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Tagore and his women (May 8 is the 155th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore)

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New Delhi, May 8 (IANS) Bimala lives under the shadow of her rich elite husband Nikhil. Despite being high-spirited, she has to remain subdued in the role of a traditional Indian housewife. With the arrival of her husband’s friend Sandip, Bimala finds a new hope for fulfilling her aspirations and falls in love, disregarding social norms. That’s Tagore’s Bimala from “Ghare Baire”.

Born in 1861 to Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi, Rabindranath Tagore started writing at the age of six and went on to become the first Indian — and the first Asian — to win the Nobel Prize for literature for “Gitanjali”.

Known vividly for his vast collection of poems, prose, plays, stories and novels, Tagore put women in the forefront in his works to convey feminism very strongly.

Being a progressive thinker, his writings often were based on bold subjects that were far ahead of the time.

He strongly believed in fighting for women’s upliftment using his pen as a weapon. Focusing largely on emancipation, his writing campaigned for women’s liberation, equality, freedom, justice, power and dignity and rights.

Take Charulata of “Nashtanirh”, a wife who remains secluded within the walls of her house and finds solace in her brother-in-law. Amal not just comforts her and bring out of boredom but also influences her to write for newspapers. Charu’s confrontation with her husband about her inclination towards Amal shows how Tagore put boldness in his characters.

In “Noukadubi”, Hemnalini refuses to marry her brother’s friend after Ramesh, her love interest, marries another woman. Another protagonist Kamala in the same story, when discovering that the person she is staying with is not her husband, immediately abandons his home and goes searching for the person she was actually married to. The female characters are shown strong enough to stand for their rights.

Tagore took up the deprived life of a widow – Binodini – and her sexual emancipation in a love quadrangle tale “Chokher Bali”. A story of distrust, adultery and lies, the novel also highlights the dictatorship of a patriarchal society where young girls were married off to much older men and left to become widows at an early age that caged their route to freedom.

Tagore brought into the forefront the sexual desires of a woman, which even today is considered taboo, reflecting his liberal approach to the topic.

“Shesher Kobita”, probably his most lyrical novel, presents Labanya as a strong-willed, highly-educated, free-spirited woman who hails from a middle class family. A woman with high ethos, Labanya falls in love with Oxford-returned Amit. Though their love blossoms, Tagore, through Labanya, raises questions about the very institution of marriage as the ultimate goal of a love affair.

Tagore travels inside the traditional Indian concept of an arranged marriage through the life of Haimanti, the lead protagonist of the book of the same title. The story takes on the whimsicality and hypocrisy of the 19th and 20th century middle class society that restricts Haimanti’s free spirit.

Taking another dig at the patriarchal rules that probably still persist, “Strir Patra” voices the struggle of self-identification that Mrinal faces in her life. The story revolves around a letter sent to a husband by his wife for the first time in 15 years conveying how her intelligence became a hindrance to her livelihood and led to misery, and how writing poetry gave her solace and made her feel free from the patriarchal bond. Through Mrinal, Tagore reflected how a woman’s life was meant not to be restricted within the inner walls of a home.

Not just on pages, but Tagore’s stories and novels have been brought alive a number of times on celluloid. Satyajit Ray went on to make a number of movies based on Tagore’s writings. So did Rituparno Ghosh and the legacy is still being carried on by other directors.

What will be remembered forever about Tagore is his contribution to literary society and his attempt to create a world “where the mind is without fear and the head is held high”.

India

Andhra Pradesh Govt puts plans to sell Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam properties on hold

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Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam

Amaravati, 25 May : The government of Andhra Pradesh on Monday stepped in to put on hold the proposed sale of unviable assets belonging to the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD). The state government stepped in to control the damage following the rising resentment in several quarters over the recent move by the Board of Trustees of the TTD.

In an order issued by Praveen Prakash, Principal Secretary (Political), on Monday, the state government, keeping in view devotees’ sentiments, directed the TTD to re-examine the issue in consultation with the different stakeholders such as religious elders, opinion makers, section of devotees etc., to ascertain whether these properties can be used by TTD for construction of temples, dharma pracharam and other religious activities.

The state government headed by Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has been at the receiving end of opposition parties over the move to dispose of 50 TTD properties located in Tamil Nadu and other places outside Andhra Pradesh. The state government has pointed out that the controversial decision was in fact taken during the previous regime headed by the Telugu Desam Party.

“It has been brought to the notice of the government that the Board of Trustees of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which was constituted by the previous government, approved the disposal of 50 properties of TTD through its resolution No. 253 dated 30.01.2016,” the order pointed out.

The richest religious body in the country, the TTD has been in the news of late with reports of a cash crunch following the Covid-19 induced lockdown and the resultant freeze on contributions from the devotees. The TTD is headed by Y.V. Subba Reddy, who is also Jagan Mohan Reddy’s maternal uncle.

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Health

Young adults more likely to die from epilepsy: Study

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Brain.

London, May 25 (IANS) A new study has claimed that young adults aged between 16 and 24 may have a six-fold increased risk of epilepsy-related death, a disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, causing seizures.

The study, presented at the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) Virtual Congress, found that mortality rates for epilepsy-related deaths did not decrease between 2009 (6.8 per 100,000) and 2015 (9.1 per 100,000), despite advances in treatment during this time.

Young adult patients in their early 20s and 30s were found to be at the highest risk, with 78 per cent of epilepsy-related deaths under the age of 55 years classified as potentially avoidable.

The study, being conducted in Scotland, aims identify the burden of epilepsy-related deaths, what proportion of these are potentially avoidable, and ascertain the factors that may put patients at an increased risk.

“Epilepsy patients are at a higher risk of early death than the general population, but reasons for this are unclear,” said study researcher Gashirai Mbizvo from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

“We hope that we can use this data to learn lessons and reduce the burden of epilepsy-related deaths in the future, many of which we believe are likely to be avoidable,” Mbizvo added.

Epilepsy is a chronic noncommunicable disease of the brain that affects around 50 million people globally, making it one of the most common neurological diseases worldwide.

For the findings, the researchers collected anonymous data from healthcare settings for patients that died between 2009 and 2016, identifying 2,149 epilepsy-related deaths.

At least 60 per cent of these patients (1,276) had one or more seizure-related or epilepsy-related hospital admission in the years prior to death, yet less than a quarter (516) were seen in a neurology clinic.

The most common causes of death within the study were sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), aspiration pneumonia, cardiac arrest, congenital malformation and alcohol-related deaths.

The data will be compared with data from living patients with epilepsy of the same age and gender.

“Highlighting such risk factors, and identifying those that could be prevented, might lead to changes in epilepsy care and, ultimately, fewer epilepsy-related deaths in the future,” the researchers noted.

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Cities

Delhiites brace for an Eid at home amid Covid-19 pandemic

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Lockdown Eid

New Delhi, May 24 : Observe Eid with simplicity, help your neighbour and feed the hungry. This seems to be the message this Eid ul-Fitr, at least in the national capital.

With assemblies prohibited and all religious places closed amid the nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic, Delhiites are bracing for an Eid at home, and so do religious leaders appeal for.

Stating that Eid means happiness, Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, Chief Imam of the All India Imam Organization (AIIO), told IANS, “Happiness is possible only when others are happy as well. We are facing an unprecedented situation. I have appealed against buying new clothes and observing Eid by staying home.”

Every year visuals of thousands offering namaaz at Delhi’s iconic Jama Masjid showcases Eid. But this year the vast expanse of the mosque will remain empty. Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Ahmad Bukhari have asked people to offer prayers at their homes.

“I appeal to all the faithful to maintain social distancing and stay indoors during the Eid festivities,” Bukhari said. He urged them to extend a helping hand to the poor, the destitute and the needy in this hour of crisis, as hundreds and thousands were staring at an uncertain future.

Despite relaxations, footfall in most markets have been minimal due to the fear of infection. With restaurants not allowed to serve food, most traditional Mughlai eateries in the bylanes of Jama Masjid are likely to either remain shut or open only to provide home delivery.

One of the biggest Muslim festival, Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramzan. It’s normally celebrated with exchange of greetings, hugs, feasting and bonding. But due to the lockdown and corona scare, this Eid is likely to be muted.

Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi tweeted that though for the first time he would offer prayer and celebrate Eid at home due to the pandemic, it would not affect the festive spirit.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Shahnawaz Hussain, known for organising sumptuous Eid feast in the Lutyens Delhi, which is attended by top politicians cutting across political affiliations, journalists and other dignitaries, will also be observing a quiet Eid.

“I have been doing this Eid luncheon for 21 years. But this time things are different. No invitation has been sent. I will spend Eid in a simple way by distributing food among the poor,” said Hussain.

While the grandeur will be amiss this year, religious leaders insist it’s the intent that counts. They say, new clothes or a grand buffet is not what makes Eid special, it’s the happiness that counts, which increases manifold when shared with others.

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