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www.indiatoday.in SEPTEMBER 24, 2018 `60

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Fashion designer
Suneet Varma (R)
with his partner
Rahul Arora

www.indiatoday.in SEPTEMBER 24, 2018 `60

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Art st Manjor Kaur s

creat ve jou ney


Fu n ways t o s t ay
fit in the city

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ON A PLATE Must V sit

Dhabas In
The Region

Fashion designer
Suneet Varma (R)
with his partner
Rahul Arora



Best States of India The Man Who Transformed Odisha


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DECEMBER 30 2013 40
www indiatoday n

www.indiatoday.in EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

GROUP EDITORIAL DIRECTOR: Raj Chengappa elebrity writer Vikram Seth
EDITOR: Ajit Kumar Jha (Research)
appeared on the cover of INDIA
MANAGING EDITORS: Kai Jabir Friese, Rajesh Jha TODAY’s December 30, 2013 is- To not be able to love the one you love

RNI NO. 28587/75

is to have your life wrenched away
EXECUTIVE EDITORS: Damayanti Datta, S. Sahaya Ranjit,
Sandeep Unnithan
sue, bleary-eyed, bedraggled and BY VIKRAM SETH

DEPUTY EDITORS: Prachi Bhuchar, Uday Mahurkar, Manisha Saroop seemingly on prison row with a board that December 30, 2013
MUMBAI: M.G. Arun HYDERABAD: Amarnath K. Menon CHANDIGARH: Asit Jolly
SENIOR EDITORS: Shweta Punj, Sasi Nair, Alokparna Das read ‘Not a Criminal’. This powerful vis-
JAIPUR: Rohit Parihar
ual was a not-so-thinly-veiled metaphor
SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITORS: Kaushik Deka, Ashish Mukherjee
MUMBAI: Suhani Singh, Kiran Dinkar Tare; PATNA: Amitabh Srivastava for the fear that stalked Seth, an openly
ASSOCIATE EDITORS: Shougat Dasgupta, Chinki Sinha
KOLKATA: Romita Sengupta; BHOPAL: Rahul Noronha;
gay public figure, and millions like him. or how 24 countries now allow same-sex
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Jeemon Jacob; BEIJING: Ananth Krishnan Being gay in India, as Seth’s mother, the couples to marry, while 28 countries legally
PHOTO DEPARTMENT: Vikram Sharma (Deputy Photo Editor), late Justice Leila Seth, wrote in a news- recognise such partnerships.
Rajwant Singh Rawat, Yasir Iqbal (Principal Photographers), paper editorial, was like leading the life Our cover story package ‘Free at
Chandra Deep Kumar (Senior Photographer); MUMBAI: Mandar Suresh
Deodhar (Chief Photographer), Danesh Adil Jassawala (Photographer); of ‘an unapprehended felon’. The glimmer Last’, put together by Executive Editor
KOLKATA: Subir Halder (Principal Photographer);
CHENNAI: N.G. Jaison (Senior Photographer) of hope that emerged in 2009 for Seth Damayanti Datta and Associate Editor
PHOTO RESEARCHERS: Prabhakar Tiwari (Chief Photo Researcher), and millions of Indians like him when the Chinki Sinha, examines the import of this
Saloni Vaid (Principal Photo Researcher),
Shubhrojit Brahma (Senior Photo Researcher) Delhi High Court decriminalised gay sex landmark judgment for Indian society,
CHIEF OF GRAPHICS: Tanmoy Chakraborty
ART DEPARTMENT: Sanjay Piplani (Senior Art Director);
was quickly extinguished in 2013 when the undiscovered country for same sex
Angshuman De (Art Director); Devajit Bora (Deputy Art Director); the Supreme Court re-criminalised it. couples who will now try and lead normal
Vikas Verma (Associate Art Director);
Bhoomesh Dutt Sharma (Senior Designer) For a society that has celebrated sex and family lives, rent homes and adopt chil-
Siddhant Jumde (Senior Illustrator)
erotica for over a millennium through art, dren and inherit property. We have tried
PRODUCTION DEPARTMENT: Harish Agarwal (Chief of Production),
Naveen Gupta (Chief Coordinator), sculpture and, indeed, the finest ancient to see some of these challenges through
Vijay Kumar Sharma (Senior Coordinator)
treatise on sexual behaviour, the Kama- the eyes of a gay couple, a lesbian couple
ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER: Anil Fernandes (Impact) sutra, it is peculiar how crudely modern and two single gay persons in rural and
IMPACT TEAM India’s laws have looked at sex. Alterna- urban India respectively.
Senior General Manager: Jitender Lad (West)
General Manager: Mayur Rastogi (North), tive sexuality has remained locked away Author and professor Madhavi Menon
Upendra Singh (Bangalore), in a colonial-era prison called Section 377 looks at the moral and cultural underpin-
Kaushiky Gangulie (East)
GROUP CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER: Vivek Malhotra that made ‘carnal intercourse against the nings of the judgment, lawyer Siddharth
Assistant General Manager: Garima Prashar (Marketing)
SALES AND OPERATIONS: D.V.S. Rama Rao, Chief General Manager
order of nature’ a criminal ofence. Narrain examines how the four judg-
Deepak Bhatt, General Manager (National Sales) It was only eight years ago that the ments by the five-judge bench impact
Vipin Bagga, Deputy General Manager (Operations)
Rajeev Gandhi, Regional Sales Manager (North) Supreme Court observed that pre-marital LGBT rights and the larger struggle for
sex between consenting men and women freedom. As I wrote in 2013, the debate
was not an ofence and just last month is not just about gay rights. It is about en-
that a constitutional bench described the suring that any minority, no matter how
IPC penalties for adultery as ‘peculiar’. small or private, must not be attacked
And now, in a truly historic decision on simply for being who they are. The Sup-
September 6, a five-judge bench of the reme Court’s newest judgment is clearly
Volume XLIII Number 39; For the week
September 18-24, 2018, published on every Friday apex court finally declared Section 377 as the beginning of a progressive struggle for
● Editorial/Corporate Office Living Media India Ltd., India Today Group Mediaplex, unconstitutional. personal liberties which the great Indian
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Phones: 2377057, 2377058 ; Fax: 2377059 ● 2/C, “Suryarath Bldg”, 2nd Floor, has explained how early theories of homo- truly promotes individual freedom, espe-
Behind White House, Panchwati, Office C.G. Road, Ahmedabad-380006; Phone:
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Printed and published by Manoj Sharma on behalf of Living Media
developmental arrest gave way to more Three cheers to the Supreme Court for
India Limited. Printed at Thomson Press India Limited, enlightened perspectives that came to look moving in that direction.
18-35 Milestone, Delhi Mathura Road, Faridabad-121007, (Haryana)
and at A-9, Industrial Complex, Maraimalai Nagar, District at it “as a normal and natural variant of
Kancheepuram-603209, (Tamil Nadu). Published at K-9, Connaught
Circus, New Delhi-110001. Editor: Raj Chengappa. human sexuality”; how laws like 377 create
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an environment for blackmail, harassment
All disputes are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of and violence against that counterculture;
competent courts and forums in Delhi/New Delhi only (Aroon Purie)

SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018 INDIA TODAY 1





Controversies over a domestic tie-up
with Air Asia threaten to crash the Tata
Group’s dream of a comeback in the
aviation sector


The Telangana
CM advances

C OV E R S T O RY assembly polls
by eight months,
catching rivals

The decriminalisation of Section 377 GSPC

of the IPC was a legal reform waiting
to happen. But plenty of unanswered
questions remain



LOVE AFTER THE TIME OF 377 by Siddharth Narrain

With debts
DRESS LIKE A QUEEN by Chinki Sinha of Rs 13,000
crore, the
Gujarat State
Cover photograph by Corporation
BANDEEP SINGH is in dire need
of a bailout

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2 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018

PG 5 PG 6


PG 7 PG 8


By M.G. Arun

n June this year, when fuel prices in India shot could do precious little to lower fuel prices. That is, if it
up after global crude prices crossed $80 a barrel, had any intention of doing so at all.
Union minister for oil Dharmendra Pradhan said The reason for this is not hard to find. Traditionally,
there was little that the central government could excise duties and VAT on fuel have been major sources of
do, but states should look at lowering the value added revenue for the central and state governments. In 2017-18,
tax (VAT) on fuel. He also said that petrol and diesel the central government earned revenues of Rs 2.84 lakh
needed to be brought under the Goods and Services Tax crore from taxes on petroleum and petroleum products,
(GST) if their prices needed to be lowered. Three months while state governments collected Rs 2.09 lakh crore.
later, the issue of high fuel prices has boiled over, with Taxes from petroleum comprise 36 per cent of the Cen-
the Congress calling for a nationwide bandh on Septem- tre’s tax revenues and 20 per cent of states’ tax revenues.
ber 10, even as prices of petrol touched Rs 88.21 a litre The central government excise rate is fixed at around
and diesel Rs 77.41 in Mumbai. The bandh saw sporadic Rs 20 a litre on petrol and Rs 15.25 on diesel. The VAT
violence in a few states, but again it seemed the Centre and sales tax rates vary, from 16 per cent in Goa to



38.5-39.5 per cent in Maharashtra, for petrol. In INDEX

the case of diesel, they vary from 22-25 per cent in
Maharashtra to 11.5 per cent in Chandigarh. Unless
the central and state governments are willing to
The Sliding Rupee
take a cut in revenues from fuel, prices are likely to Last week, the rupee fell to a historic low against the dollar, buffeted
continue being high. Ahead of the bandh, Rajasthan by fears of a global trade war and rising oil prices. This has been a
announced a 4 per cent cut in VAT on fuel, effec- problem across emerging markets, though the rupee has been the
tively leading to a reduction of Rs 2.50 in fuel prices worst performing currency in Asia this year. Many commentators and
in the state. Andhra Pradesh later announced a Rs 2 analysts argue that a falling rupee is not necessarily a bad thing and
that the Reserve Bank of India should not intervene. But politically
cut on both petrol and diesel prices. West Bengal has the government is vulnerable to opposition attacks over the handling
also cut fuel prices by Re 1. of the economy. A precipitously falling rupee is, essentially, not a
The higher price of fuel will stoke inflation in good look. Economic affairs secretary Subhash Garg told reporters
the country. “Petrol and diesel have a combined that the rupee was currently at “perhaps an outer limit or beyond the
weight of around 4.7 per cent in the WPI (whole- reasonable outer limit for depreciation”. But, he added, there was no
sale price index),” says Madan Sabnavis, chief econ- cause for importers and foreign currency borrowers to panic, as he
did not foresee a further fall. Some analysts, however, argue that a
omist at Care Ratings. This is not good news. High
further fall to about Rs 75 to the dollar is likely and that even a year
inflation will prompt the Reserve Bank of India to from now the rupee’s performance will still be relatively sluggish.
hike interest rates again
in its next monetary
Unless the policy, making loans to
Centre and industry and households
`72.91 12%
the states costlier. The fall of the
A record low for the
rupee against the dollar
Loss in the value of the rupee
against the dollar over the
take a cut rupee to record levels was reached during the course of this year, making
in revenues is not helping either. course of the trading it Asia’s worst-performing
day on September currency. Some analysts are
from fuel, On September 10, the 12. Economic afairs predicting a fall to Rs 75
prices are rupee touched a new secretary Subhash to the dollar. While a
likely to record low of 72.67 to a Garg pegs the ideal Reuters poll says
dollar after the current rate at Rs 68-70 that in a year, the
remain account deficit (CAD)—
exchange rate will
high when the value of India’s
still be over Rs 70

imports exceeds the

value of its exports—widened to the highest in
four quarters due to higher crude oil prices. The
BILLION $400.1
India’s trade deficit in BILLION
CAD widened to 2.4 per cent of the gross domestic July. Analysts say this
product (GDP) in April-June, from 1.9 per cent India’s foreign
figure precipitated the
exchange reserves. Still
in the January-March quarter, according to data rupee’s sharp fall. India’s
comfortable, but the RBI
released by the RBI. This can upset the delicate current account deficit
has been selling dollars,
widened to 2.5% of GDP.
fiscal balance India has been maintaining so far, over $11 billion in May
The IMF says a CAD of
and June, causing the
a major attraction for global rating agencies and over 3% of GDP may be
reduction from a forex
investors. Rising global oil prices, when coupled difficult for global markets
high of $426 billion in April
to finance
with a sharp fall in the rupee, create a double blow
for the CAD as the country’s import bill increases
even though the volume of imports may remain the
same. Finance minister Arun Jaitley has said there $10.2 BILLION `88.3
is no need for panic and that the rupee’s fall was India’s bill for crude oil The price for a litre of petrol
spurred by global factors. JP Morgan’s India chief imports in July. Up 76% from in Mumbai on September
July 2017. India imports 80% 11. Diesel was at Rs 77.5.
economist, Sajjid Chinoy, however, is of the view of its crude. It is also Iran’s Despite the nationwide
that the rupee is going through a healthy correc- second biggest customer. ‘bandh’ the previous day.
tion, which will boost the competitiveness of the US sanctions on Iran will A price rise of 5% and 7%
Indian economy. likely push prices higher still respectively since August 1
But all this has not assuaged investors’ fears. The
BSE Sensex fell 467 points on September 10 and by
another 509 points on September 11 due to a weak `2,29,019 CRORE
rupee and concerns over a US-China trade war. For Tax revenue for the Centre from petro goods in
the moment, there seems no resolution in sight. „ 2017-18, compared with Rs 99,184 crore in 2014-15

4 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018




GEAR LET THERE BE LIGHT PM Modi, Shah, Jaitley and
Advani at the national meet on September 8

trategising for four major up- tive with a barrage of facts and figures among the BJP’s poll strategies will be
coming assembly elections and, that show what the government has to play up the prime minister’s image as
of course, next year’s general achieved. One party executive, close to a doer, an incorruptible public servant
election, the BJP’s top brass, Modi, who spoke anonymously, claimed always on the job, unlike an opposition
gathered in New Delhi for a two-day the prime minister believed BJP that is united but for murky reasons
national executive meeting, appeared in members, including elected representa- to do with power rather than good
confident mood. “The scale and speed at tives, weren’t “studious enough, hadn’t governance. Despite affecting public
which we work is mind-boggling,” said familiarised themselves completely with unconcern about the so-called ‘maha-
Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union minister what the government had achieved, gathbandhan’ being formed to oppose
for both law and information technol- particularly the many benefits provided the BJP, party insiders say much thought
ogy. “For example,” he added, “we have to the poor and marginalised”. Accord- is being devoted to undermining, and
provided LPG cylinders to three crore ing to this source, the “PM has done his possibly even preventing, the formation
families through the ‘Ujjwala’ scheme. job. Now it is for the party to take the of any grand alliance, even through, as
Had we proceeded at the previous gov- work done by him and his government one insider put it, “unorthodox means”.
ernment’s pace, it would have taken us to the people”. Those who attended the As always with the BJP, their public
155 years to hit this target. Similarly, we meeting were provided with factsheets messaging is not about development
have provided broadband connections comparing the effectiveness of the BJP alone. Shah has been given a year-long
to 1.14 lakh village panchayats; at the to that of the UPA in the last years of extension as president to take him
UPA’s speed, this would have taken us its term and the achievements of major through the election period, and he is
200 years. All the toilets we have made central government programmes such expected to insert the preoccupations
in four years would have taken us 16 as the Jan Dhan Yojana which has of Hindutva into the campaign. While
years at the UPA’s speed, and the electri- widened access to financial services, the BJP appears confident about their
fication of villages another 15 years.” to loans and credit, to those who have election prospects—and given their
Another Union minister, Prakash never been a part of the formal economy. vast advantages in terms of money and
Javadekar, told reporters, on the This line of argument would be more organisation, they probably should be—
sidelines of the closed-door conference, convincing if Modi were a more reticent some unanswered questions remain.
that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s figure, if he and Shah did not dominate How viable is it to continue to blame
“new India will be successful, free from the BJP so completely and were not so Congress-era failures when the BJP
poverty, terrorism, and corruption by manifestly capable of trumpeting the has been in power for four years? Is
2022... the opposition has no agenda or government’s successes themselves. Still, the Congress president Rahul Gandhi
policy or strategy. They only believe in pushing soft Hindutva, and if so, how
‘Modi roko abhiyan’... We’ll win with an might that affect the BJP? And would
even bigger margin in 2019”. The mes- BJP insiders say much a focus on ‘hard Hindutva’ by the BJP
sage emerging from the meeting was of thought is being given be an admission that it is looking to
an efficient, conscientious administra- to undermining, distract from its inability to deliver the
tion that had achieved in 48 months and possibly even governance it promised? As another
what the Congress, led and controlled by insider who attended the meeting said,
preventing, the
one family, had failed to do in 48 years. “The party is in full election mode now.”
To that end, both Modi and BJP
formation of any And for the opposition that should be a
president Amit Shah exhorted party grand alliance warning enough. ■
leaders to counter the opposition narra- —Uday Mahurkar

SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018 INDIA TODAY 5


Kejriwal and his
cabinet colleagues
at the launch of
the scheme


January 15, Baijal gave his approval to

GOVERNMENT SERVICE the scheme after the government re-sent
the proposal, assuring him that it would
AT YOUR DOORSTEP also strengthen the online mechanism.
The scope of the scheme can be
gauged from the fact that last year, 2.5
By Kaushik Deka million applications were filed for these
40 services. Government officials say
that the scheme will save time and also

unil Kumar, a 57-year-old resi- embroiled in controversy with the AAP bring transparency in the system, as
dent of Delhi’s Vasant Kunj, is government alleging that Lt. Governor there have been instances of people pay-
visibly excited. The former bank- Anil Baijal was trying to stall it. The ing bribes to get their work done.
er, who took voluntary retirement five Delhi cabinet had given an in-principle Under the scheme, one can get an
years ago, will have to renew his driving approval to the project in November appointment for a service by making
licence this October but is wary of 2017, but Baijal returned the file for a phone call or through the internet
visiting the crowded regional transport “reconsideration”, suggesting that or a mobile app. A mobile sahayak
office. The Delhi government’s decision the focus should be digital delivery of (facilitator) will collect documents,
to start home delivery of 40 services— services “as 35 of the 40 services under photo, biometric details and any fee, if
such as issuing driving licences, mar- the scheme are already available online”. required. The sahayak will use a tablet
riage certificates, caste certificates and He also asked the government to set up computer to upload the documents. The
water connections—with effect from kiosks to be managed by unemployed doorstep delivery will be available at a
September 10, will come as a big relief youth for those who are unable to access fee of Rs 50 and the completed certifi-
to residents, notwithstanding the chaos the internet. The row snowballed into cate or document will be posted to the
that marred the first day of the scheme’s a bigger controversy with Deputy CM applicant’s address. However, residents
implementation. Manish Sisodia alleging that Baijal was will still have to visit government offices
The AAP government initiative is a trying to protect a corrupt system. On where their physical presence is neces-
first of its kind home delivery of govern- sary, such as in a driving test. They can
ment services in any state. And apart also continue to complete formalities
from the obvious convenience of door- through online platforms. To ensure
step delivery, its appeal for citizens also This is a first of its safety of the applicants, police verifica-
lies in the fact that it will, if it works as kind home delivery of tion of the mobile sahayaks will also be
promised, cut through the bureaucratic government services. done, says Rakesh Bali, the secretary
maze and eliminate touts in service Last year, 2.5 million of Delhi government’s administra-
delivery, which has often marred public applications were filed tive reforms department. He says the
service delivery in India. department will run a call centre and
Launched by Delhi Chief Minis-
for these 40 services a project management unit will also be
ter Arvind Kejriwal, the facility was set up to monitor the scheme. ■

16 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018






Policemen at Lumbini Park, one of the sites of
the twin bomb blasts, Aug. 25, 2007

n September 10, (IM) founders—its chief imprisonment in another is yet to be heard but it has
exactly 10 years and Riyaz Bhatkal, his brother case, the planting of a bomb left victims’ families in both
16 days after they Iqbal and their associate at Dilsukhnagar which did cases sceptical.
planted bombs that killed Ameer Raza Khan, hailing not go off and was defused The survivors of the
44 people and wounded 68 from Karnataka—are still at by the police. 2007 bombings and their
others at the popular eatery, large, possibly in Pakistan. The convicts will surely families had been apprehen-
Gokul Chaat Bhandar, In the horrific bombings be challenging the verdict sive that the convicts would
and the open air theatre, of August 25, 2007, that in the high court, citing the be given a life term instead
Lumbini Park, in Hyder- rocked Hyderabad, Judge Supreme Court orders that of the death penalty. And
abad, T. Srinivasa Rao, the Rao found Sayeed and say death sentences cannot they cannot have been too
Second Additional Met- Chowdhari guilty of murder be given in cases having happy with Judge Rao’s ver-
ropolitan Sessions Judge, under Section 302 and oth- weak evidence. While the dict earlier on September 3,
awarded the death penalty er relevant provisions of the investigators maintained which announced that two
to Aneeq Shafique Sayeed Indian Penal Code and the that the convicts in both of the accused, Farooq Shar-
and Mohammed Akbar Is- Unlawful Activities Preven- cases were members of the fuddin Tarqash and MD
mail Chowdhari from Pune tion Act and awarded the IM, the judge observed that Sadiq Israr Shaik, were not
and a life term to a third death penalty. Significantly, they were not part of it. being prosecuted at all for
suspect, Tarik Anjum, a he also awarded them life This is the second terror lack of evidence. Some of the
civil engineer from faraway bombing case verdict in victims who have lost their
Delhi, who provided shelter Hyderabad that has attr- limbs or eyes are demanding
to the bombers. acted the death penalty for that “the convicts be sent to
Two others were relea- This is the the perpetrators. The trial the gallows swiftly follow-
sed for want of evidence. second in the Dilsukhnagar blasts ing due process”. They do
The prosecutors are plan- terror case of 2013 concluded more not want “time to lapse and
ning to move the higher bombing swiftly when the special the President or the state
court against the acquittals court awarded the death governor to entertain any
even as the pair face trial
verdict in sentence to the five accused clemency petition like those
in other cases in Pune and
Hyderabad in just three years, in De- raised by ex-prime minister
Mumbai. Another three to attract cember 2016. That verdict Rajiv Gandhi’s killers”. That
suspects, including the out- the death has also been challenged in could be a tall ask. ■
lawed Indian Mujahideen penalty the high court. The petition —Amarnath K. Menon

SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018 INDIA TODAY 7



“The Shankaracharyas
tell the British that
Gandhi must be
Historian RAMACHANDRA GUHA has been
examining the life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
for the past 15 years. His latest book Gandhi: The
Years That Changed the World (1914-1948) completes
a biographical trilogy that will cover a foot at your
bookshelf. Apart from other sources, it draws from the
Pyarelal papers, which were not available even in the
archives till a few years ago. Excerpts from an
interview with SOPAN JOSHI

Q. Give us a glimpse of
Gandhi’s influence on the
wider world.
A. It comes up in the most
unexpected places. As I men-
tion in the book, I was at a
hotel in New York City. I had
with me a copy of the pre-
vious book, Gandhi Before
India. It had an unusual CHANDRADEEP KUMAR
photo of Gandhi as a law-
yer, in a suit. A waiter saw people may not know the attack him, Ambedkarites
GANDHI: The Years it and asked, “Isn’t that the rich details of Gandhi’s life, attack him, feminists attack
That Changed the young Mr Gandhi?” I said they think he is cool! him... The West’s view of
World (1914-1948) yes. He said they admired him is more cute and cuddly.
by Ramachandra him in his country. Which Q. How does India see him?
country, I asked. He said A. Here, he is the focus of Q. What do the Pyarelal
the Dominican Republic. debate, argument, contesta- papers show?
1,152 pages Gandhi’s truly a universal tion, even revulsion. There’s A. All kinds of material. For
figure. A friend recently sent lots of people who hate example, there’s an intrigu-
a photo of Gandhi’s statue Gandhi. It’s open season on ing figure in this book,
in Rio, Brazil. In the West Gandhi. The Marxists attack Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was
and in Latin America, while him, the Hindutvawadis a radical Christian priest

1 8 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018

in Germany who opposed Adolf who doesn’t know any Sanskrit THE COMING TOGETHER
Hitler. He’s famous in Germany tell us how to manage our faith? OF HINDUS IS ITSELF A
because he was involved in a You recognise Gandhi’s dilemma
plot to assassinate Hitler in the only when you place the modern-
early 1940s; he was jailed and ist critics like Ambedkar on the THE INITIAL DAYS OF
he wrote these letters from there one side and the Shankaracharyas OUR WORK, WHEN OUR
which were widely circulated. on the other. Hindu orthodoxy KARYAKARTAS USED TO
Now in Pyarelal’s papers, I found was totally opposed to him. The GO AND TALK TO HINDU
that in the early 1930s, he was in Shankaracharyas tell the British
touch with Gandhi. He wanted to that Gandhi must be excommu-
come and learn satyagraha from nicated. The Hindu Mahasabha ORGANISING THE HINDUS,
Gandhi, and he almost came here. ensures that he is met with black THEY USED TO SAY: ‘SHER
Finally, he did not come. But sup- flags everywhere he goes as part KABHI JHUND MEIN
pose he had come here and talked of his tour against untouchability.
with Gandhi, and then organised
He had to negotiate his path with
a satyagraha against Hitler before great skill; it takes colossal cour- THAT LION, THAT ROYAL
the Nazi regime got established... age to confront the entire might BENGAL TIGER, KING OF
of your religious institutions. As HIS OWN JUNGLE, IF HE
Q. What do the Pyarelal papers he gets more assured about his IS ALONE, WILD DOGS
show on historical figures in India? control over the national move-
A. One of the contributions of ment on the Hindu social mind,
my book, I hope, is to restore he becomes more critical and AND DESTROY HIM
Mahadev Desai to his central role radical in his approach to caste. So
in Gandhi’s life and in the life of it’s unfair to criticise Gandhi for
the freedom movement. Without being incremental in his approach
doubt, he was more important to caste, because he has to deal
to Gandhi than even Jawaharlal with the bulk of Hindu orthodoxy
Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel. He before he frontally challenges the
was his interlocutor, his advisor, caste system, which he does, pro-
his window to the world because voked by Ambedkar. Gandhi’s path
Desai was learned about global is all his own, and it’s unappeal-
politics and political philosophy. ing to both the radicals and the
Unlike Nehru, he shared Gujarati reactionaries.
with Gandhi. Unlike Patel, he had
this wider cosmopolitan outlook. Q. Is there such a thing as
Gandhi fatigue?
Q. Did Gandhi use different tac- A. Not at all. He is endlessly fasci-
tics for his modernist critics and nating. He touches every aspect of
Speaking at the World Hindu Congress in
his orthodox opponents? Indian life. He talks about caste, Chicago, to mark the 125th anniversary
A. He engaged with people like gender, technology, state, poli- of Swami Vivekananda’s address to
Ambedkar—the Hindu orthodoxy tics, culture, about inner reform, the Parliament of the World’s Religions
he refuses to engage with beyond he talks about sex. He’s travelling in that city in 1893, RSS chief MOHAN
a point because he sees them as all the time. There’s an extraor- BHAGWAT ofered a vision of Hindus
absolutely bigoted and benighted. dinary range of correspondence as a self-defeating people, a people of
extreme ability, accomplishment and
From the perspective of 2018, with friends and rivals. No Gandhi
wisdom who failed to unite against
you’ll be told by the admirers of fatigue for me. I’ve written a common enemies. Who, in this metaphor
Ambedkar that Gandhi was mov- book on his South Africa years, though, are the wild dogs? If Bhagwat
ing too slowly in dismantling the now one on his Indian years. At likened the Hindu to the tiger, a popular
caste system. But from the per- the moment, I’m not writing any trope at the conference was to liken
spective of 1928, the main chal- more on Gandhi. But after a while, Hindu society to “small soft laddoo”.
The future vision being propogated
lenge to Gandhi was from the maybe five years from now, I’d like
was that “Hindu society must be like a
Hindu Right, which told him he to write a short argumentative big hard laddoo, difficult to break.” An
was going too fast; that untouch- book about him. For a historian of inevitable collorary, though, to all the self-
ability is part of our scriptures modern India, there cannot be a congratulation inside the venue were the
and how dare a bania like you more compelling figure. „ protests outside against “Hindu fascism”.
The week in social media INDEX


The Urban Naxal
Frustrated by an im-
placable, unflappable Students, alumni, faculty and staff from IIT Kanpur are the latest
opponent (astonish- to add their voices to the chorus of disapproval over the arrests
ingly, a 20-year-old and detention of several activists and intellectuals on August 28
in her first major as part of an investigation into caste-based violence in Bhima
final) and a suddenly fallible serve, Serena Williams Koregaon back in January. The letter described the arrest of Sudha
needed a target for her anger. A release valve for Bharadwaj, an alumna of IIT Kanpur, as a “travesty of justice”.
the pressure. It’s a standard tennis tactic. Except This round of arrests followed another in June, probing the links
Serena lost control. She berated the hapless between activists and campaigners and Maoists in the organisation
umpire, Carlos Ramos, for questioning her integrity of a conference that was allegedly the catalyst for the January riots.
by questioning his. But surely Ramos didn’t need to On September 1, the Pune police sought more time to make their
interfere in the match in such a pivotal way. Natu- case, as the months-long period for which they can hold suspects
rally, the controversy has sparked plenty of online without charge under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967,
outrage, leaning one way or the other. Does no one was coming to an end. The IIT Kanpur group called the provisions
just not know what to think anymore? An Amul car- of the Act “unduly harsh”. Can a justification be made in a
toon playing on the irony of her name being Serena democracy for holding people, even in judicial custody, for months
in a moment when she was anything but, annoyed without charge while the police build a case?
Twitter users. Not as much though as an Australian
cartoon showing an enraged, mesomorphic Serena
jumping on a racquet, while in the background an
exasperated umpire says to her opponent, “Can
10 1
Activists, lawyers, Person died in the Bhima
you just let her win?” Anyone who fails to note the intellectuals rounded up in Koregaon riots on January
racist imagery in this cartoon (see above) is being two separate, apparently 1, 2018. And 3 people were
stupid. (This is not the same as calling the cartoon- connected raids. 5 on June injured. At a Dalit protest
ist racist.) Stupid too is a social media culture that 6 and another 5 on August about the violence, two days
has turned critical engagement into an excuse 28. 17 people had their later, 30 policemen were
to bully and harangue. And more than stupid are homes raided injured, say media reports
the thugs who sent the cartoonist death threats.
Anyway, the cartoon got everything wrong. Serena
has never needed anyone to “let her win”, least of all
slim blondes with ponytails. ■
90 78
Days held without charge Age of Varavara Rao,
permitted under UAPA, one of the accused
1967. Can be extended arrested in June. He is
up to 180 days. On apparently implicated in
BJP’s Graphic Gaffe September 1, Pune police a plot to procure a Rs 8
Some poor social media drone—dizzied and asked for custody to be crore rifle and 400,000
disorientated by days and nights in the bunker extended for 5 activists rounds of ammunition to
that, no doubt, serves as the BJP’s IT cell HQ—has arrested in June assassinate the PM
lost his job. As the price of crude oil rises and,
fuelled by panic over emerging markets, the rupee
drops, the BJP has thrown up its hands in despair.
There’s nothing we can do, protests the govern- 922 33
ment. And, some argue, they’re right. Still, you’d Cases registered Trials completed
have to be a corpse not to smile at their attempt to under UAPA in of accused under
show that price rises 2016, latest year for UAPA in 2016. 22
figures, says National were acquitted, or
haven’t been as bad
Crime Records 67%. In 2015, 85.5%
as in previous years,
Bureau. Most of cases (65/76)
in terms of percent- registered in Manipur ended in discharges
ages if not actual (327), followed by or acquittals. 3,548
rupees. As someone Assam (216) and cases in 2016 still
joked on Twitter, Kashmir (161) pending investigation
this isn’t so much a
bar chart as a chart
prepared in a bar. ■ 13
Letters provided to reporters by the police, out of “thousands”, as
evidence of collusion between the arrested activists and Maoists.
The Bombay High Court has already criticised this tactic



he BJP’s 2019 battle cry is in a
state of flux and party workers are
confused. On the fourth anniversary
of the government this May, the party
unveiled the slogan, ‘Saaf Niyat, Sahi Vikas’
(honest intentions, right development).
At a two-day convention of the national
executive at the party HQ in New Delhi
on September 8, Amit Shah spelt out
another slogan, ‘Ajeya BJP’ (invincible
BJP) and predicted that the party would
not only win the 2019 polls but also rule
for the next 50 years. Hubris overload? It
was left to Prime Minister Narendra
Modi to update the slogan with a dash
of nationalism and rif a departed party
founder into the final slogan the next day—
‘Ajeya Bharat, Atal BJP’ (invincible India,
steadfast BJP). Party president Shah had
tweeted ‘Ajeya Bharat, Ajeya BJP’ before
deleting it and replacing it with Atal in it.
Illustration by SIDDHANT JUMDE Till the next update then.

STATUARY Shrinking Socialist

P oor Mulayam Singh Yadav. First, he lost his
party to son Akhilesh. Now he has to fight for
T he demand of the West
space on the hoardings of younger brother Shivpal

Bengal unit of the BJP
Yadav’s newly-formed Samajwadi Secular Morcha.
to instal a public statue of The Jaswantnagar assembly constituency had always
former prime minister Atal used a big picture of Mulayam in Shivpal’s campaign
Bihari Vajpayee is giving the material. These days, pictures of Shivpal’s son
Trinamool Congress-run Kolkata Aditya command more space on the hoardings than
Municipal Corporation the Mulayam. Another Samajwadi son rises.
jitters. KMC says it is
space-starved and
has a huge backlog
of statues in its
godowns. Prioritising
Vajpayee’s statue
would also raise fears
O ne doesn’t know what to make of the
Devendra Fadnavis-Uddhav Thackeray
rivalry. The Maharashtra CM and the Shiv
of a secret TMC-BJP friendship. Sena chief shared the stage twice in the first
The KMC has rolled the ball into fortnight of September. At an event organised
the BJP court—it will consider by a news channel, they called themselves
the request if the party buys “best friends”. Later, they released a postage stamp depicting the Siddhivinayak
the land for the statue. No word Ganesha. Thackeray, though, insists on fighting the Lok Sabha polls alone and is
from the BJP yet. meeting Sena workers from across the state. Friend Fadnavis better watch out.

Sandeep Unnithan with Sujit Thakur, Romita Datta, Ashish Misra and Kiran D. Tare

PG 14 PG 1 5


PG 1 6 PG 1 7


An upper caste-OBC
rally in Mandsaur
against the SC/ ST Act


Losing Caste
The SC/ ST Amendment Bill has come back to haunt the state BJP. Upper GWALIOR
classes take umbrage at the party’s ‘taunting of the general castes’
By Rahul Noronha

he angry protests by upper caste groups in the wake Many BJP politicians cancelled scheduled tours after sen-
of Parliament passing the Scheduled Castes and the ior leaders like Prabhat Jha, Bhagirath Prasad, Thawarchand
Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amend- Gehlot, Narendra Singh Tomar etc were gheraoed. The pro-
ment Bill in August (to restore the original law) could tests have been strident in areas like Gwalior, Bhind, Morena
spell trouble for the ruling BJP in the coming assembly polls. and Guna, where caste divisions are more acute. (Eight people
While the protesters have targeted politicians of all hues, in- were killed during the Dalit protests in these districts follow-
cluding Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia of the Congress, ing the Supreme Court order on the SC/ ST Act in April.)
BJP leaders are concerned as the upper castes have tradition- Just how deep the resentment runs was reflected in the
ally supported the party. complete shutdown in all non-tribal districts during the

12 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018


September 6 bandh called by upper caste groups. Posters G U J A R AT

outside village homes in many parts warned politicians
who did not oppose the amendment against seeking
votes. Even more worryingly, the protests have brought
together upper castes and the backward classes who
outnumber the SC and tribal population. Organisations
like the Karni Sena and the Akhil Bharatiya Kshatriya GAMES
Mahasabha are also supporting the protests.
Hardik’s stock rises as the indeinite fast
Meanwhile, the Samanya Pichda Alpsankhyak Varg
Adhikari Karmchari Sanstha (SAPAKS), established to goes on even as the BJP tries to cut him off
challenge the state government’s policy on reservations in
By Uday Mahurkar
promotions, has applied to the Election Commission to
be registered as a political party. With a membership of

40,000 across the state already, SAPAKS plans to put up ver a fortnight into like when he first burst
candidates in all 230 constituencies in the state. Using its his indefinite hunger onto the scene in April
significant social media outreach, it played a central role strike, Hardik Patel 2015, braving a brutal po-
in the success of the September 6 bandh. With its cam- has had a virtual retinue lice lathi charge to demand
paign, SAPAKS has also directly challenged chief minis- of political leaders of every quotas for his commu-
ter Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who famously stated in June hue calling on him. From nity. The indignant Patel
2016, ”No mai ka lal (mother’s son) can end reservations estranged BJP veteran Yas- community reacted with
till I am the CM.” SAPAKS founder president Lalit hwant Sinha, former JD(U) violence, which invited a
Shastri says the BJP is chief Sharad Yadav, NCP’s further police crackdown.
the prime target in Mad- Praful Patel to A. Raja of It then provided Hardik
hya Pradesh because no FEARING A the DMK and the TMC’s with a political plank that
other CM has “taunted Dinesh Trivedi, they have eventually bruised the BJP
the general castes” like BACKLASH, all been making a beeline in the 2017 assembly polls.
Chouhan has. SEVERAL to the farmhouse outside But this time, the
Analysts say any Ahmedabad where Hardik Gujarat government has
split in the upper caste MID-RUNG BJP is staging his protest. a nuanced strategy to
and OBC votes would Needless to say, it’s given restrict Hardik’s influence
damage the BJP and
LEADERS HAVE the young Gujarati patidar from growing. BJP state
consequently be a gain RESIGNED leader’s political stature a president Jitu Vaghani has
for the Congress. The significant boost. consistently dismissed the
state’s non-SC/ ST Analysts say it is almost patidar’s fast as a “Congress
population is 64 per cent. OBCs make up 55 per cent of
the total population. What worries the party is that the

general caste votes are always the deciding factor in the

reserved constituencies. It is no surprise then that several
mid-rung saffron leaders have resigned after the August
6 amendment.
Insiders say the BJP will try and exploit OBC voters,
who are against the amendment of the SC/ ST Act, but
are in favour of reservations in government jobs. The BJP
MP from Damoh and former Union minister Prahlad
Patel has called on the OBCs to act as a bridge between
the upper castes and Dalits, promising that any confu-
sion pertaining to the amendment would be clarified.
Taking no chances, RSS activists on the ground
have been asked to engage with upper caste voters and
convince them that not voting or opting for NOTA would
only strengthen the Congress. It’s not lost on the saffron
leadership that the Congress isn’t in a position to take a
position against the SC/ ST Amendment. BJP spokesper-
son Rahul Kothari is hard-pressed to explain why “the Hardik Patel on hunger strike outside Ahmedabad
matter isn’t in the hands of any political party”. „

SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018 INDIA TODAY 13


sponsored exercise”. And the state J& K

administration, citing the 2015
violence, has invoked Section 144
to disallow the assembly of more
than four people at the fast venue.
The state government’s refusal
to engage with Hardik on the two
Polls in Peril
The Centre’s plan to hold local
key issues—quotas for the Patels
body polls in the troubled state
and the Rs 82,000 crore farm loan
waiver—has in some ways robbed
faces a setback with major
Hardik of his advantage. His avid political parties pulling out
supporters have nonetheless flexed
By Asit Jolly and Moazum Mohammad
their muscles with protest marches
in Mehsana and Amreli districts,
both patidar strongholds. ABID BHAT
The ruling BJP is also pointing

to Hardik’s flip-flop regarding his rime Minister Narendra Mo- getting government employment,
‘fast unto death’. It is being pointed di’s Independence Day prom- is currently being challenged in the
out that he has twice accepted a ise of holding panchayat elec- Supreme Court. And while the Centre
drink of water from visiting politi- tions in strife-torn Jammu & has adopted a noncommittal position
cians. Also, when he was forcibly Kashmir could be a tough one to keep. on its constitutional validity, the state,
With the Valley’s two major political under governor’s rule since the fall of
parties—the National Conference and the PDP-BJP government in June, has
CM RUPANI’S BIG the People’s Democratic Party—opting cited the panchayat and local body
out of the process, it will be difficult for elections to seek a deferment of hear-
CHALLENGE IS new governor, Satya Pal Malik, to push ings in the case.
ahead with Delhi’s decision. While the prevailing uncertainty
TO ENSURE THAT Both NC president Farooq Abdul- over 35-A and related constitutional
HARDIK’S FAST lah and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti provisions, including Article 370, is
have said they were boycotting the a concern, the Valley has also been
ENDS WITHOUT elections until the Centre clarified its spooked by the looming militant
INCIDENT position on Article 35-A. The state threat. Hizbul Mujahideen comm-
subject law that gives J&K citizens ander Riyaz Naikoo has reiterated
special rights and privileges and bars his threat about burning candidates
outsiders from buying property or with “acid”. The Hurriyat separatists,
removed to a government hospital
for a medical examination on
September 7, Hardik’s supporters, MILIND SHELTE
claiming they feared for his life, in-
sisted he be examined at a private
hospital of their choice.
For the moment, though, the
Gujarat government is unwilling to
risk anything. Aware that Hardik
is looking at a major role in next
year’s Lok Sabha polls in tandem
with the Congress, CM Vijay
Rupani knows that the patidar
leader won’t pass up the slightest
opportunity. His big challenge now
is to ensure that Hardik’s fast ends
without fuelling more fire. Sources
say the latter too is looking for a
way to end his fast honourably. „
Farmers with their cane at a sugar factory in Latur
14 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018
were slated in phases between October 1
STAND and December 4. Much of Malik’s confi-
IN LINE dence was premised on a curtailing of
People outside a the unrest. There were just 127 incidents
polling booth in
Srinagar in 2014
of stone pelting in the two months after
governor’s rule was proclaimed in the
state on June 20.
Preparations are already under
way for the polls. Some 25,000 ballot
boxes for the panchayat polls have been
transported to Jammu and Srinagar
from Haryana, and EVMs have been
despatched to all district headquarters
for the municipal elections.
But with the NC-PDP pullout, the
formal notification for filing of nomina-
fearing that Delhi would project the The poll schedule tions has been inexplicably delayed.
participation of Kashmiris as a vote for notice alone saw a Chief electoral officer Shaleen Kabra,
India, have also called for a boycott. however, says this will be done shortly.
Ajaz Ahmad Mir, the PDP legislator
panicked exodus of On the ground, the security
from Wachi in the southern Shop- party workers establishment is also at work to try
ian district, points out that the mere and ensure that the polls are peaceful.
announcement of the poll schedule on Besides the boots already in the Valley,
August 31 triggered a panicked exodus starved panchayats of funds, even the 235 CAPF (central armed police
of party workers from their villages. A denying members salaries for the first force) companies brought in for the
former sarpanch himself, Mir says “it is two years. The disillusionment runs just Amarnath yatra have been retained to
impossible to hold elections in the cur- as deep amid erstwhile municipal body secure the elections. Lt Gen. A.K. Bhatt,
rent situation... nobody will participate”. members. Srinagar’s ex-mayor Salman the general officer commanding of the
Besides the militant threat, former Sagar says councillors were allocated a Srinagar-based 15 Corps, says his “effort
panchayat members like Maulvi Maq- measly Rs 5 lakh a year each for works will be to maintain peace”.
bool Mir of Budgam’s Zoogu village say in their respective wards. But last year’s experience—large-
it is the “betrayal” after the 2011 pan- Last month, the governor had rather scale violence and a historically low
chayat polls that now discourages as- confidently announced the schedule for voter turnout (7.14 per cent) in the
pirants. Successive state governments, elections to 79 municipal bodies and Srinagar Lok Sabha byelection—doesn’t
says the 40-year-old ex-sarpanch, 4,450 panchayats in J&K. Elections inspire much confidence. „

M A H A R ASHTR A o one understa- hold on the sector. Taking a cue from
nds the Congress Deshmukh has issued his own experience, the
and NCP’s hege- notices to some 200 co- minister has also invoked
SWEET mony in Maharashtra’s co-
operative sector like the
operatives and privately
owned sugar and textile
the rules to induct nearly
400,000 ordinary farmers

REVENGE BJP’s Subhash Deshmukh.

Three decades ago, he
was denied membership
mills for defaulting on
loans taken from district
cooperative banks. These
to various cooperatives
across the state. And as a
challenge to the Con-
Congress-NCP controlled of an Osmanabad farmers’ include entities controlled gress-NCP, he has had
cooperatives are in trouble cooperative because the by some of the most pow- BJP workers launching
over bank defaults. The BJP chairman wouldn’t have erful sugar and textile bar- 3,000 new cooperative
sees an opportunity anyone who wasn’t a rela- ons, including Padamsinh bodies in all 38 districts.
tive. Now, as the state’s Patil and Vijaysinh Mohite At a party workers’
By Kiran D. Tare minister for cooperatives, Patil of the NCP, and Con- conference in Mumbai on
he is intent on ending the gress leaders Dilip Sopal September 5, Deshmukh
Congress-NCP strangle- and Rahul Bondre. revealed that the recently

SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018 INDIA TODAY 15


reinstituted Maharashtra Cooperative banks over Rs 1,000 crore. earlier. Now we have started disbursing
Development Corporation (MCDC) has A senior official of the state coopera- the remaining amounts to them so that
revived 1,500 sick cooperative institutes tives department tasked with assessing they are forced to repay,” he says.
under its Atal Sahkar Abhiyan scheme. the cumulative debt of the mills says it Analysts say controlling the coopera-
Harshwardhan Patil of the Congress might run into “thousands of crores”. tives significantly enhances a party’s
claims the notices to the mills are nothing Elaborating on what appears to be a poll prospects. This is particularly true in
but a political vendetta. Deshmukh rejects scam, he says textile mills are entitled western Maharashtra, which has 11 Lok
the charge: “We have been receiving to a loan of Rs 27 crore which are to be Sabha and 66 assembly seats. Having
complaints regarding irregularities in the repaid in three years. But most of them won just five parliamentary seats in 2014,
cooperative sector so we started an in- draw marginally lesser amounts because, the ruling BJP has set its sights on taking
quiry. There’s no politics in this,” he says. under the rules, they only need to repay at least 10 constituencies in the 2019 gen-
The top 10 defaulting sugar mills, including after availing the full amount. “It was all eral elections. Deshmukh’s efforts could
Terna Sugar and Aryan Sugar, owe the done hand in glove with the ruling parties well help the party achieve the target. „



‘This peace
is like the

silence of
the lambs’
GJM leader Bimal Gurung in a file photo from 2017

On the run to escape prosecution by Mamata Banerjee’s for democracy to return to the hills.
government, deposed Gorkha Territorial Authority (GTA)
chief BIMAL GURUNG says he is biding his time till he can Q. There is talk that you could float a new party, or do you
renew the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) agitation for claim to be the real GJM?
Gorkhaland. In an exclusive interview from his hideout, he A. I don’t claim anything. Barring the few propped up by
spoke to ROMITA DATTA about his plans. Excerpts: Kolkata, everyone knows I represent the GJM. It’s too early to
say who we will support. Right now, we are with the BJP.
Q. You are in hiding and Binay Tamang has taken control of
the GJM and the GTA... Q. What are your conditions for supporting the BJP?
A. Tamang isn’t even in control of his own life and views. He’s A. We haven’t decided whether we will contest the elections
a puppet whose strings are being pulled from Kolkata. I am alone or in an alliance. Our central committee will decide that.
not in hiding, but merely keeping a low profile until the tri- As for me, I am here so that the region’s poor children—be
partite talks promised by the Centre. The people are with me, it Gorkha, Adivasi, Rajbongshi, Bengali, Bihari or any other
even the state intelligence reports say ‘70 per cent’ support me. community—don’t suffer the same fate as when I was young.

Q. There’s another Lok Sabha election around the corner... Q. Is there a way to broker peace with the state government?
A. I have never done politics to be in power. The GJM was A. We were never at war with the West Bengal government.
formed to fulfil the dreams of our people and I remain com- We are two political entities with different opinions on
mitted to that. Let the talks begin and create an atmosphere Gorkhaland. Dialogue is important in politics. We are ready

16 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018


for tripartite talks with the Centre MLA
and the state government. It is the

P.C. George
latter that has declined talks.

Q. Mamata has made peace with

Sikkim. Have you lost a friend in
chief minister P.K. Chamling?
A. Mamata Banerjee may be friends KERALA
with Chamling, but the people of

Unholy Scandal
Sikkim and Darjeeling are a family.
Sikkim has always supported us in
times of need.
A rape case involving the church takes a twist with
Q. The state accuses you of misap- legislator P.C. George abusing the victim, a nun
propriating GTA funds...
A. They conducted three audits but By Jeemon Jacob
found nothing. We haven’t misused

a single rupee of whatever little was lathottathil Chakochan George likes his ‘bold’ politician image, taking
granted to us. I want the CAG to do on all comers unmindful of the pitfalls. The 67-year-old Poonjar MLA
a special audit. I’m sure they will has been elected to the Kerala assembly seven times, and today retains
find misappropriation of funds since his popularity as an independent, without the crutch of the two big fronts in
the board of administrators was the state. His only problem: a complete lack of control over what comes out
formed, not before that. of his mouth. On September 8, he breached all earlier limits when he accused
a 45-year-old Catholic nun of being a prostitute. This, after she accused Fr
Q. But the hills are now peaceful... Franco Mulakkal, currently the bishop in Jalandhar, Punjab, of rape. PC, as he
A. The hill people have always is popularly known, made the comment even as the Kerala police are investi-
strived for peace. The violence was gating the matter, travelling to Punjab to question the cleric.
unleashed by various agencies of The MLA based his indictment on the ‘fact’ that the nun did not file a com-
the West Bengal government. Even plaint till she was raped for the 13th time. He suggested
today, thousands, fearing arrest, that the victim might have enjoyed the sexual abuse. To
haven’t been able to return to their make matters worse, all this came on the day (Septem- MLA GEORGE
homes. This is not peace. This is ber 8) when five nuns from the victim’s convent began CALLED THE
like the ‘silence of the lambs’. It’s an indefinite protest outside the Kerala High Court in VICTIM A
like the Emergency. People are Kochi to demand justice. “PROSTITUTE”
being arrested for comments on While George insisted he was “sticking to his FOR NOT
Facebook. The Darjeeling region stand”, National Women’s Commission (NCW) chair- COMPLAINING
sits in the cross-section of four man Rekha Sharma has summoned him to appear
countries. Rohingya refugees and on September 20. But unrepentant as ever, the MLA
illegal migrants from Bangladesh claimed he is yet to receive the summons. “I will react
are being settled here. The state is after getting the letter,” PC said with his usual swagger,
playing with fire, even the central adding that the NCW didn’t have the power to prosecute him. He claimed the
government is aware of it. nun is taking advantage of the law to entrap the bishop and malign the church’s
image. Meanwhile, her relatives are preparing to initiate legal action against
Q. Have you had any feelers from the MLA. The victim’s sister, also a nun, said she was “pained” by the com-
the Trinamool Congress? ments. “How can a person of his stature make such nasty, insensitive comments
A. (laughs) There has been no against someone who has undergone such pain?” Sister Anupama asks.
attempt by the TMC government so George has clearly kicked up a storm. A social media campaign with the
far to scale down tensions. The TMC hashtag “ShutupPC” has gone viral. And a galaxy of politicians, writers and
is just a political party that may or others have come out to demand justice for the rape survivor. CPI(M) politburo
may not be there tomorrow, just like member M.A. Baby has appealed to church leaders to support the nun in what
the CPI(M), which unleashed terror has until now been a lonely battle. Meanwhile, state DGP Loknath Behera said
in 1986. What I’m trying to say is, he has sought legal counsel on filing a criminal case against George. The rape
friendships can happen only if all of case itself is proceeding a tad too cautiously—the cops interrogated Bishop
us respect each other’s values. „ Mulakkal nearly a month ago—considering that the Church is involved. „



Photograph by BANDEEP SINGH

Partners, they live together

in Delhi. They met in New
York and have been together
for seven-and-a-half years

‘Seeking 25-40, well-placed, animal lov- years—as mothers can—family pride, the moral
ing, vegetarian groom for my son 36, 5’11’’ who works panic of relatives or the fear of being judged by
with an NGO, caste no bar (though Iyer preferred).’ strangers. On Thursday, September 6, the Supreme
When Padma Vishwanath placed this matri- Court validated what she had told her son long
monial ad in a Mumbai newspaper for her gay son ago: “You can be yourself.” Padma was on top of the
in 2015, the first such ad in India, she just wanted world: “It’s time to recognise that they are normal,
her son to be happy. She did not know that he could just as left-handed children are.”
face criminal charges for it, nor that she was doing Sometimes you need to look into the crystal
anything unusual. She had faced heartbreak when ball to understand the present. The five senior-
he first came out as gay, only to transcend over the most judges of the Supreme Court did just that by

7-8 %

dumping in the dustbin of history the

degrading punishment enshrined in
the black letter of law for different ways
of loving and living, affecting one in
10 Indian men and women, at least.
The Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra
opened the landmark judgment (Navtej
Bad news for traditional moralists:
Singh Johar & Ors. vs The Union of the INDIA TODAY sex surveys over the BE LGBTQ, SAID THE
India) quoting the German thinker years tell us the story of fluid
attitudes toward homosexuality and SUPREME COURT
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “I am
what I am, so take me as I am.” Along the decline of conventional inhibitions
with Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y.
Chandrachud, R.F. Nariman and Indu
Malhotra, the bench declared Sec 377
Are you gay?
of the Indian Penal Code unconstitu-
tional. The 158-year-old law that made 16 %
“carnal intercourse against the order of men and 6% women in India Today Sex
nature” a criminal offence was as good Survey 2008 claimed to be homosexual
as weeded out—albeit 72 years after the
British quit India and 51 years after the
UK scrapped it from the statute book.
Have you had same-sex
GREAT INDIAN FAMILY? 16% 79% to 57%
Between the thuds of the gavel and married men fall between 2005 and
reported having 2008 surveys
a brave new world of sexual needs,
had a homosex- in number of
preferences and identities, an alphabet
ual relationship, young unmarried
soup of identities has acquired a new 18% married men men who said that they
legitimacy: LGBTQQIPAA: lesbian, reported “having had never had a
gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, sex with a eu- homosexual
queer, intersex, pansexual, androgy- nuch”, in 2008 encounter
nous, asexual and more. But will it dent
the age-old world of the Great Indian
Family? Going by the verdict, it should.
The court has cemented a vision of the hushed-up mystery, the law has been change among many waiting to happen.
Constitution as a tool of transforma- the main arena of contestation. The law Will it put the institution of the
tion, an “organic charter of progressive is the site where the nation allows its Indian family, which believes in control-
rights” where the aim is not to lean on sexuality to be addressed: from the abo- ling everything—relationships, conduct,
“majoritarian social morality”. Would lition of sati pratha in 1829, the reform property, career, marriage, parenting—
that go against family values? To the of the Hindu Marriage Act in 1955 to on the back foot? Let us not forget that
court, the law cannot be “a mute specta- the prohibition of polygamy in 1956. But this family is necessarily heterosexual
tor” to the struggle of people who are of- nearly 60 years after the advent of the and patriarchal, especially among In-
ten “the object of humiliation, discrimi- birth control pill, the new-found eco- dia’s booming and conservative middle
nation, separation and violence” by the nomic independence of women, chang- class, says Samita Sen, professor of his-
state, the society and their own families. ing demographics and global travel in tory at Cambridge University, UK: “The
Individual autonomy and liberty, equal- an age of information, waves of radical family has been the main site of struggle
ity, recognition of identity with dignity judgments are redefining the relation- for individual freedom in India.” A
and privacy are the “cardinal four cor- ship between the genders, overturning Delhi High Court judgment in 1984 had
ners” of the Indian Constitution and the male dominance, altering expectations ruled that equality and freedom have no
premise of the verdict. of love, sexuality and marriage. From place in the family. That oppressive en-
Tradition and modernity are property rights to women, premarital vironment often forces men and women
clashing over same-sex relationships, sex, live-in relationships and redefini- to keep their sexual preference a secret
seen largely as an invasion of decadent tion of sexual violence—the march of or get married under duress, destroying
western culture, although historically the law is changing the intimate space the lives of their spouses.
present across the board in India. And of everyday life. The decriminalisation “There is the other side of the story,
in a country where sex is famously a of Article 377 of the IPC is just the latest namely, the hypocrisy inherent in

2 0 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018

Have you had a same-
sex experience?
urban women in 2005
13% and 21% men said yes people will always find reasons to hate, shaped to a great extent by the Hindu
he explains. Psychoanalytical literature Right and the Muslim Right, especially
shows that pathological hatred of people among the middle classes. Already the
Do you approve of
same-sex relationships? with alternative sexuality is at its peak two sides have rejected the verdict. With
when there is the existence of uncon- their great hold over how to define a
YES (2010) NO (2010) scious and latent homosexuality in you, family, will the court’s ideas of identity,
Women 13% Women 87% finding expression as defensive outrage, autonomy and privacy work? Will the
Men 21% he points out. judgment guarantee dignity in the
Men 79%
The 377 verdict is a landmark for public space for members of the LGBTQ
Indian masculinity. The court has ex- community? What if landlords reject
plained how early theories of homosex- same-sex families? Will schools accept
Have you told anyone
uality as a form of psychopathology or children adopted by such parents? Will
about your homosexual
developmental arrest gave way to more it usher in the much-needed revolution
enlightened perspectives that came to in sexuality, in the way India sees its gay
of the male respon-

19 %
look at it “as a normal and natural vari- citizens? Will it lead to gay marriages
dents in 2004 said
ant of human sexuality”; how laws like as a constitutional right? The Supreme
they had told their
377 create an atmosphere for blackmail, Court may have to give directives so
girlfriends about their
homosexual experi- harassment and violence against that that those with alternative sexuality get
ence, 16% in 2008 counterculture; or how 24 countries institutional and legal support in educa-
now allow same-sex couples to marry, tion, occupation, medical and other
while 28 countries legally recognise civic amenities.
What would you do if you such partnerships. Will that change If that happens, the judgment will
discovered your partner social and sexual mores? “From the bring in a revolution. But for now, it will
was bisexual? point of view of the state and the law, lessen the emotional pain of millions
men in 2010 said they a male used to be defined in terms of of men and women, says psychoanalyst

29 % would educate them heterogeneous sexuality,” says Mangesh Sudhir Kakar, provide them the confi-
about unprotected sex, Kulkarni of Pune, a leading voice in dence and strength to face their fears,
and 19% would talk to masculinity studies. “That is gone now.” allow them to stop asking if something
them about it The verdict has also dealt a fell blow to is wrong with them—anatomically or
the idea of male dominance over other psychologically. And they will not need
Note: India Today sex surveys has had over
5,000 men and women respondents every genders and sexual orientations, or to seek solace in drugs or cut their lives
year since 2003 heteropatriarchy, he explains. short, as many do. There are signals that
the ideological winds are shifting across
MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS the world, civil and personal liberties
Indian society,” says social psychologist The legal battle may be over, but plenty are opening up. The battle for alterna-
Ashis Nandy, who does not think Indian of unanswered questions remain. What tive sexuality has just started. There is
society or family will be greatly affected. happens to the concept of a family how? a long road ahead. But at least there is a
People will always find a way around it, There will not be the Great Indian road map. So keep looking at the crystal
he believes. “But with the current politi- Family, but there will be many differ- ball and wait for the day you can say,
cal regime keeping quiet about it and ent types of modern Indian families, “The Great Indian Family is dead. Long
the Supreme Court showing intolerance believes sociologist Shiv Visvanathan, live 50 shades of Great Indian Fami-
to public expressions of conservatism, at least, in urban India, with same-sex lies.” Meantime, a Mumbai mother has
the antagonism to non-heterosexual partners and adopted children. Is India started looking for a “suitable boy” for
love may just die out,” he says. Some ready for that? The Indian family is her son once again. ■



Striking down the 158-year-old law,

Justice R.F. Nariman quoted from a poem by Lord
Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas, Oscar Wilde’s lover. From
Two Loves, he picked the last line: “I am the love
that dare not speak its name.” Over endless cups of
tea and in phone calls from across the country, gay ‘I never had to go
to gay pick-up points
people told us stories of their once-forbidden love.
Of their loneliness, estrangement and invisibility
in popular culture—and in their everyday life. They
spoke of the trauma, the fear and the persecution.
For all the people of privilege, the Suneet Varmas to seek love’
and Ayesha Soods of these intimate portraits, who

bird cage occupies pride of place in
grew up in families that accepted their sexuality, and
designer Suneet Varma’s house in south
for whom Section 377 was a “sad fact” that didn’t Delhi’s New Friends Colony. On Thursday,
really cast a shadow on their lives, there are also September 6, the day of the landmark 377
thousands like Davinder Rajput, 27, from Jalandhar, judgment, the two marble birds that sat
who was ostracised, even beaten up daily, for being inside this palace-like miniature prison
were released in a quiet ceremony invested
gay. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. The with deep meaning for Suneet and his “husband”
two couples featured here speak of their committed Rahul Arora.
love for each other, the single gay man in a big city Suneet, 52, and Rahul, 31, married in 2013 in
about his search for companionship and the rustic New York. They first met in a gay bar in the city,
hunk of his grit in walking his own path to be with on a blind date, set up by common friends, which
required them to exchange a code. Rahul reached
his lover. Maybe these stories of hope and courage at the appointed hour but Suneet was held up in
and love will make it all a little more socially legit. the rain. To find Rahul, he had to shout the code
Because, as the court said, love is love. across the crowded bar. That first date in 2008 led

22 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018

The fashion designer and his
partner met on a blind date and
tied the knot in New York in 2013


to a period of steady courtship over the heirloom jewellery among siblings when friend in school. “I was called a gay boy; it
next five years. It was Rahul who popped he said he wouldn’t have any use for it as was traumatic,” he says.
the question in 2013. he was gay. Mother Indira told husband In Pune, while studying engineering,
Varma makes no bones about his Baldev that their son, Suneet, wanted to Rahul dated a few men. Suneet entered
privileged life. He participated in many say something. Baldev brushed her aside his life 10 years ago. Suneet dated an
LGBT protests, was most vocal in his saying it could wait until the news bul- American for 10 years before they broke
attack on “a most regressive law” but letin was over. up. His mother would treat his partner
the sanctuary of his privileged existence In Suneet’s fashion fraternity, being like her son-in-law. Section 377 never
meant he never had to really worry about gay was not even out of the ordinary. mattered in their lives. What changes
exercising his right to love. For him, lov- “There was no homophobia around me. I now is that they are legit in the eyes of the
ing Rahul was not about activism; it was never had to go to gay pick-up points like law. “I feel relieved that I am no longer a
simply an act of love. Nehru Park to seek love,” he says. But for criminal in a country I love,” Suneet says.
The coming out was not dramatic Rahul, the growing up years weren’t easy. “To me the future is exciting,” he says.
either. Suneet’s mother was distributing In Class 5, Rahul was caught kissing a The door of the bird cage now lies open. ■


‘Promiscuity has been a deeply AYESHA &

ethical education in itself ’ The couple
would like to
get married and

rowing up in Bengaluru, he After many years in America, mov-
didn’t have it in him to brave ing back was a challenge. And when he adopt children
the dark corners of Cubbon was finally ready to meet other men to
Park. Sometimes he would explore the possibility of a relationship,
borrow and read gay fiction to he was faced with a radically different
feel a little less lonely. But now, dating scene. “I was totally unprepared
as an openly gay man, he finds the “cum for the new world of Grindr,” he says.
dump” subculture of random sexual en- “I think the biggest problem in gay life
counters sad. “I want to explore things now is how invisible we are forced to be
beyond the bed. All this sex has only in our social interactions.”
made me lonelier,” he says. Karthik feels the so-called promis-
In the neon-painted city, Karthik cuity the gay world is often accused of is
Kalyanaraman finds himself going a misunderstood imposition. “Promis-
back again and again to a poem by Hart cuity knits us together. It enables me
Crane, the gay American poet whose to escape my little English-speaking,
epitaph reads, ‘Lost at sea’. For the upper middle-class cage and actually
39-year-old who runs the curatorial col- start to see and feel the lives of others
lective, 64/1, with his brother Raghava in India,” he says. “For sure, it has been
K.K. in the city, the lines of the poem a deeply ethical education in itself, this
‘Broken Tower’, “And so it was I entered so-called evil, promiscuity.” ■
the broken world/ To trace the visionary
company of love...”, have special reso-
nance. “The ‘choices’ Crane talks about HEMANT MISHRA

are partly erotic choices. But what he

brings out is that in the most ‘machine-
like’ sexual encounters, there is some
buried ideal, a search for ‘the visionary
company of love’. What’s heartbreaking
is he doubts his own vision in the poem.”
Karthik’s generation has lived
through an extraordinary period where
they have seen a transformation in the
status of gay men and women in
India. He left for the US a young,
closeted gay man and returned as an
openly gay person. “The only reason
I’m even talking about this is the
hope that my story, of the complete
acceptance I had from my father, the
difference between life and death that KALYANARAMAN
it made, might help others accept their
queer son or daughter,” he says. His fat- Karthik runs 64/1,
her decided to find out more about the
a Bengaluru-based
gay experience and was even offered a
curation and
role in Mango Soufflé, one of the first
gay films to be made in India. He told
research collective
his son it was okay to love men.

24 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018

yesha Sood remembers her easy. “I come from a place of privilege.”

‘I am just a uncle and aunt kissing, while

dancing to Moon River at their
anniversary. She was 13 at the
says Ayesha, a filmmaker who runs the
Jamun Collective in New Delhi. But
Reecha, who grew up in a conservative,

friend, time, and wondered if she’d

ever look at someone with the
immigrant Indian family in New York,
has known discrimination—and suspi-

same ardour. Today, at 42, when she cion even in her own family. “There is
looks at Reecha Upadhyaya, 40, her law and there’s culture,” says Reecha, a
partner for 10 years, she sees it. For her, campaign director with NGO Purpose

to the law ’
it’s the same kind of love. Global PBC. Ayesha and Reecha got
For filmmaker Ayesha, coming out together in Delhi 10 years ago.
to her parents about her sexuality was Ayesha recalls her mother telling


her how, as a child, she would go off

to the boys’ section in departmental
stores. “The problem starts when you
grow up a butch. You either become
buddies with men or a threat to
them,” she adds. Reecha is a femme,
who dated boys growing up, but
came out to her parents at 25, when
she was living independently. Her
parents suggested she get psychiatric
help. Instead, Reecha chose to hang
out in New York City’s lesbian bars,
with an alternative set of friends.
Ironically, though, coming out was
easier for Ayesha—even in socially
conservative India—than for Reecha
in New York. She remains largely
estranged from her parents.
Unlike gay men, lesbians have
also been at odds with patriarchy as
they defied the constructs imposed
by straight society. In India, one
didn’t find too many lesbians at
the forefront of the LGBTQ move-
ment. Here, a subordinate status
for women is the default setting and
lesbians mostly took their sexual-
ity as a radical political gesture. As
India moves into the current wave of
“free to be” gender politics, couples
like Ayesha and Reecha are redefin-
ing lesbianism. “I hope lesbians can
get out and have more fun like gay
‘My mother, elder brother would
men,” says Ayesha.
The couple have a house with
a beautiful view of the Hauz Khas
always tell me—walk like a man’
lake. The police have never come

knocking. To the world, they are two wo years ago, in the lobby of the television. It was switched off.
girlfriends living together. But they’d his home in Jalandhar, he was Rajput, who likes to be called
like to get married, and maybe adopt sitting and watching a Pun- Sunny, says that the most horrifying
children. “If I were unwell, who jabi song on television. His part was the quiet, not the beating.
better than her to take a decision for mother and sister were there That the deafening silence during
me?” asks Ayesha. “But in the eyes of too. His elder brother entered, the encounter still rings loud for
the law, I am just a friend.” switched off the television him—the fact that nobody inter-
Last Sunday, three days after the after keeping the motorcycle keys on vened. “I left my home after that for
Supreme Court judgment, Ayesha’s the table and punched him several Dadu Majra, a small hamlet on the
parents organised a brunch with times in the face and neck. There outskirts of Chandigarh. My mother
cake and champagne. Her father has was blood. The whole thing lasted and elder brother would always tell
taken to calling Reecha his daugh- a few minutes. Nobody intervened. me—walk like a man. They never
ter-in-law. At the brunch, as Ayesha Nobody said a word. The brother understood I wasn’t walking like
absentmindedly picks up the guitar, then went out—as calmly as he had anyone. It was me. I can understand
Reecha nudges her to play their go-to come in. Davinder Rajput, 27, sat that in a state like Punjab, where
song—the Beatles’ Let It Be. ■ back in his chair and kept looking at men are expected to be aggressive

26 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018

LGBT activist and
a graduate from
Guru Nanak Dev

Hoshiarpur and now lives in Jaland-

har, insists there is no place for people
like him to survive, even after the
Supreme Court judgment.
The young graduate from Guru
Nanak Dev University in Amritsar
prefers a city like Chandigarh no matter
how expensive it is. “Nobody harasses
me here. I spend hours in the univer-
sity with my gay and straight friends.
Women have always been kinder to us.
But if we face any problem, we go to
the transgender dera on the outskirts
of Chandigarh for help—protection,
money and contacts,” he stresses.
Rajput worked as an immigration
agent before quitting to work for LGBT
rights full-time. But he is planning to
pick up a job again soon. “For now, I
am leaving tonight for Indore to spend
and macho, it can get tough to see One late evening, at the Jaland- time with my partner. His family does
someone like me—every day.” har bus stand, a few men surrounded not know about us, but we may tell
This rakshabandhan, when he him. They started touching him and them this time. The judgment has
went home, the mother, who had pulling at his clothes. “I was saved by changed many things for us, and not
already struck off his name from the a passer-by.” Rajput says the historic just in the realm of law.”
family property, told him he should decision of the Supreme Court will Rajput picks up his bag. He has
leave immediately after the ceremo- certainly change one thing—“We will no idea how his partner’s parents will
ny. Rajput left right away. “On my be able to fight back. The police will react, but he is suddenly very confident
way back, I kept crying. Not because be expected to listen to us and not boarding a non-AC train compartment
I was insulted, but that I allowed book us under Article 377.” now. He walks away—like himself. ■
that. Now, I will never go back.” Rajput’s family, which hails from —Sukant Deepak


he unanimous verdict of the Supreme agency, the right to love, to live one’s life with

Court’s five-judge constitutional bench dignity, not confined just to the privacy of the
in Navtej Singh Johar & Ors., decrimi- home but attaching to the body of the individual
nalising homosexuality and recognis- and extending to public spaces.
ing the constitutional rights of LGBTI This expansive reading of personal autono-
persons, has led to a massive outpouring my—and the centrality of this right to the judges’
of emotion and celebrations across the country reasoning—can be seen as an extension of the
and around the world. Reading the four opinions Supreme Court’s own decisions after the 2013
together, it is clear that at the heart of the verdict Koushal decision, reinstating Section 377 of the
lies an overwhelming endorsement of the right to Indian Penal Code (IPC) and re-criminalising
personal autonomy and choice. The judges have homosexuality. This string of cases includes
held that this right includes the right to choose NALSA (2014), recognising citizenship rights
one’s partner, the right to sexual autonomy and of the transgender community; Puttaswamy


(2017), upholding the fundamental discrimination based on religion, The judges abandon a formalistic
right to privacy; Shafin Jahan (2018), race, caste, sex, etc.) of the Constitu- reading of the ‘intelligible differentia’
upholding the right to be in a relation- tion. The judges hold that the distinc- test, overruling an earlier decision in
ship of one’s choice; Shayara Bano tion made by Section 377 between Air India vs Nargesh Meerza (1981), in
(2017), declaring that a law could be ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ sexual which the Supreme Court had upheld
struck down as unconstitutional if it is intercourse is arbitrary, unsupported a discriminatory rule that allowed
manifestly arbitrary; Common Cause, by scientific evidence, and does not for disparities in pay and promotion-
recognising the right to a dignified withstand legal scrutiny. The court related policies for men and women in
death of those who have slipped into recognises scientific developments, flight cabin crew. The court based its
a permanent vegetative state; Shakti including guidelines of the American decision on a very narrow interpreta-
Vahini (2018), recognising the right tion of Article 15, and justified this
to choose a life partner as a facet of step through gender stereotypical
individual liberty, where the court has views of the roles of men and women,
opposed the practice of honour kill- CENTRAL TO THE JUDGES’ perpetuating the notion that the
ings as a threat to the constitutional obligation of raising a family was to
right to individual liberty. EXPOSITION OF THE RIGHT be borne by women. This bench, in
Central to the judges’ exposition
of the right to personal autonomy is TO PERSONAL AUTONOMY its reading of the equality provisions,
recognises that a law that is on the
the right to dignity, linked to the right
to privacy and the right to exercise
IS THE RIGHT TO DIGNITY, face of it neutral can have a dispro-
portionately discriminatory impact
choice without fear. What is signifi-
cant, and connects to the line of cases
LINKED TO THE RIGHT TO on a section of society. In this specific
case, Section 377 does not specifically
preceding this judgment, is the court’s
linking of the right to dignity to the
PRIVACY AND THE RIGHT mention homosexuals, but it has been
applied overwhelmingly to target
idea of fraternity. According to the TO EXERCISE CHOICE LGBTI persons.
judges, just as the state is bound to The court not only explicitly re-
protect individual rights, it is equally WITHOUT FEAR jects the rationale in Nargesh Meerza,
incumbent on society to respect indi- but goes a step further holding that
vidual rights. Navtej Johar thus opens the quality provisions in our Constitu-
up further possibilities for a diverse tion must be interpreted to challenge
range of situations where personal Psychiatric Association, the World gender stereotypes, a heteronormative
autonomy and the right to choice of Health Organization and a 2018 Posi- bias, binary formulations of human
individuals have been curtailed. tion Statement by the Indian Psychi- sexuality, and must instead, in Justice
The second cluster of arguments atric Society, all of which state that D.Y. Chandrachud’s words, protect
that runs through the four concur- homosexuality is no longer considered “the fluidities of sexual experience”
ring opinions in this case is a robust to be a mental health disorder, and and “plural ways of life and infinite
reading of the right to equality, both cannot be altered by any ‘treatment’. shades of love and longing”.
under Article 14 (the right to equal- The court recognises homosexuality The judges read Article 15 expan-
ity and equal protection of the law) to be a natural variation of a range of sively to read non-discrimination
and Article 15 (prohibition against sexualities found in nature. based on sexual orientation into the

term ‘sex’, relying on precedents such ment is its reliance on the doctrine
as NALSA, as well as a plethora of in- of non-retrogression. As per this
ternational case law. In this, they reit- doctrine, the State should not take
erate the logic laid down in Naz Foun- deliberate steps that erode or reverse
dation, in which the Delhi High Court rights. The court holds that if it
had also come to a similar conclusion. were to accept the law laid down in
Another aspect of the judgment that Koushal, it would lead to a retrograde
strongly resonates with Naz Founda- step in the progressive realisation of
tion is the judges’ reiteration of the role rights under the Constitution.
of the courts, and their unequivocal The judges have acknowledged the
decision that constitutional morality parents and families of LGBTI persons,
always trumps societal morality. many of whom have been intervenors
Rejecting the logic in Koushal of in different stages of the legal challenge
the “presumption of constitutionality” to Section 377. The court quotes the
(that the Constitution brings into force late Justice Leila Seth, who, in the wake
pre-colonial law unless they are ex- of , wrote a moving article
pressly amended), the court says that from the point of view of a mother and
such a presumption does not come a judge, criticising the judgment as
into place in a case like this, where the inhumane and profoundly cruel.
petitioners have demonstrated a clear
violation of fundamental rights. THE COURT ENVISAGES Justice Indu Malhotra, in her con-
curring opinion, in an extraordinary

he court emphasises that the

THIS JUDGMENT AS NOT statement, states that history owes an
apology to LGBTI persons and their


role of the courts is to step in to families, for the ignominy and ostra-
prevent violations of funda- cism they have suffered through the
mental rights, when the
legislature and executive have
ING LGBTI PERSONS THEIR centuries. The remorse evident in Jus-
tice Malhotra’s statement sums up the
failed to do so. The court has RIGHTS, BUT EQUALLY AS mood of the court, which, in overturn-
held that it is the duty of the court to ing the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision
protect the rights of ‘discrete and A VISION OF THE KIND OF in Koushal, has made amends for the
insular’ identities, however ‘minuscule’
their numbers may be. In doing so, the SOCIETY WE LIVE IN grief, pain and rage caused by the cal-
lous words of the judges in that case.
court recognises that Section 377 was Navtej Johar inaugurates a phase
never just about prosecutions, but of healing and hope, a moment of
about the threat of being prosecuted, joy, remembrance and gratitude, of
about blackmail, fear and the perpetu- tions by other actors in society. Their overwhelming relief and reflection, an
ation of a culture of silence and judgment is a direct challenge to the opportunity to pause and look back at
stigmatisation of LGBTI identities. values that underpin honour killings, the years of tireless activism, of count-
The judges identify the ideals the obstruction of inter-religious and less untold stories, of intimate
of plurality, diversity, inclusive- inter-caste marriages, kidnappings, encounters with the law, of joyous
ness, equality, fraternity and liberty, forced marriages, house arrest, and team spirit in the face of adversity
among others, as being central to the other forms of violence perpetrated by and of the contributions of people in
character and vision of the Indian families on their own kith and kin to different capacities from all over the
Constitution. They highlight the protect their reputation. world. This judgment is part of an
transformative nature of the Indian The court envisages this judgment extraordinary political and emotional
Constitution, as a document that is as not just about guaranteeing LGBTI journey and a continuing struggle for
vibrant, dynamic and committed to persons their rights, but equally as a equal rights. It is a powerful indict-
social transformation. vision of the kind of society we live in. ment of the hypocrisies of society that
In their powerful articulation of Their articulation of constitutional drive the extreme violence and brutal-
constitutional morality, especially morality and the value of fraternity is ity faced by those who dare live life on
through the constitutional value of as much about what it means for the their own terms. ■
fraternity, the judges are clear that majority of this country as it means for
they are not just speaking about state its minorities. Siddharth Narrain is a lawyer
violations of rights, but also viola- An important aspect of this judg- and legal researcher based in Delhi

3 0 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018




hen the Delhi High Court power to not take insults sitting down. My Brother Nikhil was passed with a U

judgment came out in 2009 I thank God the Supreme Court isn’t certificate and without any cuts. Yash
in favour of LGBTQ rights, populist for our film industry is guilty of Raj Films distributed it.
I was a week away from being so, and not just in the depiction of But as time passes, I feel things
shooting I Am. So I changed queer people but even women. There is have become more difficult for me.
the story a bit to include the a deep-rooted homophobia and a lack of Even for finance, there are many
judgment. When I went to the Central social consciousness here. hurdles as the perception is that there
Board of Film Certification with the Only a few days ago, I was begging is no audience for these films. Men are
film, they wanted 21 of 23 minutes of a satellite channel to finally show Shab still perceived as the ones with buying
the story on gay rights to be deleted. It in the wake of the verdict. You show so power. I always say I have a larger
was as simple as, “Oh man, two guys many films but you can’t make space female audience as women know the
looking at each other romantically, how for this tiny film? My heart breaks that meaning of abuse and discrimination.
can they allow this?” But we fought my film travels the world over but in How do you change society? It has
because the law was in our favour. my own country, where it needs to be to be a collective effort. Education needs
Recently, in 2017, when I took Shab seen, it doesn’t get a screening. I’m not to start at the school level where kids are
to the CBFC, the comment was ‘Aapne saying it’s one of the best films ever but taught to love and respect all. There has
toh inko normal dikha diya (You have to give it no value at all? to be gender sensitivity in the curricu-
shown homosexuals as normal people)’. As a gay filmmaker, I have never lum, along with sex education. How do
The 2013 Supreme Court verdict em- been discriminated against in the in- you define who is the other? I hate the
powered them to humiliate an openly dustry apart from the CBFC nonsense. word tolerance; acceptance is better.
gay person to his face. As an artist, I was Tolerance empowers one to tolerate the
already compromising because I had other, acceptance is neutral.
not shown the international cut which I know the box office is important
included scenes with a gay track. It took
six months and two trips to the Film
I HATE THE WORD but don’t we also need to be responsible,
support the rights of others? The more
Certification appellate tribunal to get a
U/A certificate. After I heard the latest
TOLERANCE; ACCEPTANCE people see our films, the more empow-
ered they will be. It’s my fight and I
verdict, the first few minutes I just cried
because after 2013 I never thought I’d
IS BETTER. TOLERANCE sometimes get tired. Till yesterday, this
community was regarded as invisible.
live to see this day. I was thinking that EMPOWERS ONE TO Things won’t change overnight. This is
maybe now I won’t censor myself. As just the beginning. ■
an artist I won’t compromise on how I TOLERATE THE OTHER, (as told to Suhani Singh)
represent my community. I hope to find
love that’s honest. ACCEPTANCE IS NEUTRAL The author is a national award
The current ruling also gives me the winning filmmaker


has both drama and ro- sexual orientation, the court acknow-

mance. It is inspirational ledges several literary and philosophical
and factual. It makes you figures. From Shakespeare to Goethe to
laugh, it makes you cry. This Aristotle to Kant to Rawls, the verdict
is the 493-page judgment quotes a variety of thinkers who have
on Section 377, delivered by influenced the judges’ appreciation of a
a five-member bench of the Supreme constitutional morality that must rise
Court of India on September 6. above narrow sectarian differences.
The force of the document’s rhetoric What is allowed for heterosexuals must
is astonishingly powerful. Despite being also be allowed for homosexuals and
in agreement, the judges delivered four bisexuals by law. And this constitution-
separate judgments, each one echoing al morality is, notably, an exercise in
the others about the absolute need to embracing plurality in India. As Justice seems to replicate rather than repudi-
decriminalise homosexuality. As Justice Chandrachud notes: “Our Constitution, ate the colonial mindset from which
Chandrachud—the most dramatic of all above all, is an essay in the acceptance it seeks to liberate us. And so, while
the writers—puts it: “There must come of diversity. It is founded on a vision of it is no doubt true that this thrilling
a time when the constitutional guaran- an inclusive society which accommo- judgment has embraced the principle
tee of equality and inclusion will end the dates plural ways of life.” of diversity, it is also true that its desire
decades of discrimination practised… But if we look again at the range for plurality continues to be shadowed
That time is now.” of thinkers I have listed above, then by singularity.
And so it is. Most headlines hailing two things become clear that militate Let us think more about this. There
the Supreme Court’s decision con- against this admirable commitment is clearly nothing wrong with quot-
gratulated the bench for bringing India to diversity. First, almost every single ing Mill, Wilde and Shakespeare in
into the 21st century. The judgment philosopher and artist and author the order to add literary, philosophical and
itself states that “a hundred and fifty- judgments quote is a man. And second, historical heft to one’s judgment. The
eight years is too long a period for the none of these men is Indian. (There are rhetorical effect of this is to indicate
LGBT community to suffer the indig- some women who are quoted, and even that several of the world’s greatest
nities of denial. That it has taken sixty- some Indian women, but they are very thinkers too have thought in the same
eight years even after the advent of the few and are rarely quoted directly.) way. But when almost all of these
Constitution is a sobering reminder of Why should we even note this dis- thinkers come from a single tradition,
the unfinished task [that] lies ahead.” parity? I would suggest that we should then that militates against a diversely
Again, all true. for the following reason: despite being populous landscape of desire.
In its bold attempt to bring us into path-breaking and brilliant and brave, Here is what the story looks like
the 21st century by ensuring equal the Supreme Court ruling confines it- if we follow—as the ruling largely
rights for all citizens regardless of self largely to a Western landscape that does—the trajectory of what it calls the

32 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018

for the promulgation of the Indian the birth date of each Imam. Far from
Penal Code by Lord Macaulay in 1860 taking us into the 21st century, then,
and Section 377 a year later. That is why last week’s welcome judgment could
the five-member bench of the Supreme equally be described as taking India
Court focuses on the tradition of bigotry back to the 3rd century or the 18th.
born of the Judeo-Christian tradition
as it has been brought into India by the ere is one way in which the
British. But why then do the learned
judges look primarily to this same tradi-
tion of prejudice in order to bolster their
case for liberty? One could argue quite
rightly that while the Judeo-Christian
H ruling itself suggests this might
be done. The Supreme Court
quotes Michael Kirby, former
judge of the High Court of
Australia, who describes MSM as men
tradition has historically been homo- “who have sex with men. This expres-
phobic, it has in the past few decades sion is common in UN circles. It refers
made big strides towards accepting solely to physical, sexual activity by
multiple sexualities, and this is why the men with men. The expression is used
Supreme Court has drawn sustenance on the basis that in some countries—
from it. But what happens if we look at including India—some men may
the story a little differently? engage in sexual acts with their own
Arguably, around the time the Bible sex although not identifying as
was busy inveighing against what later homosexual or even accepting a
came to be called the “love that dare not romantic…relationship”. In other

speak its name”, religions and texts in words, India seems to be known
the Indic civilisations were quite com- around the world as a civilization in
fortable with such desires. Vatsyayana’s which male-male desire has histori-
Kama Sutra in the 3rd century AD cally been so widespread and so highly
candidly describes people of the “third praised that many people have
nature” as having desires that in other historically not even thought of it as a
parts of the world were already being beleaguered identity.
described as deviant. Mir Taqi Mir in What we have been fighting for the
the 18th century was writing freely past 200 years, then, has been a chap-
about male-male love while witches ter in our history that is by no means
were being prosecuted in Europe for be- the only one we have inherited. And so
ing insufficiently heterosexual. Hijras when the verdict notes that “an indi-
“Judeo-Christian tradition”. Any- were given high positions in the Mu- vidual’s choice to engage in certain acts
thing other than marital procreative ghal courts even as they were described within their private sphere has been
heterosexuality is suspect and to be in glowing terms in the Ramayana. restricted by criminalising the same on
treated with great violence. The Book of In the 13th century, Amir Khusro was account of… age-old social perception”,
Leviticus from the Old Testament of the pining in verse for his pir, Nizamud- one has to ask: whose perception? Why
Bible, dating from well over 2000 years din Auliya, seven centuries before the are we not accounting for the fact that
ago, pronounces all manner of misery British abolished chemical castration multiple non-criminalised sexuali-
on men who lie with men. In such a as a punishment for homosexuality. ties have a longer and richer and more
tradition, homosexuality has always Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the 16th syncretic history in India than perhaps
been covered in a cloud of shame, and century described himself as Radha to anywhere else in the world?
violence has attended it for centuries. his beloved Krishna, while in the 19th Looked at in this way, the land-
This is the tradition that the British century, shortly before Oscar Wilde was scape of our desire becomes more
brought to India almost 200 years ago. prosecuted, Nawab Nasiruddin Haider sumptuous, more plural, more exciting.
This is the tradition that is responsible of Awadh would dress as a woman on It accommodates many more voices,
male and female, Muslim and Hindu,
Oriental and Occidental. It is perhaps
MULTIPLE NON-CRIMINALISED SEXUALITIES a better indicator of how rich and non-
binary sexuality really is. ■
HAVE A LONGER AND RICHER AND MORE Madhavi Menon is Professor of English
SYNCRETIC HISTORY IN INDIA THAN PERHAPS at Ashoka University, and the author,
most recently, of Infinite Variety:
ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD A History of Desire in India

SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018 INDIA TODAY 33



Worker bees by day, queens by night. The
drag scene blooms in pockets of a new India
where men rejoice in their feminine avatars
By Chinki Sinha
Photographs by Bandeep Singh


“On the stage,
I feel like I’m
on top of the
world. Because I
know I look drop
dead gorgeous.
Why settle for



“I, as Roveena Tampon, am the queen of
sass, serving burlesque on the stage.
My drag surname ‘Tampon’ was planned
because we wanted the audience to
know that menstruation is normal,
rather it’s a miracle and we shouldn’t be
ashamed of it”

rag is freedom,” says Prateek Sachdeva, a young dancer from
Delhi. On weekend nights, Sachdeva, who also holds a degree in
hospitality management, puts on his makeup, his most glamor-
ous dress, his tallest heels, and hits the clubs. He is part of a
cohort of new-age queens, female impersonators in a country
with a long tradition of men impersonating women. Much of this
history can be traced back to folk theatre, to what in Bengali-
speaking parts of India is known as jatra, where men played
female characters because women were barred from the stage.

36 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018



“Very often society shows us that certain ‘other’ lives do not matter. We don’t
get to be the heroes in mainstream stories. Even if it’s for a short while, drag
makes me feel like my life matters; that I can be the star of my own story”

The new breed of urban Indians young Binaira Vaishno Pawar. Her Paul, “If you can’t love yourself, how in
wearing drag owes more, perhaps, neighbour, Ishaku Bezbaroa, a 27-year- hell are you gonna love somebody else.”
to American superstar RuPaul—a old legal researcher at the Centre for On October 31 last year, Halloween
57-year-old drag queen who is so main- Science and Environment, has a drag night, Kushboo debuted at Kitty Su, an
stream, so entrenched in the popular alter ego named Kushboo. “Drag, as a LGBTQ-friendly club at the luxury Lalit
imagination, that she fronts her own concept, fascinates me,” says Binaira, Hotel in the heart of Delhi, right by
reality show, RuPaul’s Drag Race— whose sister Tanya was Kushboo’s Connaught Place. Dressed in tights and
than to jatra but it must serve as some first confidante. “I’m so proud of him a blonde wig, she lip-synced to Maggie
comfort to be able to give the contem- (Ishaku).” But Bezbaroa knows the rest Rogers’s wistful Alaska. “And I walked
porary scene some perspective, as fresh of his neighbours are unlikely to be as off you,” she sang, as if to herself, “and
new pages in an already voluminous accepting, so he keeps to himself. Still, I walked off an old me.” Kitty Su is the
cultural history. he insists that “drag is art and my body centre of the capital’s drag scene. For as
Not that any of this makes doing is my canvas, the make-up and clothes little as Rs 5,000 a performance, queens
what they do any easier. For all the my paints, and the stage a space for my from around the country and some-
glamour of lipsticked, mascaraed faces, exhibition. If I don’t challenge my own times the world put on a show until the
for all the thrill of transformation, the masculinity, what’s the point?” small hours. The Lalit has become a lab-
language of self-empowerment, drag His parents, Bezbaroa says, were oratory of sorts, not just nurturing but
queens face an uphill battle in their bid reconciled to his homosexuality but helping to create an Indian drag scene.
to be recognised by the public as artists, were unhappy about their son being a For the curious visitor, Kitty Su on these
to be recognised as exponents of an drag queen. They found out when they nights resembles a raucous, adults only
established art form. saw that he’d ordered wigs, padded masquerade ball. The unlikely revolu-
In a small, one-room tenement in bras, and make-up from his Amazon tionaries, with their skyscraper heels
Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar, a neighbourhood account. “There was a backlash,” he and hair, are in their daytime avatars
that manages to be both stodgily middle says, “from family and even boyfriends lawyers, upwardly mobile MBAs, con-
class and conventional and provide who did not want their ‘man’ to behave sultants—white collar professionals in
shelter to the city’s migrant hordes, lives like a ‘girl’.” But, Bezbaroa quotes Ru- dull white collar jobs. Drag, for many of

SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018 INDIA TODAY 37




“I believe in Disney fairytale
stories. My drag look is inspired
by Hannah Montana, she likes
pop songs and is a master of
quick changes. When I wear a
sari, I get a glimpse of my mother
who I lost. This is why I will do
drag forever” VIKRAM SHARMA

Thursday nights at Kitty Su showed

them, is about performance, express- them that they were part of a comm-
ing that other self, becoming a creature unity. With chapters in Bengaluru,
of one’s own imagination, rather than, Mumbai, Delhi, and Chandigarh, the
as so many insist, a sexual peccadillo. club has been hosting drag nights since
Many queens insist, for instance, that it August last year. The nights are so
is incorrect to describe them as trans- popular the club has eight queens on
sexuals or transvestites. staff as part of “the family”. But Kitty
On the night the Supreme Court Su also scouts for performers online and
ruled on Section 377 of the IPC, the his hometown, calling him a sissy. The as drag becomes more mainstream in
drag queens congregated at Kitty Su to taunt stayed with him, shamed him. Delhi, many queens have social media
celebrate. “Drag gave a lot of visibility Until, in 2014, he heard the RuPaul profiles and boast substantial follow-
and power to this fight. We are the most track, Sissy that Walk, a song that ings. Keshav Suri, the openly gay execu-
visible part of the LGBTQ community, turned the insult into a positive, a label tive director of the Lalit Suri Hospitality
shouting out the loudest. But when to be worn with pride. “And if I fly or if I Group, is the catalyst for Kitty Su’s drag
it came to the verdict, nobody paid fall,” the lyrics go, “least I can say I gave nights. “It’s a mix,” he says, “of ballroom
any heed to us,” says Rovin, corporate it all... I’m on my way, I’m on my way.” and show. But we have to find our way,
trainer by day and drag queen by night. show people what we’re about. Because

In a sense, drag at Kitty Su is a con- ccording to Aishwarya Ayushmaan India has a huge trans community and
tinuation of the subversion, particularly (aka Lush Monsoon), drag “plays so there is confusion. Trans is what your
in a city so synonymous with masculine with the rules of gender through are, drag is what you do.”
aggression as Delhi. Some feminists performance, sometimes breaking At St Columba’s, where Suri went
might question what drag, with its them and sometimes embracing them”. to school, he would be Mother Mary in
outre focus on a certain kind of female Too often, he adds, “society tells us that nativity plays and once even took on the
glamour, says about gender stereotypes, certain lives, the lives of ‘others’, do not role of a fairy. Only in London, though,
but the queens at Kitty Su are not about matter. Even if it’s for a short while, drag where he went for further studies, did
to apologise. They have fought too many makes me feel like my life matters, that he encounter drag as a legitimate scene.
wars to create this space for themselves. I can be the star of my own story”. Lush He became a fan and a performer. His
“There was this young person from knows Kushboo. They have been friends club takes its name from his drag per-
Agra,” says Delhi-based dancer Pra- since their days at the National Univer- sona, a combination of Hello Kitty, the
teek, “who would message me, asking sity of Juridical Sciences in Kolkata. In Japanese cartoon character his sister
unabashedly for suggestions, tips. And Lajpat Nagar, they bought cheap make- loved, and a contraction of his surname.
that’s great because it shows how far up together and tacky wigs, wrapped Suri first understood the potential for
we’ve come.” Long ago, Prateek recalls themselves in shawls and danced. To drag nights in Delhi when he brought
a physical training teacher in Ranchi, them, they looked and felt beautiful. drag queen and burlesque dancer Violet

38 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018


“Rather than merely talking about gender or
about loving yourself, I do drag to love myself...
If I don’t challenge my own masculinity, what’s
the point?”

Chachki, winner of Drag Race Season

Seven, to his club and 1,900 people
showed up. Slowly, other venues are
taking Suri’s cue. Aditya Bhandari,
a founder of Free the Verse, an artist
collective, organised a recent perfor-
mance by Lush and Kushboo in Delhi’s and pulling on tight dresses. On a chair ministry of magic.” Shabnam Bewafa,
NIV Art Gallery. “Their performance,” lies a pair of foam cushions cut into a the youngest of the queens here, has
he says, “was pure drag. They dressed distinctive shape. “My father got the just arrived complete with entourage.
flamboyantly, their make-up was cushions for me,” says Lush Monsoon, As she applies glitter to her lashes and
unique. I have many reasons to believe “and I cut them up to make ‘bum pads’.” pumped-up lips, she bats her eyelids and
that drag culture in India is growing, as Prateek disputes the idea that their drag asks, “Am I not hot?” For Shabnam, her
is the case with many queer art forms.” personas are alter egos. “It’s all me,” he over-the-top persona is a celebration, of
It’s almost 11.30 pm, and in the says, “but with a lot of make-up and the transformation of a shy boy who lost
backstage dressing room at Kitty Su glitter.” He’s holding a mirror in his left his mother when he was just five.
the smoke curls up, as do the eye- hand as he extends his eyes with liner It’s time for the show to begin. Lush
lashes. Drag queens in various stages and applies blue glitter on his eyelids. Monsoon wears a yellow bodysuit,
of readiness are tamping down bushy “Remember Harry Potter?” he asks. Kushboo is in a sequinned white dress
eyebrows, applying layers of make-up, “This dressing room is the queens’ own she found in Sarojini Nagar’s flea
market, walking onstage to an Annie
Lennox track. She is enveloped in shafts
of pink and blue light, as if wrapped in
twilight. “Onstage,” says Ikshaku Bez-
baroa, now a luminous white blonde,
“I feel they see me for who I really am
inside: a fierce, beautiful creature who
“WE WILL HAVE TO FIND just wants to spread love.” At the end of
the night, stripped of all the maquillage,
OUR OWN WAY... TRANS the queens are talking about their fut-
ures. Kushboo is moving to Bengaluru.
IS WHAT YOU ARE, DRAG Prateek worries about finding a job
since choreography isn’t paying the bills.
IS WHAT YOU DO” Lush talks about his favourite RuPaul
quote. “We are all born naked,” he says,
—KESHAV SURI “and the rest is drag.” ■

SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018 INDIA TODAY 39

SHOW OF STRENGTH KCR at the TRS’s Pragathi
Nivedana Sabha public meet on September 2

The Telangana CM wrests first-mover advantage by
advancing the state assembly polls by eight months


KCR said. Under the circumstances, which promises to bring around
the best course of action was to go Rs 1.27 lakh crore of investment and

back to the people and seek a reaf- jobs for about 530,000 people. The
firmation of the mandate to continue initiatives have helped Telangana
the work that put Telangana on top notch up an annual growth rate of
of all the states in terms of economic 17.17 per cent in the past four years.
growth and public welfare. Hence the In terms of social sector spend-
advancing of the assembly poll. ing, KCR has ensured that at least two
By running rivals down, KCR welfare schemes cover the disadvan-
hopes to keep the focus sharply on taged and needy, irrespective of caste
the regional narrative, emphasising and community. Significantly, before
the slew of initiatives he has taken launching the schemes, he commis-
to build a Golden Telangana. Early sioned an Integrated Household
Ever since he founded the Telangana elections, he wants to remind voters, Survey in 2015 that provided near
Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in 2001, are a continuation of the campaign accurate demographic data across
Kalvakuntala Chandrasekhar Rao for statehood that started in the 2014 the state so that the funds for welfare
(KCR), 64, has never completed a full assembly polls. In that very vein, a schemes reached their targets. Before
five-year tenure from any constitu- vote for the TRS will help it complete extending investment support to all
ency, whether as an MLA or as an MP. the unfinished tasks on the agenda to farmland owners, KCR had updated
Neither have any of the 108 others redeem the self-respect of the people land registry throughout the state
elected as TRS MLAs. As an imperi- of the youngest state in the country. under a ‘purification’ scheme last year.
ous leader, banking on a mix of astrol- KCR wants to cash in on the per- Where KCR has lagged is in fulfill-
ogy, numerology and vaastu besides ing promises like granting three acres
realpolitik, KCR has engineered to indigent Dalit families, providing
elections ahead of time, staving of As an imperious two BHK homes for the poor under
challenges and successfully staying leader banking on the ‘Dignity Housing’ scheme, setting
ahead of rivals. up 21 super-specialty hospitals in the
That characteristic belligerence
astrology, numerology 21 new districts, opening 100-bedded
was again on display on September 6. and vaastu besides hospitals in each assembly segment.
The chief minister got the state cabinet realpolitik, KCR has He has not achieved even the relatively
to recommend the dissolution of the engineered elections simple tasks of installing the tallest
first 119-seat Telangana legislative as- ever statue of B.R. Amedkar, for which
sembly, eight months ahead of sched-
ahead of time to a high ministerial delegation visited
ule, and then had Governor E.S.L. stump rivals China, or the international class Mar-
Narasimhan call for an early election. tyrs’ Memorial for those who sacrificed
Telangana, therefore, will have as- their lives during the Telangana state-
sembly polls with Rajasthan, Madhya hood agitation. Other promises like 12
Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram, ceived feel-good factor in Telangana per cent reservation for Muslims, free
which complete their full term. With following plentiful rains, filling major education from KG to PG (kinder-
this move, KCR has given himself the reservoirs. He is banking on the huge garten to postgraduation), creating
first-mover advantage, catching rivals investments—with loans of Rs 2 lakh 100,000 jobs, rejuvenating the Musi
unawares and underprepared, while crore—the state has made in irriga- river and cleaning the Hussainsagar
he hopes to cash in on the development tion and power, including the unique lake in the heart of Hyderabad remain
narrative of the state. investment support scheme ofering largely on paper.
Taking the ofensive as well as the all farmers a grant of Rs 4,000 an However, KCR is confident about
initiative, he derided Rahul Gandhi acre per season. He also wants to the appeal the TRS’s governance has
as “the biggest bufoon in the coun- highlight how he has wooed investors, among voters. He wants voter atten-
try” and described the Congress as especially industry and information tion to stay Telangana-centric rather
Telangana’s ‘biggest enemy, curse and technology sector, by pushing through than being eclipsed by the Narendra
misfortune’, accusing it of indulging administrative reforms and creating Modi versus Opposition polarisation
in ‘unlimited idiocy’. “Telangana state eicient policy instruments that have that is emerging in the run-up to the
can ill aford the political fragility made the state a top ranker in ease of Lok Sabha election. His calculation is
that opposition parties were seeking doing business. that a larger national narrative could
to introduce, particularly when the The state claims to have granted impact voter preferences to the detri-
state was making rapid progress,” approvals to over 6,800 industries, ment of the TRS if both the Lok Sabha

SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018 INDIA TODAY 41


and assembly polls were held together. ship did not support them, which
The irony is that KCR was among the ultimately reflected in the votes it
A SLACK earliest votaries of the prime minis-
ter’s One Nation, One Poll plan.
got. So, the manner in which the ma-
hakutami coalesces will be a major
SHOW Following Ganesh Chaturthi on
September 13, KCR plans to step up
determinant of its success.
“The TRS has nothing to worry
The TRS was in oice for four years,
the campaigning, with two rallies a about even if all the opposition parties
three months and four days, eight
day spread over 50 days. By releas- come together and fight the election,”
months short of finishing its full term.
ing the names of contestants for claims KCR. “Born as a secular party,
After its birth on June 2, 2014, the
119-member Telangana legislative 105 of the 119 constituencies soon the TRS will remain secular at any
assembly met for the first time on after seeking the dissolution of the cost.” Telangana Pradesh Congress
July 9 that year. It had nine sessions assembly, he has tried to outwit Committee president N. Uttam
in 52 months with the last sitting on his rivals. Changes on that list are Kumar Reddy described it as a battle
March 29, 2018—barely for a month imperative before the poll schedule is between the “arrogant and corrupt
a year. The sittings, for 25 days in announced. In 2014, TRS won 63 of KCR family” and “the people of Telan-
2014, 21 in 2015, 36 in 2016, 31 in 2017 the 119 seats and boosted its tally to gana”. The party’s poll slogan is ‘KCR
and 13 in 2018, added up to 612 hours 90 by welcoming defectors, from the hatao, Telangana bachao’ in the only
and 27 minutes over 126 days. TDP and the Congress. Trying to ac- southern state where Hindi is spoken
While the members made 858 commodate them, at the cost of those widely. Others say his imperiousness
speeches, an average of seven per who lost on the TRS ticket in 2014, and the family’s dominance could be
MLA, and 71 bills were adopted, has led to infighting in several con- TRS’s undoing in the long run.
short discussions were just 18. stituencies. Containing dissidence, “I am the mogadu (He Man),”
Some 667 questions were answered therefore, is a big challenge for him. KCR thundered soon after the
orally; another 318 elicited written process of dissolution of the assembly
replies. Responses to another 432 he less resource- began, suggesting there is none to

questions by MLAs were placed on ful, relatively weak stop him and the TRS. Upbeat about
the table of the House.
and fractious the prospects, he pointed out that
Seldom were the debates fiery,
Opposition, led opinion polls commissioned by the
much less acrimonious. But Speaker
by the Congress, TRS have revealed that the party will
S. Madhusudana Chary expelled
is planning to get get more than half the votes in 100
Congress MLAs K.V. Reddy and S.A.
its act together as constituencies. “KCR has been a mas-
Sampath Kumar after the House
passed a resolution punishing them the mahakutami (grand alliance) to ter at political distraction all through
for objectionable behaviour while take on KCR and the TRS. Despite his term in governance. He never
Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan was the marked antagonism between the allowed the Opposition to have any
addressing the House. Congress and the TDP, which rules space, or voice dissent or to be among
Relying on the ambivalence Andhra Pradesh, they decided to join the people to raise their issues,” says
in rules, Chary put a decision on hands with the Communist Party of BJP spokesperson Krishna Sagar
MLAs shifting loyalty from the India (CPI) and are to bring on board Rao, accusing KCR of baiting voters
TDP, Congress and BSP, as well as others, including the fledgling Telan- with their own money by routing it
independents, to the ruling TRS, on gana Jana Samithi, made up of those through the state treasury.
the backburner, enabling the ruling disillusioned with TRS as well as “KCR’s earlier victories were
party to increase its strength from KCR detractors. In their first move, when he was seeking statehood, un-
63 at the inaugural of the 119-seat they asked Governor Narasimhan to like this time having been in oice for
assembly, to 90 by the time the remove the caretaker ministry and over four years. What matters most
House was dissolved. impose president’s rule. in governance, even if all promises
While the anti-defection law Such alignments have cut both cannot be kept, is credibility. This is
states that those who resign ways in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. wanting both in KCR and the TRS in
from a party after an election will The mahakutami of the Congress, the mind of the man on the street,”
lose House membership, their
TRS, CPI and CPI (Marxist), led by says political commentator C. Nara-
disqualification rests with the
Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, against simha Rao, cautioning that “when
Speaker. But there is no time limit
the ruling TDP triumphed in 2004. people rise like a tsunami, it can well
for a Speaker to deliver his decision.
But in 2009, when the TDP got the be the ruler’s political Waterloo”.
Chary it seems was not wary of the
others, including the TRS, on its side, Countering the credibility deficit will
dangerous precedent this set in
electoral politics. the ruling Congress still managed be critical. For KCR, this is the great-
to win. In most seats ofered to the est challenge if his latest gamble is to
TRS that year, the local TDP leader- earn him a rich reward. ■

42 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018


A Gujarat government company once credited with the ‘biggest ever’
natural gas reserve find in the country is now burdened with a
Rs 13,000 crore debt and desperately needs a bailout

owns 86.89 per cent equity capital, feet (TCF) in the Krishna-Godavari
owes the outstanding amount to not (KG) basin in Andhra Pradesh. One

one but 19 commercial banks. The TCF gas can generate 100 billion
highest outstanding—Rs 1,459 crore units of electricity. This gas find and
as on July 31, 2018—is against SBI. the promise of a ‘gas-based economy’
More importantly, the company has figured prominently in Modi’s succes-
not defaulted on repayments till now. sive political campaigns.
The misfire by the Congress, Thirteen years on, GSPC’s bleed-
though, doesn’t take away the fact ing account books have given the
that GSPC is in a deep financial mess. opposition ammunition to attack
Its outstanding debt, as on April 13, Modi—the Congress has alleged a
stood at Rs 13,200 crore, with losses multi-crore scam in the company
registered in 2017 at Rs 16,603 crore. and demanded a CBI investigation.
On August 27, Congress leader Jai- The company has been struggling Instead of generating revenue of over
ram Ramesh cited a Reserve Bank of to bring the outstanding to under Rs 20,000 crore for Gujarat, as Modi
India (RBI) notification to demand Rs 7,500 crore, considered a sustain- had promised in 2007, exploration
that the State Bank of India (SBI) able debt level. Credit rating agency in the KG-OSN-2001/3 block, later
declare the Gujarat State Petroleum Crisil continues with its rating BBB+ renamed Deen Dayal block, landed
Corporation (GSPC) bankrupt by the (‘Rating Watch with Negative Impli- GSPC with an outstanding loan of
end of the day. Ramesh referred to cations’) for GSPC. At a time when Rs 19,270 crore by November 2015.
the RBI’s circular issued on February Indian banks are struggling with Ironically, RBI governor Urjit Patel,
12 which states that lending banks non-performing assets (NPAs) to the who was chairman of the GSPC
should initiate bankruptcy proceed- tune of over Rs 10 lakh crore, GSPC is audit committee between 2006 and
ings against companies that default a big dampener to the Narendra Modi 2013, kept approving the company’s
on loan repayments of Rs 2,000 crore government’s eforts to restore the borrowings even though commercial
or more if a resolution plan is not health of the Indian banking sector. gas production never started and the
worked out within 180 days of the On June 26, 2005, it was Modi 2012 deadline was passed by.
default, beginning March 1. who, as Gujarat chief minister, an- In 2003, GSPC, along with the
Ramesh’s argument, however, nounced that GSPC had made the Canada-based GeoGlobal Resources
was erroneous. For GSPC, India’s ‘biggest discovery’ of its kind in the and India’s Jubilant Ofshore Drilling,
second-largest gas trading company, country’s history—an estimated submitted a joint bid for an explora-
in which the Gujarat government natural gas reserve of 20 trillion cubic tion block in the KG basin. The private

44 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018

Narendra Modi, then chief minister
of Gujarat, announces GSPC’s
Krishna Godavari basin natural
gas find in June 2005

Incorporated in 1979 as a gas
trading company, Gujarat
State Petroleum Corporation
(GSPC) later ventured into
oil and gas exploration. The
Gujarat government owns
86.89 per cent equity capital
in the company. As on March
31, 2017, the company had
participatory interest in 22
natural gas blocks in India,
of which 18 are in production
stage, three in development,
and one is in exploration stage.


partners each held a 10 per cent stake. one-tenth of what had been claimed. 7,000 crore. It observed that GSPC’s
After spending over Rs 23,000 crore Even GeoGlobal chief Jean Paul Roy, exploration cost in the KG basin was
on gas exploration and related work, a Canadian geologist, publicly ques- almost 13 times the estimate while
GSPC, desperate to shed its liabilities, tioned Modi’s announcement. the outcome was much lower than
offloaded its entire 80 per cent stake in According to sources, in a 100- originally claimed. Four years later,
the Deen Dayal West (DDW) gas field page report submitted in Novem- another CAG report rapped GSPC for
and other discoveries in the KG block ber 2017 to ONGC, Ryder Scott, a a 177 per cent rise in its borrowings,
to the Oil and Natural Gas Corpora- Houston-based oil and gas reservoir from Rs 7,126 crore in March 2011 to
tion (ONGC) for $1.19 billion (Rs 7,738 evaluation consulting firm, put the Rs 19,716 crore in March 2015. ‘Why
crore) in 2017. gas reserves in the Deen Dayal block was the corporation running up debts
at about 1 TCF. The report has not yet and where was the company blowing
Warning bells been made public. these all up?’ the report asked.
A few days after Modi’s announce- In a report tabled in the Gujarat The CAG concluded that with lit-
ment of the ‘biggest ever’ natural assembly in March 2012, the Comp- tle expertise in gas exploration, GSPC
gas find, V.K. Sibal, then director gen- troller and Auditor General of India had tied up with ‘frivolous’ vendors
eral of hydrocarbons, punctured the (CAG) severely criticised GSPC’s and procured exploration blocks in
claim, saying that estimates could not operations in the KG block and said faraway countries, only to sell them
be made after drilling just one well. that “numerous faulty investment and of at a big loss. ‘The company sur-
The oil and gas regulator said the destructive administrative decisions” rendered 10 out of 11 overseas blocks
total gas estimate was 2.2 TCF, about had caused the company a loss of Rs between 2011 and 2015, incurring an

SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018 INDIA TODAY 45

2003: GSPC, along with
expenditure of Rs 1,757.46 crore, of Canada-based GeoGlobal government ought to have cleared the
which Rs 1,734.12 crore was written Resources and India’s air by subjecting such allegations to
of,’ the CAG report said. Jubilant Ofshore Drilling, an independent investigation,” says
acquires gas exploration
Before finalising the ONGC deal, former Union finance secretary E.A.S.
rights in the KG basin
J.N. Singh, then managing director Sarma, who wrote several times to the
of GSPC and now its non-executive Enforcement Directorate, red-flagging
chairman, admitted that the company GSPC’s transactions. “That no such
2005: Gujarat chief minister
had botched up its foreign acquisi- Narendra Modi says GSPC
investigation has yet been ordered
tions. “Wrong decisions were made by has discovered an estimated creates scope for apprehension.” Patel,
my predecessors. We should not have natural gas reserve of 20 TCF however, has dismissed the media
acquired blocks in foreign countries, in the KG basin. The director reports about his connection with
rather we should have focused on de- general of hydrocarbons GNRL as “politically motivated”.
veloping assets here,” said Singh, who disputes the claim, places the On the delay in gas production,
is also Gujarat chief secretary. total gas estimate at 2.2 TCF GSPC maintains it was a challenging
task to extract gas from a high pres-
n 2016, the Public sure, high temperature (HPHT) zone,
2012: CAG criticises GSPC’s

Enterprise Commit- and that the production wells had to
operations in KG block,
tee of the Gujarat be drilled to a depth of 5,000 metres
says faulty investment and
assembly criticised or more, making them some of the
destructive administrative
GSPC for its decisions caused a loss of
deepest exploration wells in Indian
“overconfidence” in Rs 7,000 crore; GSPC territorial waters. The Deen Dayal
acquiring the KG basin block. ‘It misses its first deadline of block discovery was achieved after
shows the company has taken a huge commercial gas production drilling up to 5,061 metres, at a tem-
risk while placing the bids. Without perature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
assessing the various financial and
technical aspects, GSPC placed a high 2016: CAG raps GSPC for a ONGC to the rescue
bid to acquire the KG block. Due to 177 per cent increase in its ONGC’s decision to buy GSPC’s 80
this, the company’s unsecured debt borrowings, from Rs 7,126 per cent state in the KG basin had
rose to Rs 2,140.53 crore between crore in 2011 to Rs 19,716 raised eyebrows, with allegations that
crore in 2015; in 2016, the
2006 and 2011,’ the report said. the bailout was a bid to hide years of
Public Enterprise Committee
The Congress has also demanded mismanagement and wrongdoings at
of the Gujarat assembly
an investigation into the allegation of criticises GSPC for showing
GSPC. Even the CAG questioned the
conflict of interest against Gujarat en- “overconfidence” in acquiring valuation of KG assets, saying GSPC
ergy minister Saurabh Patel. In April the KG basin block had not provided the documents
2008, when Patel was state energy and related to the valuation procedure. The
petrochemicals minister, his brother CAG said it had sought the documents
Mehul Dalal and sister-in-law Nikita 2017: After spending more since the valuation was done by the
Dalal set up Suryaja Infrastructure than Rs 23,000 crore, with no two companies based on the value as-
Private Ltd. Next year, Patel and his commercial gas production, signed by only one of the two parties.
son Abhay Dalal got 5,000 shares each GSPC offloads its entire 80 “The company provided some agenda
in the company. In October-December per cent stake in the KG basin papers related to board meetings, but
2009, Suryaja invested in Gujarat gas field to ONGC for Rs 7,738
other documents evidencing the pro-
crore; ONGC’s independent
Natural Resources Limited (GNRL), cess adopted for arriving at the valu-
auditor reportedly places the
which later entered into a joint venture ation were not made available,” the
gas reserve at 1 TCF, about
with GSPC, an entity directly moni- one twentieth of Modi’s claim CAG said in its comments on GSPC’s
tored by Patel since he happened to be financial statements for 2016-17. The
energy minister. GSPC, however, refuted the claim and
“GNRL’s annual report for 2016-17 2018: GSPC sells its stake maintained that all documents sought
indicates the company had been given in its listed subsidiary, by the CAG had been provided.
a sizeable participation share in as Gujarat Gas, to Gujarat State Union minister of petroleum and
many as eight valuable hydrocarbon Petronet for Rs 3,250 crore; natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan
blocks. Considering the high value of total outstanding debt of dismissed the Congress’s charge that
the hydrocarbon resources in these GSPC stands at Rs 13,200 the Centre had pressured ONGC into
blocks that belong to the public, the crore; company reports the GSPC buyout, maintaining that it
Rs 16,603 crore loss in 2017

46 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018

GSPC’s natural gas exploration
zone in the KG basin

Deen Dayal block


Oil and gas condensate field

Gas field Bay of Bengal
Oil and gas field
Gas and condensate field

was a commercial deal. According to yet, but the company is under severe
Singh, GSPC had originally consid- stress. It is evident from the hiring of
ered selling the Deen Dayal gas fields SBI Caps to devise a detailed realign-
to the BG Group in the UK, but later ment plan to improve GSPC’s financial
chose state-owned ONGC. and operating performance. The plan
Both ONGC and GSPC had hailed prepared by SBI Caps suggests that
their deal as “beneficial to the nation”. the state government and its other
“The acquisition fits well with ONGC’s entities take over a part of GSPC’s bur-
strategy to enhance natural gas den to reduce its outstanding to under
production from domestic fields on a Rs 7,500 crore. GSPC oicials add
faster pace, more so to reduce import that the company is doing good busi-
dependency of hydrocarbons by 10 per ness. “With the daily gas sales volume
cent by 2021-22,” then ONGC chair- averaging around 12 million standard
man and managing director Dinesh cubic metres in 2017-18, GSPC gener-
K. Sarraf had said. According to ated a revenue of Rs 10,589 crore,” the
petroleum ministry sources, however, GSPC management told INDIA TODAY.
there is no possibility of commercial As part of the realignment plan,
production from the Deen Dayal GSPC has sold its stake in its listed
blocks in the next five years. subsidiary, Gujarat Gas, to Gujarat
State Petronet for Rs 3,250 crore.
Is GSPC bankrupt? The plan also proposes reduction in
Asked about Jairam Ramesh’s allega- lending rates by banks and the SBI
tions on loan default, the GSPC man- taking over a share of loans from
agement mailed a response to INDIA other banks to reduce the size of the
TODAY: “The company has always been lenders’ consortium. These measures
servicing its loans, including payment may reduce GSPC’s liabilities, but the
of interest and repayment of principal story of over-ambition, amplified by
amounts. There has never been a delay tall claims and mismanagement of
or default even by a single day to any funds, will remain a blemish on the
bank.” True, GSPC has not defaulted company’s legacy. ■

walked in to make a presentation highlighting
the viability of the business. By the end of the
meeting, a decision to invest in the airline was
taken with the following caveats: Tata Sons’

INTO HEAVY investment in the new firm would be capped

at $9 million, there would be no recourse to
guarantees by the Tata Group (so that they

WEATHER cannot be held liable for money borrowed

from banks for the business) and, finally, there
would be appropriate representation of Tata
Sons on the board of the new company.
The airline’s teething troubles cast a cloud on the Tata That meeting would have been deemed
group’s ambitious comeback into aviation, decades normal, one of the many that Tata Sons, the
after it lost control of Air India. Can it be saved? holding company of the $100 billion salt-to-
software conglomerate, holds every year, but
By M.G. Arun for the strange turn of events since October
2016, when Mistry was ousted as chairman.
In his case before the National Company Law
Tribunal (NCLT), Mistry alleged that the

N DECEMBER 6, 2012, WEEKS before December 6, 2012, meeting called by Tata
Ratan Tata was to retire as chairman of Tata made the situation a fait accompli, where
Sons and incumbent Cyrus Mistry was to things were decided beforehand, leaving those
take over, Tata called for an urgent board present with no option but to accept it. While
meeting of the company at Bombay House, questioning the Tatas’ decision to enter the
the 95-year-old colonial structure that’s the airline business at a time when the industry
group’s headquarters. At the meeting attended was going through a turbulent phase, Mistry
by veteran Tata loyalists such as R. Gopala- also raised concerns over the interference of
krishnan, Ishaat Hussain, R.K. Krishna R. Venkataramanan or Venkat, the manag-
Kumar, Farrokh Kavarana and Arun Gandhi, ing trustee of the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust in key
Tata introduced a business proposal from matters concerning AirAsia India (incorpo-
AirAsia Berhad, a low-cost airline based in rated in June 2014), although he was not a
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. AirAsia was start- Tata Sons board member. Mistry also alleged
ing a new airline in India, and wanted the that no due diligence was done before finalis-
Tatas to invest up to 30 per cent, or $9 million ing the AirAsia deal, and flagged discrepan-
(around Rs 63 crore), in the entity. Minutes cies in the management of AirAsia India.
later, Tony Fernandes, AirAsia chairman, Much to the chagrin of the Tatas, the
CBI filed a first information report in INDIA HAD find any merit in the allegations put
May this year which said Fernandes COLLECTIVELY forward by him, including those related
and Tata Sons, through their nominee LOST $10 BN IN to AirAsia and dismissed them in early
Venkataramanan, lobbied the govern- THE SIX YEARS July. “The petitioners miserably failed
ment to get all approvals, including FROM 2008 to at least set up a case basing on this
the Foreign Investment Promotion allegation; all are abominably baseless
Board (FIPB) clearance, and amend
TO 2014 allegations thrown at a reputed person/
or remove the existing 5/20 rule for in- and not knowing what consequences
ternational operations. (As per Indian follow when such scurrilous allegations
aviation norms, only firms that have are not supported by any material pa-
completed five years of domestic op- on operational matters where he had per,” the NCLT order stated. Mistry has
erations and have a fleet of 20 aircraft little or no role to play. “It is commonly moved the higher body, the National
are allowed to fly overseas.) known that the present accusations... Company Law Appellate Tribunal
In a dramatic turn of events, the find their root in baseless allegations (NCLAT), against the verdict of the
CBI conducted surprise checks on made by Mr. Cyrus P. Mistry and the Mumbai bench. The NCLAT is current-
the accused in early June and seized Shapoorji Pallonji Group against Tata ly hearing his plea. But the NCLT case
their laptops, mobiles and computer Trusts Trustees (me included) and and the CBI inquiry have put Tata’s new
hard drives. Venkat, however, has said Tata Sons in his ‘revenge’ legal ac- venture in the skies under the spotlight.
that in his capacity as non-executive tions,” he added in a press statement. How genuine are Mistry’s concerns and
director of AirAsia India, he has In a setback to Mistry, however, the what are the prospects of the aviation
been wrongly named as an accused Mumbai bench of the NCLT did not sector for the Tata Group?

An AirAsia carrier
at the Delhi airport



➜ JINXED FORAY? among the Tata executives was FIPB

In February 2013, following a liber- approvals and how the Indian govern-
alised policy in aviation which allowed
TROUBLED ment was sensitive to the structure of
foreign airline companies to invest up to FLIGHT the Indian management. Vasani red-
49 per cent in Indian carriers, AirAsia flagged the agreement later on, saying
February 2013
Berhad said it approached the FIPB Malaysia’s AirAsia Berhad the memorandum of association (MoA)
with a proposed joint venture (JV) with says it has approached the is a “skeletal agreement and is unlikely
Tata Sons and Arun Bhatia of Telestra FIPB for a proposed JV with to satisfy the FIPB”. FDI rules require
Tradeplace. Telestra Tradeplace is ass- Tata Sons and Arun Bhatia of substantial ownership and efective
ociated with Fernandes at the Queens Telestra Tradeplace. AirAsia control with Indian nationals.
Park Rangers football club, of which would hold 49 per cent stake Vasani’s concern was that comp-
in the JV, Tata Group 30 per
he is the chairman. While AirAsia etitors may object to a JV where efec-
cent and Bhatia 21 per cent
would hold 49 per cent stake, the Tata tive control is with a foreign airline.
Group had 30 per cent, and Bhatia, 21 July 2013 Also, all additional funding had to be
per cent. The plan was to operate from BJP leader Subramanian in debt as the FDI cap was for 49 per
Chennai and focus on domestic conn- Swamy moves the Supreme cent and AirAsia had already hit that
ectivity to Tier-II and Tier-III cities. Court to quash the clear- ceiling. Vasani had more concerns.
AirAsia, through its operations ance given to AirAsia India. Bhatia would have significant say in the
In a PIL, Swamy terms the
based in Thailand and Malaysia, was afairs of the airline, he warned. He may
clearance illegal and says
already flying to Chennai, Bengaluru, several issues related to hold the JV to ransom in a deadlock
Kochi, Tiruchirappalli and Kolkata foreign control and policy situation. Tata Sons had only two non-
from several ASEAN destinations. had been overlooked in executive board seats, so how can it be
Fernandes then said the environment granting it proved that efective control vests with
in India was perfect to introduce Air- the Indian partner, he asked. There
January 2015
Asia’s low-fare model “which stimulate would be issues regarding the identity
Tata launches Vistara in a
travel and grow the market”. Still, it tie-up with Singapore Air- of the JV that would crop up once the
was surprising that the Tatas should lines, and garners a market airline flew overseas. Since AirAsia
get in at a time when carriers, with share of 3.8 per cent as on would lease aircraft to the JV, the terms
the exception of Indigo Airlines, were September 2017 had to be finalised. Vasani felt the Tatas
incurring big losses. Ratan Tata, then should insist on licence fees.
chairman emeritus of the Tata Group, December 2016
Cyrus Mistry, who was
had talked of the “destructive competi- ➜ QUESTIONS OVER CONTROL
ousted as Tata Sons
tion” in the segment in an interview chairman in October 2016, There were teething issues of efective
days before he retired. It is still not moves the National Comp- control of AirAsia and non-compliance
clear what changed his mind. any Law Tribunal against with Indian regulatory laws. In 2013,
his former employer. He BJP leader Subramanian Swamy filed a
alleges that no due diligence

n the meantime, all e-mails sent petition in the Supreme Court seeking
to Mistry and other executives of was done before finalising to quash of the clearance granted to
the AirAsia deal, flags dis-
Tata Sons by Bharat Vasani, the AirAsia India Pvt. Ltd.
crepancies in the manage-
then general counsel of the Tata Group, ment of AirAsia India Swamy said the government clear-
were being marked to Venkat as well, ance was in violation of a September
illustrating how the latter had a big say June 2018 policy that allowed foreign airlines to
in matters related to AirAsia. Even the AirAsia’s operating loss invest in Indian airlines. “The cabinet
final shareholder agreement for the more than doubles to Rs 97 had approved FDI only for existing
crore in the first quarter of
AirAsia deal was prepared by Vasani ac- airlines. AirAsia has not invested in
2018 on higher aircraft fuel
cording to Venkat’s instructions. Venkat expenses as well as aircraft any existing airlines. On the contrary,
also instructed Vasani to incorporate maintenance costs Indian investors invested in a company
two companies for the proposed JV set up in India by the name of AirAsia
with SIA in September 2013: Tata Air- July 2018 India which is totally illegal, and the
lines Ltd, acting as a JV between Tata NCLT dismisses Mistry’s matter is in the final stages in the Delhi
Sons and SIA for a full-service airline; petition. He then moves High Court,” Swamy said in a recent
the National Company Law
and TSL Aviation Holdings Ltd, a hold- interview. “I had also heard at that time
Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT),
ing company for all future investments where his plea is being heard that bribes were paid, and there was
of the Tatas in the civil aviation sector. also another policy change which was
One of the key areas of discussion attested to by the fact that the FIPB

50 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018

clearance was also given when it ought mising yields in order to generate cash,” improving, leaving airlines with no
not to have been given,” he alleged. said CAPA in a report in June 2015. excuse except gross mismanagement.
AirAsia has denied any wrongdoing “The underlying structural problems in “Lower fuel prices, combined with mod-
on its side. “AirAsia India Ltd (AAIL) the aviation sector remain untouched... est capacity growth and strengthening
refutes any wrongdoing and is cooperat- the longer they are neglected, the more economic fundamentals, were largely
ing with all regulators and agencies to complex the solution becomes.” responsible for surging traic and an
present the correct facts,” the company improvement in airline financials in

said on May 29 in a media release. “In irlines in India had collec- FY2016. Domestic traic was up 21.2
November 2016, AAIL initiated crimi- tively lost $10 billion (around per cent while international grew by 7.7
nal charges against its ex-CEO and Rs 69,000 crore) in the six years per cent,” says CAPA’s Indian Aviation
had also commenced civil proceedings from 2008 to 2014. The industry is Outlook Report 2017-18.
in Bengaluru for such irregularities.” also straddled with $16 billion (Rs Experts say the basic issues with
Former CEO Mittu Chandilya, while 97,600 crore) debt. In 2014-15, Indian AirAsia include underestimating the
denying all allegations, too moved court carriers incurred losses of around Rs intense competition in India, dearth of
in 2016 seeking damages against Air- 8,000 crore, Indigo being the only per- adequate funds and absence of man-
Asia and Deloitte, the firm’s auditor. former in the green with a profit of Rs agement depth and attention from the
Recent reports say the Tatas are 787 crore in 2012-13, its fifth consecu- Tata Group. The airline’s first CEO and
increasing their stake in AirAsia to 49 tive profitable year, as it operated on- MD, Mittu Chandilya, left it abruptly in
per cent by acquiring the entire stake time flights and controlled its finances February 2016 after serving for less than
of Telestra Tradeplace. The move will better. Experts say the problem with two years. Amar Abrol, his successor,
help remove the ambiguity on owner- regional players is they understand also left the airline in June this year.
ship of the airline. The only thing now little of how the market operates and Thereafter, the airline has been strug-
remaining is funds infusion—ostensibly some of them are also unaware of the gling to get a new CEO. The CBI inquiry
held up because of the reluctance of the structural problems. into its operations has only made mat-
Malaysian parent to bring in its share. “The appetite for airlines in India to ters worse. “Tata has two airlines,
lose money is the highest in the world. Vistara and AirAsia. Why is that Tata’s
➜ WRONG TIMING? At this point, domestic airlines do not entire attention goes to Vistara, and
It is no secret that Tata loved the avia-
tion sector, being a licensed commercial
pilot himself and having dabbled with
the idea of bringing Singapore Airlines AIRASIA’S FIRST CEO, MITTU CHANDILYA ,
to India years ago. That didn’t pan out, LEFT ABRUPTLY IN FEBRUARY 2016. HIS
but in 2013, it entered into an agree- SUCCESSOR LEFT IN JUNE 2018. THE
ment with Singapore Airlines to own AIRLINE HAS BEEN STRUGGLING TO GET A
51 per cent in domestic venture Vistara,
which had a market share of 3.8 per
cent as on September 2017, over two
years after its launch in January 2015.
Indigo was the market leader with 38.2 have any business case,” Kapil Kaul, not AirAsia?” asks Jitendra Bhargava,
per cent share as on September 2017, CAPA CEO, had said in May 2015. This an aviation commentator. According to
followed by Jet Airways (15.4 per cent), is all the more significant at present, him, when the inaugural flight of AirA-
SpiceJet (13.8 per cent), Air India (13.5 when Indian airlines are continuing to sia India took place, not a single Tata
per cent), and GoAir (8.4 per cent); face turbulence on rising fuel costs, a functionary was present. “It shows the
AirAsia had a 4.1 per cent share. depreciating rupee, high airport naviga- extent of involvement the Tatas have... or
But was the timing right to launch tion fees and undercutting of tarifs. Tony Fernandes has allowed. He (Fer-
such a business? The Centre for Asia The latest caution comes from full nandes) is a good person who has been
Pacific Aviation (CAPA) says the year service carrier Jet Airways which has running an airline for some time, but
AirAsia was launched saw a traic said it will be unable to fly beyond 60 the Indian market is totally diferent.” It
increase and a decline in losses, but this days unless cost-cutting measures, in- is unimaginable that in an industry with
was largely due to lower fuel prices. The cluding pay cuts, are put in place. It has 85 per cent load factor an airline is still
bigger risk to recovery and profitabil- also approached investment bankers not able to make money, he adds.
ity—other than an increase in fuel pric- again to help sell a stake in the carrier (it With a turnaround in the aviation
es—was the failure to maintain pricing withdrew the pay cut move after certain sector slow to come by, the Tatas will
discipline. “In the first quarter of 2016, sections of the staf resisted). have a tough time ahead managing its
we have already seen airlines compro- Experts say that traic has been aviation ventures, especially AirAsia. ■

SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018 INDIA TODAY 51

PG 5 5 PG 5 6


PG 6 0 PG 62


ulitzer-nominated biographer
Deborah Baker’s new book, The Last
Englishmen: Love, War and the End of
Empire, is a work of history and imagi-
nation, a crowded portrait of the last couple of
decades of British rule in India. Over a million
Indian troops fought in the Great War, with
nearly 75,000 killed in action.
But Britain, cognisant of the
growing clamour for Indian
independence, rewarded
that loyalty by attempting
to tighten its grip. Barely
six or so months after
the end of World
War 1, Colonel Regi-
nald Dyer ordered

DEB at the foot
ER eak,
BAK Shivling p ch
of the her resea s
du rin g a a
e Him e
on th r book, Th
for he m n
s t English


troops to fire into an unarmed crowd at Jallianwala Bagh in concludes that the advice of his compatriots, tinged with Na-
Amritsar. Peace in Europe lasted barely two decades before zi-like intimations of racial superiority, is “useless or absurd,
World War II left Britain too depleted, too poor and ravaged like the lines and props for a play whose run is long over”. He
to resist the inevitability of Indian self-rule. Once again, eventually marries a Bengali, Sheila Bonnerjee, a grand-
India supported the war efort, providing and paying for daughter of Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee, the first president
thousands of troops. The Last Englishmen begins with the of the Indian National Congress, “a fantastically wealthy
Northern Irish poet Louis MacNeice contemplating a trip to luminary of the Calcutta barristocracy, and a social pillar of
newly independent India for the BBC to write a series of radio the Set.” Before that though, John Auden, Michael Spender
plays about the end of the Raj. and Louis MacNeice are also connected by their love of artist
“Even so,” Baker writes, “Louis thought, what was the Nancy Sharp, who is trapped in an unhappy marriage with
point of looking at India through Western eyes?” He goes in the painter William Coldstream. Sharp has an afair with
the end, of course. Looking at India through Western eyes is MacNeice and later marries Spender.
literally what John Bickenell Auden, elder brother of the poet Baker is married to the novelist Amitav Ghosh and writes
W.H. Auden, does as an employee about Bengalis with warmth and wit,
of the Geological Survey of India. with sympathy and love. Bengali ba-
“Though he never succeeded in bus might be reviled figures, mocked
being the first to climb the highest by both Indians and English for their
peaks,” Baker writes, “no other afectations, but, for Baker, they “were
explorer of his time looked as closely poets and philosophers. They had
at the mountains of the Himalaya minds that liked to roam where their
and the rocks they were made of lives could not”. Alongside Auden and
as John Auden.” Baker writes with Spender, poet Sudhindranath Datta,
real feeling and knowledge about publisher of Parichay, “a literary
the Himalayan expeditions. She journal modelled on T.S. Eliot’s Crite-
described herself in an interview rion, [which] first appeared in 1931”
as an “armchair explorer” who and host of Calcutta’s liveliest adda,
had always “wanted to climb the anchors The Last Englishmen.
Himalaya with tents and ropes and The title alludes, at least in part,
fire-cooked meals.” The copious to a quip by Jawaharlal Nehru, which
research required for the book serves as the book’s epigraph: “I am
provided the perfect excuse. the last Englishman to rule in India.”
Auden and Michael Spender Those who like to pillory Nehru may
(yes, also the brother of a poet, Ste- read that as an admission of guilt, but
phen Spender) are part of a project it is not. Rather, it is a precise, ironic
led by mountaineer Eric Shipton THE LAST ENGLISHMEN: expression of the ambivalence of those
to map the Karakoram range. The Love, War and the End of Empire inculcated with European culture and
by Deborah Baker
conquest and mapping of the Hima- PENGUIN INDIA
manners but keenly aware, as Sudhin
laya, particularly Mt. Everest, is as ` 599 is, that “should a white traveller re-
a metaphor for the British in India, quire a railway berth in the middle of
for the desire and eventual failure the night, he would be obliged to give
to assert their dominion, to control up his own”. That the “Datta family
nature. The younger, more famous Auden wrote a play with fortune derived from an alliance with India’s occupiers” is
Christopher Isherwood in 1936 called The Ascent of F6, part of a “complicated legacy” of the “betwixt-and-between”
which, Baker writes, “neatly dramatised Britain’s struggle, in world that Sudhin, and the Bonnerjees, inhabit.
its ongoing quest for Everest’s summit, to project its imperial But it is in these interstices that the individuals in Baker’s
power over a restive India.” book, British and Indian, connect, even amongst the destruc-
Of course, Auden (W.H.) was a trenchant, scathing critic tion, death and degradation of war and empire. As Louis
of the presumptions of Empire. In his poem ‘Partition’, he MacNeice put it, early in the book, “real freedom wasn’t a
wrote of Cyril Radclife, who drew the borders between India matter of getting out of things but of getting into them. Per-
and Pakistan, “Unbiased at least he was when he arrived on haps if he stuck a little bit of himself into India, India would
his mission / Having never set eyes on the land he was called stick him back”.
to partition.” John Auden, too, Baker shows, was disillu- The Last Englishmen can be an uphill struggle, but the
sioned with empire. When he’s told to steer clear of Indians view once you reach the top is remarkable. ■
upon his arrival in 1926 to join the Geological Survey, John —Shougat Dasgupta

54 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018


Among the artists showcas-
ing their “political works”

at Mumbai’s Clark House HAKA
Initiative’s recent show, Out- KAMB ess the
sider, 31-year-old Prabhakar works n of the
alien tio munity
Kamble addressed the alien- Dalit co
ation of his Dalit community
with unapologetic candour.
In ‘Still Practicing’, a
white brain sits atop a col- artist. “Here, the cracked a job as an art teacher, for didn’t approve of a Dalit
lection of earthen pots—a foot symbolises the reality of instance, he didn’t have the groom for their daughters.
metaphor for discrimina- caste discrimination in our Rs 3 lakh that a school of- He channelled all
tion. ‘Sweet Box’ features society and with this broken ficial demanded as a bribe. his frustrations into his
coins in mithai boxes—an foot no one stands united as He moved to Kolhapur art, which addresses the
allusion to bribery. In a society.” and eventually to Mumbai, chasm between policy and
‘Suppression’, a handful of Kamble’s family moved where he joined the LS implantation, corruption
bullets lie on the seat of a from Shendur to Ichalkaranji Raheja School of Arts, sleep- and the failure of welfare
chair painted with a map in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur ing in the hostel corridor programmes meant for the
of the world, aimed at a district where his father because he couldn’t aford a lower castes.
tambourine that symbolises worked in the town’s textile room. In 2013, he joined a “The caste system is
street protests. Another mills. The 10x10 room in post-diploma course at the entrenched in the society.
work, ‘Outsider’, is a cast of Ambedkar Nagar became JJ School of Art. Despite It is not overt, but when
Kamble’s foot, cracked and a laboratory for his art, ofers to study at universities conversations happen, you
with no semblance of bal- which deals with the plight abroad, he wasn’t able to ne- know you are an outcast. My
ance. “The idea of division of an educated Dalit man in gotiate the red tape involved art comes from these rejec-
is the same as illusion; it ex- today’s India. His personal in getting a scholarship. tions,” he says.
ists, but no one talks about history, he says, also reflects In love, too, he was un- Kamble’s next solo show
it as reality,” says Kamble, the collective history of his lucky—Kamble fell in love will take place in Kazakh-
who apprenticed as a sign community. twice only to be rejected stan. ■
painter before becoming an When he applied for by the girls’ families, who —Chinki Sinha

SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018 INDIA TODAY 55

MAYA s the
Shakes operatic
drama e of Sons
W EB SER IES viole c y back to
of Anar ll screen
sm a

rom co-creators Kurt Sutter and sides buying red meat for dinner. Like Sons..., Mayans

Elgin James, Mayans M.C. is a M.C. is concerned with family—both the actual and the
much-awaited spinof of the popu- criminal kind—but it seems inevitable that they’ll turn
lar Sutter-created series Sons of on each other before the show is a few episodes old.
Anarchy. That show ended in 2014, In a rather complicated narrative, Mayans makes
but FX is hoping its seven-season sure that all roads lead back to one man by connect-
run was an indication of the demand for violent ing nearly every thread to E.Z. By putting him at the
biker drama. The first season of Mayans M.C. is now mercy of the DEA, E.Z. is freed from the responsibility
streaming on Hotstar’s premium service. of answering why he’s on the path he’s on, thereby
For Sons of Anarchy fans, this show will fit like a robbing Mayans M.C. of the internal struggles of its
well-worn glove. It has loud motorcycles, raging gun main character. E.Z.’s direction, from the time he’s
battles, drug-running gangs, obscenity-laced introduced, is largely chosen for him and it’s not hard
tough talk, and a grisly torture scene early to guess that he will rise up the Mayan M.C. hi-
enough into the first episode. J.D. Pardo erarchy. Perhaps then, his level of charisma
plays Mayans M.C. “Prospect” Ezekiel will be upped along with a much-needed
“E.Z.” Reyes, joining his brother, An- dollop of swagger. Hopefully, in time, we’ll
gel (Clayton Cardenas), a full-fledged also see female characters as rich as the
member of the disciplined but violent ones Katey Sagal, Maggie Sif and Drea
band of men. E.Z., recently released de Matteo played on Sons... .
from prison, has cut a deal with the Real-life human drama at the border
DEA that leaves him straddling two has been playing out, with heartbreaking
worlds. Meanwhile, his former girlfriend J.D. Pardo power, on American television for months,
Emily (Sarah Bolger) has married Miguel and yet Mayans seems uninterested in tapping
Galindo (Danny Pino), the slick and ruthless head of into those themes.
the heroin cartel somewhere in southern California I’ll give the show a few more chances to hook me—
with whom the Mayans have formed an uneasy but Mayans might not be one of the best new shows of
lucrative alliance. Ever-dependable TV vet Edward the year, but it has a rich array of potential stories and
James Olmos plays E.Z.’s and Angel’s resolute and law- inherently interesting characters—and you won’t need
abiding father, Felipe. He owns a humble butcher shop to have seen Sons of Anarchy to think so. ■
where other occasional transactions are made be- —Harsh Man Rai
LEISURE have been devastating.
To compound the tension, Razvi had scheduled a
holiday without considering Godless might win the trip,
SIC so Bengaluru-based vocalist Kaushal L.S. had to sub in
for him. And the whole crew—which also includes drum-
mer Aniketh Yadav and guitarist Ravi Nidamarthy—was
putting the finishing touches on their second EP Swarm,

Headbangers’ hustling to secure more gigs to make the most of their

first trip to Europe as musicians and seeking out a spon-
sor to cover expenses.

Ball At the eleventh hour, the band tweeted to Telangana’s

IT minister K.T. Rama Rao, whom Razvi recognised
as an active supporter of arts and culture in the state.
“He responded the same day and said the government
wouldn’t be able to help, but that he can find us a private
sponsor.” Lahari Resorts came forward to cover all
expenses of the trip, which by then had also included an
ast month, the rockers of Hyderabad-based additional Germany gig in the city of Kiel.
L death/ thrash metal band Godless scored a
trip to Germany for the nearly 30-year-old
China’s Die From Sorrow wound up winning the con-
test, with Ukraine’s Motanka and Romania’s An Theos
Wacken Open Air festival by winning the India edition taking second and third place. But Godless’s 20-minute
of the Wacken Metal Battle. But the real fight was set was greeted by calls for an encore twice over, confirm-
getting visas and the cash needed for the dream gig at ing Kaushal’s belief that they have what it takes to make
the world’s largest heavy metal festival, says bassist it on the world stage. “There’s no point in being in a band
and founder Abbas Razvi. if you don’t want to be the best in the world,” he says.
“All four of our visa applications got rejected at first,” With that same confidence, Razvi says they played
says Razvi, who grew up in Hyderabad. “We didn’t like any other day—razor-edged rifs, pummelling
realise how much work goes into a visa. We reapplied, drums, anguished growls and all. “We weren’t thinking
appealed and got our visas just a week before flying.” about the results, because even if it’s a competition, we
Running annually in the small village 80 km didn’t change anything for Wacken,” the bassist says.
northwest of Hamburg since 1990, Wacken Open Air With the first single from Swarm, ‘From Beyond,’
added a global “battle of the bands” in 2004, and the already exceeding expectations, and the full EP set to
competition finals now attract more than 70,000 met- release on October 27, there are more victories to come. „
alheads from some 40 countries. So missing it would —Anurag Tagat

’S s
DLE set wa r
GO inute alls fo
m yc e
20- ted b e twic n
e r e
gre enco Wack al
an r at estiv
ove n Air f

SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018 INDIA TODAY 57



Actor Neeraj Kabi came into the lime-
light with Ship of Theseus (2013). His
work has since been appreciated in
content as different as Hichki and Sa-
cred Games. He spoke with INDIA TODAY
about the stage, films and streaming TV.
Q. Do you see film and stage as dif-

OLD SCHOOL ROMANCE ferent kinds of acting?

My training in theatre helps me stay fo-
cused to produce continuity of character

in a film. You have to be larger than life on
few minutes into Once Again, ground masala, should appeal to stage. Everything I did as a theatre actor
we see the middle-aged Amar, whose first gift to her is a gajra. was defined by physicality. It was styl-
female protagonist Tara The premise—of a connection ised. I was not in the realist zone. I played
Shetty (Shefali Shah) patting fostered through the daily delivery of Hamlet in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
her face. The deliberateness of her a freshly-cooked meal—is bound to Are Dead, where I was on stilts. Another
gestures suggests a nightly ritual: she invite comparisons with The Lunch- time I did a Molière play, all jumps and
seems to be putting something on, box (2013). Both films are redolent somersaults, landing on the knees. When
perhaps an invisible layer of cream? with old-school romance: nostalgia I did films, it was all about realism, getting
deeper into the psyche of the character.
Almost immediately after, there is for handwritten notes and landline
a mirroring, when we see the film’s appointments. Unlike the plotted
Q. Is streaming allowing for differ-
middle-aged male protagonist in the safety of Ritesh Batra’s film though, ent kinds of content—aesthetically,
midst of his own cleansing ritual. Tara and Amar meet several times, socially, politically?
But Amar Kumar (Neeraj Kabi) is letting the charmed flame of their Absolutely. One, the format of cinema is
a famous film star, phone banter flicker into two hours: you can’t say everything. The
and his smoky black unscripted disappoint- web series format allows more space and
eye make-up is being Once Again ment. Women have long freedom. Also, there is no censorship, so
gently dabbed away artfully cooked to express love. people are trying every damn thing they
can do over here. It’ll settle down soon.
by someone else. The depicts a The film recognises the
But yes, right now that fire is there.
addition of an invis- middle-aged intimacy of the act, and
ible layer versus the the unequal gendered
removal of a visible
couple drifting labour of it. But Sethi’s
Q. You’ve done many grey roles. Did
into love playing the romantic lead in Once
one; the woman’s ac- glancing, atmospheric Again exercise different muscles?
tions hoping to stave style doesn’t delve too I was very excited. I’m a diehard romantic,
of the inevitability of deep, sometimes leaving I’ll be that until I’m 90. But I came into the
age, while the man has us with more suggestion industry in my 40s, and love stories are
just shot for a sequence with younger than substance. written for 25-30-year-olds.
women: of such contrasting details is The protagonists’ relationships
Kanwal Sethi’s film made. with their respective grown-up chil- Q. Unless you’re Shah Rukh Khan.
Creating characters who share dren never feel fully fleshed out, com- All the Khans and even the Kumars have
an audience that’s seen them at 25. So,
your sensibility is the oldest trick in ing of like distractions from our main
they can do this till they’re 70. People will
the writer’s book, and Sethi takes focus. This is particularly so because
accept them. But I’m doing this mature
this route, making Tara and Amar Shah and Kabi are fine actors, and love story; I wanted to look good! I’d like
agents of the film’s unhurried tactil- Shah’s intensity makes her chemistry the audience to love me, even fall in love
ity. It makes perfect sense that Tara’s with Kabi a smouldering thing. „ with me. ■
cooking, slow marination and hand- —Trisha Gupta —with Trisha Gupta

58 INDIA TODAY SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018

Jim Carrey teams up with the
director of the Eternal Sunshine
of the Spotless Mind for this
story of a children’s TV host who
has to keep things smiley despite
a devastating death in the family.

High concept meets low
production values in this Ryan
Murphy/ Brad Falchuk-esque
sci-fi romp. The first episode
drags awfully. But the idea of
the New Founding Fathers mak-
ing America great again with a
holiday that makes murder legal
ensures we’ll give it another shot.
Amazon Prime


“I AM A DIEHARD ROMANTIC, I WILL BE THAT After the man-bashing of
Jessica Jones and 13 Reasons
UNTIL I AM 90. BUT I CAME INTO THE INDUSTRY Why, we finally get the perfect
boyfriend: Dreamy and smart
IN MY 40S, AND LOVE STORIES ARE WRITTEN and unrealistically kind.
FOR 25 TO 30-YEAR-OLDS.” Netflix

SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018 INDIA TODAY 59



or top footballers, period for the club, City had floundered, sodes are available to watch, providing a
the season is an playing in the third tier of English foot- backstage look at the smooth running of

F ever-lengthening
ordeal. Some 108
players from English
Premier League clubs
played at the World Cup in Russia, more
ball in the same season that Manchester
United swept to an unprecedented
treble, winning the Premier League, the
Champions League and the FA Cup.
In 2008, the club, owned then by
a successful, multinational corporation.
The operative word for All or Noth-
ing: Manchester City is slick. Everything
about it gleams, from the production
values, to the club’s facilities, to the
than from any other league; Spain’s the former Thai prime minister Thaksin league campaign itself. This is more
top division finished a distant second, Shinawatra, was bought by the Abu primped and preening advertorial than
providing 78 players. Within days of Dhabi United Group. After a decade, documentary, as if in exchange for ac-
the World Cup’s conclusion, Premier and over a billion pounds in invest-
League teams were already packing for ment, City has won three league titles Guardiola trained his
Barcelona and Bayern
meaningless pre-season friendlies in (having managed two since its founding Munich teams to play in
far-flung outposts of the ‘empire’—in in 1894), an FA Cup, and two League a distinctive style
Australia, Singapore, the US. Cups. Last year, under the guidance of
The club with the most players at the the former Barcelona and Bayern Mu-
World Cup was Manchester City with nich manager Pep Guardiola, City broke
16, more than their rivals United, more the records for most goals, most points,
than the most successful, most presti- and most wins in a single Premier
gious clubs in European football—more League season, finishing 19 points clear
than Real Madrid and Barcelona, more of United, their closest challengers. The
than Bayern Munich and Juventus. season has been captured in exhaustive,
City’s rise has been meteoric. Since if unilluminating, detail by the Amazon
winning a League Cup in 1976, the last, Prime documentary series All or Noth-
fading echo of a relatively glittering ing. Released on August 17, all eight epi-


cess, the filmmakers had to suspend all critical
judgement, analysis and historical perspec-
tive. Guardiola is the undisputed focus of the
documentary—a football prophet who, with
the not inconsiderable help of Lionel Messi,
Xavi and Andres Iniesta, created in Barcelona
(2008-2011) perhaps the greatest club side in
European football history.
An apostle of the Dutch master Johan
Cruyf, Guardiola’s Barcelona and Bayern Mu-
nich teams played in a distinctive style—short
passing, with full backs as auxiliary attackers; THE BILLIONAIRES CLUB
pressing opponents high when possession is by James Montague
lost; and lots of tactical fouling in no-man’s Bloomsbury; ` 499
land, disrupting the rhythm of opponents Clubs at the top end of the
starved of the ball for large parts of the game. Premier League haemorrhage
In All or Nothing, Guardiola comes across as a money and the profits are
marginal. Why are Russian
cult leader, all manic enthusiasm and physi-
oligarchs and Gulf royals flock-
cal charisma. He gets in his players’ faces, his ing to English football? Does it
afection as aggressive as his anger. He speaks matter who the owners are?
in gnomic, rat-a-tat sentences, mostly about
courage and values.
Last year’s The Title, by sportswriter Scott
Murray, tells the story of the foundation of the
English League in 1888 to the century-long
history of the first division (1892-1992), before
R it was replaced in the 1992-93 season by the
MANC Y’S gussied up Premier League. It reminds you
CIT the
g rise to how open the top division of English football,
stun in e Premier
top of t the focus indeed European football, once was, how THE TITLE
g ue is
Le a tary
th e do cumen provisional the gap between champions and by Scott Murray
of othing Bloomsbury; ` 799
All or N also-rans. Gone now is the parochial English
game—its solidarities and rivalries bolstered Before the Premier League
was the First Division. The
by the largely shared class and culture of both
stadiums ramshackle, the
players and fans—replaced by corporate and fans rough, and the football
cosmopolitan values. Manchester City at- rougher, but what English
housands of paying supporters, football has gained in corpo-
munity. What keeps a global rate polish it has lost in spirit.
Manchester City fans together?
of money from Abu Dhabi
s it buys? As journalist James
ws in The Billionaires Club,
clubs are playthings of global
—Russian oligarchs, Chinese
erican businessmen, and Arab
y should fans care when the
rly don’t?
ier League returns to our WHAT WE THINK ABOUT WHEN
kend, we in India, like arm- WE THINK ABOUT FOOTBALL
by Simon Critchley
d the world, will be glued to Hachette; ` 399
umbers that our local clubs
“Football,” writes Critchley,
not hope to get. It’s not the a philosopher, “can be a ter-
e in India, where Premier rible thing.” Especially in its
hers are largely ‘affluent’. It’s present hyper-globalised,
■ neo-liberal form.
—Shougat Dasgupta

SE P T E M BE R 2 4, 2 018 INDIA TODAY 61

Vicky Kaushal, actor, on
what’s special about his
mentor, theory versus
practice, and finding his
inner corruption

Q. Who is Vicky Kaushal?

He is the guy who served Anurag
Kashyap tea during the shooting
of Black Friday when the latter
would come to our chawl to meet
my action director father. Vicky is
that person who, while learning
precision drawing during his
engineering degree, was clear
that he wanted to explore life’s
vagueness in front of the camera.

Q. How was the experience of

working with Anurag Kashyap
in Manmarziyan?
What is special about him is that he
lets you interpret the character; he
is never a dictator and trusts your
intelligence. I always knew it would
be enthralling. Not pushing is his
way of pushing you for the best.

Q. You started as an assistant

director with him in Gangs of
Wasseypur. Any plans to go
behind the camera?
No. I was an assistant because I
wanted to understand filmmaking.
I have never been to a film school
and didn’t want to be lost in front of
the camera.

Q. You have played varied

characters, from Masaan to
Zubaan. How tough was it to get
nside the skin of a corrupt cop
n Raman Raghav?
HAL Till date, that’s my toughest role.
KAUS ase
new re n was The character was so far away
r a
Manma t the recent rom me in real life that it was
ed a
screen International almost impossible to relate to it.
Toronto Festival But that was the challenge, and
he reason I wanted to play it. I
discovered the dark corners inside
myself during the 21-day shoot
across edgy and claustrophobic

—with Sukant Deepak

62 Volume XLIII Number 39; For the week September 18-24, 2018, published on every Friday Total number of pages 76 (including cover pages)


www.indiatoday.in SEPTEMBER 24, 2018 `60

9 7 7 0 2 5 4 8 3 9 9 0 9
RNI NO. 28587/75

Fashion designer
Suneet Varma (R)
with his partner
Rahul Arora

Things to do
around town
Artist Manjor Kaur’s
creative journey

Author Aseem
Chhabra on writing
A about Peecee


Today in Pu
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HealthFu n ways t o s t ay
58 Not forr sale

fit in the city

005 / 19

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Eight Sethi Dhaba

Noo. DE

Dhabas In
he Region


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Cover Story
Street Side Story
Despite the rise of top
restaurant chains, these
dhabas have not lost
their charm.

Photograph by SANDEEP SAHDEV

Aroon Purie
Group Editorial Director
Raj Chengappa Into the City ➜
Group Creative Editor
Nilanjan Das
Group Photo Editor
City Buzz
Bandeep Singh Ten fun things to look
forward to, including a
Deputy Editor
Prachi Bhuchar new resturant, a yoga retreat
Senior Associate Editor and a fitness dance class.
Sukant Deepak
Consulting Editors
Mohini Mehrotra
Rewati Rau
Photo Department Cover photograph by SANDEEP SAHDEV
Vikram Sharma
Photo Researchers
Prabhakar Tiwari,
Shubhrojit Brahma, Saloni Vaid
OUR PICK of the month Adrenaline Rush
Get ready for the World Heritage
Anuranjan Bhatia
Production Cuisine Summit and Food Festival that
Harish Aggarwal (Chief of the state is all set to play host to. With
Production), Naveen Gupta,
Vijay Sharma, Prashant Verma
chefs from 50 countries, out of the
Layout Execution 108 member nations, two oicial chef
Ramesh Kumar Gusain delegates will present their heritage
Pradeep Singh Bhandari
culinary art skills, share their
knowledge and make live
Publishing Director
Manoj Sharma
demonstrations. Being the host,
Associate Publisher (Impact) Punjab will showcase the best of their
Anil Fernandes ethnic food and heritage and philoso-
phy of food.
Impact Team
Senior General Manager:
On October 12-14
Jitendra Lad (West) At Gobindgarh Fort, Amritsar
General Managers: Details heritagesummit2018.com
Upendra Singh (Bangalore);
Kaushiky Gangulie (East)

Volume 14 Number 9; September 2018

Copyright Living Media India Ltd. All rights reserved throughout the world. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited.
Published & Printed by Manoj Sharma on behalf of Living Media India Limited. Printed at Thomson Press India Limited, 18 - 35, Milestone, Delhi - Mathura Road,
Faridabad - 121 007, (Haryana). Published at K - 9, Connaught Circus, New Delhi - 110 001. Editor: Raj Chengappa
● India Today does not take responsibility for returning unsolicited publication material.


Few can resist the food
served at the dhabas that dot
Punjab's landscape. Despite
the rise of top restaurant
chains, these dhabas have
not lost their charm.


Photographs by SANDEEP SAHDEV

At Rangla Punjab, multiple elements Binge on This Just adjoining the

come together to relect the DNA of famed Haveli dhaba on NH 1, Rangla
the state, which makes it popular not Punjab, set up in 2004, serves
just in the country but across the world. a lavish Punjabi thali, which the
It’s not just the all-vegetarian food waiters, dressed in traditional lungis
at Rangla Punjab, but the colourful and headgear ensure is never half-
ambience that attracts people. You can empty. Their slow-cooked dal mixed
spot an astrologer who predicts your vegetable, a fried snack and lassi are
stars, children playing hopscotch, a bull popular and the place gets close to
moving in circles to pull water from the 2000 visitors a day. The crisp paneer
well and bhangra dancers carrying on in and kheer with hints of saffron, keeps
happy abandon. All this with a museum lingers in your mouth long after you
that houses pre-Partition memorabilia finished your meal.
including chulhas and colourful hand
fans—there's enough to keep one Meal for Two `700
busy all day. Tel 098145 99000








Singer Gurdas Mann’s songs will almost of students as well. Not to mention regu-
always welcome you at this dhaba as he lars from Zirakpur, Chandigarh, Panch-
stares at you from the multiple post- kula and Dera Bassi,” says owner Sonu
ers that adorn the dhaba's walls. Sethi Sethi, who established the dhaba over Model SEEP
Location SETHI
Dhaba’s obsession with the singer is one a decade ago. DERABASSI, PUNJAB
thing but it is the delicious food served Makeup by SURKHAB ANJUM

here that actually makes it a must-visit More than Food Weekends here are
for people across the region. about jam sessions where Punjabi sing-
ers are invited from across the state.
Just don’t miss Yellow dal, sarson ka The dhaba now also boasts of a free
saag, kheer and lassi. “What sets us apart round-the-clock ambulance service.
from most dhabas on the highway is that
everything served here is prepared abso- Meal for two `150
lutely fresh and people know that. At Opposite Silver City,
We are frequented by those going to Ambala-Chandigarh road, Zirakpur
Shimla from Delhi and a large number Tel 9888577438



Hot Savoury Balloons Crisp on the

exterior, and with insides illed with
a mixture of dal and spices—the
pooris at Ramu Halwai have earned
their fame rightfully. Recommended
far and wide, these were deinitely
the best we have ever had. Patrons
are known to line up outside even
before they open and plan their
breakfast trips from as far as Mum-
bai. They even pack the dough and
vegetables, so people can savour the
pooris hot at home.

Humble Beginnings
Opened in 1937, the place is run by
Sanjay Kumar-Tony and his older
brother Manoj Kumar. Generations
have grown up eating the pooris and
the vegetable serving of potatoes,
chana and green chilli gravy served
with a dollop of curd. All this, sans
onion and garlic, makes it a huge

Meal for two `50

At Anaaj Mandi, Ferozepur Cantt
Tel 9417168974



Old But New A haven for vegetar- must-haves too. However, the
ians, Raja Dhabha is a must stop unique dish here is the lemon

VEGETARIAN if you are on the Jagraon-Moga paneer cooked in a tangy gravy.

Highway. Originally set up in 1990, Catering to the NRI crowd are
the dhaba was relaunched in 2014 a few non-spicy dishes like the
DELIGHTS and is now run by Parminder Singh
Raja and his brother Ravinder.
cream gol gappas, methi malai
matar and cream sandwhich.
RAJA DHABHA, Don't Miss Raja Dhabha dishes For the Wanderer Targeting trav-
JAGRAON out some old and new delicacies ellers, the seating at this dhabha is
160 KM FROM with a twist. Favourites here in- not typically rustic but has cush-
CHANDIGARH clude the aloo tikki—a large tikki, ioned and plush sofas in warm
illed with a generous helping of rich colours.
dry dal, and paneer and topped Meal for two `800
with dried almonds. The sarson Where Ludhiana-Moga GT Road
ka saag and kadhi and rajma are Tel 9988500000



(Below) Mohinder Singh,

owner, Pal Dhabha

good non-vegetarian food.

“The place started with two
tables and now has more than
Talk to him about the recipes 22. This is besides the 400
of their ever-popular non-vege- take-away customers we cater
tarian dishes and Sunny Pal, the to everyday,” says Pal.
33-year-old third generation Don’t Miss With three out-
owner of Pal Dhaba in Chan- lets in Chandigarh alone, the
digarh says, “That will always dhaba continues to attract old
remain in the family.” and new patrons with dishes
Going Back Pal’s grandfather like bheja fry, butter and dahi
Ashok Kumar was allotted a chicken curry, mutton rara and
booth in 1969. He knew that a rogan josh.
majority of the Punjabi popula- Meal for Two `500
tion in the newly established At Booth number 165-166,
Chandigarh and adjoining Sector 28-D, Chandigarh
areas would always crave for Tel 0172 2657596

Vijay Sharma,
owner, Kesar Dhaba Serpentine streets with electric Vijay Sharma has ensured that
wires hanging low lead you to a all recipes and cooking methods
glorious dhaba that can be see remain as they were in 1916. “It
embraced by centuries old build- would be an insult to our ances-
ings. What is special about the tors if we changed them,” says
A BRIEF famed Kesar dhaba is its ability
to transport one back in time.
the 60-year-old.

HISTORY Going Back This dhaba’s legacy

Don’t Miss The dal at Kesar is
cooked on a slow burner in a

OF FOOD goes back to 1916 when it was

established in Sheikhupura, Pak-
brass pot for 24 hours before
being served to customers. Urad
KESAR istan. The preferred eating spot dal, chana and lachcha parantha
DHABA, of freedom ighter Lala Lajpat are all-time favourites here.
AMRITSAR Rai and his associates, who
230 KM FROM patronised it for its famed dal Meal for two `400
CHANDIGARH and paranthas, the eatery shifted (approximately)
to Amritsar post-Partition in At Chowk Passian, Amritsar
1947. Third generation owner Tel 9888124219


Simply Chicken No
red carpet, no menu,
its recipe. Apparently,
some have even in- OH SO ROYAL
no fancy chairs, this troduced it on their ROYAL ATTA CHICKEN,
nondescript shop with menus. But they can’t KOKTAPURA,
soot-laden walls lined compare it to the orig-
with photographs is a inal by just wrapping it
testament to all food- in atta,” he says.
ies—where there is
food there is a will Well Kept Secret
to have it. Scores of The recipe involves
foodies travel from a full chicken, mari-
different parts of the nated with home
state to have a bite ground spices, tightly
of chicken here. wrapped in a muslin
cloth, and then cov-
Royal Treatment ered with a thick layer
Called the Royal Atta of kneaded dough. It
chicken, this one takes is then placed in an
three hours to prepare oven to cook, usually
and its uniqueness for three hours. To
lies in its dressing. serve, the shell is bro-
Made with a secret ken open, the muslin
recipe handed down cloth unwrapped and
Kanwarjit Singh Sethi, owner,
by his father in 1972, chicken pieces cut. Royal Atta Chicken
Kanwarjit Singh Sethi Since it is cooked
says that he would without any oil, it is
not give this up for absolutely fat free.
all the money in the
world. “We have had Meal for two `525
chefs and people from At Pheruman Chowk,
across India, try and Kotkapura
convince me to share Tel 01635-224062


Story The story so far Originally started butter chicken fabulous.
in the year 1962 near the railway Family Run Harman's son Kan-
station in Ludhiana, Baba’s Chick- waljit Singh, 56, helped build the
en, so named because of the low- brand, expanding it to four more
ing beard of its founder Harnam outlets within the city and his son
Singh, is one of the most successful Avneet Singh, 32, armed with an
dhabhas in the region. Now spread MBA is now helping run the place.
UTTERLY across Punjab in its modern avatar,
it still serves the traditional famed
Beyond Chicken Baba’s Chicken
has a lot more to offer than just

BUTTERLY butter chicken. As history goes,

it is the lack of ready-made dry
butter chicken. It has a vast menu
for vegetarians; the lemon mush-

CHICKEN masalas that prompted Harnam

Singh to grind his own, thus add-
ing that mouth-watering touch to
room and grilled pineapple are the
Future Wise The brand name
the chicken. In 1991, the small set has been legally patented and next
up shifted to Model Town in Lud- on the agenda are express joints
135 KM FROM hiana with a dine-in option and the across the region, which will serve
rest as they is history. a limited menu of snacks and of
What's different What sets their course the butter chicken.
butter chicken apart from all oth-
Kanwaljit Singh, owner, ers is the specially prepared yel- Meal for two `1,800
Baba Chicken, Ludhiana low gravy. Creamy and rich with Where Canal Road, South City
lavours, the thick gravy makes this Tel 9863450000


Photograph by SANDEEP SAHDEV

Author Aseem ✽ HOW DID YOU THINK pageants, her Bollywood career
Chhabra tells us ABOUT WRITING ON and how she evolved into a
what it was like PRIYANKA CHOPRA? SINCE very ine actress, in the book, I
WHEN HAVE YOU BEEN was equally interested in learn-
writing about
TRACKING HER CAREER? ing about the strategies that
the greatest I thought a lot about what my were charted out to launch her
crossover star next book would be after I did career in the US.
a biography on Shashi Kapoor. I had already been tracking the
✿ By Sukant Deepak What got me excited about beginning of her crossover and
Priyanka was tracking her tran- had written a few articles on it.
sition to the US, irst as pop Frankly, the book became
singer and later as an actress. a continuation of the research
While I focus on her childhood and writings I had already done
, the Miss India and Miss World on Priyanka.


✽ WE'RE EXPECTING TWO loved to learn more about her energy and focus and makes
MORE BOOKS ON HER — childhood and the school days them the famous persons we QUICK TAKE
DARK HORSE AND HER spent in the US. know of. Priyanka comes from
OWN BOOK OF PERSONAL a middle class family with an WHAT ARE YOU
ESSAYS. WHAT MAKES ✽ HOW WAS WRITING ON army background. Her journey READING
I am re-reading Vikram
I don't want to comment on the FERENT FROM WRITING ON interesting. I quote Priyanka
Seth's A Suitable Boy.
other books. But I have been SHASHI KAPOOR? Chopra in the book as say- Mira Nair is working on a
very careful to track her life and Shashi Kapoor was alive when ing "We were real people. In mini-series on the book
celebrate her, without focusing India real people don't become and it makes sense to
on gossip that often becomes a movie stars." refresh the whole story
part of the narrative of a celeb- before I watch her show
next year.
rity's life. Plus, I think since ✽ IT CAN BE TEMPTING TO
I have lived in New York for GET INTO THE PERSONAL
I am not a tabloid
many years, I was able to bring LIFE OF A CELEBRITY. HOW
sort of a journalist.
in fresh perspectives about her DO YOU MANAGE TO STAY A FILM YOU CAN
work and life in the States. I don't make up AWAY FROM THAT? WATCH ANYTIME
gossip. I don't I am not a tabloid sort of a jour- I really love Shoojir
✽ YOU COULDN'T GET write gossip. That nalist. I don't make up gossip. I Sircar's Piku. I think I
is not my training have seen it about
ACCESS TO PRIYANKA don't write gossip. That is not four times.
CHOPRA. SO, HOW DID YOU and I have built my training and I have built
GO ABOUT THE RESEARCH? a career writing a career writing serious stuff •••
HOW DO YOU THINK THE serious stuff about about ilms, ilmmakers and
BOOK WOULD HAVE BEEN films, filmmakers actors. I do cover Priyanka's WHEN NOT WRITING,
DIFFERENT HAD YOU BEEN and actors. personal life in the book. I talk WHAT DO YOU
ALLOWED THAT? about her childhood, her par-
Aseem Chhabra, I am a movie buf - so
I was not able to talk to Priyanka ents and her schooling, espe- I am watching films in
Film Critic and Writer
since she is writing her autobi- cially in US. There are times theaters, on Netflix,
ography. But I approached the where I touch upon reports Amazon, Hotstar and at
project as a journalist would, about her relationships - but film festivals. I love the
by researching the Internet for only if there were documenta- experience of getting
lost in the stories.
material, watching her ilms, tions, in terms of news reports
often more than once, and I started work on his biogra- or conversations on TV shows •••
interviewing a range of person- phy, but he was unwell and his such as Koffee With Karan. But
alities — actors and directors career was over. Chopra has a at no time I make up stories or WHO ARE YOU GOING
including Karan Johar, Zoya very active, busy professional gossip and none of this is the TO WRITE ON NEXT?
Akhtar, Rahul Bose, Vishal and social life. Every day there focus of the book. We often Let’s skip this
Bhardwaj, Prakash Jha, Manav is some news about some. So, have a tendency to try and one, please
Kaul, Rohan Sippy, Madhur the challenge here was how bring down famous people.
Bhandarkar among others. to end the book and I knew all But my intention in writing
the while that I would miss out the book was not to malign often a big challenge, especially
It was a challenge to write the on some crucial stories about Priyanka. I wanted to appreciate the times when I was in New
book without her involvement, her life. her life and career. York, which as you know is
but in a way it also freed me almost ten hours behind India.
from the constraints of working ✽ WHAT IS IT ABOUT ✽ WHAT WAS THE MOST And ilmmakers also tend to be
with the star. However, LIVES OF FILM DIFFICULT PART OF WRIT- very busy. So getting appoint-
I felt a lot of responsibility in STARS MAKES THEM ING THE BOOK? ments from them can be tricky.
being truthful about her while FASCINATING? While I loved talking to ilm- ✽ WHAT'S NEXT?
also celebrating her life. This I like to look at them as regular makers who had worked with ANOTHER BOOK?
said, had I got an opportunity people and try to understand Priyanka, getting them to com- I'm not sure right now. I have
to work with her, I would have what drives them to work with mit time for interviews was ideas, but I also need a break.


Feature ART

Photograph by SANDEEP SAHDEV

Multimedia artist,
Manjot Kaur during
a performance


Footloose forArt
As Chandigarh-based artist Manjot Kaur becomes the only Indian to be invited to
Unidee - Cittadellarte - Foundazione Pistolleto residency in Italy this year, she feels that
it is high time that the state government starts giving due attention to art and artists

✿ By Sukant Deepak

ainting, installation, performance the art community is realising the impor- The artist, who was given a cash
and video art—for artist Manjot tance of residencies, with many like Khoj award of `50,000 by the Punjab Lalit
Kaur, the canvas is wide and ever- (New Delhi), TIFA (Bangalore), Piramal Kala Akademi during the Annual Art
expanding. Something she insists helps Museum (Mumbai) and Pepper House Exhibition this year for her drawing
her ind herself in the maze of colours (Kochi) offering a mental and physical Growing Smaller, feels that it would not
around her. This 29-year-old from space for young artists to realise their cre- be fair to ask her to pick between paint-
Ludhiana, who completed her master’s ativity. However, she says that art still does ing, installation and performance as
degree from Government Art College not reach the grassroot level. “Artists from all emerge from different spaces in her
in Chandigarh (2012) has recently villages should be given an opportunity to mind. “Everything depends on the idea
been selected for the prestigious two explore things through creative outlets,” that I am working with at a particular
month residency Unidee - Cittadellarte - she says. point in time. Painting/ drawing comes
Foundazione Pistolleto in Italy. intuitively to me, video is an extension
of that (paintings and drawings) while
She is looking forward to exploring the installation happens when there is a
formal organisation of the architec- desire to socially engage and develop
tural elements found in Indian miniature QUICK TAKE my practice. A performance piece
paintings while there. “This opportunity emerges when I want to incorporate a
is bound to advance my career as an artist, If not an artist sense of time and imbibe live experi-
enhance my way of thinking and creating. Travel show host ence." she says.
Frankly, to live in a place that breathes •••
art, developed by artist and art theorist Relax mode means During her MFA (2012), a time when no
Michealanglo Pistelletto is a dream come Sleeping and listening to music one else in the college was experiment-
true,” she says. ••• ing with multi-media, Kaur decided to
Interests besides art
get into video art and lent a video format
Travelling and reading
Considered one of the most promising to 22 of her paintings. Both her teach-
young artists from the region, Kaur, who ers and fellow students at Chandigarh
On my bookshelf
is just back from a residency at Khoj in College of Arts were quite impressed
Understanding a Photograph
New Delhi, was also part of the week- by John Berger
with the young artist's move. "There was
long Land Art Biennale in Switzerland in ••• always something about 'movement' that
September, 2017. She feels that despite Favourite travel fascinated me no end," she says.
living in Chandigarh, her exposure destination
through residencies and extensive travel- Amsterdam Kaur foresees travelling to major art
ling has added value to her work. “The ••• centres across the world in order to
best part is that I have learnt to keep my Favourite art form expose herself to different genres, in
mind open,” she says. besides what I practice the coming years. “Believe me, it is
Cinema the fear of becoming stagnant that
She is happy that India is slowly emerging pushes me to keep moving constant-
as a major centre of art in South Asia and ly.” she says.




A Walk Through
the Past
Qila Mubarak, situated in
Bhatinda, is one of the oldest
surviving forts in India.

✿ By Amrita Dhaliwal
Photographs by SANDEEP SAHDEV
The hustle bustle of the city, even with small pockets of ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, commemorate his visit.
the honking of the vehicles crumbling ruins that the was kept imprisoned in this Many visitors also come in to
and everyday chatter fades Archeological Survey of India fort after she was defeated see the cannons that Babur
away as one enters the narrow is yet to work on. and dethroned. Guru Gobind brought with him to India.
pathway that leads to an open What makes the Qila popular, Singh, the tenth guru of the Four of them, made of an
expanse of manicured lawns. however, is how it is brimming Sikhs, also visited this place. alloy of silver, gold, copper
Spread across 15 acres, Qila with stories from the past. A Gurdwara was later con- and iron are there in this fort
Mubaarak, is a sight to behold, Razia Sultana, the irst lady structed within the fort to for viewing.

A majestic and old-fashioned

doorway welcomes visitors
to the Qila Mubarak and
gives them a regal feel. Qila
Mubarak is also one of the
highest forts that have been
constructed with small
bricks. Owing to its height,
vistors can delight in a
panoramic view of the entire
town of Bhatinda.

According to the ASI staf,

the fort is blessed at all
times of the day. Guru ka
Langar is served to those
visiting the fort and the
Gurdwara for blessings.
During all the festivals and
holidays the fort is lit up
from outside and is a sight
to behold.


TIMINGS 9 am to 6 pm. The office inside the fort complex and
Gurudwara is accessibile from its staff is more than ready and
6 am to 9 pm. happy to brief any one interested
FOR THE HANDICAPPED Three in the history of the place or assist
wheelchairs are available. with any other help.




to order
Play areas mushrooming in the region are ensuring that toddlers
have an option to play come rain or shine ✿ By Amrita Dhaliwal
Photographs by SANDEEP SAHDEV

ith furniture made to size, have taken a backseat; play areas
specially designed menus that also double as cafes are the new
that keep the young cli- playgrounds for today’s generation.
ents’ choices in mind, Chandigarh is An added advantage is that your
looking to please the most diicult child is looked after, so the family
of the lot—children. Good old parks can sit and enjoy a meal.


KIDS OWN, Chandigarh
One of the irst of its kind, Kids Own has
been wooing families in the region for
over a decade now. “We were based out of
Belgium till 2006 and when we moved THE FUN FACTORY, Jalandhar
PLAY DATE, Chandigarh back, we realised there was no dedicated This place is a dream come true for tiny
The newest addition to the trend is family friendly environment in which the tots. Opened in early 2015, it is spread
Play Date in Sector 7, Chandigarh. adults could sit back and have a coffee across four loors with a restaurant on the
Spread across two floors, Play Date while children played. That, combined ifth, so the children are spoilt for choice.
has been conceptualised by best with long summers, monsoons, and “We're originally from the construction
friends Chandini and Guneesha who neglected outdoor playgrounds, led us to business. We owned this property and
felt the need for such a space after set up the irst indoor playground in the tri- decided to build something for children,”
seeing the lack of any for their tiny city area,” say Tarun and Nalini Sibal. Kids says the owner Dalvir Singh Sodhi. Each
tots. Having an experienced restau- Own is spread across two loors with an loor has different gaming options —laser
rateur husband was an added advan- interesting obstacle course, skating track, tag arena, soft play area, indoor cricket
tage for Chandini. “We are ensuring and an indoor climbing wall that keep the and bumping cars.
only the best. Fresh, nutritious food children busy. COST `150 to `300 for an hour for the
is our top priority.” COST `300 for an hour for the play area play area
COST `450 for an hour for the play area AT SCO 104 -105, Bridge Market, 17D, AT SCO-117, Phase 2, Urban Estate,
AT SCO 10, Madhya Marg, Sector 7-C Sector 17 Jalandhar

Coming from a family that has been in
the food business for several decades,
Manish Chaudhary set up Munchkins
in Ludhiana. This play area cum café
is ideal for children aged one to eight
years. Opened in partnership with
Puneet Walia, Munchkins was launched
in January 2017 to meet the demands
of Ludhiana market, where such a
set up was missing. The brand is now
looking at expanding to other parts of
Punjab, starting with Patiala.
PRICE `150 for an hour for the play area
AT Sandhu Tower, Ferozpur Rd,


city buzz 10
things to look
forward to

Photograph by

So Delhi Now Chandigarh

For a taste of the Old Delhi charm now drive
to Chandigarh—its new address MUST TRY
Keema pao, chicken
[ REVIEW ] ■ By Amrita Dhaliwal changezi, nihari, Scotch
eggs, voul-au-vents,
Coffee from the Western Binni not only prepares the an excellent accompaniment Vietnamese cofee and
Ghats of India, spices from dishes her self in the morning with your coffee. chef recommended
Khari Baoli and a serious but also interacts with the cus- The duo vouches for the gulab jamuns.
They also ofer
intent to serve authentic tomers to take down their re- authenticity of their Mughlai rolls, sandwiches
Mughlai food—the new kid on quests. “My inspiration for this cuisine. Sheermal, khumari and muins.
the block So Delhi Khari Baoli is my father Harjinder Singh and roomali roti are served
is all set to impress. Talwar. He was into dairy busi- with mouth-watering kebabs
This cafe by day and ness and all my creativity and and curries—such as the
restaurant by night is the hard work comes from him.” chicken shammi kebab, the
brainchild of husband-wife duo There is an even spread for mutton shammi kebab and dal with snacks `750
Anuj and Binni Mahajan. It is both vegetarians and makhani. “All meat is minced
not only a new concept the duo non-vegetarians. The mango in-house and the kebabs are SO DELHI KHARI BAOLI
is experimenting with but also salad can be enjoyed with or freshly prepared,” informs SCO 184 Inner Market
with some new dishes which without chicken, followed up Anuj. The traditional dishes Sector 7-C
Binni, a trousseau designer by by the voul-au-vents—pop-in- like chicken changezi and ni- Chandigarh
profession, ensures the cus- the-mouth pastry puffs with a hari are a must have for robust, TIMINGS 11 am to 11 pm
tomers are informed about. mushroom or chicken illing, hearty meal.



Learn from the best trainers from
the World Bhangra council and
Club Salsa International
[ L AU N C H ] By Amrita Dhaliwal

Come dance, burn some "Those who excel here in

calories and get a chance to the studio will have an opportu-
participate in some of the nity to be a part of the Interna-
world’s best dance shows at tional tours for World Bhangra
the newest dance studio Council in 2019. I have ex-
opening its doors to the city’s tended my full support to the
talent in Sector 32-D, Chandi- team who among other dance
garh–Fit Dance Studio. forms will also teach the vibrant
A holistic, spacious and dance form from Punjab," says
International level dance and Avtar Chana, founder of World
itness training platform, Bhangra Council, an Interna-
founded by top dance tional Bhangra judge and also
professionals of tricity is how one of the co-founders.
Varun D S Rana, Director of The management of Fit
Club Salsa International Dance Studio is hopeful that
describes the new venture. the students can take beneit by
Co-founded by four being part of this exposure by
members and endorsed by using the platform.
the Club Salsa International
and the World Bhangra coun-
cil, Fit Dance Studio has two CSI and Fit Dance
spacious studios on the same Studio will be hosting
loor. “Training will be available a national dance and
in International dance styles, sports competition
Indian folk styles, Indian clas- in December 2018 in
sical styles. Fitness classes will Chandigarh. The studio
be available in zumba, pilates, will be ofering certified
diploma courses for
bhangra, bollyit, aerobics and
professional teachers
F squad, which is the new rage for international styles.
in body itness,” informs co- A master boot camp
founder Amandeep Sohal. with Salman Yusuf
The new venture also has Khan—winner of the
some of the best at hand to dance reality show
guide the novice as they learn Dance India Dance
will be conducted in
to balance the act. The World
November 2018 in
Bhangra Council has given it Chandigarh.

its wholehearted support and

will have an oice at the studio
itself. World Bhangra Council
SCO 378, Top Floor
has 125 Cultural Ambassadors
Sector 32-D
Photograph by

spread across 25 countries of

the world.


city buzz

YOGA Retreat [ L AU N C H ] By Rewati Rau

Treat yourself to a Beginner and

much-needed break Intermediate level
from your daily grind skills to deepen their AT
and head to the re- practice. They can Mirage -Andretta
juvenating yoga and learn to integrate the (HimachalPradesh)
wellness journey that tools of mindfulness ON
is against the back- into their yoga prac- September 26-30
drop of the Himalayan tice as well as refresh- REGISTER AT
Dhauladhar Ranges. ing, healthy, and fun yogamoreshala.com
This is a great oppor- holiday in a nurturing
tunity for those with environment.


[ L AU N C H ] ■ By Rewati Rau

Being conducted since Two new catego-

2015, Run The Night ries are being intro-
– Glow Run's 2018 ducedthis year—a
event boasts of a RFID chip-timed competitive
chip-timed interna- 10.55 km quarter mara-
tional standard half- thon and a 2 km walk 5
marathon dubbed ‘Run for those who want to
The Night’ and a 5 km soak in the energetic HERITAGE FESTIVAL
‘Glow Run’. night experience. [ L AU N C H ] By Rewati Rau

This is a festival not to it has gained international

be missed—what with recognition. The event
Capitol Complex, Sector 1, Chandigarh
classical music, dance and starts with Shabad Kirtan
theatre, held against the in the memory of Baba
September 22
spectacular background of Jassa Singh.
the Jagatjit Palace. With
renowned music maestros ON October 13-15
performing at the festival, AT Jagatjit Palace, Kaparthula



Commemorative Exhibition
on the JallianwalaBagh Centenary (1919-2019)
[ L AU N C H ] By Rewati Rau

An exhibition to day as well as those ited the British.

commerate the Jal- thousands who were The exhibition will
lianwala Bagh Cente- subjected to rigorous be travelling across
nary (1919-2019) has imprisonment, tor- India and the UK to
been opened to the tured and humiliated mark the Centenary
general public with under the subsequent Commemoration of
a focus on telling the Martial Law orders, to the tragic events of
larger story of Punjab narrate the history. 1919. After showcas-
in 1919. The exhibition aims ing at Amritsar, the
The idea for the to situate the Jallian- event will travel to
exhibition came from walaBagh massacre London, Birmingham
the Chair of the within the broader and Manchester. It
Museum, Kishwar context of what was will be accompanied
Desai as she re- happening across by narrations,
searched for her book, Punjab and India and enactments, poetry,
JallianwalaBagh, to bring to the fore live performances,
1919—Before and Af- many of the lesser- theatre, seminars and ON August 11 to November 11
ter, which is to be known aspects of the book launches. AT Town Hall, Amritsar
published soon. protests against the A heritage walk (near Golden Temple)
The exhibition uses Rowlatt Bills, such too is on the anvil. TIME 10 am-6 pm daily
irst-hand testimonies as the strong Hindu- To be launched on (closed on Mondays)
of those people who Muslim unity of October 2, the walk CONTACT 8130001947
were in Jallianwala- Gandhi’s Satyagraha, will be conducted DETAILS partitionmusuem.org
Bagh on that fateful which greatly discom- every week.
city buzz ● [ L I ST I N G S ]

The second edition of the Ludhiana Half
Marathon (LHM) will be on the theme - Stop
Violence Against Women. Runners of all age
groups will come together for this cause.
Photograph by SANDEEP SAHDEV All participants will get a timing chip, t-shirt,
finisher medals, participation certificate and
7 help in making biofuel.
refreshment. Prizes are scheduled for top
Participants will begin
CYCLE FOR their 200 km long journey
three winners in 21k & 10k.
A CAUSE at Sukhna Lake which will
Chandigarh Cycling Club’s end at Shivalik. A helmet, ON September 23
second initiative to raise forward and rear light with ORGANIZED BY Lakshya Sports Club
awareness against smog— ample battery power, a retro
“Beat The Smog II” is all reflective vest, spare tubes,
powered up this year. This puncture kit and cycle repair
initiative is to request the tools are compulsory.
farmers’ community to stop ON September 23
stubble burning and instead AT Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh

The Chandigarh Badminton Association is getting together SARAS MELA
with Yogagems to organise the Badminton Championship National Award winners will showcase their
of 2018. The championship is open for U9, U11 boys & girls talent at this mela organised in association with
(only Single category) & U13, U15, U17 boys & girls (singles the Ministry of Rural Development, Government
and doubles categories. of India. Each state showcases products in an
ON October 6 - 9 endeavor to revive the ancient crafts and
AT Badminton Hall, Sports Complex, Sector 7, Chandigarh. traditions of the region.
chandigarh-yogems-badminton-championship-10-2018. ON October 1 to October 6
AT Near Rose Garden, Bhatinda, Punjab




www.indiatoday.in SEPTEMBER 24, 2018 `60

9 7 7 0 2 5 4 8 3 9 9 0 9
RNI NO. 28587/75

Fashion designer
Suneet Varma (R)
with his partner
Rahul Arora

Things to do
around town
Artist Manjor Kaur’s
creative journey

Author Aseem
Chhabra on writing
A about Peecee


Today in Pu
I ia Tod
w th Ind d Chandigg r
njj b and

a . To be ci cu ate free wi

HealthFu n ways t o s t ay
58 Not forr sale

fit in the city

005 / 19

ELEN G / 200

Eight Sethi Dhaba

Noo. DE

Dhabas In
he Region



➜ 3
Cover Story

Made to Order
From customised gifts to lavish
spas, we bring exciting experiences
and presents that you can gift for
the upcoming festivities.


Aroon Purie
Group Editorial Director
Raj Chengappa
Group Creative Editor
Nilanjan Das Buzz ➜
Group Photo Editor
Bandeep Singh Into the City
Eight fun things to
Deputy Editor look forward to.
Prachi Bhuchar
Consulting Editors
Mohini Mehrotra, Rewati Rau
Photo Department
Cover photograph by MANDAR DEODHAR
Mandar Deodhar, Danesh Jassawala,
Vikram Sharma
Photo Researchers
Prabhakar Tiwari, Saloni Vaid, OUR PICK
Shubhrojit Brahma
of the month
Anuranjan Bhatia
Reviving Classics
Harish Aggarwal (Chief of
[ September 21 and 22 ]
Production), Naveen Gupta,
Vijay Sharma, Prashant Verma Sihali Jageer, the brand that is named
Layout Execution
Ramesh Kumar Gusain
after the zamindar family of Amroha,
Pradeep Singh Bhandari is set to bring its classic textiles to
Mumbai this month. Run by sisters
Publishing Director
Aisha Ashraf and Ursala Jung of the
Manoj Sharma Sihali Jageer family and Renu Rana,
Associate Publisher (Impact) a descendant of the erstwhile rulers
Anil Fernandes of Jwalagarh, the brand crafts elegant
outits that combine the traditional
Impact Team
Senior General Manager:
and the contemporary.
Jitendra Lad (West) AT Details, 12,
General Managers: Homi Modi Street, Fort
Upendra Singh (Bangalore);
Kaushiky Gangulie (East)


Cover Story

ORDER From customised gifts to
lavish spas, we bring exciting
experiences and products that
make for perfect presents.
■ By Aditi Pai


ith an all-new menu and celebrated
Michelin-star chef Vineet Bhatia back in
the saddle, a dinner at Ziya undoubtedly
makes for an unforgettable gift.
Interestingly titled the Ziya Journeys, the extensive
revamped menu draws signiicantly from the chef’s
passion for travel, food and experimentation, along
with the street food of Mumbai—the city Bhatia grew
up in. When Bhatia is in the kitchen, you do not
expect the conventional but exceptional, so instead of
typical ragda, tikkis and chaat, on his menu are goat
cheese and smoked cashew gujiya with ragda, raj puri
with beetroot dahi and sev, an aaloo and chickpea
chaat with his signature creation of a dahi bhalla
ice-cream and paan kuli and rabdi. The rest of the
menu gives traditional
Indian delicacies a new
air of lamboyance and
is divided into earth,
sea and land depending
upon where the
produce comes from. PRICE
Bhatia has a tasting Starts at `4,500
menu on offer so you per person
can sample his various plus taxes
creations with no set AT
courses. The Oberoi,
Chef Vineet Bhatia
Cover Story
Photographs by ED REEVE

(L) The

JIVA SPA hammam bath

at Jiva Spa

or an experience in decadent
luxury, the Jiva Spa has several
options, but in its debut at the
iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel,
the sprawling spa offers a unique, irst-of-
its-kind parimarjana therapy. It replicates gently scrubs you to exfoliate dead skin
the traditional hammam bath that was and stretches the arms and legs to ease
reserved for the elite, with a therapist up tired muscles leaving you in a state of
soaping, scrubbing and bathing you deep slumber. Later you are enveloped in
while you lie back in total relaxation. The Jiva Spa’s signature mask made with 22
marbled therapy room is spacious, with herbs which re-mineralises and tightens
a high ceiling, soothing music, aromatic the skin. Step in for a cold shower and
starts at `1.5
fragrances and a marble bathing top wind up with a fragrant moisturiser that’s
lakh plus taxes
right in the centre of the room. The 90- slathered on to your body.
AT The Taj
minute-long therapy begins with a splash They later encourage you to sit back
Mahal Palace
of warm water, followed by gentle soaping in their warm, temperature-controlled
Hotel, Colaba
with a fragrant natural cleanser. Over lounge chairs and sip on tea before you
the next several minutes, the therapist step out of the dimly lit cocoon of the spa.


Cover Story

Waterlemon Designs

olourful cloche display jars,
hand-painted laser-cut
wooden boxes and glass jars
with motifs. These dot Nidhi
Goel’s workshop of Waterlemon
Designs, as the 53-year-old prepares
hampers for upcoming Diwali time
gifting. “Utility and practicality are
important while choosing a gift so
I use air tight glass jars which can
be used to store food in Mumbai’s
humid weather,” she says. Goel
encourages people to fill up these
pretty jars in mint green, blue and
coral shades with granola bars,
chocolates and dried fruits. The
Nidhi Goel of
motifs for the season are birds and
Watermelon flowers which sit pretty right in the
Designs centre of her jars.

MADE TO MEASURE Be it a theme

or a logo, Goel can customise
everything from the wrapping paper
and ribbon to the hamper. From
a Johnnie Walker-themed 75th
birthday invitation to a wooden tea
hamper with cups for tea lovers, Goel
designs a variety of gift options.


with the health benefits of copper,
Waterlemon Designs has a range of
copper glasses, serving bowls and
décor items. The tea kit comes with
handpicked flavoured teas and cups
with special messages or logos.
Photograph by MANDAR DEODHAR

`400 onward
TEL 9820350242
Cover Story

Nishita Kamdar of
Jar Designs

Jar Designs

designer by day and a baker
by night as she calls herself,
Nishita Kamdar took to
making dessert jars five years
ago as a “passion project” and to
“find solace from the mundane job
of an architect.” The all-vegetarian
dessert jars, over time, have now
transformed into hampers that can
be customised for occasion gifting.
The most popular on the menu is
molten chocolate, where one can
heat the jar and it turns into a gooey
chocolate cake. Kamdar and her
mother Neeta have created paan
velvet, a desi take on the red velvet
cake, and a decadent Oreo and
coconut chocolate cake that brings
back childhood memories. The jars
also see seasonal recipes such as a
fruity raspberry sea salt chocolate
in winters and a mango fresh cream
cake during the summer months.

MADE TO ORDER While the hampers

usually come in pine wood boxes,
Kamdar can customise the gifts
with a printed decoupage wrapping,
ribbons and personalised tags when
the numbers are above 30.

USE AND REUSE These are gifts

that stay with you long after you’ve
scooped up the dessert. The glass
Photograph by MANDAR DEODHAR

jars are reusable and the wooden

boxes in which they are packed can
be used for trinkets.

`200 onward


Cover Story


Taj Lands End
ME TIME The bartender at
House of Nomad

ith special rooms, pampering SPECIAL TOUCH Curl up with a book, browse
spa therapies, bubble baths and through the numerous magazines arranged
cocktails, a staycation for women in the room, or work in peace while the staff
travellers certainly makes for a sets up a foot soak to ease tired feet. They
memorable gift. The experience at Taj Land's even arrange a milk bath and lace the bathtub
End in Bandra is planned to ensure you get with rose petals and exotic bath salts for a
some quiet me-time with a team looking after rejuvenating soak. A box of chocolates and a
your every need. The rooms are exclusively for bottle of wine follow this experience in the
women, set up with toiletries and turn-down privacy of your room.
amenities for female guests and experiences PRICE
that include a bubble bath. To ensure safety, PARTY TIME Every Wednesday, the House `11,000 plus
the rooms are equipped with video phones, of Nomad hosts a ladies’ night where taxes for a
call screening facilities and located in close the bartender offers every second drink staycation
proximity to the elevator. On request, they complimentary to the women in the bar. They AT Taj Lands
assign an all-women team of housekeepers also have a special drinks menu for women and End, Bandra
and butlers as well. a live band to keep the women’s party going.
city buzz 8
things to look [ L I ST I N G S ]
forward to
Tableware is a gift that never
goes out of fashion and in keeping
with the upcoming Diwali festival,
entrepreneur Janaki Kirloskar has
brought to Mumbai a collection of
tableware in 24k gold and platinum
designs. There are six diverse col-
lections—lotus pond, tropical para-
dise, gilded graphic, vibrant Aztec,
modern paisley and a royal heritage
that appeal to diferent age groups.
On ofer are dinner plates, quarter
plates, serving platters, serving
bowls, mugs and tea sets all made
from premium quality bone china
and finished in 24k gold or platinum
detailing. They also have
customised hampers for Diwali that
will make for memorable gifts.
WEB kikatableware.com


1 soothing with recycled and maida. “Health

furniture, lamps is the first form of
EAT FOR made of corrugated wealth and our food
HEALTH boxes, neem wood helps you rejuvenate
SANTE SPA plates and cutlery, from inside,” says
CUISINE banana leaf straws,
copper glasses for
the afable owner
Kaneesha Jain who
Healthy needn’t be water and ceramic runs the restaurant
boring and that’s the plates coloured with with her husband
point that a visit to turmeric. Bhavesh and his
the newly opened FROM THE SOURCE brother Prashant
Sante Spa Cuisine, The sauces and ON THE MENU They
drives home. Making cashew cheese is serve Indian, Italian,
its debut in Mumbai all made in-house Thai and Tibetan;
with a cozy outlet and the ingredients the menu brings in
in Bandra Kurla are sourced directly lost grains like ragi,
Complex, this Pune from suppliers sorghum and foxtail
brand brings to the around the country. millets and caters
city an all-vegetarian, Sugar is replaced to varied dietary
multi-cuisine menu with jaggery powder preferences.
that is high on both, and raw khandsari
taste and quality. PRICE `1,800 for two
from Kolhapur; they
Extending the calming AT First International
use unprocessed
spa experience to the Himalayan pink Financial Centre, Bandra
décor, the interiors salt and zero Kurla Complex
are serene and preservatives, colour ■ By Aditi Pai


city buzz [ REVIEW ]

safed mattar masala, aloo Achaar Caprioska. Along
AUTHENTIC subzi, chhole with bhath- with the new, the Punjab
FLAVOURS ure, kulche and poori or Grills classics are all

PUNJAB GRILL relish the seafood selection there—mutton curry, murg

with the Norwegian salmon kalimirch, paneer makhni
The much-loved restaurant tikka, tandoori pomfret and desserts such as the
has finally opened doors and Ambarsari machhi kesari phirni, moong dal
in Bandra Kurla Complex de pakode. The bever- ka halwa and atta gur ka
this month with new addi- age menu, too, has got a halwa.
tions to the menu including makeover from the earlier PRICE `2,000 for two
delicious breakfast staples outlets with quirky con- AT G-5, the Capital, G
from homes in Punjab, coctions such as Jalandhar Block BKC, Bandra Kurla
seafood tikkas and buf- Express, Matka Jack, Imli Complex
fet lunches. Tuck into the ka Boota and Nimbu ka ■ By Aditi Pai

[ L I ST I N G ]

4 Marathi, the drama is a laugh

BEHIND THE riot with a colourful set that
is reminiscent of the hugely
SCENES popular theatre tradition of
VASTRAHARAN Konkan. The musical play by
Almost four decades after it veteran Malwani-Marathi actor
was first launched, the much Machhindra Kambli completed
acclaimed play Vastraharan is 5,000 episodes in 2009 and
back on stage with an all-new stopped soon after his death
cast but with the nostalgia in 2007. Now in its revamped
that takes you back to the folk theatre of the Mahabharat. Bubbling with enthusi- avatar, the play has talented actors such
the Konkan belt. Set in Revandi, a sleepy asm but with limited acting skills and a as Digambar Naik, Anshuman Vichare,
coastal village in Maharashtra, the play is badly managed set-up, fairly typical of Mangesh Kada and Resham Tipnis in
a humourous take on the eforts of ama- amateur rural recreation, the actors find the lead.
teur local actors who attempt to stage themselves in tricky and hilarious situa- WEB bookmyshow.com
the episode of Draupadi’s disrobing from tions. Scripted in a blend of Malwani and ONGOING SHOWS
city buzz

[ L I ST I N G ]
Remember the ballads
Embraceable You and I Never
Loved a Man? Listen to these and
foot-tapping tunes like Blue Skies
and Love for Sale as Sanjeeta
Bhattacharya and other musi-
cians pay a tribute to legendary
female vocalists such as Billie
Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha
Franklin. Bhattacharya is joined
by Rythem Bansal, Takar Nabam,
Sonic Shori and Aditya Dutta.

Tata Theatre, NCPA

[ L AU N C H ]
5 studios on its list. Once you
GUAVA PASS sign up, you can choose the
number of sessions every
If your seaside morning run week and pick a workout
has taken a hit in the rains, at a studio closest to you
head indoors to stay fit at a time slot that suits
with a variety of workout your schedule. For now,
options at diferent gyms GuavaPass has a host of fit-
and studios. With the newly ness activities—yoga, belly
launched GuavaPass, it’s dancing, Pilates and boot-
possible to join sessions of camp with studios spanning
yoga, crossfit, functional Nariman Point to Andheri.
training or dance at multiple ON-THE-GO They ofer
studios without opting for a multi-city pass so if you
individual memberships. travel often to cities across
The fitness platform which Asia where they have part-
has been operational in ners, you can stay fit with-
various cities of Asia and out missing your workout.
the Middle East for the past
three years, launched in PRICE Membership starts
Mumbai last month with at `1,999 for a month
a number of city fitness WEB Guavapass.com


city buzz ● [ L I ST I N G S ]

throughout the game.
GAME TIME The only thing to remem-
MYSTERY ber to beat the timer

ROOMS and succeed at your

perfect jail-break, is that
Is it easy to break out of you have to think like a
a prison cell? You have prisoner. Sometimes the
your chance to find out most unexpected places
at the recently opened have the clues and you
game room, Mystery end up doing things you
Rooms. A quick brief- never imagined.
ing session mentally JAIL BREAK The game
prepares you for what is has six levels of difficulty,
about to come in the next with the clues getting
60 minutes. They ‘con- harder with each level.
fiscate’ your personal If you want to surprise
belongings and dress a friend or celebrate an
you up in a prisoner’s occasion with this game,
uniform, adding to the they can help hide gifts in
authenticity of the experi- the clues too.
ence. The first few clues PRICE `900 per
are obviously displayed person on weekdays
but hard to crack, and WEB mysteryrooms.in
the same trend continues ■ By Ameyaa Shah
city buzz ● [ REVIEW ] 8
hts have just
Spain's culinary delig
arrived in a tiny bylane of Bandra
with El Mercado. Inspired by the
markets of Spain, where one can
find a wide variety of delicacies,
fashion designer Tamanna Punjabi
Kapoor, husband Vidur Kapoor,
fitness entrepreneur Pranaya and
her father Haresh Gidwani, have
set up a quaint rustic home style-
café recreating a little part of
Spain in Mumbai.
The menu is inspired from
diferent regions of Spain, boasting
a variety of eggs, tapas and tradi-
tional delicacies that includes ten-
der pan seared fish with romesco,
lamb albondigas slow cooked in an
almond and safron picada, Catalan
roasted vegetables and the classic
calamari sandwich from Madrid.
AT 3, Sunbeam,
Perry Cross Road, Bandra
■ By Aditi Pai


www.indiatoday.in SEPTEMBER 24, 2018 `60

9 7 7 0 2 5 4 8 3 9 9 0 9
RNI NO. 28587/75

Fashion designer
Suneet Varma (R)
with his partner
Rahul Arora

Things to do
around town
Artist Manjor Kaur’s
creative journey

Author Aseem
Chhabra on writing
A about Peecee


Today in Pu
I ia Tod
w th Ind d Chandigg r
njj b and

a . To be ci cu ate free wi

HealthFu n ways t o s t ay
58 Not forr sale

fit in the city

005 / 19

ELEN G / 200

Eight Sethi Dhaba

Noo. DE

Dhabas In
he Region



Aroon Purie
Group Editorial Director
Raj Chengappa
Group Creative Editor
Nilanjan Das
Group Photo Editor

Cover Story
Bandeep Singh

Deputy Editor
Fighting Fit
Prachi Bhuchar From high intensity martial arts to soothing
Consulting Editors massages, head to the city's wellness studios
Mohini Mehrotra, Rewati Rau and spas to stay healthy and fit.
Photo Department
Mandar Deodhar, Danesh Jassawala,
Vikram Sharma
Photo Researchers
Prabhakar Tiwari, Saloni Vaid, Cover photograph by DANESH JASSAWALA
Shubhrojit Brahma
Angshuman De, Anuranjan Bhatia
and Rajesh Angira
Production OUR PICK of the month Party On
Harish Aggarwal (Chief of
Production), Naveen Gupta, With Linkin Barrel opening its doors
Vijay Sharma, Prashant Verma
in Baner-Pashan, you needn’t battle
Layout Execution
Ramesh Kumar Gusain traic snarls to get to Koregaon Park
Pradeep Singh Bhandari for a fun evening out. The new resto-
bar offers good music, comfort food
Publishing Director and cocktails for after-work down-
Manoj Sharma time. Try their wood infused drinks
Associate Publisher (Impact)
such as Barrelage and the smoky
Anil Fernandes
Impact Team At GA501 The Capital Buidling,
Senior General Manager: A wing, 5th loor, Baner - Pashan
Jitendra Lad (West)
Link Road
General Managers:
Upendra Singh (Bangalore);
Kaushiky Gangulie (East)


sessions at
The Room
Cover Story


✿ By Aditi Pai

Kicks and Punches THE


Shed fat with the right kicks and music to create a party atmosphere
punches at the Boxit sessions at The while burning calories.
Room. The popular itness trend in town Trend Spotting The trend, they say,
borrows boxing and kick-boxing moves is towards a lean body rather than bulk.
and puts them together in a 60-minute Fitness regimes that balance strength,
full body workout. The itness and lifestyle endurance, cardio and lexibility are
club from Brussels launched in Pune in popular, so functional training, HIIT,
April 2016 offers a host of wellness re- zumba and pilates are among the most
gimes like spinning, pilates, Pump, TRX sought after work outs. Also popular is
training, aerobics and zumba. spinning which combines the advantages
On the Move The Room’s instructors, of high intensity cardio with lower body
also called caretakers, offer a host of strengthening without impacting the
customised programmes such as a 30 joints and is said to burn more than 700
day itness programme, outdoor activities calories in an hour.
like treks to scenic locations and runs.
To take the boredom out of working out, PRICE Memberships start at `495
they combine HIIT with foot tapping AT theroom.com



Cover Story

A Koli dance
class at Folk
Fitness studio

Happy FOLK
Mix and Match MULTIFIT
Move over zumba and Bollywood,
Want to master the quick moves Pune is mastering the swaying moves of
made by Bruce Lee on screen? Learn the koli dance and the circular swirls of
Jeet Kune Do—or JKD—an Ameri- garba to tone up and get it. Folk Fit-
can Chinese martial arts form that ness, designed by Aarti Pandey, is fast
comes with a host of beneits such as getting popular in itness studios as an
better adaptability and concentration all-body workout. The choreographed
besides a it body. Or blend Bhangra group workout draws from 122 Indian
steps with the kicks and blows of the folk dance forms and mixes the steps
full-contact combat mixed martial with cardio exercises. “You can burn up
arts. Cutting out the boredom of gym to 1000 calories in every sweat-soaked
routines, Multiit offers a host of it- hour long workout,” says Pandey. The
ness forms that are focused on func- session starts with a quick round of
tional training. meditation where people are urged to
The chain of itness studios has the disconnect from other thoughts and en-
iFit programme that integrates the joy ‘me-time’. The full body workout ex-
immensely popular High Intensity ercises the upper and lower body equally
Interval Training with yoga, dance and also imparts information about the

steps, calisthenics and kick boxing. folk dance practices from different parts
The combination routine, besides of the country.
offering something new everyday, Know your Dance The koli dance is
keeps your heart rate up and burns said to strengthen the upper body, garba
more fat in less time. tones the lower back, and the clap-
Photograph by

PRICE Starts at `500 ping and wrist movements work on the

for one session hands and arms.
AT multifit.in A workout session at Multifit AT myfolkfitness.com


An Ariel
flow class at
Cover Story Om Studio


Work and Play OM STUDIO

There’s never a boring workout here. picked up the techniques of aerial yoga in
Entrepreneur and yoga teacher Rinul Pashan- Hong Kong. In the aerial low class, Pashankar
kar mixes traditional yoga with dance steps, combines traditional postures with dance steps
throws in a bit of pilates and wraps up with a and pilates to create a seamless and enjoyable
deeply relaxing sound meditation session. “We low of movements.
are building a community of people who are Go here for She invites therapists and experts
inclined towards the arts and wellness,” says to conduct wellness sessions that can range from
Pashankar who founded Om Studio with her sound meditation and acupressure to acro yoga.
sister-in-law Ruby Pashankar in 2015. Trained FEES Starts at `3,000 for a month
in Iyengar and Sivananda yoga, Pashankar AT omstudio.in

Photograph by MANDAR DEODHAR

Nature’s QUAN
Bounty SPA

Imagine raiding your kitchen larder for a fix of

relaxation and beauty. Skip the hard work and instead
check into Quan Spa which has a new menu of spa
treatments that use natural ingredients like coconut,
sea salt and rice to exfoliate, replenish and rejuvenate.
They have a coconut body scrub that polishes off
dead skin using coconut bark, sea salt and the popular
beauty potion of grape seed oil. For more pampering,
they offer a coconut wrap that leaves the skin nour-
ished and relaxed.
Spa Time Quan has packages that tap into the ive ele-
ments of nature. So, while Prithvi includes a hot stone
massage, facial and an aromatic sleep bath, Aakash is
the Ayurveda-inspired abhyangam massage, herbal
pouch and a rose and ashwagandha bath.
PRICE Starts at `2,500
Coconut body scrub at Quan Spa AT J W Marriott, Senapati Bapat Road
Cover Story

Eat for Health THRIVE

The next time you decide to pop pills for that

persistent acidity, get a diet makeover from Thrive along with
the medicines. “Let food be the medicine,” says Mugdha Prad-
han, 39, who launched Thrive along with her former business
partner Trusha Dethe, 34, to assist people in ighting chronic
ailments with just food. After years of battling various diseases
ranging from PCOD and ibromylagia to depression, the duo
studied functional nutrition. While the guidelines are laid down
by the Institute of Functional Medicine and Functional Medicine
University, Thrive offers customised programmes for people
with different needs. The basics, however, are about cutting out
inlammatory foods, eliminating allergens, healing the gut and
ighting off chronic diseases. “Eating foods you are allergic to
causes inlammation, which leads to swelling, luid retention and
weight gain. Avoid common inlammatory foods like gluten, dairy
and processed sugar foods.
A plant based diet is ideal for human well-being. Fruits and veg- Food for AVANTI
etables are the most important part of your diet," says Pradhan. the Soul DESHPANDE
PRICE Packages start at `12,000 for a month
AT thrivefnc.com If you’re already gearing up for
bikini ready body for the festive sea-
Mugdha son, the last thing you should do is get
Pradhan founder, on to a crash diet. “This weight always
bounces back. Don’t starve or follow fad
diets which slow down your metabo-
lism. Instead, eat right and exercise well,”
says Avanti Deshpande, 40, a noted
renowned nutritigenomic counsellor
and corporate wellness coach who con-
sults with corporate, itness centres and
restaurants on diet and menu planning.
The columnist and author
recommends picking seasonal fruits
and vegetables and keeping sugar out
of the diet completely.
Eat Right Stock your kitchen with
warming foods like jaggery and sesame
and hearty soups for the winter. Fol-
low the formula of eating ive portions
of fruits and vegetables and drinking 10
glasses of water in a day.
Do’s and Don’ts Deshpande says that
a common mistake that people make
it to skip breakfast and drink tea in
the morning.
PRICE Starts at `500 per session
AT avantideshpande.com
city buzz ● [ REVIEW ] 6
things to look
Majuli, Shillong, Khonoma, forward to
SOUL FOOD Alleppey, Mangalore,
ARTH Guntur, Rishikesh and
Kashmir. She uses only
Getting yet another slice copper utensils, a live sigri
of Mumbai to Pune is Arth, and a sand pit with live
which also brings a gas- charcoal to slow
free restaurant experience cook meats.
to the city. Known for RAISE A TOAST Mixologist
its interiors that have Jeet Rana has his signature
been designed by Gauri cocktails and the must-
Khan and it’s gas-free haves are the Phool- Tini,
kitchen that is led by Chef a floral rhapsody of elder-
Amninder Sandhu, the flower, chamomile flower
sprawling restaurant has combined with gin and
a glamourous décor with lemon tincture and the
flaming glass lamps and Himalayan Madhpey which
gold highlights on black. combines gin with bitter
The highlight is the entirely aperitif and turmeric oleo
gas-free kitchen that uses sacchrarum. ■ By Aditi Pai
only charcoal and wood. PRICE Set menu starts
Sandhu has sourced at `595 plus tax
ingredients from corners AT The Westin Pune,
of the country such as Koregaon Park.

The newly opened 1441 Pizzeria has taken the love
for chocolate and pizzas to a new level with a deca-
dent Nutella pizza that comes up toppings of marsh-
mellow and banana slices and generous portions
of Nutella. But that’s something you save for the
end because the menu has a wide variety of Italian
wood fired pizzas, dough balls and salads. Try their
specials—jalapeno poppers, cheesy sticks, peri peri
chicken legs and bbq chicken wings. Inspired by the
pizzas that he ate in Florence, founder Krishna Gupta
roped in Chef Renato Viola, a master pizza chef and
a world champion in acrobatic pizza, to design the
recipes and train the staf.
Chef Amninder Sandhu
of Arth AT Seasons Mall, Magarpatta City.
Love burgers but cannot digest the gluten?
Sorted Delicatessen has a menu with which
you can munch on your favourite foods
without worrying about your health. The first-
of-its-kind entirely grain-free, gluten-free and
refined sugar-free restaurant has burgers,
pizzas, wraps, cookies and dessert made
with zero grains and packed with nutrients.
Owner Girish Monie and Chef Ubeid Khan AT: Next to Royal
have designed a menu that uses almonds, Orchid Golden
walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts and Suites, Opposite
more; seeds like quinoa, buckwheat and Cerebrum IT Park,
Kalyani Nagar
amaranth. Pastries and cookies are made
with natural sweeteners such as maple
syrup, raw honey, dates, and coconut flower
nectar. Bright and casual, the 100 seater
has an open kitchen where all sauces and
garnishes are made fresh in-house. Sorted
has options in vegan and keto and diabetic
friendly diets and if you’re closely watching
your calories, take a look at the macronutrient
count on the menu. ■ By Aditi Pai
[ REVIEW ] city buzz
4 books, planters, tiered,
white lacy curtains and
FOR THE embroidery hoops on the
LOVE OF white brick walls. The
FOOD pin tucked love seats

GRANDMAMA’S match the patterned top

tables and white chairs.
CAFÉ The menu brings some
Good looks and favourites from the world
good food meet at over—fondues, nachos,
Grandmama’s Café that’s pizzas, burgers, shakes
known as much for its and smoothies and the
tasty comfort food as comfort food rajma
its Instagram-worthy chawla. The breakfast
décor and presentation. menu ofers Turkish style
The café reminds you eggs, akuri on toast and
of an old cottage in the French toast with Nutella.
English countryside with AT South Main Road,
[ L I ST I N G S ] niches that hold worn out Koregaon Park

5 6
Get some laughter therapy as stand-up comedian Kunal Love Coldplay’s Yellow, The Scientist, Paradise, Fix You?
Kamra keeps you in splits with his funny one-liners. An Join the Reuel Benedict Collective as singer and song-
advertising junkie during the day and comedian at night, writer Benedict, with Adil Kurwa, Apurva Isac and Yohan
Kamra will share his new jokes with Fresh Thoughts. Marshall pays a musical tribute to the popular band. The
TIME 9 PM multi-city tour ends in Pune.
AT Nehru Memorial Hall, Camp AT Irish House, Viman Nagar