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RAJ REVISITED OR DISTORTED
By Rakesh Mathur

National Army Museum at the Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London sees the opening of an important exhibition called, 'Soldiers of the Raj' from 15 August 1997 which will last next 18 months or so. Through colourful displays of paintings, uniforms, medals, weapons and documents, this exhibition tells the story of one of the largest armies in the world.

Soldiers of the Raj kept the British Empire going from the 17th century to the independence in 1947. It was interesting to learn that no British money was used to keep this force going. It was from the local Indian revenues, that the British could enlarge their empire in India and elsewhere.

If one is looking at the social history of the Soldiers, there are wonderful displays such as mobile 'daftar' (office), a piece of furniture where bureaucratic papers could be organised in a Secretariat chest of drawers. It was a kind of filofax of those ancient romantic days. One can also find dresses which were inspired by the local Maratha costumes, perfect for the Indian scorching sun. But if someone wants to learn about the history, this exhibition starts to create lots of problems. The director who seems to be a kind man gave free hand to the organisers with the remit that 'the exhibition should not upset anyone'. This resulted in a series of problems. Important events such Jalianwala Bagh massacre in which thousands of innocent Punjabis were killed and injured by the Soldiers of the Raj did not deserve any mention in the exhibits. The First Freedom Struggle of India which happened in 1856 is mentioned as 'mutiny'. This event started the ominous British Empire. The ruthlessness of the Soldiers of the Raj is shown through a water colour drawn by Orlando None. The picture depicts a couple of mutineers who were about to be blown from guns by the Bengal Horse Artillery 1858. In the catalogue, a more gruesome picture is reproduced in which the mutineers brains are blown off by the soldiers of the Raj. The caption in defending the action of the British soldiers says that it was a Moghal tradition which these soldiers were following. It is an excuse which come very handy when the British wish to defend their role in their colonies. One pertinent example is that of Bengal famine which had more catastrophic effect than the potato famine in Ireland with the death of over two million people.

At the opening of the exhibition, when the protest was made by some Indians, the organisers promised to revise the some of the misleading captions. Overall, in the true army traditions, this exhibition is very successful in furthering a soldier's maxim: 'Truth is too precious to tell every fool who asks for it.'

'Soldiers of the Raj' Exhibition. National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London SW3 4HT, Tel: 0171 730 0717. From 15th August 1997 daily from 10.00 am to 5.30pm. Admission Free.


DANCE WITH A DIFFERENCE

By Rakesh Mathur
The evening of July 23 saw the launch of 'Akademi', an organisation to promote contemporary dance and high quality dance training in London. It is the result of Mira Misra Kaushik, the Director of 'Akademi' who reshaped the old Academy of Indian Dances. Everything she had done for the re-incarnation of this organisation has been of a very high quality of her administrative skills. The high quality of dance was demonstrated in the invocation pieces of Bharata Natyam, presented by Anusha Subramanyam welcoming the guests.
For the launch party, we were taken aboard The Royal Princess boat at the Festival Pier in South side of the Thames, where we were treated with oriental perfumes before assembling for the finger buffet of exotic 'samosas', 'pakoras', 'kebabs' and 'fish' delicacies, provided by G.K. Noon. the boat then left upstream towards Westminster and Pimlico and made a U-turn opposite the Offices of the British Secret Service at the Vauxhall Bridge.
Though there were few speeches, most of the conversations centred around few illuminaries who were aboard. Some old faces, such as Janet Eager of the Place Theatre, Richard Alston, former director of Ballet Rambert were exchanging ideas with the newcomers of the dance world. During this leisurely sailing at the River Thames, we learnt that the newly formed 'Akademi' will create opportunities for research and advocacy for dance; will make use of the dance as a resource for learning and a tool for personal development; it will make South Asian dance accessible and relevant by creating innovative projects, demystify it, confront prejudices and challenge preconceptions.
The most important activity of 'Akademi' seems to be celebrating the experience of moving, in classical, folk, popular and commercial dance forms. This way, 'Akademi' will contribute to the enhancement of the quality of life in London.They are also starting a new scheme which will encourage friendship with the 'Akademi'. 'Akademi' seems to be London's newest secret garden in the world of dance.


FIRST BRITISH CITIZEN IN INDIA GETS THE KNIGHTHOOD

Sir David Gore-Booth, British High Commissioner to India is receiving the most distinguished order of Saint Michael and Saint George during an investiture which takes place at the Buckingham Palace on 16th July 1997. With a couple of touches on his either shoulders, he receives the Honour of Kinghthood and to be a Knight Commander.

In the same ceremony there are names which represent the Indian subcontinent. Miss Kamlesh Bahl, the big boss of the Equality Commission gets the most excellent order of the British Empire, Mrs Indira Batra receives the MBE and Major Udaibahadur Gurung of The Royal Gurkha Rifles becomes MBE for his services for the military.

Sir David Gore-Booth, who is in London at the moment not only to receive this honour but also to prepare for the Queen's forthcoming visit to India told us in an exclusive interview, "India is a valuable partner to Britain and we will see more and more of British investment in India." The Queen's visit to India will coincide with the opening of a major trade exhibition 'Towards 2000' to be held in Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.

"The Queen is expected to arrive in New Delhi on 12th October and leave India on 18th. She will divide her time between the North and South India. In New Delhi, the Queen will stay at the Rashtrapati Bhawan," Sir David Gore Booth further explained. The Queen will be accompanied by a large trade and political delegation from Britain and the relationship between the coutries is expected to get still stronger after this visit.


CARDIFF TO HOST A MELA FROM THE SUBCONTINENT

For the first time in the Welsh history of 150 years, people of their origins in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan will come together to celebrate their cultural heritage. On 9th August between 12noon and 11 pm, Cardiff International Arena will host a wide range of activities from shops to cultural programmes, from educational exhibitions to networking. This event will showcase the cultural heritage from the subcontinent in a unique way. The artists coming from the subcontinent will perform alongside artists from Wales and England. Famous names such as Kuljit Bhamra, Sangeeta, Safri Boyz and well known composer Nitin Sawhney have already confirmed their participation in this maiden event.

In an exclusive interview, Annand Jasani, the leading organiser and a broadcaster with the BBC radio programme: 'Voice for All' said that the origin of this Mela comes from our tradition of inviting your friends and guests to exchange and share goodwill. It is done through the cuisine, music, dance and other niceties. For 150 years, when Cardiff was a major British port for exporting coal and steel to the subcontinent, Indians have settled here and took pride in their cultural heritage.

"The celtic culture of Wales and our Indian culture have lots of similarities. Both of us like to entertain friends and guests with the best of our efforts. So far, it was done by small organisations in a small manner, now, all the active organisations have come together to streamline these efforts to create Unity97. For further information on Unity 97, Cardiff, one can get in touch with Annad Jasani on Tel: 01222 706 008 or contact Media Moguls on eMail: mediamad1@aol.com


Circle of Light

A new harrowing book by Kiranjit Ahluwalia, published by Harper Collins, price 7.99 Kiranjit Ahluwalia's story is harrowing and shocking, but ultimately triumphant. It is a story of survival and hope in the face of almost insurmountable obstacles. Born into a privileged family in rural India, Kiranjit came to England in 1979, to be married to a man she had met only once. The next ten years were to be a nightmare of a constant physical, sexual and mental abuse at the hands of her violent, drunken husband. In 1989, driven beyond endurance, she killed the man who had made her life a misery. At her trial - the proceedings of which she barely understood - she was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder.

While she was in prison, Kiranjit's plight attracted much attention and public sympathy, and a nation-wide campaign was organised with the aim of securing her a retrial. In the event, the prosecution withdrew its case, and in 1992, Kiranjit was released, amid scenes of rejoicing by her supporters. A unique first-hand account of one of the most controversial cases, and one of the most troubling issues of recent years. A moving human interest story, illuminating areas of British life - particularly among Asian communities - which until now have received little attention.

Kiranjit's case brought her to international attention. After her release she met the Princess of Wales, who urged her to write a book about her experiences. She is currently helping other women who have suffered abusive relationships. A must read for anyone who wish to understand the domestic lives of some Asians in this country. The book will be available from mid-June in all major bookshops around Britain.


GALLERY WEEK 19-27 JULY.
TAKE YOUR KIDS ALONG TO THE ROYAL ACADEMY SUMMER EXHIBITION.

As part of a nationwide campaign to encourage visits to galleries and museums, the Royal Academy of Arts has organised a series of events for those 12 years and under. Gallery Week will focus around the Summer Exhibition. All children under 8 years who visit the Royal Academy during Gallery Week will be given a free gift a free gift of colouring pad and crayons. A printed sheet suggesting ways of exploring the works will be given to visitors for 8-12 year-olds. The groups set off from Gallery 1 at 11.30 am each day and children will need to be accompanied by an adult. The restaurant and Courtyard Cafe will be offering a special children's menu throughout the week.

The Summer Exhibition, the largest contemporary art exhibition in the world, has been held every year since 1769. It provides an opportunity to see work by internationally acclaimed artist alongside work by those who are less well-known. Many of the works in the exhibition are for sale. In a new departure, the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts will remain open until 8.30 pm every Sunday evening during the month of July. Live music will be played in the courtyard where large outdoor sculptures will be on display this year. Over 120,000 people visit the Summer Exhibition each year to view some of the best contemporary painting, sculpture, prints and architectural designs. The exhibition not only provides a visual feast but also an opportunity for the public to buy. Over 2,900 works were sold last year with an average selling price of 400. The show helps to support artists through the sale of their work and also provides many prizes with over 70,000 offered in various categories.

Royal Academy of Arts
Piccadilly, London W1V ODS
Tel: 0171 494 5615
SUMMER EXHIBITION Hours of opening everyday: 10am -6pm. In July until 8.30pm on Sundays. Admission: 5.00 (full), 4.00 (concessions), 2.50 (12 to 18 years) and 1.00 (8-11years). Tickets can be booked in adviance on 0171 494 5676 or from First Call 0171 420 0000

It will be interested to have reactions of the people whether this exhibition was worth their effort or not. What work of art made their day or which one appealed to their children most.


SOHO SPICE TINGLES
By Rakesh Mathur

This week I wanted to have a real good Indian meal in an exceptionally go= od restaurant. From my experience, I knew that in Central London, there are= very few Indian restaurants who take authenticity and innovation seriousl= y and not many of them tend to cater various rich Indian cooking traditions= of the past centuries.
To my amazement, I found newly opened restaurant, 'Soho Spice' in Wardour= Street rather a delightful exception to my experience. = 'Soho Spice' has the cuisine, developed in the royal palaces of India, it= has an ambience which caresses your senses; it has Indian colours: magenta, pink, blue to sooth your perception and it has subtle smells of= aromatic spices to give a sensuous enravishment feeling. = The first impression to be landed in an uplifting interiors done by renowned Fitch Design Consultants Ltd. was good enough to whet my appetit= e for something more than extraordinary. Astoundingly, I was given a rare privilege of having my meal in the company of the Executive Chef Kuldeep= Singh who explained all the subtle nuances of what I was going to eat and= what went behind the scene. 'Soho Spice' restuarant has a policy of changing its 'a la carte' menu with regular frequency and to offer a 'Cuisine of the Month' menu featuri= ng specialities from one of the Subcontinent's regional cuisine. =
The month of June sees the introduction of cuisine from the palaces of Rajasthan. = We started our first course with 'Sula Salmon' which is fresh salmon in = a classic marinade of crushed black pepper, ginger and garlic. It is delicately smoked in the tandoor, the traditional clay oven. = For vegetarians, the choice is of Besan Chila, a gram flour pancake smothered with finely chopped fresh coriander, ginger and green chilli, served with lemon and a hot garlic and chilli dip. Alternatively one can have a tomato and fennel based dip too. Both these dips are sprinkled wit= h coriander leaves. An absolute gusto. The salad consisted of radishes, lettuce and various subtle spices and herbs which remain too good to be described in words. The main course was 'Bater Ajmeri'. 'Bater' is a quail, flavoured in a spicy garlic and lemon marinade and cooked in the tandoor. This dish can= be substituted by 'Jungli Maas' which is a barbecued assortmnet of lamb pieces, cooked in clarified butter and flavoured with fresh herbs. Normally this preparation was preferred by the nobilities in the past wh= en they went out on hunting in forests of Rajasthan.
For the benefit of vegetarians, Kuldeep Singh has introduced 'daals' prepared with black-eyed beans with simple herb flavours. This will be mu= ch appreciated by the vegans equally. The last course was a royal delicacy: 'Shahi Turka.' It is a sliced bread= which was fried golden brown and simmered in saffron-flavoured, sweetened= milk and garnished with pistachios. At home, we call it 'rabdi' but in palaces, it becomes 'shahi.' For drinks, there is a large choice available. Good vintage wines to Indi= an bears for everyone's taste. But Kuldeep Singh recommends his exquisite cocktails such as 'Go-Man-Go' which he tells, is an exotic mango juice shaken with gin and Bacardi. It is crowned with cinnamon House brandy. For the more adventurous, 'Bollywood Buzz' has lots of tinsel colours and= exquisite tastes of apricot brandy with sweet vermouth, spiced with ginge= r and topped with ginger ale. The 'Soho Spicer' is a blend of cumin, ginger, black pepper and fresh lem= on juice with vodka on the rocks.
Kuldeep, before coming to England was well known in the Taj Group of Hote= ls in India for his repertoire of the cuisine from North West Frontier, Rajasthan, Hyderabad, Kerala and the Malabar Coast. He was also running a= think-tank 'Indian Culinary Forum' for the Indian chefs in New Delhi to help attain the same reputation for the Indian cuisine internationally = as the french cuisine has enjoyed for ages. The owner of 'Soho Spice' is Amin Ali, who is known as a 'visionary' in Soho circle of restaurateurs. He wants to educate his customers about the= spices, herbs and regional cuisine of India. At the end of meal, in the restaurant, each customer gets small pack of cards descibing values of each Indian spice. = In the near future, Amin Ali and Kuldeep Singh want to establish an 'Academy of Indian Cuisine' where chefs can be trained in the finest art = of the traditional ways of cooking. Gone are the days when marketing terms such as 'Balti' or 'Karahi' cooking were devised in the name of innovatio= n. After the emergence of restaurants such as 'Soho Spice', it is time for reaching out for the authenticity and traditions at affordable prices.
FACTS: Soho Spice, 124-126 Wardour Street, Soho, London W1V 3LA. = Tel: 0171 434 0808 Fax: 0171 434 0799. Open six days a week for breakfast between 7.30am and 9.30 am; for lunch between 11.30am to 3.00pm; for mini meals between 3.30pm and 5.30pm and f= or dinner from 6.00pm to midnight. There are plans to keep the basement bar open until 3pm.
Average price: Breakfast Buffet: =A35.95. Cuisine of the month menu (3 course meal) =A314.95 A la carte menu average: =A312.50 per person. All major credit cards are accepted. Nearest Car Park is NCP Wardour Stre= et and the nearest tube station is Tottnham Court Road or Leicester Square.


Krishna, the divine lover exhibition

A Divine Lover at prominent London Art Gallery By Rakesh Mathur

A new exhibition of miniature paintings from the collection of V&A Museum, India Office Library and private collections has just opened at the Whitechapel Gallery which depicts the Indian Divine Lover Krishna in all his pranks and glories.
Krishna, the legendary Hindu god, has been the subject of song, dance and poetry for centuries, but it is perhaps through painting that he is celebrated most exuberantly. Marking the fiftieth anniversary of Indian and Pakistan Independence, this extra-ordinary exhibition delves into the mythology surrounding Krishna.
It draws together around 100 exquisite miniatures from the 16th to 19th centuries. The exhibition also features new or previously unseen work by some notable contemporary artists.
The exhibition has been put together by painter and novelist Balraj Khanna, who has been engaged in an ongoing campaign to return Indian heritage back to India. Because of his angry but patriotic campaign, much of this work which was never displayed has come out from the hidden vaults for the benefit of discerning audience in the country.
The exhibition can be seen at Whitechapel Gallery, from 30 May to 27 July; at Huddersfield Art Gallery from 30 August to 12 October; at City Museum and Mappin Gallery at Sheffield from 25 October to 30 November and then finally from 13 December to 25 January 1998 at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery. Much of these pictures can also be viewed on the Hayward Gallery website:www.hayward-gallery.org.uk


Prince to attend Celebrations

To mark the 50th anniversary of the independence of India and Pakistan, Asia House will host a major banquet at the Royal Albert Hall on Thursday, 10th July 1997 at which Prince Charles will be the Guest of Honour.

This event is being organised in association with the Indian, Pakistani and British communities, and will also include the participation of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Support of all kinds have arrived from various committees in India and Pakistan to make this event possible.

 

The celebration will be colourful, musical and full of festivities. There is a spectacular entertainment planned with the participation of Ravi Shankar Trio, Sabri brothers, distinguished Bharatnatyam dancer Alarmel Valli as well as musicians from Rajasthan. The evening will end with Najma Akhtar singing popular songs, and the Bhangra group Alaap, performing Punjabi folk songs and dancing.

 

Guests will include Ministers and other senior British politicians, High Commissioners, prominent Asian and Business leaders, representatives of various organisations involved in Asia, and members of South Asian and British communities. This event has been signalled as one of the principal celebrations of this historic year in the UK.

 

The organisers Asia House is established to forge close relations between Britain and the countries of Asia by creating a centre in the heart of London for Asian cultural activities and high-level business contacts. Asia House will present a vibrant and varied programme of meetings, art exhibitions, music, dance and film.


indweb
 

Independence on the net

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With the support of the British Council, a new web site has been created. According to Mrs Rachel Abedi, Consultant, India and Pakistan Anniversary Project, Visiting Arts, "more than 300 hundred events taking place in the UK are listed in the scrolls of web pages."

The focus of Visiting Arts is usually on foreign arts in Britain. However, the India & Pakistan anniversary Project will include British hosts, performers and interested organisations as well as those visiting from India and Pakistan. Although the majority of events will be arts related, the Project is also concerned with events in other fields, such as business and education.

 

The India & Pakistan Anniversary Project is the only initiative in Britain providing information on such a wide range of anniversary events. As such, it will be invaluable to those planning, attending or reviewing events.

 

Events will include performances of dance, drama and music, exhibitions, seminars, business initiatives, schools projects and documentaries, to name but a few. The one thing that all those events have in common is a connection with India or Pakistan.

These lists can be seen on the following web site:

http://www.britcoun.org/visitingarts/indpak1997

 

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50th Anniversary of the Independence of India and Pakistan
By Rakesh Mathur

In a press conference, held at the House of Lords in London, The Lord Privy Seal, The Viscount Cranborne announced British Government's plans to celebrate the independence of India and Pakistan. He said that The Queen has been asked to visit India and Pakistan in October. The Prime Minister's visit to these countries was a great success. The Lord Mayor will be visiting India and Pakistan in March and his visit will coincide with the Royal Yacht's.

Lord Cranborne elaborated further, "the British Government wishes to commemorate these great events in the UK as well. Many from the sub-continent have come to settle here - some of them via other places like Uganda, Trinidad and Guyana. They have greatly enriched our national life. Many have found this country a land of opportunity and have reminded us of the value of enterprise. Asians own 65% of all independently owned shops nationally. Asian restaurants have been an established feature of the UK for many years now, and are part of the fabric of everyone's lives. Sales of Asian food amont to around L285 million, involving upto 6,000 outlets. Two million adults visit an Indian restaurant every week and 33 pence in every pound spent on eating out is spent in an Indian restaurant"

The press conference coincided with the launch of Gtovernment's organisation: 'Old Friends/Modern Partners'. Lord Cranborne talked about the objective of this launch: The programme of events represents a way in which we can all mark an important moment in the history of relations between this country and the countries of South Asia, recognising past connections whilst also looking to the future. In particular, it allows us to pay tribute to the enormous contribution made by the peoples of the sub-continent to British life."

Further details and previews of these events will be transmitted in these columns throughout the year. For further enquiries, contact Rakesh Mathur on 100700.513@compuserve.com


Rakesh Mathur is a producer and journalist, internationally based, whose career spans various continents, cultures, and medias. He has been based in France, England, Germany, and India and has contributed to television, documentary films, print, and radio. His most recent work includes AIM HIGH & A STITCH IN TIME (documentary films), publications in PARIS MATCH, and presentations on BBC radio and television.

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. He is availaible for free lance work For more details, contact Rakesh on 100700.513@compuserve.com