Monthly Archives: May 2016

The waza from the Valley

Jammu & Kashmir :


Bashir Ahmad Concha on how to dish out the traditional multi-course and meat-rich Kashmiri wazwan

Ask most visiting chefs about their tryst with South Indian flavours and they’d wax eloquent about their love for the crunch of a crispy dosa. But not waza (traditional Kashmiri chef) Bashir Ahmad Choncha. He’s more likely to scowl and say, “The flavours are too unfamiliar.” For, compared to our fluffy idlis, rich coconut chutney and spicy sambar, his familiar food — the spicy and salty lahbi kebab, rich curd-based nadru yakhni and melt-in-the-mouth minced mutton ball in creamy gushtaba — feels decidedly different. Yet, the wazwan is a treat for anyone curious about the possibilities of the unfamiliar.

The wazwan, considered the pride of Kashmiri cuisine, is rich, to say the least. It is made during special occasions, and traditionally served in a large plate that’s shared by four. Most dishes are curd-based and all of them are made with liberal amounts of ghee. To top it off, the spread is meat-heavy. Mutton, mostly, as most Kashmiri Muslims prefer that. The chef’s favourite is the tabak maaz, a mutton appetiser that’s deep fried in ghee. “What can I say? Most people in Kashmir are rich and they want to eat rich food too,” laughs waza Bashir, even as he insists that the ghee will only make one strong, not fat.

The most challenging dishes to make, he says, are the light and spicy rista and the heavy yogurt-based gushtaba, for which the meat needs to be pounded by hand for half an hour. The vegetables have a distinct flavour, as do the spices from the region. It is for this reason that the waza says he brought 400 kg of ingredients for the ten-day Kashmiri Wazwan food festival at Spice Haat, Hyatt Regency.

Waza Bashir learnt his culinary flair from his father, chef Noor Mohammad Choncha, by watching him cook eversince he was eight years old. “My father would have never allowed me to become a waza if he were alive. He never wanted me to come into the family business.” But when his father passed away, Bashir took over the kitchen at 25. For the last 20 years, he has been at the helm of things at ‘Concha Foods’, a restaurant in Srinagar and also, a manufacturing outfit that packages and exports spices from the valley. “There’s a big market for Kashmiri cuisine. Every month, 1,000 kg of tin-packed rista and gushtaba are exported to places around India, the United States and Gulf countries.”

His fame in the packaged food business soon saw him plate up flavours from the valley at food festivals in Bangalore, Pune, Chandigarh and other places.

However, he says, wazas taking the road is rare. Even though his father had close to 1,000 students, most of them have set up their own restaurants in Kashmir. “The wazwan is a big business in Kashmir. A typical Kashmiri indulges in the wazwan about once a week. One plate is priced at Rs. 2,500 even in a small shop. It’s a very exotic spread. So it’s very rare that people leave the valley to make wazwan.”

Kashmiri Food Festival at Spice Haat is open for dinner till May 29. There’s a Buffet is priced at Rs.1,550, vegetarian thali at Rs. 1,000 and non-vegetarian thali at Rs. 1,200, (exclusive of taxes), to choose from. For details, call 61001234.

source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus> Food / Raveena Joseph / May 23rd, 2016

Morocco: New Delhi Eyes Big Investments, Indian Vice-President to Visit Rabat



The Indian Vice-President Hamid Ansari is expected in Morocco from May 30 to June 1, a visit expected to highlight by the signing of several Memoranda of Understanding (MoU.)

The Indian Vice-President’s visit is taking place few months after King Mohammed VI visited India to participate in the India-Africa summit held in October last year. The king was the guest of honor of the India-Africa summit.

During this diplomatic visit, the first in 50 years since the last visit of an Indian Vice-President, Ansari will hold talks with Moroccan officials on a wide range of issues including economy and UN Security Council expansion, Indian sources say.

“This visit intends to further strengthen the cordial relations between the two countries, further develop and diversify profile of bilateral economic cooperation and explore new avenues of co-operation and partnership on a wide range of issues of shared interest,” a statement from the Indian external Affairs Ministry said.

The Indian Vice-President will also launch, together with the Head of the Moroccan Government Abdelilah Benkirane, the India-Morocco Chamber of Commerce and Industry, according to Indian sources.

Besides the political dimension of the trip, a special accent will be put on the economic issues as India plans to expand market outreach of its cars and truck manufacturers.

MoUs will be signed in education, IT and communication technology sectors during the visit.

Several economic initiatives have been undertaken by both sides over the past months. Last month, officials of the two countries’ ministries of transports mulled in Mumbai the idea to launch a direct air link between the two countries.

Also in the course of April, a team of Moroccan business people visited New Delhi to study business partnership opportunities that can be established between India and Morocco.

source: / The North Africa Post / Home> Headlines> Morocco / by Kamailoudini Tagba / May 27th, 2016

AR Rahman to get top Japanese culture prize

Chennai , TAMIL NADU :


Music maestro A R Rahman has been announced as the recipient of Grand Fukuoka Prize 2016 for his outstanding contribution to Asian culture through his music.

As part of the ceremony, Rahman has been invited to the city to give a public lecture on “From the Heart: The World of A R Rahman’s Music”.

The 49-year-old Oscar-winning composer has been chosen for the honour alongside Philippines’ historian Ameth R Ocampo (Academic Prize) and Yasmeen Lari from Pakistan (Arts and Culture Prize) by the secretariat of Fukuoka prize committee.

The annual award, was established by Fukuoka City, Japan, in 1990 with an aim to honour the outstanding work of individuals, groups and organizations working to preserve and promote the unique and diverse culture of Asia.

Rahman started his movie career with Mani Ratnam’s Tamil film “Roja”. Rahman’s first big break in Hindi cinema came with Ram Gopal Varma’s “Rangeela”.

He is now one of the most sought after composers in India with his brilliant compositions for films like “Bombay”, “Dil Se”, “Taal”, “Lagaan”, “Rang De Basanti”, “Delhi 6”, “Rockstar”, “Highway” and “Tamasha”.

Rahman has carved an impressive career in Hollywood after composing “Jai Ho” for British director Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire”, which earned him two Academy awards and a Golden Globe trophy.

Previous winners from India include distinguished names such as sitar player Ravi Shankar, dancer Padma Subrahmanyam, historian Romila Thapar, sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan, Ashish Nandy, Partha Chatterjee, Vandana Shiva, Nalini Malini and historian Ramachandra Guha.

Other winners include Nobel laureates Muhammad Yunus (Bangladesh) and Mo Yan (China).

source: / Deccan Herald / Home> Entertainment / PTI / New Delhi – May 30th, 2016

Ph.D Awarded : Science


JSS University has awarded Ph.D in Faculty of Pharmacy to Umme Hani for her thesis ‘Novel Vaginal Bioadhesive Drug Delivery Systems for the Treatment of Vaginal Candidiasis’ .

Submitted under the guidance of Dr. H.G. Shivakumar, according to a press release.

source: / Star of Mysore / Home> In Brief / May 29th, 2016

Only 5 Muslim MLAs in Assembly


But only one MLA belongs to a ‘Muslim’party

Despite accounting for six to seven per cent of Tamil Nadu’s population, only five Muslims have been elected to the Legislative Assembly in 2016.

While an identical number of Muslim members were elected to the House in 2011, what has changed is that only one MLA belongs to a ‘Muslim’ party. The other four belong to either one of the two Dravidian majors or have fought the elections on their symbol.

Thamimum Ansari
Thamimum Ansari

“If you take the population alone into consideration, there has to be at least 14 MLAs in the House. But, even electing 10 members to the House is becoming difficult without the support of bigger parties,” says Thamimum Ansari, who won from Nagapattinam, contesting on the AIADMK’s ‘Two Leaves’ symbol.

Nilofer Kabil
Nilofer Kabil
T.P.M. Mohideen Khan
T.P.M. Mohideen Khan
K.S. Masthan
K.S. Masthan

The other members of the House are Labour Minister Nilofer Kabil, T.P.M. Mohideen Khan (DMK), K.A.M. Muhammad Abubacker (IUML) and K.S. Masthan (DMK).

Mr. Ansari urged the bigger parties such as the DMK, the AIADMK and the Congress to ensure adequate representation of the Muslim community in their list of candidates. “Though Muslims can be an influencing factor in up to 40 constituencies in Tamil Nadu, we cannot win those seats without the support of established political parties. Therefore, we need bigger parties to support us,” he says.

The lack of members from ‘Muslim parties’ in the State Assembly, save for the lone IUML MLA, Muhammad Abubacker from Kadaiyanallur, Muslim leaders think, might make it difficult for the community to let their grievances be heard in the Assembly.

“Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, which had two MLAs in 2011, was able to address the problems of the community. If you belong to the Dravidian parties, you might have to toe the line of the party leader and compromise on certain issues,” says M.H. Jawahirullah, leader, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, who was defeated in Ramanathapuram.

He says that Dravidian parties, which sometimes insist that smaller parties contest on their symbol, restrict the growth of the parties representing the minorities or depressed classes.

“In a genuinely good gesture this time, the DMK allotted 10 seats to the Muslim parties. They gave us a good representation. But unfortunately, we were not able to capitalise on it. I hope the DMK will speak for the community in the Assembly,” he says.

source: / The Hindu /  Home> News> Cities> Chennai / Udhav Naig / Chennai – May 27th, 2016

A journey to cherish

Bengaluru,  KARNATAKA  :

Lack of proper scouting network has hurt the growth of swimming in India: Nihar Ameen


Nihar Ameen’s journey as a swimming coach began more out of compulsion than choice. The then 20-year-old Nihar had just one goal, to coach his sister Shanaz Shacoor when she was left floundering after being the youngest swimmer at the 1982 Asian Games.

“I was forced into it (being a coach) due to various reasons. I never thought it would turn out to so good,” says Nihar, recalling his early days.

“It was a short-term goal back then. There was my sister, 12-years-old when she competed at the Asian Games and she needed someone to train under. It was a learning curve,” he continues.

Thirty-four years have gone by since then. Nihar today is one of the respected and most sought-after swimming coaches in India. The 2015 Dronacharya awardee who has produced medal winners at the Asian Games level besides shaping the careers of many aspiring swimmers, Nihar has let his work speak for itself.

In a freewheeling interview with Deccan Herald, the 54-year-old coach discusses the upcoming Olympics, his two Asian Games medal-winning swimmers and the swimming scene in India. Excerpts:

Another Olympic Games is fast approaching and India’s swimmers are yet to clock the ‘A’ standard to assure themselves of a place at the Rio Games. How disappointing is it given that the qualification period ends on July 3?

I won’t say it’s disappointing because no Indian swimmer has ever made an ‘A’ standard. We’re still trying and hopefully we can clock the timings.

Normally — in our case — a male and a female swimmer, who have clocked the ‘B’ cut goes for the Games (based on the universality quota). And if there’s something to cherish this time it is the fact that we’ve had the most ‘B’ cuts ever. I see this as a sign of some kind of progress.  Unfortunately the qualifying time is moving so far ahead that it has become difficult. Like in 100M freestyle, the qualifying time (48.99 seconds) is so close to Alexander Popov’s world record time (48.29 seconds) set in 1994. It stood for close to six years. So it’s a mixture of all these factors that have hurt us.

India’s presence at the international stage is very minimal. Our swimmers have found it hard to match the international standard, what would you pin that on?

I think it (the problem) begins with talent identification. We don’t have a system where we go out and scout for swimming talent. Right now, the best coaches in the country only have accesses to those swimmers who come to them. With a population of over a billion, the number of registered swimmers is very less. If you consider countries like China, the US and Australia, they have a huge number of competitive swimmers. China has close to 700,000 swimmers, the US has close to that number too. Australia has close to 1,50,000 swimmers. Quite frankly, I believe, the more milk you have, more cream you’ll get on the top.

Funding is another big issue. The kids who come to us (coaches) have to pay for everything. And that’s a big amount. Another aspect is the mentality of the parents. Like for instance, by the time a young swimmer reaches the 10th grade, a eureka moment hits them and suddenly everything stops and academics takes centre stage. And once the kid is in college, sport takes a huge backward step.

And above all is the fact that disciplines like track and field and swimming, which are considered to be the mother sport for an Olympic nation, struggle for money.

If you look at other countries, the Olympic committee pays special emphasis on these events as they have maximum number of medals up for grabs. But in India, unfortunately, these are the disciplines that struggle for funds.

You have been into the sport of swimming for over three decades now. How much has the sport changed and evolved?

It’s a completely different scenario now. We are a cricket-mad nation because of which Olympic sport takes a back seat on many fronts. If you look at nations like the US and Australia, how people perceive sport is totally different than how we do in India. Here it’s still a leisure activity, while in the west, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. But having said that, I can see the scenario changing. Especially in the metropolitan cities, parents are now aware of the role sport can play in the overall development of their kid. But it’s not a country-wide (phenomenon).

Two of India’s medal-winning swimmers at the Asian Games, Virdhawal Khade and Sandeep Sejwal, have trained under you. What made them different from other swimmers?

They were extremely talented and a lot had to do with the lack of parental interference. Up to a point their parents were very much involved in getting them into the right programme. But once they knew that their kids were in the right programme, there was this essence of trust, which is very much lacking today. It was their talent accompanied by complete trust from their parents.

Sandeep’s parents were in Delhi and Veerdhawal’s parents were in Kolhapur. They trusted me completely and I ensured that they went as far as they could and that relationship worked like magic.

Karnataka has been a dominant force in swimming in India. Winning the national championships and churning out quality swimmers seem like an every day activity. What has been the winning formula?

Two things, first, it’s the coaching. We have some of the best coaches in the country who have been producing a number of top swimmers for the past 2-3 decades. Secondly, the infrastructure is being used properly and the State association is one of the more functional ones in the whole country. It’s the combination of these that has paid off.

You were presented with the Dronacharya award in 2015. How much does the honour mean to you and the swimming community in India?

I think it should mean more to the swimming fraternity than to me. While I am thrilled that I got the award, it’s just the affirmation of the 35-36 years of labour that I have put in to make it work in our country and produce quality swimmers.

But I really hope that the powers in the sports ministry wake up and take a look at what swimming and that the sport gets some recognition from this award.

source: / Deccan Herald / Home> Supplements> Sportscene / by Naveen Peter / DHNS / May 29th, 2016

A different ball game for Rahman

Thiruvananthapuram , KERALA  :



The crowd of party supporters swelled all around him, but Abdul Rahman stood in the middle of it all, exuding calmness, with a football balanced on his head, in a posture reminiscent of the Greek God Atlas.

A long-time Leftist and a ball boy for many of Kerala’s legendary football teams, Rahman regaled the crowd at the Central Stadium with his football balancing skills, ahead of the swearing-in ceremony of the LDF government on Wednesday.

He had literally worn a flex sheet, wishing best of luck to new Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his Cabinet colleagues.

“I come from what they call a ‘party family’. I have been participating in the Communist party’s programmes ever since I was a kid. I took some part in the election campaign too,” he says. In his younger days, Rahman used to play with a local football team in Changanasssery, where his team mates included future stars like K.T. Chacko.

“Later, I became a ball boy. That way, I have been a part of F.C. Cochin, Viva Kerala, Eagles, and several other teams. But, that is not enough to make ends meet. So, I work as a rag picker,” he says. His next big plan is to cycle all the way from Sachin Tendulkar’s house in Mumbai to the Indian Super League football tournament venue in Kochi in September-October.

“I will start two weeks before the tournament and hope to reach here on the day it starts,” says Rahman.

His brother Mohammed Khader, an area secretary of the CPI(M) says: “We rarely get to see him. He’s almost a vagabond.”

An ardent Leftist, he regales the crowd at Central Stadium with his football balancing  skills

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / by S. R. Praveen / Thiruvananthapuram – May 26th, 2016

De Villiers praises ‘calm’ Abdulla


Bengaluru :

RCB’s star batsman AB de Villiers , who guided his team into the IPL final with an unbeaten 47-ball 79 against Gujarat Lions, praised teammate Iqbal Abdulla  for his ‘fantastic’ support. Coming together with the side at 68/6 while chasing 159 on a tricky M Chinnaswamy stadium wicket, Abdulla held his own with an unbeaten 33 off 25 balls to see the home side through with 10 balls to spare.

The South African said he knew from the look in Abdulla’s eyes that the young man was determined to finish the job. “I thought I’d have to say a lot to him but he was probably more calm than me,” De Villiers said. “When he walked up, you could see that he had done this before. He had a calm head and straightaway understood what I was telling him. I didn’t have to talk to him after that. You can see it when you have a connection with someone. He was there to win the game for the team and cross the line with me.”

“I had a lot of self-belief,” said the 26-year-old Abdulla, who has a first class century to his name. “AB only told me to watch the ball and play my shots and that is what I did.”

De Villiers admitted that the wicket was unlike what the teams are used to here, with a total of eight wickets falling in the Powerplay overs. “It was a funny kind of wicket. While we were bowling, I thought anything more than 160 and we would be in trouble. It didn’t seem like a wicket where you can just go out and score. I always felt we needed a foundation in the first six overs but we didn’t get that,” he said, hailing Lions pacer Dhawal Kulkarni for his four-wicket burst.

With a light drizzle midway through e the RCB  innings, De Villiers admitted that the prospect of the tie being decided via the Duckworth-Lewis method had t prompted the team to be more positive in their approach.

source: / The Times of India / News Home> Sports> IPL / TNN / May 26th, 2016

A topper whose toes did all the scoring

Ballari, KARNATAKA  :

Mustafa, who got 80 per cent in II PU and emerged a topper in Veerashaiva college, near Ballari city.
Mustafa, who got 80 per cent in II PU and emerged a topper in Veerashaiva college, near Ballari city.

Mustafa did the unbelievable; he used his toes to write the II PU exams

Getting 80 per cent in II PU may not be a remarkable feat today, but it is extraordinary indeed when it has been achieved by a student without both hands. Writing with his toes, Mustafa emerged the topper in Veerashaiva College near Ballari city.

Son of Dasgir Sab, a lorry driver, and Maqbul Banu of Kolagal village, Mustafa (18) was born disabled. He is the second of three siblings and the only one who is disabled in his family.

Rejects assistance

Practice made this studious boy perfect. For the PU exam, Mustafa rejected all assistance extended to the disabled. “Neither did I take any assistance to write the exam, nor did I take exemption for writing language papers,” he said.

His score card reads: 93 in Kannada, 70 in English, 82 in history, 60 in economics, 86 in political science and 83 in social studies. “I have applied for re-evaluation of the economics paper,” he said.

K. Gadilingappa, his teacher, has been his friend, philosopher and guide. “I was transferred to Kolagal around six years ago, and I was astonished and proud to see that Mustafa was independent and faced challenges on his own. Seeing his self-confidence and positive attitude, I helped him get a scholarship for the disabled and gave him moral support to motivate him,” Mr. Gadilingappa said.

Mustafa, who had secured 74 per cent in his SSLC exams, said: “I want to become an IAS officer and serve the country.”

source: / The Hindu / Home> National> Karnataka / A. Ahiraj / Ballari – May 27th, 2016

MLA Tanveer Sait launches final asphalting of Jodi Thenginamara road


N.R. Constituency Congress MLA Tanveer Sait — the man behind re-building of Jodi Thenginamara Road (Star of Mysore road) which was in a highly-dilapidated condition for over 10 years from Moulana Abdul Kalam Azad Circle (Highway Circle) upto Srinivasa theatre — is seen launching the final asphalting of the widened 80-feet road with two lanes here this morning in the presence of hundreds of local residents and businessmen among whom were The National Marbles Proprietor Zubair, Star of Mysore Editor-in-Chief K.B. Ganapathy, City Congress President T.S. Ravishankar and Congress leader Kaiser Ahmed.
N.R. Constituency Congress MLA Tanveer Sait — the man behind re-building of Jodi Thenginamara Road (Star of Mysore road) which was in a highly-dilapidated condition for over 10 years from Moulana Abdul Kalam Azad Circle (Highway Circle) upto Srinivasa theatre — is seen launching the final asphalting of the widened 80-feet road with two lanes here this morning in the presence of hundreds of local residents and businessmen among whom were The National Marbles Proprietor Zubair, Star of Mysore Editor-in-Chief K.B. Ganapathy, City Congress President T.S. Ravishankar and Congress leader Kaiser Ahmed.

Mysuru :

N.R. Constituency MLA Tanveer Sait, this morning, launched the final phase of asphalting works on Jodi Thenginamara Road (Star of Mysore road) starting from Maulanana Abul Kalam Azad Circle (Highway Circle) upto Srinivasa Theatre.

This important road, linking Highway Circle to Srinivasa Theatre, was in poor shape for over two decades and innumerable number of press reports on the bad condition of the road and recurring accidents, some fatal, had fallen on deaf ears of the authorities, including the MCC and District authorities till MLA Tanveer Sait took special interest to rebuild the road around six months back at a cost of Rs. 5.5 crore provided under Chief Minister’s Special Grant.

It may be mentioned here that when District Minister V. Sreenivasa Prasad came on this road to attend a function, his car got stuck more than once forcing him to call on Deputy Commissioner and order for immediate action. However, nothing happened for almost one-and-a-half years till MLA Tanveer Sait took the initiative. By the way, this road was last asphalted in the year 2001 when B.K. Prakash was the Mayor.

Soon after the works began, Tanveer Sait made regular inspections to check the quality of works in order to ensure that the road works are executed with top quality and as a result, the busy road, having heavy vehicular traffic movement, is being rebuilt with high quality.

Star of Mysore Editor-in-Chief K.B. Ganapathy who was the chief guest on the occasion, thanked Tanveer Sait for taking special interest in rebuilding the road with 80ft width thus fulfilling the long-felt need of the road users.

Noting that Tanveer Sait like his father late Azeez Sait is committed to work culture, Ganapathy said that Tanveer Sait was very much sensitive to the people’s problems and as such he was elected four consecutive times as MLA of NR constituency.

He called upon the people to extend their support to such committed legislators and co-operate with them in all developmental works.

City Congress President T.S. Ravishankar, Railway Goods Shed Lorry Owners Association President Shahid, MUDA member Annubhai, National Marbles Proprietor Zubair and others were present.

source: / Star of Mysore / Home> General News / May 20th, 2016