Why just Hindi – President Pranab Mukherjee, what about India’s diversity?

On July 25, 2012, the day Mukherjee was sworn-in as the 13th President of India, he had made a fine speech — touching upon terrorism, democracy, secularism, the Constitution — in English. It was vice-president Hamid Ansari, who had then read out a Hindi translation of excerpts from his speech.

His last Independence Day address to the nation, on August 14, 2016, was also in English, dubbed and subtitled in Hindi on Doordarshan.

Why Hindi?

1. Did you know that Hindi is not India’s national language?

2. The Constitution does not recognise any national language, but 22 “official” languages and three “classical” languages.

3. India is seriously multi-lingual: according to the Peoples Linguistic Survey (PLS), India has 780 languages, of which just 122 are enumerated by the Census.

4. Statistics show that while Hindi remains the most spoken mother tongue in the country, nearly 60 per cent Indians speak a language other than Hindi.

5. Out of 29 states and seven Union territories, barely a dozen (Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Jharkhand) have a majority who list Hindi as their mother tongue.

6. Out of all those who list Hindi as their mother tongue, 40 per cent do not speak pure Hindi but in 49 tongues similar to Hindi.

7. What’s more, India is also losing languages faster than any nation on earth. The UNESCO lists 197 Indian languages as endangered or vulnerable, more than any other country. According to the PLS, we have lost 50 languages in the past five decades. That means extinction of history, world views, communities and culture.

8. The Constitution extends protection to minority languages as a fundamental right: “Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part of thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.”

Quoting Tagore

President Mukherjee has a penchant for quoting Rabindranath Tagore. There is almost no presidential speech, where he has not quoted the poet. The good thing about it is that it gives him an intellectual aura missing in his peer group.


But Tagore’s thoughts on Hindi were much more complex. In letters to the Mahatma (National Language of India, 1918 and 1937), the poet wrote:

“Whatever the national convenience of a language that can facilitate inter-cultural communication in our country, it remains a mere convenience and cannot replace the value of one’s native tongue as a vehicle of intimate self-expression.

“I have in my institution at Shantiniketan provision for the teaching of Hindi as well as Urdu.

“I hope those who have undertaken the lead in replacing English by a national medium of communication will realise their responsibility in this respect. I wish them all success.”

Olympians Dipa Karmakar, Sakshi Malik in Forbes’ under 30 achievers’ list

NEW YORK: Over 50 Indians, including gymnast Dipa Karmakar, Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik and actress Alia Bhatt, are among Forbes’ list of super achievers from Asia under the age of 30 who are “pushing boundaries of innovation”.
The second Forbes ’30 Under 30′ Asia list 2017 features 300 impressive young entrepreneurs — 30 in 10 categories, including entertainment, finance and venture capital, retail, social entrepreneurs and enterprise technology, under the age of 30 years who are pushing the boundaries of innovation.


Dipa Karmakar became the first Indian female gymnast to ever compete in the Olympics(AFP Photo)

India has 53 achievers on the list, second only to China which has 76 honorees.
Leading the pack from India are Karmakar, 23, who became the first Indian female gymnast to ever compete in the Olympics during the last games held in Rio de Janeiro – and the first Indian gymnast to compete in 52 years.
“While she didn’t win a medal, she ranked an impressive fourth on her first-ever Olympic outing, missing the bronze by a hair’s breadth – 0.15 points,” Forbes said adding that she performed the Produnova vault in the finals – making her one of only five gymnasts to ever successfully do so. Fellow athlete Malik, 24, became the first Indian woman to win a medal in Rio in wrestling, where she bagged the bronze.
Forbes noted that Malik, who hails from a small Indian town Rohtak, faced a lot of local opposition to her desire to wrestle when she took up the sport at age 12.
Srikanth Bolla, 25, founder of Bollant Industries has been featured in the manufacturing and energy category. Bolla was born blind into a family of farmers in rural India and “went on to become the first international blind student at MIT”, where he studied business management. Post-MIT, Bolla chose to return to India where he set up Bollant Industries in Hyderabad, a company that employs and trains differently-abled individuals to manufacture eco-friendly and compostable packaging.
Bhatt, 24, has acted in over 20 high-grossing Bollywood movies, with at least six of them grossing well over $15 million worldwide in opening weeks.
The list also features Sharath Gayakwad, 25, India’s first Paralympic swimmer, coach and Arjuna award winner who has won 96 medals.
“Swimming wasn’t enough – he realised that the struggle to find swim apparel was still difficult in India – so he formed Gamatics, an aggregator between international brands and domestic retailers, for anyone to find swimwear in India,” Forbes said.
Trisha Shetty, 26, is the founder of SheSays, an Indian non-profit that empowers the country’s women to act against sexual violence by providing education, legal, medical as well as psychological support.
So far, the organisation has engaged more than 60,000 young people through educational workshops and online, creating awareness and support to survivors who often reach out to share their personal stories and ask for help through SheSays’ social media platforms.
On the list is Ankit Kawatra, 25, who founded Feeding India, which aims to solve the country’s hunger problem by providing free meals through volunteers and donation centres.
It operates a smartphone app where restaurants and individuals can sign up to donate food, which are then collected and distributed to people in need.
The youngest Indians on the list are brothers Sanjay, 15, and Shravan Kumaran, 17, who founded GoDimensions, a mobile app developed five years ago. To date, they’ve built a total of seven apps for the App Store and three for Google Play, including goDonate, a platform for sharing excess food, clothes and furniture with those in need.

630 Million People In South East Asia, India Using Water From Faeces- Contaminated Source: WHO

NEW DELHI:  Around 630 million people in the South East Asian countries, including India, use a faeces- contaminated drinking water source, the WHO said on Friday.

Worldwide, the global health body said, almost two billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces, putting them at the risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio.

In a new WHO report, published on behalf of UN-Water — the United Nations inter-agency coordination mechanism for all freshwater-related issues, including sanitation, it asserted that the nations worldwide were not increasing their spending fast enough to ensure water and sanitation targets, under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for 2030, are met.


According to the UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) 2017 report, the countries have increased their budgets for water, sanitation and hygiene at an annual average rate of 4.9 per cent over the last three years.

Yet, 80 per cent of the countries report that water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) financing is still insufficient to meet nationally-defined targets for WASH services.

“Today, almost two billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio.

“Contaminated drinking water is estimated to cause more than 5,00,000 diarrhoeal deaths each year and is a major factor in several neglected tropical diseases, including intestinal worms, schistosomiasis, and trachoma,” WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health Maria Neira said.

“The percentage for South East Asia is 35 per cent of people use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces (that is around 630 million people),” WHO said to an email query on how much of the 2 billion people are in South Asian region.

Eighty-five per cent of the global population without access to improved sanitation or drinking water from an improved source lives in three SDG regions – Central Asia and Southern Asia, East and South-Eastern Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

“The countries are not increasing spending fast enough to meet the water and sanitation targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Radical increase in water and sanitation investment required to meet development targets,” the WHO report said.

Untouched India

Sony BBC Earth’s new show premiering 22 April discovers wildlife and heritage experience from the Indian hinterland


Sony BBC Earth showcases a variety of shows—everything from fun science to human stories. Starting 22 April, the channel will air Hidden India—a series that discovers wildlife experiences in the country’s untouched areas. In a phone interview from London, Julian Hector, the show’s executive producer, speaks about the moments that encapsulate this series, such as filming a rare purple frog in the Western Ghats. The shoot happened over three years, wrapping up in 2016, before the controversy about another BBC documentary on the aggressive protection measures at the Kaziranga National Park broke out. Edited excerpts:

Tell us more about the ‘Hidden India’ series. The concept and processes behind it.

We love India. It has the most wonderful interactions between people and the natural world. India has a rich colour palette, deep natural history and symbolism (related to animals) within the people. Hidden India was both embracing that and trying to find those pockets where there is this sort of emptiness. That was the invitation—to find those pockets of natural world which are less seen by audiences.

India is full of extraordinary wildlife. People are quite familiar with the Asiatic rhino, for example, that lives in the North-East. They might have even heard of the lovely Asiatic lion. But your country is also full of interesting reptiles, amphibians and birds. We found ways of cutting down stories and keeping the light and atmosphere that you have in India. That is a lovely projection of India, but perhaps these are stories that people haven’t heard of.

If you think about all the shoots that made up the series, the material was collected over a three-year period. Some of it was specially shot, and other elements were shot for other series but were saved for this series. We also collaborated with a lot of our colleagues at the NHU (the BBC Natural History Unit).

India-Australia sports partnership launched, Turnbull meets Tendulkar

MUMBAI: India and Australia on Wednesday started a partnership aimed at increasing cooperation in sports, in the presence of visiting Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and batting great Sachin Tendulkar.


Also involved in the launch was Sports Minister Vijay Goel.

It will advance India-Australia cooperation in four areas – athlete and coach training and development, sport science, sport governance and integrity, and grassroots participation.

Goel said, “We have a lot to learn and share with Australia in the field of sports. The India-Australia Sports Partnership would facilitate exchange of athletes, coaches, technical officials, sports scientists between the two countries.”

“India has started taking sports as a very important component of public health management as well as education. We have launched a major grassroots programme – Khelo India for developing a sporting culture at grass-roots level. We are planning to introduce sports as a compulsory subject in schools,” he said.

A National Sports Talent Identification and Development Portal would be launched shortly, he said.

Turnbull said, under the new partnership, Victoria University and the University of Canberra would work with India to assist in the establishment of a National Sports University similar to the Australian Institute of Sport.

Turnbull and Goel met with some young girls from Mumbai’s slums who are being taught to play sports by Apnalaya, an organisation with which Tendulkar’s mother-in-law Annabel Mehta is associated.

Wrapping up his four-day visit, Turnbull said India is now enormously important in the region.
“My trip has been all about deepening more engaged collaboration between Australia and India in the fields of economics, sports, health, science and education,” he said.
Turnbull later met Maharashtra governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and left for Australia from Mumbai airport in the afternoon, a state government official said.

Jamini Roy: Remembering the artist’s six best works on his 130th birth anniversary

Jamini Roy, a Bengali painter and Padma Bhushan awardee, is one of the ‘Nine Masters’ whose works have been recognised by the Indian Government as art treasures due to their artistic and aesthetic value.


He was born in 11 April 1887 in the Beliatore village of West Bengal and went on to enroll in the Government School of Arts and Craft in Kolkata, where he mastered academic painting and portraiture. He stuck to the British style of post-Impressionist landscape and portrait painting at the start of his career. In 1925, he began experimenting with a style similar to that of the bazaar painters outside the Kalighat Temple of Kolkata.

By the 1930s, he changed over completely to an indigenous style, even ditching the canvas for woven mats, cloth and wood. His works are characterised by flat colour application, an emphasis on lines and subjects enclosed in a decorative border or motifs.

Jamini Roy’s subjects of choice ranged from the Santhal tribe of Bengal, to Jesus Christ, and even the mother-child duo and animals. His work marked a new beginning in Indian modern art because he rejected the then modern style, preferring to paint in the Bengali folk style. Roy received accolades such as the Viceroy’s gold medal in 1934 and the Padma Bhushan in 1954.

This year, Google created a doodle for Jamini Roy on his birth anniversary. It is a doodled version of his famous painting Black Horse, which features a dark horse with yellow and red motifs against a red background and eyes painted in the style characteristic of Roy.

India is one of world’s most expensive stock markets

At the current forward price-earnings multiple, the valuation for the Indian market is well above its mean


The Indian market is one of the most expensive in the world, immediately after the US, according to estimates from Citi Research. Graphic by Naveen Kumar Saini/Mint
With the earnings season about to start, the chart illustrates why the fate of the Indian markets depends on the ability of Q4 earnings to beat expectations.

As the chart shows, the Indian market is one of the most expensive in the world, immediately after the US, according to estimates from Citi Research.

At the current forward price-earnings multiple, the valuation for the Indian market is well above its mean.

To be sure, abundant liquidity, both from foreign and domestic investors, has been driving up stocks.

As the outlook for investment in real estate and gold has faded, investors have switched to equities.

But the record shows that markets fell in 2010, 2015 and 2016 from levels only slightly above current valuations. It’s time for earnings to catch up and for investors to be cautious.