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Ayesha Jalal: Writers brought out horrors of Partition more than historians

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Jaipur: Ayesha Jalal, Pakistani- American historian said writers like Saadat Hasan Manto brought horrors of Partition more than historians but the time has to come to look towards the resurrection process and leave behind the horrors of history.

“Manto’s short stories can embellish history but fiction cannot replace history,” she said at a session titled “The Pity of Partition: Manto’s Life, Times and Work Across the India-Pakistan Divide” (the title of her 2013 biography on her granduncle) at the Jaipur Literature Festival here on Saturday.

She maintained Manto’s legacy survives and is more relevant now because of his type of thinking, of his approach which was to question everything.

“People don’t think, they go with perceived wisdom. He questioned it, raised uncomfortable issues especially of human bestiality in his stories of Partition,” she said.

On Manto becoming a bone of contention in the subcontinent amidst the tide of “intolerance”, Jalal said there was always some intolerance here but now it was growing throughout the world, but a writer like Manto is often invoked by the youth as a form of protest.

She also noted that if intolerance is growing, so is the opposition to it.

But like interest in his works in India, there was also a lot of interest in Pakistan, she said but added that this was not any form of competition. “Celebrate it and him in your way,” she said.

On how she came to write his biography, Jalal said it was his centenary, there were accounts by some of his close friends, which are insightful but her 2013 work also has memories of his family, which did not see him very positively and for good reason.

“There were many troubles he caused, he left his family destitute, and his alcoholism was seen most negatively,” she said.

She confessed she had herself fallen under his spell quite early having heard his stories from her cousins and others and “could recite the doggerel used by the mental patient in ‘Toba Tek Singh’ even before she could recite the kalma”.

And then, she had come across letters to Manto from his mother and others, which formed an archive. She noted he seemed to have a sense of history for when he left the then Bombay for Pakistan, he had taken all his letters along.

But above all, her rationale was that the “microcosm of Manto’s life connects to the macrocosm of the Partition” for he was one of its most celebrated victims.

“Manto was non-political, writing film scripts in Bombay, was not a Muslim League supporter though being anti-colonial and for him, the ‘batwara’ was not necessary. Bombay gave him a sense of himself. Partition, in a sense, made Manto, but it also destroyed him,” said Jalal.

She said that while, in Bombay, he had close friends like actors Ashok Kumar and Shyam, and there was no Hindu-Muslim feeling in him, and he in fact made fun of it, like in his story “Dhobi” which was a real incident, though partly fictionalized.

“He had no enthusiasm in going to Pakistan, there were no complicated political reasons but there were family reasons. His wife went to Lahore where her family was and didn’t want to come back, so he also moved despite pleas by friends like Ashok Kumar and Shyam to return.

“But Pakistan never proved conducive to Manto. He had an ambiguous relationship with the authorities, quickly became disillusioned, turned to drinking more, and the lack of recognition killed him,” she said, adding that while he had been a heavy drinker in Delhi and Bombay, he became an alcoholic there, though he never wrote under the influence of drink.(IANS)(image: tribune.com.pk)

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Australia to abolish 457 existing Visa programmes, Changes won’t affect Indians much: Harinder Sidhu

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Harinder Sidhu said that the number of India-born Australians has tripled in the last one decade providing relief by ousting fears over the new visa regime

New Delhi, May 9, 2017: After Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced last month that he will be abolishing the existing 457 Visa programme, currently used by temporary foreign workers to gain employment, the country’s High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu said on Tuesday that she did not expect the move to affect Indians much.

Speaking at a media interaction organised by the Indian Women’s Press Corps here, Sidhu said the move to abolish the 457 Visa programme was aimed to ensure that people who come to Australia should be properly qualified.

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The 457 Visa programme is used mainly to hire foreign workers in the restaurant, IT and medical industries and the majority of such visa holders came from India, Britain and China. Turnbull’s statement, coming days after he visited New Delhi, caused a lot of consternation in India.

According to government statistics, 95,758 people were living in Australia under 457 Visa programme last year, with the highest proportion coming from India (24.6 per cent), followed by Britain (19.5 per cent) and China (5.8 per cent).

Sidhu said that most of the Indian 457 Visa holders work in the IT sector and, given the “great shortage” of IT workers in her country, “we expect Indians to continue to qualify” for Australian visas.

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“This (457 Visa) is just a temporary visa that allowed people to come and work for a week to four years,” she said.

She said that the number of student visas issued to Indians has also continued to rise over the last three years.

From 46,000 student visas issued in 2014, the number rose to 53,000 in 2015 and to over 60,000 in 2017, the High Commissioner said.

As for incidents of racism in Australia, Sidhu, who is a person of Indian origin, said that Australia was “one of the most successful multicultural societies” with people from 120 countries.

“There is a policy of zero tolerance at all levels of government (on racism),” she said.

In this connection, she also pointed out that 48 per cent of Australia’s total population of 24 million are first and second generation migrants.

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As for India-Australia ties, the High Commissioner said that both countries shared “a fairly strong bilateral relationship”.

She said that during Prime Minister Turnbull’s visit to India last month, he and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi agreed to “add fresh momentum” to the bilateral ties.

Stating that both countries shared common strategic and security interests, Sidhu said that military ties were growing in numbers, “notably bilateral naval exercises”.

She also said that both countries shared a “strong economic relationship” while mentioning that Modi and Turnbull have agreed to “move forward” on the proposed Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).

Later this year, the largest ever Australian trade delegation will visit India for the Australia Trade Week.

According to the High Commissioner, the personal relationship between Modi and Turbull is very important for growth of businesses in both countries. (IANS)

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101-year-old Indian Woman Man Kaur bags Gold in 100 metres sprint at the World Masters Games in New Zealand

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101-year-old Man Kaur , Twitter

Auckland, April 24, 2017: Indian Man Kaur, 101, won the 100 metres sprint at the World Masters Games here on Monday. Hailing from Chandigarh, Man Kaur was the lone contender in the 100-years-and-over event which she completed in a minute and 14 seconds.

She will also compete in the 200m race on Wednesday, and has registered to take part in the shot put and javelin throw events.

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Man Kaur has raced her way to glory in many championships with training from son Gurdev Singh, who lives in Canada and is also a runner. She took to running at the age of 93 on encouragement of her son.

She has won more than 20 medals in the Masters Games across the globe.

“I follow whatever my son does. I train every day with my son. I like to keep myself fit and healthy. I will continue running till the death,” she was quoted as saying by tvnz.co.nz. (IANS)

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Hinduism One of the Fastest Growing Religions in Ireland, according to Census 2016

Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents.

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Hinduism is growing fast in Ireland
Source: Pixabay

April 10, 2017: According to Census 2016 Summary Results by Central Statistics Office (CSO) of Government of Ireland reportedly published on April 6, Hinduism is one of the fastest growing religions in Ireland and it grew over 34 percent from 2011 to 2016. According to this report, there are 14,300 Hindus now in Ireland.

Orthodox was the only other religion which grew faster than Hinduism during this time period. Religious groups whose population declined during this period included Roman Catholics (the predominant religious group in the country), Church of Ireland, Christian, Presbyterian, and Apostolic or Pentecostal. The number of Irish Catholics fell by 105,800. “No religion” that is people with no religion grew by nearly 74 percent numbering 468,421, while “Not stated” also grew by about 72 percent.

President of Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, commending the Irish Hindu community for their contributions to the society and nation in Ireland; urged them to continue with the traditional values of hard work, higher morals, stress on education, the sanctity of marriage, etc.

Rajan Zed also advised Hindus to focus on inner search, stay pure, explore the vast wisdom of scriptures, make spirituality more attractive to youth and children, stay away from the greed, and always keep God in the life.

Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents.

Prepared by Upama Bhattacharya. Twitter @Upama_myself