Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
Kamala Devi Harris, Vivek Murthy, Gautam Raghavan, Mala Adiga, Vinay Reddy, Bharat Ramamurti, Neera Tanden, Celine Gounder, Atul Gawande are some of the Indian names that are blooming more now than at any other time in the innermost circles of the White House and that too within weeks after the #MyNameIs blowback to Republicans’ mangling of US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ first name during the 2020 campaign. To date, nearly two dozen Indian-Americans have been appointed or nominated to high powered positions on the Biden-Harris A-team.
“KAH’-mah-lah? Kah-MAH’-lah? Kamala-mala-mala? I don’t know. Whatever,” Republican Senator David Perdue, an ally of outgoing President Donald Trump, mocked as crowds of Trump fans erupted in laughter ahead of a super spreader-type rally in Macon before the November 3, 2020 election.
Follow NewsGram on Twitter to stay updated about the World news.
As Perdue made a spectacle of himself, little did he or Trump know that two dozen Indian names would make it to the who’s who of the 2021 White House or that the blowback to the Senator’s comments would lead to record fundraising in Georgia, a whopping $1.8 million in 48 hours, where two Senate races were still to be decided. By January 6, the day a violent pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol building in Washington D.C., Harris’ Democratic party colleagues had won both the Georgia Senate seats, America’s balance of power had been transformed.
When Harris and President-elect Joe Biden take their oaths to lead America, they also herald the arrival to the White House of Indian-American success stories across a wide arc of subject matter expertise including medicine, economics, digital communications, and storytelling. There’s nothing remotely American about the lion’s share of these names – Gautam Raghavan, Vivek Murthy, Mala Adiga, Vinay Reddy, Bharat Ramamurthi, Neera Tanden, Celine Gounder.
Their Indian-ness is total, it’s for the white Americans to go figure that Murthy is ‘Moor-thee’ and not ‘Mirth-y’, that the second syllable in Gautam is ‘them’ as in ‘thump’ and not ‘tam’ as in Tim-Tam and so on. Harris has spent a lot of time explaining her name to America.
“First, my name is pronounced “comma-la”, like the punctuation mark. It means “lotus flower”. which is a symbol of significance in Indian culture. A lotus grows underwater, its flower rising above the surface while its roots are planted firmly in the river bottom,” she wrote in her memoir, “The Truths We Hold”.
During the campaign, that became a GIF, a video, a meme, and every kind of cultural insert on the internet. When Shyamala Gopalan Harris chose to name her firstborn Kamala, it was intentional and carefully thought through. “A culture that worships goddesses produces strong women,” she explained to the Los Angeles Times in 2004, when Kamala Harris was 40.
Kamala is one of the 108 names of Goddess Lakshmi, the bestower of wealth, prosperity, and fortune in Indian Hindu culture. In a recent conversation with IANS, a political science professor and founder of AAPI Data Karthick Ramakrishnan pointed to the “very particular Tamil Brahmin experience” that Kamala Harris emerges from.
“But what was interesting was that she was not trying to pander, to speak about some kind of generic Indian-American or South Asian American experience. She was talking about her relationship with her mother, and our ancestors, relatives in India. And I think that came off as very authentic for a lot of people.”
During the Democratic National Convention in August 2020, Kamala Harris introduced herself to America in those very terms: “There’s another woman, whose name isn’t known, whose story isn’t shared. Another woman whose shoulders I stand on. And that’s my mother-Shyamala, Gopalan Harris.” In parallel, though, the US is no stranger to name changes as a method of cultural assimilation.
The quest for American-sounding or white-sounding names has been a tradition in immigrant communities in the US from the time the first outsiders arrived on Ellis Island. In fact, the first of Trump’s family in the US was a Drumpf – the outgoing US President’s grandfather Friedrich Drumpf came here as a 16-year-old. Yet, the roll call of two dozen Indian names headlining wave upon wave of White House appointees and nominees seems to be pointing in a new direction – a return to roots in a foreign field. Anyone who bet that mocking the name Kamala was a good idea in the year 2020 has gone broke. (IANS)
Atop the Vindhyagiri hills in Karnataka, a 57-foot-tall statue stands. This is the statue of Lord Gomateshwara, or Bahubali, as he is known to the local patrons. The surrounding area is filled with temples where each of the many Jain Tirthankaras sits.
Sharavanabelagola is named after a pond that is located at the foothills. 'Bel' in Kannada means white, and 'kola' means pond. This is a sacred water body to the activities of the temples. It is a tourist attraction and a pilgrim destination located 85 kilometres from Mysore, and 145 kilometres from the capital, Bangalore.
The pond that Sharavanabelagola is named after Image source: wikimedia commons
Since the statue is placed at such a great height, pilgrims are made to make a journey to the top of the hill by foot. They are required to climb the stone steps barefoot as an act of piety and devotion. Palanquins are offered only to senior citizens who wish to worship at the temple.
In 3 B.C, when India was ruled by the Mauryan Dynasty, Chandragupta Maurya became a Jain monk and took up residence in the Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri hills. He is supposedly responsible for the establishment of the temple complex at Shravanabelagola, where he lived till he died. Later on, his grandson, Ashoka made some additional changes to the place.
A shop in the tourist section that sells handmade items Image source: wikimedia commons
Every twelve years, a Mahamastabhisheka is conducted, and Jains from every part congregate to witness it. The statue is washed with water, rice flour, sugarcane juice, saffrom, sandalwood paste, gold, and silver flowers, curd, ghee, milk, and turmeric, and all the monks offer special prayers. The surrounding temples and rocks are preserved as archaeological wonders owing to the 800 edicts and inscriptions found here which span 600 to 1830.
Keywords: Shravanabelagola, Jainism, Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka, Karnataka
By Siddhi Jain
The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.
Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.
Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background
'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race and even differences in background. | Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash
Written for a global audience, the book is targeted at kids between the ages of five and 10, the reason it is embellished with colourful images of families of different types is to appeal to children's sense of sight and drive home the message at the same time. Borthakur believes children are the best place to start because the ages between five and 10 are the most formative, where little ones pick up habits, beliefs and perceptions.
The Guwahati-born author says, "With this book, I'm not trying to take away the job of parents in forming habits, I simply want to do my part as a parent. It is important that we impart the right values in our kids in a bid to build a better, more inclusive and tolerant global society that is fair to everyone." The author's first attempt at a book was an Assamese poetry 'Anubhav', published in 2010.
Set to be published under the label of Author's Channel, the book is like an adventure; a journey into uncharted territories, untouched subjects and matters long ignored. In her words. "The book takes a critical stand in defense of people in society who have had to undergo severe emotional torture for no cause of theirs. It is a terrible conception to think such people any less of a human just for being different," says publisher Aruna Naidu. By September 30, this title, priced at Rs 299, will be available online and in offline bookstores. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Book, children, Guwahati, Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories, moral, story, kids, discrimination, equality
If you feel that clean and well-groomed hands are just an essential prerequisite for women, you might like to think twice. Men should equally pay attention to their hands because our hand houses 1,500 bacteria living on each square centimeter of its skin. You can easily assume what havoc it can create in our body because in India we have the culture of eating with our hands and spaces beneath nails can become breeding heaven for germs. Moreover, clean and maintained hands boost confidence in their daily life activities. Therefore, it's important to keep your hands clean irrespective of your gender by washing or sanitizing at regular intervals. And, to keep them groomed, you don't have to visit a salon.
Rajesh U Pandya, Managing Director, KAI India, gives easy and completely doable tips to follow at home:
* Refrain from harsh soaps: You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. Your soap can have a moisturizing element in it like aloe vera or shea butter. Ensure that you're washing your hands with normal water as hot water can make your hand's skin dry and scaly.
You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. | Photo by Aurélia Dubois on Unsplash
* Clip your nails regularly: Make use of your personal nail clipper to cut your nails. After cutting your nails at a comfortable length also file them using a nail filer. Never share your nail care clipper as the germs can get transferred to your loved ones. Also, don't forget to use grime remover to remove hidden germs in corners and beneath nails. Also, you may like to file your nails to have a smooth finish.
* Good quality Nail Clipper: Do not use a rusted or chromium coated nail clipper as it might be harmful to skin and might cause dangerous bacterial infections.
* Stop the habit of nail chewing: Sometimes anxiety or extreme boredom can lead to chewing of nails. This habit only makes your nails uneven and ugly. Sometimes, our unclean nail folds give rise to viral, bacterial or fungal infections, which in turn can make us sick if we chew our nails.
Make use of your personal nail clipper to cut your nails. | Pixabay
* Exfoliate your hands: Similar to the way you exfoliate your face; your hands also need it. It helps to keep the dry skin at bay and keep your hands soft. You can buy a scrub or make one at home using brown sugar and olive oil. After scrubbing, you need to massage your hands with moisturizer.
Similar to the way you exfoliate your face; your hands also need it. It helps to keep the dry skin at bay and keep your hands soft. | Wikipedia
* Don't use your nails as tools: Always keep in mind that your nails are like jewels. Never use them to pry things open such as pop cans, removing keys from the ring, opening letters, or scraping off labels. This results in unnecessary breakage of nails, making your hands look dirty.
Never use your nails to pry things open such as pop cans, removing keys from the ring, opening letters or scraping off labels. | Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash
* Be aware of nail or cuticle inflammation or redness: If there are any signs of infection, disinfect the skin as soon as possible with an anti-bacterial or anti-fungal ointment.
(Article originally written by N.Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Nails, groom, hand, exfoliate, chew, nail clipper, bite, cuticle