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‘The Guptas’ under target as South African opposition set to lay criminal charges

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Image source: buzzsouthafrica.com

Cape Town, SA: South African opposition, The Democratic Alliance (DA), threatened on Sunday to lay criminal charges against, ‘the Guptas’, an Indian family “for what now amounts to further prima facie evidence of an attempt to improperly benefit from public resources”.

This followed media reports on Sunday that former Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) CEO, Themba Maseko, was called by President Jacob Zuma prior to a meeting with the Gupta family from India in Johannesburg and asked to “help them”, Xinhua reported.

At the meeting, it is alleged that the Guptas wanted government advertising to be channelled to The New Age newspaper run by the Gupta family.

The DA said it will write to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to request her to include the latest shocking revelations by Maseko in her investigation into Zuma and the Guptagate scandal.

“This latest information regarding Gupta attempts to channel information to their newspaper may now explain why it is that the Department of Communications spent more than 10 million rands ($640,000) on advertising in The New Age in 2013/14. This amounts to 11.2 percent of government ad spend across 248 publications,” the DA claimed.

The party said it will continue to pursue all possible steps available to ensure that this attempt at “State Capture” by the Gupta family, aided and abetted by Zuma, is halted and justice is obtained.

The former chair of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, Vytjie Mentor, publicly revealed recently that she was offered the job of Minister of Public Enterprises by the Guptas on conditions that she “drops the SAA (South African Airways) flight route to India and give to them”.

Mentor further alleged that Zuma was on the Guptas Saxonwold premises in Johannesburg at the time, in a room next door.

Mentor’s utterances have led to several African National Congress members speaking out on similar encounters with the Guptas, including Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas, Public Service and Administration Minister Ngoako Ramathlodi and former Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan.

A group of Catholic priests and brothers in Southern Africa, known as the Dominican Order, also requested the Public Protector to conduct a systemic investigation into the alleged involvement of the Gupta family in South African state affairs and the award of contracts to companies linked to the family. (IANS)

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Two Indian-origin women freedom activists awarded South Africa’s highest National Order awards

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South African President Jacob Zuma, Wikimedia

Pretoria, 01 May, 2017: In a proud moment for India, two Indian-origin women freedom activists (Fatima Meer and Shantie Naidoo) were awarded South Africa’s highest National Order awards by the South-African President Jacob Zuma on 28 April, 2017 (Friday).

The Order of Luthuli in silver was posthumously received by Fatima Meer while Shantie Naidoo received the same award at the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria.

Naidoo is a descendant of Thambi Naidoo, one of Gandhi’s most trusted lieutenants during his tenure in South Africa at the turn of the last century.

Shantie Naidoo joined 21 other people who were part of a group which suffered at the hands of the apartheid-era security police. The police tortured them and held them in solitary confinement. It is the same confinement from where Meer, a lifelong friend of the late Nelson Mandela together with her husband Ismail Meer, started her activist career as a high school student aged 17 in 1945.

At the time of Presidency Meer quoted, “The Indian community suffered the enactment of the first Segregation Act which restricted their economic and residential rights to specific areas in the country.”

Meer assembled high school students and established the ‘Students Passive Resistance Committee’ in order to canvass and raise funds for the Passive Resistance Campaign.

“The Indian community resisted by organising Satyagraha, the first since Gandhi’s Satyagraha at the close of the century,” Meer further continued.

Outshining as a historian and sociologist, Meer was a stimulating writer. Her writing masterpieces include Mandela’s biography and the script for Akbar Khan’s film ‘Taj Mahal’.

Her book ‘Portrait of Indian South Africans’ was published in 1969. Being a socially committed human, she donated the total proceeds of her book to the ‘Gandhi Settlement’ towards the building of the Gandhi Museum and Clinic at the ‘Phoenix Settlement’. Phoenix Settlement, an initiative by Gandhi is now managed and supervised by his granddaughter Ela Gandhi.

Meer passed away in 2010. Before her death, she served as a member of the parliament under the Presidentship of Mandela since 1994.

prepared by Himanshi Goyal of Newsgram

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How advertisements in India are defying gender cliche

Ads playing an effective medium in moulding opinions of society

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How Indian advertisement industry is breaking the gender stereotype

Feb 27, 2017: The most important part of advertisements is the story line and it gives a spur on the social media when the lessons from the story line are timeless. Needless to say, every time a free-spirited ad is released, it not only sparks conversations over the internet but also leaves a viral trail of debates. Just in the same way, some of the Indian advertisements did when they strove to change the mindset of people with regard to gender difference. We often tend to slur women not realizing the essence of being a woman, it takes strength and an indomitable spirit to be a woman. This article will talk about how advertisements in India are leading by example and discarding gender difference.

Let’s recall some of the advertisements that did away with gender difference.

Nike’s recent ‘Da Da Ding’ ad starring Deepika Padukone as one among other female athletes is a powerful ad which got the people talking about giving importance to female athletes as well. It showcased females of a real athletic figure which is not animated and has got nothing to do with ‘legs and butts’.

(A still from Nike’s Da Da Ding advertisement)

The ad portrayed women as fierce and passionate about sports. Once upon a time, Nike’s product catered almost exclusively to marathon runners and then, a fitness craze emerged –and the folks in Nike’s marketing department knew where to mark their next move, an applause for Nike for initiating a spellbinding effort.

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Whisper, Touch the pickle ad

(A still from Whisper Touch the pickle advertisement)

Whisper, Touch the pickle ad is another exemplary of breaking taboos surrounding women’s menstrual cycle. The whisper #Touchthepickle campaign makes an attempt to purge the baseless superstitions owing to Dos and Dont’s in menses. The ad showcases a young girl who dares to touch the pickle while she is on her periods. It conveys a sensible meaning to its viewers to break away these taboos. The ad was lauded internationally and awarded ‘Glass Lion Grand Prix’ award at Cannes International Festival of Creativity.

Many advertisements over the years have sold the cosmetic product but fewer have tried to change the societal conception of beauty. Even fewer have tried to do both, Joy Cosmetic is the brand that did it in India.

(A still from Joy beauty advertisement)
The ad begins with showcasing a well renowned oversized comedian, Bharti Singh asking the viewers “What did you expect, 36-24-36?”, and shuts down body shamers who presumed it to be an ideal body size. The ad conveys effortlessly that an Ideal beauty has nothing to do with body and shape.The advertisement has a sensitive message and is meaningful to its consumers.

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While there is a lot of chaos regarding section 377 in India, Ebay India took an audacious stance through its ad titled “Things don’t judge”.

(A still from Ebay India advertisement)

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Locating Desi: A Survey to establish Identity

Political mobilization of the word 'desi' in USA

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An Indian girl. Image Courtsey: food.ndtv.com

By Shubhi Mangla

Kerishma Panigrahi, a student of the New York University is pursuing studies in issues related to religion, race, racial subject formation mainly within the context of South Indian Diaspora. As part of her course, she is currently working on “Locating Latinidad“. The study includes tracing its history, genealogy and constitution as an identity. She has started a survey to know about the personal and political identification of people of South Asian descent in USA for folks who are 18 years or older.

You may take the survey here: Locating Desi

Kerishma says, “How I identify can shift as quickly and as easily as my surroundings shift; depending on where I am and who I’m with. I could be a Gujarati, Oriya, Indian(-American), South Asian(-American), American, desi, “brown”…the list goes on. What I became fascinated by was how intertwined and slippery racial, ethnic, and national identities are and how contingent they can be on one’s surroundings—which makes it even harder to effectively locate”.

What complicated her was the word ‘Desi’. According to her, it is a word which she can feel closer to and politically identify herself with it. With her experience from living among other South Asians in US, she feels that ‘desi’ is more of an informal and comfortable word as compared to South Asian-American. She is curious to know the experience of other folks of South Asian decent about the non-existent  political mobilization of the word ‘Desi’ compared to mobilization of ‘latinx’.

Related link: Indian Diaspora in Holland

According to her, ” ‘Desi’ is also an imperfect term and there are shortcomings that may take away from people’s ability to identify with it; does “desi” have the ability to expand and accommodate this difference? Is there a disparity of identification along age group, migration status, country of origin, multiracial status? How does multiple diaspora (e.g. folks of Indo-Caribbean or Indo-African heritage) effect identification?”

Report prepared by Shubhi Mangla- an intern at Newsgram and a student of Journalism and Mass Communication in New Delhi. Twitter @ shubhi_mangla