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‘Padmavati’ protests much ado about nothing?

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Padmavati

BY Amit Kapoor

It’s that time of the year again when our sentiments are hurt, and it is acceptable to temporarily suspend liberal democracy because of it. The latest victim of the now-ubiquitous tyranny of hurt sentiments has been Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Padmavati”, which has been accused of twisting historical “facts”. After a series of unfortunate events over the last week pertaining to the movie, which involved a couple of death threats, its makers have been left with no option but to “voluntarily defer” the release date.

Moreover, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab have been happy to oblige the groups issuing death threats and inspiring violence by banning the film from their states. Likewise, Uttar Pradesh has urged a delay in the release of the movie fearing law and order problems. This begs the question whether the onus of law and order lies with the government or the creative community? Should filmmakers limit their freedom of expression and contemplate the law and order consequences of their work?

The situation seems even more ludicrous and bizarre when it is realised that the protagonist of the movie around which the controversy is centred is, in fact, a fictional character based on a half-fantastical epic poem of the 16th century by a Sufi poet. Rani Padmavati makes her first appearance in history in poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s “Padmavat”, which narrates a tale of Alauddin Khilji’s siege of Chittor that had happened in the 14th century.

In the poem, Khilji, upon hearing of Padmavati’s beauty, marches towards Chittor to demand her hand in marriage and manages to defeat her husband. But, before he could reach her, Padmavati commits jauhar (self-immolation).

Now, Khilji defeating Rana Ratan Singh of Chittor in 1303 is a historical fact but there is no evidence of the existence of any one by the name of Padmavati back then. There is also no historical evidence that the desire for a woman played any role in Khilji’s attack on Chittor.

This figment of a poet’s imagination was told and retold over centuries, slowly becoming a symbol of Rajput glory and defiance in the face of external threats. Initial translations of the poem showed Khilji courting Padmavati with the intent of marrying her. However, during the colonial period, in order to inspire patriotism, the translations gradually evolved into that of a heroic queen choosing death over a lusty Muslim invader to save her honour.

It is this version of the story that has become an indisputable fact of history in the minds of the ones who are hurt by Bhansali’s depiction of Padmavati.

It is becoming worrisome that the tolerance levels of the country have fallen so low that a group merely needs to make a violet display of disaffection for freedom of expression to be curtailed. The demands of the disaffected group are first met before any reasonability behind them is understood.

The Indian constitution also imposes some restrictions on freedom of speech but those can be imposed only under certain circumstances and “hurt sentiments” is certainly not one of them. It needs to be understood and ensured that curtailment of freedom of expression can only be done on objective grounds and not based on sentiment. The courts have repeatedly made that clear.

When the Uttar Pradesh government banned Periyar’s “Ramayana – A True Reading” in 1976 because it was an alternate narrative of the epic and hurt Hindu sentiments, the Supreme Court quashed the ban and reprimanded the government for catering to supporters of the ban instead of being objective and supporting a measured criticism of faith. The government’s acting out in response to the “Padmavati” row makes the same error of pandering to subjective demands.

Apart from repeatedly violating fundamental rights, the low tolerance level of Indians is also problematic from a developmental perspective. A society which is tolerant towards a diverse set of ideas becomes a hotbed of economic growth and innovation. The growth story of United States is the best evidence in modern times of how acceptance of different ideas and an environment that is conducive to questioning can spark a developmental revolution. If India sacrifices creative freedom at the altar of sentiments and emotions connected with fictional entities, innovation will easily take a back seat and growth will become ever-elusive.

This trend of growing intolerance can, therefore, prove to be dangerous at many levels. The unreasonable controversy around “Padmavati” and the litany of others preceding it need to condemned and, most importantly, not receive government support. Instead, governments need to be intolerant of intolerance. In case people displaying emotional connect with fictional characters are continued to be gratified, we might as well create a generation of people that are no different than children waiting for gifts from Santa on Christmas morning.

IANS

(Amit Kapiir is chair, Institute for Competitiveness, India. He can be contacted at [email protected] Chirag Yadav, senior researcher, Institute for Competitiveness, India has contributed to the article)

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National Milk Day: Know history, significance of this day; Interesting facts about milk here

National Milk Day was established in 2014 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation to commemorate Dr. Verghese Kurien, who is considered the father of India’s White Revolution.

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Amul Milk Production

Every year, National Milk Day is celebrated on November 26 across India. The largest milk producing country celebrates this day to demonstrate the importance of milk in everyone’s life. It is worth noting that National Milk Day and World Milk Day are two different events, observed on different dates with different significance.

National Milk Day was established in 2014 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation to commemorate Dr. Verghese Kurien, who is considered the father of India’s White Revolution.

Why is National Milk Day Celebrated?

National Milk Day is celebrated on November 26 all over India, and it was established by the Food and Agricultural Organisation in 2014.

The day is dedicated to honouring Dr. Verghese Kurien, who is considered to be the father of India’s White Revolution. November 26 is also his birth anniversary, which is why this day is even more important as it also highlights his contribution to the country’s dairy farming and production.

First National Milk Day:

The Indian Dairy Association (IDA) in 2014, took the initiative to celebrate this day for the first time. The first National Milk Day was marked on November 26, 2014, in which various milk producers from 22 states participated.

Kerala-born, Dr Verghese Kurien is known as the ‘Milkman of India’ and the father of the 1970s White Revolution. He came with the one billion litre idea of turning a milk-guzzling country into world’s top dairy producer.

National Milk Day: Interesting facts about milk here

Milk is one of the best sources of calcium and the only drink in the world that contains such a large amount of natural nutrients.

Dr Verghese worked towards enabling the country to have its own production centres of milk. His support was crucial in making the Amul girl ad campaign-which is one of the longest-running campaigns for decades.

His accolades include Ramon Magsaysay Award, World Food Prize, Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Wateler Peace Prize.

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Global availability of Covid vaccine for public only by mid-2021: Moody’s

The report said mass vaccination that significantly reduces individual and public health concerns would lift sentiment and present a significant upside to global growth.

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Covid 19 Vaccine

New Delhi: While recent news about the high effectiveness of two coronavirus vaccines is a promising sign in the effort to combat the pandemic, a vaccine for Covid-19 will not be widely distributed before mid-2021, Moodys Investors Service said on Tuesday.

“However, these developments do not change the assumption underpinning our economic forecasts that widespread, global availability of the vaccine to the general public is only likely by around mid-2021,” Moody’s said in a report.

It added that the recent positive news about the effectiveness of vaccines under development will do little to ease the immediate concern that the current rise in coronavirus cases across the US and Europe will dampen sentiments and economic momentum in these regions this quarter and the next.

“Our baseline economic forecasts balance the downside risks of increasing infections and new lockdowns in the next two months, against the potential for widespread vaccinations over the next 12 months. If lockdowns are more severe than we expect, the negative effect on GDP could be offset if a coronavirus vaccine is available quicker and uptake is wider than we had expected,” it added.

Although successful Phase 3 trials of vaccines are a big step, there are numerous hurdles ahead, including satisfying approval requirements by regulators in individual countries, production of the billions of doses required for mass vaccination, ensuring proper storage and building distribution networks.

Distribution will likely occur in phases once regulators approve a vaccine, with health officials prioritizing access for healthcare workers and those in other high-risk professions, as well as for people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, such as older people and individuals in care homes.

Moody’s said two important variables in overall success of vaccines in curbing the pandemic will be the public’s willingness to get vaccinated and what percentage of the population will need to be vaccinated in order for the spread of the virus to be brought under control. Vaccine availability likely will vary across countries, with cost and access major hurdles in particular for less-developed economies.

Many advanced and a handful of middle-income emerging market countries have already secured contracts for hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccines. Residents of these countries will be among the first to get the vaccinations, with their economies benefiting from the associated easing of the public health crisis. The earlier the health crisis in a country subsides, the stronger the country’s economic recovery will be, it added.

The report said mass vaccination that significantly reduces individual and public health concerns would lift sentiment and present a significant upside to global growth.

As long as the coronavirus remains a health risk, social distancing restrictions and the reluctance of consumers to engage in high contact social and economic activity will mar the recovery of services sectors. As vaccines become broadly available, health fears and concerns about an uncertain economic and financial outlook should recede, allowing for a quicker resumption of activity in high contact sectors such as hotels, restaurants, theaters, mass transit, airlines and travel and tourism.

Moody’s said the pandemic has already inflicted enormous damage on the hardest-hit sectors and will continue to undermine their financial condition and prospects, with repeated virus outbreaks and lockdown measures suppressing demand. The risk of business failure increases exponentially the longer the pandemic prevents a return to some semblance of normal activity.

A vaccine will help accelerate the recovery. But for many of these businesses, survival will remain challenging until the virus is no longer viewed as a significant public health threat. It is difficult to know how many businesses will survive several more months of below-normal revenue, it added.

Small and midsized businesses across advanced and emerging market countries are at risk and more of them will undoubtedly close on account of the prolonged cash flow shock. And those that do survive will have the long and arduous task of rebuilding their balance sheets while also, in many cases, facing significant changes in consumer behavior and demand patterns. “Therefore, even if economic activity returns to healthy levels once a vaccine is widely available, the detrimental economic impact and transformed operating environment will be felt for years to come”, Moody’s said.

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Guru Tegh Bahadur Martyrdom Day: J-K Lt Governor Pays Tribute To Sikh Guru

Manoj Sinha noted that the pious day is a reminder to respect and uphold the ‘faith, belief and rights of people’.

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Manoj Sinha

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha paid rich tributes to Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh guru, on his martyrdom day on Tuesday.

“The teachings and martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur underline one of the most fundamental principles of human existence, which is ensuring the right of everyone to breathe free and live unshackled,” Sinha said.

Guru Teg Bahadur’s sacrifice is an important reminder for the future generations to be committed towards upholding the faith, belief and rights of people, he added.

On this pious day, everyone must resolve to dedicate themselves to selfless service of others, the LG said.

“Peaceful co-existence, mutual respect for each other’s religious beliefs go a long way in uplifting individual lives and achieving harmony and compassion in the society,” he added.

Guru Tegh Bahadur was born on April 1, 1621. He resisted forced conversions of Hindus, Sikhs, Kashmiri Pandits and non-Muslims to Islam and was killed on this day in 1675 on the orders of the then Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi.

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