About –the stories of the world this week, 18 September to 24 September 2022: the end of an era; veiling beauty; bluffing a war; fortified food; and a new golf hero.


A Final Journey

The State Funeral of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II was held on Monday, this week. The monarch was lying in state in London’s Westminster Abbey since Wednesday as Heads of State, and the general public filed past her coffin to pay their respects and bid farewell. Long queues were seen along the banks of the River Thames as people waited their turn for that one last glimpse. The Queen died on 8th September while at her summer residence, Balmoral.

The Queen’s State Funeral was the United Kingdom’s first in over half a century. The last one was in 1965, when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was accorded this honour.

Ahead of the final hymn of the funeral service, the Crown Jeweller removed the Imperial Sceptre, the Orb, and the Crown, from the Queen’s coffin and placed them at the Church Altar. And Queen Elizabeth II began her final journey: to Wellington Arch where the Coffin was transferred from the State Gun Carriage to the State Hearse for the last-lap journey to Windsor Castle, where the Queen lived for the last two years of her life.

The Queen was then buried, with her coffin lowered into the Royal Vault, alongside her late husband, Prince Philip, in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, within the St. George’s Chapel of the Windsor Castle premises.

That’s the end of an era!

Anti-Hijab Protests

Mahsa Amini, a 22 years old Kurdish woman from the north-western city of Saqez in Iran was visiting the capital Tehran, with her family, on 13 September 2022. Amini, wearing a long black coat and headscarf was outside a metro station, with her brother, when she was accosted by the Morality Police – known formally as ‘Gasht-e Ershad (Guidance Patrols). They accused her of wearing ‘unsuitable attire’- not strictly following the Islamic Dress Code – and promptly arrested her for breaking the law. She was taken to a Detention Centre and Re-Education Centre where she fell into a coma, shortly after collapsing, and eventually died three days later, on 16 September.

There were reports that the police hit Amini’s head with a baton and banged her head against one of their vehicles. Of course, the police denied and refuted all allegations of mistreatment, and said she suffered ‘sudden heart failure’. But, her family firmly said she was fit and healthy and that she suffered bruises to her legs while in custody. They blamed the Morality Police for her sudden death.

The death sparked widespread anger, with thousands of people taking to the streets, and a series of protests breaking out in Iran. Women across many cities openly challenged the regime by cutting off their hair and burning the hijab, demanding freedom from such archaic laws and disproportionate use of force to enforce them. Iran has not seen this scale of protest and unrest in a very long time.

The United Nations has condemned the death of Amini and demanded an independent investigation on the allegations of torture and ill-treatment.

Going back in time, Iran under the late Shah of Iran was a modern society where women had the freedom to wear ‘suitable clothing’ of their own choice.

Following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran imposed a mandatory Islamic Dress Code, requiring all women to wear a headscarf and loose-fitting clothing that would effectively disguise their figures, in public.

The Morality Police were tasked, among other things, with ensuring women conform with the authorities’ interpretation of ‘proper’ clothing. Officers have the power to stop women and assess whether they are showing too much hair; their trousers and overcoats are too short or close-fitting; or they are wearing too much make-up. Punishments for violating the rules include a fine, prison time, or flogging.

Girls, from the age of seven upwards are required to cover their hair, failing which they will not be able to go to school, or get a job.

This is what a free-thinking woman had to say:

“The only crime that Mahsa Amini committed was to be born female in a society led by men. It’s revolting that we still have this shameful treatment towards women in the 21st century. The world is too often led by men who impose rules on how women must speak, eat, think, dress, and even dream! What possible crime did Amini do to receive such a horrific punishment? Was the brightness of her hair blinding someone? How does a head without a religious accessory affect the life of anyone else?”

While all this was happening, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi withdrew from a planned interview with CNN’s chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour at the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, on Wednesday. This after she declined a last-minute demand to wear a headscarf. Amanpour, who grew up in the Iranian capital Tehran and is a fluent Farsi speaker, said that she wears a headscarf while reporting in Iran to comply with the local laws and customs, “otherwise you couldn’t operate as a journalist.” But, she said that she would not cover her head to conduct an interview with an Iranian official outside a country where it is not required. That definitely is a bold stand!

As we Homo Sapiens grow older, instead of getting wiser, are we not becoming more narrow-minded? Look at Afghanistan where girls have been denied the right to education for about a year, since the Taliban came to power, for the only reason that they are female! That basic thing called Freedom, is still a precious die hard word, which we cannot take for granted, after all!

The Bluff Just Got Deeper

This week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would be mobilising 300,000 military reservists to serve in Ukraine. He insisted that Russia was merely defending itself and its territories – and that the West did not want to see peace in Ukraine. Amazing ‘eyes wide open blindness!’

However, Ukrainians think this may actually be good for Ukraine as, for all these months, Russia wanted its people to remain distanced from the military campaign: the State will leave you alone so long as you stay away from politics and demonstrate indifference towards the war. The mobilisation might change this. The 300,000 families of the reservists will start to feel the war personally.

The mobilisation move also confirms that Russia will be unable to defend territories it has occupied, without more personnel.

Food Development

Dr. Norman Ernest Borlaug was an American Scientist – Agronomist, who led initiatives worldwide that contributed to ‘big-bang’ increases in agricultural production, resulting in what we all know as ‘The Green Revolution’. Borlaug was awarded multiple honours, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 – for having given a well-founded hope – for a lifetime spent on work to feed a hungry world. Borlaug was often called the ‘Father of the Green Revolution’- that got permanently planted to his name. And is credited with saving over a billion people worldwide from starvation. However, Borlaug always emphasised that he himself was only part of a team.

Although a scientist with outstanding contributions, Borlaug’s greatest achievement could perhaps be his relentless struggle to integrate the various streams of agricultural research into viable technologies and to convince political leaders to bring these advances to fruition.

Norman Borlaug obtained a PhD in Plant Protection at the age of 27, and worked in Mexico in the 1940s and 1950s to make the country self-sufficient in grain. He recommended improved methods of cultivation, and developed a robust strain of wheat – Dwarf Wheat – that was adapted to Mexican conditions. By the year 1956, the country had become self-sufficient in wheat. Success in Mexico made Borlaug a much sought-after adviser to countries whose food production was not keeping pace with their population growth. In the mid-1960s, he introduced dwarf wheat into India and Pakistan, and production increased enormously.

The Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation, is presented every October of the year in Des Moines, Iowa, by the World Food Prize Foundation. This USD 10,000 Award recognises exceptional, science-based achievement in international agriculture and food production by an individual under the age of 40 years. Awardees are those who emulate the same intellectual courage, stamina, and determination in the fight to eliminate global hunger and poverty, demonstrated by Borlaug as a young scientist. The Award presentation is appropriately held in the historically preserved and environmentally renovated World Food Prize Hall of Laureates. This USD 29.8 million project restored the century-old Des Moines Public Library and transformed it as a special tribute to World Food Prize founder Norman Borlaug.

The individuals chosen to be recipients of the Borlaug Field award are selected by an anonymous international jury, chaired by Dr. W. Ronnie Coffman of Cornell University. Coffman, who was Borlaug’s only doctorate student, serves as a member of the World Food Prize Council of Advisors.

This year, India’s Dr. Mahalingam Govindaraj, Senior Scientist for Crop Development at HarvestPlus and the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT (International Centre for Tropical Agriculture) has been named the 2022 recipient of the Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application. He is recognised for his outstanding leadership in mainstreaming biofortified crops, particularly pearl millet, in India and Africa. For more than a decade, he has directed the development and dissemination of high-yielding, high-iron and high-zinc pearl millet varieties, which have contributed to better nutrition for thousands of farmers and their communities.

In 2014, Govindaraj released Dhanashakti, the world’s first biofortified Pearl Millet (bajra- in Hindi; kambu – in Tamil). Independent clinical studies showed that 200 grams of Dhanashakti provided women with more than 80% of their recommended daily allowance of iron, compared to only 20% in regular pearl millet varieties. Now, more than 120,000 farming households in India grow Dhanashakti. Estimates say that by 2024, ten years after Dhanashakti’s release, more than 9 million people in India will be consuming iron-and zinc-rich pearl millet and reaping the health benefits of better nutrition.

Govindaraj’s active collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research led to India becoming the first country in the world to commit to iron and zinc standards as core traits in its national cultivar release policy. Pearl millet became the first crop in which minimum levels of these essential micronutrients were mandated in 2018. As it’s estimated that India loses over USD 12 billion in GDP annually to micronutrient deficiencies, this was an important policy milestone in advancing a nutrition-sensitive food system.

Govindaraj received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Plant Breeding & Genetics from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, and a B.Sc. degree from the Agricultural College and Research Institute, Killikulam, Vallanadu, Tuticorin, Tamilnadu.

The only other Indian to win the award is Dr. Aditi Mukherji, a young social scientist, who incidentally was the first recipient, in 2012. During her intense fieldwork surveying more than 4000 groundwater users, Aditi discovered that smallholder farmers in water-abundant eastern India were being prevented by certain policy restrictions from getting access to the water resources needed to irrigate their crops. She then worked with farmers to ensure that their voices were heard by Policymakers.

Aditi was educated at Presidency College, Kolkatta; Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi; and the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai. She completed her Ph.D in Human Geography at Cambridge University, United Kingdom.

A New Golf Hero

Ines Laklalech, 24, a Rookie, from Casablanca, won the Ladies European Tour title at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France in Deauville, defeating England’s Meghan MacLaren in a play-off. In doing so, she became the first Moroccan, the first Arab, and the first North African woman to win a Ladies European Tour title.

Laklalech had finished level with MacLaren on 14-under par. The pair returned to the 18th for the play-off, where MacLaren could only manage a six while Laklalech carded five.

Ines said the victory would be something she would remember “for the rest of my life” as she celebrated her historic win. “It feels amazing. It’s special to hear it. I don’t have any words to describe this”, she said.

Diksha Dagar of India finished in the third place on 11-under-par after a final round of seven-under-par 64.

In other stories to ‘look up’ to, America’s NASA has solved a problem that kept its un-crewed Artemis Mission to the Moon, grounded on Earth. And I expect a successful launch to happen in the upcoming week.

More stories of freedom and development coming up in the weeks ahead. Feed and fortify yourself with World Inthavaaram.



About: the world this week, 13 March to 19 March 2022, the ‘Z’ of war, a basketball heroine, return from jail, scarfs of a religion, and Kashmir.



The wholly unnecessary, irrational Russia-Ukraine war grinds on with no end in sight, but the Russians and Ukrainians are still talking, and that is something to hang on to. The enormity of destruction unfolding on our screens everyday, is beyond imagination in these advanced times. Does the ‘Z’ marking on the invading Russian armoury signify the end, ‘of something’?

Russians are slowly finding their voices. Marina Ovsyannikova, a Russian State Television Channel-1 employee interrupted a live news broadcast with a placard carrying an anti-war message: and all the time, the news-reader continued unperturbed with that unflappable, unmistakable, cold, robot like Russian look. She was promptly arrested, presented in court, and fined 30,000 Russian Roubles for breaking protest laws. The ‘lean punishment’, by Russian Standards, was awfully surprising. Later, Ovsyannikova said that Russians are zombified by State media propaganda. However, she could face other charges-someone must be working overtime to find them. But, in a way, Ovsyannikova has already won a great battle against propaganda in Russia and, maybe, galvanised the like-minded to find their charge.

The best part is that the media in Russia is behaving as if nothing happened, as if Ovsyannikova never existed. Of course, this follows the Russian Standard Operating Procedure of, ’It’s not me”-denying everything. And ‘lying’ is becoming the spinal cord of the present unhinged Russian Regime.

In another development, a leading Bolshoi prima ballerina, who denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine left Russia to join the Dutch National Ballet. Olga Smirnova, 30, an exceptional dancer, said last week she was, “against this war with every fibre of my soul”, and was supported by other Russian ballerinas. Smirnova has a Ukrainian grandfather and has described herself as one-quarter Ukrainian. Earlier this month, Smirnova said: “In a modern and enlightened world, I expect civilised societies to resolve political matters only through peaceful negotiations”.

That’s very well said. She needs to be listened to!

Over the week, it was heart-warming to see Leaders from the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovenia bravely board a train and visit Kyiv, to meet Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky and show support for Ukraine. We need more of this kind. Wish all world leaders would catch their own trains to Ukraine!

The International Court of Justice also entered the battle-field and ordered Russia to immediately halt its invasion of Ukraine, in a 13-2 decision. Out of the 15 Judges, India’s Justice Dalveer Bhandari too voted against Russia, joining with the majority. The court said, ‘It is profoundly concerned about the use of force by the Russian Federation, which raises very serious issues in international law’. That’s some distance!

The Russian hostilities continued unabated and this week they bombed the Mariupol Drama Theatre where hundreds of civilians were sheltering underneath the Theatre’s bomb shelter. People were trapped inside and the extent of damage is being assessed.

Meanwhile, President Zelensky carried on addressing Parliaments of various countries to highlight Ukraine’s plight. This week it was Canada and the US.

Late this week, in a phone call between Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Russian leader set out his demands to end the War. At last, perhaps some light?

The world has to find a way to stop this senseless war. The United Nations (UN) should work harder. Else it might become another ‘League of Nations’.

A Star Disappears

She’s arguably the greatest female basketball player of all time: American Professional Basketball player Brittney Griner been detained in Moscow amid a war. The 6 feet 9 inch tall Brittney, 31, entered Russia on 17 February, landing at the Sheremetyevo Airport, outside Moscow, to play another season with a Russian league team, UMMC Ekaterinburg, during the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) offseason.

While going through Airport security, a sniffer dog led Russian authorities to search Brittney’s carry-on luggage and they found vape cartridges containing hashish oil. She is believed to have been arrested on drug charges. Since then, her whereabouts are unknown and Russia has so far blocked consular access to the US embassy. She could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Few have accomplished what Brittney Griner has. A native of Houston, Texas, she won the college championship, WNBA and Euro-League titles, and an Olympic gold medal. And, famously, her ability to dunk (score by shooting the ball down through the basket with the hands above the rim) is unmatched. She is one of the WNBA’s most dominant players in history, widely considered the best offensive player in the League.

Off the basketball court, she has been a trailblazer, coming out as gay at age 22, just about the time of her entry into professional sport. She then became the first overall draft pick in the WNBA that year and, soon after, the first openly gay athlete to be endorsed by Nike in its advertisement campaigns.

An Iranian-British Woman Appears: ‘Is that Mummy?’

On 17 March 2016, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 37, who holds dual British and Iranian citizenship, along with her nearly two years old daughter Gabriella, travelled to Iran to visit her parents to celebrate the Iranian New Year. She lives in Hampstead, London, with her husband Richard Ratcliffe and Gabriella, and was visiting Iran on holiday. She was born in Tehran.

On 3 April 2016 Nazanin was arrested by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards at Imam Khomeini Airport when she and her daughter were about to board a flight back to the United Kingdom (UK). She was then held in solitary confinement.

At the time of her arrest, she was employed by Thomson Reuters Foundation – a charity. She had previously worked for the BBC as an administrator, and for multiple charity organisations, including the Japanese International Co-operation Agency, International Federation of Red Cross, Red Crescent Societies, and the World Health Organization (WHO) before coming to the UK on scholarship to study Communication Management at London Metropolitan University.

The reason for her arrest was not made public, but she was later accused of spying. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said she was leading a ‘foreign-linked hostile network’ when she visited. And also alleged Nazanin was plotting to topple the government in Tehran, though no official charges were made. On 9 Sept 2016 Nazanin was jailed for five years following a conviction on charges that remained secret. She spent four years in the Evin Prison in Tehran and one under house arrest at her parents’ house in Iran.

In April 2021, after she completed her five-year term, Nazanin was sentenced to another year in jail and was banned from leaving Iran on charges of spreading propaganda against the country’s government. She was also charged for taking part in a protest 12 years ago in London and talking to the BBC Service during that time.

The UN had on several occasions called for Nazanin’s release. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had also formally called for her immediate release in its Opinion adopted in August 2016. Further, calls for Nazanin’s release have been made by the US Congress, the Canadian Parliament, and the European Parliament.

In June 2019, both Richard and Nazanin went on hunger strike, in protest of Nazanin’s imprisonment, with Richard Ratcliffe camping outside the Iranian Embassy in London, and she in jail. They both ended the hunger strike on 29 June 2019, after 15 days.

On 24 October 2021, Richard Ratcliffe went on a second hunger strike to persuade the British government to expand the efforts in calling for his wife’s release from Iran’s detention. His hunger strike took place outside the Foreign Office in London. On 13 November 2021, with mounting concerns on his health, Richard Ratcliffe ended his hunger strike after 21 days, stating that their daughter ‘needs two parents’.

Finally this week on 16 March 2022 Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and another British-Iranian detainee, Anoosheh Ashoori were released from detention and returned to the UK. On landing, the first question that a waiting Gabriella asked was, “is that Mummy?”

Anoosheh Ashoori is a British-Iranian businessman. He spent 10 years in the UK from 1972, while he studied mechanical and aeronautical engineering, before returning to Iran to take care of his ailing father. He returned to the UK in 2005 to expand his business abroad. In Ashoori’s case, he was arrested in August 2017, when he visited his mother. He was awarded 12 years in prison-10 years for ‘spying for Israel’s Mossad’ and another two years for ‘acquiring illegitimate wealth’. Ashoori was subjected to torture, repeatedly interrogated without a lawyer present, and forced to sign confessions while sleep-deprived.

What could be the reason for this torture by Iran? In 2018, Iran was accused of holding British Nationals because of a multi million GBP debt owed by the UK to Iran.

Iran has stated that the UK government owes the Iranian government 400 million pounds for the sale of some defence equipment in the 1970s—before the Iranian Revolution when both the countries used to be allies. Iran claims that Britain promised 1,750 Chieftain Tanks and other vehicles for which Farah Diba, the widow of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was ousted by the 1979 Islamic Revolution, paid for but none were delivered.

In the end it is said that Britain agreed to pay Iran GBP 393.8 million, which can only be used for humanitarian purposes – details of the arrangement are not known.


This week, in a landmark Indian Court ruling, The High Court of Karnataka upheld a government ban on the headscarf in schools and colleges on the grounds that wearing it was ‘not essential’ to Islam. And that it has ‘something to do with culture but certainly not with religion’.

The verdict came in the wake of a polarising row over the hijab, which flared up early this year in the State of Karnataka. The Government stepped-in to ban hijab-wearing in schools and colleges and the students who stoked the controversy took the issue to the courts-for their judgement.

Quoting passages from the Koran, the Court ruled that: “It is not that if the practice of wearing hijab is not adhered to, those not wearing hijab become the sinners, Islam loses its glory and it ceases to be a religion.” Therefore, it added, the state has the right to prescribe a uniform without the hijab – it dismissed the students’ objections, saying the rule was a ‘reasonable restriction’ on their constitutional rights.


First, a brief history.

According to legend, an ascetic called Kashyapa reclaimed the land now comprising Kashmir, from a vast lake, which came to known as Kashyapamar and, later Kashmir – the land desiccated from water. King Ashoka The Great introduced Buddhism in the 3rd century BCE and the region gradually grew into a centre of Hindu culture. A succession of Hindu dynasties ruled until 1346 after which it came under Muslim rule that lasted almost five centuries. Then in 1819, Kashmir was annexed to the Sikh Kingdom of Punjab by Ranjit Singh and then to the Dogra Kingdom of Jammu in 1846. After the Anglo-Sikh war the British sold Kashmir to the Ghulab Singh of the Dogras for INR 7.5 million. Maharaja Hari Singh was the last Dogra King to ascend the throne in 1925. He signed the Instrument of Accession Act to India in October 1947 making it an integral part of India, when Pakistani Tribals invaded the North Western part and ‘illegally’ occupied it.

Kashmir is historically a plural land where all religions peacefully coexisted for centuries. Islam became a majority religion only in the 13th century. Kashmir’s Sufi-Islamic way of life complimented the rishi tradition of the Kashmiri Pandits who worshipped Lord Siva and Goddess Sakthi, in what is known as ‘Kashmiri Shaivism’.

It is a historical fact that in the end of the 1980’s and early 1990’s, close to half a million Hindus were ethnically cleansed from the Kashmir Valley by marauding Islamic gangs instigated and supported from within and across the Border-primarily Pakistan. Brutal murders and rapes followed. A Judge of the Srinagar High Court, Neelkanth Ganjoo, was shot in broad daylight in November 1989, by Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) cadres when he had sentenced the JKLF founder Maqbool Bhat to death for the murder of a Police Inspector, Amar Chand.

This happened under the rule of the then J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah who was seen as completely abdicating his responsibility in controlling the gangs. About 500,000 Kashmiri Hindus had no option but to leave or stay back and die. Many died in squalid camps and most moved on with their lives with pitiable scant support from the Indian Government; picking up their lives and hoping one day to get back to their homes where their ancestors survived many earlier genocides.

The Kashmir Files an Indian film directed by Vivek Agnihotri and produced by Zee Studios released late last week. It is a film based on exodus of Kashmiri Hindu Pandits during the Kashmir insurgency and tells the true story of brutal sufferings endured by the Kashmir Pandits living in India’s State of Jammu & Kashmir, in the year 1990 when they were forced to leave their homes.

It is the untold story of Islamic militants storming the houses of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley with the chant, ‘Either convert to Islam, leave the land, or die’. The Kashmir Files has become the most contentious film of the year with its ruthlessly bold presentation of the inhuman sufferings of the minority Kashmiri Pandits due to intolerance of the majority Islamic community, in J&K.

The film revolves around the fictional story of a university student who discovers his Kashmiri parents were killed by Islamist militants- and not in an accident as his grandfather had told him, and goes on to discover the chilling genocide of Kashmir Pandits.

The Kashmir Files has since scorched the box-office and generated heat and dust, and strong feelings on the sufferings of a people rendered refugees in their own land.

I am looking forward to watching the film and will come back with a full story.

More real and fiction coming up in the weeks ahead. Read World Inthavaaram.


About: the world this week, 6 February to 12 February 2022, a week which screamed and bursted at its seams in a frenzy of stories about roads, hijabs, oratory, nightingales, cricket, and the Oscar Award nominations.



Canada has a road-rage problem. Thousands of Canadians have hit the streets in trucks, tractors, cars, and on foot, clogging driveways to protest the Country’s Covid-19 restrictions. With persistent and noisy horn-honking, protesters are demanding lifting of health restrictions, including Covid-19 vaccine and mask mandates, lockdowns, and the kind. This is part of the ‘Freedom Convoy’, which was initially started by truckers protesting a mandate requiring drivers entering Canada to be fully vaccinated or face testing and quarantine requirements.

This week, the protestors stormed and blocked a key bridge that accounts for about 27% of the trade between the United States (US) and Canada. And one that serves as an auto-parts supply chain between the two countries. Well, there are no spare roads and no spare parts too.

While the truckers blocked roads in Canada, across the ‘key bridge’ and yonder border, it’s being revealed that the most dangerous way to travel in the US – roads – became even more deadly during the coronavirus pandemic: roadway deaths soared at the highest rate in recorded history.

Road safety advocates say the numbers match their experience along Maryland Route 210, a six-lane, largely straight stretch with busy business and residential intersections, south of the capital, Washington. It’s called Indian Head Highway, but some call it ‘the highway of death,’ due to dozens of fatal accidents on this highway, over the past decade. “We have roads that are designed for efficient travel, not for safety. These are preventable crashes”, says a Road Expert.

Safety recommendations include increasing enforcement and education campaigns; requiring vehicles to come with collision warning and automatic braking systems; and distracted driving policies that recognise even hands-free devices take a driver’s attention away from the road.


It all started with a group of six girls suddenly deciding to wear the Hijab (head-scarf/head covering) to the Government Pre-University College for Girls in Udupi, Karnataka State, last December, when it was never done before. Their argument was, there was no clear instruction on not wearing a Hijab, hence why not? They claimed it was their right under the Indian Constitution. The College decided not to allow girls wearing a hijab and prevented them from entering the College, based on ‘uniform rules’ thinking, which power it owns for the making. Following this incident, in a tit-for-tat strike, a group of boys at the Government Pre-University College in Kundapur, also in Karnataka State, went to college sporting saffron shawls in protest against some girls attending classes wearing the hijab. With the issue spreading like wildfire across Karnataka, Schools and Colleges were shutdown – thanks to the lockdown technology we learnt over the past pandemic months.

The matter was then dragged to the Courts, when the Colleges had the authority to decide and should have simply enforced a uniform dress code -banning any religion proving outfits. The Courts said exactly that: no hijab or saffron shawl, until a more detail uncovering is done. Back to where we started.

We cannot allow religious practices to intrude into Education and it’s time India gets cracking on a Uniform Civil Code, which the Constitution says we must have.

Oratory, Elections

India’s Prime Minister hammered the Opposition to pulp, in fiery oratory, in the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament, defending his Government’s performance and schemes. His timing with the State of Goa was perfect-what with elections coming up- on it getting independence 15 years all other parts of India obtained theirs, and the ‘brother of a Nightingale’ hailing from Goa being chucked out of India’s Radio Station for reciting a freedom fighter’s poem-all in the Opposition ruled years.

The elections in India’s largest northern State of Uttar Pradesh, said to be the bellwether of National Elections in 2024, began on 10 February and will go up to 7 March 2022. It elects 403 members to the State Legislature. Votes will be counted and results declared on 10 March 2022.


Lata Mangeshkar, one of India’s biggest cultural icons and influential singer, called ‘The Nightingale of India’, died in Mumbai, aged 92, due to post-Covid-19 complications. Earlier, in January 2022, Lata was admitted to hospital after testing positive for Covid-19.

The Nightingale began singing since her teens and ended up defining music and melody for generations in a career spanning 73 years, delivering more than 15,000 songs across 36 languages. Her work in India’s Hindi film industry -Bollywood- made her a national icon.

Lata Mangeshkar has received several awards chief among them being, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award – India’s highest award in the field of cinema- in 1989. And the Bharat Ratna-India’s highest civilian honour- in 2001.

Born in Indore in the Central Indian State of Madhya Pradesh in 1929, she began learning music at the age of five from her father, Deenanath Mangeshkar, who was a theatre artist. Deenanath adopted the surname Mangeshkar to identify his family with his native town of Mangeshi, in the State of Goa. Lata was named ‘Hema’ at her birth, but her parents later renamed her Lata after a female character, Latika, in one of her father’s plays. She was the eldest child in the family, with Meena, Asha, Usha, and Hridaynath, in birth order, being her siblings. All are accomplished singers and musicians in their own right. The best known is Asha Bhosle who is as famous as Lata.

After her father’s death, the family moved to Mumbai where a teenage Lata began singing for Marathi movies. She also took-up small roles in a few films to support her family, but would say later that her heart wasn’t in it. ‘I was happiest singing’ she said.

There’s a story that once her father asked one of his music disciples to practice a ‘raag’ while he finished some urgent work. Lata was playing nearby and when suddenly a note of the ‘raag’ that the disciple was rendering, jarred, Lata latched on to it and began correcting him. When her father returned, he discovered a discipline in his own daughter. The rest, they say, is history.

Her big break came in 1949 with the release of a haunting song titled ‘Aayega Aanewala’ for the movie ‘Mahal’. And thereafter there was no looking back.

Initially, she is said to have imitated the acclaimed singer Noor Jehan, but she later developed her own style of singing. She brought a new signature style to Indian film music, moving away from mehfil-style (celebration) performances to suit both ‘modern’ and ‘traditional’ female protagonists. A soprano range voice with less volume or amplitude, she had enough weight in her voice to give definite shape to the melody of Indian film songs. Although she had limited coloratura (an elaborate melody with ornamentation and embellishments) skills in her early career, she developed better tone and pitch as she progressed in her playback career. Lyrics of songs in Hindi movies are primarily composed by Urdu poets and contain a higher proportion of Urdu words, including the dialogues. Actor Dilip Kumar once made a mildly disapproving remark about her accent while singing Hindi/Urdu songs; so for a period of time, she took lessons in Urdu.

Lata said that Noor Jehan heard her as a child and had told her to practice a lot. The two stayed in touch with each other for many years to come.

Noor Jehan was a famous Pakistani singer and actress who worked both in India and Pakistan. Being highly versatile, she could sing in several languages including Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi and Sindhi, and had recorded over 10,000 songs in her career. When the partition of India happened in 1947, Noor Jehan decided to move to Pakistan and settled in Karachi with her family. She was given the title of ‘Malika-e-Tarannum’ (the Queen of Melody) in Pakistan.

Lata Mangeshkar’s solos and immortal duets with Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar along with a legion of other prominent Indian singers, are among Hindi cinemas most memorable and treasured songs.

The 1974 edition of The Guinness Book of Records had listed Lata Mangeshkar as the most recorded artist. But the claim was contested by Mohammed Rafi. The book continued to list Lata’s name but also mentioned Rafi’s claim. The entry was removed in 1991 until 2011, in which Guinness put Lata’s sister (Asha Bhosle) as the most recorded artist. Currently, Pulapaka Susheela ( P. Susheela)-another Indian Playback Singer associated mostly with South Indian cinema- holds the honour.

Lata Mangeshkar recorded her last song ‘Saugandh Mujhe Is Mitti Ki’, which was composed by Mayuresh Pai, as a tribute to the Indian Army and nation. It was released on 30 March 2019.

Lata Mangeshkar never married, staying single, singing like a nightingale until her breath was no more. Rest In Peace, Lata Mangeshkar

India has lost two nightingales since independence. The other ‘Nightingale of India’ was Sarojini Naidu known as such because of her mesmerising poetry. Her works, rich in imagery, covered a variety of themes – love, death, separation among others. Most of her poems have lines repeated across stanzas. This is similar to a Nightingale’s song: repetitive, yet beautiful.


The International Cricket Council (ICC)’s Under-19 ‘Boys’ World Cup Cricket Finals was played in the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, West Indies, last Saturday. A very dominant India won a record-extending fifth World Cup-in seven outings of the game-title beating England by four wickets in an extraordinary campaign that was almost derailed by the Covid-19 outbreak. The triumph bore a ruthless resemblance to earlier conquering adventures of the fabulous Under-19 Indian Teams.

India chased down a target of 190 runs in 47.4 overs, reaching 195 for six. Nishant Sindhu played an unbeaten match-winning knock of 50 runs off 54 balls to help India edge past England’s score. Kaushal Tambe had a heart-in-the-mouth moment when fielding in deep square leg, England’s James Rew, batting on 95 pulled a Ravi Kumar delivery towards him. And Tambe almost spilled the ball while trying to take the catch but recovered in time to jump forward and take a stunning one-handed catch to send Rew back to the pavilion. The dismissal was crucial as it broke a 93-run wicket for England’s fourth wicket and India went on to take the remaining two wickets for just five more runs.

Pacer Raj Bawa took five wickets, while wicket keeper Dinesh Bana hit the winning shot(s)with two consecutive sixes to finish the match in style.

Yash Dhull is the winning Indian captain and Tom Prest the losing England captain.

The phenomenal Under-19 win ensures the ‘Indian Cricket Factory’ keeps up a steady supply of youngsters to challenge the past histrionics of the Gavaskars, Kapil Devs, Sachin Tendulkars, Dhonis, and Viraat Kholis. Keep it up, Young India.

Please Yourself

The Oscar nominations 2022 are out with the Academy releasing its nominations this week.

The Power of the Dog -about a domineering rancher (played by Benedict Cumberbatch)-picked up the most nominations. But West Side Story (a Steven Spielberg remake of the yester-years movie),’ Dune – An American epic science fiction film-and Belfast -a British coming of age comedy-drama- were doggedly close behind.

Denzel Washington (Best Actor in, The Tragedy of Macbeth) broke records as the most nominated Black Actor in history. Actress Kristen Stewart (Best Actress as Princess Diana in the movie Spencer) and Singer Beyonce (Best Original Song alongside Dixon) have won their first Academy Award nominations.

Writing With Fire (about a Newspaper run by women) made by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh of India, secured a nomination in the Best Documentation (Feature) category.

The recently released James Bond movie ‘No Time to Die’ won nominations in Best Sound, Best Original Song, and Best Visual Effects.

More drama and visual stories coming-up in the weeks ahead. Bond with World Inthavaaram