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The shortest month of the year turned out to be quite a dull one for most readers. While Sourav Ganguly’s “A Century Is Not Enough” and “Do We Not Bleed” by Mehr Tarar did create some buzz, most other books released during the month seem to have gone out of sight. A quick look at the front shelves of bookstores as also the books trending on e-commerce sites shows the disappointment that February was for bookworms.
But IANS recommendations for March will bring cheer. Featuring non-fiction by Romila Thapar; a biography of actor Sanjay Dutt; a politically charged memoir by Taslima Nasrin; a cheeky story of a little girl’s harrowing experiences with public toilets; and finally a powerful collection of stories from Anjum Hasan, these books are sure to be read and talked about widely.
Here are the five books that we can’t wait to read this March:
1. Indian Cultures As Heritage, by Romila Thapar (Aleph)
Every society has its cultures: The patterns that reveal how people live and express themselves, and how they value objects and thoughts. What constitutes Indian heritage and culture has been much discussed. Thapar begins by explaining how the definitions of the concept of culture have changed in the last three centuries and hence require added attention. Cultures, when defined by drawing on selected items and thoughts from the past, remain relatively unknown, except to a few. Yet, each has a context and meaning relating them to the past and to their significance as a contemporary presence. Contexts, often regarded as unconnected to culture, can, to the contrary, be quite illuminating.
2. A Day in the Life, by Anjum Hasan (Penguin)
Quixotic retirees in Coorg and young newly-weds trying to eat meat; teenage boys traveling to Benares in the nineteenth century and a retiree with an anger-management problem in an India where the right wing is rising. Fourteen well-crafted stories give us a sense of daily Indian life of a wide cast of characters. Hasan’s protagonists are, as always, living in their own heads a lot of the time, often whimsical and vulnerable outliers. Where is their place in the new order, where have they come from and where are they going? Billed by the publisher as “quietly devastating, subtly subversive and wonderfully wry”, Hasan’s stories are increasingly a good address for authentic Indian fiction.
3. Sanjay Dutt: The Crazy, Untold Story of Bollywood’s Bad Boy, by Yasser Usman (Juggernaut)
Sanjay Dutt, in the brief of this book, has been dubbed as “the original bad boy of Bollywood”. In the early 1980s, it was not uncommon to find him passed out over the steering wheel of his car on a suburban road of Mumbai after a night of drugs and alcohol. Sanjay’s open love for guns and hard partying, his rippling muscles, long hair and many glamorous girlfriends, including the top actress of that time, defined machismo for a generation of Indian men.
But underneath the tough-guy image, there were genuine struggles, too: Both his mother and his first wife died tragically young of cancer, and Sanjay had to go through long and painful periods of de-addiction therapy. In this book, Yasser Usman tells the uncensored story of Sanjay’s roller-coaster life that is stranger than any fiction — from the time he smuggled heroin into the United States and went on a drunken shooting spree at his Pali Hill home after breaking up with his girlfriend to his curious phone calls to gangster Chhota Shakeel and his role in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts.
4. Split, by Taslima Nasrin (Penguin)
Nasrin is known for her powerful writing on women’s issues and uncompromising criticism of religious fundamentalism. “Life felt like a feather at one moment and heavy as a stone the very next. I had never really felt this weight before, the full weight of life, and before I could make sense of things, it had crept down my back and slowly bent my spine. I could not recognize this life; it was mine and yet it was not. Without pausing to consider I had given away everything life had offered to me to another. Later, racked with thirst, I had reached out and found that there was nothing left for me… My life was spread out in front of me like an arid wasteland,” she writes in her upcoming book.
“Split” has a compelling narrative that captures the plight of the eminent Bangladeshi woman writer with freedom of expression and speech at the book’s core.
5. I Need To Pee, by Neha Singh (Puffin)
And finally, why should adults have all the fun? Here is a charming picture book empowering children to speak up about their right to use toilet facilities in a clean and safe environment. Rahi simply loves slurping refreshing drinks, and so she always needs to pee. But boy, does she hate public loos! On her way to her aunt’s in Meghalaya, she has to pee on a train as well as a stop at a hotel and even the really scary public toilet at the bus depot! And when those around her refuse to help her with her troubles, her only savior is her “Book of Important Quotes”.
Travel with Rahi and read all about her yucky, icky, sticky adventures in this quirky and vibrant book about the ever-relevant worry of finding safe and clean public restrooms. (IANS)
The symbol of Swastika is known to signify peace, prosperity, and good fortune in the religious cultures of Eurasia. In fact, this symbol is considered very significant in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. But, at the same time, it has become one of the most misunderstood religious symbols and has been globally banned in many countries.
The reason why the symbol of Swastika is banned in many countries is because of its association with Adolf Hitler's extreme political ideology, Nazism, as Swastika as its official symbol.
Austria, France, Latvia, Spain, Germany, and Russia are amongst the many countries that have banned the display and use of the Swastika.
Moreover, last week Victoria in Australia is preparing to become the first-ever state to ban the public display of the Swastika. This is a step towards an expansion of anti-vilification laws in the state.
Representation of the Swastika on the flag of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Movement.Photo by Flickr.
Now, we must know and understand what went wrong with this symbol, which is sacred and signifies all-good things.
For a very, very long time, in India, the Swastika is the first emblem that is worshipped or even drawn before any sacred and auspicious ceremonies as this symbol in Sanskrit represents 'well-being'. But, the Swastika lost all its credibility when it was wrongfully used by Adolf Hitler.
In fact, it is believed that if this symbol is worshipped properly, then it gives positive results. But if it is abused, then it gives negative results. So, when Adolf Hitler rotated the Swastika at 45 degrees, it slowly and steadily brought misery not only to Adolf Hitler and his theory of Nazism but also to all the people who were associated with him.
Therefore, in order to give the kind of respect and credibility which the Swastika deserves, World Interfaith Harmony Week which was held in New York in February this year, interfaith groups appealed to the United Nations to recognize and acknowledge the Swastika as an important and peaceful symbol. In fact, they also differentiated it from the Hakenkreuz or "Hooked Cross" of Adolf Hitler.
India celebrated a historic day on August 7, as 23-year-old Neeraj Chopra became the first Indian to win an Olympic gold medal in athletics. In the men's javelin throw event, he achieved his greatest triumph, throwing the javelin 87.58 meters on his second try.
Neeraj Chopra was born on December 24, 1997, in Khandra village in Haryana's Panipat district. He grew up in a Haryanavi family of farmers. He is the brother of two sisters. He graduated from Dayanand Anglo-Vedic College in Chandigarh and is now enrolled in Lovely Professional University in Jalandhar, Punjab, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree. Chopra was bullied due to his obesity as a kid, which prompted his father to enroll him in a nearby gym. He then joined a gym in Panipat, where Jaiveer Choudhary, a javelin thrower, noticed his potential and coached him. When the 13-year-old Chopra finished training under Jaiveer for a year, he was enrolled at the Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex in Panchkula, where he began training under coach Naseem Ahmed.
In 2018, he broke the world record in the javelin throw and became India's first-ever gold medalist in the javelin throw. He is also a laureate of the Arjuna Award for 2018. | Wikimedia Commons
Chopra's first international medal came in 2014, as he took home a silver medal at the Youth Olympic Qualification Tournament in Bangkok. In 2015, he set a world record in the junior category of 81.04 meters in the 2015 All India Inter-University Athletics Meet.
Since emerging into the public eye with a historic gold medal at the junior world championships in 2016, he has maintained a high level of performance, setting an Under-20 world record of 86.48m, which still stands. Gold medals in both the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the 2018 Asian Games are among his other accomplishments, including a first-place in the 2017 Asian Championships. In 2018, he broke the world record in the javelin throw and became India's first-ever gold medalist in the javelin throw. He is also a laureate of the Arjuna Award for 2018.
Chopra has also had his share of bad events in life. In 2019, he underwent surgery on the elbow of his right throwing arm, which kept him out of the game for almost a year. However, he returned more robust than ever. In November 2019, he went to South Africa to train from Klaus Bartoneitz. He spent the following year in India training at the NIS Patiala because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was allowed to go to France with his coach after weeks of trying to get a travel visa.
Neeraj Chopra made history in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by becoming the first Indian to win a gold medal in athletics. Also, it is worth mentioning that after Abhinav Bindra, Chopra is only the second Indian to win an individual gold medal.
Keywords: Neeraj Chopra, Olympics, Tokyo2020, Gold medal, javelin, India, Haryana
The emergence of the Industrial Revolution in Victorian England brought with it many apprehensions and fears that translated into a new genre in literature: the gothic. Today, the idea of the gothic does not have to much with literature as much as it is associated with fashion.
The Victorians began to wear black more often during the Industrial Revolution to hide the stains of soot on their clothes. Many of the working class were employed in factories. They were newly introduced to technology, the idea of coal as fuel, and the working of machines to serve a certain purpose. This kind of work was hard and messy. Wearing light colours burdened the tired folk when the stubborn stains did not get washed away.
The steam engine was invented to make locomotion easier for the masses, but it brought fear to the people. They had led quiet and simple lives till now, and suddenly their world was infiltrated with loud noises and smoke. Dark places became synonymous with evil deeds and mysteries. It was from this time that horror gained a place in the imaginations of people and artists.
A man sporting gothic clothes and shock coloured hair Image source: wikimedia commons
The gothics of today are those who have held on to these practices. There is no need to fear smoke and noise anymore, but the goths wear black clothes all the time, paint their skin a pale shade, to contrast their clothes, and wear bright shades of red. The traditional gothics decorated themselves with jewellery bearing religious significances, as the belief in Dracula and vampires emerged in the Victorian period. Today, it is a trend to wear studded crosses, or crosses made of black metal either as neck chokers, or earrings.
Modern goths also wear bright monotones to show their patronage of a certain style or order of the goths. They can be seen in neon shades of green, pink, and yellow, often sporting piercings, and matching hair. Their tastes are metallic, and they have an uncanny love for tattoos.
Designers consistently include gothic tastes and styles in their clothing lines to create inclusivity for this subculture. Being gothic, or identifying with them is somewhat a concern even in today's society, and such people are often stigmatised to the extent that it is considered a mental illness associated with the dark arts. The phenomenon is mostly observed in teenagers, and often phases out when they reach adulthood, depending on their sphere of influence.
Keywords: Gothic, Fashion, Victorian, Black, Jewellery