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Behind Every Successful Person is a Supportive Family : Story of Priya Punia

After years of struggle on December 21, Priya was named in India’s T20 squad.

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Priya Punia, Indian Women Cricket Team, Supportive Family, Story, Father Builds Cricket Ground

This story begins with the unachieved dream of a man to play cricket for his country and his wish to live it through his daughter’s dreams. In the Pink City of India, Jaipur, a man worked relentlessly hard to make wings for his daughter, so that she could fly high in the sky of the opportunities and possibilities to achieve her dreams.

Priya Punia’s father built a cricket ground for her training to master the game. Surendra, a Government clerk, sold his property and took loans to buy a 1.5-bigha plot on the outskirts of Jaipur at Harmada for Rs.22 lakh in the year 2010.

Priya Punia, Indian Women Cricket Team, Supportive Family, Story, Father Builds Cricket Ground
Credits : Facebook

Priya, a 22-year-old opening batswoman, is a native of Churu in Rajasthan. She plays for Delhi in domestic circuit and has been among the leading run-getters. On December 21, she was named in India’s T20 squad to tour New Zealand. After years of struggle, she is all set to make India proud in the international arena.

Priya Punia, Indian Women Cricket Team, Supportive Family, Story, Father Builds Cricket Ground
Credits : Facebook

Just like Abhinav Bindra’s father, who built a shooting range for him to practice, Priya’s father sets an example with his immense dedication and enthusiastic support for his daughter, despite all odds.

The Talented Indian Community extends best wishes to her for her upcoming match and the brightest future ahead.

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Revisiting Project ‘De Nava’ in the Light of Navaratra and Covid-19

Project De Nava is a social experiment highlighting the forgotten feminine qualities of the nine avatars of the Goddess Durga, and the hypocrisy of the people celebrating Navaratra, while gender inequality and women discrimination is on a sky high.

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Vaayudhwani

The nine days of Navratri are dedicated to the divine goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. We celebrate the festival in different hues across the country. It will be a white lie to not recognise Navaratri as a festival of women and by the women. From the distribution of Vettalai Paaku (betel leaves and nuts) and sundal eating sessions in the South to honouring the victory of good over evil in the North, Navaratri is truly a celebration of its kind. In the east, Goddess Durga reigns supreme, while in the west, women take over the stage with Garba. In all the four directions, we honour the indubitable women’s power.

However, we’ve failed to notice that Navaratri’s true essence has diminished. This comes from the fact that we’ve culturally forgotten about the nine avatars of Goddess Durga, and the feminine qualities each one embraces and seeks to teach us. Also, while the entire country worships the goddesses, the symbol of feminine prowess, men, on the other hand, keep exploiting women at their hands. Thus, the colourful celebrations of Navaratri and the reality are two poles apart.

Gender Inequality not only affects women financially, psychologically and emotionally but also manifests itself into heinous crimes perpetrated against women and girls. Covid-19 just exacerbated the already harrowing situation. The nationwide lockdown across the country was like a dark shadow. Women in the country earn less compared to their male counterparts and consequently have fewer savings and less security. The lockdown left 17 million women jobless. The household work for women doubled. Inevitably, the increased unpaid work and labour mentally and physically burdened the women. Reports of domestic violence flooded and sadly, the reports were at a 10-year high during the Covid-19 lockdown. Violence against women is a human rights violation, and while these were just the cases that were ‘reported’ to the officials, the real haunting numbers never make it to the surface. 

Owing to these realities, Vaayudhwani conceived a holistic social experiment called Project ‘De Nava’. She is a visual storyteller with interests in writing as well. The project seeks to unveil and bring to light the undervalued feminine qualities of the nine avatars of the Goddess Durga in the society. Vaayu believes these qualities are inherent in every woman and continue to be neglected repeatedly. We have buried these qualities into oblivion. The principal message of the project is #SeekTheGoddessWithinYou. The project called for women from varied backgrounds for a photoshoot. Each represented a different avatar to highlight the issues of body positivity, LGBTQ rights, disability, etc. Women need to reclaim these feminine attributes of the Goddess to bring the celebration of Navaratri in its full ethos. 

Post Covid life has been tiresome and difficult to adjust to. Festivals and celebrations are carried out in extreme precautions. Covid-19 has not only changed our lifestyle but also has burdened us mentally. Vaayu, in the current post Covid-19 celebrations, asks us to heed to the different tales of the Goddess Durga. Her avatars need to be read or heard and enacted upon as dramas. Each avatar conveys emotions and qualities that’d help us transition into the new life smoothly. 

Hence, Project De Nava is a holistic venture. It addresses the neglected feminine avatars during Navaratra, the hypocrisy of the celebrations and gender inequality. Along with that, it seeks to incorporate these undervalued attributes into our daily lives, and within every woman.

Let us revisit the amazing album of ‘Project ‘De Náva’

Day 1 Avatar: Shailaputri
Played by: Mahek Kukreja
Day 2 Avatar: Brahmacharini
Played by: Garima Goel
Day 3 Avatar: Chandraghanta
Played by: Amee
Day 4 Avatar: Kushmanda
Played by: Virali Modi
Day 5 Avatar: Skandamata
Played by: Anaysha Patel
Day 6 Avatar: Katyayani
Played by: Sonia Shetty
Day 7 Avatar: Kalaratri
Played by: Priyali Shende
Day 8 Avatar: Mahagauri
Played by: Tripty K Jagasia
Day 9 Avatar: Siddhidatri
Played by: Keshav Kalyan
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Celebrating 107th Birth Anniversary of Assamese poet Lakshyadhar Choudhary

This Throwback Thursday, we remember Lakshyadhar Choudhary, the versatile poet, actor, writer and film-director.

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Lakshyadhar Choudhary

India is the homeland of arts, artists and several ‘computer’ brains. It is the land where many languages and cultures emerged and the land which strived to emerge as an independent nation after years of struggle. To achieve what we enjoy today, the poets and writers of the nation have always played a crucial role. From entertainment to reforms, there was somewhere a writer behind the changes we saw around us.  

One such legendary writer, poet, dramatist, actor, freedom fighter and film director was Lakshyadhar Choudhary, whose writings and proses kindled the flames of nationalism in the hearts of Indians during freedom struggles and also taught us to be rooted in our heritage and culture. We remember his contributions as a poet, writer and freedom fighter on his 107th birth anniversary. 

Early Life

Lakshyadhar Choudhary was born in a common family of North Guwahati on October 14th, 1914. Since his school days, he was inclined towards writing and had gained fame as an actor. After he came in contact with the renowned dramatist of his times, Kamakhyanath Thakur and litterateur Jaltiram Lakhar, his interest in dramas, writing and acting got wings. He wrote his first play in Assamese, Ekalavya, when he was only in ninth grade. His writings, prose and dramas were rich in ethics, nationalism and lessons to value our traditions. Later, he went on to become a teacher in the North Guwahati Auniati Kamaldev High School in 1939. He quit his job as a teacher to join the Quit India Movement in 1942, where he contributed through his proses and also as an undercover messenger to the leaders. 

Political life 

Lakshyadhar Choudhary was a true patriot. After independence, he took on social work and hence, decided to serve the country through his political activities. He became a member of the Socialist Party and contested his first elections of independent India in 1952 but could not win. In 1964, he won the Guwahati Municipal Corporation election and was elected as a member of the Assam Legislative Assembly in 1967. He was further elected as the Mayor of Guwahati Municipal Corporation in 1975 and was praised for his work in Assam throughout his career in politics. He was also the president of Assam Sahitya Sabha and the Asom Natya Sanmelan.

Literary Works and life as an actor

During the days when the nation was struggling for freedom, Choudhary composed his very famous poem in Assamese, Mor Lakhya (translated as ‘My Goal’), which was an inspiration for the citizens to be like the great leaders, Gandhi, Nehru and Bose. 

মই গান্ধীজীৰ দৰে হ’ম

সদায় সত্য পথত ৰ’ম

অহিংস ব্রতেৰে জগত-জিনিম

সত্য কথাহে ক’ম

মই গান্ধীজীৰ দৰে হ’ম।

[Translated as: “I will be like Gandhiji

I will always be on the path of truth,

I will be non-violent

I will be like Gandhiji”]

Lakshyadhar Choudhary (Mor Lakhya)

Omala Ghar, Nimila Anka, Raksha Kumar, Thikona are a few plays in Assamese written by him and he also performed some of them on stage. Apart from being a political leader and a freedom fighter, he was also a film-director and had directed two of the Assamese movies, namely Nimila Anka (1955) and Lachit Borphukan (1961). 

He performed his last play, Thikana, on stage at the age of 85 in May 2000. Unfortunately, the nation suffered the loss of a brilliant artist as he passed away after three months, in August 2000.

His memories are alive in his plays, prose and stories. His values and respect towards our traditions, the spirit of nationalism and the life lessons are remembered and adopted by the youth of the nation even today. He truly proved that the power of a pen can bend swords and the words written on paper can inspire generations.

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Celebrating Rashtrakavi Ramdhari Singh Dinkar’s 113th Birth Anniversary

This 23rd of September let us remember the old greats to define our patriotic spirits

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Ramdhari Singh Dinkar

Change happens in a society almost at the speed of light. Just blink and you miss it. Be it people, values, technology And yes, even poetry. There always seems to be some kind of contention between generations. With each party stubbornly convinced that their way of living is absolutely right. But what triumphs over our differences is our experiences-our shared history, heritage and feelings.

Today is a day when we pay homage to one of our nation’s greatest poets. And certainly, one who defined the spirit of nationalism for many to come — Ramdhari Singh Dinkar. His longevity is forever etched in public memory as we now remember him as a ‘rashtrakavi’(national poet). At a time in the world where we seem to be standing at the crucible of moral, environmental and political crisis; it’s worth revisiting a young man who got inspired to contribute to one of the greatest freedom movements of all time.

रात यों कहने लगा मुझसे गगन का चाँद, 

आदमी भी क्या अनोखा जीव होता है! 

उलझनें अपनी बनाकर आप ही फँसता, 

और फिर बेचैन हो जगता, न सोता है। 

रामधारी सिंह दिनकरी

Early Life

Ramdhari Singh Dinkar was born to Babu Ravi Singh and Manroop Devi in the Simaria district of Begusarai. He was a studious and noticeable student who from a very young age was exposed to the unfairness of living a life in economic discomfort. And as a student and connoisseur of poetry, he was greatly influenced by poets of all languages like English, Bengali, Hindi and Sanskrit. He was so passionate about poetry that he would translate Tagore, Milton, Igbal and Keats.

Adolescence is extremely absorbent, by the time Dinkar reached adolescence, the Indian Freedom struggle had gained formidable momentum. It was the nationwide protests against the Simon Commission which ignited his poet’s fuel and prompted him to pick up the pen. Inspired by the peasant satyagraha led by Sardar Patel, Dinkar wrote 10 poems which were published together as ‘Vijay Sandesh’ (Message of Victory).

दो में से क्या तुम्हे चाहिए कलम या कि तलवार

मन में ऊँचे भाव कि तन में शक्ति विजय अपार |

रामधारी सिंह दिनकरी

Poetry and Politics

Dinkar first saw Mahatma Gandhi in 1920 the same year in which he founded a library named Manoranjan Library. Although he deeply resonated with Gandhian philosophies of non-violence, he called himself a ‘bad Gandhian. Years of poverty and witnessing brutality had ignited something within him. Even in his works, he would always rally the people to not let the oppressors go unscathed and unaffected. By all means, Rashtrkavi Dinkar was a poet of the people.

He served our country in a parliamentary capacity as well. After doing two terms in Rajya Sabha, he was appointed the National Hindi advisor. One of the epochs of his poetic prowess is the work ‘Sanskriti ke Chaar Adhyay’ explores the four big cultural revolutions that India has seen. And through this magnum opus, he only goes on to show how India is an integrated and diverse melting point for all cultural identities. His poems on the tragic son of Kunti, Karn from the Mahabharat clearly shows his disdain for the caste system and the discrimination that came along with it.

As one can see, these are values that are adopted even today, even seventy-four years post-independence. Perhaps this was the quality that earned Ramdhari Singh Dinkar the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1959. As well as the Padma Bhushan in the same year. In 1974, the Rashtra Kavi passed away at the age of 65 leaving an indelible legacy for all of us.

सच है, विपत्ति जब आती है, कायर को ही दहलाती है,

शूरमा नहीं विचलित होते, क्षण एक नहीं धीरज खोते,

विघ्नों को गले लगाते हैं, काँटों में राह बनाते हैं।

रामधारी सिंह दिनकरी
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Celebrating the face of Carnatic Music for over 70 years: M.S Subbulakshmi

On her 105th birthday, take the time to glimpse into the life of M. S. Subbulakshmi, the leading face for Carnatic traditions in South India for a number of decades.

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MS Shubhalakshmi

M. S. Subbulakshmi, affectionately called the ‘Nightingale of Carnatic Music’, is one of India’s most revered and admired vocalists. Born in Madurai, on 16th September, 1916, she went down in history as the first musician ever to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour. Today marks her 105th birthday. 

Growing up, Subbulakshmi was first introduced to the world of music by her grandmother and mother. It wasn’t until much later that she realized that, in music, lay her true calling. At the age of eleven, she would go on to have her first public performance, alongside Mysore Chowdiah, on the violin, and Dakshinamurthy Pillai, on the mridangam, at the Rockfort temple in Tiruchirapalli. Her breakthrough performance, however, came two years later when she would perform at the Madras Music Academy, in 1929. Just thirteen then, Subbulakshmi, with that single performance, was recognized for her talent, garnering an immense amount of praise and recognition. 

Regarded, even by the most demanding scholars, as ‘the leading exponent of classical and semi-classical songs in the carnatic tradition of South India’, Subbulakshmi’s contribution to Carnatic music extends far beyond her own lifetime. Indeed, owing to her wonderful performances, M. S. Subbulakshmi had listeners not only in India but from all over the world.

Through the 60s, Subbulakshmi was invited to perform at multiple celebrated musical concerts, including the Edinburgh International Festival, in Scotland, as well as at Carnegie Hall in New York. She would later cap off her performance at Carnegie Hall, New York, by performing at the one in London.

Respected and adored by the likes of  the late Sri. Ravi Shankar, Mahatma Gandhi, Sadanand Menon and Lata Mangeshkar, M. S. Subbulakshmi was a legendary figure even amongst all the greats in history. Gandhi, according to the late Sri. Ravi Shankar, famously said that he would rather hear Subbulakshmi recite lines than hear someone sing it.. 

It wasn’t, however, just in music that Subbulakshmi excelled at. In fact, she also featured in a handful of Tamil films. Subbulakshmi’s debut, as an actress, came with the film ‘Sevasadanam’ in 1983. Her film ‘Meera’, in 1945, where she played the titular character, was a massive success at the time. Owing to its success at the time, ‘Meera’ would later be remade in Hindi. . 

In addition to being the first musician to receive the Bharat Ratna, Subbulakshmi was also the first Indian musician to be awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award, often considered Asia’s Nobel Prize. Known for her humanitarian and charitable work and contributions, Subbulakshmi would, often, donate the entire prize pools, for competitions and other performances, to wellness programmes and schemes.

It was, perhaps, a broken heart that brought an end to her musical career. When she was younger, Subbulakshmi ran away from her mother’s house, wanting to escape an arranged marital proposition. Eventually, in 1936, she would meet Kalki Sadasivam. Sadasivam was known to have been encouraging and supportive of Subbulakshmi during that period of time. The two would end up being married in 1940. When her husband finally passed away in 1997, Subbulakshmi stopped all public performances. 

M. S. Subbulakshmi passed away on 11th of December, 2004. It is important, today, that we take the time to reflect on her many contributions and legacy, both in and outside the world of music.

Credits: YouTube (M. S. Subbalakshmi – Topic)
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Of Courage, Valor And Selflessness: Vikram Batra

On the anniversary of his birth, let us take the time to reflect on the bravery and the selfless acts
of Vikram Batra.

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Vikram Batra

There has been a film made about him just recently. And while the film itself is an admirable adaptation of his life and the principles he lived by, it is crucial that we remember Vikram Batra in a more solemn manner. Awarded the Param Vir Chakra for his acts of valor during the Kargil War, Vikram Batra gave his life so that the men in his company could live. That singular act of selflessness and courage at the age of twenty-four is something that is worthy of true respect and reverence.

Born on 9th September 1974, in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, Batra was the third child of Girdhari Lal Batra, a school principal, and Kamal Kanta Batra, a school teacher. Before going on to attend the DAV Public School, in Palampur, Batra would receive his primary education from his mother. Batra’s childhood, by all accounts, was one of complete engagement, with him not only excelling academically but also representing his school in several national-level sports competitions. Batra was especially skilled at table tennis, with him and his twin brother, Vishal, representing their school in that particular sport at the All India KVS Nationals.

Having finished his Bachelor’s degree, from the DAV College, Chandigarh, Batra would go on to pursue a Master’s degree in English Literature from Punjab University, Chandigarh, while simultaneously preparing for the Combined Defence Services (CDS) examinations. During that time, Batra would actually attend classes, at his university, in the evenings and spend his mornings working part-time as a branch manager at a local travelling agency. The sole reason he did that was to help his family avoid additional financial pressures. In 1996, having passed his CDS examination and selected, Batra left university to join the Indian Military Academy.

Beginning his tenure at the Indian Military Academy in June of 1996, Batra would undergo a nineteen month training course before being assigned to the 13th Battalion of Jammu And Kashmir Rifles (13 JAK Rifles), being commissioned as a lieutenant in the Indian Army. Before his battalion’s eventual deployment to Dras, due to the outbreak of the Kargil War, Batra would serve at Sopore in the Baramulla district of Jammu And Kashmir. During his time there, he would just narrowly escape death when his platoon came into conflict with a group of militants.

Vikram Batra’s time in the Kargil War can majorly be traced through two incredibly important skirmishes, that of the capture of Point 5140, a strategically important mountain peak in the Dras Sector, and the capture of Point 4875, another strategically important peak in the Mushkoh Valley.

With the 13 JAK Rifles assigned under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Yogesh Kumar Joshi, a strategic plan to capture Point 5140 came into being. Joshi would attack Point 5140 with the help of Bravo Company, under the command of Lieutenant Sanjeev Singh Jamwal, and Delta Company, under the command of Lieutenant Batra. On June 20th, 1999, just after midnight, the two companies began climbing the mountain peak. It wasn’t, however, till late into the day, that the two companies had consolidated their positions and claimed their respective objectives. Batra would go on to be crucial in the capture of Point 5140, even being able to recover a heavy anti-aircraft gun from the Pakistani forces positioned there. Famously, Batra’s call sign, signalling the success of his company in achieving their directed goal, was ‘Dil Mange More’.

Shortly after the capture of Point 5140, the 13 JAK Rifles were directed to move from Dras to Ghumri to rest and recoup, before being deployed to Mushkoh Valley on the 30th of June, 1999.

Upon their arrival, the 13 JAK Rifles were placed under the command of 79 Mountain Brigade, tasked with the capture of Point 4875. The peak dominated the National Highway 1 route from Dras to Matayan and, consequently, gave the opposing army an incredible observational advantage of approximately thirty to forty kilometres of the national highway. It became critical, then, for the Indian Army to claim this peak. And they did just that.

The victory, however, was short-lived. An adjacent peak to Point 4875, codenamed ‘Area Flat Top’, had been captured on July 5th, 1999, by the Indian Army. However, an immediate counterattack by the Pakistani Army followed. When the commanding captain, NA Nagappa, was injured in the defense of ‘Area Flat Top’, the Pakistani Army seized the opportunity to further their advance. The Indian platoon positioned at ‘Area Flat Top’ needed reinforcements immediately so that they could adequately hold the position. It was then that Batra, despite being sick and in recovery from his injuries from the battle of Point 5140, volunteered to lead a force to provide reinforcements. Twenty-five men from Batra’s Company, moved by his courage, volunteered to go with him, despite no direct orders being given.

With the situation dire, Batra and his Delta Company began to make the climb. It wasn’t until much later that they became aware of enemy presence on a narrow ledge, running north of Point Batra, alongside his men, was instrumental in destroying the positions that the Pakistani Army held along that ledge. However, they were pinned down due to heavy machine-gun fire at a later junction.

Realizing there was no other way around, Batra personally charged into the fray, managing to make the enemy retreat from their position. However, he sustained numerous injuries in the process. Still undeterred, Batra noticed one of his men had been injured in the firefight that had just ensued. It was then that he decided to help evacuate the injured soldier, along with the help of Subedar R. Singh. Batra, however, was adamant in shielding the injured soldier and Singh from enemy gunfire, placing himself in the direct line of fire. It was during that attempt, to save
the lives of his men, that Batra was shot in the chest by an enemy sniper before a splinter, from an RPG, hit him in the head. Vikram Batra, finally, succumbed to his injuries.

Posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra, Vikram Batra served as a symbolic representation of the idea of selflessness and the pursuit of something greater than one’s own self.

Credits: YouTube (TEDx Talks)
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