechanisms, including anti-corruption systems; protecting the natural environment; and helping populations adapt to climate change. Due to great need for social work, USAID is working closely with Timor-Leste to cope up with the challenges that this new country is facing.

Bella with students

Bella with students

Most people in Delhi (Dilli) may not be aware about this new capital Dili, but there are unsung heroes from Delhi who continue to work selflessly even in as far and remote a country as Timor-Leste. One such hero is Iram Saeed, a Jamia Millia pass out social worker, and now an international development professional with expertise in empowerment of women and youth as well as community development. Having earlier worked for organisations such as Marie Stopes International, United Nations and other international NGOs, Iram moved to Timor-Leste to initiate and execute a social welfare project Santana Unipessoal.

Iram is a co-founder and Chief Development Officer of the project Santana Unipessoal, along with Bella Galhos, founder and a freedom fighter. Since moving to this new country, Iram is working among young Timorese children (along with youth and women), endeavouring to make leaders who will go on to rebuild Timor-Leste, which has only recently come out of the ashes of a brutal occupation and bloody struggle, and is still struggling with hunger, poverty, poor access to education and inefficient agricultural practices. Timorese, says Iram, are still scared of expressing themselves and a lot need to be done to bring them out from the trauma of brutal suppression that these people have been subjected to in the past.

Ambassador Gurjit Singh calling on H.E. Mr. Kay Rala Xanana of Timor-Leste during his visit to Timor-Leste

Ambassador Gurjit Singh calling on H.E. Mr. Kay Rala Xanana of Timor-Leste during his visit to Timor-Leste

In Bella Galhos, Iram has found an able leader and co-worker, who herself suffered dearly during the occupation period. During the 1975 invasion of her country by Indonesian forces led by regional strongman Suharto, Bella’s two brothers, aged four and six, were beaten to death by rifle butts. Her father was jailed for two years, placed in solitary confinement where he lived in his own filth on a ration of rotten food, occasionally having fingernails and toenails removed with pliers during interrogations. During the years of occupation, there was frequent gunfire in the tiny island country, the constant threat of rape and the mysterious deaths or disappearances of friends and family.

Bella was merely 13-year-old in 1985, when Indonesian soldiers caught her from a small East Timorese schoolhouse and forcefully injected Depo Provera, a contraceptive drug the Indonesian government used in its forced contraception and sterilization program, an injection that was again given to her during the two succeeding years. These atrocities suffered during the early years made Bella Galhos a strong woman with a strong drive to work for the liberation of her country and to experience for the first time life without military occupation. As a teenager, she got involved with the underground resistance, risking imprisonment, torture or death.

In fact, after each wave of violence, Galhos stepped up efforts to free East Timor from Indonesia’s grip. When a young political organizer was killed in 1991, Galhos helped organize a massive funeral procession and demonstration in Dili. When that event erupted into a mass killing, Galhos enlisted in the Indonesian military while secretly supporting the resistance. And when she endured the constant sexual assault at the hands of soldiers in Jakarta, she resolved to win the trust of the Indonesian government to represent East Timor in the Canada World Youth exchange program as an example of a compliant, pro-integration East Timorese youth.

Years later, Galhos along with her equally resolute co-worker Iram, are working to rebuild Timor-Leste through their untiring efforts. Iram is closely involved with Leublora Green School, the signature project of Santana, and the only educational institution in the country dedicated to teaching about and promoting economically and environmentally sustainable growth and development for the people of Timor-Leste.  It offers courses free of charge to school children, as well as other Timorese people (with a focus on youth and women), to build leadership, encourage environmental stewardship, promote sustainable and efficient agricultural practices and inculcate the value of respect for oneself, other people and the world.  Leublora Green School aims to become a source of inspiration for the country to protect and promote its unique natural heritage.

Leublora Green School is a unique concept in itself not providing classroom education alone but practical education as well into farming, rearing and other essential needs that the growing up Timorese children will face in future. And Iram does not only have to carry chalk and duster to teach but even sickle and spade, seeds and dung. Courses provide beneficiaries with: practical skills to engage with those around them and their natural environment in a productive and sustainable way; knowledge to lead their country towards sustainable development in an ethically and environmentally responsible manner; and, wisdom to understand the importance of respectful human resource and environmental management to the future of Timor-Leste and the world.

Interestingly, India’s ambassador to ASEAN and Timor-Leste, Gurjit Singh, visited Timor-Leste sometime back, to meet the then Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, to discuss ways and means of increasing bilateral cooperation between the two countries. Ambassador conveyed the offer of Government of India to establish Centre of Excellence in Information Technology (CEIT) at Timor-Leste. In this regard a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been handed over by Ambassador to the Prime Minister. Welcoming the offer, Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao appreciated the initiative of Government of India in the field of Human Resource Development. To enhance economic cooperation, Ambassador offered to bring delegation of business people from India Business Forum (IBF), Jakarta which warmly accepted by the Prime Minister. Prime Minister also conveyed that Timor-Leste values its friendship with India greatly. India has also announced scholarship to teach 10 Timorese students in India each year.

India will surely do its bit to improve the lot of Timorese population but it is always heartening to note that there is an Indian, belonging to our own Delhi (Dilli), who is working a little distance away from Timorese capital Dili, with a resolve to change Timor-Leste, one life at a time.

Taking cue from Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Mission, Indialogue Foundation organizes discussion on ‘Cleanliness in religions’

DSC08131 (1024x768)Indialogue Foundation organizes an annual iftar-dinner cum Interfaith Dialogue to enable followers of different faiths to talk, collaborate and live amicably, understand the views of different groups on various subjects, and share the common values and teachings, carried out in an atomospher of peace and openness, with love, respect and good intentions without any force or duress. Bilal Acikgoz, the suave dynamic president of Indialogue Foundation has, through his efforts, made this annual fixture an event to look out for. Foundation’s theme this year was ‘Cleanliness in Religions’, under inspiration form recently the most heavily highlighted campaign of ‘Swachh Bharat’. Needless to say, the luminaries and thinkers of religion and interfaith were present to express their views. Read on…

 By Aziz Haider

Distinguished gathering

Distinguished gathering

Cleanliness has become a buzz word today, courtesy Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Government through its various ministries is spending crores of rupees to achieve this task. Majority of people are hopeful we will be able to achieve our objective by the stipulated date of October 2nd, 2019. But the question that still lurks behind some of our minds is whether this task will indeed be achieved, considering the various impediments that rig the path.

Distinguished gathering

Distinguished gathering

Question is why we, a country with five centuries plus a great civilization and boasting of having followers of all the major religions of the world, have not moved ahead in this direction till now. Do our religions really focus on the subject of the cleanliness? If yes, where lies the focus? Discussion on this important subject was initiated at the behest of Indialogue Foundation in its Annual Interfaith Dialogue followed by Iftar Dinner, where scholars and experts of various religions spoke on the subject of ‘Cleanliness in Religions’, under inspiration from recently the most heavily highlighted campaign of ‘Swachh Bharat’. Indialogue Foundation seeks inspiration from US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is now having estranged relationships with present Turkish Government, which is seeking his extradition. The Foundation which works to facilitate interfaith understanding and communication has been organizing similar events since its inception in 2009.

Bilal Acikgoz

Bilal Acikgoz

Bilal Acikgoz, the President of Indialogue Foundation is of view that cleanliness is the major focus of most world religions and traditions. Quran highlights on purity of soul, heart and body. Islam has uniquely stressed on the subject of cleanliness when Prophet Mohammad said that purity and cleanliness is half of the faith. Islam gives great stress on both physical and spiritual cleanliness. From washing face, hands and feet five times a day as preparation for mandatory prayers, in the name of wudu, to various prescribed baths on various occasions, and keeping the surroundings clean, Islam also stresses on inner purification through seeking roohani or spiritual elevation and attaining purity through eradicating all evil thoughts and nature from mind in the name of Allah. It is the constant remembrance of the God in various acts that lead to spiritual elevation and thus spiritual purity. Roza or fasting is an example where the believer attempts to rid himself of all evils of body, mind and senses. Thus cleanliness has to take place in totality and not merely physically.

Cleanliness is very important facet that is highlighted in all religions. Being unclean is seen with contempt. Hinduism too has several prescribed ritual baths for various occasions. Hindus wash their feet before entering the temples. There are other rituals too that highlight cleanliness. Swachh Bharat campaign will really reach out to the masses when the campaign focusses through temples, mosques, madrasas, churches, synagogues and draws religious inspiration.

Swami Shantatmanand

Swami Shantatmanand

Swami Shantatmanand too is of view that the idea of cleanliness is centric to all religions. Swachhata or Cleanliness is one of the prerequisites of abhyasa yoga and a lot of stress has been put on it. Similarly the practice of taking bath before going to temple of before any important occasion or puja seeks to clean the physical body. Most religions talk of this journey from gross to subtle, so by way of observances, washing oneself, putting on clean clothes, similar rituals are followed by more and more inward journey towards attaining purity. Only the pure can really search God. Great emphasis is laid on internal purity. Similar to the practice of Karsewa, there is a similar practice among Hindus as well where devotees render service in temples. Physical purity like baths, putting on clean clothes, keeping the temples clean, etc. lead the adherent to inward journey towards purity.

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In religious utterances, for example puja, stress is on cleaning external and internal parts. There are elaborate practices in various pujas, where different limbs of body are associated with different gods and goddesses and appropriate mantras are chanted thereby the worshipper becomes completely pure. Just as in Islamic concept of fasting, various fasts have been prescribed among the Hindus too. Fasting is not only to abstain from but it is to restrain the sense organs from their outward journey by making them inward-seeking. On Shivratri, the entire night of fasting is prescribed. Fasting is accompanied by lot many practices like meditating, prayers, japa, etc. Idea is that our body, which is the greatest impediment in self-realization, need to be conditioned through voluntary abstaining from food and we try to gain greater control over senses. Islam too prescribes lot of prayers, reading of Holy Quran and other such practices during fasting. All these practices are actually meant to help us evolve spiritually and move ahead in our inward journey.

Cleanliness of body is essential for cleanliness of mind, thus making us evolve as a spiritual person. It gives us insight to understand other religions which are actually trying to reach the same goal through various different paths. Ultimate goal is to reach supreme peace, supreme tranquility and supreme contentment.

Dr. M.D. Thomas

Dr. M.D. Thomas

Dr. MD Thomas, Chairman and Director of Institute of Harmony and Peace Studies, is of view that fasting makes us evolve as a better human being. It is an occasion to clean ourselves in mind, body, heart and spirit and also in our thoughts, words, sentiments and attitudes.

When we talk of cleanliness, normally our mind goes to ritual cleanliness. Though ritual cleanliness is important, Jesus has stressed more on internal cleanliness. He said, blessed are those who are pure in heart for they shall see God. Thus, to see God, purity of heart is essential. Cleanliness of body and mind is surely needed but also the cleanliness of concepts and understanding; that is why Jesus said what you do to other human beings, you actually do that to God.

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Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is not just for government to achieve. Every human being has to contribute. Cleanliness will have to come out of the churches or places of worship like temples, gurudwarss, etc. and come to streets, parks, roads and our neighbourhood. Roughly half of our country is garbage. I wonder why religions, with their focus on cleanliness, have not inspired us to keep our surroundings clean. Religion will have to inspire and motivate us and come down to our ordinary lives otherwise it will only continue to talk of ritual purity whereas we will continue to live in filth and garbage.

Dr. MM Verma

Dr. MM Verma

Dr. MM Verma of Interfaith Foundation too opines cleanliness can be cleaning the physical body as well as the internal body. Roza or fasting is one means to achieve that. Clean mind and clean heart is absolute condition to achieve the desired goals. Kingdom of God is within us but God resides only in pure and clean hearts. So if we wish to see God, we will have to clean our heart.

Swami Nikhilanand

Swami Nikhilanand

Swami Nikhilanand of Chinmaya Mission is of view that one who has clean mind attain God. Cleanliness is next to godliness. It just does not mean outer environment but also cleanliness of our mind. If our mind is clean, it is easier for us to clean the outer world also. Cleanliness when it happens in the mind will lead to outer cleaning as well. We might talk of external dirt but real dirt is within our mind. If there is too much craving in the mind, it disturbs the outer environment also, resulting in pollution, and exploitation of nature. We want more and more, which is leading to severe societal problems. These impurities need to be cleaned. Fasting, not only prescribed among Muslims but in all other religions, is a beautiful means to clean body and mind. It helps us detach from various worldly lingering, and if truly practiced, may lead to cleanliness of heart as well as the surroundings.

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Patanjali Yogshastra has talked of five niyams, one of which is ahimsa. Ahimsa could be being non-violent towards our environment and surroundings as well. The principle is that if we give something, it will return to us. Similarly, if we give uncleanliness, it will also return to us. Another basic principle is the thought that everything belongs to God. The air and water we take are not our creation. We should be grateful to God for these and one of the signs of being grateful is that we return it in the manner in which it was delivered to us. Hinduism talks of worshiping nature in the same sense. Worshiping means caring and being understanding. We remove the dirt from our homes and through it out because we feel it does not belong to us. But if we are grateful, we won’t do that. Another concept is aparigraha, not to won more than what is required. The fact that we are doing this is leading to imbalance of nature. One should try to possess as less as possible. If we develop this attitude, it will help environment as well. Worst thing that the humans have discovered is garbage. There is no garbage in nature. This creation of garbage too is consequence of our consumerist nature. Concept of Brahmcharya too means we must carry minimum in us, not only in outer possession but in the heart as well. If we do this, we will be able to see God and there will be happiness in our lives.

Mary Pat Fisher

Mary Pat Fisher

Mary Pat Fisher of Gobind Sadan, where people from different religions work, live and worship together, is of opinion that the aim of all activities prescribed by various religions is to clean our mind. The real temple of God is within us. The Noor or Light of God will shine and reflect in us only when we clean ourselves from within. As per the Sikh traditions, if the body is unclean it can be cleaned with soap but if the mind is dirty, it can only be cleaned with the colour of God i.e. the name of God. Cleaning with the colour of God is to be saturated with the love of God so much so that all external influences do not matter and the person’s starts showing the traits of godliness.

Prof. Akhtarul Wasey

Prof. Akhtarul Wasey

Prof. Akhtarul Wasey is of view that all religions in the world have come with only one express purpose, i.e. to clean. Cleanliness not only from outside, of roads and houses, but to clean the man of inferiority complex, satanic thoughts and bad behaviour. All religions are united on this. Islam stresses a lot on cleanliness. Prophet Mohammad even described it as half of the faith. Ramazan is an attempt to cleanse ourselves, to train ourselves not under the duress of Governmental pressure but to cleanse ourselves internally and externally for the sake of remembrance of God. Fasting in the month of the Ramazan is a training for acquiring righteous traits and good habits that help a man cleanse oneself of all things that create problems in the society.

Rabbi Malekar

Rabbi Malekar

Rabbi Malekar, the rabbi of Delhi synagogue talk of cleanliness by saying that when we get up early in the morning, before doing the prayers, we are commanded to wash our hands. Only then we seek blessings of God who has enjoined us with cleaning of heart. When Moss went on Mount Sina and God asked Moses to remove his sandals, it meant he had to go with clear heart removing all preconceived notions of mind and go to the heart with clean heart.

There is great stress on purity in Judaism. The bath during menstrual period and other ritual baths like when we visit the cremation or burial ground are examples. Judaism stresses on cleaning all food, even vegetarian food. Fasting too has been prescribed as a means to attain purity.

Government is talking of cleaning the Ganges. It is unfortunate that despite such a great stress on cleanliness, all the discharge from toilets and bathrooms of thousands of ashrams in Rishikesh and Haridwar end up going into the Ganges. As Gandhi ji said, if you want to see change in the world, you must bring the change.

Prof. J.S. Rajput

Prof. J.S. Rajput

Prof. J.S. Rajput avers of the need for attitudinal transformation, if success is to be attained in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. It is not possible to attain attitudinal transformation by putting up hoardings or advertisements or giving speeches. Long term attitudinal generational transformation can be achieved only through education. And religion is one of the tools to bring about attitudinal transformation. That is why I am of opinion that basics of all religions must be taught to a child in school. He will not only know about need to achieve internal and external purity and will result in his transformation into a wholesome individual.

To sum up, RNI talked to renowned scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan to know his views on the subject. Says the Maulana: Cleanliness is a law of nature. Every part of nature is perfectly clean, for example the flowing water, flowers and trees. Islam is din al-fitrah, that is, a religion of nature. Therefore, Islam attaches great importance to cleanliness. Islam requires every man and woman to become Mr Clean and Ms Clean. They should strive to maintain cleanliness in their homes and society.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

According to a verse in the Quran, “God loves those who keep themselves clean.” (2:222) Similarly, the Prophet of Islam has said: At-tuhur shatr al-iman (Sahih Muslim) That is, ‘Cleanliness is a part of faith.’ Another saying of the Prophet in this regard is: ‘Indeed God is pure and loves the pure. He is clean and loves cleanliness.’ (Tirmidhi)

In Islam cleanliness is a comprehensive concept—it involves purity of the heart, mind and speech and purity in dealing, in individual and social conduct. In other words, cleanliness includes everything from the body to the soul.

The culture of cleanliness first leads to a clean individual, then a clean family and society and finally, a clean nation. Thus, the entire human life becomes clean.

Cleanliness gives rise to clean ethics. Where there is cleanliness higher ethics automatically come into play—thus values such as good behaviour, honesty, and dutifulness find encouragement. The truth is that cleanliness is a comprehensive idea, one which covers all the activities of human life.

RNI (Real News Intl.) News Agency

Not just Mumbai and Gujarat, it’s hard for Muslims to find a house in NCR as well

NoMuslimsAllowedIf you are a Muslim and looking forward to rented accommodation in a Society in Delhi NCR, it’s as arduous a task as it is in Mumbai and Gujarat because when you try getting an accommodation, you slowly realize that the question of religion keeps cropping up in your face with several people out rightly denying giving accommodation on rent to a Muslim. This is exactly what this RNI correspondent found the hard way when he went on an apartment searching drive in Sector 62/63 in Noida.

RNI is in possession of several audio recordings of conversation with house owners, guards in various societies, caretakers of apartments and brokers which will reveal that the subject of religion do keep cropping up with the difference that while some owners out rightly said they don’t lend their accommodation to Muslims, majority of others who were fully ready to talk about rent till they were not aware of the name and thus the religion of the would-be tenant started giving excuses like we won’t be giving the apartment on rent for couple of months, our friend is interested in moving here or we are going for interior renovation. RNI even found to dismay that the house-owners who had given an excuse they would be going for interior renovation or won’t be giving the house on rent for couple of months, gave it on rent the moment they got another rent-seeker. Moreover, there were many others who agreed that giving apartment on rent to a Muslim was a problem, albeit in some circles.

As this correspondent found out, suspicion and more than that, the fear that they themselves might land up in trouble, is so deep-rooted in the minds of several apartment owners belonging to the majority community that it results in some of them playing safe by totally denying giving the apartments to Muslims.

However, as is being pointed out, it is not a phenomenon that has emerged consequent to the coming of the BJP Government in the Centre. Though Muslims themselves may be blamed to an extent for such situations to emerge, particularly because of the involvement of members of their community in various acts of terrorism, most Muslims are of view that the condition has worsened in recent past because the BJP-affiliate organizations like the VHP and RSS have carried out a systematic propaganda drive through various media to portray the Muslim community in a negative way so much so that it is becoming difficult for the youth of the community to get jobs and those seeking rented-accommodation to get houses on rent. If present Narendra Modi Government has to be blamed, it is because it has failed to reach out to the members of the minority community nor has been able to check those who are brewing hatred and ill-will against the community either on social media or through various other means.

Those in the know point out that the propaganda drive is not India-centric alone. The vested interests of some Western and Middle East countries in the oil and gas rich Middle-East and North Africa totally dominated by the Muslims led to propagation of anti-Muslim sentiments among Christians and Jews. Their job was made easy because of their high stakes in the World Power and in the media. In India, RSS and its affiliates became an easy allies to this because of their long-lasting plans focused on the Muslims. Thus, the propaganda!

Some people whom RNI talked too, are of the view that while Muslims from weak financial and social background were picked up by crime agencies, last few years saw a lot many educated youth and successful professionals being caught up. Even when the courts have set free most of those caught on various terrorism-related charges, the vicious propaganda that was carried out at the time these people were caught and the harassment that the house-owners had to meet at the hands of the police, has led to creation of ill-will not just against those found guilty but against the whole community. A great number of people on the social media too are ceaselessly working to further discord and ill-will and the authorities have till yet kept their eyes closed; the number of people working on social media with just Muslims as targets is so large that it gives impression that a full-fledged campaign is at work.

The Audio Recordings Say It All

IslamThe audio recordings that RNI is in possession with during this correspondent’s attempt to find a house in Delhi/NCR reveal the menace is deeper than it is being portrayed. The question of religion kept coming up at several places when this correspondent went in search of an apartment and despite he giving consent for police verification, there were still people who refused to give apartments to Muslims.

It must be clarified here that this correspondent was initially genuinely looking for an apartment. Only when he realized that it is not as easy a job as he had thought and the subject of religion cropped up at many a places that the journalistic vein got aroused and he decided to record some of the conversations.

In the first recording, the guard takes this correspondent to a lady who was the caretaker of two apartments in a society. As long as the religion was not known, the guard said the only condition was that the rent should be paid in time and other residents should not get disturbed. When this correspondent informed that he was a Muslim, the guard agreed this could be a problem and brought the subject in front of the caretaker. The lady caretaker agreed that religion becomes a problem at a few places and said she would talk to the landlords of the two apartments and let the guard know the response. Next day, however, the guard responded that the lady caretaker has said that either of the two apartments were not available. This correspondent found out that the two apartments remained vacant for several days thereafter.

In the second recording, this correspondent can be heard talking to a property broker. The correspondent said it has become an unfortunate situation that one has to ask whether the apartment is available to Muslims. He even went on to say that this is a problem that has largely been created by Muslims. In response, the broker agreed and said that if few people commit bad deeds, the rest suffer. He agreed that it is a losing situation for everybody. He even said that similar rules have been made by some societies for the bachelors because of certain acts committed by them. There are bachelors who belong to good families, but they too face problem in getting apartments.

In the third recording, the guard upon knowing that the rent seeker was a Muslim tells his accomplice to check with the owner before going ahead with any rental processes whether he would give the rent to a Muslim.

In the fourth recording, the correspondent even jokingly told the guard showing the apartment that either he would have to change his name or his religion. The guard laughed in return.

In the fifth recording, Madhup Sachan – the manager of a society – took this correspondent along to show him a vacant apartment whose owner worked in a public sector company in Panipat. Later, he gave the number of the owner in Panipat. The owner initially said that he had no problem giving the apartment to a Muslim but said his friend in Delhi will carry on the necessary verification. The Delhi friend, claiming to be a local BJP worker, refused saying he has told the owner not to give the apartment to a Muslim to avoid any problem later.

IslamophobiaThe sixth recording also pertains to conversation with a property dealer, Virender Chauhan. This property dealer said the apartment was vacant but the apartment owners only give the apartment to those working in the IT sector. This correspondent jokingly said he needed the house now but would try to send the children in the IT field. During the subsequent conversation, the broker agreed that some societies do have problem giving the apartment on rent to Muslims.

Islamophobia, they say, is a term coined by Muslims to silence criticism. It is time now to rethink and discuss this claim once again. True, that the same societies do have some Muslim families living but it appears the apartments have been given to them by people who do not believe in any divide on religious lines. But the writing is on the wall. As this writer found to his utter dismay, being a Muslim in modern India surely seems to be a disadvantage and it will continue to be so unless immediate corrective measures are taken by those in power.

Aziz Haider / RNI News Bureau

Enjoy the romance of seasonal India through Seerat’s exuberant themes at Surajkund Mela

DSC_0073India is an enchanting land of beauty. Be it spring, be it summer, monsoon, autumn or winter – every season has its own beauty, charm and its festivities. It is a land blessed by nature with all the seasons.

Is it possible for human creative genius to depict the bounties of nature in its varied hues and shades? If you believe it is not possible, think again. Or rather look again! If you really wish to see shades of seasons, created by an artist, with focus on the romance of seasons that is visible in India, its villages and its cities, visit the Surajkund Mela 2015 which is on till 15th of February. Once you are there, you will see for yourself how Seerat Narendra’s creative genius has left its mark not on a canvas few feet by few feet in dimension but on the entire length and breadth of Surajkund Mela ground.

It is said that artistry constantly pushes the boundaries of beauty, through three key pillars: discovery, imagination and invention.

Photo Seerat Narendra

Photo Seerat Narendra

True artist use their creative genius through exuberant blend of the three key pillars to create superior art work. Seerat Narendra has done exactly the same to the Surajkund mela ground so much so that for the visitors, not merely the stalls, but the mela ground itself has become an attraction. Visitors to the fare can be seen jostling with each other to get photographs clicked in front of one or the other depiction of her theme. Great enthusiasm of visitors to get photographs clicked in front of various theme designs at times even become irritating for Seerat and her team when the theme designs get repeatedly damaged and they have to mend or replace them.

Tells Seerat about the theme that has enchanted and mesmerised so many visitors this year: “This time our theme revolves around the Romance of the Seasons subtly touching/reflecting the decorative elements of some of the prominent festivals via its colours of that particular season.”

DSC_0054Seerat has created a harmonious theme across the length and breadth of Surajkund mela ground. Describing this, Seerat says the theme is synonymous of nature which subtly fades/merges a season into another. Likewise, humans also mingle, celebrate, respect and cherish beauties of each other’s festivals and cultures, leading to smooth transition from one into the other.

Adds Seerat: “Basant Panchami or Valantine’s day are prominent during Spring, Budh Poornima, Eid or bright Sun and the moon delights in a clear sky in Summer, Teej, Janmashtami or dancing peacocks are symbolic of Monsoon, elephant procession during Dussehra, decorative Diyas of Diwali reflects the beauty of Autumn, and Christmas enlivens the mood during winter. These are the concepts that pan around the Mela ground.”

IMG-20150130-WA0006Surajkund Mela is at it is known across the world for its splash of colours, rhythms of drum beats and joy de-vivre. The Mela celebrates the unique diversity of Indian traditions and culture, showcasing some of the most exquisite handlooms and handicrafts of India.

In short, the Mela is a celebration of Indian folk traditions and cultural heritage. Seerat’s contribution is immense because she has used her creative genius to give an ambience which even outstands the work of the multitude of artists who have gathered at the Mela to showcase their talent and artistry. The ambience that was meant to serve as backdrop has in fact become central pieces of attraction; vibrant expressions of happiness and cheer that infuses every visitor with joy.

By Aziz Haider for Traworld/RNI News Agency