RAKESH MATHUR'S INDIA MONITOR


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Hindujas.Benazir Bhutto.Indian Jewellery exhibition.Rakesh talks to British PM .Sikh Ceremonies.Shaadi ke Baad .Dil Se.


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Hinduja Diwali dazzles the PM
By Rakesh Mathur

This year, Diwali festival became a mainstream event for many British political leaders and celebrities. There were scores of events to celebrate diwali all over England. I went along to some of them.

The most important and sought after event was organised by the Hinduja Foundation at Alexander Palace, inconveniently situated in the North of London. More than three thousands Asians and lovers of the Asian community turned up there. There was a stampede to get food and drink during this occasion.

The guest of honour was Tony Blair and his wife Cherie, clad in an elegant cream salwaar kameez. S.P. Hinduja wanted this end of the century Diwali to be celebrated in an unforgettable way. There was a dark tunnel of hedges under which the guests arrived and they walked towards the tunnel of light and brightness.

The whole decor looked like a bollywood movie set. The guests on stage were showered with colourful paper tinsels. A specially commissioned video of special effects and the computer generated images was shown to illustrate the significance of the Diwali. S.P. Hinduja told me before the celebration that on this occasion he wanted to appeal to the people to bring about changes. "They need to remove mental and cultural barriers."

The Hindujas , who were known for their low profile activities are now suddenly emerging as more transparent and supportive of the community. Many guests wondered why?

According to their press release, the key to success of the Hinduja family in transport, banking and finance, energy, media, international trade, project development and pharmaceuticals is their belief in tolerance and understanding in basic human values.

The Hinduja brothers and the Prime Minister launched a pledged, signed by everyone which stated: "I pledge my enduring support to build tolerance and multi-cultural understanding in the new Millennium"

The Prime Minister said that in modern Britain, "we celebrate our differences, believe that our diversity enriches us and know that we come from different cultures and different faiths and different religions but we share values in common that make us all stronger together."

The Hindujas made sure that they invited representatives of each religion. I talked to the editor of the Muslim News who seemed to enjoy all the ceremonies. Similarly, Liberal Democrat leader and Jeffrey Archer from Tory parties were present on stage to achieve an equilibrium.

Jeffrey Archer also came for another celebration of lights which took place at Whiteley Galleries in Bayswater, London. It was organised by the Asha Foundation. Mrs Zerbanoo Gifford, a Parsee socialite, has founded this organisation in order to streamline much of the charity work in India. The evening was delightful as it also marked lighting up Christamas decorations in the huge Whiteley shopping Complex. Jeffrey Archer who is the sole Tory candidate for the post of London Mayor, told me that he wants to see multicultural London succeed in the world with more opportunities, better transport system and more tolerance.


Benazir Bhutto optimistic about India and Pakistan
By Rakesh Mathur

Benazir Bhutto optimistic about India and Pakistan
By Rakesh Mathur

Earlier today (19th October), we met Benazir Bhutto at the Foreign Press Association who welcomed the recent developments in Pakistan.

I had a feeling that her point of view is very much reconciliatory compared to other spokesperson. She was pleased with the unilateral decision of General Pervez Musharaff to reduce the number of forces on the borders of India.

Benazir seems to have a formula for Kashmir problem. She calls for opening up o f the borders of India and Pakistan and break the wall of confrontation which exists between Kashmir between India and Pakistan. "I would like to see Kashmiri people to move freely in both India and Pakistan."

Benazir told me that the only way mutual confidence between the two countries can be built is through greater economic co-operation and less control on business transactions between the two countries. Political dialogue would follow once mutual understanding is created by greater trade and commerce.

For that matter, Benazir is in favour of having South Asian trade free zone. That is the future Benazir is looking forward to. More than 140 million Pakistanis have to decide what path to choose, either to go the Afghan way and maintain a control on everything including what women are going to dress or to take the path of the 21th century where there is a new order for global networking."Pakistanis have two choices either to accept poverty in the name of religion or to see free movements of goods and new opportunities for wealth creation."

During the current military regime, Benazir said, it is time to analyze and to discuss what kind of future we want for Pakistan. I would like General Musharaff to come out with a plan for fresh elections and give us a date for them. "I am a democrat and I don't like martial law. It is our endeavour to create an atmosphere where new political process can take place. I would like to go back to Pakistan, but in a democratic way, as soon as I can. At the moment, I should not be seen as hampering new efforts for a better future for Pakistan while the military is in power.I hope a date of elctions is called sooner than later in Pakistan."


Dazzling Mughal jewels at Christie's
By Rakesh Mathur

Last night, creme de la creme of the Indians and the lovers of Indian art and jewellery were invited at Christie's auction house at St. James's in London. I found this biggest ever mounted show of the Indian jewellery more than dazzling.

The hall where precious jewels were displayed was covered with elegant Indian tissues in a mughal tent style. What fascinated me most was a collection of diamonds and gold, carved and inlaid in the traditional islamic style.

Pendants were an important accessory to the Mughals. They were used to display their most valuable gems. When the emperor was pleased with a courtier, he would bestow his own pendant on them. This tradition was continued by the Maharajas. In this display at Christie's, I noticed an awe-inspiring early 17th century mughal carved emerald pendant necklace. It weighs 161.20 carats and is beautifully carved with rosettes. The estimate bid for auction is between 60,000 and 80,000 Sterling.

Another noticeable royal necklace on offer is the Champakali, named after the Michelia Champaca flower, an attractive white flower with a sweet scent. In the 18th and 19th centuries, this form of necklace bacame one of the most important royal symbols. It was customary for the Maharajas to own one and was always worn for formal portraits. the ones on offer at Christie are diamond, emeral and pearl Champakali necklace (estimate 220,000 to 280,000 Sterling) and a mid 17th century fine emerald and pearl pendant necklace (estimate 160,000 to 180,000 Sterling).

>From a selection of arm ornaments comes a pair of early 19th century diamond and enamel elephant head kadas estimated at 25,000 to 35,000 Sterling. For those who are looking for less expensive kadas, there are bal kadas in daimond and enamel. The presentations of bangles to a newborn baby was a tradition which originated in Rajasthan, the home of Rajputs. The purpose of bal kadas was to ward off the evil eye and bless the child.

The exhibition also reminded me of some old bygone traditions such as wearing of bazubands (arm bands). This tradition was inherited by the Mughals from their ancestors, the Timurinds. Through the centuries they bacame more and more ornate and were a form of displaying the finest of gems. A superb pair of late 18th century diamond and enamel buzubands is estimated at 120,000 to 150,000 and a pair of 18th century emerald and diamond buzubands is estimated at 100,000 to 150,000 Sterling.

As far as earings are concerned, they were made in several distinct styles, the most prominent of which is the dome-shaped Jhumka. This form was derived from Mughal archictectural monuments like the dome-covered mosques. The best example is of Taj Mahal. A pair of early 19th century diamond and enamel jhumkas is estimated at 8,000 to 12,000.

sarpech

I also discovered sarpech, the most important ornament in the attire of the Mughal Emperor. It was used on their turbans. They are in fact, headfasterners. They are found in two forms: the Jigha and the kalgi. A Sarpech amplified the importance of the emperor's power and glory. An elaborate late 18th century diamond, emerald and enamel sarpech on display is estimated at 100,000 to 150,000 Sterling.

There are lots of ceremonial ornaments on display, like gulabpash, or rosewater sprinkler. selection of rings and karnpul.

This display can be seen at Christie's Ryder Street, London W1 until 5th October. The auction of this display will take place on 6th October. For more information, contact Christie's London on 0171 389 2820.


An airy and well lit room in South London is available for short term sublet. Ideal for visitors as it is close to public transport and the Gardens of England.

For details, contact Rakesh at MathurRak@aol.com or telephone +44 (0) 181 325 6358 or + 44 (0)956 568 394.


Rakesh talks to Tony Blair

Tony Blair and the Indian business Community

By Rakesh Mathur

I met the British Prime Minister Tony Blair last week at the launch of a new initiative, London Global Network. He particularly wanted to meet the diverse comminities residing in London. The guest for this afternoon launch included Gopichand Hinduja, Akash Paul (son of Swraj Paul) and a number of small and medium size businessmen from South Asia.

This get together was organised by London First, an inward investment agency which has attracted more than one hundred businesses to London.

Tony Blair talked to me about how grateful he is for the contribution of the Indian businessmen. "In today's global economy, people with talent and creativity move to the best location. London has always known that to be successful, a society has to be open. That's why I am proud that it is such a magnet for creative and innovative people from all over the world. Their talent and hard work brings new jobs, business and wealth to London."

The Prime Minister further stated, "International businesses continue to be drawn by London's wealth of experience and knowledge. The capital welcomes them with its rich mix of nationalities and cultures, its cosmopolitan nature and its creativity. This is London's unsung strength and has helped make it a leader in the global economy".

Tony Blair must have shaken hands with more than four hundred people in one hour at Vinipolis, City of Wine, where this meeting took place. Inspite of his status as a world leader, he looked accessible with a fixed smile on his face. It seems that everytime he meets people in abundance, he wants to get the reassurance from them that they will vote his party in again for the second term.

London First Global Network is a major initiative by London First, which is being established to develop and promote London as the world's most multi-cultural city for doing business.

Indian businessmen settled all over the world are encouraged to come and open offices in London. For more information, contact acooke@lfc.co.uk or browse the website: www.lfc.co.uk


Sheikh Hasina and Bangladesh Festival

Tony Blair and Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the much awaited Bangladeshi cultural festival in London with much pomp and show. The festival is being celebrated between 7th and 25th July 1999 in London and many other parts of Britain. Bangladeshi cuisine is one of the highlights and many restaurants including Soho based Red Fort of Amin Ali are taking part in this festival. Amin Ali is playing an important role in the festival and he hosted a great party with Bangladesh cuisine to mark this festival.

Details of the Bangladesh festival can be found on the following website:

http://www.artsworldwide.org.uk

The Prime Ministeter Sheikh Hasina also gave a speech at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. This correspondent met her informally at the Chatham House. She seemed very upbeat about peace and diplomacy. She mentioned that Bangladesh is not only a country of problems but also a country of prospects as well. "Economic diplomacy is the conerstone of our foreign policy, keeping globalisation and regionalism in view.

"We have been able to resolve our differences with our neighbours. Sharing of the Ganges water, a sore point in our relationship with India in the past has been solved by signing of the 30-year long Ganges Water Treaty. Direct bus service between Dhaka and Calcutta has been formally inaugurated on 19th June this year.

Speaking about SAARC, Sheikh Hasina mentioned that her objective in one sentence is to improve the quality of life of more than 1.2 billion people of South Asia. This calls for concerted efforts and active co-operation by all the seven member countries of SAARC.

Sheikh Hasina read her speech in English but when it came to answer the questions, she spoke in Bengali by saying, "much blood was shed in order to get the right to speak in Bengali language by its people."

Daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, the father of Bangladesh escaped the family massacre on the night of 15th August 1975 as she was abroad at that time. With an appearance of an ordinary housewife, the Prime Minister is very adamant in getting women their due. She has several women cabinet ministers, her opposition in the Parliament is also a woman and at Chatham House, she wanted to give priority to women who wanted to pose questions to her.


Sikh Ceremonies

Sikhs Stir London Life A major event to mark the three hundred years of Khalsa movement has taken London by storm. For the first time, Baisakhi was celebrated in a big way when visitors to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London were taught the art of tying 'pagdi'. Some of the lucky ones were initiated into the movements of Bhangra dance. Those who are not initiated still could hear the folk music, which accompanies the spring celebration of 'Bhangra'.

The female visitors are treated to the 'Phulkari' embroidery and jewellery workshops. The major V&A exhibition: The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms has many diamonds and precious stones jewellery on display which is drawing immense popular appeal and envy.

During the exhibition, many visitors are learning about the Sikh martial art called ‘Gatka’. There is one section devoted solely to the swords, canons, chain-mails and other arms and armoury. The Queen has lent some very important objects to this exhibition from the Royal Collection, which can be seen outside Buckingham Palace for the first time. Though 'Koh-i-noor' diamond is not on display, only its setting can be seen and admired.

On the other hand, the most important object seems to be the throne of Raja Ranjit Singh, which is made of the golden sheet. Ranjit Singh used this low-seated hard throne only on special occasions. He believed in austerity, so he generally sat on the floor.

His sons were somewhat different though. The British Empire took over the Sikh Kingdom from the inefficient successors of Raja Ranjit Singh. Raja Duleep Singh, the son of Ranjit Singh was so enamoured by the British that he was converted to the Christianity. Queen Victoria invited him to stay in the Osborne House in Isle of White. There were rumours of their short-lived romance too. Eventually, Raja Duleep Singh was disillusioned with the British and he converted back to Sikhism.

All these facts and fictions are creating ripples in the art world of London. In order to draw a larger crowd, this fine art exhibition is hosting other forms of arts such as performing arts, decorative arts, martial arts and the art of good aggressive living. The message of Sikhism which organisers wish to convey is very simple: Truth is high but higher still is the truthful living. The Sikhism according to the organisers, including the curator Susan Strong is all about comapassion, selflessness, humility, honesty and the equality of women and all religions.

It is a must see event in London which will continue until 25 July 1999. Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington, London is open from 10 am to 17.45pm daily and on Wednesday s, there is a late night opening from 18.30 to 21.30. The admission is free for those under 18, full-time students, pre booked educational groups, disabled unemployed but for others, full ticket is 5.00 and for late evening openings on Wednesdays, the ticket is 3.00. For more information about various events, information is available on telephone number 0171 938 8638 or on the website: http://www.vam.ac.uk


Shadi ke Baad

Shaadi ke pehle - Maine Pyar Kiya
Shaadi ke baad - Ye Maine Kya Kiya?

Shaadi ke pehle - Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Shaadi ke baad - Kuch Nahi Hota Hai

Shaadi ke pehle - Dil To Pagal Hai
Shaadi ke baad - Dil To Pagal Tha

Shaadi ke pehle - Ek Duje Ke Liye
Shaadi ke baad - Sirf Bachcho Ke Liye

Shaadi ke pehle - Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge
Shaadi ke baad - Baaki Log Sukhi Ho Jayenge

Shaadi ke pehle - Chandramukhi
Shaadi ke baad - Jwaalamukhi

Shaadi ke pehle - Kuwara Baap
Shaadi ke baad - Bechara Baap

Shaadi ke pehle - Titanic
Shaadi ke baad - Mortgage>

Shaadi ke pehle - Hum Aapke Hai Koun?
Shaadi ke baad - Barbadi Ka Kaaran

Shaadi ke pehle - Yes Boss:-)
Shaadi ke baad - Yes Boss:-(

Shaadi ke pehle - Mere Sapno Ki Rani
Shaadi ke baad - Chutki Ki Amma

Shaadi ke pehle - Kabhi Kabhi
Shaadi ke baad - If you are lucky

Shaadi ke pehle - Aao Pyar Karen
Shaadi ke baad - Aur Bhi Kuch Kaam Karen?


Regarding multiculturalism Tate to show 'Unland'

Tate Gallery will display three sculptures by Doris Salcedo in Art Now 18 from 11th May 1999. The series is entitled Unland, a word invented by the artist to express the continuing displacement caused by the violence of the civil war in Columbia. It resulted in the disappearance and death of thousands of people over the past fifty years.

The work of Doris will be shown in Europe for the first time. In her art, Salcedo uses everyday domestic and personal items such as furniture and clothing and organic substances such as bone, hair and animal fibre. These materials are brought together to make evocative works that address loss, grief, pain and memory, absence and mourning.

Salcedo's work is politically and culturally engaged. She begins new work by undertaking research about her chosen topic, as well as wider reading, so that, for example, the individual titles of works in the Unland series are drawn from the poems of Paul Celan. She also gets to know the survivors of violence in order to bear witness to the ordeal they were endured. Details of this exhibition and other displays can be found on the Tate Gallery website: www.tate.org.uk


London Fashion Week

24th February 99. London Fashion Week is in full swing. Some of the very artisitc but unknown designers are rubbing shoulders with well known names. The designs by the students of St. Martin's School of Arts are amazing as they are the perfect amalgamation of functional and decorative arts, inspired by the creative energy that one finds in Soho area of London.

We were invited by the Swiss Wines to see an exculsive design work, 'The Ingres Collection' by Monica Chong. It was presented in a most beautiful maghreb restaurant called MOMO near Soho. Monica's work is inspired by both the artist Ingres (an exhibition of her portraits is on display at the moment at the National Gallery) and the Regency period. The dresses feature in a bright and jewel toned colour palette with hand emboidery and exquisite applique.

The hemline is asymetrical and the bust balconette. Monica's fabrics range from satin and silk to chiffon. The collection is the embodiment of everything feminine and glamorous. Sold only in the most exclusive luxury boutiques Monica Chong has created a new meaning to the term 'must have' dressing.


Providing Information to Indians

Last week, House of Commons was the venue of an important publication: 'How to Provide Information Well to Bangladeshi, Chinese, Indian and Pakistani people' where I was able to meet a number of key people involved in communicating with our distinguished folks and communities.

Mr Maurice Glassman, the Chairman of National Information Forum talked about the cultural attitudes. With a long standing experience of working at the IBM in several countries, Mr Glassman is in a position to address the needs of people coming from cross cultural areas. He is interested in reaching out to the communities through the electronic media more effectively.

He and many others spokesmen emphasised the need of proper communication in various languages where just translating text from one language to another is not enough. This view was endorsed by Catherine Robinson, Senior Translation Manager of Central Office of Information who is responsible for Government publications translated into various languages.

The researchers and authors of the publication, 'How to provide....' are Cynthia Poonam Knight and Andrew Knight. They summed up the publcation in five points:


1. Recognising the needs of cross cultural communication.

2. The organisers were committed to supporting agencies which are involved in
them.

3. They were engaged in listening to the community.

4. Working together with the community groups.

5. The organisation is committed to taking risks.

This highly recommended publication is available from the following address:

National Information Forum
Post Point 10/10 BT Burne HOuse
Bell Street
London NW1 5BZ
Tel: 0171 402 6681 or fax: 0171 402 1259
SIR TERENCE CONRAN SMITTEN BY INDIA

We met Sir Terence Conran, a man known all over the world as a trend-setter and a designer who has had a profound influence on modern style and taste worldwide. He owns exquisite restaurants such as Le Pont de la Tour, where Prime Ministers and the Presidents have eaten, he owns Conran shops and now he has set up a design studio to develop an exclusive range of 1,200 products called Conran Collection.

Sir Terence loves Indian designes and he goes to India very often. He has also given helm of his empire to someone from the Indian sub-continent.

Des Gunewardena, his young Chief Executive hails from Sri Lanka and with his deep knowledge of accounting collaborates with the creative sensitivities of Sir Terence. Conran Empire includes very fashionable and expensive restaurants in London and design shops. Tony Blair and the new Labour Party vibe very well with Conran designs. In fact, the new Cool Britainnia image of Britain has something to do with Conran shops.

Sir Terence told me that lots of Indian materials are sold in his shops which he receives directly from the artists and artisans of India. On asked why he does not start an Indian restaurant with the use of Indian arts and crafts, he said: "It is such a wonderful idea that I leave it to Indians to do it."


Dil Se: conflicts and contradictions

Whole world celebrated the 50th anniversary of India at a grand scale but what did some Indians feel about it? An All India Radio reporter goes to the North Eastern border to find out. What circumstances lead him into, is the narrative line of the film, 'Dil Se'

There are indeed astonishing revelations about Indians living in the most picturesque but remote parts of the country. In the past, these communities and their existence and thought patterns were rarely captured on the celluloid. What attracted me most in 'Dil Se' was a multi-layered scenario and the way it was put into images by the distinguished director Mani Ratnam.

'Dil Se' is a novel film about conflicts: of heart and mind, of ideals and duties, of relationships and faiths, of trust and betrayal. The way these conflicts are raised and tried to be resolved in the film does not always dwel into the familiar pattern of Bollywood.

Primarily, our attention is constantly absorbed by the grandeur and enormous beauty of locations while camera angles with quick shifts from close - ups to longs shots and a succession of rhythmic cuts further the story line.

Without revealing much about the narrative, I can say that I was fascinated by the passion of Mani Ratnam for the fire and sparkles and interplay between light and shades. Visionary Mani got the support of producer Shekhar Kapoor and a number of like minded people is a feast in itself.

The technique of song picturisation of Mani Ratnam is unique which we noticed in his earlier films such as 'Bombay.' He seems to be a master of movements each time finding a new dimension into another cut. These are the edited movements in harmony with the notes and beats of lyrics and musical instruments such as Ghatam. The extreme close ups of the singing stars and the way crescendo of each songs reach are some of my favourite moments in this film.

Whatever India has achieved in the last 50 years, I am assured of one accomplishment: it's talent which is now making impressions all over the world. Films like 'Dil Se' will go a long way in presenting 'old grand cru wines in the most presentable bottles' for the most discerning connoisseurs to relish.