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By Ishan Kukreti
Scams have never been a stranger to the world. Every now and then, there is a scam waiting around the corner, ready to say hello. India is so used to such acts of self-interests on a mass level that their occurrence is no more a surprise.
However in Vyapam, there is something morbidly awe-inspiring and scary at the same time. In drawing rooms, although jokes on politics turn no less cynical, a note of worry is nonetheless added to them when it comes to this cash-for-jobs scam.
Maybe this is because it is a scam which is tangibly close to the masses. Just like Bofors scandal, which pulled a string in people’s hearts, Vyapam has impacted the dreams of thousands of aspirants. A lot of people who, in this decade, wanted to be a doctor, engineer, management professionals, policemen, nurse, architect or even Hindi typist, feel that they have been wronged.
On second thought, Vyapam is also different because there is blood on its hands, too much blood.
There have been 35-50 deaths according to various contradictory sources, while ‘over 25’ remains the official count so far. Yet, since its inception in 1970, proper exposure in 2013 and commission of SIT in 2014, many names behind it remain undisclosed.
Here is a chronology that could be best compiled from the various sources available.
1970 – Pre Medical Test Board is set up by the Government of Madhya Pradesh. It will later (in 1982) transform into Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) a.k.a VYAPAM.
What is VYAPAM? – It is the only institute of its kind in the country that organizes competitive tests for entrance to various professional courses every year on a very large scale.
In 2007, Board of Directors for the self-financed Vyapam is reconstituted under Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board Act.
After a PIL by Dr Anand Rai, an ophthalmologist in 2009, Chief Minister of MP, Shivraj Singh Chauhan sets up a committee to look into the matter.
On July 26, 2011, 8 people are imprisoned for impersonation in Pre-medical tests.
Between 2000-12, 55 cases of impersonation in exams filed across Madhya Pradesh.
The scam is exposed on 6-7 July in 2013 when Indore police arrests 20 people. Based on the information elicited from them on 13 July, cops arrest Dr. Jagdish Sagar, the kingpin of the racket involved in illegal admissions, in Mumbai.
Under mounting pressure from the opposition to initiate CBI probe, CM Chauhan concedes to constituting a Special Task Force (STF), on 23 August 2013. By this time, around 13 people related to Vyapam are already dead.
As the probe of the STF continues, results of 345 students who wrote that year’s PMT are canceled on October 9.
On 13 December, STF produces its charge-sheet against 34 people including Pankaj Trivedi (Exam controller MPPEB), Dr. Sanjeev Shilpkar and Dr. Jagdish Sagar’s accomplice Gangaram Pipliya.
On 18 December, Vyapam gets its first high-profile name. Ex-Higher Education Minister and then in-charge of MPPEB, Laxmikant Sharma is arrested for involvement in the scam.
On 16 February 2014, based on a Gujarat forensic lab results, HC dismisses charges by Congress leader and former CM of MP, Digvijaya Singh that evidences are being tempered to protect Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Whistleblower Prashant Pandey, an IT consultant working for SIT, who is named the source of his information by Digvijaya Singh, says the evidence sent to the Gujarat lab was itself tempered. MP police files an FIR against him for leaking information.
Meanwhile, the scam swells up. Till 20 June, 500 are arrested and names of RSS chief, late KS Sudarshan, and senior functionary Suresh Soni come up.
In view of the increasing death toll and demand for inquiry by activists, MP High Court sets up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) on 5 November 2014. By this time, more than 20 people related to Vyapam have been pronounced dead.
Anand Rai, one of the main whistleblowers, requests the court for security, following death threats. He is asked Rs.50,000 for it. After much struggle, he is assigned a security guard in 2015.
Prashant Panday, also facing death threats, too demands protection from Delhi High Court on 20 February 2015.
Another big name gets associated with Vyapam. MP Governor Ramnaresh Yadav is drawn into the scam on 24 February. But, as an officiating Governor, SIT couldn’t investigate him. The Supreme Court will hear a case to remove him from office today.
On 25 March, Sailesh, Ramnaresh’s son dies in Lucknow. His name too had surfaced in the scam. However, the family members deny foul play.
In a major shock to the fourth pillar of democracy, an Aaj Tak journalist, Akshay Singh, dies while investigating into the scam on 4 July.
After three more deaths and mounting pressure from various quarters, Shivraj Singh Chauhan agrees for a CBI probe into the matter on 7 July.
As of today, things stand here. Vyapam scam slowly breathes, hiding much in its bosom and SIT and STF cautiously investigate.
(Cartoons by Aseem Trivedi)
The sporting industry thrives on the success of the patron teams, or at least, teams that the people love. It is common knowledge how much time and energy people are willing to spend watching matches between their favourite team and its rival. Matches that take place across the world, in different time zones, do not matter much when it comes to expressing patronage for a star player or team. Late nights, crowded sitting rooms, and rain-checked appointments are absolutely welcome during match season.
Cricket has gained the world's love when it comes to making them stop everything and stare at a screen, awaiting the next run, boundary, or wicket. No other sport across the world receives as much love and undying allegiance. In this scenario, it is only natural to have an entire system in place that makes use of this immense love for the sport. Creating leagues that run annually, and pit one team against another, to measure prowess, skill, and popularity does not seem odd at all. In fact, it pumps the adrenaline more than ever, and receives an incredible amount of support. People will do anything to watch their team in action one more time.
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Like in every other cricket-loving nation, Australia's Big Bash League reigns supreme among the predictors, who weigh the statistics of each team, player, and season. They go by the name of KFC Big Bash League, more popularly, BBL, and were established in 2011. Their franchise Twenty20 matches are held during the summer season, between the months of December and February. Currently, there are six local teams, Sydney Sixers, Perth Scorchers, and so on, the former being the latest champion. Apart from the Indian Premier League, BBL has the most attendance.
A batsman swinging the ball Image credit: Photo by Yogendra Singh on Unsplash
Since the world's eyes are on Australia anyway during this season, BBL also predicts its winners and losers, hosting events and putting up charts of the same. Experts that work under them regularly update the ravenous public about the latest developments based on experience, how often team members change hands, leadership developments, and even predict the success of each player in turn. The BBL points table sees a raving amount of reviews each year from the publicity of the franchise itself. People from all over world want to be able to know the outcome of the match beforehand, to increase the excitement of watching it.
Over the years, newer features have been introduced to make the franchise more enticing. Awards, both real and imaginary, are handed out to winners, and to exceptional players. Online betting also takes place to see who wins and who loses, based on personal opinions coupled with the experts' predictions. The BBL chart is extremely useful in this context. They even have a Women's Big Bash League that is gaining momentum.
Also read: The Ultimate Cricket Stay
The odds offered by BBL takes into account all the minute factors that most predictors do not pay attention to, such as weather conditions, and a list of probable players, including match details. What makes BBL reliable is that the experts who give out suggestions do their best field work, and have sound knowledge of the game and players. On Crictips, BBL has truly made a name for itself as an all-round cricket guide to all kinds of sporting audiences.
(Disclaimer: This article is sponsored and contains some commercial links)
Keywords: Australia, BBL, Crictips, Cricket, Betting
Cinema and movie making is constantly changing, and the result is in front of us we've come a long way from silent black and white short movies to high definition, colour, 5-D movies. It has evolved for the last 108 years and continues to grow. India's first auteur-filmmaker Dhundiraj Govind Phalke popularly known as Dadasahen Phalke directed and produced India's first feature film Raja Harishchandra which was a hundred per cent made by the Indian crew. The movie was released in Bombay's (Mumbai) Coronation Theatre on the 3rd of May 1913 under the label of being India's first home production, full-length film.
Raja Harishchandra was the first to be 'acted, directed and produced by an all-Indian team. Phalke's inspiration to make a "Swadeshi" movie comes from when he viewed the silent movie, "The Life of Christ" in 1911. He wrote in Navayug, November 1917 that While the Life of Christ was rolling fast before my physical eyes, I was mentally visualizing the gods, Shri Krishna, Shri Ramachandra, their Gokul and Ayodhya… He wanted to feel the connection with the movies but that connection failed to form as the context of the movie was foreign.
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Phalke went to London the very next year to learn about filmmaking techniques. He even imported the hardware required for filmmaking to India from England, France, Germany, and the United States of America. Upon his return to India, he founded Phalke Films Company. Phalke published classified in various newspapers for the cast and crew to apply, what's unique about the film was that even the female roles were played by male actors this happened as no women were available for the role.
Phalke was a one-man crew for the production, he was in charge of writing script, direction, production design, make-up, film editing along with film processing. The filming of the whole movie took six months and 27 days.
The female roles were played by male actors in the movieWikimedia Commons
As the name itself suggests the film closely follows the story of Satyavadi Raja Harishchandra from the Vedas who is known to be the epitome of truth as maharishi Vishvamitra makes him go through numerous torturous tests to prove himself.
The story goes as Raja (King) Harishchandra was teaching his son, Rohitashva how to shoot with a bow and arrow as Queen Taramati watches over her son and husband. Later the people of the Kingdom request the king to go on a hunting expedition as the animals have been creating havoc. While on the hunt, Harishchandra hears the cries of some women. Upon following the voice Harishchnadra discovers the sage Vishwamitra was performing a yajna to get help from Triguna Shakti (three powers) against their will. After witnessing the sight Harishchandra revolts and interrupts the sage, which infuriates the egoistic sage. To calm his wrath Harishchandra offers to sacrifice his kingdom to the sage. He informs his queen of the events and the family is exiled from the kingdom by Vishvamitra. The sage asks the poor king for Dakshina within the time period of 48 days. While in exile Rohitashva meets his demise, the king asks his wife to visit Dom king in the hope of free cremation only to face more difficulties on the path Vishvamitra frames her for the murder of the prince of Kashi. Taramati faces trial, pleads guilty and is ordered to be beheaded by Harishchandra. With a torn heart but as he could not turn away from his duty, the king raises his sword to behead his wife, Lord Shiva appears, and it is revealed that all the difficulties they have been going throw were the tests laid down by Vishvamitra to test the integrity of the king, Harishchandra gets back his kingdom, his son is brought back to life and the movie ends.
A legacy of the century
Only a handful of "firsts/indigenous" movies made in India have survived the century. Raja Harishchandra being one of them still holds the same meaning and inspiration for its audience as it did a century ago. Film historian Firoze Rangoonwalla describes the film's impact on the public as "a wide impression and appealed to a large audience in different places" and its box office success provided "the seal of acceptance and laid the foundation of the film industry" in the country.
The debate over whether Raja Harishchandra is truly the first full-length Indian feature film has been argued over for decades. Some film historians claim that Shree Pundalik by Dadasaheb Torne was released in the same theatre a year before Raja Harishchandra was the maiden Indian Film. However, other historians differ they argue that Shree Pundalik is a simple cinematographic recording filmed by a British cameraman on a single fixed camera, and later processed in London. On the other hand, Raja Harishchandra was completely made in India, from cameraman to final editing of the movie. Thus, it has recognition from the government of India as the first Indian feature film.
Keywords: Filmmaking, India's first feature film, Raja Harishchandra, Dadasaheb Phalke, filmmakers in India
As fall nesting is upon us, opt for tasteful wallpapers if you're looking to dramatically overhaul your interiors. Besides being more durable and cost-effective in the long run, wallpapers can add texture and dimension to a space, transforming an ordinary room into something special. Take your pick from muted backdrops to geometric prints from a splash of vibrant hues to intricate patterns.
Artisan Furnishings curates a few trends to dress your walls up for the season:
If yours is a minimalistic home with clean simple designs and home accessories, covering your wall with a muted color and simple floral motifs will work like a charm. An interplay of the yesteryear's cottage core vibe with a contemporary design aesthetic, your walls will play muse to the season of new beginnings.
An interplay of the yesteryear's cottage core vibe with a contemporary design aesthetic, your walls will play muse to the season of new beginnings. | Photo by Unsplash
Cover Me in Sunshine
Vibrant hues of sunshine orange and yellow with intricately lined patterns in white bring out a certain allure and warmth to your home along with adding a statement to your wall. Paint your home in this subdued backdrop to give it a fresh makeover.
Vibrant hues of sunshine orange and yellow with intricately lined patterns in white bring out a certain allure and warmth to your home. | IANSlife
Go Rustic with Earthy Tones
Invoking the aura of the charming English countryside, the rustic trend blends the neutral backdrops and an earthy colour palette of beige, brown, and blue. Infusing a sense of tradition and craftsmanship, these wallpapers are designed with ingenuity and love for our diverse roots.
The rustic trend blends the neutral backdrops and an earthy color palette of beige, brown, and blue. I Photo by Unsplash
Bold Hues on Muted Backdrops
Give your home a festive spirit and feel with wallpapers created on a simple color palette of cream with gold accents. Reminiscent of palaces and their vintage and regal vibe, this wall-covering trend goes perfectly for every kind of space.
Floral motifs and structural designs create a bespoke line of wall arts to bring out the essence of fall in your home. | IANSlife
A melange of Pattern and Prints
Uniquely designed patterns on a plethora of backdrops colored white, cream, beige, and bold hues of violet, this trend is perfect for all seasons. Floral motifs and structural designs create a bespoke line of wall arts to bring out the essence of fall in your home. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Wall trends, Minimalistic Decor, Floral motifs, and structural designs, home accessories, Contemporary design aesthetic.