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BY JAMES GREEN
For the past several years, the world’s largest professional wrestling company has been attempting to make inroads into India. We’ve seen the American promotion stage more shows in the country during the past five years than it had in the previous twenty, and there’s been more airtime given to Indian wrestlers on WWE television shows than there has been at any point in history. Now, it appears that WWE is preparing to take the next step in making India one of the biggest focuses of its promotional efforts by opening up an India-branded arm of its company.
Rumors that NXT, WWE’s ‘third brand,’ would soon be getting a devoted Indian arm first started to appear a little over twelve months ago. The brand has become a massive success in America, selling out arenas and gaining a prime-time television show on the USA Network on Wednesday nights. NXT’s success led to the opening of NXT UK, a British-focused division of the company a little over three years ago.
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While smaller, that promotion airs television shows every week in its home country and is available on the WWE Network. The rumors have now been proven to be true. According to WhatCulture and several other reliable wrestling-orientated news outlets, WWE NXT India will open on Republic Day, January 26th, with the first TV recordings happening on the same day. When it happens, we can expect to see a very familiar face as the headline act.
While WWE has had an Indian World Heavyweight Champion before in the shape of the Great Khali and has showcased the talents of the Indian tag team the Bollywood Boyz more recently, there has been no bigger Indian star within the company than muscular Canadian-Indian performer Jinder Mahal. While he’s been absent from television for most of the past two years because of recurring injuries, Mahal shocked the world in 2017 when he defeated the legendary Randy Orton to capture the official WWE Championship, becoming the first Indian in history to win wrestling’s biggest prize.
At the time, it was seen as an attempt to win favor within the country by WWE, who had their eyes on a new big-money television deal. Mahal had been a mid-card performer at best during his WWE run up to that point and had even been let go from the company in the past, but his stronger, more athletic look upon his return saw him propelled to the top of the card, culminating in his unlikely triumph.
The good times didn’t last forever for Mahal. Although his run with the championship went on for longer than most people expected it to, he was eventually defeated at a television taping in England by AJ Styles in November of that year, seemingly bringing an end to his Cinderella story. The fact that he lost the championship on a regular episode of SmackDown as opposed to a pay-per-view led to suggestions that WWE management was displeased with his run as champion and had decided to call time on the “Jinder Mahal project,” but that proved not to be the case.
At the following WrestleMania – WWE’s biggest show of the year – Mahal defeated Orton again and also beat Rusev and Bobby Roode on the way to claiming his first-ever WWE United States Championship. That was in April 2018. He didn’t hold on to the title for long and began to suffer a series of injuries shortly afterward, but it was clear that WWE still believed there was money to be made with Mahal as a featured performer. Mahal is now fit enough to return to the ring, and WWE has put its faith in him to be the leader of the new NXT India project.
He’ll be joined by the Bollywood Boyz, and also a few WWE Performance Center stand-outs such as Gurvinder Singh, Laxmi Kant Rajoot, and Sukhwinder Grewal. Initially, the promotions’ weekly shows will be filmed in America and broadcast on the WWE Network in the hope that an Indian television station will agree to air them on regular programming. If that’s the case, rumors suggest that WWE will then open a dedicated WWE Performance Center in India in 2022.
While Mahal has been featured as a headline star by the company in the past, he’s not one of their ‘top tier’ attractions. One way to assess who WWE views as its biggest stars are to look at the range of online slots that the company has just released to websites across the world. John Cena, Hulk Hogan, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, Roman Reigns, and Becky Lynch all have their own dedicated WWE-themed online slots. Jinder Mahal does not. This is, perhaps, surprising given WWE’s apparent intention to expand into India.
Unlike many countries where WWE does business, online slots websites are legal across most of India. If Jinder Mahal is viewed as a star in India, it’s likely that many of the gambling public would be drawn to an online slots game with his face on it. It’s also not necessarily a barrier to success – Drew McIntyre, the current WWE Champion, doesn’t currently have his own online slots game either.
At this early stage, it’s too early to say whether Mahal’s affiliation with NXT India will preclude him from appearing on ‘main roster’ shows like RAW and SmackDown. He could theoretically appear on either show as well as NXT India while the shows are filmed in the United States, but it’s anticipated that he’ll have to relocate if and when the Performance Center is opened in the country.
That would make it impossible for him to continue appearing on the ‘big’ shows, but that might not necessarily matter to him so long as NXT India is a success. Jinder Mahal is currently 34 years of age, so there’s plenty of time for him to return to the States after playing his part in building the NXT India brand. The idea will undoubtedly be for Mahal to help establish new stars and then return to America to resume his ‘regular’ main roster career.
Until WWE makes an official announcement on the matter, these reports should still be thought of as rumors, but they’re appearing in so many places that it’s unlikely for them to be incorrect. As only the second country in the world outside the USA to get its own branded WWE platform, this is big news for Indian wrestling fans and a statement of intent by WWE.
(Disclaimer: The article is sponsored, and hence promotes some commercial links.)
Great historic events that have shaped the world and changed the outlines of countries are often not recorded in memory, or so we think. Wars made sure to destroy evidence and heritage, and the ones who survived told the tale of what really happened. Folklore, albeit through oral tradition kept alive many such stories, hidden in verse, limericks, and rhymes.
Ringa-ringa-roses, a common playtime rhyme among children across the world, is an example of folklore that has survived for many centuries. It tells the story of the The Great Plague of London which ravaged the city between 1665-1666.
The Plague broke out from improper disposal of garbage and poor sewage conditions. Fleas from the rats that lived in the sewers spread the disease that killed more than half of London's population. Many people fled from their homes as there was no medicine available for those who were infected.
Beak-shaped masks worn during the Great Plague of London Image source: wikimedia commons
It was around this time that masks began to be invented. The first masks were shaped like beaks, and were worn not to protect the wearer from the disease, but to the prevent them from being able to smell the decay and death around them, which they called 'miasma'. The beaks were filled with floral herbs that allowed doctors and nurses to tend to the sick without being reviled from the smell.
Children are often seen forming circles by holding hands and reciting loudly,
Pockets full of posies
We all fall down"
An illustration of the Great Plague of London, 1665 Image source: wikimedia commons
When the last line is sung, they break the circle and fall down. The roses and posies are believed to be the preferred fragrances inside the masks, and a single sneeze (a-tishoo) was enough to infect the one who was exposed to the disease. Consequently, they fell down, ill, and later died.
An alternative version of this rhyme is sung about the fall of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the aftermath of World War II. The roses and posies are interchanged with geranium and uranium, to symbolise what was used in the atomic bomb. But this version is not as famous the original.
Keywords: Rhymes, Ringa-ringa-roses, Great Plague of London, WWII, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Folklore
In modern times, many social movements aim to bring reform to the society we live in, on the basis of certain existing patterns. Patriarchy is something that many aim to cleanse our cultures of, to usher in the era of social and gender equality. Despite all these so-called movements, in southern India, certain societies that patronise matriarchy have existed since before India's independence. The Nairs and Ezhavas of Kerala, and Bunts and Billavas of Karnataka are matrilineal societies that continue to thrive in a patriarchal country.
Kerala remains separate from the rest of India in many ways. Be it literacy policy, form of government, or cultural practices, this state does not always conform to the ideal that India is known for. Even so with their social structure. Certain tribes have remained matrilineal, where the decision-making power rests with the eldest female of the family.
The Nairs and Ezhavas of Kerala, and Bunts and Billavas of Karnataka are matrilineal societies that continue to thrive in a patriarchal country. Image source: wikimedia commons
A male member, who is the close confidante of the matriarch is chosen. He plays a crucial role in representing the male members of his family, and his opinion is highly valued. He is called karavanan. The men reside in separate rooms or in separate houses, and do not interfere in the upbringing of children. Property is also passed down along the lineage of the eldest female. Among the Nairs, matriarchy is more prominently adhered to than the Ezhavas, who have some patrilocal connections.
In Karnataka, the Bunts and Billavas belong to the Tuluva ethnic group. They are also a predominantly matriarchal society, founded on the belief in a legend. Their matrilineal descent is known as Aliyasantana.
The story is told of a demon who threatened to destroy a kingdom if the king did not sacrifice his sons, but the king's sister comes forward to offer her children in sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom. The demon is touched and does not destroy the city. Since then, the kingdom, or the property is inherited through female lineage.
In Karnataka, the Bunts and Billavas belong to the Tuluva ethnic group. They are also a predominantly matriarchal society, founded on the belief in a legend. Image source: wikimedia commons
In the recent past, many of these matriarchal societies have been reduced to matrilineal societies by certain governmental laws. They fall under the patriarchal scheme of the rest of the state but have reserved the right to pass on property and heritage through the female line. In the North east of India, matriarchal dominance is far more resilient than the south.
Keywords: Bunts, Billava, Nair, Ezhava, Aliyasantana, Matrilineal, South India, Karnataka, Kerala
Apple inc. Is an American multinational tech firm specialized in consumer electronics, computer programs, and internet services founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in 1976 to manufacture Wozniak's Apple iComputer. It is the world's top tech company in turnover (totaling $274.5 billion in 2020) and its most valuable corporation. Apple is the fourth-largest PC seller by unit sales and the fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world.
Apple has revealed a slew of new products at a special launch event that has been long-awaited. On the day of the live event, Apple announced the iPad mini, Apple Watch Series 7, iPhone 13 mini, and iPhone 13, as well as the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Apple has revealed a slew of new products at a special launch event that has been long-awaited. | Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash
In the first major product announcement during the event, Apple introduced the newest edition of the iPad and a 5G-capable iPad Mini.
iPad: The 10.2-inch iPad is equipped with a solid A13 processor that delivers 20 percent quicker performance than the preceding version. According to Apple, it is now three times faster than a Chromebook. A new 12MP ultra-wide camera with Center Stage, which utilizes machine learning to optimize the front-facing camera during FaceTime video chats, as well as more incredible accessory support, including compatibility with the first-generation Apple Pencil, are among the new features. For 64GB of storage, the iPad costs $329.
iPad Mini: In addition to reduced borders and more rounded edges, the 8.3-inch iPad mini also has improved front and back cameras. A liquid retina display, USB-C compatibility, magnetic support for the Apple Pencil, an enhanced speaker system, and new hues such as pink and purple are all features of the new Apple iPad Mini. The starting price is $499.
In the first major product announcement during the event, Apple introduced the newest edition of the iPad and a 5G-capable iPad Mini. | Photo by Leone Venter on Unsplash
The other major unveiled products include:
iPhone 13 and other variants: The iPhone 13 range is almost identical to the iPhone 12 lineup, with a 5.4-inch iPhone 13 Mini, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro, and a 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max. It was also revealed that the Watch Series 7 has a smaller "S7" processor, which may allow for a bigger battery or other components to be housed in a smaller footprint. The gadgets have a revolutionary design that includes a dual-camera system, placed diagonally. Apple's iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini have longer-lasting batteries than the previous generation of devices. In addition, Apple claims that the iPhone 13 will have a battery life that is 2.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12, and the iPhone 13 mini will have a battery life that is 1.5 hours longer. A more energy-efficient display, an upgraded 5G chip, and functionality called "Cinematic Mode," similar to the famous Portrait mode function but is only available for movies, are among the other enhancements. The A15 Bionic chip present in the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini is also used in the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max, also 6.1-inch devices. However, it also has a five-core CPU, which promises graphics that are 50% quicker than previous models. Other notable features of the Pro devices include a brilliant Super Retna XDR display with a higher refresh rate and long-lasting battery life. Now, for the price, it will start at $699 for the iPhone 13 mini with 128 GB of storage, $799 for the iPhone 13 with 128 GB of storage, and the Pro and Pro Max have starting prices of $999 $1,099, respectively.
Apple Watch Series 7: The new Apple Watch Series 7, which is smaller and has a larger screen than its previous model, was introduced by Apple on Wednesday. There is a 20% increase in screen size over Series 6 on the new watch. A complete keyboard that you can touch or slide to write out text messages can show 50% more text. It starts at $399.
Keywords: Apple, iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone Mini, Apple event 2021