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Kolkata: Armed with spray cans and creativity, a group of youngsters are steadily turning Kolkata’s walls – for long splattered with political slogans and quack cures – into graffiti artscapes, painting the city red, blue and a variety of hues.
A motley crew of young men and women, with pseudonyms as fanciful as their creations, is etching its artistic and social imagination and giving a new definition to the walls, predominantly considered a domain of the political parties in West Bengal.
The otherwise mundane walls in the eastern metropolis have always been a crucial component of the animated political jargon in the state, with parties reaching out to the masses with slogans that are at times witty, satirical, assertive and even thought provoking, but also at times aggressive, contemptuous and full of hatred.
But, basking in anonymous glory, the SREKs, SHAFs and the SNIKs sneak out in the middle of the night to “reclaim” their canvas – city walls covered with slogans – braving attacks from political parties and even police action.
“Politics is a nuisance – be it political graffiti or the politicians themselves. Our ‘street art’ is an attempt to give colour to this otherwise mundane grey world,” SNIK, ‘revered’ as the ‘godfather’ of Kolkata graffiti, told IANS.
Credited with pioneering the ‘guerrilla art’ in the city, SNIK’s love affair with graffiti began while studying in Sydney.
“I mostly started off doing black books and canvases, then moved on to doing basic tags on walls. Returning to Kolkata, I met a few guys at a hip-hop jam and communicating through Facebook and jamming, we began our bid to reclaim the city walls splattered with political hatred and laughable quack cures,” said SNIK, who runs a restaurant in the city.
While its origin can be traced to the cave art of the Paleolithic Age, modern graffiti is perceived as a defiance of
authority and vandalism. Most street artists traditionally prefer to stay anonymous, adopting pseudonyms, fearing a backlash and police action.
World famous for his satirical street art and subversive epigrams, the real identity of British graffiti artist Banksy’ still remains unknown.
But for the graffiti artists, it’s a colourful medium of expression, an art and an addiction for which they are ready to risk police action – or even getting on the wrong side of activists of political parties.
“Graffiti is my addiction; it takes me to a world of my own where I express myself through my colours, my scribbles…The feeling is beyond words… where you scream out your thoughts to the world and yet remain anonymous,” said SHAF, who, with his ‘partner in crime’ SREK, is one of leading ‘graffiti cru’ in the city.
“While we mostly seek permission when doing graffiti on private properties, political party activists perceive our art as an invasion and there have been instances when we had to run for our lives on being chased by them,” SREK said.
SNIK’s ‘cru’ partner SHOCK was caught by the police while spraying on a Metro train and tracks, but was let off with a warning.
The graffiti gangs are not a bunch of aimless artists blindly aping the hip-hop culture. For them, graffiti is as much an art as a means to defy disapproving social norms.
The vibrant colours symbolise their exuberance and the graffiti – the declaration of their existence to the world.
“How many people can walk through a city and prove they were there? It’s a sign I was here. My hand made this mark…My existence counts…,” said SNIK, whose graffiti is not ‘mere scribbles’ but is also an “expression of the youth’s spirit of rebellion’.
The advent of digital printing and the use of flexes and hoardings may have reduced the significance of political graffiti, but with the 2016 assembly polls on the horizon, the battle for the walls is all set to intensify.
“As the saying goes, where there is a will there is a way. Our spray cans too will find the canvasses. Far from days when people considered us vandals and even had contempt for our art, graffiti steadily is gaining in popularity.
“People now willingly allow us to etch our dreams on their walls. Polls or not, our crusade will continue,” SHAF asserted.
Famed painter Samir Aich has lent his support to the graffiti gang in their crusade.
“But for these young men and women, calligraphy would be dead. All their creations are a mural to be appreciated. The colours, the intricate designs, they are all a piece of art,” Aich said.
“It’s time our walls get rid of political graffiti – all their colours, and each and every letter reeks of hatred and deceit,” Aich added.
(Anurag Dey, IANS)
Among the Tamil epics written during the Sangam age, only a few survived to this day. Manimegalai is one such. It is written as a sequel to the Sillapadikaram, taking the story forward of Kovalan and Madhavi's daughter, Manimegalai. The Sillapadikaram is about the injustice of the Madurai kingdom in the execution of Kovalan, which turned Kannagi, his wife into a goddess seeking vengeance for her husband's death. Kovalan, before his death, has an affair with a court dancer, Madhavi, and his daughter, Manimegalai, is said to begin a different tradition among the Tamils.
The epic, written by Sattanar, introduces Buddhism to Dravidian culture, something that has been alien to them for years. Manimegalai is the protagonist, who flees constantly from the pursuit of Chola prince Udhayakumara, and tries to lead an ascetic life. Throughout the plot, Buddhist tenets are used to avoid the culmination of a love-story. Manimegalai is believed to be the anti-love story sequel to the Sillapadikaram.
A complete work of Tamil epic written by hand on leaves Image source: wikimedia commons
The Sillapadikaram was written by a Jain monk, Illango Adigal, and Sattanar, uses the sequel to question Jainism. It is almost a political battle between two new religions competing for a place in a predominantly Hindu society. Parts of Manimegalai even go to the extent of opening ridiculing Jain practices and beliefs.
Critics of Tamil literature have stated that while the Tamil epics have great poetic significance, they are inferior to other world epics when it comes to clearly portraying religious affiliations. In fact, they refer to the newer religions with an infant's perspective. Some scholars have found that Sillapadikaram has more ethical substance than its sequel, but in and of itself, despite being written by a Jain monk, reads like Hindu poetry (Subhramanya Aiyar, 1906).
Keywords: Manimegalai, Sillapadikaram, Tamil Epic, Sattanar, Ilango Adigal, Chola kingdom, Sangam Age, Buddhism
The Covid-19 pandemic could act as an inflection point to shift India's growth model from being consumption driven to investments-led. In its Ecoscope report, Motilal Oswal Financial Services, said: "With Covid-19 hurting India's 'Household' (HH) and 'Government' sectors adversely, the continuity of strong consumption growth is in question."
"On the contrary, with listed companies' financial positions improving and an uptick in household investments in the Real Estate sector (called physical savings), the narrative of investment-led recovery is gaining momentum." The report prescribed that various economic participants - households, governments, listed companies, and unlisted corporates -- to increase their fixed asset investments in the immediate future based on their financial position.
The Covid-19 pandemic could act as an inflection point to shift India's growth model from being consumption driven to investments-led. | Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash
At present, the listed and unlisted corporate sector accounts for only about half of total investments in India. The 'HH' sector including unincorporated enterprises accounts for 35-40 per cent in India's investments, while the remaining 12-13 per cent is contributed by centre and states governments. Besides, the report cited that demand environment is expected to remain subdued due to weak financial position of 'HH' and government sector.
"Despite household investments picking up strongly in 2HFY21, given that Indian households bore the maximum brunt of Covid-led losses in CY20 (and CY21), we believe household spending would remain subdued over the next few years." It further pointed out that unless 'HH', 'Unlisted Corporate', and government sectors can improve their financial positions -- leading to a demand uptick -- a strong revival in investments seems challenging. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: India, covid, pandemic, growth, household, government, investment
SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that next time the Dragon spacecraft will have food warmer and free WiFi. Taking to Twitter, the crew of Inspiration4 shared a checklist of things they have been enjoying while orbiting safely around the Earth.
"Can't believe we're eating cold pizza in space. It's extraordinary!" Inspiration4 tweeted. In response, Musk apologised for the cold food, saying: "Sorry, it was cold! Dragon will have food warmer and free WiFi next time."
Inspiration4 Crew | Wikimedia Commons
After lifting off for space, SpaceX's Inspiration4, the first all-civilian crew, is healthy, happy and doing well in the orbit, the company said recently. The mission lifted off at 8.02 p.m. (EDT) on Wednesday (5.30 am IST on Thursday) aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft from the historic Launch Complex 39 in NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
It is commanded by tech entrepreneur Jared Isaacman who has been joined by medical officer Haley Arceneaux, a pediatric cancer survivor; Mission Specialist Chris Sembroski, an Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer; and Mission Pilot Sian Proctor, a geoscientist, entrepreneur and trained pilot. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Elon Musk, SpaceX, Inspiration4, Dragon, Wifi, food