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By Bhaswati Mukherjee
As a young Director in UN Division of India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in 1990, when the world was not networked as it is today, I have vivid recollections of following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait along with my colleagues in our office on a short-wave radio which carried the BBC hourly bulletins. At lunch time, colleagues from the then WANA and Gulf Division would update us on the meticulous arrangements and organization the MEA had mounted under the leadership of the then External Affairs Minister I.K. Gujral, who later became Prime Minister, to evacuate over 100,000 Indians stranded in Kuwait.
After the UN Security Council announced sanctions against the Saddam regime, their situation became desperate since their only possible escape route was across the desert to Jordan. It was one of the most complex rescue operations in the annals of recent history.
When I went to see the recently released Bollywood film “Airlift”, I anticipated that the film would provide belated and welcome recognition to the efforts of our colleagues in MEA, who along with our ambassadors in Kuwait and Jordan and their diplomatic and other staff worked tirelessly for the final happy conclusion of bringing our Indian diaspora in Kuwait safely home. It would, I hoped, also chronicle the efforts of our heroic Air India pilots who willingly flew countless flights through a war zone to bring their compatriots back to Mumbai. The encouragement and leadership provided by the then minister Gujral also required to be highlighted.
“Airlift” is a well produced film with great acting by Akshay Kumar and others. It also arouses our patriotic feelings with our beautiful flag and national anthem preceding the screening. The problem arises because, despite the notification that the film is purely fictitious, the reality is that it distorts recent history and reduces facts to fantasy. This will mislead millions of Indians who were born after 1990.
The film portrays Gujral in a most unflattering manner, completely divorced from reality. It ridicules an entire MEA, the Indian envoys at the time serving in Kuwait, Iraq and Jordan and their colleagues except for one fictitious joint secretary, portrayed sitting in a large hall drinking tea and taking a call from desperate Indians in Kuwait because others refused to do so during their lunch break.
The fantasy is to portray Akshay Kumar like Moses leading the Jews in the famous exodus across the desert to the Promised Land. The reality was that a convoy of 100,000 people could not cross 1,000 km of a harsh desert without stopping, eating and refuelling. The reality was that there were actually 110,000 Indians at that time in Kuwait to be evacuated and this evacuation continued for several weeks. And the reality was that the evacuation was organized by the MEA, through frantic efforts made behind the scenes to obtain Saddam’s agreement for the safety of our Indians and their safe return to India.
This reality became complicated no doubt due to the infamous embrace of Gujral by Saddam, but it is often forgotten that it is our then minister Gujral and MEA, whose forceful interventions also ensured the safety of our air hostesses who had been stranded after the invasion.
“Airlift” also hits out at Air India, depicting its pilots as uncaring and unpatriotic, with some pilots stating in the film that they would not fly in a war zone since they were not Indian Air Force pilots. The film shows the fictitious joint secretary pleading helplessly with Air India pilots while taking calls from Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar). This is a travesty of the truth and should be strongly contested by Air India.
MEA’s official spokesperson Vikas Swarup recently noted: “This is a film, and films often take liberties with actual events, facts. This particular film has also taken artistic liberties in the depiction of the events as it actually happened in Kuwait in 1990.” He added that those who remember the 1990 evacuation would also know the “very pro-active” role that the MEA played. Official delegations were sent to Baghdad and Kuwait City. The entire operation was coordinated along with the civil aviation ministry, Air India and a host of other government departments.
When responsible film makers and famous actors take gross liberties with facts and mix fantasy with fiction, playing on local prejudice against politicians and bureaucrats, it results in historical distortions, leading to younger Indians believing that the political leadership of India and MEA were and continue to be completely callous and indifferent to the fate of so many of their compatriots stranded in a dangerous war zone.
It is important to underline that the Indian political leadership, cutting across party lines, and the MEA and concerned ministries have always responded quickly and effectively to the Kuwait crisis and other evacuations such as the Indian Navy’s Operation Sukoon in Lebanon in 2006, Operation Safe Homecoming in Libya in 2011, and more recently the Indian Navy’s heroic efforts, along with support from the Indian Air Force and Air India, to rescue more than 5,000 Indians and others stranded in Yemen.
Perhaps it is time for Bollywood to do a reality check and produce another rousing film like “Airlift”, but this time focussing on the real, unsung and forgotten heroes of these evacuations. They owe it to India and to those Indians who cared enough for their compatriots to work day and night to bring them home safely. They owe it to the history and posterity of this great nation. (IANS)(Photo: tollytrendz.in)
(Bhaswati Mukherjee is a former Indian ambassador. The views expressed are personal)
The Reformation in England is notorious for the religious impact it had on the countries of the world, and the current ongoing dispute among the various factions of Catholicism and Protestantism. Three Blind Mice, a rhyme that emerged in 1609, roughly a few years after the death of Queen Elizabeth I, is somewhat a dark reminder of the Dark Ages.
The Reformation began in England when King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic church because he wanted to divorce his wife, to marry another woman who would bear him a male heir. His wife was a devout catholic and refused to give up her crown to another. The king decided to break away from the Papacy, from Rome, where the Catholic church reigned from. He created the Church of England, and put himself as the legal head. England broke into two factions based on religion, and after Henry's death, the country was plunged in war.
Henry's eldest daughter, Queen Mary I took the throne after her father, and propagated Catholicism, as taught by her mother. Henry's other daughter, through his second wife, Queen Elizabeth I embraced the Protestant faith. Queen Mary was always paranoid of losing her throne to Elizabeth, and she hated the Protestants because of what happened to her mother. She set about ruthlessly persecuting anyone who openly professed their faith, which led to her being known as 'Bloody Mary'.
Illustration of Christian protestants being burned at the stake Image source: wikimedia commons
History has recorded the death of three Bishops, Ridley, Lattimer, and Crammer, known as the Oxford martyrs. They were burned at stake for teaching the Protestant doctrine. The rhyme Three Blind Mice is believed to be an allegorical allusion to the incident of the bishops' execution. They are called 'blind' because of their refusal to recant their confession. Queen Mary is said to have "cut off their tales with a carving knife" and is referred to as a farmer's wife to lighten the scene for children; perhaps to also reduce the ruthlessness of the act.
Three blind mice. Three blind mice.
See how they run. See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind mice (Modern version of the rhyme, Wikipedia)
Three Blind Mice is sung widely in nurseries of the world by little children, often innocent of the true story behind it.
Keywords: Three Blind Mice, Nursery Rhymes, Reformation, Persecution, England, Queen Mary
The pandemic brought about a global boom of entrepreneurship in 2020. Thousands of small businesses launched in the UK last year, and many were very successful. Some businesses started as passion projects, while others aimed to fill a hole in the pandemic market. Services and products, like at-home workouts, popped up all over social media from new and exciting businesses. The pandemic left many Brits financially unstable and scared for the future of their career. Launching their own business gave them something to focus on again and a small amount of income.
The Financial Times reported that the number of registered companies in the UK increased by 30% in 2020. As the world returns to normal, it will be interesting to see how these new businesses approach the post-pandemic world.
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If you have just set up a new business, here are some essential marketing tips to get the ball rolling:
Exploit social media
Social media is one of the most effective marketing platforms available. You can connect with a global audience for free and market your product or service to them. Post consistently and use high-quality imaging to catch your audience's attention. Engage with potential customers by replying to direct messages, comments, shares and likes. Use a few platforms to maximise your exposure and create a strong brand identity.
You can connect with a global audience for free and market your product or service to them. | Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash
Network as much as you can
Networking is a vital part of business, and you can do it on and offline. Use sites like LinkedIn to connect with fellow entrepreneurs and those in different industries. Reach out to them directly and ask about their company or role. You might be surprised by how much you can learn from one conversation. Once in-person events return, you should look to make the most out of meeting people in your industry. You might find brands to collaborate with or a mentor to learn from. Make sure to hand out your business cards at the event so people can get in touch with you in the future.
Networking is a vital part of business, and you can do it on and offline. | Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash
Create a blog
You need to be an expert in your industry. Create a blog and share your journey of learning to be a business owner. You can share your expertise and why you started the company, which other entrepreneurs can read and learn from. Your knowledge and experience might be extremely helpful for those just starting out. Use a range of marketing techniques to launch your business into the next phase.
Use a range of marketing techniques to launch your business into the next phase. | Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash
(Disclaimer: This article is sponsored and include some commercial links)
One of Indias fast growing Direct To Consumer (DTC) beauty and personal care brands, MyGlamm, launches its national TVC around the message 'All Natural #NoNasties today with actress Shraddha Kapoor, who is also an investor in the brand.
Kapoor who has a great millennial and Gen Z connect introduces 'My SUPERFOODS Kajal' which has No Parabens, No Mineral Oils, No Nasties while still being long-lasting and smudge-free and made with the goodness of nature. This is followed by many girls trying applying the kajal with confidence and while highlighting the ingredients Avocado Oil, Goji Berries, Vitamin E and Sunflower Seed Oil.
Commenting on the campaign, Apratim Majumder, CMO, MyGlamm says "Women have been telling us about what they want from their beauty products for a while now. Wikimedia Commons
The brand focuses on creating quality products that are high efficacy made with all-natural and no chemicals in the formulae. his campaign follows the #TellMyGlammWhatYouWant campaign where women logged in to tell the company what they wanted from their beauty products. It aims to establish a beauty democracy by giving consumers the power to tell the brand what they want thus changing the entire experience of how women buy beauty products in India.
Commenting on the campaign, Apratim Majumder, CMO, MyGlamm says "Women have been telling us about what they want from their beauty products for a while now. We have been innovating to serve those needs with products. When they told us that they want a kajal that is not only long-lasting and smudge-proof but also takes care of their eyes, we knew we had to do this. The campaign is about telling everyone out there who told us they need a kajal that cares, MyGlamm Superfoods Kajal is here for you! The campaign debued on MyGlamm's social channels- YouTube & Instagram on September 16. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: India, Direct beauty brands, My Glamm national, girls, kajal, confidence ingredients, Avocado Oil, Shraddha Kapoor