Monday October 22, 2018

World Heritage Day: How Delhi’s Hindu heritage was eclipsed by foreign invasions

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By Shilpika Srivastava

From becoming the capital city of almost every single dynasty and empire that blossomed in India, Delhi has lineage, history, class and then some more. The seeds of Delhi spread not in the misty myth, but very firmly in the ground – put there by the Hindu pedigree, as the historical texts suggest.

Around 1400 B.C., there existed a powerful and magnificent city of Indraprastha – the city of PandavasMahabharata suggests that the Demon Maya, who was said to be the best architect of his time, built the fabled city of Indraprastha after Dhritarashtra partitioned the Kingdom of Hastinapur into two in order to cut down the enmity between the Pandavas and the Kauravas.

In fact, there are historical evidences that suggest that the area has been settled for around 2500 years. Last year, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) started its excavation at Purana Qila in hope to unearth Painted Grey Wares (PGW), which could have proved the existence of the Mahabharata period. Also, an excavation conducted inside the fort grounds in the early 1970s unveiled Black Polished Ware and PGW that dated back to 300 B.C. The excavation gave boost to ASI and its historians’ belief that the fort’s site was, indeed, a part of the mythological Indraprastha.

Upinder Singh’s book, Ancient Delhi, also makes a reference of a place called ‘Dillika’. Also, the heroic poem, Prithviraj Raso, penned by Chand Bardai, links ‘Dhilli’ with a Rajput king and Mehrauli’s iron pillar.

Pasanaha Chariu of Vibudh Shridhar, an Apabhramsha writer, provides the first reference to the legend of the origin of the name ‘Dhilli’ for Delhi. He says:

हरियाणए देसे असंखगाम, गामियण जणि अणवरथ काम|
परचक्क विहट्टणु सिरिसंघट्टणु, जो सुरव इणा परिगणियं|
रिउ रुहिरावट्टणु बिउलु पवट्टणु, ढिल्ली नामेण जि भणियं|

It literally means: There are countless villages in Haryana. The villagers there work hard. They don’t accept domination of others, and are experts in making the blood of their enemies flow. Indra himself praises this country. The capital of this country is Delhi.

Countless invaders who were attracted to the riches and wealth of India, found their calling in Delhi. Being located on the banks of River Yamuna, the erstwhile city of Indraprastha soon became the Pole Star that every marauder wanted to win over.

Delhi has witnessed the rise and fall of almost eleven cities. Therefore, every dynasty that ruled the area left its distinct streak over the city’s architecture. During the entire hotchpotch, from the decline of Indraprastha to the invasion of Muhammad of Ghor, the Hindu heritage that the city had beautifully preserved faded away gradually in the darkness of time.

The rule of Qutbuddin Aibak, the slave and successor of Mohammed Ghori, saw Sultanate being reinforced, and then began a chapter of cultural experimentation and efflorescence in language, food, and architectural techniques. There ran an anabolism of the cultural traditions of Central and West Asia, and these when synthesized with the indigenous architectural styles of India gave rise to a distinct building style called Indo-Islamic.

The earliest buildings during this time were created using materials from the Hindu and Jain temples. Quwwat-ul-Islam, Delhi’s first congregational mosque was built over the substratum of a Hindu temple, and beams, brackets and columns from 27 temples were utilized in its construction.

From 1526 to 1757, the Mughal Emperors accomplished huge power in India. The Empire sustained in a diluted form, for another hundred years, until 1858 and was slowly grasped by the British presence.

Conspicuously, the Indian architecture during the Mughal period was greatly prejudiced by Persian styles depicting a uniform pattern both in structure and character.

The emergence of Mughal Raj saw the evolution of the Hindustani language, which was the precursor to Hindi and Urdu, however, the Hindustani dance form was hugely affected by the Mughal patronage. It is also notable that the concoction of Persian words into the vocabulary proved to be a long lasting cultural change.

The Western frontier region changed its tune from an “Indian” or Hindu characteristics and progressed more towards an Islamic or Arab identity. This, on the other hand, led to the modern nations of Pakistan and Afghanistan that resonate more with the Arab culture than the Indian culture. Not necessarily bad, but certainly a hard hit for “Indian” heritage.

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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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#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)