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By Tania Bhattacharya
One of my neighbors at Jamshedpur, the city where I was raised, was a Chinese immigrant family. On Chinese New Years, magnificent lamps shaped into exotic dragons and other beings would greet us outside their house, and string crackers with a couple of hundreds attached to them would unleash their fury on our ears, announcing the arrival of whichever animal the year represented. The kids were educated at St. Loyola, the male subsidiary of my grade school, Sacred Heart Convent. There were three sons and a daughter, all but one, excellent in the academics. Their daughter is an alumnus of Sacred Heart. Being third generation Chinese-Indians, and growing up in the state of Bihar (South Bihar where Jamshedpur is located, later became the state of Jharkhand), all four children, as well as their parents, were fluent in Hindi, right down to the expletives. They spoke in beautiful English, and Chinese, as well, even picked up some Bangla from their bevy of Bengali neighbors. Like so many Chinese septuagenarians, the original, first-generation immigrants, their grandparents, spoke little of any of the Indian languages but loved this country just as much. Back then, I had only heard of Lata Mangeshkar’s tearful “Ae mere watan ke logon, zara aankh mein bhar lo pani, jo shaheed huen hain unki, zara yaad karo qurbani”, a famous Bollywood song that had evoked much patriotism from the public, after our 1962 debacle. It was later that I became aware of the events of 1962, the watershed year for India’s Defence institutions.
Myths perpetuated by ruling oligarchies, by our seniors and peers, often make lasting impressions on one’s mind. That was my case as far as 1962 was concerned. For what I cared, it was the righteous republic of India, that had fought with its back to the wall, defending its territory, while the aggressors, represented by China, had opened the floodgates to the conflict, stabbing us and shredding Nehru’s ‘Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai’ proffer to shreds. Mowing down Indian soldiers at the Indo-China border they had then seized what is today, Aksai Chin, and carried away the collective Indian pride, as the spoils of war. Ever since this narrative embedded itself in my psyche, I have had a love-hate relationship, with the Asian Tiger to our North.
In early 2014, a damning report created soon after the Sino-Indian war, but immediately classified by the ruling Congress government as ‘seditious’, was made partially available to readers. Neville Maxwell, an Australian journalist, released some portions of it on the internet. Known as the Henderson-Brooks Report, the document floated out after five decades of incarceration, ready to challenge the perspicacity of conscientious Indians. The rug had been rolled back, and a new appraisal of the traditional narrative of 1962, was beckoning.
For someone weaned on the received history of India’s only, and greatest military defeat in post-colonial times, the Henderson-Brooks Report was a detoxification of years of pedagogy, cultural symbolism, and assuaged discontent. It wasn’t China that had initiated the conflict. It was India, under Nehru. Advice to do so had come from Nehru’s arrogant and domineering sidekick, V Krishna Menon. The decision to open fire first had been India’s. Our troops at the Sino-Indian border had been acting on the orders of the Nehru-Menon intelligentsia. What followed was a sound drubbing by China of our army, that was already crippled from the biting cold of the Himalayas, and deprived of essential rations. It is in times of crises that one realizes who their friends truly are. When the Nehru government approached the United States for help, we were told by NATO to shift our Soviet-NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) allegiance to the Western-Capitalist camp, which was promptly denied. It seems NATO had a change of heart in the end and did funnel the necessary equipment over to us, but perhaps in the hope, that if India won, she would quit being such an insular Socialist administration.
Xinjiang, a province in the northern Himalayas, claimed by successive Maharajas of Kashmir, and the Nehru ruled Indian National Congress at the centre, to be Indian territory, had never before been populated by Indians. Not a single Indian soul either in ancient, medieval, or modern times, had inhabited the torturous, desert terrain, which looks almost barren of any life. On the other hand, the area was host to the Xinjiang pass, a land route linking two major Chinese provinces. Since times of yore, China had used the link. Coming across this barrage of information over a slice of history that had forced my generation into a time warp, was phenomenal! It wasn’t the Chinese after all! They had merely reclaimed what was rightfully theirs, by inflicting a humiliating defeat on us. It was a facepalm moment. I wish that was all I had to deal with. But it is from here on, that the situation snowballed; inside the defeated nation, smoldering from an ego in pieces.
Of all the suppressed incidents of the ethnic conflagration that Eastern India has had to suffer, perhaps one needs to be taken note of, the most. There had been Nellie in 1983, with its toll on unsuspecting Muslim lives. There has been the repeated persecution of Hindus and Buddhists by militia groups in the North East, notably by the NLFT (National Liberation Front of Tripura) in more recent times. But the victims in both cases were South Asians. The community I am going to talk about now, were not. They were East Asians that had made India their home, beginning with the eighteenth (18th) century. They are our very own Hakka Chinese, proprietors and inventors of India’s favorite foreign, fusion cuisine.
The Defence of India Act was passed in the December of 1962. There is little guessing whether it had national security at heart, or hostile finger-wagging at the Hakka Chinese who our government suspected of treachery. Even if the Chinese Indians did feel drawn by instinct and their belly buttons to support their ancestral homeland, they were not showing it, because certain businessmen from the community made massive donations toward the Indian war effort and condemned China. Condemned their land of descent, despite knowing that Xinjiang had always been used by their people back home and never by Indians. But the Defence of India Act was out for revenge. Pursuing the draconian, nuanced missive, Hakka Chinese residents at India’s only China Town, located at Tangra in Kolkata (then Calcutta), were rounded up, shoved into trucks, and send off to internment camps in faraway Deoli, Rajasthan. Recent revelations show that the total number of sufferers had been more than ten thousand (10,000). Chinese-Indians of all ages were made to leave. Many merely had time to lock their homes and shops. Most others didn’t. None of them were permitted to carry any goods, perishable or otherwise, except for the clothes on their backs. Pregnant women, toddlers, infants, the sick, and the elderly, without distinction, were herded out to the hot desert to experience goodness only knows what chastisement. Families were torn apart, upon parents being separated from their children. After Calcutta, it was the turn of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Jamshedpur, Shillong, and Mumbai. Wherever Chinese-Indians had a presence and could be sniffed out, the trucks of misery would come for them, rapidly.
During the long journey by road, there was a scarcity of food and water. And this is where the synopsis feels heavy. Many of them died from mere starvation and dehydration along the way. It wasn’t that food and water wasn’t available, it was simply that they were denied any. In the end, some of them protested well enough to the guards in the trucks, for rations to be made available to them. When the food arrived, they found it to be stale, nauseating, and diarrhea-inducing. But it was all they were allowed to consume. Finally, the journey came to an end one day. That day, looming ahead of them, were the silent prison walls of Deoli.
Imagine living in a desert where day temperatures scald your skin, and night temperatures give you hypothermia! This is not what the general Indian is used to, forget our Chinese citizens! Deoli internment camps do not offer protection from the alternating heat and cold, something which initially claimed the lives of a good number of its Chinese-Indian residents. Many families welcomed new members born with a bleak foreseeable future and no access to either healthcare or an education. Had it not been for the resolve inherent in the Chinese, the years at Deoli may have been utterly lost to fate. That was not to be. Insurmountable as the situation may have seemed, the new Deoli interns managed to persuade the administration to aid them with raw rations, firewood, and a small allowance. They build shutters for the windows and scant furniture for their prison interiors, with their own hands. Amusement was limited to catching glimpses of Bollywood’s maudlin flicks loaded with exaggerated body language, music, and dance, that too only visible on the TV sets in the guards’ quarters.
Finally, in 1965, orders were passed for their release. But not for all of them. The release was in a trickle, where the impounding had been a flow. Batch by batch, Chinese-Indian citizens were freed and transported back to the places they had been unduly arraigned at. The last ones were allowed to make their way home two years later, in the middle of 1967. But if you thought that ‘All is well that ends well’ and it is time to break into an applause, you haven’t heard the last of it. After making their way back, they found themselves without any moorings. Their homes had long been wrested by the locals, and businesses and garages, confiscated for either personal or public use. It may have broken their backs at last, because the state of their erstwhile properties made many Chinese-Indians emigrate back to their homeland. Those who remained had to start from scratch, selling Momos, Chowmein, and Moon Cakes at traffic intersections and by the roads. Others took up blue collar jobs as maids, drivers, factory laborers and waiters. What I find incredible in this narrative of resilience, is the sheer gumption employed, and the audacity in hanging on. India had taken away the last ounce of their dignity, but they still had faith in her.
Chinese-Indians and China have long awaited a formal apology from the Indian government. That a community so easily offended and sensitized over the ficklest of issues, should feel no qualms in destroying the lives of thousands of faithful immigrants and not bat an eye, is inconceivable. We like to claim descent from the Indus Valley inhabitants. Our hearts pound faster at the sounds of hymns from our Classical Literature which preaches ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’ (The World Is One Family). But with the mistreatment of our Chinese citizens, we may have put the most seasoned xenophobe to shame, for where they would have deported their victims; we traumatized them for no fault of theirs and made them languish in despicable conditions for years. Does it behoove us? When freedom did arrive, our feckless authorities left them staring into a future of poverty and homelessness.
Since then, many of them have emigrated to greener pastures, mostly in the New World.
Even today, decades after 1962, Chinese Indians are not allowed to become citizens of their adopted homeland, which they continue to serve faithfully, in many ways.
December 2017, marked the fifty-fifth (55th) anniversary of the creation of the draconian Defence of India Act and the subsequent unlawful internment of this country’s Chinese-Indian citizens. India owes it to herself, to her ancient ethos of brotherhood, and her legacy of absorbing international asylum seekers she has made her own, to bow to the Dragon worshippers, take cognizance of an interrupted history and apologize wholeheartedly.
Many stray animals are trying to survive as the temperature in the capital continues to drop. Many strays lose this battle trying to find food and warmth under a scrap of clothing or caged up in the corner of streets. The Perroayuda Welfare Foundation (PWF), a Delhi-based animal welfare organisation, recently held a Mega Stray Feeding Drive in Lajpat Nagar with the goal of feeding all of the area's stray animals. These wonderful Samaritans come from all around Delhi-NCR with one goal in mind: to rescue, feed, and adopt all animals in need.
Many stray animals are trying to survive as the temperature in the capital continues to drop. | Af.Mil
PWF has previously staged feeding drives in Netaji Subhash Place, Connaught Place, North Campus, Delhi University, and other locations throughout the city. A group of 70 volunteers fed over 100 stray dogs in the vicinity and provided water in earthen bowls. To raise awareness about the issue of stray animals, volunteers talked with businesses, local authorities, customers, and hawkers. The actions of this group of young animal advocates were recognised and supported.
"Donations come in from all around the world." To save strays and pay for their treatment, we rely completely on donations. "Every day, our organisation feeds roughly 1000 stray dogs," says Arpit Mathur, the organisation's founder. "Throughout the day, we receive SOS calls. We can only accomplish so much with our limited staff and resources. We hope that more young people, like us, would join us in this cause." In Rohini, the NGO also maintains a recovery centre. Currently, the recovery centre accommodates roughly 40 animals, including cats, dogs, monkeys, and a few unusual birds.
To rescue, feed, and adopt all animals in need is the goal of these people. | Photo by Camilo Fierro on Unsplash
PWF seeks to discover and feed all stray animals in need, as well as provide them with food, care, affection, and medical treatment, and organise Mega Stray Feeding Drives to raise awareness and adoption. "We discover stray animals, pet them, and feed them - no one deserves to be hungry," Mathur adds. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: adopt, feed, rescue, goal, Delhi-NCR, Perroayuda Welfare Foundation, Winter, stray animals, Help, Initiative, volunteer)
Indonesian lawmakers passed a law on the relocation of the nation's capital to the island of Kalimantan, which shares borders with Malaysia and Brunei, from the most populated island of Java. The move is a step forward in one of the most ambitious projects initiated by the country's President Joko Widodo, Xinhua news agency reported. Some former presidents had floated ideas of relocating the capital city in the past. The president, widely known as Jokowi, three years ago vowed to relocate the capital city to the province of East Kalimantan due to a number of issues like high population density and land subsidence in Jakarta which is home to more than 10 million people.
Indonesian lawmakers passed a law on the relocation of the nation's capital. Aditya Joshi / Unsplash
Nusantara, which the new capital is called, will be built in two districts in East Kalimantan -- Penajam Paser Utara and Kutai Kartanegara. It is set to occupy about 256,000 hectares of land. The name of Nusantara, which can be translated as an archipelago in English, was chosen by President Jokowi, Minister for National Development Planning Suharso Monoarfa has said. Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country, is home to some 270 million people, consisting of about 17,000 islands. "The national capital has a central function and serves as a symbol of a country to show the identity of the nation and state," Minister Monoarfa explained during a meeting with lawmakers at the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
Also Read : Hinduism in Indonesia
The ground-breaking of the construction project that is slated to cost $32 billion was initially expected to be conducted in August 2020, but the Covid pandemic has forced the government to put it on hold. Some of the projects on the construction of the new capital will be carried out by public-private partnerships, and the early stage of the relocation will begin this year and is expected to end in 2024. At this stage, the government will build a presidential palace, parliament buildings, and a housing complex in the primary zone. The move of civil servants at the early stage must be completed before August 16, 2024.
The construction project is slated to cost $32 billion.Sulthan Auliya / Unsplash
Nusantara will serve as the centre of government, while Jakarta would remain the business and economic centre of Indonesia, Southeast Asia's biggest economy. A day before the lawmakers passed the bill, President Jokowi stressed that that new capital is not only about physically relocating the offices of government institutions, but also "building a new smart city." It has been reported that Nusantara will be headed by an authority chief appointed by the president and its level of position is equal to a minister. Several former government officials which will likely become the chief include Jakarta's former governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama and former minister for research and technology Bambang Brodjonegoro. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : Indonesia, Parliament, law, relocate, capital, Nusantara, Jakarta, government, Kalimantan, President, country, people, meeting, construction, palace, buildings, housing, officials.)
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By Olivia Sarkar
Everyone has a special affinity with their pets. Furry friends are there for you in good times and bad, and they know how to cheer you up. After a hard day's work there's nothing like coming home to your own bundle of joy. Here's a round up of some celebrities who can't do without their pets:
Shraddha Kapoor's pet, Shyloh, is her best buddy. Kapoor is frequently spotted spending peaceful time with her all-time bestie.
Shraddha is frequently spotted spending peaceful time with her all-time bestie. | IANS
Pulkit Samrat's devotion to his dog Drogo has resulted in an Instagram account especially for the adorable canine. We can't get enough of how adorable these two are.
Pulkit Samrat's devotion to his dog Drogo has resulted in an Instagram account especially for the adorable canine. | IANS.
Disha Patani is an animal lover and she has not one, not two but four pets. Besides her dance routines, Patani frequently posts images of Bella, Jasmine, Goku, and Keety on social media. The actress also has an Instagram account dedicated to pictures of her pets.
Disha Patani is an animal lover and she has not one, not two but four pets. | IANS
Dude is very close to Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma's heart. The actress has uploaded numerous photos of herself spending quality time with him.
Dude is very close to Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma's heart | IANS.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Priyanka Chopra has a series on social media titled 'Diaries of Diana'. After she tied the knot, she and Nick have adopted Gino and Panda, to complete the family.
After she tied the knot, she and Nick have adopted Gino and Panda, to complete the family. | IANS
Alia Bhatt adores cats. The actress continues to express her affection for her cats by posting photographs of them on Instagram. She has a cat named Edward, who is her all time favourite companion.
She has a cat named Edward, who is her all time favourite companion. | IANS
Actress Kriti Sanon has Disco and Phoebe. The actress keeps sharing videos and images of her furry friends often cuddling or playing with her.
The actress keeps sharing videos and images of her furry friends often cuddling or playing with her. | IANS
Genelia Deshmukh and Riteish Deshmukh
Genelia and Riteish Deshmukh are a power couple, but its only a party when their pooch is in their Instagram-worthy frame.
Genelia and Riteish Deshmukh are a power couple, but its only a party when their pooch is in their Instagram-worthy frame. | IANS
(Keywords: Genelia Deshmukh, Riteish Deshmukh, Kriti Sanon, Alia Bhatt, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Anushka Sharma, Disha Patani, Pulkit Samrat)