Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Jagjit Singh’s death marks the end of an era

Jagjit Singh by Heritage Arts & Events
Jagjit Singh, a photo by Heritage Arts & Events on Flickr.

Jagjit Singh, considered one of the most popular Ghazal singers of all times, passed away on 10 October 2011 at the age of 70 in Mumbai’s Lilavati hospital. He was suffering from brain hemorrhage.

Though Singh underwent an emergency surgery to remove clots in his brain, he was breathing with the aid of a ventilator and his condition was critical. He was hospitalized in October 2007, following blood circulation problems.

Almost until the last days of his death, he loved to sing on stage and just before being hospitalized, on 20 September 2011 he performed in his last concert held at The Indian Public School, Dehradun, and on 16 September 2011, he performed at the Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai.

Singh’s music knew no borders. He was not only very popular in India, but also in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and many other Asian countries and all over the world where there was the presence of Indian Diaspora, Indian culture and even Asian influences.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Vasuki Sunkavalli at Miss Universe 2011

Vasuki Sunkavalli, Miss India 2011 (height: 5'8.5”, Vital Stats: 30”- 25.5”-36.5”), poses in swimwear on arrival in São Paulo, Brazil, competing for the Miss Universe title in August/ September 2011 – photo by Bruce Casanova Photography©

Vasuki was born in Secunderabad, India, on 17 August 1984 in a Hindu family, originally from Unguturu village in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. Her father, Venkat Ramana Sunkavalli, is in real estate business and her mother, Surya Prabha, runs her own boutique in Hyderabad, India.

Vasuki had her schooling at St. Ann's High School, Secunderabad, and later she joined Villa Marie Degree College in Hyderabad. In 2002, she joined the Symbiosis International University in Pune, India, for studying law and obtained her degree (LL.B). In 2007, she moved to New Delhi to pursue a Diploma course in Intellectual Property Rights from Global Institute of Intellectual Property. In 2009, she was granted the Dean’s Scholarship to study International Law and Human Rights and enrolled for it at the New York University School of Law (NYU Law) from where she graduated with a Master of Law (LL.M).

In 2007, Vasuki started her modeling career by walking the ramp at Wills India Fashion Week, and later she participated in various fashion shows for top fashion designers from India and modeled for several popular brands including Kitkat, Nike, World Gold Council, etc.

On 15 July 2011, Vasuki competed against 19 other contestants from India, and won the crown and title ‘I Am She - Miss Universe India 2011’, a national beauty pageant (organized by Tantra Entertainment Private Limited and former Miss Universe and Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen), which is authorized to send participants to the Miss Universe pageants, after Femina Miss India relinquished its patent in 2010 to send India’s representative to the event.

However, Vasuki failed to make it even to the final 16 at the Miss Universe 2011 pageant in São Paulo, Brazil, possibly because, she could not pose in her national costume which was not delivered to her in time.

It may be noted that the last time India won the crown was in 2000 when Lara Dutta, now a popular actress, had won the Miss Universe crown for India.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The aftermath of the midnight crackdown on Baba Ramdev

Baba Ramdev by Darko Sikman Photography
Baba Ramdev, a photo by Darko Sikman Photography on Flickr.

It seems the Indian democracy is undergoing a process of self-examination.

According to reports, about 60 supporters of Baba Ramdev were injured while the police was trying to evict the Baba and his supporters from the Ramlila ground where he was to launch a hunger-strike against corruption and black money, with his emphatic requirement that the Central Government must take appropriate steps to repatriate black money stashed away in foreign accounts.

There were dialogues going on between him and the government on this issue, and by last Saturday it seemed that there was agreement between the two sides on the issue. The next report was that the Baba was evicted from his protest venue in New Delhi and flown to the nearby airport to his Ashram and from there taken by road to his Ashram.

The media, print as well as electronic, got busy in running ‘BREAKING NEWS’ and conducting reviews and interviews on the questions involved. Most of the political parties and NGOs were of the opinion that the government has infringed upon the democratic rights of the Baba and his followers. It is rightly so, because nothing undemocratic was being conducted at the venue.

The reactions after the incident included politically motivated mudslinging, and the sane voices were feeble.

Now that The National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the Central Government and the Delhi Government directing them to submit their reports on the crackdown on Baba Ramdev and his supporters, the issue gets more serious as the commission has taken notice of something of the nature of human rights violation.

Additionally, there are reports that The Supreme Court of India has also issued a notice to the government on the eviction of the Baba from the hunger-strike venue, after taking suo moto cognizance of the incident on its own.

The government may have its own reasons for its actions, but a majority of others, including those who oppose Baba Ramdev, feel that democratic rights should not be suppressed.

I am not a supporter of the Baba, or any other faction. But I do feel that corruption and black money are the biggest enemies of all the right-thinking Indians. So, it has to be wiped out from all levels of governance and public life, when only India can be said to be a true democracy.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dancer Arunima Kumar performs at Khajuraho Dance Festival

Photo: Arunima Kumar performs at Khajuraho Dance Festival on 5th February 2010

Born on July 1, 1978, and having started learning Kuchipudi, one of the most acclaimed oriental classical dance forms from the young age of 7, Arunima Kumar had her initial training under the most recognized Indian classical dancer Swapnasundari. Later Arunima became a disciple of Guru Jaya Rama Rao and Vanasree Rao, and she appeared in stage performances with them for about 15 years.

In 1995 the Kuchipudi Dance Academy launched her dance performance at the prestigious Triveni Kala Sangam in New Delhi, India, and it marked her Arangetram (Rangapravesham or official debut as a performing dancer).

Since then, Arunima has been credited with many highly acclaimed performances in many countries, including Kuchipudi Convention in USA (2008), Nehru Center (London), Tagore Center (Berlin), Asian Arts Festival (Manila), Sydney Opera House, Canberra Festival, Expo 2000 in Hannover and Lisbon, and many more.

Arunima Kumar is also a noted dance choreographer, and conducts research on performing arts to explore the creative potential of the classical and other art and dance forms.

Arunima graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the prestigious St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi, and then she studied for M.Sc. (Finance and Accounting) at the London School of Economics. In line with her educational background, she was a banker and a consultant for corporate houses till the year 2009.

Arunima has appeared several ballets in several television programs, documentary films, music videos, advertisements, and a cameo appearance in the Bollywood feature film “Rajneeti” directed by Prakash Jha.

As recognition of her talent, in 1998 Arunima was awarded the Sahitya Kala Parishad Scholarship for Dance. She was also honored with the prestigious Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskaar for 2008 by the Sangeet Natak Akademi (The National Academy established by the Government of India) for her outstanding contributions to music, dance and drama.

Arunima Kumar has been praised by the media as a naturally talented and endowed dancer and performer. She is noted for her large expressive eyes and enthralling stage presence. Her Abhinaya (the art of expression) and her ability to bond with her audiences, coupled with her modern interpretation of the “traditional Padama, Javalis (traditional songs) and other compositions” are the hallmark forte of her performances.

She is also a talented exponent of classical dance renditions, perfect technique and rhythmic precision, and above all effective and graceful facial expressions.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Borandev Shiva Temple in Chhattisgarh

Borandev Temple India 2, originally uploaded by adestiny.

This ancient Shiva temple in the Indian State Chhattisgarh was captured imaginatively on lens by this gifted photographer known by the Flickr screen name 'adestiny'. It is one of the wonders of ancient Indian temple architecture, and seemingly built on sculptured rock. To view more photos by this photographer click on the photo.