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Renowned Australian Geographer Oskar Spate’s Mad Experiences of Mapping India on his Visit to the Country

During the WW II, Spate worked as a military censor in India and was also injured the Burmese War

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Oskar Spate. Twitter
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  • Oskar Spate was a renowned Australian Geographer
  • In 1955, Spate visited India to write the second edition of his book, ‘India and Pakistan: A General and Regional Geography’
  • Spate was also a spectator of 1956 Republic Day Parade and celebrations

New Delhi, August 15, 2017: Renowned Australian Geographer of the time, Oskar Spate, made a number of visits to India.

In the December of the year 1955, Spate arrived in Chennai to begin his tour of India. The real purpose of this tour to India was to make the second edition of his book ‘India and Pakistan: A General and Regional Geography’.

George Kuriyan, professor of geography, along with students were awaiting Oskar Spate in Chennai. They were to accompany Spate in his journey to New Delhi, where they would be an audience to the 1956 Republic Day Parade.

ALSO READ: Five Important Eras in Indian History: How the Indian Map was drawn and redrawn!

Upon reaching Agra for the Indian Science Congress, Spate chanced upon Jawaharlal Nehru. Spate was attending the Science Congress as representative of Australia and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science.

Spate recalls this meeting in his 1991 ‘On the Margins of History: From the Punjab to Fiji’ where he remembers Nehru as having an impressive intellectual grasp. They had a conversation regarding the Nehru government’s redrawing of the Indian territories according to lingual identities.

For one, Spate argued that Jhansi deserves to fall under Madhya Pradesh and not Uttar Pradesh. Nehru agreed with Spate.

Interesting to note is the background where Oskar Spate stems from. The geographer was part of the cartography that was revised at the time of partition. This background has something to do with Jhansi.

Till two years back, India’s borders with Bangladesh on the map created a big question on the nature of the enclaves. For decades, people living in this conclave were ignored. These questions were answered in 2015 by redrawing the map.

Like Jhansi, even the princely state of Baroda was a mess that needed up clearing too. The 1909 version of Baroda map hardly showcases a state. As LiveMint puts it, “Incorporating Baroda state into the Indian republic was thus not just a matter of unity and statesmanship but also logistical sanity.”

This mess and anomalies in Indian map came to the notice of British officials at the time of the implementation of two state theory, i.e. the partition of India and Pakistan.

Spate and few others had realized that geography could not go hand in hand with politics, considering the religious aspects and distinctions.

During the WW II, Spate worked as a military censor in India and was also injured the Burmese War. In 1947 when Spate was residing in London, he received a letter from Mirza Ali, Imam of Ahmadiyya Mosque in London.

The Ahmadiyya Movement was born in Qadian which is 60 km from Amritsar. The Imam was pleading that Qadian is put on the Pakistani side of the map. Qadian is the place where Mirza Ghulam Ahmed proclaimed himself the chosen caliph.

Spate was quick to jump in this problematic scenario. He would get a chance to be sent out on a sponsored tour of India.

The three parties involved (Congeress, Muslim League and Sikhs) made the partition of Punjab problematic.

Congress desired Nankana Sahib be included. Muslim League wished for the line to be drawn east side of Amritsar so as to include Ludhiana and Gurdaspur. The Sikhs somewhat sided with the Congress.

Although Oskar Spate was fond of Qadian and the residents, the place eventually fell on the Indian side of the map.

As for Jhansi, the State Reorganization Committee got back to Spate in 1991, explaining to him that the locals wanted to stay in their British administered province and did not want to risk resettlement in a new state.

Also, it was Rani Laxmibai after all whose rebellion led to the annexation of British administered territories.

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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Star ICC Asks Anonymous Accuser Of Sexual Assault Charges To Step Forward

The accuser said that while she was at the company, there were "clear instructions" given to make the sales team fulfil the targets.

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Star ICC
#MeToo: Star India internal panel writes to anonymous accuser to come forward

The Internal Complaints Committee of Star India on Sexual Harassment (Star ICC) has written to the anonymous accuser — who had alleged “sexual exploitation” of women employees — asking her to reach out to the committee or its external member on allegations made by her in tweets.

In a Twitter post on Friday, Star ICC, formed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 said it had reached out to the accuser through two emails on the ID provided by her through her tweets. The committee’s external member is Veena Gowda, a Mumbai-based woman rights lawyer.

The accuser, who tweeted through handle @ApurvaS17 — saying she would remain anonymous — had made sexual harassment allegations against the company’s officials in an open letter.

Star ICC
Star believes that the allegations made in the tweet without the complainant coming forward and giving any further detail, is a malicious attempt.

Asked to comment on the allegations, a Star India spokesperson said in a statement that despite no response by the anonymous accuser to the messages sent, the Star ICC had “suo moto conducted a preliminary inquiry and found no basis or factual accuracy” in respect of the allegations.

“We strongly urge any genuine complainant to approach the Star ICC. At Star, we stand with women in drawing the line on any behaviour that violates human dignity or the ability for women to pursue their dreams with respect and freedom. We have a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment,” read the statement in response to an email query by IANS.

It also said that the anonymous tweet shared on October 13 raised an allegation that “runs completely counter to everything we believe in and the norms and values that we deeply embrace.”

The statement further said: “Star believes that the allegations made in the tweet without the complainant coming forward and giving any further detail, is a malicious attempt to malign and defame the reputation of the company and the CEO.” It said that Star reserves its right to initiate appropriate legal proceedings in this regard.

Star ICC
The Star ICC had “suo moto conducted a preliminary inquiry and found no basis or factual accuracy.

The accuser in her tweets had said that the #MeToo movement had encouraged her to come forward and that she had quit her job at Star India in the Airtime Sales section after 26 months and nine days and was now a homemaker, “taking care of my baby and hubby in a beautiful country, far away from Mumbai.”

The accuser said that while she was at the company, there were “clear instructions” given to make the sales team fulfil the targets in case they want to continue with their employment contract, “for which even if you have to take the clients to a hotel room and sleep with them for days.”

She said there were many instances when she and three of her female colleagues (interns) had clear instructions to reach a hotel after office hours for a private party hosted for influential friends.

Also Read: India’s Junior Foreign Minister M.J. Akbar Quits Following #MeToo Harassment Allegation By Women

She says the influential friends were “mostly bureaucrats and sometimes politicians and foreign nationals” who were “all ready to violate you, force you to dance against your wishes, drink with them, make drink(s) for them, exchange your numbers and even quietly accompany them to their respective rooms if they want you to”.

Veteran writer-director Vinta Nanda, who earlier this month accused actor Alok Nath of sexually violating her 19 years ago, wrote on Twitter: “I’m neither shocked nor surprised. I salute your courage to have come out and spoken out. The rot runs deep.” (IANS)