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. Rakesh Mathur has written the following books - The Movie ; Chapters on Indian Cinema ; La Cuisene Indienne and Ray at 70 - a homage.
. He is a free lance journalist available for projects . He was a reporter for Times of India from 1973-79 , researcher for Carlton TV programme , produced the TV programmes Aim High , Stitch in Time and Building for Britain.
. He was the information officer for the Hinduja Foundation. His reports have been broadcast on TV Asia , BBC , Channel 4 and others. His articles have appeared in numerous publications.
. More details on his home page. Please contact him on 0956 568 394 or via email 100700.513@compuserve.com
India and UK..Ramayana, US Indians, Widow Support..Asianet..Assamese Film..South India Arts..Media Coverage..Anwar Sheikh.Nehru Family
Rakesh Mathur
Chris Meyer, the outgoing press Secretary to John Major, the British Prime Minister met a number of oveseas journalists today at the Foreign Press Association.

He was asked a number of questions about Europe affairs, single currency and the question of decommisioning of arms.

One question which made him somewhat speechless was about India's possible nuclear testing. The question was put forward by a prominent journalist from Pakistan. The Press Officer, attached with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office spoke on the subject: We are taking a subtle approach, watching the situation very closely. We are interested in this subject but we are not making any representation to India."

On the question of John Major's popularity, Chris Meyer, who will be next British Ambassador to Germany, said: "History books will give John Major a much higher reputation than the present political analysts. Inspite of the tiny parliamentary majority, he achieved a lot. He pushed through reforms in Health, Education and now Northern Ireland without any prospects of electoral benefits. "I am sure that this parliament will contine to rule until the spring 1997."

Chris Meyer has spent just over two years with John Major at the Downing Street. He is well known for keeping the PM away from the probing eyes of the media. Gus O' Donnele, Chris Meyer's predecessor always made bridges between the media and the Downing Street. I remember how helpful he was when we were covering John Major's visit to New Delhi and Bombay three years ago.


The 13th International Ramayana conference will be held in China from April 26th to 29th 1996, under the auspices of Shenzhen University. Scholars from 20 countries are expected to attend this confernce which is organised by Lallan Prasad Vyas, Vishwa Sahitya Sanskriti Sansthan.

Those who wish to visit China on this unique occasion, may write to prof. Yu Long Yu, Shenzhen University, Fax No. 00-86-755-6660462.


Immigrant Indians are 0.3% of the United States population. But according to a trade organization, Indian families, most of them Patels, control 12,500 hotel/motel rooms, with a total market value of US$26billion. One analyst expects the Patels to control a full 50% of US hotel and motel assets by the year 2000. WIDOWS TO GET SUPPORT

One of the ills of the Hindu religion is the treatment of widows. In India, too often, widows do not enjoy fundamental human rights to life, shelter, food, health or livelihood. They are forced to live in the shadows of other insensitive members of the family and tend to get easily exploited. Their children's future gets equally endangered.

Now a new organisation is being set up to address this situation. "Empowering Widows in Development (EWD). Margaret Owen, the author of the book: 'The World of Widows' is co-ordinating all its activities from 36 Farce Road, London W14 OEP, UK. e-mail: 100066,1321@compuserve.com

For further information, do not hesitate to contact Margaret Owen at the above mentioned address.


By Rakesh Mathur
Programmes in Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati, Bengali and Punjabi as well as in Indian English are being broadcast 24 hours a day and 7 days a week on AsiaNet UK. It consists a wide range of programming, from dramas to quiz shows, sporting events to the latest Indian and Pakistani films, dance, music, news and current affairs. There are live interactive shows and segmented Pakistan television programmes.

AsiaNet has also been producing fresh programmes in the United Kingdom. On 1st of October 1995, when AsiaNet was formally launched, over 700,000 homes in the UK had already subscribed to it. This followed one year of hard work refocusing the company and relocating its production base. Additionally, the company has invested in a detailed market research programme and as a result has concentrated its efforts on providing a product which is totally in tune with the needs of the UK Asian market place.

AsiaNet was first conceived by Dr B.N. Viswanath in New York over 20 years ago, when he launched his first channel "Vision of Asia". It was designed to provide cultural continuity for the first, second and third generation Asian families in America. Since then the number of channels has steadily increased and currently includes: ITV New York, ITV USA, Vision of Asia, AsiaNet USA, and fourteen other licensed terrrestrial stations from Vermont in the north to Dallas and Daytona Beach in the south of the United States.

Graham Pitman, in an exclusive interview to this author said: "We believe AsiaNet's 24 hour service in the UK, establishes us as the market leader. Research recently compiled by Broadcast Research Ltd. has shown categorically that AsiaNet is the preferred Asian TV Channel in the UK. We aim to provide high quality programming, a diverse product and a powerful advertising medium." AsiaNet has also launched a show biz glossy magazine under the editorship of Luxmi Ghosh who also acts as a marketing Co-ordinator. Graham and Luxmi can be reached at AsiaNet at the following address: Elliot House, Victoria Road, London NW10 6NY. UK.


By Rakesh Mathur
Dr Adam Hardy, well known for his book on the South Indian temple architecture in India has written to me about PRASADA, a new institute devoted to the architecture, arts and crafts of South Asia, being established at De Montfort University, Leicester.

This institute will be unique in its combination of academic study with creative practice, and in bringing together study of the built environment in the Indian subcontinent. It will also deal with the issues relating to present day South Asian cultural expression in Britain and abroad.

The Institute will have two major activities. It will provide lectures (public as well as post graduate degrees). Second and the most important activity will be research backed by live projects.

The research will include documentation and analysis of traditional buildings and settlement; texts such as Shastras and Agamas and their relationship to monuments; study of living traditions such as crafts and surviving vastuvidya (geomancy), study of appropriate responses to climate in the Indian Subcontinent and analysis and recording of practical experience gained through design and crafts projects, whether academic studies or commissioned work.

PRASADA will also compile a directory, with commentary, of traditional craftspeople, from untouched tribal artists to large-scale networks: to include skills available in Britain.

Under the direction of Dr Adam Hardy, PRASADA is in the process of gaining support of several internation academic and religious institutions. In his message of support, Dr L. M. Singhvi, High Commissioner of India to Great Britain wrote:
PRASAD literally represents the quintessential concept of Grace. It also connotes the bounty of benediction. The acronym PRASADA has been well chosen for Practice, Research and Advancement in South Asian Design and Architecture. I am sure, that it will help to revive and recapture Grace in Design and Architecture.

Contact: Dr Adam Hardy, PRASADA, De Montfort University, Dep. of Architecture, The Gateway, Leicester LE1 9BH, U.K. Tel: 0116 257 7415. FAX: 0116 257 7440..


A new Indian film is making its mark in the international film festival scene. The film has no songs, no fights, no stars and it is not even part of the Bollywood.

In fact, the film is in Assamese language and has emerged from the most North East state of India. The original title is Hkhagoroloi bohu door and it is produced and directed by Jahnu Barua. The film tries to project the impact of progress on a small primitive village. There are contrasts drawn between the village life which is struggling to remain in the past and the life in the city, which is making sacrifices of human values in order to envelop industrial development.

The story line is simple. Puwal is a boatman of Nemuguri village. The village is on the bank of the river Dihing in Assam. Since there is no bridge at that point of the river, Puwal's job is assured. For some three generations his forefathers have been ferrying people to and fro.

Life goes on smoothly until Puwal begins to hear persistent reports about a bridge to be built across the river. The people of Nemuguri have complained about the absence of development in the region, and the government and the local politicians have decided to bring that symbol of progress -- a bridge -- to connect the North and the South bank of the Dihing. Which progress, of course, will put Puwal out of work.

Puwal is disturbed at the news but is distracted by a letter that he received from Guwahati (Capital of Assam) from his son, Hemanta. Puwal is invited to visit the city, purpose for which is unclear but is interpreted by Puwal as a gesture of affection. He travels to Guwahati.

In Guwahati, Puwal is at first delighted but within a few days is disillusioned by the welcome he gets from his materialistic son.
Dismayed by the selfishness of his son, Puwal returns to Nemuguri to find that the bridge over the Dihing has been commissioned. The world of the boatman seems to be crumbling around him.

This film was much appreciated by the critics and the audience alike at the London Film Festival. Jahnu Barua, the film's director was given the national award for his previous film ' Aparoopa' in India. He won several national and international awards for his other films which include Banani (The Forest) on the theme of the preseration of environment in Assam. Jahnu came to attend London Film Festival with his wife and executive producer Gayatri Barua.


There are very few Indian muslims living abroad who publish regular journals.

Mr Anwar Shaikh is one of those praiseworthy humanists, who has been publishing quarterly journal at his own cost, to create a better understanding of the Indian culture.

Published in English and Urdu, Liberty magazine covers a wide range of historical thinking. The latest issue (number eleven, volume three) has just come out from Cardiff.

An excerpt from the editorial will demonstrate the strength of Anwar Shikh's views and innovative approach to the Indian history.

Anwar Shaikh writes:

"No matter what religion a person of Indian descent follows, it is only the Vedas that lend him the sense of racial dignity and human probity by presenting him the true picture of a past, which excels any national history in greatness, grandeur and glory

. "The Vedic way of life... is based on a simple tenet: 'you reap what you saw.' Therefore, one cannot harvest glory through inglorious acts.

"...Those Indians, who call themselves 'Muslims' ...have fallen in love with the Principle of Inaction, and seek paradise through Intercession. The result if dreadful; these people see nothing good in the drops of the Ganges, and look for everything virtuous in the sands of Arabia!

"The salvation of India lies in following the Vedic way of life, which is far above religious bigotry. It is high time that Indians of all shades realised this fact to unify as one nation"

Anwar Shaikh is an important writer in his own right. His book "Eternity" provoked the Islamic fundamentalists to issue a fatwa against the author. The book has an unusual theme of Divinity, commanding ever - increasing popularity in Europe and America.

"Islam, The Arab National Movement" is another title by Anwar Shaikh which claims that the Prophet Muhammad was a great national leader who sought to impose Arab cultural on non Arabs.

Above views are those of the author Anwar Sheikh and do not reflect those of ukindia. Comments are invited.


British Television and newspapers in the first week of 1996 had plenty about India.

BBC started off with French director Louis Malle's controversial documentary about India. Made in the late 60's, the documentary tried to portray India as Louis Malle saw it on the street: a dead buffalo being eaten by vultures. Holy river Ganges taking Hindu corpses for the salvation.

When this documentary was serialised in the 60s, the then Indian Government was so offended by it that they asked the BBC offices in India to close down. Later, mistake was realised and the BBC offices were re-opened in India under the brilliant leadership of Mark Tully.

The shorter version, shown on the BBC last week, however, did not have all the ugliness or sensational commentary, for which Louis Malle was acclaimed as an honest director of Cinema Verite genres.

Later in the week BBC 2 telecast two part dramatisation of "Spring Peacock", based on a script by Rumer Godden. It is a story of a teenage English girl who gets pregnant by an Indian poet cum gardner thus creates a havoc in the Anglicised Indian community. Rumer Godden, well known for her novels such as Black Narcissus and The River is in her 80's and lives in Scotland. She was born in India and most of her fiction work is influenced by the traumatic experience which she had in India.

On 6th January, Bookmark, a programme about authors featured Rumer Godden in which she said: "I had some terrifying experiences in India, yet the country beckons."

This programme was jointly made by the BBC and India's Doordarshan. Rumer goes to all those parts of India where she spent considerable time of her early life as well as being married to an insensitive colonialist. Through this programme we learn that she opened dance school, taught piano to Calcutta gentry and tried to mingle with the Indians against the convention of the British Raj. "You went to 5-6 cocktail parties everyday, met lots of people but knew nothing about India or Indians in those days."

Rumer is still writing. Her forthcoming books Premlata and Festival of Light will be released later this year. Sunday Times had coverage about India too. The Culture Section had the full centre spread on Jain art exhibition which is currently taking place at the V&A Museum. In its introduction it said: "The followers of India's least known religion dream of a life unencumbered by material possessions, yet paradoxically they have also been

In the Travel Section of Sunday Times, there is a profile of Verity Lambert, who is one of the leading producers at the BBC. At the moment, she is working on a television adaptation of Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy (published by Phaidon who had given more than L220,000 in advance to Vikram to write this book).

About India, Verity says: "I'm about to go out to India to do a recce for A Suitable Boy. I've been there twice before on holidays and loved it. We'll be doing some filming in Calcutta and we're going to look for a place that might serve as Brahmpur, which is a ficititious town and made up of various places.

"I hope that while I'm out there working I can go down to see Kerala and some of the south. We probably won't start filming until September but we're going out early bacuase I forsee that there will be lots of problems. India works in a completely different way, and the one thing that you have to learn to do is to keep calm."

In the book review section, The Sunday Times has published picture of Mahatma Gandhi with Thatcher, Martin Luther KIng and Pope John XXIII. It is in context of Howard Gardner's book "Leading Minds: An anatomy of Leadership". According to Anthony Clair, the reviewer, "Gardner identifies six constants of leadership, of which the first is the fact that leaders traffic in words and symbols -- they tell a story. The story is likely to be more effective if it can speak directly to the untutored mind, if it addresses the sense of individual and group identity. Another constant is that the leader embodies in some intrinisic way the story -- Thatcher's evocation of her humble past. Gardner considers the complex and dynamic interaction between leaders and led. A leader needs the fourth constant -- an organisation. Enduring leadership ultimately demands some kind of institutional basis, be it church, corporation or political party. Expertise is the last constant in leadership.


The year 1997 will see publication of a major work on Indira Gandhi and a series of documentaries on the Nehru family, commissioned by the BBC.
It is expected that a lot of little known facts about the Nehru family will come to light.
The research is still going on and this writer is in touch with both the author of the book as well as the production company of the series.
If any of the readers has new angles, untold episodes, unique interpretations to the events surrounding the Nehru family or specifically about Indira, Rajiv and Sanjay Gandhi then please do get in touch with us as soon as possible. Our e-mail no. is: 100700.513@compuserve.com