Human Rights for Paparazzi

Recently the Chhattisgarh government decided to give a knockout punch to the Naxalites with the help of K.P.S.Gill and our friend Praful Bidwai came out strongly against it. He was sure that this police action would violate the human rights of Adivasis. For once he has not come out against the human rights violations by the Naxalites.

This model of opposing police action, while remaining silent on brutality and murder by terrorists is not just the trade mark of Naxal supporters like Bidwai, but also of many human rights organizations. While organizations like Amnesty International scream about police and state violence all around the world, not a word comes out of their mouth against terrorists, dictators and warlords.

If an award has to be given to a human rights organization for being ridiculous, then it has to go to the one in Namibia. Angelina Jolie recently gave birth to a baby in Namibia and the paparazzi have been camping there to get photographs of the celebrity parents and the baby. The couple wanted privacy and they got it there.

Bodyguards and undercover Namibian police officers shielded the celebrity parents from journalists, erecting green cloth screens around the beach resort where they stayed. A local human rights group accused the security services of using “heavy-handed tactics” to keep the paparazzi at bay. [Hello! sues over Jolie photo leak]

Now we know Namibia is so peaceful and quiet, except for this brutality against the paparazzi.

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A Tale of Two Movies

Aamir Khan recently came out with a statement that people affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam should be rehabilitated.

“The BJP is saying I’m against the dam and against Gujarat but I’m not against the dam. What I’m saying is that the people who have been affected by the dam should be rehabilitated,” Aamir said late on Friday, during an interview with the a television news channel. [I'm neither against Narmada dam nor Gujarat: Aamir]

He also came out against the Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the recent violence in Vadodara and the riots few years back.

it is (Vadodara incident) very sad and what happened in Gujarat a few years ago was also equally unfortunate. It’s a shame that the administration is not able to control the situation there and it is resulting in deaths of innocent people,’ according to a BBC transcript of the interview.[Aamir Khan slams Narendra Modi]

All these statements did not go well with some Gujaratis. The BJP threatened to disrupt the screening of the movie in the country. Members of a student wing of Congress Party staged a demonstration and burned posters of Aamir’s latest film Fanaa, smashed bottles of a soft drink endorsed by the actor and urged people to boycott all products promoted by the actor.The Cinematograph Exhibitors Association of Gujarat has decided not to show the movie unless Aamir Khan apologizes for his remarks.

This “mob censorship” in a state ruled by the BJP was enough to get all the familiar secularists all worked up. Shabana Azmi heard only about the protests by the BJP activists and not by the Congress and she got all worked up. Mahesh Bhatt, approached the Supreme Court asking for police protection in those movie halls, which was willing to show the movie.

There is another state sponsored censorship going on in India. The Da Vinci Code, which was cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification was banned in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Meghalaya and Nagaland. Coming out in support of Aamir Khan, this is what Shabana had to say

It is the State’s business to ensure that those citizens who wish to see the film should have the freedom to do so. No political party has the right to jeopardise a film that has been duly cleared by the central board of film certification”.[Shabana Azmi, in defence of Aamir Khan]

For her, these priciples do not apply in the Da Vinci case. When political parties are dictating that a vast majority cannot see a movie assuming that a miniscule minority could be offended, such defenders of “free speech” are nowhere to be seen. People who got so angry over the so called “state sponsored violence” in Gujarat are silent when the state is supressing a movie elsewhere. These are the real communalists we should be careful of.

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Da Vinci arrives in Kerala

As Kuttan notes, The Da Vinci Code has been released in Kerala. Kerala has a large Christian population, which wields political power, but the Govt. was not retarded like the ones in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Punjab.

The film, whose screening has been banned or suspended in five states, was released in both English and a dubbed Malayalam version in 11 theatres in Kerala.

Long queues were seen for booking tickets for all four shows at Sridhar cinema hall here.

“The telephones are continuously ringing and all tickets have been sold out,” said manager Ramkumar. “This is the only film after ‘Titanic ‘ which has received so many enquiries.”

Catholics have, however, reacted “coldly” to the film, Father Paul Thelekkat, spokesperson of the Syro Malabar church, said. ['The Da Vinci Code' released in Kerala]

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Whose bricks are these

The Haryana Archaeology Department found something significant recently – some huge bricks 4500 years old.

Huge bricks belonging to the ancient Indian Kushan Dynasty have been found near the famous Kurukshetra battlefield, around which the Indian epic, Mahabharata, involving a fatricidal conflict between the Pandavas and Kauravas, is centered. [4,500 year-old bricks found near `Mahabharata' battlefield Kurukshetra]

Around 4500 years back, Indus Valley Civilization was in existence in the region. The Kushan Empire existed from 1st – 3rd centuries. Either the archaeologists or newspaper reporters have no clue about the chronology of Indian history.

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Parvathi gets her head back

In Hindu mythology, there are many stories about how Ganesha got his elephant head. One of them says that Lord Shiva cut off the head in a fit of anger and was adivced by Brahma to replce it with the head of the first living being he came across. Recently, Parvathi, Ganesha’s mother also got her head back and thankfully, it was the same one she lost.

This believe-it-or-not story comes from Cambodia, where once the statue of Parvathy was decapitated in the 15th century. This headless body was taken by French Archaeologists and exhibited in Paris.

Last autumn, the museum held an exhibition on Vietnamese art which paid tribute in its catalogue to a retired American diplomat, John Gunther Dean. The catalogue recounted Mr Dean’s efforts, as ambassador to Cambodia in the early 1970s, to rescue ancient Khmer art from the ravages of the Khmer Rouge, which was determined to expunge all record of Cambodia’s past.

To thank the museum, Mr Dean, now 80, offered a gift from his own collection of ancient Khmer artefacts. Last month, the gift arrived, the sculpted head of a woman found at the Bakong temple site in 1939.

“I asked him for a Khmer head because we only had headless statues but I didn’t think for a moment about a possible match,” said Pierre Baptiste, the museum’s curator for south-east Asian art.

“I brought the head into our [Cambodian] hall looking for a place that it could be exhibited,” said M. Baptiste. “I had a sudden notion the two pieces resembled each other but then thought, ‘no, things never happen that way’.

“I put the head on the statue’s shoulders. It shifted a few millimetres. I heard the little click that you get when two stones fit together and the head fell perfectly into place. It was as if it had put itself together. I still get goose-bumps thinking about it.” [ After 500 years, sheer chance reunites head and body of Hindu statue in Paris]

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