About-the world this week, 19 March to 25 March 2023: Sikhism and Khalistan, an Indian Member of Parliament is disqualified, and it’s not all right to be Gay in Uganda.


India: Sikhism and Khalistan

Sikhism is a religion, which developed from the spiritual teachings of Guru Nanak who lived between the years 1469 and 1539. He is the founder, the faith’s first Guru, and was followed by nine Sikh Gurus. Guru means a spiritual and intellectual Teacher. The Tenth Guru, Gobind Singh who steered Sikhism between the years 1666 and 1708 named the Sikh Scripture called the ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ as his successor. This brought to an end the line of human gurus and established the Scripture as the Eleventh and the last eternally living Guru-a religious, life-guide for Sikhs.

Guru Nanak preached a new concept of God as, supreme, all powerful, truthful, formless, fearless, without hate, the sole, the self-existent, the incomprehensible and everlasting creator of all things. He taught people that the ‘One God’ dwells in every one of his creations, and that all human beings can have direct access to God without the need of any rituals or priests. Setting up a unique spiritual, social and political platform based on equality and fraternal love. He rejected the path of renunciation, laying emphasis on family life.

The Guru Granth Sahib opens with the ‘Mul Mantar’, a fundamental prayer about one God. The core beliefs of Sikhism, articulated in the Scriptures, include faith and meditation in the name of the one creator; divine unity and equality of all humankind; engaging in selfless service; striving for justice for the benefit and prosperity of all; and honest conduct and livelihood while living a householder’s (family) life. Sikhism rejects claims that any particular religious tradition has a monopoly on absolute truth. Sikhism also emphasises the remembrance of the teachings of the Gurus, which can be expressed musically through ‘kirtan’, or internally through ‘naam japna’ -meditation on God’s name- as a means to feel God’s presence. It teaches followers to transform the ‘five thieves’, lust, rage, greed, attachment, and ego to achieve ‘wealth’ in life.

The Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, initiated the ‘Khalsa’ (pure) tradition, which refers to the community that considers Sikhism as its faith, as well as a special group of initiated Sikhs. Upon initiation, a Khalsa Sikh is given the titles of Singh (male), meaning lion, and Kaur (female), meaning princess, and is sworn to a behavioural code of conduct of the Sikh faith.

Guru Gobind also introduced the ‘Five Ks’ in Sikhism, which he commanded Khalsa Sikhs to wear at all times. They are: Kesh – unshorn hair and beard as a respect for the perfection of God’s creation; Kangha – a comb for the Kesh, usually wooden, to comb the Kesh twice a day; Kara – a bracelet, usually made of iron or steel as a constant reminder that whatever a person does with their hands has to be in keeping with the advice of the Gurus and to symbolise God as never-ending; Kachera -an undergarment, short breeches, with a tie-knot, to be quickly ready for defence or battle; and Kirpan- a small curved sword of any size, shape or metal, used to defend others. The Kesh was to be contained in a Turban, to clearly and quickly identify Sikhs, among other symbols.

The City of Amritsar in Punjab occupies a significant position in Sikhism, with it being, not only home to hundreds of thousands of Sikhs but also the chief pilgrimage destination for Sikhs living elsewhere in India and abroad. The principal focus for pilgrims is the Golden Temple and its complex of several adjacent buildings located around a central tank. Situated on the west side, facing the causeway to the temple, is the Akal Takht, the chief centre of authority of Sikhism and the headquarters of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Supreme Akali Party), the main political party of the Sikhs in Punjab.

Sikhs have been living predominantly in the Punjab region of India. Before its conquest by the British, the region around Punjab had been ruled by a confederacy of Sikh Misls – Cavalry based armies – founded by Banda Bahadur. The Misls ruled over the entire Punjab from 1767 to 1799, until their confederacy was unified into the Sikh Empire by Maharajah Ranjit Singh from 1799 to 1849.

At the end of the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1849, the Sikh Empire dissolved into separate princely states and the British province of Punjab. ‘Religion-nationalist’ movements emerged in response to British ‘divide and rule’ administrative policies to counter religious conversions and a general belief that the solution to the downfall among India’s religious communities was a grassroots religious revival.

The Akali movement was started in 1920 by the Central Sikh League’s political wing, the Akali Dal, which was founded in Amritsar in December 1920. The term Akali derives from the word Akal (timeless or immortal) used in the Sikh scriptures. The movement was named after the Akalis, a Khalsa militant order from the time of Guru Gobind Singh which had risen to prominence under Akali Phula Singh, one of the commanders of the Sikh Empire.

The Akali movement, also called the Gurdwara Reform Movement, was a campaign to bring reform in the Gurdwaras (the Sikh places of worship) in India during the early 1920s. It led to the introduction of the Sikh Gurdwara Bill in 1925, which placed all the historical Sikh shrines in India under the control of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). The Akali Dal assists the SGPC.

As the British Empire began to weaken in the 1930s, Sikhs made their first call for a Sikh homeland, called Khalistan (land of the pure). The Khalistan movement was started as a separatist movement seeking to establish a sovereign state of Khalistan in the Punjab region. The proposed state would consist of the territory which currently encompasses Punjab in India, and Punjab in Pakistan, with Lahore as its capital.

Meanwhile India was set to be partitioned on religious lines as Hindu and Muslim States.

During the pre-partition talks in the Lahore Resolution of the Muslim League one of the demands was that Punjab be made into a Muslim state, which the Akalis viewed as an attempt to usurp a historically Sikh territory. In response, the Sikh party Shiromani Akali Dal argued for a community that was separate from Hindus and Muslims. The Akali Dal imagined Khalistan as a theocratic state led by the Maharaja of Patiala with the aid of a cabinet consisting of the representatives of other units.

Following the independence of India from British Rule in 1947, the Punjabi Suba movement, led by the Akali Dal, sought the creation of a province (Suba) for Punjabi people. The Akali Dal’s maximal position of demands was a sovereign state-Khalistan-while its minimal position was to have an autonomous state within India.

As the religion-based partition of India led to much bloodshed, the Indian government initially rejected the demand, concerned that creating a Punjabi-majority state would effectively mean yet again creating a state based on religious grounds. However, later India was divided into States, for administrative purposes, mostly on a linguistic basis. And Punjab (as partitioned between India and Pakistan) became a State in India.

Ever since the movement gathered force in the 1980s, the territorial ambitions of Khalistan have at times included Chandigarh; sections of North India, including the whole of Indian Punjab; and some parts of the western states of India.

In 1940, the first explicit call for Khalistan was made in a pamphlet titled ‘Khalistan’. With financial and political support of the Sikh diaspora, the movement flourished in the India’s Punjab, continuing through the 1970s and 1980s, and reaching its zenith in the late 1980s. This period also saw the rise of militant-minded Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale as a leading figure of the Khalistan movement.

With the Shiromani Akali Dal failing to win respectable seats in Elections to the State and Central Legislatures it came up with a list of demands called, ‘The Anandpur Sahib Resolution’ in 1973 to improve its prospects and galvanise the Sikhs. The resolution declared its goal was to establish a State for Sikhs with quasi-independent status, leaving only the powers of Foreign Relations, Defense, Currency and General Communications subject to the jurisdiction of the Central Government. The then Prime Minister (PM) of India, Indira Gandhi, viewed the Anandpur Sahib Resolution as a secessionist document and refused to accept it.

The Anandpur Sahib Resolution reached prominence in the 1980s when the Akali Dal and Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale joined hands to launch the Dharam Yudh Morcha in 1982 in order to implement the Resolution. Thousands of people joined the movement, feeling that it represented a real solution to demands. This included a larger share of water for irrigation, the return of Chandigarh to Punjab, which was shared with Haryana State, and of course, the idea of a Sikh Homeland. The movement turned militant and Punjab went into turmoil with terrorism becoming the order of the day.

In 1982, Bhindranwale and his militant cadres occupied the Golden Temple complex and made it his headquarters and later fortified the Akal Takht. During this time Bhindranwale ruthlessly killed many of this opponents including a former Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Pratap Singh. The killings were brutal to inspire terror such as chopping off the breasts of a female opponent named Baljit Kaur. Bhindranwale went on to establish what amounted to a ‘parallel government’ in Punjab settling cases and resolving disputes, while conducting his campaign for Khalistan.

With Bhindranwale growing to become a menace, in June 1984, PM Indira Gandhi ordered Operation Blue Star, which was carried out by the Indian Army to flush out Bhindranwale and his armed followers from the Golden Temple Complex. This resulted in hundreds to thousands of deaths including that of Bhindranwale. And the crackdown on militancy in Punjab brought back a semblance of peace in the State.

Then in 1984 PM Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh Bodyguards in a revenge action, which led to riots targeting Sikhs in northern India for being responsible for the killing.

In the 1990s, the insurgency petered out, and the movement failed to reach its objective for multiple reasons including a heavy police crackdown on separatists, factional infighting, and disillusionment from the Sikh population.

Now enter the year 2022 and 2023.

Amritpal Singh, 30 a self-styled Sikh preacher and separatist began reviving the idea of Khalistan in Punjab state, which has stoked fears of violence and brought back painful memories of a bloody insurgency that killed thousands. He was relatively unknown until the death of actor and activist Deep Sidhu in 2022.

Sidhu backed the country’s year-long farmer’s movement and founded Waris Punjab De-a group established to protect Sikh rights.

Waris Punjab De mobilised farmers and activists – many of whom were Sikh – against the Government of India’s attempt to modernize the country’s agricultural sector with the introduction of new Farm Laws, Farmers feared the changes would push prices lower. In a rare retreat, the laws were repealed in November 2021. But the Waris Punjab De continued its campaign to protect the Sikh religion and Punjab’s culture.

Sidhu was killed in a car crash in February 2022 and Amritpal Singh took over the reins, leading marches and giving impassioned – often provocative – speeches, building a large following and gaining popularity.

The popularity proabably went to his head and about a month ago he stormed a police station in Punjab along with his gun and sword-wielding gang of supporters to release an imprisoned fellow follower. They shouted pro-Khalistan separitist slogans and Amritpal Singh said he does not accept India as a nation. He likened himself to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. The police quietly watched him whisk away his devotee.

Then the Police ‘found their guns’ and piled up charges on him for attempted murder, obstruction of law enforcement and creating disharmony in society.

Early this week, Punjab Police and central agencies launched a massive crackdown on Amritpal Singh and over 110 of his associates were arrested. However, he is still on the run. Internet was suspended in Punjab for a few days. Police say that Singh was in contact with the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence(ISI) and received funds from Pakistan. Furthermore, Singh was creating a private army in the guise of an anti-drug drive and de-addiction centre.

Following the crackdown, official Indian Government establishments in London and San Francisco were attacked. Singh’s supporters vandalised the Embassies, tearing down the Indian flag and replacing it with the Khalistan Flag.

The Khalistan movement is outlawed in India and considered a grave national security threat by the government – a number of groups associated with the movement are listed as ‘terrorist organizations’ under India’s Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. But it continues to evoke a level of sympathy from some Sikhs, particularly in Canada, United Kingdom and Australia, which is home to sizeable Sikh communities, many of whom fled Punjab following independence in search of better economic opportunities. A small but influential number of those Sikhs support the idea of Khalistan, with referendums periodically held to reach a consensus to establish a separate homeland within India.

Rahul Gandhi

Late this week a Court in India’s Gujarat State, convicted Rahul Gandhi, a Member of Parliament representing Wayanad in the state of Kerala, and a leader of India’s grand old party – The Congress- for his comments in an Election Rally about PM Narendra Modi’s surname. He was found guilty of criminal defamation and handed down a two-year jail sentence. However, the same Court allowed him a 30-days bail, suspending ‘only the jail sentence’, to allow him to make an appeal. Rahul was present in Court to ‘receive the award’!

In the year 2019, during an Election rally in Karnataka State’s Kolar, Rahul Gandhi said, “Why do all thieves have Modi as their surname?” In his speech, he went on to name fugitive Indian diamond tycoon Nirav Modi, banned Indian Premier League boss Lalit Modi, and PM Narendra Modi.

The case against Rahul Gandhi was brought by Purnesh Modi a former Bharatiya Janata Party Minister in Gujarat State, on the premise that ‘Modi’ being an Other Backward Class (OBC) Community, Rahul has insulted and defamed the entire community by comparing them with thieves. Modi is a common last name for many in Gujarat.

Following the conviction Rahul Gandhi was (automatically) disqualified from his Lok Sabha membership. This was based on a 2013 Supreme Court order, which decreed that a lawmaker convicted in a crime and sentenced to two or more years in jail stands disqualified from the Parliament with immediate effect.

This is a fabulous case of democracy working in India and the Law of the Land taking its course.


People who identify as gay in Uganda risk life in prison after parliament passed a new bill to crack down on homosexual activities. It also includes the death penalty in certain cases.

The debate around the bill had led to fear of more attacks on gay people and blackmail. People were receiving calls on the lines of, “if you don’t give me money, I will report that you are gay”.

The bill is one of the toughest pieces of anti-gay legislation in Africa. Homosexual acts are already illegal in Uganda but this bill introduces many new criminal offences.

Amnesty International has called the bill, which criminalises same-sex between consenting adults, appalling, ambiguous, and vaguely worded. It has also been condemned by both United States and the United Kingdom.

The bill will now go to President Yoweri Museveni who can choose to use his veto to overturn the bill or sign it into law. He has himself made several anti-gay comments, in recent weeks, and also criticised Western countries for putting pressure on Uganda over the issue.

Same-sex relations are banned in about 30 African countries, where many people uphold conservative religious and social values.

More homeland stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Stay with World Inthavaaram. Fight another day.



About: the world this week, 3July to 9 July 2022. Shoot, Kill, Quit, Fight, Sing, Sprint, Pray, and Eat.


This week started with a bang…and ended with a bang, literally.

Denmark’s capital Copenhagen witnessed a mindless shooting spree at a Shopping Centre, which shocked Danes to the core. Three people were killed and four injured. The deadly attack began at the Field’s Shopping Mall – a multi-storey building and one of the biggest in Denmark: it has about 140 shops and restaurants and is located on the outskirts of Copenhagen.

Police arrested the suspect, an ethnic Dane, thirteen minutes after being alerted to the attack. The killer had mental health issues; there is no indication of a terror motive. And the shooting appears to be a lone wolf act – with no other conspirators.

English singer, songwriter, and Actor, Harry Edward Styles was to perform in a concert nearby. And it was cancelled at short notice. Fans were impressed with the manner police and organisers ensured young concertgoers were safely carted away, by way of informing parents and providing a police escort to the nearest safe train station.

The last time Denmark saw a major terror event was in 2015 when two people were killed and six police officers injured during an attack on a a cultural centre and a Synagogue in Copenhagen. The gunman was later killed in a shoot out.

Denmark has some of the strictest gun laws in Europe with licences to own firearms usually available for hunting or sport shooting, following background checks, and with almost a total ban on automatic weapons. Carrying a firearm in public is strictly prohibited.

Now, to the cowboys of the West.

The shootings in the United States of America (US) is only shooting up, and there seems to be no sign of it loosing its spirit, at the moment.

This week, six people were killed in a shooting in downtown Highland Park, Illinois during the 4th July Independence Day Parade. Parade-goers were enjoying a sunny parade along Central Avenue when a gunman began firing indiscriminately and randomly from the roof-top of a Business building, which he had scaled using a ladder.

The suspect, Robert E Crimo III, was spotted by a North Chicago Officer who attempted a traffic stop. Crimo led the Officers to a brief chase before being stopped and taken into custody.

This marks at least the 308th mass shooting in the US this year and the carnage adds to an already bloody American Spring and Summer.

Just look at this statistic: Denmark had 3 mass shootings in the last 28 years. The US had 17 mass shootings in the last 5 days. The difference and what needs to be done is crystal clear. Got it America?

In another finding, The US found itself to be the serial killer capital of the World. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) complied information about 4743 known serial killers worldwide between 1900 and 2016 and discovered that 3204 of them were from the US. Is that why guns are required? Is America setting a bloody infectious example?

Shots in Japan

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, 67, is Japan’s longest serving Prime Minister until he resigned in 2020. He was known for his ‘Abenomics’ policy to lift Japan’s economy – the world’s third biggest – out of deflation and wanting a more prominent role for Japan’s military, to counter growing threats from North Korea and a more assertive China. He was responsible for Japan winning the bid to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, cherishing a wish to preside over the Games. He even appeared as the Nintendo video game character Mario during the Olympic handover at Rio 2016.

During his tenure as PM, he considered it a failure in being unable to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution, which prohibits the country from using force to resolve international disputes.

Late this week, Shinzo Abe was in the western city of Nara to make a campaign speech ahead of this Sunday’s upper house elections. While giving the speech he was shot twice from behind, by a man using what looked like a shotgun or a home-made gun . The first shot appears to have missed, but the second shot hit Abe in the back. Security Personnel then quickly overpowered and detained the shooter, who made no attempt to run. Abe was in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest and airlifted to the Nara City Hospital where he succumbed and died due to the shooting. A suspect, an Army Veteran, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, of Nara City was arrested.

Abe’s shooting has shocked Japan: gun violence is rare and Japan has one of the lowest rates of gun crime in the world due to its extremely strict gun control laws.

The last time a current or former Japanese PM was shot was 90 years ago. There has never been a political assassination in Japan since the 1930’s, The only shootings ever heard of in Japan involve the Yakuza – Japan’s famously violent organised crime gangs – arguing over territory. Even those were rare. But most people never come in to contact with the Yakuza. Even they shy away from guns because the penalties for illegal possession are just not worth it.

There were 10 gun incidents last year, leaving one person dead and four wounded. In the year 2014 six gun deaths were reported, and the number rarely exceeds 10, in a country of 126 million people. In 2018, Japan only reported nine deaths from firearms, compared with 39,740 that year in the USA.

Under Japan’s firearms laws, the only guns permitted for sale are shotguns and air rifles. Handguns are outlawed. But getting them is a long and complicated process.

Japan has close to ‘zero-tolerance’ of gun ownership – an approach that contributes to its extremely low rate of gun crime.

Later, a video of the shooting showed that Shinzo Abe’s Security did a horrible job of protecting him when compared to the tight heavy security in other parts of the world. Understandable, given Japan’s safe record? Maybe there is a lesson here.

This week’s assassination of Shinzo Abe could change Japan forever.

Herd moves: Losing the Best Job in the World

This week Boris Johnson resigned as leader of his Conservative Party and is on the way out as Prime Minister (PM) of the United Kingdom (UK).

He has been in a quagmire of scandal after scandal, in recent months. The list includes everything from ‘Partygate’, surviving a no-confidence vote, to corruption allegations to the latest ‘Pincher’ scandal. It was acknowledged that Johnson knew about sexual misconduct allegations against a fellow Conservative Party member before appointing him to a senior position. But he says he ‘forgot’ about it. A ‘wind rush’ of ministers resigned since Tuesday and nudged him to do the same. And after initial resistance Johnson has agreed to step down. In his exit speech he said a Herd moves by instinct and when the Herd moves, it moves. And he was sure ‘Darwin’s evolution’ would find the next PM, and that he is sad to leave the Best Job In the World.

Boris Johnson squandered one of the strongest political positions held by a PM of the UK, in record time. The authoritative mandate gained after winning an eighty seat majority in December 2019 dissipated at extraordinary speed as he dealt with a series of scandals with a ham-fisted mixture of denial, disorganisation, and even outright lying.

Johnson secured the Election Victory riding on the back of the ’Get Brexit Done’ pledge. After securing an exit from the European Union (EU), he struggled with the coronavirus pandemic – got it himself- was late in imposing the first lockdown in March 2020, and thereafter went too fast in loosening restrictions the following Christmas, which he was forced to cancel at the eleventh hour.

But UK’s PM was ultimately undone not by policy disagreements but by character failings. He presided over a lax culture at Downing Street during the pandemic, in which he, advisers and officials attended a string of booze-filled parties (imbibing the spirits of Scotland & Ireland?) while people all over the country were locked down at home.

I reckon, the seriousness of governance evaporated and it could not be condensed into a workable drink, any longer. Mind the herd!

Just Begun

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, continued his ranting and warned that Russia has barely started its campaign in Ukraine and dared the west to try to defeat it on the battlefield. “Everyone should know that, by and large, we haven’t started anything yet in earnest,” Putin said during a speech to Russian lawmakers this week. He added, “The further it goes, the harder it will be, for them to negotiate with us”.

Methinks, this is the beginning of the end, and Ukraine will stay the course, gradually ‘managing’ the bullying of Russia.

India’s Upper House

The Rajya Sabha, constitutionally called the Council of States, is the Upper House of the bicameral Parliament of India – the Lower House or the House of the People, being the Lok Sabha.

While people of India directly vote to elect the Members of Parliament (MP) of the Lok Sabha, the MP’s of the Rajya Sabha are indirectly elected by the legislatures of the States and Union territories. Further, for the Rajya Sabha, the President of India nominates 12 members who have special domain knowledge or practical experience in art, literature, science, and social service. This is on the advice of the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister – the Leader of the majority/ruling party in the Lok Sabha. The intent being to enrich Parliamentary proceedings, which otherwise may be hijacked by political party musings.

The nominated members have a six-year term and the Rajya Sabha is a permanent House, not subject to dissolution. However, one-third members of Rajya Sabha retire after every second year: opening the gates for elections and nominations.

The Rajya Sabha being a representation of the States of India serves to protect the rights of States. And all laws passed by the Lok Sabha – affecting the states -have to be approved by a two—thirds majority in the Rajya Sabha.

This year the President of India dipping into his 12 MP rights, nominated legendary music director Ilaiyaraaja, from Tamil Nadu State, celebrated athlete P T Usha, from Kerala, blockbuster film screenwriter V Vijayendra Prasad from Andhra Pradesh, and spiritual leader Veerendra Heggade from Karnataka.

Rajayya Gnanathesikan, R Gananthesikan, went by the name of ‘Rajaiya’ on joining school, Raaja on learning music from his Master, and became Ilaiyaraaja after the stupendous success of his virgin music scores in the Tamil movie ‘Annakkili’(Parrot). Ilaiyaraaja then went on to become famous as a film composer, conductor, singer and lyricist, working predominantly in Tamil cinema. Ilayaraja is credited with introducing western music concepts in South Indian music and synthesising western and Indian music instruments. He has composed more than 7,000 songs, provided film scores for more than 1,400 movies and performed in more than 20,000 concerts.

Ilaiyaraaja is also called ‘Isaignani’ (musical genius) and is often referred to as ‘Maestro’, by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London, amongst others.

The journey from Gnanathesikan to Isaignani has indeed been an awfully long one. Names changed along with the heavenly music!

Pilavullakandi Thekkeraparambil Usha, P T Usha the sprinter, and India’s most famous woman track & field athlete, known as the Payyoli Express and the Golden Girl, has won over 100 medals at national and international events, including four golds at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games. She hit the headlines with her performance at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, where she reached the final but missed out on a medal by a 1/100th of a second. And a billion India hearts skipped a beat. She was born in Payyoli, Kozhikode district of Kerala hence the Payyoli Express tag.

In 1986 Seoul Asian Games, India won 5 Gold Medals where she alone won 4 Gold Medals in 200 metres (m), 400m, 400m hurdles & 4×400 relay and 1 Silver Medal in 100m. She is the first Indian woman to reach the final of an Olympic event.

P T Usha is married to V Srinivasan an inspector with the Central Industrial Security Force. The couple have a son, Ujjwal Srinivasan, who is a Doctor and holds an International Olympic Committee Diploma in Sports Medicine.

She is currently the committee head of Indian Talent Organization, which conducts National level talent Olympiad examinations in schools across India. And runs the Usha School of Athletics (USHA) at Koyilandi, near Kozhikode.

Koduri Vishwa Vijayendra Prasad,V Vijayendra Prasad is a film screenwriter and director known for his works primarily in Telugu cinema, in addition to Kannada, Tamil, and Hindi cinema. He has done more than twenty-five films as a screenwriter, most of which were commercially successful.

He is best known for screenwriting blockbusters such as ‘RRR’, the ‘Baahubali’ series and ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ in addition to Manikarnika: the Queen of Jhansi, Magadheera, and Mersal (Tamil). His film-maker son, S S Rajamouli directed the Baahubali series of movies, to wide acclaim.

Veerendra Heggade is a Jain Philanthropist and the hereditary administrator or Dharmadhikari of the Dharmasthala Temple. He has been at the forefront of outstanding community service, social work, and communal harmony, doing great work in health, education, and culture.

He succeeded his father as Dharmadhikari at the age of nineteen in October 1968, the 21st in his line, of the Pergade Dynasty belonging to the Digambara Jain group. He administers the temple and its properties, which are held in a Trust, for the benefit of devotees and worshippers.

Veerendra Heggade married Hemavathi, in a match arranged by their parents and the couple have an only child, a daughter, Shraddha. His heir and the person to succeed him will be his younger brother, Harshendra – as traditionally, sons get the charge.

Dharmadhikari Veerendra Heggade has been conducting a Free Mass Marriage every year in Shri Kshethra Dharmasthala since 1972. Over 10,000 couples have been married under this scheme.

The Annapoorna kitchen at the Lord Manjunatheshwara temple at Dharmasthala is one among the five biggest kitchens in India, which feeds thousands of people. The others big kitchens of the country are Shirdi, Chennai’s Taj kitchen, main kitchen of Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) at Noida, Uttar Pradesh, and Akshaya Patra Foundation’s kitchen at Hubli, Karnataka.

Lots to eat, with more stories coming out of my small Kitchen in the weeks ahead. Stay safe, stay with the herd, and move with World Inthavaaram.