See also Rakesh Mathur's Home Page
Rakesh Mathur has written the following books - The Movie ; Chapters on Indian Cinema ; La Cuisene Indienne and Ray at 70 - a homage
He is highly motivated with substantial international experience in T.V., press journalism, and broadcasting. He is multi-lingual and feels at home in all cultures. Further, he is very well versed in information technology. For more details, contact Rakesh on email@example.com
Rohinton Mistry, whose first novel, Such a Long Journey, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, is an acknowledged masgter story-teller of contemporary India. In his new novel, A Fine Balance, set in the mid-1970's, he weaves together a subtle and compelling narrative about four unlikely characters who come together soon after the government declares a 'State of Emergency'.
In the tiny flat of the widowed Dina Dalal, Ishvar and Omprakash Darji, tailors who have been forced from their village into the city, and Maneck Kohlah, a young student from a hill station near the Himalayas, are painfully constructing new lives which become entwined in circumstances no one could have foreseen.
The narrative arcs back in time to follow the separate stories of these four individuals - their beginnings, and the places they left behind. In the course of their struggle to survive, they encounter an unforgettable community of characters.
Among them: Nusswan, Dina's tyrannical yet well-meaning older brothers; Rajaram, the hair-collector turned Family planning Motivator, a proofreader who weeps copiously due to an allergy to printing ink; Beggarmaster, wheeling and dealing in human lives; and Sergeant Kesar, head of the City Beautification Squad.
A Fine Balance is a breathtaking achievement: panoramic yet humane, intensely political yet rich with local detail; and above all, compulsively readable. It is the work of a contemporary novelist at the height of his powers.
Rohinton Mistry was born in Bombay in 1952 and has lived in Canada since 1975. He first worked in a bank after getting critical success for his collection of short stories, Tales From Firozsha Baag, he worte the novel Such a Long Journey. Rohinton has received several awards including Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book, the Governor General's Award and WH Smith/Books in Canada.
BBC World, the international 24 hour news and information channel, moves to the PanAmSat 4 satellite to cover the Middle East and South Asia from Monday April 1, 1996. The new stronger signal centres on an area from Egypt in the west to Bangladesh in the east; From Tazakistan in the North to Sri Lanka and Maldives in the South. Test transmissions have already begun today, 15 March 1996.
BBC Worldwide Television has agreed a long term lease of a PAS 4 transponder on the Middle East/South Asia beam. BBC World will continue to be made available as a free air analogue signal and advertising will continue to be the channel's main source of income in the region.
BBC World is currently available to 105 million people at 43 million homes and offers enormous business opportunities. "This is a landmark in the BBC's commercial development," said Richard Emery, managing director of BBC Worldwide Television. "Our investment in the PAS 4 transponder reinforces our confidence in the quality and importance of BBC World and our commitment to providing viewers with access to the BBC's independent journalism and quality factual programmes, " Emery added.
In its first week, special programmes on the BBC World will look at the diverse economies of Asia. On 6 April, Assignment programme will asses how the Asian hemisphere is giving the West a run for its money. Not only is the region benefitting from an economic miracle but, Asian leaders claim, they have created a better way of life for their people. Assignment reports that where the West has failed, the East has succeeded.
Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir tells Assignment's Julian Pettifer that the West is being destroyed by its obesession with liberal personal freedoms and its fanatical adherence to democracy. He believes that the West will eventually accept Asian values as being the way forward.
In another programme to be telecast on 5 April, Mark Tully takes a journey from Karachi to Rohri, Lanore, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and the Khyber Pass and represents extraordinary ingenuity on the part of the 19th-century engineers who built a line across the desert at a rate of a mile a day.
In addition to a wide range of feature programmes, there will be regular news features such as World Business Report. It is a dynamic business and economic update, each weekday. Aimed at the viewer with a business interest, the report brings depth and interpretation to the latest business and market news. World Business Report looks at how the world's leading companies are operating, and presents regional news about how the economies of different countries are changing. In addition, there are topical economic news features from the world's leading financial centres and live interviews with leading commentators and executives.
All these programmes will be in English and in addition to already running Arabic language service which started in June 94 for the Middle East and North African countries. This service is funded by Orbit Communications. The main source of income for this service is from subscription rather than advertising. But with the emergence of BBC World, the commercial nature of the BBC Worlwide Television is bound to change.
First UK Festival of the arts from India's southern states is to begin in London on 23 May. The events and exhibitions encompass the visual arts, film, dance, theatre, music, crafts and cuisine. Many of the artists, virtuosos in their individual fields are going to perform in the UK for the first time.
The Festival of India's South, presented by World Circuit Arts, is a special collaboration by some of London's most prestigious arts venues and focuses on the rich and varied arts from the four southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The Festival's key events take place in London with touring arranged to UK cities by selected companies.
The Festival will be launched to the public with a four day free extravaganza in Central London's prestigious Covent Garden's Piazza. From 23-26 May, there will be performances of electrifying folk dance, music and theatre, on a colourfully decorated stage. Adjacent will be a specially designated marquee, sumptuously decorated in the rich colours and fabrics of the south, which offers an insight into the region through exhibition displays and information panels, as well as giving further information on Festival events. The marquee is sponsored by the Taj Group, the largest and finest chain of hotels in India with a spread of 45 hotels and 8000 rooms in 25 destinations.
Highlights of the Festival include: Theyam, Yakshagana, Poikkal Kudhirai and Kathakali. South Indian Film poster artists will be painting their giant advertisement hoardings at the South Bank in May to herald a film season at the National Film Theatre, celebrating the busiest film industry in the world.
The British Museum mounts a special exhibition from its collections of painting and sculpture from southern India. Contemporary visual arts, and exquisite Tanjore paintings at Kapil Jariwala gallery as well as crafts at Joss Graham will be on sale during the festival. The Queen Elizabeth Hall is the setting for distinguished classical musicians, and another chance to catch India's ancient temple dance Bharatnatyam by Alarmel Valli.
Those interested in details may contact us on e-mail number: firstname.lastname@example.org
Recent visit of Prince Wales to North London based Swaminarayan Temple was seen as spiritually satisfying in face of his turbulent domestic light. He was unusually late for his appointment and we learnt that it was due to Princess Diana's announcement of divorcing him that evening.
Prince Charles looked composed and looked at the carvings of the temple with utmost interest. He even made offerings to the statues of Lord Shiva and Parvati, performed aarti and asked probing questions on Hinduism. Mahant Shri Atmaswarup Swami of the Swaminarayan temple was succint and gave concise answers.
Later Mahant spoke of role of Swaminarayan Fellowship which has sought to keep alive the dual ideal of deep devotion to the divine and duty to the rest of society. Shri Atamaswarup Swami elaborated that the Hindus in Britain have always had the double challenge of facilitating assimilation into the cultural and social life of the host community while at the same time preserved the highest ideals and ethical standards which are the essential tenets of Hinduism.
Prince Charles who replied with Namaste and Hare Krishna, applauded the temple for its breathtaking craftsmanship and attention to detail. He said: "This temple is a noble addition to London which makes us proud."
Prince Charles spoke the values of Vasudheva Kutumbkam (The world is a family) and cited Shanti Mantra.
Later, when Dr L.M. Singhvi, the Indian High Commissioner to the UK and S.P. Hinduja delivered their lectures, Prince Charles was seen totally absorbed in his thoughts and kept on encircling his wedding ring around his finger.
JAISALMER IN JEOPARDY
The jewel - like fortified city of Jaisalmer, in the desert of Rajasthan, is on the verge of collapse. The 12th century infrastructure cannot withstand the effects of increasing tourism and population.
Sue Carpenter, a British journalist, has set up the charity Jaisalmer in Jeopardy to raise awareness and funds for urgent restoration work. In India, a sister organisation, Jaisalmer Heritage Trust, has been created to oversee conservation and development of the city.
corporate or individual sponsors are urgently needed to back one or more projects, such as the restoration of the 16th century Maharani's Palace. If any of the readers have any ideas, can help, or need more information, contact Sue Carpenter, London UK on +44 171 460 8592 or send an e-mail to Rakesh Mathur on email@example.com
The Commission for Racial Equality, London has begun a series of consultation meetings on the issue of religious discrimination. A first meeting with representatives of various faith communities was held this week in London. Other meetings will be held at national, regional and local levels in the United Kingdom.
The consultation is part of a programme of work the CRE is undertaking in line with its duty to promote good race relations. A primary part of the work is the gathering of factual evidence and an examination of the experiences of other countries.
In this, the CRE will link its work with that of a Church of England working party and the Department of the Environment's Inner Cities Religious Council.
CRE Commissioner Dr Zaka Khan commented: "In this debate, we look forward to working with all who share our vision of a just society for everyone."
SCIENCE IN ACTION IN LONDON BETWEEN MARCH 18 -22, 1996.
Space travel, earthquakes, and war games will be just some of the events taking place in the Department of Trade and Industry's Victoria Street basement from March 18th - coupled with a unique launch - in what is part of Britain's third and biggest national festival of Science, Engineering and Technology (SET).
The launch of the DTI events sees a bid to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest production ever of 3-D graphics - for the signage announcing the DTI's contribution to SET 96. An internet cafe with worldwide links and a national Internet radio interview will signal the start to a science celebration with over a thousand different events across the country - and everyone can get involved.
The week will have a shattering effect on everyone involved - quite literally as throughout the week earthquake scenarios performed by graduates from Floating Point Science Theatre will show young people the effects of global disaster - such as earthquakes.
The Innovation War Game forces teams to challenge their assumptions about players - journalists, academia, technology developers and engineers to name but a few - prepare for the unexpected.
Details of SET96 events are available on the Internet via the DTI site: http://www.dti.gov.uk
In the Breakfast show, the hostess Julie learnt basic hindi expression such as Namaste, nashta, dhanyawaad. Viva! radio is mainly run by women for its mainly women audience. The producer for the weekend programme is Veena Josh, a former BBC producer, who is trying to make this programme multi-cultural.
If any of the UKINDIA readers has new ideas to share with Veena for a talk show, she can be reached on telephone number 0171 298 7253.
Barbican Centre, London will see the first ever trade exhibition of the ethnic minority enterprise on 4 and 5 May 1996. A wide range of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, SriLankan, as well as Afro-Caribbean businesses are booking stalls for this trade show which promises to be rewarding for new as well as established businesses in the United Kingdom.
There will be seminars which will be chaired by eminent Asian politicians such as Keith Vaz MP and Nirj Deva MP. The organiser explained in a press release issued today that "it is important to highlight the achievements of ethnic businesess who are contributing to the diversity of Britain's culture. I also think that it is important for ethnic businesses to network and show off their wares. Finally, the exhibition will give those blue chip companies who made a pledge at the Race for Opportunity Campaign, a chance to do business with the ethnic businesses that exist."
This exhibition and seminar was prompted by the pledge of large blue chip companies such as British Airways, British Telecom and Lloyds Bank to use ethnic suppliers.
For more details, contact: Time Communications on 0171-336 8393 with reference to this internet.
One of the most outstanding lady musicians of India, Joya Biswas left her academic career after being awarded a Government of India cultural scholarship. Privileged to work under Pandit Ravi Shankar for higher studies in music, she soon emerged as a brilliant sitar player, broadcasting, telecasting and performing all over India.
Joya was the first Indian lady sitarist to give concerts in the UK and the continent in 1959, which was followed by concert tours abroad in later years. She has performed in the Russia, Poland, East Germany and Mongolia under the cultural exchange programme of the Government of India and also toured the UK, France and Germany.
She was invited to participate in the festival of India in the Soviet Union and International Music Day on French Television. In 1993, Mother Teresa presented the 'Mahila Navaratna Award' to Joya for her outstanding contribution in the field of music as the first lady of sitar.
Nehru Centre in London has organised an evening with Joya in March. For more details and booking Joya in your city, contact Association Sargam, 52 Peterborough Road, London SW6 3EB U.K. Tel/Fax 0171 731 4153.
TRANSFORMATION OF INDIA
By Rakesh Mathur
India seems to be going through a phase of transformation. Soon elections will be declared and this process will either speed up or breakdown.
At this critical juncture, it is good to hear the old wisemen of India. Dr Karan Singh is one of them who feel passionately about the country. Poet, politician and world-renowned environmentalist, Dr Karan Singh needs no introduction. His forefathers were the rulers of Kashmir and very few people have made sacrifices for the country the way his family did for the independent India.
Dr Karan Singh met this author during one of visits to England few months ago. Excerpts from a conversation:
We need to have a new, creative look at the realities of India. We seem to have lost our collective vision, the vision which Gandhi and Aurobindo had for the country. We now believe in the power of Science and Technology but we must also try the power of our rich cultural linguistic pluralism.
Democracy is nothing without free will of the people. If you get on the slippery slope, then you go down. We do not have enough safety net. It is alright for the private investors to come and play their role in the economy but the government money should be spent on Education, Health and Water supply.
Secularism is very important for our democratic set up. India gave birth to four religions in its territory: Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism. We hosted a number of religions from outside: Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Zarausthra, Bahai, Shintoism, Daoism and so on. Sarva dharma Samman (Respect for All Religions) has always been our major principal. We sustain a global society in our midst in India.
For the communal harmony, I can think of a sher (poem) by Shakeel Badayuni:
Nafrat se na dekho dushman ko! Shayad wo muhabbat kar beithe.
(Don't give an indignant look to your enemy, he may fall in love with you.)
Reservation system in India should be based on the economic needs and not the needs of the caste. The caste system in India has been institutionalised. We have enormous intercaste problem. We are opening up to the West but not to ourselves.