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Meet men whose love for Typewriter keeps it alive in India

The world's last mechanical typewriter manufacturing company, Godrej & Boyce, which produced 12,000 machines in 2009 alone, closed down in Mumbai, India, in 2011

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Typists in India. Image source: www.youtube.com
  • A handful of Indian typists keeps the tradition of typewriting alive in India
  • Every year, Typewriter day is acknowledged on June 23
  • The world’s last mechanical typewriter manufacturing company, Godrej & Boyce was closed down in Mumbai, India, in 2011

A 70 year-old man in Kolkata works on his aged but gleaming typewriter, typing the neatest of the documents in exchange of a meager amount. When the whole world has made computers part of their lives, these men kept the age old tradition of typewriting alive through their love for it.

Typewriter day is acknowledged on June 23 and recognizes the US patent granted to Christopher Latham Sholes in 1868. Thus it becomes crucial to recognize people who keep the spirit of the ancient device up.

An underwood typewriter with its qwerty keyboard. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

A report records that “The world’s last mechanical typewriter manufacturing company, Godrej & Boyce, which produced 12,000 machines in 2009 alone, closed down in Mumbai, India, in 2011. The warehouse has since been converted into a refrigerator-manufacturing unit.” However, the machine has not taken a last breath yet.

The most noticeable idea arises when one sees the typewriters still being a part of many people working outside the courts. For them, earning 5 dollars a day is an achievement. The most interesting thing to note is how these people have this sole occupation to rely on for their livelihood, hence the will to type the documents make them passionate for the work and also for the device.

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It’s not that they didn’t try their luck at several other occupations as that of clerical jobs in several government offices. However, they felt content being a typist as it fetches them enough for their livelihood. They do not own a cabin inside high-rise buildings but sit under blue plastic sheets opposite to the street tea-stalls, juice corners and ‘pan bhandars’.

The reason with their sticking to the same place, whatever the season is, brings one to the fact that it’s a hub for them. To put it as their statement, “We must stick around these court offices, else who will give us the work?” An organisation called the High Court Freelance Typist Association used to protect the right of these typists for which the internal politics resulted in dissolution 15 years ago. However, ending of the official association didn’t break their unity and now they work in the direction of being settles avoiding outsiders to enter their domain. They proudly claim, ‘We do what the computer people can’t’.

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Somenath Adhikary, a lawyer described their importance as, “Earlier we had shorthand professionals and we could dictate the text and get them typed later. Now good shorthand writers are not available so we have to make do with hurriedly written notes that turn out to be quite illegible at some point,” he explains. These typists, having worked with us for so long, know our handwriting; they can figure out the letters and the strokes. They have also learned a lot about the vocabularies we use, the sentences we frame. So when they turn in a typed document on the basis of our scanty and handwritten notes, the typed sheet looks neat and perfect. They make our jobs so much easier.”

These typists do not go through an easy life and they travel long distances from home to work. They rent a space to keep their assets safe overnight. What they give the world are not just inked words on a white paper, but they tell how a tradition can never be escaped, by keeping it alive.

-This article is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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Donald Trump to Prince Charles and Netanyahu, NAMASTE Going Global

Whether people want to know and respect the universal objectives of NAMASTE or not, the salutation is now quite being considered as the safest and secure way to greet people

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Namaste
Namaste has become a global phenomenon over the last few days.

By SALIL GEWALI

A greeting is the first spark that ignites the relationship between two individuals. Tibetans stick out their tongues in greeting. In Qatar, Yemen and Oman, people touch their noses. When it comes to the Kiwis, they rub their faces whereas in Greenland and Tuvalu, they sniff faces. In most other countries, individuals shake hands or blow a kiss. These are just a few examples of how people first greet each other across the globe. India, as always, is a little different. Indians fold their hands with respect and say, “Namaste.”

Namaste
A greeting is the first spark that ignites the relationship between two individuals. Tibetans stick out their tongues in greeting. In Qatar, Yemen and Oman, people touch their noses.

Namaste has become a global phenomenon over the last few days. It has been trending on international terrain, courtesy the “coronavirus”. This Covid-19 pandemic has been frightening people around the world with its increasing number of casualties by the day. This deadly virus spreads through close contact. So, the doctors are strictly advising against shaking hands or making close proximity with anyone as preventive measures.

This is where Namaste has come to fill the void, rather come to our rescue! The whole world is adopting this Indian salutation for greeting one another. It not only avoids “bodily contact” but also enables greeting another person with respect from a distance.

Many important figures on the planet seem to be propagating Namaste now — from the American President Donald Trump to British Royalty Prince Charles. Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged his countrymen to adopt Namaste. Addressing a press conference, he said that one of the simplest ways to prevent this virus from spreading would be to avoid handshakes and replacing it with Namaste. He went on to demonstrate how it’s done.

Namaste
Many important figures on the planet seem to be propagating Namaste now — from the American President Donald Trump to British Royalty Prince Charles.

During a recent meeting at the Oval Office, Trump and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar ditched their handshake tradition and opted for the Indian salutation. French President Emmanuel Macron has also made it a protocol to greet his counterparts with a Namaste. For once, even the British had to bow down to India’s ancient tradition. Prince Charles has become the new face of Namaste. A video of His Royalty folding his palms to greet others at London’s Annual Prince’s Trust Awards has gone viral on social media. The Indian Raj has officially begun, if only in matters of gesture.

ongress MP Shashi Tharoor couldn’t agree more. Reacting to Netanyahu’s appeal, he tweeted, “Behind every Indian tradition, there is science. That is why India is great.” This was rightly followed by a Namaste emoticon. An Indian official aptly tweeted, “Namaste has deeper significance and in times of #COVID19 it’s best to switch from physical contact to spiritual bonding.”

Namaste
Whether people want to know and respect the universal objectives of NAMASTE or not, the salutation is now quite being considered as the safest and secure way to greet people.

Yes, usually people are less aware of the higher objective of the Indian style of salutation. “Namaste” is not just a mere gesture of greeting. It has many “underlying” deeper meanings rather than being mere formality to greet the second person. We press our hands together, our palms fully touching each other and fingers pointing in an upward direction. The thumbs are kept close to the chest and we bow slightly while saying Namaste. According to ancient Vedic text, this word means, “I bow to the DIVINE in you,” or “The divine in me bows to the divine in you.”

The term is derived from two Sanskrit roots, Namah and Te. The word Namah means bow or obeisance. Te means to “you” who is controlled by DIVINE being. In other words, Namaste spiritually denotes bowing to all-omniscient THAT, instead of mortal beings. It is a specific way of showing respect to others and at the same time conveying that one is “equal to another” and HE being common to all.

In this act of greeting, we do acknowledge that the divinity, the life force, or the DIVINE energy, within oneself is the “same” in others as well and that intrinsically pervades everywhere. The “prime purpose” here is to “see or feel or adore” GOD in every person, or even in every plant and animal... Is it not a grand idea with a grand objective? In fact, the sages of ancient India realised that life is “meaningless” if one’s actions or pursuits are not contributing to realise God. So, NAMASTE is the first step towards that goal. Of course, at every yoga centre across the world, the meaning of NAMASTE is usually informed at the outset to the aspirant so that yogic practice becomes more effective. The objective being practicing of seeing GOD in every living being or in every object.

Namaste
In this act of greeting, we do acknowledge that the divinity, the life force, or the DIVINE energy, within oneself is the “same” in others as well and that intrinsically pervades everywhere.

Whether people want to know and respect the universal objectives of NAMASTE or not, the salutation is now quite being considered as the safest and secure way to greet people.

ALSO READ: Many Space Agencies including NASA Add Stringent Measures To Protect Astronauts From Coronavirus

Let’s hope the Coronavirus stays true to its manufacturers (read Chinese) and doesn’t last long. Let’s also hope that Namaste also stays true to its creators (read Indian sages) and lasts long, particularly in order to foster the universal brotherhood, the entire world as a family (Vasudhaiva kutumbakam). Is it not the need of the hour when the mindless hostility, brutal violence and terrors are hurting the modern civilization? The coronavirus may be prevented by new vaccinations but not the virus of the inner hostility and hatred unless we affectionately bow down and say NAMASTE!  

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali

DISCLAIMER: Photos supplied by author, NG has no intention of infringing copyrights

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All You Need to Know About the Sport of Jallikattu

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sports, which poses a risk of life for the participants

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banned bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu
Jallikattu sport of Tamil Nadu. Wikimedia

By Ruchika Verma

  • Jallikattu is a traditional Tamil sport
  • The sport involves bulls and humans, the latter trying to control the former
  • The sport was banned in 2014, which created lots of controversies

Jallikattu or Sallikkattu, also known as ‘eru thazhuvuthal’ and ‘manju virattu’ traditionally, was in news last year, around this time due to the ban imposed on it by the Supreme Court. The ban was much hyped and gathered a plethora of media’s attention.

Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons
Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons

Jallikattu ban has also garnered lots of political attention due to the involvement of Tamil Nadu and Central governments. The issue is much hyped due to the political context involved in it too.

What exactly is Jallikattu? 

Jallikattu is a traditional sport and spectacle in which bulls of the Pulikulam or Kangayam breeds are released into a crowd of people, and multiple human participants attempt to control the bulls while they try to escape.

Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr
Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr

Jallikattu is practised in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations. The districts, Madurai, Thanjavur, and Salem are the most famous for conducting Jallikattu. The game dates back to Tamil classical period, which went back to 400 BC. Ancient Tamil Sangam literature described the practice as ‘Yeru thazhuvuthal’ which literally means “bull embracing.” With time the sport has become synonymous with valour and bravery.

Also Read: Tamil Nadu legalises Jallikattu with a New Law

What happens in Jallikattu and how?

The bulls participating in the game are all lined up behind a narrow gate and released one by one into the arena. The participants have to either control the bull by holding its hump or clutch away from a flag attached to the horns. Owners of the bulls often announce prizes for the man who gets the hold of their bull.

The objective of the game is not to kill or overpower the bull, but to hold onto their hump for a certain amount of time or distance.

The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull. www.in.com
The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull. www.in.com

There are three variants to the game. First, when the bulls are released from an enclosed area. Second, when the bull is directly released into the open ground. And third, when the bull is tied to a rope as the only restriction, and a team of 7-9 members has to untie the prize from the bull’s horns in 30 minutes of the time period.

The gate through which bulls enter the arena is called Vadi Vasai. The bulls charge at the men standing most near to the gate. One of the rules also says that a participant is only allowed to hold bull’s hump and no other body part. The other rules vary from region to region.

Also Read: Animal rights organisations challenge new law on Jallikattu

Jallikattu Ban and Controversy

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sport, which poses a risk of life for the participants.

In 2014, The Supreme Court banned the sport, endorsing the activists’ concerns according to which, Jallikattu is not only cruelty towards the animal, but also poses a threat to humans. According to the data provided, between 2010 and 2014, 17 people were killed and approximately 1000 were injured during Jallikatu.

The Jallikattu ban was protests by many Tamilians.
The Jallikattu ban was protested by many Tamilians.

However, the ban invited a lot of protests. Many Tamil communities called this ban a violation of their culture and tradition.

In 2017, many lawyers plead to remove the ban which was rejected by the court. After requests and arguments of Tamil communities, central government reversed the ban, however, after Supreme Court struck the order down, the ban was imposed again. However, the government of Tamil Nadu sanctioned the sport and brought it back into the practice.

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10 Facts about Madhubani Paintings which will blow your mind

Recently, Madhubani painting style came into limelight after some artists decided to renovate the Madhubani Railway Station by painting a huge Madhubani painting on the walls of the railway station.

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A Madhubani Painting in black and white. Wikimedia Commons
A Madhubani Painting in black and white. Wikimedia Commons

Madhubani Paintings, also known as Mithila Paintings are the quintessence folk art form of Mithila Region of Bihar. The art form is incredibly old and the name ‘Madhubani’ which means, ‘forest of honey,’ has a lineage of more than 2500 years.These paintings are the local art of Madhubani district of Bihar, which is also the biggest exporter of Madhubani paintings in India.

Recently, Madhubani painting style came into limelight after some artists decided to renovate the Madhubani Railway Station by painting a huge Madhubani painting on the walls of the railway station. The painting spans across an area of 7000 square feet and is expected to attract tourism to the Madhubani District. Madhubani art has received international and national attention in recent times.

Paintings and art are a reflection of the culture and tradition of the place from where they originate. Madhubani paintings are an important part of the Indian Culture. Madhubani painting in black and white are some of the oldest and most beautiful art that people can witness and admire. The style, which was losing its importance earlier is once again emerging as a major art form.

A modern representation of Madhubani art form. Wikimedia Common
A modern representation of Madhubani art form. Wikimedia Common

Here are 10 facts about Madhubani paintings which will blow your mind :

  • The history of Madhubani paintings dates back to the days of Ramayana. The history of Madhubani paintings dates back to the time of Ramayana when king Janaka asked an artist to capture the wedding of his daughter Sita with prince Rama. He commissioned craftsmen to decorate the entire kingdom with Madhubani art on the auspicious occasion of his daughter’s marriage. That’s one of the earliest mentions of Madhubani paintings that can be found in ancient scriptures and text.
  • Madhubani Paintings have 5 distinct styles to delight our eyes. Madhubani art has five distinctive styles, namely, Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna, and Kohbar. In ancient times, Bharni, Kachni and Tantrik style were done by Brahman and Kayastha women, who were considered ‘upper caste.’ Their themes were mainly religious and depicted Gods and Goddesses, flora and fauna. People belonging to lower castes including aspects of their daily life and symbols into their paintings.Nowadays, however, Madhubani has become a globalised art form. There is no difference in the work of different artists of different regions or castes.
  • Madhubani paintings are done using different kinds of everyday materials. In past, Madhubani painting was done using fingers, twigs. Now, matchsticks and pen nibs are also used. Usually, bright colours are used in these paintings with an outline made from rice paste as its framework. These paintings rarely have any blank spaces. Borders are often embellished with geometric and floral patterns. These paintings use natural dyes. For example, Madhubani paintings in black and white often use charcoal and soot for the black colour.
A Madhubani Paintings can be made using different materials on different mediums. Wikimedia Commons
A Madhubani Paintings can be made using different materials on different mediums. Wikimedia Commons
  • Madhubani art is characterised by symbols and figures. Madhubani paintings are characterised by figures that are prominently outlined, like bulging fish-like eyes and pointed noses. The themes of Madhubani paintings usually include natural elements like fish, birds, animals, turtle, sun, moon, bamboo trees and flowers, like a lotus. Love, valour, devotion, fertility, and prosperity are often symbolized by geometric patterns, which is another important feature of this art form.
  • From Mud-Walls to Canvas. Earlier, Madhubani paintings were made by women on freshly plastered mud-walls of their houses during religious occasions. The skill has been passed onto from one generation to another. Today, this artwork can be found on an international platform on mediums like cloth, paper, canvas, paper-mache products, etc.
  • Discovered and brought to attention by William G. Archer. Madhubani paintings, though prominent in India, were unknown to the outside world until a colonizer, William G. Archer found them. While he was inspecting the damage after the massive earthquake of  Bihar in 1934, Archer was amazed when he discovered the beautiful illustrations on the interior walls of the huts. He decided to bring the attention of other colonizers to this art form and introduced it internationally.

    Madhubani paintings are made without sketches. Wikimedia Common
    Madhubani paintings are made without sketches. Wikimedia Common
  • Madhubani is an Instinctive Art Form. Madhubani art is created without the use of sketches, they are made instinctively by the artists. This feature not only makes Madhubani paintings unique but also incredibly exclusive.
  • Madhubani painting also prevents Deforestation. Surprised? This folk art is not just mere decorations on the wall, it is also used for worship. Artists in Bihar draw paintings depicting Hindu deities on trees and those who hold strong religious beliefs, prevent others from chopping those trees down. This plays a big role in preventing trees from being cut down.
  • The Connection with Feng shui. Madhubani paintings use symbols and geometric figures which have a strong association with the Feng Shui philosophy. The use of flowers, especially the lotus, birds,  fishes, and turtles which we find in Madhubani paintings, are closely linked to the concept of divinity and spirituality in Feng Shui. Madhubani painting is believed to bring with them, the benefits of Feng Shui as well.

    Madhubani painting rarely has any spaces. Wikimedia Common
    Madhubani paintings rarely have any empty spaces. Wikimedia Common
  • The Importance of Sun in Madhubani. Since ancient times, the sun has always been an important symbol of nature worship. The Sun also occupies such an important place in the Madhubani paintings. There are paintings wholly dedicated to the Sun, in which it can be seen painted in different moods and colours. Every Madhubani home has one painting of the Sun which they worship daily.