Mumbai’s pride Marine drive completes a century.

 

Talk about sea breeze and some more freedom, the only thing that comes to the mind of a Mumbaikar will be ‘Marine Drive’. Some of us might have seen this structure in movies. The iconic landmark completed a century on Friday. Also known as the ‘Queen’s necklace’ because it looks like one when it gets lit up at night, this place is Mumbai’s pride. As the iconic curve completes 100 years, it is the celebration of a memory that Marine Drive has given to every person who visits this beautiful place.

A day at Marine Drive would be something like this. The morning starts with people who go for morning walks and yoga. In the afternoon, college kids bunk their lectures and make the promenade their ‘adda’. The evenings are for too-much-in-love couples, who sit by and watch the sunset together. It also serves as a livelihood for hawkers who sell tea and chanas. Monsoon is the best time for strolls as the water from the sea makes big splashes. At night, it sparkles like a queen’s necklace, shining bright like a diamond in Mumbai’s armour.

To mark this memorable occasion, the Marine Drive Residents Association (MDRA) succeeded in getting the General Post Office to come out with a postcard which was released at an event on Friday evening. A stone post near Chowpatty announces Marine Drive’s birthday with the simple inscription: “Kennedy Sea-Face commenced 18th December, 1915. Completed 1920”. Marine Drive has recently been nominated for a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its stunning structures from the 19th and the 20th Century art deco style buildings.

Many big industrial tycoons and celebrities were seen walking along Marine Drive before they acquired their status and shifted to swanky cars. The legend Amitabh Bachchan, who hoped to make it big in Bollywood, settled for spending a night on the Marine Drive wall in his struggling days. The Marine Drive has witnessed heart breaks too; the stunning actress Suraiya reportedly threw a ring presented to her by Dev Anand into the Sea from the Marine Drive after their real life love-saga ended decades ago. Vinod Kambli loves to share his memory of the Marine Drive as he talks about how he used to hit sixes straight into the Arabia Sea while batting at Hindu Gymkhana. A braveheart, police constable Tukaram Ombale helped nab alive a Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab, even as other bloodthirsty terrorists created mayhem at the other end, the Hotel Trident Oberoi. The Marine Drive has seen it all.

Marine Drive stands firm in all its glory, telling stories from the past and linking them to the future. You cannot just visit this place once, because it keeps calling you back to make yet another memory and cherish yet another moment.

Sources : Business Standard image source

The iconic structure, Marine Drive at Mumbai
The iconic structure, Marine Drive at Mumbai

Kejriwal touches new levels of Twitter war

CBI raids on the Delhi Chief Minister’s office linked to his principal secretary, Rajendra Kumar has led to an ugly political low. The raids on Tuesday have further worsened government-opposition ties especially at a delicate turn where the GST Bill negotiations are still on the loop. The events took a nasty turn when the blame game began and Kejriwal took PM Narendra Modi in the coil and called him a “coward” and “psychopath” in one of his twitter remarks.

BJP officials have strongly denied the whole event to be a political vendetta. Kejriwal stepped up his attack when he targeted Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, accussing him of ‘unholy’ involvement in the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) which Jaitley once headed.

The climate warmed up through social media when Kejriwal wrote a series of tweets on Wednesday morning.

All guns came blazing in when Kejriwal branded PM Modi of using probe agency CBI to “intimidate” him and his government. In a heated political scenario, the counterpart BJP accused Kejriwal of suffering from “Modi-Phobia” and plain hypocrisy.

“When Modi couldn’t handle me politically, he resorts to his cowardice,” tweeted Kejriwal. Arun Jaitley in a tweet remarks his comments to be “rubbish.” After all the political hullabaloo, the CBI registered a corruption case against principal secretary Kumar. The CBI charged him under allegations of misusing his official position in 2007-2014 to favour a corporate named Endeavour Systems. Also, the CBI has found foreign currency worth Rs. 3 lakh and hard cash worth Rs. 2.4 lakh at Kumar’s residence. The international company Endeavour Systems website entails various projects for Delhi government.

Image Sources: The Economic Times
Image Sources: The Economic Times

In the political battle, AAP leader Kejriwal was reminded of his party’s resolution that ironically, no government permission should be required to raid an officers house if guilty of corruption. Bureaucrat Rajesh Kumar was accused under a 2007 complaint. CBI official Devpreet Singh defers from the allegation of searching Kejriwal’s office and said that the party workers carry a different version of the story.

The developments indicate that the CBI may seek custodial interrogation of the prime accused IAS official Kumar as he is “not co-operating.” The case has been booked under Indian Penal Code Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and Section 13(2) (criminal misconduct) along with 13(1)(d) (abuse of official postion). CBI suspects that between 2007 to 2014 Kumar and Endeavour Systems have bagged contracts worth Rs. 9.5 crore. Moreover, the CBI team found 14 bottles of hard liquor- two bottles of Blue Label, three bottles of Black Label, five bottles of Chivas Regal, two bottles of Teacher’s and one bottle each of Glenfiddich and Black Dog. The CBI says that under the Delhi Excise Act, anyone cannot store liquor above 9 liters and what was recovered from Kumar’s house was not under permissible limits. Another 10.5 lakh were recovered from GK Nanda, who was co-accused with Kumar. The CBI also questioned R S Kaushik, Managing Director of Intelligent Communication Systems India Ltd on Wednesday. The political tug of war is becoming intricate with the hanging GST Bill in the house where both the ruling chair and the Opposition cannot see eye-to-eye.

 

Sources: The Indian ExpressThe Economic TimesFirst Post

Remembering ‘The Master’ of C minor

It was an unusually frosty Thursday sundown at the striking quarters of Theater an der Wien in Vienna when the hall saw eruptions of chords reverberate its walls, the icy winds drifting to the key of his symphony. It might have been tagged ‘inferior’ and ‘dragging’ over 200 years ago. But today, Ludwig Van Beethoven’s three moments of absolute passion in the fifth symphony still never fail to ignite the listener’s battle against the doomed fate. To what would be his 245th birthday, we look at the life of ‘The Master’ who broke the rationality of classical music into a genre of infinite promises.

Born in Bonn, one of Germany’s oldest cities, to a family of musicians, Beethoven’s father observed in him, a talent for the piano. As a young boy, he would enjoy indulging in the guilty pleasures of scratching his own notes, leaving behind the original score. Wanting his son to follow the prodigious paths of Mozart, Johann Van Beethoven pulled his ten year old out of school in the hopes of turning his talent into riches. Though that never happened, he ventured into music at the age of 12, working with notable German composer Christian Neefe as an organist. He then moved to Vienna in his early twenties, at which point of time, he chose to study the intricacies and performance of the art over delving into composition. It was later in the early 1800s when he became regarded prominent in the generation of Vienna’s young composers. Since then there was no looking back for the maestro. Nothing could stop him. Not even his deplorable loss of hearing.

Remembering Beethoven on his 245th birthday
Remembering Beethoven on his 245th birthday

“I would have ended my life – it was only my art that held me back. Ah, it seemed to me impossible to leave the world until I had brought forth all that I felt was within me,” he wrote in the Heiligenstadt Testament, a letter to his brothers. Around 1796, Beethoven began to lose his hearing due to a severe condition of Tinnitus that caused a “ringing” that deterred him from listening to music. Conversation books that saw his friends commenting and discussing on his music is how Beethoven battled deafness at the peak of his career.

Going on to successfully produce 9 symphonies, 5 piano concertos, 1 violin concerto, 32 piano sonatas, 16 string quartets and an opera, he gave up performing for the public in the last fifteen years of his life. Despite this, he never stopped writing music. With the most admired of his works coming from his last few years, his symphonies were treasured. He unraveled the genus of classical music which till date can never be forgotten.

Sources : The Wall Street Journal , The Telegraph

Federal Reserve Rate Hike: End of the zero-rate era

In its first rate hike since 2006, the Fed raised interest rates by 25 bps, ending the zero-rate era. Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen’s move will be a major test for emerging markets. This hike was a widely anticipated move by the economies worldwide.

The Fed said that the hike in rates was due to “the economic outlook, and recognizing the time it takes for policy actions to affect future economic outcomes.”

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s move will be a major test for emerging markets. Image Source: Reuters
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s move will be a major test for emerging markets.
Image Source: Forbes

FOMC in its statement also spoke on how the committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate. They also mentioned the actual path of the federal funds rate will depend on the economic outlook.

The rate hike draws to a close an unprecedented period of record-low rates which were part of controversial and extraordinary policies designed by the Federal Reserve to stimulate the economy in U.S. crisis since the Great Depression. FOMC had lowered its benchmark rate to near zero in 2008 (December) after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings and ten months before unemployment hit the country by reaching a peak of 10 per cent.

Despite concerns that the rate hike will bring in turmoil along with it, there are investors who are confident that this move shall be a moment of relief for emerging markets that have been seeing the rough road due to low commodity prices, rising debt, and slowing economies.

Carl Riccadonna, Chief US Economist for Bloomberg Intelligence said that countries with low inflation who are large exporters to the US will prove to be winners post this move. According to calculations by the Congressional Budget Office and Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, US government could pay more in interest over next 10 years if rates escalate.Companies with dollar-denominated bonds could go under pressure due to thetightening of Fed’s monetary policy which could strengthen the U.S. dollar further.

What happens in India?

Between May-August 2013, the rupee lost more than a quarter of its value, as bond and equity markets tanked.This week, it crossed 67 rupees to the dollar. Analysts expect the RBI to intervene to prop up the rupee. This is also likely to put pressure on the current account deficit. Meanwhile, strengthening of dollar could be a boon for India’s exports which fell for the ninth consecutive month in August.

Though the rupee was jumpy at 66.50 (intra-day), worries over the FOMC rate hike were brushed aside by the commodity markets when Sensex rose for the fourth straight session by gaining over 309 points, ending at a two-week high. NSE Nifty also reclaimed its 7,800 mark.

After the US interest rate hike, Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian said, “I think we are relatively well cushioned. Volatility in Indian markets should be quite minimal.”

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan and other policy-makers have been touting India as being more insulated to Fed-related volatility than other emerging markets due to its better economic fundamentals.Analysts say, India’s seven per cent growth rate may seem modest, but it’s enough to attract the interest of global investors.

Sources: First PostForbesThe HinduLiveMintMint

 

A Year Later: The Peshawar Attack

Marking the first anniversary of the Peshawar attack Pakistani youths hold candles in front of the banner showing pictures of students who lost their lives last year
Marking the first anniversary of the Peshawar attack Pakistani youths hold candles in front of the banner showing pictures of students who lost their lives

Image Source: TOI

It only takes a crash from the nearby building work to send the teenage survivors of one of Pakistan’s worst ever terrorist attacks diving for cover. Such was the impact of the deadly attack. A nightmare unfolded on this day, last year when nearly 150 people, 122 of them children, were mercilessly massacred in one of the most horrific terror attacks in Pakistan. Termed to be a “Black Day”, the terrorist attack on the Army Public School is considered to be the worst attack in the country’s history.

A special ceremony will be taking place today, to mark the first anniversary of the brutal attack. Strict security measures were taken in Peshawar as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and opposition leader, Imran Khan will attend a special ceremony at the Army Public School. Relatives holding pictures of their loved ones killed in a Taliban assault paraded in the city amidst tight security. Rallies and demonstrations were held in other parts of the country to pay tribute to the victims.

A year after the attack, voices rise in solidarity around the world. With the slogan #NeverForget, many are observing the anniversary of the attack in cities around the world, including London, Toronto and Washington DC. In Pakistan, cities including Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad will memorialize this day.

Many say that Pakistan itself has changed after the attack. All schools build walls rapidly as an extra defence. Eight death-row prisoners were executed on Tuesday in Pakistan – a day before the anniversary of the massacre. Pakistan has always failed to curb domestic terrorism but most observers credit the attacks as having spurred the country into tackling domestic terrorism like never before. According to statistics of the police department in Peshawar, terrorist incidents have come down by 56 percent due to the actions launched after the APS attack. There has been a 52 percent improvement in the overall law and order situation. The military claims that more than 3400 terrorists have been killed since the launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in June 2014.

Anniversaries are sad occasions, they tend to increase the severity of a memory of loss and may even cause emotional breakdown. Even after a year, the deadly terror attack is still afresh in the memories of people who lost their dear ones, a memory that will stay with them forever.

Source: Times Of India

South Sudan: A victim of Civil war for two years now

South Sudan, today, marked two years since the beginning of a civil war. Political disagreements which triggered the war had left many fleeing away from the war zones and seeking refuge at UN base camps. Have we forgotten this conflict? If yes, there is enough reason to recollect and react. Since the start of the war, 1,00,000 people have been forced to leave their homes, nearly 4,00,000 have been left hungry and 15,000 to 16,000 children have been indoctrinated to serve during the war, all due to political dispute.

 

Where is Sudan and what exactly happened?

Sudan is in central Africa. It is the newest nation gaining its independence only in July 2011. It is rich in oil, but decades of civil war has left Sudan under developed.

The Nile, since it flows through certain regions forms an important trade route. Also, cattle is central to the lives of the South Sudanese people. A man’s wealth is measured here by the size of his herd.

With an overwhelming majority, South Sudan voted to break away from Sudan in 2011. Initial friction was created over the supply of oil in Khartoum (capital of Sudan). But raging fights began in 2013 when there was an ethnicity-centric dispute. The President Salva Kiir, of the Dinka group (the largest ethnic group) accused his former deputy Riek Machar from the Nuer group (second largest group) of organizing a coup. President Kiir had dismissed Machar earlier that year.

Was there a coup? It is unclear. But this created sufficient furor for the violence to begin as both Machar and Kiir had enough support from their respective ethnic clans.

The violence led to many fleeing and resorting to accommodation and survival aid from refugee camps. Forces backing Machar seized the oil producing Unity state of Bentiu. The civil war washed the country with blood and guns.

 

What measures were taken to stop this?

Both parties succumbed to international pressure and agreed to sign a peace deal in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. The deal paved way for a permanent ceasefire, an agenda for the creation of a transitional government, and fresh elections. But, a break in the truce agreement occurred in January 2014 and rapidly, hostilities resurfaced. Since then, eight commitments of the peace agreement have been broken.

 

Famine warnings and Refugee camps

Little has changed since the Peace agreement. Thousands have no access to proper living conditions. It is not hard to believe that with the country’s militia split, and with the lack of involvement in development in the agricultural sphere, a famine is not far away.

The UN refugee camps in Juba, capital of South Sudan house nearly 27,000 citizens. Dr Austin Ombija, an official with the International Organization for Migration, said about the accommodation at UN camps, “We have to deal with a lot more patients than what we were envisioned to support. That causes a strain on us in terms of supplies, in terms of staffing, in terms of space that we use for constructing our facilities.”

 

Evidently, the peace agreement is only an agreement on paper. The citizens of South Sudan continue to face the brunt of a mindless civil war.

Sources: Al JazeeraNews24BBC

A Dinka Nuer divide (Image Courtesy: Washington Post)
A Dinka Nuer divide (Image Courtesy: Washington Post)

The man who took yoga to the world – BKS Iyengar

As the man who took yoga to an international level, BKS Iyengar is remembered around the world as ‘yoga guru’ who founded a particular style of practice and made it famous across the globe. So much so that Iyengar yoga is practiced in over 70 nations today. To what would be his 97th birth anniversary today, we look at the life of the man who is not only a celebrated personality in India but also in the west on his birthday today we look at the life of the man who transformed the lives of many others.

BKS Iyengar – whose birth name was Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar was born in southern India on 14th December, 1918. He had nine other siblings. One of the lesser known facts is that his brother-in-law Tirumalai Krishnamacharya was known as the ‘Father of Modern Yoga’. He was said to be the key figure in the revival of ‘Hatha Yoga’ through which Iyengar-yoga further developed.  Iyengar was introduced to yoga by his brother-in-law when he was down with malaria and typhoid.

His style ‘Iyengar Yoga’ is characterized by tremendous control and discipline, which he exercised in ways not limited to confoundingly long headstands. It has been said that he could hold a headstand for nearly half an hour well into his eighties. He was instrumental in bringing yoga to the West, and had beloved followers in nearly every continent.

Pioneering and deeply spiritual yogi guru owed his international success to an American Violinist, Yehudi Menuhin who believed that yoga helped him improve in his playing and invited BKS Iyengar to Switzerland in 1954, after that there was no looking back and Iyengar frequently travelled to the west to demonstrate his style of yoga and hundreds of Iyengar yoga institutes sprang up not only in the west but around the world.

BKS Iyengar, the man put yoga on the international map, had transformed the lives of many people. So much so that renowned celebrities also incorporated the ‘Iyengar style’ yoga in their daily lives. Here are some popular Indian and international celebs who owe their fit bodies to Iyengar Yoga. Sachin Tendulkar had tailor made yoga exercise from the legend himself.  Kareena Kapoor Khan whose love for yoga is well known moved to Iyengar yoga from power yoga. Queen of pop Madona is also inspired by the Iyengar yoga and has opened yoga studios that cater to the teaching of the Iyengar yoga. Elisabeth, the Queen of Belgium was taught yoga by BKS Iyengar himself, Iyengar had taught the queen his signature sirasana headstand at the age of eighty-five.

As a tribute googles animated doodle was dedicated to BKS Iyengar to celebrate his 97th birthday. It contained animated poses of the various asanas from the Iyengar yoga. The legendary yoga guru passed away last year in August and is remembered even today. As he fondly said “Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame”.  The Iyengar style of yoga is a gift of good health which will continue to be practiced in the generations to come.

Sources: Independent.co.ukHealthSite

 

The yoga master is credited with bring the ancient exercise regime to the West.
The yoga master is credited with bring the ancient exercise regime to the West.