Monthly Archives: June 2016

Yesteryear hockey star Shahid hospitalised

Varanasi , UTTAR PRADESH :

Mohammad Shahid
Mohammad Shahid

New Delhi :

He had been ailing for some time and was taken to a local hospital where his condition did not show any signs of improvement.

Mohammad Shahid, hockey star of yesteryear, was admitted to a private hospital in Gurgaon on Wednesday for liver treatment which was not available in Varanasi, his home town.

Shahid had been ailing for some time and was taken to a local hospital where his condition did not show any signs of improvement.

According to sources close to the hockey player, he was treated for dengue and jaundice but Shahid complained of restlessness and was promptly advised dedicated treatment of a higher quality in Delhi and was flown in on Wednesday.

With swelling in his legs and acute stomach pain, Shahid, who would once leave opposition defenders chasing his shadow, was not even able to walk on his own. He reportedly presented a pitiable sight and his physical state left many of his admirers in tears.

Known for his exceptional dribbling skills, Shahid had been hurt by the hockey world shutting him out from all schemes. He was hardly involved by his employer — Railways — for any coaching assignment related with the game and that had left the hockey great disillusioned.

True to his nature, Shahid refrained from blaming anyone for his condition and preferred spending his life in solitude. Hockey, needless to say, stayed close to his heart always.

Shahid’s former teammate Zafar Iqbal promised all help. “I am saddened to know about his condition. I will visit him (on Thursday) and offer all possible support from the hockey fraternity,” said Zafar.

source: / The Hindu / Home> Sport> Hockey / Vijay Lokapally / New Delhi – June 30th, 2016

Dewa Shareef, Ramdevra, Powa Mecca: Portals of harmony


It is said that Shah never asked his followers to shun their own religion and this is the reason why he had a great number of Hindu followers.

What is common among Dewa Shareef in Uttar Pradesh, Ramdevra in Rajasthan and Powa Mecca in Assam?

These are some of the lesser-known shrines revered and frequented by people of all faiths and since ages have been portals of peace, tolerance and harmony.

The Dewa Shareef shrine of Haji Waris Ali Shah in Barabanki, hardly an hour’s drive from Lucknow, draws the faithful from across many strands of religion.

“The air around the place is liberal and the word intolerance an abomination. Why else would people leave their religious preferences behind and with baskets full of flowers, sweets and colourful shiny chaddars in their hands and wish in their hearts, make a beeline for the shrine of the Sufi saint,” says an article ‘The Sufi of Dewa’ in the latest issue of Equator Line magazine titled ‘Liminality of Faith’

It is said that Shah never asked his followers to shun their own religion and this is the reason why he had a great number of Hindu followers.

The very first foundation of the shrine was laid by Kanhaiya Lal and many more Hindus came forward after that.

Both Hindu and Muslim devotees contributed equally to the monument that it is today.

The Ramdevra shrine, about 12 km from Pokhran, is holy to both Hindus and Muslims.

“Ramdevra, the final resting place of Baba Ramdev, or Ramsha Pir as he is called by Muslims, is probably the only temple in the country with an intriguing assortment of devotees,” says another article ‘A Syncretic Oasis in Pokhran’

“One of the most puzzling features of the temple is the number of mazars inside. There are tiny gravestones representing the graves of children and large ones signifying the graves of adults… These are graves of people who had been close to Baba Ramdev. Among these graves, in the sanctum sanctorum, is the samadhi of the saint himself.”

Powa Mecca in Hajo near Assam’s main city Guwahati is the seat of Sufi saint Peer Ghiyasuddin Auliya.

“Earth was brought from Mecca to lay the foundation of the masjid. The locals believe that a pilgrim to this shrine earns a quarter of the blessings bestowed on someone performing Haj at Mecca. The place — Powa (quarter) Mecca — has derived its name from this belief. It is indeed significant that Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists all find this place holy and come here for pilgrimage,” writes noted Bangladeshi author Selina Hossain in ‘Faith Synthesis’

“More so, they say that the mythical bird Garuda, the carrier of Lord Vishnu, flew off the hill. After flying some distance, it stretched its wings and hovered over the place; it is now called Pakhimela market. A saint named Ourjo also sat in prayer there. The place is said to have been inhabited by the asuras. The most devious among them was Hayasur; his face resembled that of a horse.

“The saint had prayed to Vishnu that the asura be slain so he could pray in peace. Vishnu rode Garuda to defeat the asura in Hajo. This form of Vishnu is now called Haigrib. In a gesture of gratitude, Ourjo established the Haigrib temple here, bonding the two religions forever in an uninterrupted harmony,” she writes.

“Faith, unspoiled by outside interventions, has an openness that its seekers find reassuring,” says the magazine’s editor-in-chief Bhaskar Roy.

The issue also profiles Ajmer and Nizamuddin dargahs, Banke Bihari temple and Bavar Swamy’s empty shrine at Sabarimala among other shrines.

source:  / The Hindu / Home> National / PTI / New Delhi – June 28th, 2016

In defence of Kashmir’s unpopular poplars


A horse-drawn cart goes past poplars on a highway at Narbal, 15 km north of Srinagar.
A horse-drawn cart goes past poplars on a highway at Narbal, 15 km north of Srinagar.

Srinagar :

Mathematician Fozia Qazi has undertaken a campaign to protect the trees that are in danger of being axed in large numbers in the valley.

With around 16 million poplar trees facing the axe in Kashmir Valley following a High Court order, noted mathematician Fozia S. Qazi has started a campaign to “dispel the myths” that led to the systematic felling of the trees synonymous with the Valley landscape for decades.

In 2014, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court first banned the sale, purchase and plantation of female Russian poplars (Populus deltoides) following a public outcry and medical warnings that their cotton shedding laden with pollen, during late spring was the main cause of allergies in Srinagar.

Chopped down

Thereafter, lakhs of poplar trees were cut down across the Valley. A compliance report submitted to the court by the Deputy Commissioners of Kulgam and Pulwama district in June this year claimed that it targeted felling of six lakh poplars.

Dr. Qazi, Associate Professor of Actuarial Mathematics at Islamic University of Science and Technology, believes that the High Court’s decision to fell poplars is not only an “exceptional exercise but also a misinformed decision.”

Dr. Qazi, who is filing a petition before the court against the felling, has organised a meet of experts to collate scientific data on the subject and create mass awareness.

Backing Dr. Qazi’s contention that poplars are not the main cause of allergy in Kashmir during April and May, Dr. Dr. Naveed Nazir Shah, Consultant and Assistant Professor at the Department of Chest Medicine of the Government Medical College, Srinagar, said: “Poplar-induced allergy stands at number six as a cause of allergy. While dust remains the main cause, it is followed by lawn grass, deodar, kikaarand chinar pollen.

“Also, the size of its cotton is big enough to enter human body. There is no connection to prove that the poplar was the main cause of the allergies.”

Instead of felling the trees, Dr. Sajad Gangoo, an expert from Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Agricultural Sciences, argues that pruning these trees during autumn would cut down cotton circulation by 80 per cent in spring.

Key to rural economy

Dr. Qazi, a doctorate from the Syracuse University in the U.S., argues that poplar trees are central to rural economy here.

“The tree grows faster [than the local species]. It’s a source of livelihood for many because fruit boxes are made of it,” she pointed out and said that while “it consumes water, purifies it more than any other tree and could be helpful for water bodies too.”

Poplars live up to 40 years and mature in just three years. They attain height up to 20-30 feet.

“Given its height, poplars stand distinctly in the landscape of Kashmir and dot most highways, forming a mesmerising canopy and fast becoming a tourist attraction too,” Ms. Qazi said.

source: / The Hindu / Home> National> Other States / Peerzada Ashiq / Srinagar – June 24th, 2016

Reaching out in faith

Tiruchi, TAMIL NADU :

'Taraweeh' prayers are exclusive to the month of Ramadan. Photo: PTI
‘Taraweeh’ prayers are exclusive to the month of Ramadan. Photo: PTI

Qualified reciters of the Quran from North India are in great demand in to lead the Taraweeh prayers in South Indian mosques during Ramadan

Of all the months in the lunar Islamic calendar, Ramadan stands out for its focus on spirituality. Through dawn-to-dusk periods of voluntary abstinence and prayer, the Muslim is expected to feel closer to God.

Ramadan is also believed to be the month when the Quran began to be revealed. So the recitation of verses from the holy book in Arabic assumes greater importance during this month. It is a common practice for observant Muslims to try and finish at least one complete reading of the Quran at home. This is also carried out by imams (prayer leaders) who conduct the late-night Taraweeh prayers in mosques during the month.

With the emphasis on the most sonorous rendition of the Quran, management committees and clerics attached to mosques and other places of congregational prayers in Ramadan take an extra effort to find Aalims (scholars) who have memorised the 6,666 verses of the holy book and are skilled in reciting it in a semi-musical style. A person who has perfected memorising the book is known as Hafez, and one who has mastered the art of recitation, as Qari.

In South India, Islamic institutions often invite qualified reciters of the Quran from the North specifically to conduct the Taraweeh prayers during Ramadan.

North Indians are considered to be better in Arabic pronunciation because of the semantic and phonetic affinity that their regional languages – Hindi, Urdu and Hindustani – have with the language of the Quran.

In Tamil Nadu, cities like Chennai, Tiruchi, Madurai and Salem have been hosting imams from Uttar Pradesh, Bhopal and Bihar to lead Taraweeh prayers for several decades.

“The imam’s talent is important in holding the congregation’s interest,” says Mohamed Meeran Misbahi, Secretary, Tamil Nadu Jama’at-ul-Ulema Sabai, a state grouping of Islamic scholars. The Tenkasi native has been officiating as imam at the Kader Mosque in Tiruchi’s Gandhi Market area for the past 20 years. “Many worshippers visit mosques just to sample the different styles of sermons and Quran recitation during Ramadan, so the clerics have to make an extra effort to keep the people engaged,” he adds.

On average, depending on his professional expertise, a prayer leader can earn from Rs. 8,000 to 15,000 per month. During Ramadan, the income is boosted by donations from the congregation.

Historic link

The erstwhile princely kingdom of Rampur (now a part of Uttar Pradesh) has been maintaining a link with Tiruchi that started in 1952, when Saudi Arabian national of Indian origin, Moulana Qari Hafez Mohamed Ismail Sahib Mujaddidi Madani, was invited to conduct Taraweeh prayers at the Mohammadi Jama Masjid in Tiruchi by the then-Nawab of Arcot.

“My father led the Taraweeh prayers from 1952 to 1974. He died during a prayer service in 1974, and was buried in Tiruchi,” says his son Qari Moulvi Rashid Mujaddidi. The cleric, an Indian citizen, had conducted Taraweeh prayers at the Chowk Mosque from 1960 to 2006. Though he has cut down his engagements due to his advancing years and health problems, the cleric still visits the city during Ramadan, and this year, is officiating as a Taraweeh imam at a private mosque in Singarathope.

His son Salman, who is also an imam, reached Tiruchi a day before the month’s commencement (by the sighting of the crescent moon) was announced, in early June.

“I don’t speak much Tamil, but I have got only love and affection from the people of Tiruchi,” says Moulvi Rashid, who has also worked as an Arabic lecturer in Rampur. “I always tell people to come and visit Tiruchi and learn how different communities can live in harmony. ”

South-side sojourn

For Moulana Hafez Abdul Rab Qassimi, a suggestion by his friend brought him from his village Mansoorpur, Uttar Pradesh to the Bangali Street Mosque in Woraiyur in 1972. “I was a young man when I started leading the Taraweeh prayers here; now I am almost 68. I will continue to come as long as I am physically able to,” says Moulana Abdul Rab, who makes a three-day rail journey via Moradabad, Delhi and Chennai to reach Tiruchi every Ramadan.

Accommodation for the visiting imams is usually provided within the mosque premises. Congregants provide the food for breaking the fast (iftar) and pre-dawn meal (suhour).

It is Moulana Zia-ur-Rahman’s first year as the Taraweeh imam at the Tennur mosque. A graduate of Qurannic studies from Hyderabad, the 27-year-old will return to his native Leela Baran village in Bihar shortly before Eid-al-Fitr, the festival that denotes the end of Ramadan. “The atmosphere in Tiruchi is very peaceful and conducive to prayer,” says the imam.

Quest for authenticity

Despite the continuing patronage of North Indian imams, many South Indian institutions have come up in the interim to create a new talent pool of young Muslim clerics with a comparable expertise in Quran recitation.

“International qirat (recitation) competitions and a wider exposure to different styles have led to more Muslims opting to study this discipline more seriously,” says Moulana Hafiz Mufti Ruhul Haq, principal, Jamia Anvar-ul-Uloom Arabic College, Khaja Nagar.

The college offers Arabic-medium courses in Quran recitation, Islamic jurisprudence and the study of the Traditions (Hadith) of Prophet Muhammad.

“Besides mosque duties, we also train our students in computer skills in English, Arabic and Tamil, so that they can have a wider range of employment opportunities,” says Moulana Ruhul Haq. Taraweeh

The emphasis on certification has increased the number of younger clerics, with institutions attracting students not just from the South, but also the North.

Like any profession, individual talent is ultimately the deciding factor in religious orders too.


Fact file

In Arabic, Taraweeh is the plural of tarweeha, which means to rest. In the context of Ramadan prayers, it means to take rest between every four rak’at (units) of praying. Services need to have more than two periods of rest in order to qualify as Taraweeh.

Taraweeh prayer units across the Muslim world range from 8 rak’ats to 20 rak’ats.

Taraweeh is exclusive to the month of Ramadan. However, unlike the compulsory (fardh) five prayers of the day, participating in Taraweeh daily is not obligatory. In fact, Ramadan-specific prayers are meant to be conducted only after the compulsory night prayer (Isha).

source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> Metroplus / by Nahla Nainar / Tiruchi – June 24th, 2016

The game is on

Mumbai, MAHARASHTRA / Bengaluru, KARNATAKA :

In a league of his own: Mustafa Ghouse (right)
In a league of his own: Mustafa Ghouse (right)

Former Indian tennis player Mustafa Ghouse talks about how private leagues are benefitting our sports

Mustafa Ghouse was born into a family of tennis player and took to the sport as a child. He participated in the ATP Tours and picked up a clutch of medals, including a bronze at the Asian games in Doha in 2006. Post retirement in 2008, he is currently the CEO of JSW Sport, and the chief operating officer of Bengaluru FC, two time winners of the I-League. He also manages the Sports Excellence programme that mentors 40 athletes across Olympic sporting events.

In the city for the recently concluded TedX Bangalore event, Mustafa says, “My background in sports helps me manage the team better. I am happy to have been part of a team that was built from scratch and has gone on to win two titles in three years. We want to keep up our performance. The one factor, that has helped this team, has been the passion for the sport and winning that our players have. Every player is very hardworking and willing to go the extra mile to achieve more success.”

Mustafa feels that the mushrooming of private leagues in sports such as kabaddi, tennis, badminton and football has the potential to become a game changer for Indian sport. “These leagues ensure that players become very popular, get sponsors and are able to compete at higher levels. Audiences are flocking to see sports other than cricket and it is very heart-warming. The BCCI must be given credit for showing us the way ahead.”

Is tennis still his favourite sport? “Yes, I have played all sports, from football to cricket, badminton, tennis and squash. I have enjoyed playing all sports, though tennis holds a special place in my heart.” He is circumspect about India churning out an individual grand slam winner soon. “It will require a lot of systemic changes and will require a lot more effort and support. We do have talented youngsters, but it is important to get a working system in place for achieving success in the long term.”

source: / The Hindi / Home> Features> Metroplus / Nikhil Varma / Bengaluru – June 06th, 2016

JITS professor to participate in WCE-2016

Karimnagar, TELANGANA :

V. Malsoru, associate professor in Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Jyothishmathi Institute of Technology and Science (JITS) would be participating in an international conference on data mining and knowledge engineering as part of the 24th World Congress on Engineering (WCE)-2016, at Imperial College in London from June 29 to July 1.

He is at present pursuing his Ph.D. research at Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU), Hyderabad, under the supervision of A.R. Naseer, principal and professor of Computer Science & Engineering, JITS Karimnagar, affiliated to JNTU Hyderabad.

His research paper titled “Domain-specific performance evaluation of sequential pattern mining approaches” has been selected to be presented at the WCE, according to a note here on Saturday.

source: / The Hindu / Home> National> Telangana / by Special Correspondent  / Karimnagar – June 26th, 2016

IT employees to have a body to press for their demands

Bengaluru, KARNATAKA :


The AIITEA will hold its first meeting on June 30 on the ITC Infotech campus

Amid the opportunities and growth prospects, the problems faced by employees of the information technology sector are among the least addressed. The struggles within these workplaces often get sidelined or swept under the carpet by the ‘terms and conditions’ of the company. Consequently, employees often have little say in such matters.

Now these unhealthy workplace practices have forced IT employees to join hands to make a forum where they can address their issues.

The All India Information Technology Employee Association (AIITEA), a registered body meant to take up and resolve problems faced by people in the IT sector, is going to have its first meeting on June 30, on the ITC Infotech campus to announce in the open its arrival in the IT city.

Syed Muqeem, head of AIITEA and one of the founder members of the association, said: “There is a general perception that unions and associations are for blue-collar people, but there are many instances where the IT employees, the so-called white-collar staff, face workplace-related problems, but there is no group to support them.”

“Most associations that have been formed earlier either play in the hands of the big multinational companies or have failed to take up the issues faced by the employees in the sector, and take it to a logical conclusion. This void that the industry has created over a period is what we are trying to fill up. Our main aim is to ensure equal employee representation in resolving employee grievances,” said Muqeem.

Bengaluru, deemed India’s IT capital, is home to 35 per cent of the 8 million IT employees and in the last financial year, it clocked around 1 lakh crore in software exports. But beneath this glitter is a dark cloud looming and that is the ever-deteriorating state of the IT employees.

A global study done by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) says 50 per cent of employees in India Inc are under stress and around 30 per cent software engineers in the city show signs of psychiatric disorder. One in every 20 employees has contemplated suicide.

The fast pace at which the IT industry is progressing has its own side-effects and employees are at the receiving end. Muqeem said that till date “we have helped resolve around 15 cases where the employee was being harassed by the employer, but on an average we receive 15-20 complaints per week, but the fear of losing one’s job, coupled with the feeling that engaging with an association might hamper future growth prospects is what is keeping many from coming out in the open”.

source: / Bangalore Mirror / Home> Bangalore> Others / Bangalore Mirror Bureau / June 27th, 2016

Resul Pookutty becomes first Asian to win Golden Reel Award

Resul Pookutty has made the country proud by becoming the first Asian to win the award for best sound for documentary “India’s Daughter” at the coveted Motion Picture Sound Editors’ 63rd annual Golden Reel Awards.
Resul Pookutty has made the country proud by becoming the first Asian to win the award for best sound for documentary “India’s Daughter” at the coveted Motion Picture Sound Editors’ 63rd annual Golden Reel Awards.

Resul Pookutty has made the country proud by becoming the first Asian to win the award for best sound for documentary “India’s Daughter” at the coveted Motion Picture Sound Editors’ 63rd annual Golden Reel Awards.

Oscar-winning sound designer Resul Pookutty has made the country proud by becoming the first Asian to win the award for best sound for documentary “India’s Daughter” at the coveted Motion Picture Sound Editors’ 63rd annual Golden Reel Awards.

Pookutty, 44, who attended the awards ceremony here, took to Twitter to share his excitement about winning the honour for British documentary maker Leslee Udwin-directed “India’s Daughter”, made on the Delhi gangrape incident of December 2012, which is banned in India.

“I am honoured with the Golden Reel Award for ‘India’s Daughter’. This is an incredible recognition for me as well as for all those worked in the banned film apart from all those who protested against the brutal killing of Nirbhaya,” Pookutty told PTI from Los Angeles this afternoon.

The Oscar-winning sound engineer said he is the first Asian to win the coveted award at the 63rd Golden Reel Award from the Motion Picture Sound Editors’ (MPSE) of US for best sound.

The government had banned the film from public screening/ airing in the country.

Dedicating the award to the 23-year-old paramedic student who was brutally gangraped on December, 16 2012 following which she died, Pookutty said the film “India’s Daughter” is the true spirit of the youth of the nation.

He said the film recognises the entire spirit of the youth who protested against the inhuman treatment being meted out to girls and women.

“I dedicate this award to Nirbhaya’s soul… And her indomitable spirit,” Pookutty said.

The competing films/ television documentaries in the list included “Beware Baltimore”, “Chef’s Table”, “Deadliest Catch”, and “The Undrafted” “Mad Max: Fury Road”, “The Martian”, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “The Revenant” among others.

Pookutty said a double nomination was rarity in the industry and the beauty is that both these are Indian works.

Late last month, in a rare achievement, Pookutty had won two nominations for two films, both banned in the country, from the prestigious American Motion Picture Sound Editors’ (MPSE) Golden Reel Awards.

The 44-year-old artist of “Slumdog Millionaire” fame has won nominations for his sound engineering work in “Unfreedom”, a US production, and “India’s Daughter”.

He noted that all his international recognitions came for the work he has done in India, but expressed anguish over the ban imposed on both the films in the country.

“I don’t understand why a progressive society like ours should react the way we do now. I am pained at the suppression of artistic freedom,” he had said earlier, adding these two works are analysis of extreme violence, which any progressive society should welcome.

“By banning such films we are nullifying the will of the people,” Pookutty said.

The MPSE recognises excellence in an array of sound editing achievement, from sound effects and foley to dialogue and ADR to music and score integration.

The MPSE is the final industry group to announce nominees this year and remains the only group to do so after annual Academy Award nominations.

“India’s Daughter” was directed, written and produced by British director Leslee Udwin. Though the documentary was banned in India, it was globally beamed on March 4 last year.

“Unfreedom”, which espouses homosexuality, is the debut film of Florida, US-based director Raj Amit Kumar. The film, starring Adil Hussain and Victor Banerjee, is also banned in the country by the Censor Board.

The thriller chronicles a lesbian love story set in New York and New Delhi and is said to be inspired by Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s poem – “Ye Dagh Dagh Ujala”. The film is expected to hit North American halls on May 29.

Pookutty is a film sound designer, sound editor and mixer, and lives in Mumbai with his family. He is a graduate of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune.

He, along with Richard Pryke and Ian Tapp, had won the Academy Awards for best sound mixing for the Britsh production “Slumdog Millionaire”.

source: / The Indian Express / Home> Entetainment> Music / PTI, Mumbai / February 28th, 2016

Anas qualifies for Rio Olympics men’s 400m race



New Delhi  :

Indian quartermiler Mohammad Anas  qualified for the Rio Olympics by shattering the men’s  400m national record  on the second day of  Polish Athletics Championship  at Bydgoszcz.

21-year-old Anas clocked 45.40secs, the exact Rio qualification timing, to book the Olympics ticket last night and become the 21st Indian track and field athlete to qualify for the upcoming Games.

The Kerala athlete shattered his own national record of 45.44secs which he set on Friday on the first day of the same competition at this Polish city.

Rajiv Arokia, whose national record of 45.47secs Anas broke on Friday, finished second with a timing of 45.60secs.

Anas had won a silver in the Federation Cup of National Athletics Championships  in April with a timing of 45.74secs.

source: / The Times of India / News Home> Sports> More Sports / PTI / June 26th, 2016

Resul Pookutty gets another honour



It looks like Resul Pookutty is on an award-winning spree. The Academy Award-winning Slumdog Millionaire sound designer was recently honoured with yet another award.The Rocheston Accreditation Institute has honoured the sound designer with Rocheston’s Distinguished Engineer award, for his contribution to the field of sound and music in cinema.

Academy Award-winning musician AR Rahman, took to his micro-blogging page to congratulate Resul. He posted, “Congrats Resul for getting the most distinguished engineer award from Rocheston”. Rahman and Resul share a cordial working relationship.

source: / The Times of India / News Home> Entertainment> Tamil / TNN / June 26th, 2016