A Fresh Perspective on Queer Studies in Assamese: ‘Tritiya Akash’

“Tritiya Akash,” translating to “the third sky,” is more than just a title; it represents a bold venture into uncharted territories. Dr. Prapti Thakur compiled and edited this anthology of short stories in Assamese, delving deep into the lives, struggles, psychology, and obstacles faced by the queer community. While Queer studies are gaining traction in various writer and researcher communities, this anthology stands out for several reasons. In Assam, Queer studies in the academic field and other creative pursuits are in the infant stage. Unlike most academic institutions that confine their publications to the prescribed syllabus, our educational institution has dared to publish such a book as part of our academic endeavour. Additionally, this anthology challenged the prevailing norms by openly discussing a taboo topic for many.

It’s noteworthy that Sarupathar College isn’t nestled in the bustling city but rather situated in upper Assam, distanced from the state’s intellectual hub. Dr. Prapti Thakur, the college’s principal, deserves commendation for advocating such a radical academic approach.

This anthology comprises thirty-one short stories penned by writers from across the state, spanning various age groups. However, it’s noticeable that only two senior writers contributed: Sneha Devi (1916-1990) and Dr. Gobinda Prasad Sarma. Sneha Devi, primarily a homemaker, wasn’t extensively involved in literary social circles. Hence, witnessing her empathy toward such a significant topic is surprising and heartbreaking, especially amidst limited discussions. On the other hand, Dr. Gobinda Prasad Sarma, a former Professor of Guwahati University, known for his scholarly creative works and openness, bravely tackled the social taboo by addressing the theme of lesbians in his story. While the other writers explore diverse themes and social issues, delving into such a topic is not unusual for them. Not all stories have high literary standards, yet they should be applauded for their theme and creative openness.

Dr. Pori Hiloidari contributed a comprehensive critical preface, dissecting the short stories’ thematic and structural nuances. This preface serves as a guiding light for writers, enabling them to grasp the theme’s essence and craft more impactful narratives from varied social perspectives.

This collection has sparked numerous questions, prompting us to seek insights from the Editor and the college’s principal, Dr. Prapti Thakur.

What inspired you to edit and publish this anthology?

The inspiration behind curating this anthology stemmed from the recognition that queer subjects, despite being incorporated into the English literature curriculum of Delhi University, remain largely unaddressed within the Assamese literary syllabus. Consequently, this project aims to bring these narratives to the forefront, fostering a broader discourse on queer representation within the academic landscape.

Considering that the Queer subject may not be part of your college syllabus, how do you anticipate this collection contributing to academic discourse?

Although the queer subject matter may not currently be a part of the prescribed college syllabus, this collection holds the potential to enlighten our students about the diverse content of Assamese short stories. The content of this anthology is socially significant, and I think our students will become aware of a social issue that is still regarded as taboo. From an academic point of view, it can be said that presenting a diverse array of narratives that explore queer experiences prompts critical engagement and encourages intellectual inquiry into the multifaceted dimensions of gender and sexuality in the Assamese context. This anthology provokes scholarly discussions, challenging existing paradigms and enriching the philosophical landscape.

How have your colleagues and students responded to this anthology?

The reception of this anthology among colleagues and students has been overwhelmingly positive. They were very enthusiastic from its inception as they felt that our college would do something radical. Without the support of my colleagues, it would not have been possible to publish a book on such a topic from an educational institute.

Could you share the reactions of both readers and writers to the collection?

The reactions from both readers and writers have been equally commendable. During the anthology’s release on January 7th, 2023, in the presence of several esteemed writers, noted gender activists, and readers, the project garnered widespread acclaim and appreciation for its significance in amplifying marginalised voices and promoting inclusivity within the literary norm from an academic institution.

Were there any obstacles encountered during the production process?

Remarkably, the production process was devoid of any substantial obstacles. All the writers participated in the project with excellent support for the cause. Dr. Pori Hiloidari, a leading literary critic of the state, wrote the anthology’s preface at my request. I am sure this preface will stand as a significant work in Queer studies in the Assamese language.

What are your plans regarding publishing books on this topic and others?

Our Sarupathar College is very excited to publish more books on this queer topic and other important, socially significant, and literary themes. We are committed and determined to work on projects that benefit our students’ community and society. 

A sensitive attempt to hear the unheard ‘third voice’

“I learned about sexuality when I was in high school. I wanted to know if I was such a person or if there were other people like me. I thought I would tell my parents when I mentioned my marriage. I thought I would die if I married a man. After passing high school, I was angry when my mother told me about marriage. I met ‘A’ in the first semester of my BA. After talking, I realized that she was probably like me.’

In exploring the Assamese language, one inevitably confronts an obvious gap: the absence of a recognized term to encompass individuals beyond the traditional dichotomy of male and female. Within this framework, the term ‘third gender’, often equated with ‘queer’, remains an elementary construct, lacking the nuanced depth required for full comprehension. Its acknowledgement in ancient Indian literature and portrayal in artistic depictions of sexual activities serve as examples of historical acceptance, countering prevailing narratives of deviance and abnormality.

Yet, despite this deep-rooted socio-cultural tradition, the contemporary discourse surrounding the third gender has, regrettably, been relegated to the periphery. Social taboos and deeply ingrained prejudices have conspired to throttle open dialogue, relegating the experiences of this marginalized community to the shadows of society’s consciousness. However, amidst this prevailing silence, there exists a glimmer of hope – an increasing recognition and acknowledgement of the inherent rights and dignities of third-gender individuals.

Recent shifts in societal attitudes, coupled with governmental initiatives aimed at addressing the needs and concerns of this oft-overlooked demographic, signify a slow departure from the status quo. Concurrently, scholars and researchers are embarking on a journey of discovery, exploring the psychological intricacies and socio-cultural dimensions of third-gender identity. Through their nuanced analyses and empathetic inquiries, they seek to illuminate the lived experiences of this community, thereby amplifying their voices and advocating for their rightful place within the fabric of society.

Edited with meticulous care and scholarly acumen by Dr. Kaustubh Padmapani and Dr. Prateeti Barman, the book ‘Queer Voices from the Periphery- a collection of perspectives from Northeast India’ serves as a beacon of enlightenment amidst the prevailing darkness of ignorance and indifference. Centered on the portrayal of ‘queer’ identities in the vibrant landscape of North East India, its pages offer a comprehensive exploration of the complexities and challenges faced by this marginalized demographic. While awareness of queer issues may be blossoming in the region, the dearth of literature serves as a poignant reminder of the pressing need for greater social engagement and discourse.

Comprising an anthology of contributions from researchers and scholars, each chapter endeavours to navigate the undiscovered alleys of queer identity with sensitivity and shades. From probing examinations of cultural nuances and identity dynamics to insightful critiques of general homophobia within Assamese society, the book offers a rich compilation of insights and perspectives. Through rigorous research and empathetic inquiry, the authors seek to peel back the layers of societal prejudice and misconceptions, offering readers a deeper understanding of the lived realities of queer individuals.

Namami Sharma’s compelling discourse on homophobia in small-town Assam serves as a stark reminder of the entrenched biases and systemic inequalities that continue to infuse our social fabric. By shining a light on these injustices and advocating for greater awareness and inclusivity, Sharma underscores society’s collective responsibility towards nurturing a more equitable and accepting environment for all its members. It is through such concerted efforts and unwavering commitment that we may begin to dismantle the barriers of prejudice and discrimination that have long hindered the full realization of human dignity and equality.

In intertwining together these diverse narratives and perspectives, the book offers readers a panoramic view of the lives, struggles, and triumphs of queer individuals in the unique context of North East India. From the emergence of queer identities within the cultural landscape to the challenges of navigating societal expectations and prejudices, each chapter serves as a testament to the resilience and courage of those who dare to defy convention and embrace their true selves. Dr. Bibhuti Patel’s commendation of the book as a critical catalyst for encouraging dialogue and understanding among diverse identities speaks to its profound impact and enduring relevance. Grounded in evidence-based research and filled with a deep sense of empathy and compassion, the book stands as a testament to the power of scholarship and advocacy in advancing the cause of equality and justice for all.

First published in


World’s largest literature festival concludes

Einstein World Records gives certificate of achievement

The last day was dedicated to the differently abled writers

More than 850 children of Delhi NCR More took part in the programme ‘Aao Kahani Bune’

New Delhi, 16 March 2024: The Festival of Letters 2024, which is being organized by Sahitya Akademi as the world’s largest literature festival, concluded today. The last day of this six-day festival was dedicated to differently abled writers. To provide national platform to differently abled writers All India Differently Abled Writers’ Meet was organized. To awaken interest in literature among children many competitions were organized for more than 850 children at the programme ‘Aao Kahani Bune’. Today’s other important programmes included “Symposium on the Life and Works of Gopi Chand Narang”, “Translation in a Multilingual, Multicultural Society”, “Preservation of Indian Languages”, “Translation as Rewriting/re-creation in the Indian Context”, “Indian English Writing and Translation”. Apart from this, the ongoing national seminars on “Indian Oral Epics” and “Post-Independence Indian Literature” also concluded.
Considering this six-day festival as the world’s biggest literary festival, today the team of Einstein World Records, Dubai, presented the certificate of a world record in ceremoniously to Sri Madhav Kaushik, Prof. Kumud Sharma and Dr. K. Sreenivasarao, respectively President, Vice President and Secretary, Sahitya Akademi. The certificate mentions the participation of more than 1100 writers in 190 sessions in this world’s largest literature festival that lasted six days and over 175 languages were represented. Delivering the inaugural address at the inaugural session of the All India Differently Abled Writers’ Meet, renowned English scholar Prof. G.J.V. Prasad said that we have to work with awareness and affection in connection with the differently abled. Disability is not congenital but many times we acquire it due to our own ignorance and carelessness. He requested all the differently abled writers to identify their special abilities and work on them, they must achieve their destination. In her presidential address, Vice President of Sahitya Akademi, Prof. Kumud Sharma, while discussing the achievements of the differently abled people in various fields, said that the differently abled people will have to move forward with the energy and courage, only then they will be able to achieve their desired destination.
At the beginning of the inaugural session, Sahitya Akademi Secretary Dr. K. Sreenivasarao while giving the welcome address said that Sahitya Akademi is feeling proud to have differently abled writers from 24 Indian languages present here today. Remembering the great writer and critic Gopichand Narang, a symposium was organized on his literary contribution. The chief guests of which were Sri Gulzar and Narang ji’s wife Manorama Narang. Sri Gulzar in his inaugural address said that the personality and work of Gopi Chand Narang is a beautiful combination of his talent and greatness. The key-note was given by the eminent Urdu scholar Nizam Siddiqui. Sadiqur Rahman Kidwai delivered his speech as the special guest. Sahitya Akademi President Madhav Kaushik presided over. Introductory remarks were made by Sri Chandra Bhan Khayal, Convener of the Urdu Advisory Board. Important writers and scholars who participated in these programmes were – Harish Narang, Damodar Khadse, Anvita Abbi, Rita Kothari, K. Enoch, Debashish Chatterjee, Udaya Narayana Singh, Mamang Dai, Sukrita Paul Kumar, Shafe Kidwai, Shamim Tariq.

(K. Sreenivasarao)

Is anarchy acceptable in the name of artistic freedom? The magic of OTT.

Anant OTT

Book Review by
Utpal Datta

OTT platforms, a new addition to the media, have become competitors to cinema and television programs, raising a few uncomfortable questions. Does OTT concern discern viewers? Is the tasteless and obscene content on OTT platforms a result of the absence of a censor board? Is this the beginning of a dangerous practice for society and culture? Journalist and author Anant Vijay seeks answers to these questions through his Hindi book ‘OTT Ka Mayajal.’ This is his latest book and probably the first Indian book on OTT. Anant Vijay, a national award-winning film critic, journalist, literary critic, and political analyst, reveals all these identities through this book. The writing style reflects more of his journalistic mentality than a writer’s, making the book easy to read, even for non-Hindi-speaking readers familiar with Hindi.

OTT is a platform primarily for movies and similar content. This book mainly discusses programs aired in Hindi. During the pandemic, cinemas were closed, people were under house arrest, and television became the sole means of entertainment for cinema lovers. At the same time, OTT platforms became well-established in the minds of the audience, and OTT directors started planning to provide the audience with a new taste. OTT had old popular movies replaced by new ones, especially those that failed in theatres. At one point, cinemas opened, but due to the limited audience and the popularity of OTT, new Hindi films were released on this platform. Filmmaking for OTT started, and web series in the style of a TV series also began.

Most web series used elements like obscene abuse, violent scenes, and explicit sexual content to attract a larger audience. While censor boards for movies monitor such scenes, many producers took unimaginable liberties due to the lack of controls for OTT, resulting in chaos in the world of creation.

Some directors are notably aggressive, using verbal abuse to grab the audience’s attention. The unhindered and uncontrolled environment of OTT platforms is reflected in his encouragement in the series ‘Sacred Games.’ Anant Vijay rightly comments, ‘When there is no bondage and no need to apologize, freedom turns into anarchy.’ He also wrote, ‘In fact, such people use abuse, violence, and sexual scenes to cover up their incompetence.’

Not only have movies or series been created for the OTT platform with sexually violent elements, but also series with wholesome entertainment and reality. The author balances the subject with detailed discussions of several such series and maintains his responsibilities as an author.

Author Anant Vijay carefully observes and explains the clever construction of a ‘fake narrative’ through OTT programs. The same narrative of anti-Hindu and Muslim praise created in Hindi films is seen differently in OTT. The brains of political power control agendas and promotion tactics under the guise of entertainment. It involves either the creator’s political beliefs or profit motives or the goal of obtaining the blessings of an influential force. When analysing the present from a political perspective, two things are needed – political knowledge of the past and the ability to predict the future in light of it. The author rightly considers the political background while discussing the web series ‘Leila’ by the once-famous filmmaker Deepa Mehta. “Art was turned into a rehearsal ground for politics”. He further elaborates by explaining that this was done after the last two Lok Sabha elections. There are many reasons why a distorted image was created of the political dispensation and promoted by portraying some organizations as radical. It can be assumed that a part of that agenda was Deepa Mehta’s ‘Leila.’ Although ‘Leila’ is told as a fictional story, it combines the, so-called grim future it depicts with the image of the agenda. Anant Vijay has informatively analysed many other such agendas. The web series ‘Jubilee’ also beautifully describes how the Russian Communist Party used Indian films as part of their agenda. The author also refers to Dev Ananda’s autobiography ‘Romancing with Life’ in support of this.

Overall, this book analyses both the artistic work and the process of agenda-building through the latest entertainment medium in depth and can provide the reader with thought. In India, the relationship between art and politics has been judged in a one-sided manner. This book has broken down that wall of limitations. This is the real power of the book.

The book is published by Prabhat Prakashan, and the price is Rs 300. The book must be translated into regional languages.

It is worth mentioning that the author dedicated the book to the Maa Kamakhya Temple and released it for sale.

आपदा-काल में भास का सहारा

‘आपदा को अवसर में बदलना’ – आजकल यह उक्ति प्रायः सुनने को मिल जाती है. आज के समय की जीवित स्मृति में सबसे बड़ी आपदा रही करोना. सब लोग अपने-अपने घरों के अन्दर बन्द हो जाने को मजबूर हो गये थे. ऐसे में, विज्ञान से ले कर नाटक तक हर विषय पर सैंकड़ों-हजारों लोगों ने ‘ऑनलाइन’ या इन्टरनैट पर चर्चा के माध्यम से आपसी सम्बन्ध और संवाद को चलाये रखा, और करोड़ों मनुष्यों के मानसिक सन्तुलन को बनाये रखने में एक प्रशंसनीय भूमिका निभाई!
ऐसी ही एक चर्चा का सहभागी बनने का सौभाग्य मुझे भी मिला. करोना के कालखण्ड में ही ग्वालियर की गीतांजलि गीत ने अपने रंगसमूह ‘मेरा मंच’ के माध्यम से भास के तेरह नाटकों पर भारतरत्न भार्गव के व्याख्यानों की एक श्रृंखला आयोजित की थी. संगीत नाटक अकादमी अमृत सम्मान से सम्मानित, आकाशवाणी, बी.बी.सी. तथा संगीत नाटक अकादमी से जुड़े रहे भारतरत्न भार्गव डॉ. कमलेश दत्त त्रिपाठी तथा कवलम नारायण पणिक्कर जैसे दिग्गजों के साथ काम कर चुके हैं, और सम्प्रति टैगोर फैलोशिप ले कर शोध कर रहे हैं.
इन व्याख्यानों की सबसे रोचक बात रही इनका समय! यह व्याख्यानमाला सायं चार बजे से होती थी. उन दिनों में, काम कोई न होने के कारण हम दोपहर में खाना खा कर सो जाते थे. फिर, चार बजे से कुछ ही पहले नींद खुलती थी, भागते-दौड़ते जैसे-तैसे मैं कंप्यूटर खोलता था, कपड़े पहनता था, पत्नी भी जाग जाती थीं, तब तक भारतरत्न जी का व्याख्यान प्रारम्भ हो चुका होता था! व्याख्यान सुनते-सुनते ही पानी पीता था, चाय आ जाती थी, वह भी पीता रहता था, लगता था कि बिस्कुट खा रहा हूँ, और वह नमकीन होता था; कभी नमकीन के चक्कर में बिस्कुट खा जाता था! करोना काल में बचे हुए हम लोगों की बहुत सी दुखद, लेकिन कुछ मधुर, रोमांचकारी स्मृतियाँ भी हैं! उन्हीं में से एक गीतांजलि गीत द्वारा आयोजित व्याख्यानों की यह श्रृंखला भी थी.
भास के नाट्य-साहित्य पर आधारित इस श्रृंखला का एक अत्यन्त महत्वपूर्ण पक्ष था प्रतिदिन के व्याख्यान के बाद का प्रश्नोत्तर-काल. इसके लिये भार्गव जी ने यथेष्ट समय माँगा, जिसे गीतांजलि ने मुक्तमन से स्वीकार किया. और सच में, यह श्रृंखला गीतांजलि की श्रृंखला न रह कर भार्गव जी और श्रोताओं की श्रृंखला बन गई! बाद में, सभी ने इसे पुस्तक के रूप में प्रकाशित करवाने का सुझाव दिया. अब सेतु प्रकाशन के संस्थापक-संचालक अमिताभ राय ने, जो इस श्रृंखला से प्रारम्भ से ही इससे जुड़े रहे, इन व्याख्यानों तथा प्रश्न और उत्तरों को ‘महाकवि भास का नाट्य वैशिष्ट्य’ नाम से पुस्तक रूप में प्रकाशित किया है. बातचीत की स्वाभाविकता को बनाये रखने, और इसे आत्मीय संस्पर्श देने के उद्देश्य से इसकी भाषा को यथावत रखा गया है, जो पुस्तक को बहुत पठनीय बना देता है.
“ग्यारहवीं–बारहवीं शताब्दी से जो आक्रान्ता आये, उन्होंने तक्षशिला, नालन्दा जैसे विश्वप्रसिद्ध केन्द्रों को ध्वस्त कर दिया, नष्ट कर दिया” – इस प्रकार का क्षोभ प्रकट करने के बाद इन नाटकों को फिर खोज लिये जाने की कहानी भार्गव जी विषय-प्रवेश में सुनाते हैं, और, कि कैसे ये नाटक केरल के देवालयों अर्थात कुताम्बलम में खेले जाते रहे, लेकिन खोज लिये जाने के लगभग सत्तर वर्षों के बाद भी ये नाटक हमारे लिये अपरिचित ही रहे, और कैसे सन 1974 में शान्ता गाँधी के द्वारा भास के ‘स्वप्नवासवदत्ता’ नाटक को अमेरिका के हवाई विश्वविद्यालय में सफलतापूर्वक खेलने पर भारत के लोगों की नींद टूटी, और उनका ध्यान इन नाटकों की ओर गया. भार्गव जी को पणिक्कर जी ने बताया कि केरल में कुड़ियाट्टम, कथक्कली और नाट्यशास्त्र के विद्वान अप्पुकुट्टन नायर ने तभी केरल संगीत नाटक अकादमी के सचिव बने पणिक्कर जी को कुड़ियाट्टम और नाट्यशास्त्र से परिचित करवाया, जिससे पणिक्कर जी संस्कृत नाटकों के प्रति आकृष्ट हुए. बाकी सब तो जाना-पहचाना इतिहास है.
बाद में पणिक्कर जी ने कालिदास संस्कृत अकादमी में ‘मध्यमव्यायोग’ नाटक का मंचन करके उत्तर भारत के लोगों को भास के नाटकों से परिचित करवाया. भार्गव जी बताते हैं कि इन नाटकों की सबसे बड़ी विशेषता है इनके कथानक. कालिदास से पहले के काल में रहे भास के तेरह में से छः नाटक महाभारत पर आधारित हैं. दो नाटक, ‘अभिषेक’ और ‘प्रतिभा’ रामायण पर आधारित हैं. एक नाटक ‘बालचरित’ कृष्ण की कथाओं पर आधारित है. ‘स्वप्नवासवदत्ता’, ‘प्रतिज्ञा यौगन्धरायण’, ‘अविमारक’ और ‘चारुदत्त’, ये चार नाटक उनकी मूल कृतियाँ मानी जाती हैं.
‘मेरा मंच’ के माध्यम से भास के तेरह नाटकों पर व्याख्यानों की श्रृंखला, वहाँ उठे प्रश्न और जिज्ञासाओं, और श्रोताओं की रुचि ने भार्गव जी को इन नाटकों के हिन्दी भाषा में पाठान्तर की भूमिका तैयार कर दी. पाठान्तर वाले भास के इन सभी तेरह नाटकों को सेतु प्रकाशन ने ही ‘भास नाट्य समग्र’ के नाम से छापा है. भास के नाटकों के अन्य अनुवादों या पाठान्तरों और भार्गव जी के पाठान्तर में मूल अन्तर यह है, कि उन्होंने इन नाटकों का पद्यात्मक पाठान्तर किया है. यह पाठान्तर करते समय उन्होंने ‘नाट्यशास्त्र में निर्देशित संहिता के अनुसार’ तनिक छूट भी ली है, जिससे ‘इन नाटकों की समकालीन उपयोगिता में यत्किंचित वृद्धि हो सके’. इसीलिये वे इसे अनुवाद न कह कर पाठान्तर कहते हैं, जिससे कि आंगिक और वाचिक अभिनय में भाव, राग तथा ताल के तात्विक गुणों का समन्वय हो सके. सबसे अच्छी बात है, कि इन दोनों पुस्तकों को पाठकों को उचित मूल्य पर उपलब्ध करवाने के लिये प्रकाशक ने इन्हें पेपरबैक में छापा है, जिससे ये पुस्तकें साधारण जन के लिये बहुत आसानी से सुलभ हो सकेंगी.
भास की विलक्षण प्रतिभा को समझने के लिये ‘महाकवि भास का नाट्य वैशिष्ट्य’ का पढ़ना आवश्यक है! और भास के नाटकों को पढ़ने के लिये दूसरी पुस्तक ‘भास नाट्य समग्र’ का पढ़ना तो आवश्यक है ही! और यदि पाठक ‘भास नाट्य समग्र’ को भास के नाटकों के संस्कृत संस्करणों के साथ रख कर पढ़ेंगे, तो उन्हें इन प्राचीन नाटकों के आज के समय में प्रासंगिक होने का भान हो सकेगा!

Karna’s wife – The Outcaste’s Queen By Kavita Kane

An Overview

Dr. Payal Trivedi

There are events in life we feel we have the RIGHT to change and there are those that make us powerless, Kavita Kane’s novel Karna’s wife – The Outcast’s Queen brings both these facets of life into prominence. As a primary subject matter, the audacity of princess Uruvi to choose Karna, the son of the sutaputra, the charioteer over the royal prince Arjuna as a valiant reformation and comes to the readers as a pleasant surprise. Nonetheless, her powerlessness as a wife to change her husband’s course of improper action is more than evident as Uruvi sees Karna meet the dire consequences of being susceptible to his dutiful adherence towards Duryodhana and his inherent disagreement with the Pandavas.

Despite all her wishful thinking that her husband would come to terms with the truth of being misguided by vengeance towards the Pandavas Uruvi is unable to deviate Karna from the path of his own destruction. This brings us to the acknowledgement of a woman’s opinion being of secondary or negligible importance in a man’s life in spite of it being true. At the same time, Uruvi’s strong denial to be subservient to her man’s choice of being indulgent in his decision of supporting the wrong is a defiance of the conformist notions that subject a woman to blindly consent to her man’s beliefs. When she leaves Karna and opts for a reclusive life away from all the obligations of being a dutiful wife, we see this as the author’s appreciable effort towards dethroning the regular assumptions of modernity towards traditional figures as essentially submissive.

The ending of novel does evoke a sense of resignation towards fate and undoubtedly seems to be a conventional approach towards understanding life. Krishna becomes a clairvoyant messenger in informing Uruvi that she cannot change the predestined fate of her son and cannot escape the massacre of war by just evading the truth of her being a warrior’s wife and her son being the posterity of a royal clan – Angaraj. Nonetheless, this very conventional approach exposes the unspoken or often avoided truth of life as a preordained karmic cycle which is inescapable. While we know for the fact that individual reaps the fruit of one’s own karma, the same fact leads us to acknowledge the fated destiny in case of Karna that brought him to his helpless death end. It is Karna’s own choice that brings his downfall but that same choice was made not out of his own choice to be with the wrong doers. His unfortunate destiny of being Kunti’s illegitimate child was instrumental in shaping up the course of events in his life; an undeniable truth. Kane adopts a more subtle but an effective mode of unravelling the fact of life being a perplexing arena of the constant feud between fate and deeds. This universally pertinent message makes this novel interesting, appealing and even mysteriously absorbing in its own regard.

Bookmark: New Age Theories for Architectural Practice by Prof. Sagar Desai

Architectural Practice

About the Book
This book is based on the practical aspects of Architectural Profession in India, which the students in their final year of Bachelor of Architecture must understand before being exposed to the professional world. This book throws light on various topics in a concise form with simplified understanding. Some of the topics like banking and introduction to financial markets etc. are also included to help the students understand the system of monetary circulation.

The Book has received appreciation from teachers and students alike:
Good to read! Students are finding it engrossing and readable. It highlights important aspects and contemporary developments in the subject. Some readers of the subject have described it as a ready-reckon-er for the students and budding professionals.
Author had made sure that book covers all essential topics. Its a comprehensive compilation of the entire syllabus and very easy to understand. Topics covered are like a to-do list for a young professional:
Chapter 1 Role of an Architect.
Chapter 2 Duties, Powers and Functions of Architects.
Chapter 3 Professional Works & Scale of Charges.
Chapter 4 Valuation & Introduction of banking & Financial Markets.
Chapter 5 Contracts, Tenders & introduction to Easements.
Chapter 6 Opening an Architect`s Office, from Small to Mid-Size.

About the Author
Prof. Sagar Desai is currently working as an Associate Professor, at P P Savani University, Surat. He graduated from SCET (Sarvajanik College of Engineering & Technology), Surat and pursued his Post Graduation from CEPT University, Ahmedabad. He is also an IGBC-AP (Indian Green Building Council-Accredited Professional). With an extensive experience in academia & as a professional he has also contributed at Calcutta Riverside Project. As a researcher his area of interest is smart cities and published many papers on the same. He is actively involved in Institutional Consultancy Projects at various places and also in the board of certain international institutes for research paper reviews. Not only this he has also pursued PG Diploma in Urban Planning and Environmental Development & Sustainability. He is in continues process of knowledge gaining and sharing through workshops and lecture series like GICEA (The Gujarat Institute of Civil Engineers & Architects).

Preface by the Author
It gives me great pleasure to introduce this book for Architecture students studying Professional Practice. Often, I have observed that the professor in the class keeps talking about contracts although he may be explaining it very well but the students does not seem to understand. After thorough introspection I realized that its now time to add few more topics to the entire subject like, to understand contract and its formation better. One needs to understand what a company is? What banking and financial markets are? This is an effort where utmost care is taken to be precise, to the point and include only what an architect is required to understand. The main audiences of this book are students studying Professional Practice in their final year. Many difficult topics are simplified. This is an effort by an architect for the upcoming architects to understand the scenario better.

Mail: sagardesai80887@yahoo.com

Its available on amazon

Aneeta Chitale: Sojourn to Maldives – Book Review / Interview

Book Cover: Sojourn to Maldives

Manohar Khushalani: You are a poetess at heart Aneeta Chitale, and, with an anthology to be released soon, how did you think of writing a novel?

Ans.  I have been penning poems since the age of eleven. I used to write and keep them as treasures! I was a bit shy I think when it came to presenting it. But I had strong streaks of an artist; I was very active in theatre and writing, even during my Pune University days. 

Q2. Can you tell more about your journey as an: “ Appreciated Poet-from India”. You have just received “Gujarat Sahitya Academy Certificate from Government of India Year 2020- and Motivational Strips” the largest Forum for writers all over the world.

Ans. I have been very fortunate to write poems on varied topics, especially on the environment, unprecedented times of the Covid 19 – where life has become a challenge to lead a normal lifestyle. I wrote on a wonderful theme: ‘Striving For Survival’ collection of my poems OPA Forum, out of which three of my poems have featured in OPA International Magazine this year. I am happy to say that my poems were selected from more than 600 + poems from Global Poets-

Most of my poems are on Europe’s most acclaimed ‘atunis.portal’. I am most humbled by The Chief Editor Sir Agron Shele’

My poems ‘ The Three Witches’,’ Gypsy’ and ‘Rhapsody’ made waves. The Best Poets almost 162- contributed to a Quarterly OPA@ E- magazine/Print Year-2020 & For the month –July 2020. And the best part was I have got accolades & given an ‘International Spot Light- from The Government of Seychelles – Island and by World’s Largest Forum Motivational Strips.’ My three poems were widely read: Devi, Grasshopper and Himalayas.

I give my sincere ‘Thanks’ to Ms. Maggie Vijay Kumar & Sir Shiju H. Pallithzeth Founder President of (MS) Motivational Strips.

Recently on 17th August 2020, I received the news that my writings; my novel “Sojourn To Maldives” and poems have been ‘Globally’ appreciated and in India as well overseas. I also write in ‘Bi-Lingual’ journals. Have contributed to few journals especially in Egypt and Greece.

Aneeta Chitale : Author

Q3. You have been associated with the teaching profession for the last twenty years in different countries. How did writing happen to you amid such a demanding lifestyle?

Ans. I have been lucky enough to have travelled to different foreign countries like Sultanate of Oman, UK, and The Republic of Maldives during my long service, in teaching filed. When you are working abroad, you have to work hard and cope up with the international standards, and which is highly qualitative work according to the quality frameworks. I have taught to the ‘Sophomores’ which again is very challenging, but at the same time very eclectic I should say. I was always on new locations and amidst the ‘multi-cultural’ society, which provoked me to write. I had been writing in my diary all along. It was only recently, I could write the full novel. I had to write brick by brick, I must admit.

Q4. Having travelled to various countries across the globe; why did you choose Maldives as the setting of your debut novel, ‘Sojourn to Maldives’?

Ans.  The Republic of Maldives  is an archipelagos, it is formed by a chain of tiny islands; one thousand, one hundred and ninety-nine islands. It’s situated to the south west of India, in the Indian Ocean. It has bioluminous beaches and most exotic water villas, in the whole world. I was mesmerized by the turquoise   green waters and the   serenity, and its unique topography. Some islands are absolutely remote and miniscule and situated in the deep ocean. When I saw all this, I was fascinated and I knew this was the going to haunt me.  Much later, it emerged as a backdrop for my debut novel.  Maldives is famous for adventure- water sports

Q5. How is the story of Aari, and Brad in ‘Sojourn to Maldives’ different from the run of the mill romance?

Ans. The protagonist in the novel, Aari is a strong willed woman of today, who has embarked her professional journey on the islands of Maldives. She is an ‘expatriate’ who   faces many challenges in her personal and professional life. She explores the new found land. She meets Bard Marquez, a Spaniard, who is an ‘International Champion’ a wind surfer, on these exotic islands; quite by chance the romance blossoms.  But the islands of Maldives have a political unrest and fate plays its part. Brad is an adventure freak, an   novum and Aari an aficionado of altruism! The relationship has a roller coaster ride! It is for the readers to find out. I would say.

Q6. What kind of research you had to conduct before writing this book which touches on the “political dimensions” between the two counties- India and The Republic of Maldives?

Ans. I had to do extensive research, as my novel is set in the backdrop of the Indian Ocean. The life on the ocean and especially on the remote island; is in total contrast compared to the urban lifestyle I have lived in India. The ocean routes, the seafarer’s and the boat journeys, was minutely, studied by me. The Muslim culture is the fabric woven in this novel. The social, cultural and religious beliefs and sentiments are much valued, respected and penned by me. The ‘Political Crisis’ is the discerning perspective here and it is a glaring reality, portrayed by me.

Q7. As an Indian author, writing a novel of this magnitude depicting an era of ‘Political Turbulence’ how difficult was it for you to incorporate the real – socio cultural milieu in your novel?

Ans.  This writing is not just a piece of fiction but it has charted the ‘International Boundaries and routes’ inked with skirmish between India and Maldives. Being a neighbor, have its pros and cons.

The turbulent times between the years spanning from 2008 to 2014 is presented on the canvas. The relations between the two countries were totally raptured in this era. The entire plethora of Indian nationals and foreigners   had gone berserk. I had to study it in detail and follow it consistently.

Q8. Your bio describes you as a ‘Solo Traveller’ round the globe. How has this helped you groom as a Poet/author?

  I got my highs and lows both in this journey as a teacher.  But ‘Highs’ has a price tag too! One learns to be more independent minded, be more brave and learn to face challenges with a smile! As an ‘Expatriate Teacher’ you have to walk on the unchartered routes be it on an ocean or a desert. You have to walk that extra-mile.  I had to face many obstacles too and the moment you leave your native country, and after the initial euphoria has died, one is left in a vacuum. That time is most difficult and one has to mature as a person. Being solo – as my son was very young that time. And I had to leave him in India with my parents and my husband. One learns from the book of life! There is no gain without pain.

Q9.  With an anthology to be soon published how did you think of writing a novel?

Ans.  I have been penning poems since the age of eleven. I used to write and keep them as treasures! I was a bit shy I think, when it came to presenting it. But I had strong streaks of an artist; I was very active in theatre and writing, even during my Pune University days.  But this novel is a surprise for me. I had my stories talking to me.  Writing a book is a huge task. I had the passion for writing for sure. Being an artist has always paved my way to success. I have done a small role in a Marathi movie when I was 21 years old.

Q10. You have written a story on ‘India’s Bi-Lateral Relations with Maldives’. Can you shed some light on this international relationship between the two countries?

Ans. Maldives is our neighboring country and has got a great strategic importance in ‘The Indian Ocean’. The recent political crisis had turned the friendly ties, into a feud with this nation.  There was a dark patch that altered the relations between the two neighboring counties for more than a decade. But India has always been very helpful and friendly. The other great powers, like China had a major role to play a gambit. But the bilateral relations were handled very sensitively by the Indian High Commissioner and Ambassador India, His Highness Dnyaneshwar Mulay -To the Republic of Maldives. Indian High Commission did a commendable job then. Indian Defence Services did a brilliant job, with the precision of eagle’s eye.

  One has to read the story, to know about it.

Q11. In this book you have touched on ‘global the water’ crisis?  Do you think this is a burning question even in Maldives?

Ans.  The one thousand and one hundred and ninety one islands of Maldives   have its own fate to face. With the sea levels rising everyday a great climatic shift is going to happen any time in future. The land which is habitable is only 300 kms and the mineral   water is most scare here. One has to depend on the two monsoons- this country gets annually. The rain water is the most treasured resource and some islands are totally isolated and if the water perishes there is no future for these islands. Rain water harvesting is a great practice Water is a Global Crisis. Indeed.

Q12. Which authors have influenced you the most in your journey as a writer?

Ans. I have be most impressed with the writings of Khushwant Singh, Girish Karnad, JK Rowling. Poets like Pablo Naruda , S. Coleridge, Maya Angelou and Rabindranath Tagore.

Margaret Mitchell, William Shakespeare. I have always loved reading Henrik Ibsen’s plays.

Q13. With a large number of paperbacks, as well as ebooks being published, how difficult is it for the emerging authors/ poets to sustain the competition?

Ans. I think writing world has got its highest spurt now and the eBooks and paperbacks are both equally, relevant in todays’ fast paced, high tech world.  It is a healthy world, where one has both the choices available. But it’s always a great pleasure, to hold the fresh mint paperback copy in your hands. New authors have to learn to ride over this wave.

Q14.  In today’s publishing world, a constant debate is going on about ‘Traditional vs Self-Publication’, what is your take on this?

Ans. I am sure the new authors/poets have a great choice to make and enjoy the benefits of Self-Publishing too. One can be happy to self-publish his/ her work, than be frustrated about not being approved by the traditional publishing houses.  Both has it’s plus and minus points, I feel.

Q15.  What is the message you would like to convey to the budding authors/ poets?

Ans.  If you have the skill and desire to write you must write and not be in a dilemma, should I or shouldn’t I write?  You must follow your heart’s passion. Writing should be a long term affair. There is no short cut to success.

Leading scholar of Indian classical dance, architecture, art history, culture Kapila Vatsyayan no more

Kapila Vatsyayan in her younger days.

Dr Kapila Vatsyayan passed away peacefully at her residence (No.85, SFS Flats, Gulmohar Enclave, New Delhi), Wednesday 16th September, 2020 at about 0900 hrs, this morning, . She was a leading scholar of Indian classical dance, art, architecture, and art history. Many people felt she was the most authoritative commentator on these subjects.

She was formerly a member of parliament and also served as Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of Education, where she was responsible for the establishment of a large number of national institutions of higher education. She served as the founding director of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. She was former President of India International Centre (IIC) and an IIC Life Trustee and the Chairperson of the IIC International Research Division. Bornon 25 December 1928 she was over 91 when she passed away

In 1970, Vatsyayan received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship, the highest honour conferred by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s national academy for music, dance and drama; this was followed by the Lalit Kala Akademi Fellowship, the highest honour in the fine arts conferred by Lalit Kala Akademi, India’s national academy for fine arts in 1995. In 2011, the Government of India bestowed upon her the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian honour.

Lamenting her demise, Film actor Sharmila Tagore said “I guess the final curtain comes to us all. I too have had some endearing moments with her.There was so much to learn from her.I admired & was inspired by her. Today where do we see people like her? With her knowledge & drive?Who is there to appreciate her legacy?”

About Charan Das Sidhu and his Plays by Manohar Khushalani

Dr. C. D. Sidhu

Shakespeare’s Daughter & Other Plays

Shakespeare's Daughter & Other Plays
College Will Be Closed Tomorrow

This article was supposed to be a book review, but because one had known the playwright, Dr. Charan Das Sidhu, so intimately, the personal note is unavoidable. My mind races back to 1978 when I started my theatre career with Badal Sircar’s ‘There is No End’ an English rendition of his Bengali play ‘Shesh Nei’ directed by Tejeshwar Singh. Among the elite IIC Theatre Club audience was a stocky, dark, bespectacled professor of English from Hans Raj College, Delhi University, who spoke in what I later came to know as his irreverently rude but affectionate style. I saw this gentleman again in the next play that I acted in; Utpal Dutt’s Chayanat directed by Rati Bartholomew, and also the next and the next. Out of the 47 odd plays that I acted in, he was invariably there in the audience. This is not to suggest that he was a fan of mine or a critic who was following my career vigorously. I saw him invariably in the audience even in the hundreds of plays in which I too was in the audience. Dr. C.D. Sidhu was an avid theatre connoisseur who can take your breath away by the intensity and seriousness with which he follows theatre of all kinds, good bad and ugly. No wonder that when the Sahitya Akademi Award winner set out to write his first play in his mother tongue, Punjabi, it had to have the wisdom of so much theatre distilled into his script.

May 1979 was the first time I saw the play ‘Bhajno’, written, produced and directed by Dr. Sidhu was in ‘theth’ (pure) Punjabi as it is spoken in rural Punjab. It was a refreshing experience. Because it was very different from the urban Punjabi dialect one had heard all the time in Delhi. The spoken dialect was earthy and one became aware for the first time of the great depth in this vivacious language. The same can be said about his other plays such as Baba Bantu. These plays were also staged at a time when Punjabi theatre had got associated with double entendres. By contrast his theatre came like a breath of fresh air. Writers Workshop has come out with an English translation of his collected works under the title ‘Shakespeare’s Daughter & other plays’ and who could be more competent than the English professor to do it himself. In fact he is also a well known expert on GBS and his book The Pattern of Tragicomedy in Bernard Shaw (published by Bahri and Sons) is a study on Shaw’s dramatic work in the light of his theory of drama in general and of tragicomedy in particular. Some of his students, like Vinod Dua, swear by him as an English literature teacher. “He introduced me to Shaw whose ‘outlook to life’ and Dr. Sidhu’s ‘act of life’ have been a great source of inspiration for me.” Vinod also recalls that although Sidhu was a MA PhD from University of Wisconsin, he wasn’t a victim of snobbery. In fact he had no hesitation in even teaching English BA pass course students – something that lesser qualified Professors would consider infra dig. In those early days of theatre funds were not easily available (not that things have changed radically now) Sidhu was known to have produced his plays by withdrawing funds from his provident fund. Sidhu has been awarded both as a playwright and as a Director. Although opinion about him as a director may vary, there are no two opinions about his abilities as a playwright.

While the scope of this review is not to go into each of the plays in great depth but one will dwell briefly on them in general Indumati and Satyadev was the first play that Dr. Sidhu wrote, way back in 1973 but it saw the light of day many years later. It was planned as a sequel to Kalidas’s Shakuntala. On the surface it appears to be about conflict between Aryans and Tribals. It inks some of his early thoughts about nations, war, peace, truth & falsehood. He has used Icons like Rama, Ravana, Krishna, Manu, Chanakya freely to project the viewpoints they represent and some times his own opinions about the way the lead their life. Laxman is the devoted keeper of his brother, Rama, whose wife he worships while neglecting his own Baba Bantu is about a feudal lord Sarban and his terrorizing a bonded labourer, Bantu, who is also an expert on curing people from snake bites. Bantu has been blessed with these powers on the condition that he cannot refuse to cure anybody of snake bites. While the Landlord sexually exploits Bantu’s daughter, Satti, the landlord’s wife does the same to his son, Bihari – using him as a sex object. In a series of twists and turns, Bihari is electrocuted and Sarban snake bitten but Bantu refuses to heal the oppressor and loses his power of healing in the process. The College Will Be Closed Tomorrow is a seething expose of University politics that cuts mercilessly across political as well as hierarchic divide. Built around a sex scandal and a suicide, it spares neither the leftist nor the rightist, neither the teacher nor the student. Each of the scripts is radical and also radically different from each other. Shakespeare’s Daughter is about the personal renaissance of a newly married Kamla who overcomes her timidity and shyness to emerge as a bold and daring writer thanks to a visitation of William Shakespeare in her dream. The girl is beset with typical in-law problems related to Dowry taunts and blames of Infertility but finally dares to leave her husband – her famous last line to her husband, Dwarka, “I may be a sinner. With Shakespeare’s King Henry V I repeat:

But if it be a sin to covet honour
I am the most offending soul alive
I will continue to commit this sin!
I will continue to covet honour!
All my life!

That thought in fact seems to be the basic string in all his plays. The search for dignity truth and honour