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.
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.
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