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What exactly is the extent of the wealth amassed by the Scindias, the erstwhile ruling family of Gwalior? How was it generated and how is it to be distributed among its four claimants?
Other questions are perhaps best hidden away or kept out of sight for diplomatic reasons -- such as the Gwalior monarchs' controversial role during the events of 1857, the alleged and under-probed role of the palace in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi (enunciated by Tushar Gandhi in a magazine interview in May 2019), and Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia's excessive dependence on her 'Rasputin' that led to a bitter split from her son Madhavrao Scindia.
These are some of the questions raised in political analyst, columnist, author and journalist Rasheed Kidwai's biography, "The House of Scindias "A Saga of Politics, Power and Intrigue" (Roli Books), that provides a wealth of information on the family from the turn of the century and is sure to rekindle interest in a clan that has seen a member serve in parliament or a state assembly for over 60 years.
"The history of the Scindias is best told through their lawsuits over property," Kidwai writes, and poses the question: "How about a 400-billion-rupee property dispute? Or is the figure higher?"
"The answer is no if one goes by the affidavits the Scindias have filed for parliamentary and assembly elections from 1957 (when the Rajmata first entered the fray) till date. Their wealth appears to be far less than popular perceptions about what is being fought over in protracted legal battles across the country. According to some estimates -- it is impossible to arrive at a definitive figure -- these disputes are over properties worth around Rs 40,000 crore. Some of these disputes have been dragging on for over thirty years among the former royals of the erstwhile Gwalior state, Jyotiraditya Scindia and his three aunts, amid speculation that the legal battle may be settled out of court," Kidwai writes.
"Neither side has denied or confirmed anything related to their legal battles, let alone reveal any details," he adds.
The roots of the dispute lie in the fact that when Jyotiraditya's grandfather, Jiwajirao Scindia, the erstwhile Maharaja of Gwalior, died in 1961, he had not left instructions about how his immovable and movable properties were to be divided among his descendants.
"The properties were initially divided equally between his widow, Vijaya Raje and his only son, Madhavrao, after she filed a suit in the Bombay High Court, back in 1984. Mother and son both had a 50 per cent share in the large number of immovable properties spread across India.
"In his case, Jyotiraditya had invoked the Scindia custom of primogeniture," Kidwai writes. He claimed that the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act that normally divide property equally among the descendants do not apply to the princely line as these were excluded by Section 5 (2) of the Act relating to the inheritance of a family.
His aunts, Usha Raje (settled in Nepal), Vasundhara and Yashodhara contested the claim, citing their mother's will of September 20, 1985.
Sardar Sambhajirao Rao Angre, "a master of intrigue and former private secretary to Vijaya Raje, who had a fractious relationship with Madhavrao" stepped in, Kidwai writes, "to explain that the custom of the firstborn enjoying 'jyeshtbadhikar' (primogeniture) could not be established beyond doubt as almost everyone who had ascended the throne of Gwalior before Jyotiraditya's great-grandfather, Madhav Maharaj, did had been adopted. That was how the Scindia's had managed to avoid the Doctrine of Lapse that eventually led to the 1857 rebellion by the Rani of Jhansi, Lakshmibai".
Then, immediately after Vijaya Raje died in 2001, Angre produced her handwritten will drafted in 1985 that had disinherited her son and grandson while bequeathing two-third of the assets to her daughters and one-third to a charity through a trust that would, in turn, cover the 15 trusts she had formed in 1975, just before the Emergency, to manage the properties.
"While the legal feasibility of an umbrella trust is questionable, this will is being examined in a probate case by Delhi High Court and is currently in the stage of evidence," Kidwai writes.
Vijaya Raje's solicitors in Mumbai had produced another will in 2001that excluded not only her son and grandson but the charities as well, leaving the entire block of properties that were under her control to her daughters. This will is also being examined in a probate case, this time by the Bombay High Court, and is in the evidence state.
The two wills "are important because of an agreement in 1971 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had scrapped the system of privy purses. At that point, the Scindias were getting Rs 25 lakh annually, apart from incomes from various trusts", Kidwai writes.
Immediately after that, the Scindias had divided their assets through a verbal agreement: the immovable properties had gone to the mother and the cash, shares and debentures to the son. A Mumbai court formalised this in 1975.
In his suit, Jyotiraditya challenged the verbal agreement of 1971 and the subsequent court division of 1975 between his grandmother and father.
In October 2017, Jyotiraditya expressed a desire for an out-of-court settlement and this agreed to the appointment of a commissioner, who, however, died during the process.
In June 2019, "the prospects of a compromise suffered a setback when the Bombay High Court refused a request by Jyotiraditya to strike off a fresh written statement by his aunts, claiming that they had retracted from their earlier stance in the family's property dispute", Kidwai writes.
"With Jyotiraditya joining the BJP in March 2020, many in Gwalior and Bhopal feel that the growing cordiality among the nephew and his aunts Vasundhara and Yashodhara (Usha Raje doesn't take any interest in the case) will help resolve the property disputes," Kidwai adds.
This then is the lead-up to a tale that Kidwai relates in eight chapters, beginning from "Scindias: A Brief History" and weaving through "The Rajmata of Gwalior", "Madhavrao Scindia: In Retrospection", "Vasundhara Raje Scindia: Princess in Public Life", "Yashodhara Raje Scindia: Princess Crusader of Many Causes", "Jyotiraditya Scindia: The Ambitious Gwalior Royal", "Next Generation: Royals and their Political Future", and "Various Shades of Fortune and the Ugly Property Wars".
How will this saga end?
"Following an injunction from the Supreme Court, no property can be given to anyone in the Scindia family till the primogeniture case is settled.
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"While the extent of the Scindias' wealth defies speculation, (by itself) the 1,240,771 sq ft Jai Vilas Palace's opulent interiors may give an idea. It leaves no doubt in our minds of the vast fortune at stake for the members of the erstwhile royal family," Kidwai concludes.
Come to think of it, here's a readymade scenario for an OTT magnum opus. (IANS/AD)
Amit Rai Jain, a Baghpat-based businessman, has found 16 coins made of silver and copper which have a bull and a horseman engraved on them.
He found the coins from a mound, known locally as the 'Katha mound' in Khekhra, close to the Delhi-Saharanpur highway, on Sunday.
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Jain told reporters that some of the coins are from the late 12th century AD, which is the era of Rajput king Prithviraj Chauhan.
"I keep frequenting the area, which is rich in archaeological finds. This time, it revealed something considered fascinating in Indian numismatics. The coins which I found belong to a series of Rajput rulers who remained dominant in the region comprising Rajasthan, Haryana, and the western Gangetic plains from the eighth century to 12th century AD," he said.
Jain, is a member of the Culture and History Association, an organisation comprising historians from western Uttar Pradesh.
K.K. Sharma, head of the department of history, Multanimal Modi College, Modinagar, confirmed the antiquity of the coins.
Picture of some ancient coinsUnsplash
"This is an interesting find as the area remained with the Rajput kings for a couple of centuries. Horse and bull inscriptions on coins were quite common in those days. Horses used to be the primary vehicle of soldiers during battles and their depiction on coins is not a surprise. In fact, close to two dozen rulers between the seventh and 17th centuries used horses in some form or the other on their coins," he said.
Baghpat is well-known for the discovery of interesting historical artifacts, the most sensational being three chariots unearthed during the Archaeological Survey of India excavation held in Sinauli in June 2018, which marked the 'first-ever' physical evidence of Bronze Age chariots in India.
In 2006, Sinauli had revealed Harappan-era burial grounds where several discoveries were made such as that of painted grey ware pottery, skeletons, bronze swords, and copper vessels.
Keywords : ancient, coins, silver, copper, archaeological, kings, discovery, historical, artifacts, Uttar Pradesh, India, Rajput.
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With an aim to examine the wide-ranging narratives and the very definitions of the art of sculpture, Palette Art Gallery's forthcoming exhibition, 18 Dimensions - is a show dedicated to sculptures underlining the important works by 18 contemporary artists, who have made a significant impact on the Indian and Global art landscape.
Bringing a seductive edge to the visual arts, an element of pleasure to one's life and working environment, the exhibit is an effort to showcase a broad scope of contemporary sculpture from the abstract and the minimal to the popular, making socio-political commentary that is deeply contemplative and thought-provoking.
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The show reflects on a large number of materials and methods from casting to the modes of assemblage as well as minimalism, conceptualism making visible the process of making in most of the works.
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Featuring over 18 artists, the intention is to present a range and variety of sculptural expressions and encourage viewer participation and physical engagement with artworks once again, as the city opens up to mobility from the studios of Arunkumar HG, Ashiesh Shah, Gigi Scaria, G. R. Iranna, L. N. Tallur, Narayan Biswas, Mrinalini Mukherjee, Manjunath Kamath, Pooja Iranna, Himmat Shah, Jagannath Panda, Rajesh Ram, Riyas Komu, Sangam Vankhade, Sumedh R, Subodh Gupta, Sudarshan Shetty, Valay Shende, Vibha Galhotra and Vipul Kumar, the exhibition studies their involvement with the influences probing the limits and possibilities inherent in a sculpture's inescapable three-dimensional physicality.
One of the highlights of the show includes a selection of the rare hemp works by artist Mrinalini Mukherjee. Known for her distinctly contemporary style and use of dyed and woven hemp fibre, she worked with an unconventional material in the world of sculpting. Her four-decade-long career was an exemplar of a practice dedicated to formulating a language that was a mix of abstraction and figuration.
Keywords : art gallery, sculpture, exhibition, Palette Art Gallery, Bikaner House, New Delhi, contemporary, abstract, materials, conceptualism.
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By Dr Anil Batra
The winter comes with its own set of hassles. New moms have to be careful because they have to take care of themselves and their babies. It becomes imperative to protect babies from the harsh season.
The immune system of newborn babies is developing, which makes them susceptible to respiratory infections. But, you can take preventive measures to keep your child warm and safe. Newborn babies need extra care until their immune system becomes stronger to protect their bodies from the harmful effects of viruses and bacteria that usually become more active in the winter season. A drop in the temperature can aggravate different processes in the body, therefore, moms need to take extra care of newborn babies during winters.
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New moms can follow the given tips to take care of their little ones and protect them from the harmful effects of harsh winds blowing outside.
Keep the temperature warm in the baby's room
Use a portable heater in the baby's room to keep the temperature warm. The air becomes dry due to the excessive use of a heater. Therefore, keeping a humidifier to balance the moisture levels.
Also Read : A newborn baby clothing guide
The baby's skin is very sensitive and the harsh, dry, and cold air can make the skin dry. Therefore, apply a good moisturizer to keep it soft and smooth. Choose a moisturizer made of milk cream and butter, especially for children. This will keep the skin of your baby soft.
Massage is important to keep your baby's skin soft and healthy. Massage helps to improve the blood circulation in the body that helps in boosting strength. Use a natural oil to massage the body of your child. Make sure the room is warm where you massage the baby.
Avoid using heavy blankets
You can comfort your baby by laying a light blanket to keep your baby warm. Avoid using a heavy blanket to cover your baby during winters because your baby would not be able to move his arms and legs while sleeping. In this process, your baby may pull it up on its face and this can cause respiratory distress. Thus, use a light blanket and keep the room temperature optimum.
Choose comfortable dressing for your baby. Unsplash
Dress your baby comfortably
Choose comfortable dressing for your baby. Avoid wrapping your baby in thick sweaters, gloves, and socks. This will restrict its movement and he/she will become irritable. Choose clothes depending on the room temperature. The clothes should cover his/her baby but should not restrict movement. You can use light gloves and socks to cover your hands and feet to keep your baby warm at night.
Breastfeeding is the most important activity that can keep your baby healthy. Breast milk consists of required nutrients and antibodies that will enhance the immune system of your baby and will protect him/her against diseases. During breastfeeding your baby will feel warm and cosy that will also give him comfort.
Maintain proper hygiene
Mothers should be careful when handling newborn babies in winters. You will be the first point of contact for your baby. Therefore, make sure you keep yourself clean and healthy. Wash your hands before handling your baby. Germs can easily enter your baby's body through your dirty hands. Therefore, make sure you wash your hands or sanitize them before attending to your baby. Also, ask visitors to wash their hands.
Take care outdoors
If you want to take your child outdoors make sure it is not freezing temperature. Take your child out for fresh air only if the temperature is not too cold and remember to cover your baby properly before taking them out. Taking your baby out will help to give fresh air and will improve their health.
Common issues that may arise in newborn babies during winters
Winter brings flu and other viruses that can easily spread and affect anyone. Common issues that may arise in newborn babies during winters include the following:
Apply a good moisturizer to keep the baby's skin soft and smooth. Unsplash
Parents can take care of their newborn babies from various diseases that may affect them in the winters in the following ways:
If your baby suffers during the winter season, you should consult a pediatrician.
You can give a homemade solution if your baby suffers from a cold. Check with the doctor and you can only give a saline solution or nasal drops.
Keep your baby well hydrated. Keep breastfeeding your baby and also give water if necessary.
Cuddle your baby lovingly and give him warmth along with other precautions.
In the first winter, you can take preventive measures to take care of your little ones and keep them safe. Maintain proper hygiene and keep your house warm. Avoid visitors if your child is not feeling well.
How often to give a bath to your baby in winter?
It is not necessary to give a bath to your baby every day. You can bathe your baby after 2-3 days in winter. You can sponge bathe your newborn every other day in winter.
Check the temperature of the room before giving a bath to your baby. The room temperature should be warm and comfortable for your baby.
Check the temperature of the water. Make sure the water is not too hot or cold. The temperature of the water should be right for the body of your baby. Check the temperature by touching the water with your elbow or wrist.
Use mild soap and shampoo to bathe your baby in winter. Also, apply oil and moisturizer to the skin to keep it soft and prevent skin allergies.
Keywords : winter care, babies, immunity, mothers, temperature, breastfeeding, hygiene, influenza, winter, disease, paediatrician, soft.
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