Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
India can learn a lot from how Trinidad & Tobago is a fusion of ethnicities and religions work so beautifully. So said India’s newly-appointed high commissioner to Port-of-Spain, HIS EXCELLENCY GAURI SHANKAR GUPTA, a career diplomat who has served in several other countries. The diplomat, an author in his own right, also said T&T’s crime situation was not unique, even though India had perhaps the lowest per capita crime rate in the world.
Q: Your Excellency, most diplomats, especially heads of missions, are briefed before embarking on their posting. What were you told about T&T?
A: (Crossed legs, seated on his couch at his Victoria Avenue, Port-of-Spain, office on Thursday afternoon) What they told me was that it is a wonderful place, it is a country that is most important in the Caribbean region, a country that was described as a fusion of ethnicities, and this is what I found when I came here.
If we should get to the hard news first, were you told about our crime situation?
No. Not at all. It was not told to me there, but I discovered a little bit after I came here that there were cases of murders, robberies, but these things do happen in all countries (frowning) around the world. I was told that the Government is trying very hard to control the crimes and the rate was comparatively down, I was told yesterday. I think it is very important for the country’s prosperity for the crime rate not to be very high.
Is it your view, sir, that India has anything to offer us by way of curbing our crime rate?
You see, if you look at India, we would say we have one of the lowest crime rates in the world per capita. We are a country of 1.2 billion people, we have crimes, I don’t deny that, but very few when it comes to where people are actually killed or murdered. There are some pickpockets and stabbings which are happening in each big city of the world but in terms of per capita, they are much lower.
This really goes to the Indian ethos which says we have a theory of karma that you will reap the harvest of what you do, so people don’t want to do too many bad things. If they do, they will have to reap the harvest the next time around.
Do you believe, Your Excellency, that we are reaping our karma now in terms of the crime situation?
I am sure some people here believe in karma, but the ethos of this country has evolved from the fusion of various cultures and ethnic groups, so it is not one single thread which has come in the case of India, which comes from the Vedic civilisation. One thread. But here it has come from Africa, India, America, Latin America, from Europe, so some people here may believe in it, some may not.
I don’t know how much you have gleaned about our crime challenge in the short time you have been here, but is there anything we are not doing which could put a dent in our situation?
(Slightly rubbing his chin) I think education and social engagement are the two important things to curb the crime; education plays a very important role and so does the behaviour of the society. How does the society engage the criminal elements to convert them to good people, and this is the task of both the Government and the NGOs.
There is the school of thought which says poverty is the main factor in the activities of the criminally minded. Do you buy into that?
I don’t think there is a direct, proportionate relationship between the two. There could be some relationship, but it is not direct and proportionate.
If we should get to your assignment in Port-of-Spain, what can we expect by way of trade between our both countries?
Ok. (Adjusting his glasses) Trade between T&T and India is comparatively small. It is in the range of a hundred million dollars, which is not very substantial, but I think the potential is much larger.
How can we tap into that potential?
That’s what I wanted to mention…One important area is energy, where you have the resources natural gas and petroleum, we need those products in our country. I think it is one area where we can do some collaboration. Some Indian companies came here in the past and wanted to negotiate some long-term contracts, but it did not work out. But we will continue that effort, and I hope that we will reach some agreement on that.
Why this specific matter did not work out?
You know these are commercial considerations on both sides, so I don’t want to go into the precise details of those negotiations. I am sure things will be better in the future. Then we have IT cooperation and, in fact, we are discussing certain proposals which are in the pipe…
I don’t want to give you the precise details, but things will work out very soon. It can bring in Indian investment, Indian knowledge to benefit Trinidad and Tobago in this field. There are also some proposals for collaboration in the film and music sectors. You have highly developed music traditions in this country including the tradition of films as well. Some Indian companies are considering serious proposals, and if things work out well that can become a reality. These are some of the areas we can work tougher.
What about the financial sector?
Of course, things can work out there as well. You are well placed to be the financial hub in the Caribbean and even linking the North and South Americas. Then a direct shipment of goods; For example, we are very strong in clothing, so I am looking at these possibilities to boost our trading relationship.
Your Excellency, as you spoke about clothing, your immediate predecessor said that your countrymen were bringing inferior stuff here from India.
I don’t want to say anything on that because India exports quality clothing all over the world. The largest and best-branded stores buy Indian goods. If things work out we will be happy to collaborate with stores in T&T.
In terms of culture, things are working quite well to begin with. We have the Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Cultural Cooperation in Chaguanas, we also have cultural troops coming here from India. Next year we intend to do a cultural festival of India in Port-of-Spain, and we are in touch with the Culture Ministry on that matter.
Have you heard of the chutney genre?
(Eyes lit up with a big smile) Yes. I would say it is a fusion of music between our two countries. It has become very popular in India, it is a great Trinidadian contribution to our music world.
Are you aware that there are certain Indo Trinis who object to some aspects of the chutney such as gyrating or, as we Trini call it, wining?
(Laughs) I don’t think we have that variety yet, but we have the fusion of the two music which is being used in Bollywood films. Chutney is also an Indian word, you know, which basically means a mix of many spices.
Mr Raphael, if I can mention this, I think one area which India can learn tremendously from you is how the fusion of ethnicities and religions each work in your country so beautifully. This is one area where not only Indian but many other countries in the world can learn. You are a small country with a great fusion of all ethnicities, nationalities, so there are many areas we can work to strengthen our ties.
India has been criticised by some more industrialised countries for allegedly producing inferior medications. Is this a fair criticism?
Not at all. Our pharmaceutical industry is one of the best and the cheapest in the world. Some of these accusations are because they are posing a competition to big pharmaceutical companies in the world. We have been able to provide very cheap medication for Aids, for cancer, for other diseases which is not particularly liked by these large companies so, therefore, the accusations are based on the competition they are receiving from India.
Mr Gupta, on the ongoing unsettled situation between India and Pakistan, do you think there would be peace between both countries in your lifetime?
I think so because things are improving slowly. We already have composite dialogue process in place, but there are some periodic incidents of terrorism promoted by our neighbours. I hope our neighbours will understand that terrorism is not the answer to the problems.
Finally, Your Excellency, whenever I happen to see images of India it always strikes me that you cannot tell an Indian from India and an Indo-Trini…that’s before they open their mouth. Has that been your experience?
(Laughs) I agree with you, without opening their mouth sometimes it is difficult to say it is an Indian from India. We see that to some extent in Mexico, as a lot of Mexicans look like Indians and unless they speak you won’t realise if they are Indian or not.
Finally Sir, what legacy do you hope to leave at the end of your posting in Port-of-Spain?
(Chuckling) I don’t want to say I want to leave any legacy, but I will do my best to promote relations between both countries.
This article was first published at www.guardian.co. Image-Krisna.hu
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