Celebrity Chef Izzat Husain’s ingenuity set to leave your senses spellbound with the launch of Spellbound Restaurant at Gardens Galleria – Noida

Not just Noida but whole of NCR has never tasted anything like this! Food connoisseurs and eating buffs take note to make the first possible visit to Gardens Galleria Mall in Sector 38A Noida. Such occasions come seldom in life when the lords of senses come to tickle and ignite each of your sensory bud so as to leave you spellbound by the entire gamut of enticing charm that you are set to encounter at Spellbound – the new eatery joint that has taken the entire NCR by storm in a short while since its launch.

Spellbound at Gardens Galleria is undoubtedly the new address for food connoisseurs in the Capital. With the celebrity chef Izzat Husain there to delight your taste buds, together with the soothing yet happening ambience that reflects the rich taste of promoters Sagar Sharma and former model and Miss Delhi Ramnik Pantal, rest assured that all your senses will feel the excitement of being to Spellbound. Ramnik had since long been a model, TV anchor and host and has been a familiar entity in Delhi’s Page-3 circles for the last two decades.

Celebrity chef Izzat Husain getting ready to entice customers with his food delights

Truly a sensual delight but neither at too much cost to pocket nor a great burden on your bowel system that many a well-known chefs in Delhi make you undergo because of their reckless use of spices and oil, which resultingly give the same taste to whatever different dishes they cook. But Izzat Husain’s food is different… delightfully different.  So much so that you can distinguish the various ingredients that he puts into his food merely by putting the food on your tongue. Each herb and spice that he puts appear to whisper gently in unequivocal tone that it too is there. If Shahi Zafrani Sheermal is served, rest assured that taste of zafran (saffron) will linger on in your mouth distinctly for a while. Even when you are trying his paratha with unique blend of herbs, garlic, olive and ginger or are savouring his trademark ‘Izzat ki Roti’ that Mirza – the F&B manager – wants you to break with your own fingers because only then will you realize how soft the roti is despite the fact that it is not easy to keep the roti soft if multi-grains are used. Izzat Husain has designed variety of breads at Spellbound because he knows the food buffs in the Capital prefer to have bread over rice. This however does not mean the biryani is not far better than all that you get to eat in Delhi restaurants in the name of biryani.

Breathtaking charm of interiors at Spellbound

Mirza, the F&B Manager who has the distinction of being part of the exquisite kitchen of the Palace of His Excellency King Salman of Saudi Arabia, and who boasts of serving distinguished guests ranging from Barack Obama, Narendra Modi and Tayyip Erdogan, gets spellbound by the exquisite taste that Izzat Husain’s ingenuity develops, day after day. It is due to this that he calls the food at Spellbound as royal… in fact everything in Spellbound reminds him of the royalty he was associated with while in the royal kitchen of the King of Saudi Arabia.

Yogesh Meena – the young chef who supports Izzat Husain – has the distinction of working in the Hilton at Istanbul and at the Taj at Udaipur. Here at Spellbound, he is shocked to see how Izzat Husain can make cooking look so simple and easy and yet comes out with spell-binding tastes… that too without use of water or curd. Says Meena: “I have never seen Mr. Husain taste any food. He knows if the salt is less or more merely by looking at the food.” He further says that Izzat Husain’s “process of cooking is quite different…earlier we used to toll hard but couldn’t bring the taste, Mr Husain appears to do simple things but come out with finger-licking dishes.”

(From left to right): Celebrity chef Izzat Husain, Mirza and writer

But why did this trainer of trainers – the celebrity chef who till now had restricted himself to training the chefs of 5-star hotels and big food chains – got associated with a restaurant in Noida. Says Izzat Husain: “Till now my services were restricted to five-star hotels. First time, I have come out of 5-star hotels so that my food reaches out of 5-star environment. We are going to give an altogether new variety and taste to Delhi NCR – a food that is mouth-watering delicious but also digestive…. Food that is not just appealing for the senses but for appetite as well.”

Adds Sagar Sharma: “People who are coming here are loving the food as well as the ambience in which they sit to eat. They are showing it by not just respecting the chef, but even respecting the food. Entire National Capital Region was till now lacking in an ambience where the whole family could go and sit in a relaxing environment, listen to the soothing music playing in the background, in an equally soothing ambience, and eat food that they had perhaps never tasted before.”

Murg Kalapari, Murg Neza and Malai Tikka entice one and all

Sharma further says he wanted to build a place where all five senses get spellbound. He has taken extra care on each and everything within the premises so as to give such a spell-binding ambience. He has ensured that good music plays in the background. And with Izzat Husain as the master chef, he has ensured that all five senses are taken care of.

To begin with, focus is on developing corporate clients and reaching out to those families who already possess refined taste-buds and who wish to feel pampered by the special service that is the hallmark of Spellbound, while savouring Izzat Husain’s delicacies. Sharma informs there are special packages for the corporates, which not only give value-for-money but an experience of a lifetime.

(From left to right): Sagar Sharma, Yogesh Meena and Izzat Husain

Murg Kalapari is so soft that it appears to melt in the mouth. Made without use of curd and with Izzat Husain’s secret marination techniques, it is worth a try. By the name Malai Tikka, it would appear you have eaten it so many times in life before. But if you believe in us you can bet with anyone even without trying it that Izzat Husain’s Malai Tikka would be different, something that you would not get to eat in the whole of NCR. Murg Neza boti kabab too has an unbeatable taste. And if you are fed up of eating almost the same tasting dal makhani in restaurant after restaurant, Dal Shahzadi is Izzat Husain’s new creation; one that appears as royal in taste as it could be.

Another exquisite Izzat Husain creation is Chuqandar Paneer, which is truly out of the world in taste. Ponder for a while: how many restaurants in Delhi would risk offering you something which is a mix of chuqander and paneer. Salute to Izzat Husain’s ingenuity that even a dish made of chuqander comes out so tasty that you would love to add it in your main menu. Likewise, how many chefs would offer Qabuli Gosht – an amalgamation of goat meat with qabuli chana! Truly splendid in taste is Badami Qorma as well.

Biryani too is exquisite creation by Izzat Husain

Not just starters and the main course, a visit for dining purposes at Spellbound should also include savouring the tasteful and healthy variety of mocktails and also the desserts – all with the signature blend and taste provided by the chef of chefs, Izzat Husain. Just as Malai Tikka is far different from the dish by the same name that you get all over North India, the Badam ka Halwa too is different… and innovative… where each spoonful will make you realize the taste and feel of Badams (Almonds) till it goes down your neck and to your stomach.

Captivating taste, aroma and colour of mocktail entice one and all

As the photo-journalist Zaki accompanying this writer perfectly summed it up: “Each dish has a perfect, distinct taste… taste which lingers for a long while even when the food has gone down your throat. Taste of one dish does not mix with the taste of other… all appear distinct, unique … and all delicacies together create the perfect blend, that words would fail to describe but will give the feel that would remain for a long-time after you have had to your heart-full (rather stomach full) and yet with another unique quality of Izzat Husain – that his foods are a complete medicine and are never harsh on your stomach even if you eat to your full.

By Aziz Haider; Photos by Md. Zaki Haider

 

 

 




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.

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Getting intimate with life-giving oceans

It was in 1998 when the Centre for Marine Living Resources & Ecology (CMLRE) was established directly under Ministry of Earth Sciences (MOES) by upgrading the erstwhile Sagar Sampada Cell with exclusive facilities for implementing Marine Living Resources (MLR) Programme. Since then, CMLRE has been organizing, co-ordinating and promoting ocean development activities in the country which inter-alia include mapping of the living resources, preparing inventory of commercially exploitable living marine resources, their optimum utilization through ecosystem management and R&D in basic sciences on Marine Living Resources and Ecology.

Coming forward from that modest beginning about 20 years back, it became apparent that CMLRE has scaled a long journey towards progress and development when Dr. Harsh Vardhan, the Union Minister, in the presence of Dr. M. Sudhakar (Director CMLRE) and senior scientist N. Saravanane, stressed the need to develop CMLRE as a national centre to coordinate all spheres relating to the sector and to develop further the country’s ecosystem-based management strategies relating to the seas,during his visit to the CMLRE institute at Kakanad, Kochi.

Dr.M. Sudhakarwho has years of experience with the CMLRE says it is the only institute in India that is dealing with marine living resources in the deep waters. Elaborating on the major role played by CMLRE, he says: “CMLRE being the national centre established exclusively to address the marine living resources of our country has already made several focussed studies to assess the ecosystem processes, preserve and harness living resources. Our understanding has improved on these aspects to a large extent though still there are many unresolved issues, the prominent being (i) Is coastal pollution really significant and affecting marine living resources; (ii) what factors influence the marine fish distribution and their stocks; (iii) their breeding and recruitment grounds; (iv) effect of adverse environmental conditions like during El-Nino years of sea warming and ocean acidification; (v) wealth and records of bio-diversity in our Indian seas; (vi) unconventional fishery resources of deep-sea and its connection to coastal ecosystem, etc. Several concerted efforts have been planned based on our understanding of the seas, mainly by switching to the Ecosystem approach based studies. Towards this, in the first instance, CMLRE has taken-up two intensive projects during 2017-20: (a) Marine Ecosystem Dynamics of Eastern Arabian Sea (MEDAS), a mega multi-disciplinary ecosystem approach based time-series study involving multi-institutional expertise; and (b) Resource Exploration and Inventorization Scheme (REIS), both aimed to address major issues outlined above.”

CMLRE’s active engagements in deep seas can be understood by its various collaborations with several international activities viz. (i) Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS); (ii) Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR); (iii) Belmont Forum – Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services; (iv) Convention on Biological Diversity and (v) Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) – a new legal instrument proposed under United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS). Through these collaborations and negotiations combined with in-house focused research, India stands to showcase its strengths in assessing and sustainably harvesting our marine biological resources for future needs.

“As part of its marine biodiversity program, we try to identify the various species that are available in the Indian waters and we are now working on deep sea fisheries and distant water fisheries,” tells Dr.Sudhakar adding that CMLRE has also identified 5 species of ornamental fishes, which are in great demand abroad, and has developed the technology to breed them and multiply them.

Exploration and exploitation of Antarctic marine resources too is of paramount importance, particularly when 26 countries including India, that too from far off countries like Norway, have taken quota allocation in the Antarctic region for research and exploration. While countries like Norway are looking at Antarctic for its food alternative requirements, Dr. Sudhakar says “we will have to see how viable it is for our country and its requirements.” However, it is clear that CMLRE will require a lot of support from Govt of India if it is to carry forth its deep sea mission and work on distant water fishing and deep water fishing. The CMLRE director agrees that he is getting the desired support from the Government.

Somasunder, working as Adviser with Ministry informs that the Government of India is now planning for sustainable development which mainly covers life below the water. The UN has lately come up with a charter specifying special goals for oceans and India is a signatory to it. In a conference held recently to address the sustainable development goals mainly conservation, preservation and sustainability of ocean resources particularly in terms of pollution and its impact, the UN put forth national as well as global indicators. These are as follows: (i) Prevent, reduce, minimize pollution; (ii) Preserve, conserve and sustainable use of marine resources; (iii) enhance the scientific capability; and, (iv) Implement the UN framed laws to harness resources in sustainable manner.

Entire activities that are conductedpresently can be divided into four broad segments: living resources, non-living resources, ocean observation and infrastructure expertise, says Dr.Sudhakar. As part of its work on non-living resources, water currents are being used to meet energy and fresh water requirements. There are three plants working which produce 1 lakh liters of fresh water every day. Work is going on to commence 4 more plants in 4 different islands of Lakshadweep. Besides, a plant is going to come up soon which will generate energy from water and the same energy will be used to operate a desalination plant.

Elaborating further on this, Dr. Purnima Jalihal, the Project Coordinator with National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) says: “We work with ocean energy forms which are waves, tidal (marine) current and thermal radiant. We have developed the first wave-powered navigational BUOY which will be useful for ports in our country. Also for the first time, we have developed a hydro-kinetic turbine which runs using the water velocity (marine current). Additionally, we have developed an Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) which uses the difference in surface temperature of water and the temperature at depth to generate power. Power is used to generate steam which is again condensed using colder water from the deep sea and thus absolutely fresh drinking water is obtained. This technology has gone a long way in solving the fresh water requirements in three islands in the Lakshadweep.”

Dr.Jalihal further informs that NIOT is working to scale up the technology for use on islands with larger population. “NIOT has already been able to successfully show offshore one million litre per day desalination plant. This plant, to be powered by OTEC will be put up at Kaviratti. A two million litre per day plant design is now ready at Tuticorn Thermal Power Plant station which we have scaled up for use by the industry on commercial basis.”

Oceans possess a lot of non-living resources as well, and technological advances have made it possible to harness these resources. Wakdiker, the Program Head with the Ministry informs that a great deal of activity is concentrated on deep sea resources in saline, international waters. India was the first country which has been awarded an area of one lakh sixty thousand square km in the international waters of Central Indian Ocean for exploration of polymetallic nodules. The nodules are potato-like structures which are found at the sea-bed, about 4 to 6 km below the water surface. Tells Wakdiker, “We had the contract with International Sea Bed Authority, which is a UN body, and which looks at the governance of such areas in the deep seas.” Incidentally, Dr.Sudhakar is an elected member of the Legal & Technical Commission for Internal Sea Bed Authority.

The polymetallic nodules, available on the sea-bed in the form of potato-like structures, contain copper, nickel and cobalt, apart from manganese. However, it has still not been possible to develop the technology to extract the minerals from these nodules. China and Korea, besides India, are the three countries in the process of developing the technology for extraction of metals. It is envisaged that India will be able to develop first pilot demonstration mining by 2021. In this regards, lot of efforts have been made by scientists from NIOT.

NIOT is also working on another program for exploration of polymetallic sulphides. Consequent to India’s explorations in the Indian Ocean, a contract has been awarded last year to National Centre for Antarctic & Ocean Research (NCAOR) to carry out further research in this field.

Informing further about NCAOR’s areas of work, Ravichandran says his organization is responsible for carrying forth scientific research in the Southern and Northern Poles besides the Central Pole, consisting of the Himalayan belt. Additionally, NCAOR is trying to study monsoon and also trying to map the entire Exclusive Economic Zone around India, a mammoth task considering the size of our country.

“In the polar areas, we are monitoring various parameters, looking at both and non-living,” says Ravichandran. NCAOR is running a station continuously, and analyses data collected from the stations in various poles in its labs on continuous basis. Elaborates Ravichandran, “We are the only organization working from North to South Poles. Scientists from all streams are working with us.” NCAOR also conducts various missions to the Antarctic on regular basis, in which scientists with expertise in various streams take part.

NIOT along with INCOIS is also doing its bit by providing advisory to the fishermen. Informing further on how it locates the potential fishing ground using the satellite data and tell the fishermen where to go for fishing, Shenoi, Director with INCOIS and NIOT says the data related to surface temperature and chlorophyll content in the ocean, till about 50 km from the shore are provided to the farmers which help them locate when and where to go in their search for more fishes. Today more than 4 lakh active fishermen out of the total estimated figure of about 10 lakh traditional fishermen in India use these services.

Elaborates Shenoi: “Fishermen wish to know how safe it is for them to go out fishing. We started providing them information called Ocean Page Forecast, where we provide forecast on wave, ocean current, ocean temperature and other related indices. Update is provided daily for the next 5 days. Normally small fishermen go out fishing for 2-3 days. These forecasts help them decide whether it is safe for them to go out.”

Third activity that is carried out is the Tsunami early warning system. Tells Shenoi: “We have the Indian Tsunami Early Warning System and UNESCO has designated us as regional Tsunami Service Provider. This means we have to provide Tsunami services for all the countries in the Indian Ocean whenever earthquake of magnitude more than 6.5 occurs. This information is provided to 22 other countries, besides India.”

In addition, now climate change issues are assuming greater importance. “This year we have started new activity for modelling from the point of view of climate change in relation to the Indian Ocean, which is warming up faster than all other oceans. We have constructed a global model and downsized it for the Indian Ocean region. Another new activity being taken up is to study Indian Ocean from the point of view of increased pollution levels as well as study the bio-geochemistry of water around India.”

All this would not have been possible without the high-tech Fishery Oceanography Research Vessel (FORV) SagarSampada with CMLRE besides two other smaller vessels. SagarSampada, now 33 years old, has served tirelessly to the needs of our country and continues to do the same even today, albeit with lesser efficiency. Dr.Sudhakar tells that “the process for the replacement of FORV has already been initiated and after lots of discussion and consultations, its technical specifications have been finalized. The new FORV with ultra-modern infrastructure will be the only deep-sea fishery vessel of the country after FORV SagarSampada and will hopefully serve as the backbone for further marine biological studies, very much on the lines of the services provided in the past by the now ageing SagarSampada.” Therefore, it is a matter of time when a state-of-the-art vessel will carry the Indian flag and torn past the waters of the Ocean in its attempt to get intimate with life-giving oceans.

Aziz Haider




Nitish leaves his own party-men red-faced as he begins a new innings jointly with BJP in Bihar

Nitish and Laloo: Friends no more

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar yet again “invoked his conscience” to justify his decision to leave the ally RJD and Congress, with whom Nitish’s party JDU had jointly fought election against BJP’s communal agenda, and retain power, while leaving RJD and Congress out of the Government.

As Pratap Bhanu Mehta, the Vice-Chancellor of Ashoka University writes in “Old ways die hard”, a column in Indian Express earlier today: “Nitish Kumar has always been a politician’s politician. This has manifested itself in many ways. His first instinct has always been survival. He now has an enviable track record of managing to remain an indispensable figure in Bihar politics. His second instinct, like many politicians in India, is to ensure a relatively weak internal party organisation that ensures he is never challenged from the inside. He has combined that with a personal outreach, recognition, popular touch and a relative absence of personal thuggery to remain an important figure. In Bihar, electoral secularism was a wise thing to hold onto, which he did. But he never had any qualms about the NDA. He has also  managed to paradoxically combine both dependence on allies with his own indispensability.”

BJP is undoubtedly upbeat as they have pulled up a political coup of sort. Bihar was very important for realizing their dream of pan-India presence. And it is a big setback for Congress’s dream of making a strong front against the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. While Laloo and Rahul both have stated they had seen the writing on the wall few months back, apparently the biggest setback has been for certain politicians within the RJD, who claim to have been taken by surprise. It is strange that while Rahul Gandhi and Laloo Yadav had seen this coming, they could not fathom Nitish would go on to join hands with BJP so soon.

Nitish’s own party-men look stunned. Rajya Sabha MP Ali Anwar Ansari has spoken out against this new alliance claiming that even party leader Sharad Yadav was not aware of Nitish Kumar’s decision to walk out of the Grand  Alliance and form a government with the BJP.

Talking to newspersons, Ansari had said: “Nitish Kumarji has said he quit the Grand Alliance because he listened to his voice of conscience. My conscience does not allow me to support the decision to form a government with support from the BJP. He further said: “Though there were indications from sometime, I never believed that Nitishji will join hands with the BJP again. We were the ones who gave the slogan of ‘Sangh-mukt Bharat’ and ‘Sharab-mukt Samaj’. The issue on which we had parted ways with the BJP, fearing that they will get further strengthened under Modi, is what is happening today… So why join hands with the BJP now.”

Veerendra Kumar too said he was shocked by Nitish’s decision and said the Kerala unit of the party of which he is the state chief will not follow the Bihar Chief Minister into the NDA fold. He appealed to all JDU MPs to denounce the move and quit the party.

Sharad Yadav even met Rahul Gandhi, though he is also said to have spoken on phone with Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley.

Even though the immediate reaction of some of the JDU politicians is one of shock, politicians as they are, RNI has learnt that a few of them have already started making approaches for a Cabinet seat in the Union Government. Ali Anwar Ansari didn’t made himself available for comment today and his office maintained that his stand of not going with the BJP remains the same even today.

BJP sources have already started hinting of a cabinet expansion and it remains to be seen whether the politicians of JDU who are opposing the move stick to their stand or they too join the BJP bandwagon with lucrative cabinet ministries in the Centre.

Aziz Haider




“If PM Modi is sincere about developing football, the least he should do is to give the Ambedkar Stadium to football”: Former Olympian Syed Shahid Hakim

There was a time when India used to bring Gold in the Asian Games Football and competed for the medal in the Olympics. From there, Indian football has reached a nadir from where there can be no further downslide. A shade prior to the commencement of FIFA Under-17 Football World Cup in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a few announcements aimed at restoring the lost glory of Indian football. He has talked of the need to create a mass movement around football and of giving opportunity to every child in the country to play football. He has also announced Mission XI Million as a movement which will try to take the beautiful game of football to at least 11 million boys and girls in the country. RNI talked to former Olympian, international FIFA referee and coach Syed Shahid Hakim to know what ails Indian football and what measures should be taken to revive the game in the country. Present here are excerpts from Syed Shahid Hakim’s open-hearted conversation:

 

Former Olympian, FIFA Referee, renowned coach and presently Chief Project Director at SAI (Sports Authority of India) Syed Shahid Hakim

RNI: You’ve been a prominent footballer, referee and a coach. How do you see your career and your achievements?

Syed Shahid Hakim: Football is my family game. My father, my uncles and my whole family played football and that led to my interest towards football. In 1946, when I was a small kid, my cousins used to take me to see matches. At that time Army teams like Tanks and Royal Airforce played and I watched them. I played football from that young age: at home, on streets and in school. While my father’s wish was to make me an engineer, I was more inclined to become an army personnel and a footballer than an engineer. During my first year I stopped playing football. But in the 2nd year I was forced to play a match. There was only one player from my college and others were from outside and we won the match. Mr. Venkat Chelam who was the physical director in the college called me the next day. He gave me a football boot named Mansfield which was a hard toe shoe and asked me to practise. He said to me that next year I will be the team captain. Though my family supported me for football and my father was a great teacher, the man behind my serious start in football was Mr. Venkat Chelam. Football is like a drug. Once you’re in it then it is something hard living without. Because of football I left engineering and joined Airforce. It was a good decision for my life because being in army I underwent a lot of personality development.

Those days I played a lot of football though I never thought I would play at higher level. When I played for the State for the first time, we became the national champions. Then I was selected for the trial for the pre-Olympics. I got selected and went to Indonesia. We were winners there as well. Then we were sent to Rome. Upon coming back, I joined the Air Force, due to which I had to leave football for two years. I missed the 1962 Asian Games because of Force training where we won the gold. I would have been selected 100% had I been available. Next year, the Chinese war started. From then on I have played continuously. I captained the North India team. My football career which started in 1952 ended in 1975, nearly 25 years.

In Hyderabad, my father had made it compulsory for all Olympians to become referee. I got into referring from 1970. Did referring till 1989. I was referee in 33 international matches, which continue to remain a national record till now. I am doing coaching since then. I was a coach with Jamia Millia. Even today, though I am the Chief Project Director at SAI, I still wear my shorts to coach; this is my passion.

My father was greatly attached to football association. He was the secretary and the coach. What he has given to Indian football, perhaps no other person has given it. Nobody can beat our contribution to football. In 1952 Olympics, where we got the 4th position, my father was the coach, Ziyauddin was the manager and Aziz, Salam, Rehman, Ahmed Husain, Noor, Zulfeqar played and led India to 4th position. My father went twice to Asian Games, in 1951 and 1960, and brought gold both the time. We again got 4th position in 1956 Olympics. We were 6th in the 1960 Olympics. This was truly great achievement. Though we came 4th in the 1956 Olympics, our achievement in 1960 Olympics was truly phenomenal: we lost by one goal to Hungary, we drew with France, and lost by 2 goals to Peru. I do not know how much time it will take when we repeat this performance.

RNI: Please spell out reasons for the downslide?

Syed Shahid Hakim: Commercialisation of sports is good but it did no good to our football. Players and coach get money due to commercialisation. Lionel Messi too takes money to play, but gives back double of what he takes. Federer too takes money but comes back to become number one even if he is down. Our misfortune is that while we take money, we do not give back what needs to be given. The dedication of Rahim sahab and other players of olden times is missing. A player can be a player only due to dedication, not due to money. We never had such facilities in olden times: we have good hotels to stay, we get good diet, there is no dearth of anything, and instead what I see is that there is so much of dry fruits available that a player cannot eat. There is scarcity of dedication! Unless there is dedication, no coach can make you a player. If you love something from heart, you will come up! Whatever you wish to do in life, learn to love! If you develop love for something, be it studies or sports, or be it music or dance, you will excel in the field. You need to develop good habits. You have love towards football, but you sit and watch TV till 1 in the night. You have love but take to drinking. You have love but take to smoking. As long as you are young, you will play but won’t go beyond 4-5 years instead of 20 years. A player is different from a sportsman. People don’t remember the players, but sportsmen are remembered. Look at Federer, he is such a big player but there is no trace of pride on his face. If he wins, he will raise his hand; if he loses, he will still raise his hand and leave quietly. We need to learn a lot from all this!

RNI: 4th position in Olympics and gold in the Asian games. Was commitment the only factor which lead to these achievements?

Syed Shahid Hakim: Rahim sahab died in 1963. From there the decline began. But the sports was good till 1970. Ghulam Moiuddin Badshah sahab of Bengaluru was the coach in 1970 where we got the Bronze medal. Our last commendable performance was in 1982 Asian Games where we lost to Saudi Arabia in the Quarter Finals by one goal. We were dominating but lost due to one mistake. PK Banerjee and Arun Ghosh used to be coaches at that time. From 1982 Asian Games onward our position kept deteriorating so much so that today Indian football has reached its lowest step. There is no scope for going down further!

Pt. Nehru used to say a technical man for a nation counts much more than gold, silver or money. Greatest misfortune of football is that non-technical people are sitting at the helm in most of the federations/associations who have at times not even seen the game, playing is an altogether different cup of tea. Are there no educated footballers who can manage these associations? Are there no administrators among the footballers that they are made to command? Wait and watch for yourself what is going to happen in the forthcoming youth tournament.

RNI: In 2012, FIFA had made announcements to develop Indian football. Five years have elapsed, we are still saying the same things. How will Indian football develop?

Syed Shahid Hakim: I am sensitive person! It is easy to make false claims, even I can make a claim that if you give the command in my hand I will make India the world champion in five years. But what is happening practically? Our standard is falling by the day. What are the reasons? There was a meeting with the Home Secretary recently. He wanted to organize an All India Tournament for children which is good. He asked me the reason for the downfall. I said I cannot recount all the reasons in a short while but one thing that I can say is that you too are responsible. He asked how? I said police has ceased to take interest. Earlier there used to be police teams, like Hyderabad police, Calcutta police, Kerala police, Punjab Police, BSF, CRPF, etc. These used to be extremely good teams. Where are you now? Every person left the ground in the same manner!

Most important thing is that the schools don’t have sports now. Educationists are the greatest enemies of sports today. They take the exam of a 2 and a half year old child. This age is for playing, not for studying. When I was 2 and a half years old, I didn’t even know what a book is. Schools didn’t give admission till the age of 5. Today, you are taking exam of these kids. We educationists have killed the childhood of a child. Mr. (Kapil) Sibbal has put in place the semester examinations. Will a player play inter-university or give the semester exams?

There is no priority for sports today. If you allow me to stand in Parliament, I will speak for two hours without preparation. I will expose each one of them!

RNI: You are talking of Parliament! Recently, our Sports Minister handed out a football each to each of the Parliamentarians. Modi ji has announced Mission XI Million which seeks to reach out to 11 million school kids in order to develop football. What is your view on these attempts?

PM Modi’s Mission XI Million

Syed Shahid Hakim: If I gift a football each to an entire colony, will football get developed by this? Will there be any change by gifting footballs to Parliamentarians? If Modi is really sincere in this regard, my request to him is that he give the Ambedkar Stadium to football. Today, the rent for taking Ambedkar Stadium for a day is Rs. 5000. Which association has the capacity to pay Rs. 5000 per day? It is said state of affairs that Delhi is India’s capital and the association of country’s capital doesn’t have a football stadium of its own. What football development are you talking about?

I just want one thing. Give a piece of land in every village and give one football each every month. A football will merely cost Rs. 300 to Rs. 500. We will put two bamboo poles and tie a thread at the top to make a goalpost.  22 kids will play. If one child will come out from a village, there are nearly 700 villages. Won’t we be able to form a good Indian team in this manner? Can’t you do this little? Can’t the village panchayats give one football a month? Preparing a football or volleyball team is very difficult than preparing an individual player. I am not an athletics coach but if you give me 25 kids, I will make at least one an athlete. But I cannot make a football team in this manner. I need 20 kids. It is not easy to unite 20 kids together. Today, camps are held all the year round. There are academies. There was no such thing earlier. Camps were held at the most for 10 weeks. Rahim sahab did a miracle for India in 10 weeks. But there is no recognition of Rahim sahab today. He was never given any award. Aziz was not given any award. Not just Aziz, Noor, Thangaraj, Balaram, PK Bannerjee, they played 2 Olympics each, 2 to 3 Asian Games. PK Banerjee got Padam Shree but Aziz, Noor, Balaram, Thangaraj, never got any awards. Thereafter, Jarnail Singh, Inder Singh, Habib, Franco, Arun Ghosh too never got an award. Padam Shree was given to a footballer in whose time our team couldn’t even reach third round of Asian Games. What is this justice? Shahid Hakim alone speaks, he will continue to speak, till he dies, whether you listen to him or not.

RNI: Let’s hope Government listens to you…

Syed Shahid Hakim: Tell me… Raheem Sahab, Aziz, Noor, Thangaraj, Balaram, Franco, Arun Ghosh, Jarnail Singh, Habib, Inder Singh, Naeem, why didn’t you give award to these players? They all are Asian Games medallists. Those who got 4th position in the Olympics, you left them and instead gave Padam Shree to a player in whose times our team couldn’t reach the third round of Asian Games. Modi ji or anybody else, he should call me and talk to me, I will take face to face. I am not afraid to talk when I’m speaking the truth. If I am wrong, hang me!

I will not talk about other game. Why should I speak of hockey? But I will speak of football and continue speaking. Give me justification… why was Padam Shree given to a player in whose time India couldn’t reach the third round of Asian Games and why was the honour denied to those who won Gold Medal in the Asia and attained 4th position in the Olympics? How would a child take inspiration from this? He sees there is no justice for him. He might see Hakim as a fool who gave his life to football but why would he follow in foolishness. He could earn millions instead.

RNI (Real News Intl.) news agency




Footballer captures Manipur, Manipur captures Indian Football Team

Biren Singh after taking oath as Manipur CM

Former national-level Football player from Manipur has now captured the State by becoming its new Chief Minister. At the same time, Manipur has become the cynosure of all eyes with 4 Manipur players gaining a place in the Indian National Football Team.

A national-level football-player-turned journalist Biren Singh was key member of the Congress Party when he decided to join BJP in October 2016, after his relationship with the then Chief Minister of Congress, Okram Ibobi Singh got strained. Congress managed to survive the Government at that point in time but Biren Singh left the Congress to join BJP and emerged victorious by gaining a thumping victory. The BJP now claim to have 32 MLAs on its side in the 60-member Manipur Assembly.

Biren Singh, who was sworn in as Manipur CM earlier today was 18 years old when he was spotted by Border Security Force (BSF) officials during a football match in Manipur capital Imphal. He joined the BSF team and was the first Manipuri footballer to play outside the state. He was part of the BSF team that won the Durand Cup defeating Kolkata team Mohun Bagan in 1981. Later, he quit the BSF team a year later in 1982, but played football for 10 more years in the Manipur state team.

While former national player is at helm of affairs, Manipur’s football fraternity is feeling elated with the selection of 4 Manipur players among the 31 probables chosen for the national side. Four Manipur payers include Jackichand Singh, Seityasen Singh, Udanta Singh and Milan Singh (First time call up for National Team).

Indian National Football Team

The players have assembled in Mumbai as per their commitments in the Hero I-League and the AFC Cup prior to their crucial Group A match against Myanmar in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers UAE 2019. India are slated to play Myanmar in their first Group match in Yangon on March 28, 2017.

This goes on to further strengthen Manipur’s reputation as one of the best footballing state. The North Eastern state has been the nursery of Indian football despite the socio-political turmoil it has been witnessing unlike in other states. Nicknamed ‘the jewel of India, by India’s first PM, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the State has given some famous footballers like Renedy Singh, Gouramangi Singh, Kiran Khongsai, Somatai Saiza and many more. There is hardly any club in India where no player from Manipur plays – be it the I-league clubs or int he 2nd Division teams – Manipuris form backbone of most of these teams.




Roadmap being readied by Ministry of Minority Affairs for setting up 5 world class universities and 100 odd schools for minorities: Shakir Ansari

Ministry of Minority Affairs under Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the Union Minister of State with Independent Charge, is moving ahead with the announced plan for setting up of 5 world class universities and 100 odd schools for the minorities. In this regard, high level meetings have been held and planning is being taken to implementation stage. This information was given by Mohammad Shakir Ansari, Treasurer of Maulana Azad Education Foundation, who has been recently entrusted to take care of the task.

Ansari informed that the schools, to be named after Maulana Azad, will be opened in various cities across India on the lines of Kendriya Vidyalayas. Besides this, the 5 planned universities will work on the lines of modern institutes, providing all modern courses. This will go a long way in providing quality education and technical expertise to youth belonging to the Minority communities, informed Ansari.

Informing about the latest developments, Shakir Ansari said Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi is taking keen interest both in the development of Schools and Universities and looks eager to roll out the projects at the earliest possible.

Ansari also lauded the efforts of the Ministry’s attempt to provide skill development training in the Madrasas. “On the initiative of Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the Ministry is trying to rope in Madrasas under the Prime Minister’s Skill Development Program and in this regard a meeting was held recently with heads of various Madrasas,” said Ansari. Once this laudable scheme, which is the brainchild of PM Narendra Modi, is implemented in the Madarsas it will go a long way in bringing the youth from minority community in contention for mainstream jobs.

Such people-friendly schemes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi are getting good response from the public at large and this could be seen in the recent wins of the party in Maharashtra, UP, Uttarakhand and other states, Ansari added.

RNI (Real News Intl.) News




Petition to Election Commissioner for action against RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat

A petition has been sent to the Election Commission of India for taking immediate action against RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat for his allegedly communal speech at Hindu Sammelan at Betul in Madhya Pradesh, prior to the polls in Uttar Pradesh, terming it as violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

The petitioner Shehzad Poonawalla has urged the Election Commission of India to take immediate action against “an extremely communal set of remarks, violative of the Model Code of Conduct and the recent verdict by Supreme Court that prohibits using religion to garner votes.” He has further aid that such “offensive remarks, brimming with vitriol, were made by him in Betul Madhya Pradesh but were broadcasted all over the country including Uttar Pradesh, which will see elections soon.

Citing an Indian Express article headlined ‘Everyone living in India is Hindu says RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’, Poonawalla has claimed that in the past, whenever elections have taken place in Uttar Pradesh such statements have been made by leaders of the Sangh Parivar. The same petitioner had filed complaints earlier against alleged communal statements by Sakshi Maharaj and Parvesh Verma of BJP. Consequently, notice was issued to Sakshi Maharaj and he was censured by the EC. Suresh Rana too was booked for his hate speech after his complaint, claims the petitioner.

Poonawalla says that such statements “may seem innocuous on being read without context. But the audience and the location at which these remarks have been made, reveal the sinister design of Mr. Mohan Bhagwat.”

Poonawalla claims that this was not a one-off remark made by Mohan Bhagwat. There have been a series of remarks that have been made by various leaders of BJP and Sangh Parivar that show a deliberate attempt on their part to vitiate the atmosphere prior to the elections of Uttar Pradesh in 2017. These statements only aim to polarize the electorate along communal lines and have no basis in facts. “Everyone living in India is not a Hindu – we are a multi-cultural and plural nation where people from all faiths and creeds reside,” says he.

Further claiming that such scripted choreography has taken place before in Bihar too during elections, Poonawalla is of view that although the statement was not made in UP, it is being broadcasted in Up through social and mainstream media and “is an invitation for likes of Mr. Owaisi (known for his communal politics) to spew communal venom.” Given that elections are a very serious affair, the implications of such statements on maintenance of law and order and ensuring free and fair elections can be adverse.

The petitioner has prayed to the ECI to “direct the prohibition of Mohan Bhagwat from campaigning or addressing gatherings in Uttar Pradesh till end of assembly elections,” and “take necessary steps against the Bhartiya Janata Party and Sangh Parivar for communal remarks made by Suresh Rana, Sakshi Maharaj, Parvesh Verma and now Mohan Bhagwat in just the last few days, as it is violative of various provisions of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 and the Model Code of Conduct.

RNI news agency

 




UP Elections 2017 and BJP’s divisive agenda

The forthcoming UP Assembly Elections (2017) are regarded as very crucial for all the political parties and more so for the future of secularism and democracy in the country. BJP’s rise on the national scene began at a higher pitch with Ram Temple agitation and the consequent rise in communal violence. Since then it has been adding more divisive issues and with greater vehemence to reap electoral benefits.

Even before the elections in UP were declared many a BJP leaders had been raising issues like Ram Temple, Love Jihad and exodus of Hindus from Kairana. In Gujarat Modi during the Gujarat carnage used the infamous “action-reaction” theory and the statement that refugee camps have become the “child production centers” and so should be closed down. In due course to give a neutral cover to the underlying communal agenda he did shift to the “development agenda”, which was more of an eye wash. Along with the media blitz and a clever publicity he tried to sell his image of “development man” and took the policies to woo the Corporate World. But the slip always kept showing. Even during the creation of euphoria of “Acche Din” during 2014 General elections, he kept on raising the issues of Pink revolution (relating to beef) and Bangladeshi immigrants in the context of saving Rhinos in Assam.

His associates did keep talking of issues related to Hindutva agenda like Ram Temple, Triple Talaq, Article 370 at the same time. The propaganda of development and communal message carried the day for BJP during 2014 elections as it managed to get simple majority on its own in Lok Sabha. Now Election Commission has censured BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj for his remarks where he blames Muslims for the rise in population.

Currently in UP elections; the attempt is on to sell “national pride”, in the form of surgical strike on Pakistan and demonetization as a measure to root out black money. It seems both these have floundered in public image
as by now it is well known that surgical strike was followed by the killings of Indian soldiers in large numbers. The pangs of demonetization for the average people are too severe to make them forget their post demonetization suffering to be able to support the move. Sensing this; this party has stepped up on the divisive propaganda. The BJP manifesto delineates this in a very clever manner. It invokes Hindu pride it talks of ushering in “Sampooran Hindu samaj” (Total Hindu society) The Ram Temple issue finds its place. The critics say that Ram Temple issue is a permanent treasure for BJP to consolidate its vote bank as and when needed. Since Babri demolition, this issue has been finding mention in all BJP utterances, knowing full well that the matter is lying in the Supreme Court.

Now new dimensions have been added to the armamentarium by various leaders of BJP. Clearly Modi will underplay communal issues or present them in a subtle way while his colleagues down the line are more involved in these
utterances in a direct and forthright manner. The issue of Hindu exodus from Kairana was raised by BJP M.P. Hukum Singh a while ago. Now another BJP MP Yogi Adityanath has made it more frightening by saying that whole of Western UP is being converted into Kashmir, and Hindus are being terrorized and are being made to flee the area. As a matter of fact the issue is that post Muzaffarnagar violence thousands of Muslims were forced to leave their
villages. Hukum Singh’s assertion of Hindu exodus from Kairana was proved to be more of make-believe as from his list of families which had supposed to leave the village, many of them were right there and some had left for
social and economic reasons. Now BJP manifesto is talking about White paper on the issue.

The Muzzafarnagar riots were instigated around the issue of love jihad, now the BJP manifesto is talking of creating “Anti Romeo squads”, which is a hidden message against inter-religious marriages, the love jihad issue being projected in a newer language. Beef has been the major polarizing point for BJP, now after Dadri incident they have reaped a rich crop of polarization around this issue and manifesto is promising to close down mechanized abattoirs The BJP’s double standards about gender justice are frighteningly obvious. While it is very concerned about the issue of Triple Talaq for Muslim women, it is quiet about the atrocities faced by dalit, tribal and Hindu women. Clearly raising the issue of triple talaq has nothing to do with justice for BJP; it is a stick to beat minorities with, notwithstanding the fact that Muslim women do require the abolition of practices like this which are retarding their social progress.

Sangeet Som, BJP MLA, had recently circulated the video of his post Dadri speech. An FIR was registered against him for violating the law and the code of conduct for violating the poll code. Similarly another BJP MLA Suresh Rana has been booked on charges of inciting hatred after he said that curfew will be imposed in Kairana, Deoband and Moradabad if he is elected again in assembly polls next month. Yogi Adiyanath has stated that voters should remember riots and rapes before casting their votes.

These are few from the numerous incidents from the speeches of this outfit, whose core electoral strategy has been to polarize along religious lines. Through its machinations it has been adding issue after issue to the earlier existing issues like Ram Temple and article 370. Today it has a large set of such issues which are spelt out by different leaders. Another aspect of this propaganda is that there is also a division of labor among these leaders. While some try to play development card, some present communal agenda in a concealed language others are blunt and direct in
inciting the communal Hate. The Supreme Court has opined that Electoral process should be a secular activity, we need to remind ourselves of that and Election Commission needs to exercise the restrain in a more effective
way.

Ram Puniyani




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