Friday, August 28, 2009

Unplugged: Lata Mangeshkar


28 August 2009, 12:00am IST


A Krishna devotee, she believes receiving love is the greatest thing... Her mother once said, "The more she suffers, the more her art excels".


Lata Mangeshkar was born at home on September 28, 1929 in Indore in a Maharashtrian Brahmin household. Her father was Deenanath Mangeshkar (Maharashtrian) and her mother Shudhamati (Gujarati). Deenanath was earlier married to Narmada, daughter of a wealthy business family from Gujarat. Their daughter was named Lata, who survived only nine months!

She loved riding the bicycle but never owned one. Her first car was a grey Hillman for Rs 8,000! Today, she drives in a Merc gifted by Yash Chopra.

Her first public performance was at age nine, in 1938 at Nutan theatre, Sholapur. She sang Raag Khambavati and two Marathi songs.


She's a fan of Bond movies. Her favourite film is The King and I, which she saw 16 times! Her favourite Hindi films are Trishul, Madhumati, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge, Sholay, Seeta Aur Geeta. She's seen Kismet over 50 times.


She never liked make-up and lights. Though she agreed to trim her eyebrows and hair for the film Pahili Mangalagaur, she broke down later.


She was allowed to sing only K L Saigal songs at home. Her father preferred classical music.


She bought her first radio when she was 18. But when she turned it on, the first thing she heard was K L Saigal had died. She returned it!


In the early days, she and Hemant Kumar used the same microphone. She had a problem singing with him because he was much taller than her and she needed a small box or stool to stand on to sing.


In 1962, she fell very ill and thought she would never be able to sing again. Medical reports revealed she was being slow poisoned by the cook, who sneaked off without collecting his pay.


She likes very spicy food with lots of chillies. She used to eat raw chillies, 12 at a time.


Once, while travelling by train to Bombay Talkies, Kishore Kumar, who got on at Mahalaxmi station, sat in her compartment and also hired a taanga there. She thought he was following her. That day they sang their first duet 'Ye kaun aya re karke sola singar' for Ziddi...


Loves to visit Los Angeles where she spends her nights playing the slot machines and drinking Coca-Cola!


The songstress maintained a diary for years. She wrote some stories and songs in Hindi but one day decided there was no point and tore it all up!


Lata went to school only for a day. When she was scolded by her teacher for bringing 10-month-old Asha to the class, she left never to return.


Self-taught, she learnt the alphabet and the basics from the family servant.


Her unfulfilled desires - never having met K L Saigal and never being able to sing for Dilip Kumar!


She likes listening to Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Nat King Cole and The Beatles.


Dilip Kumar once said, "Is she Maharashtrian? Their Urdu pronunciation isn't correct and in their singing you can smell daalbhaat." Though terribly hurt, Lata started learning Urdu.


The melody queen loves photography. Her first camera was a Rolleiflex for Rs 1,200. A dog-lover, she once owned nine pet dogs, much to the chagrin of her mother.


She loves diamonds and emeralds. She got her first diamond ring in 1947 for Rs 700. She designed it herself. Doesn't like gold much but wears gold payals.


Lata is a perfectionist. She begins orchestra rehearsals two months prior to a concert. If a musician makes a mistake, she smiles to say "It happens. Carry on."


She was close to Nargis and Meena Kumari. She liked their ghagras and saris and often visited Nargis at home. She's fond of Nimmi, Sulochana, Waheeda Rehman and Rekha.


Madhubala had it put in her contract that Lata would sing for her.

Monday, August 17, 2009

(Taken from a Mailing List. A tribute to teachers.)

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, 'What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?'

He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers: 'Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.'

To stress his point he said to another guest; 'You're a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?'

Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, 'You want to know what I make? (She paused for a second, and then began...) 'Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.

I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honour.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make them sit for 5 minutes without an I Pod, Game Cube or movie rental.

(She paused and looked at each and every person at the table.)

''I make kids wonder. I make them question. I make them apologize and mean it. I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions. I teach them to write and then I make them write. Keyboarding isn't everything. I make them read, read, read. I make them show all their work in math. They use their God given brain, not the man-made calculator. I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know in English while preserving their unique cultural identity. I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe. I make my students stand, placing their hand over their heart to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, One Nation Under God, because we live in the United States of America. Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.' (Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.)

'Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn't everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant.... . You want to know what do I make? I MAKE A DIFFERENCE. What do you make Mr. CEO?' His jaw dropped, he went silent.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Deflating Water Sources

When we think of the water-shortage in local terms, it looks that there is no problem. We have enough water around. But shift from a local to a global water perspective, and the terms dramatically change. The World Bank reports that 80 countries now have water shortages that threaten health and economies while 40 percent of the world — more than 2 billion people — have no access to clean water or sanitation. In this context, we cannot expect water conflicts to always be amicably resolved. That is why, it is said that the third world-war may happen on account of deflating water from the Blue Planet.

Sandra Postel's book, "Pillar of Sand: Can the Irrigation Miracle Last?" explores 8,000 years of irrigation history and discusses whether irrigation can feasiblely be used to feed the world's population as it approaches seven billion. The dramatic increase in population is accompanied by depletion of groundwater supplies, inadequacy of surface water supplies, salination of land, and conversion of agricultural land to other uses. None of these developments is conducive to irrigated agriculture. Meanwhile growers maintain the status quo because it is uneconomical to invest in major new water schemes. According to the author the problem of food supply will not be solved by increasing agriculture acreage or productivity since water is the limiting factor. The book includes many charts and graphs that show increases in irrigated acreage, changes in water supplies, etc.

It is worth-mentioning here that more than a dozen nations receive most of their water from rivers that cross borders of neighboring countries viewed as hostile. There is a dispute between India and Bangladesh over the sharing of Ganges water. Likewise, the identical situation is with Pakistan in the Kashmir region. Other such examples include Botswana, Bulgaria, Cambodia, the Congo, Gambia, the Sudan, and Syria, all of whom receive 75 percent or more of their fresh water from the river flow of often hostile upstream neighbors. In the Middle East, a region marked by hostility between nations, obtaining adequate water supplies is a high political priority. For example, water has been a contentious issue in recent negotiations between Israel and Syria. In recent years, Iraq, Syria and Turkey have exchanged verbal threats over their use of shared rivers. (It should come as no surprise to learn that the words "river" and "rival" share the same Latin root; a rival is "someone who shares the same stream.")

It is easy to forget that fresh water is a life-or-death issue in many parts of the world. Of a population of roughly 6.1 billion, more than 1 billion lack access to potable water. The World Health Organization says that at any time, up to half of humanity has one of the six main diseases -- diarrhea, schistosomiasis, or trachoma, or infestation with ascaris, guinea worm, or hookworm -- associated with poor drinking water and inadequate sanitation. About 5 million people die each year from poor drinking water, poor sanitation, or a dirty home environment -- often resulting from water shortage.

A prime cause of the global water concern is the ever-increasing world population. As populations grow, industrial, agricultural and individual water demands escalate. According to the World Bank, world-wide demand for water is doubling every 21 years, more in some regions. Water supply cannot remotely keep pace with demand, as populations soar and cities explode.

Population growth alone does not account for increased water demand. Since 1900, there has been a six-fold increase in water use for only a two-fold increase in population size. This reflects greater water usage associated with rising standards of living it also reflects potentially unsustainable levels of irrigated agriculture. World population has recently reached six billion and United Nation's projections indicate nine billion by 2050. What water supplies will be available for this expanding population?

Meanwhile many countries suffer accelerating desertification. Water quality is deteriorating in many areas of the developing world as population increases and salinity caused by industrial farming and over-extraction rises. About 95 percent of the world's cities still dump raw sewage into their waters.

Climate change represents a wild card in this developing scenario. If, in fact, climate change is occurring — and most experts now concur that it is — what effect will it have on water resources? Some experts claim climate change has the potential to worsen an already gloomy situation. With higher temperatures and more rapid melting of winter snowpacks, fewer water supplies will be available to farms and cities during summer months when demand is high.

A technological solution that some believe would provide ample supplies of additional water resources is desalination. In India, some effort has been initiated in this direction. Some researchers fault the United States for not providing more support for desalination research. Once the world leader in such research, this country has abdicated its role, to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Japan. There are approximately 11,000 desalination plants in 120 nations in the world, 60 percent of them in the Middle East. Others argue that a market approach to water management would help resolve the situation by putting matters on a businesslike footing. They say such an approach would help mitigate the political and security tensions that exacerbate international affairs. For example, the Harvard Middle East Water Project wants to assign a value to water, rather than treat rivers and streams as some kind of free natural commodity, like air.

Other strategies to confront the growing global water problem include slowing population growth, reducing pollution, better management of present supply and demand and, of course, not to be overlooked, water conservation. As Sandra Postel writes in her book, Last Oasis, "Doing more with less is the first and easiest step along the path toward water security."

Ultimately, however, an awareness of the global water crisis should serve to put our own water concerns in perspective. We've seen projections that three billion people -- half of today's population -- will be short of water in 2025. In India, around one billion people are dependent on irrigation for agriculture and hence, water is being over pumped, and the soil is growing saltier through contamination with irrigation water. Irrigation was a key to increasing food production in India during the green revolution, and as the population surges toward a projected 1.363 billion in 2025, its crops will continue to depend on clean water and clean soil. The time has come when we have to conserve water through all possible means. We have to stop just wasting water in futile activities like washing of cars, having three baths a day; ignoring running taps as well as leakages etc. we have also to learn that the rivers are like our mothers. Let us not fill them with dirt and contamination. Let us begin worship them again. Then only the water crisis can be contained.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A tribute to a Genius musician

PTISunday, July 26, 2009 12:34 IST
Pune: Eminent music director and sitarist Bhaskar Chandavarkar died of cancer here early this morning. He was 73.

Chandavarkar, a reputed academician who blended Indian classical and Western music in his work, was a disciple of Pandit Ravi Shankar.

He composed the musical scores for about 40 films in Hindi, Marathi, and Malayalam. He won acclaim for the innovative music he composed for the landmark Marathi play Ghashiram Kotwal, written by Vijay Tendulkar and directed by Jabbar Patel in the early 1970s.

Known for his academic proficiency, Chandavarkar taught music at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) here for 15 years and was a popular teacher for his insightful sessions that unfolded the intricate nuances of both Indian classical and Western music.

A recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1988, Chandavarkar also scored the music in many offbeat films like Amol Palekar's Aakrit and Jabbar Patel's Saamna and Sinhasan. His other films include Thodasa Rumaani Ho Jaye, Kairi, Raosaheb, and Mati Mai.

The music he scored for PL Deshpande's Marathi play Teen Paishacha Tamasha won him kudos for his experimental yet pleasing compositions.

Jabbar Patel paid tribute to Chandavarkar saying the world of music had lost an exceptionally creative artist who was known for his profound study of various domains.

Chandavarkar, who was ailing for the last couple of years, is survived by his wife and son.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Man without moral valuesIs a beast

Gandhiji has once said that it is important to achiev the destination but equally important are the means which have been used to achieve them. However, in the present circumstances, we seem to have forgotten this important observation of the great Mahatma. Twenty-first Century is the manifestation of speed and technology. In this era, most of the time we do not even think in the terms of the means. Our only objective is to achieve the target by hook or by crook. For instance, whenever we purchase something, our attention is upon its techno making. The decision of something being modern is taken on these two criteria: the speed and the technology. In this era of speed and technology, our sensitivities have dried up. We have been indifferent to our moral growth. Traditionally acclaimed moral values have since been forgotten. It does not matter to us if the tasks before us are unethical or immoral ones. In the futile race of money, power and defeating others, somewhere we have defeated our own morality. The stream of compassion and sympathy is fast drying up. That is why; we see so much violence over the print as well as the electronic media and our hearts do not cry. Instead, we enjoy such news. Is not it a shame upon us? Is not it the proof that we have forgotten our real values? This is one great point to understand. And let me tell you that without the moral values, man becomes like an beast. There is no difference between the man and the beast except we the human beings have culturally developed and the beasts have not. Our culture and civilization is nothing but a convention of empathy and affection. It teaches us to love others it directs to help those who are in need and it makes us accountable for those whom we did not help when they were in need and we were in a position to help them.

This sense of love for others is expressed in the various places in the great Indian culture. The famous verse that declares, "may all be happy, may all be healthy, may all be noble, let nobody feel sad", is a perfect example of these moral values which we are observing for around five thousand years. However, in last hundred years, this great heritage of ethical character has weakened. The reasons for the weakening of the tradition of moral values are numerous. Not a single point can be held responsible for this. The main thing is that we have forgotten our real goal. We have forgotten that the real character of the human beings is to love the fellow beings. It is not in the habit of us to hate and kill others. It is the nature of the beasts. We have the real knowledge to learn and teach others the feeling of "live and let live". Therefore, it is very crucial that we should find the reasons of this demoralization and the degradation amongst us.

In fact, unless we investigate the same, we are not able to develop the skills of morality. We have to be honest in our approach of investigating the reasons of loss of the morality. There is a greater need than ever to inculcate the moral education in the heart of our adolescents.


What are moral values?


The moral values are discussed in detail but one is not clear about the definition of the same. Morality is related to our soul. The soul is abstract and hence cannot be expressed in the material terms. Therefore, it is not easy to define the moral values. In essence, all that is good is moral and all that is bad is immoral. But the next question arises whether what is good and what is not. There is an old saying which tells that whatever is sad for others is bad and whatever gives happiness to others is good. We are taught that we should live for the service of others and not for just our own self. We are told that we should not tell a lie. But whenever there is need we do not hesitate to tell a lie. If need arises, we do not even hesitate to make others unhappy. So there is a kind of hypocrisy in our behaviour.

The point is how this hypocrisy can be ended. The main idea is to look into our own behaviour. If the behaviour we expect from others is the same that we have for others, there is nothing wrong. But the problem is that we expect of others that they should do well to us and we forget to reciprocate the same to them. If we can change our behaviour and tell ourselves that love begets love, the problems of today's world would be over.