Bangalore First

a Celebration. Positive News, Facts & Achievements about Bengaluru, Kannadigas and all the People of Karnataka – here at Home and Overseas
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    December 17th, 2017adminRecords, All, Sports

    Sunil Chhetri and Aditi Ashok bagged top honours at the ACT Fibernet-SWAB awards in Bengaluru on Saturday.

    Before a star-studded gathering that included chief guest Abhinav Bindra and sporting luminaries from the city, former India hockey captain M.P. Ganesh was presented the 'Lifetime Achievement' award. - SUDHAKAR JAIN

    Before a star-studded gathering that included chief guest Abhinav Bindra and sporting luminaries from the city, former India hockey captain M.P. Ganesh was presented the ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award. – SUDHAKAR JAIN

    Sunil Chhetri and Aditi Ashok bagged top honours at the ACT Fibernet-SWAB awards here on Saturday. The pair claimed the ‘Best Sportsperson of the Year’ awards in the senior category while Anil Kumble was declared the ‘Coach of the Year’.

    Before a star-studded gathering that included chief guest Abhinav Bindra and sporting luminaries from the city, former India hockey captain M.P.Ganesh was presented the ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award.

    Bengaluru FC was adjudged the ‘Team of the Year’ while racing driver Arjun Maini and swimmer Damini K. Gowda emerged the ‘Best Sportspersons of the Year’ in the junior section.

    “Bangalore holds a very special place in my heart,” said Bindra, in an eloquent address laced with humour. “I spent many days of my youth shooting at the SAI South Centre here. There is something in the air of Bangalore that makes it special for sports, and I am not saying that because I have just flown here from Delhi.”

    Chhetri, whose exploits for the Indian National team and BFC saw him edge out the likes of K.L. Rahul, Rohan Bopannaand Pankaj Advani for the top prize, said: “When I started off, I was scared of journalists. Over time, I recognized the role they played and built a relationship with them.”

    Ganesh, who won a bronze medal at the 1972 Olympic Games, spoke of his playing career and his transition into administration. The 72-year-old felt government officials, journalists and former athletes needed to join hands to nurture sporting talent.

    Harendra Singh, coach of the Indian women’s hockey team, presented the ‘Coach of the Year’ award to Kumble, under whom India won five successive Test series between July 2016 and March 2017.

    Kumble was modest in his acceptance of the award.

    “I think coaches in cricket don’t have too much to say or too much to do. But nonetheless, this is an excellent recognition of all the good work that the team did over the past one year and they have continued with their winning ways,” he said.

    “I’m confident that the team which we have will certainly go on to create history in South Africa and then beyond. The team under Virat certainly has the capabilities to achieve that.”

    K. Sriram, a member of the KSCA’s media staff, was presented with the ‘Behind the Scenes’ award while the Karnataka Badminton Association was declared the ‘Association of the Year’.

    source: / SportStar / Home> More Sports / by Team Sportstar / Bengaluru – December 16th, 2017

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    An inscription stone at Dasarahhali | Photo Credit: Uday Kumar

    An inscription stone at Dasarahhali | Photo Credit: Uday Kumar

    An early eco-friendly king, women warriors, a battle for Bengaluru: inscription stones that tell such tales and more

    Last month, I was at the iconic red-brick building of the Government Museum on Kasturba Road in Bengaluru behind which an exhibition called Inscription Stones of Bangalore was under way. On display were 28 large posters of inscription stones found in various parts of the city.

    I had a task to do — ‘estampage’, a process of ‘lifting’ the inscriptions from the stone on to a piece of paper for a clearer read.

    Royal writ

    ‘Estampage’ is a purely Indian term used by epigraphists, explained T.S. Ravishankar, former director of the Epigraphy branch of the Archaeological Survey of India. He had come to attend the show. The tablet I was working on was found just two months ago in a farm near Whitefield. The inscriptions were in Tamil. Another stone tablet in front of me was from Kattigenahalli, close to Yelahanka. It had inscriptions in old Kannada or Halegannada.


    Aerospace engineer and history enthusiast Vinay Kumar is part of the citizen-led project, Bangalore Nagarada Shila Shasanagalu, which had organised the exhibition. According to Kumar, inscriptions like these are records of the city’s history, its culture, economic activity, regimes and language.

    The inscriptions give a very good idea of the evolution of language. “From the second half of the 5th century, the inscriptions were in Halmidi, the oldest known form of the Kannada language,” said Ravishankar. The oldest existing Kannada inscription on a Veerakallu or ‘hero stone’ from Bengaluru dates back to about 750 CE.

    It was found in Krishnarajapuram, a busy neighbourhood, as part of a temple compound’s wall. The inscription lay hidden under layers of paint. Constant exposure to heat from bonfires had caused the tablet to break into pieces. Fortunately, the part of the stone with the inscription survived and was shifted to the museum.

    It read: “When Sripurusha Maharaja was ruling … Mareya … pierced and fell.” This refers to the Western Ganga dynasty ruler, Sripurusha, and the veera here is Mareya. The script is notable for the long, rectangle-shaped characters from the Ganga dynasty period. In some 600 years, these characters would evolve into the artistic, rounded characters of the Hoysala period.

    Going, gone

    For Kannada language fanatics, Kumar has a revelation. “The existing stone inscriptions on Kempe Gowda I (feudatory ruler under the Vijaynagara empire), who established the city of Bengaluru, are all in Telugu.” And inscription stones found within an area of 20-30 kilometres in the city are in Kannada, Tamil and Telugu.

    The most celebrated inscription from Bengaluru is the one dating back to 890 CE and recording the death of Buttana Setti, son of Nagatara, in a battle in Bengaluru. It is one of the earliest instances of the mention of the city. The battle it talks of — the one between the Gangas, who were Jains, and the Nolambas, who were Shaivites — is significant, as it led to the decline of the Jain kings and the founding of a new line.

    Recently, there has been another discovery of tablets with Tamil inscriptions in one of the city’s oldest temple, Madivala’s Sri Someshwara temple. Dated to 1247, the Chola period, they refer to ‘Vengalur’, the Tamil name for Bengaluru. Now historians believe that when Kempe Gowda established the city, he borrowed the name from a place that already existed in the 9th century.


    Then there are records of the economic activity of the times. Imagine getting tax exemption for maintaining a neighbourhood lake. That is what an inscription found at Vibhutipura says about the king who waived taxes for residents who had constructed a tank in the area and maintained it.

    One of the earliest mentions of women is of the daughter of King Nagatara, Thondabbe, who took a vow to fast until death after the battle of Bangalore. A stone tablet found in Hoskote shows a woman warrior fighting and dying on the battlefield.

    About 150 such stone inscriptions of Bengaluru find a mention in Epigraphia Carnatica, a set of books on the epigraphy of the old Mysore region compiled by Benjamin Lewis Rice, the director of the Mysore Archaeological Department, between 1894 and 1905.

    Of the stone inscriptions he documented, barely 30 remain.

    Backup plan

    Whenever Kumar and other enthusiasts like Dhanpal M. reach a site after consulting Epigraphia Carnatica, the local people usually talk of having seen the (now missing) stone as recently as a decade ago.

    “Development!” Dhanpal laughed, “Everywhere they have ‘developed’ sites on which people build their homes without caring about these stones.”

    Dhanpal is a BMTC bus driver who is passionate about the city’s history. He decided to scour Yelahanka, a Bengaluru suburb, for inscription stones. “Superstition is the main reason why in some places the stones remain untouched and in some other places are destroyed,” he said. For many, the myth that something untoward will happen to the person who reads the inscriptions is powerful enough to get the stones destroyed. There is also the belief that the inscriptions talk of hidden treasures. In the process of unearthing the ‘treasure’, the stones are often dug up and thrown away. Hero stones have a better chance of survival since they are worshipped.

    Preserving the inscriptions is a challenge. The stones abandoned on roadsides and in dump yards can be cleaned and installed in safe locations close to where they were found.

    This ensures that local people don’t lose their connect with the past as recorded in these stones. Shifting the inscriptions to museums is an option only when there is a real threat to their survival.

    At the museum, I met Harish Pawaskar, a jeweller who started making 3D models of inscriptions using Reflectance Transformation Imaging technology. He showed me how to scan the QR codes on the printed posters with a smartphone.

    This makes the 3D models pop up with details about the inscription. “By creating 3D models, we have all the information and details required to recreate any of the inscriptions physically in case anything gets destroyed in the future,” said Kumar, also a part of the project.

    In a country notoriously indifferent to preservation, such projects are reassuring. More so for a city that seems quite intent on forgetting its past.

    The freelance writer believes that everything has a story waiting to be told.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Society> Field Notes / by Jayanthi Madhukar / December 16, 2017

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    December 16th, 2017adminAgriculture, Records, All
    Rajappa, a paddy grower, with black rice variety at his farm in Huluse village in Somwarpet taluk. | Photo Credit: SpecialArrangement

    Rajappa, a paddy grower, with black rice variety at his farm in Huluse village in Somwarpet taluk. | Photo Credit: SpecialArrangement

    Nearly 700 of them have been growing indigenous rice varieties in Hassan

    A good number of farmers in the Malnad areas of Hassan district are cultivating native varieties of paddy, thanks to the encouragement by the Department of Agriculture promoting organic farming.

    Nearly 700 farmers have been growing native paddy varieties and are happy with the earnings. As they are certified organic growers, their produce is attracting demand.

    “When we began field work in 2007, traditional varieties of paddy were cultivated hardly in 100 acres,” recalled Jayaprasad Ballekere, chief executive officer of Bhoomi Sustainable Development Society. The Agriculture Department had involved the non-government organisation to promote organic farming in Sakleshpur, Alur taluks of Hassan and Somwarpet of Kodagu. “A majority of farmers were after hybrid and improved varieties of paddy. Following constant efforts, now native varieties are grown in more than 1,500 acres in the three taluks,” he said.

    Rajamudi considered good for diabetics, Navara with medicinal value, Ghamsala a scented variety, Rathna Choodi, Netti Bilakki, Holesalu Chippuga, Kempakki (red rice), and Kappu Akki (black rice) are the native varieties of paddy.

    “Holesalu Chippuga is the best variety for puffed rice. Last year, I sold paddy at ₹4,500 per quintal. Almost the entire yield goes to places like Sangli in Maharashtra and Davangere, where there are many puffed rice producing units,” said Y.C. Rudrappa, a progressive farmer of Yedehalli in Sakleshpur. He has been cultivating Holesalu Chippuga variety in eight acres of his land.

    Alur, Sakleshpur and Somwarpet taluks are known for heavy rainfall, which is well-suited for traditional varieties.

    Lesser duration

    “Traditional varieties take 150-160 days for harvest and is suitable for this area. However, the duration of hybrid and improved varieties is about 120-130 days,” said Mr. Jayaprasad. The organic farmers of Hassan and Kodagu districts have formed a federation to market their produces. Mr. Rudrappa, who is chairman of the federation, said more than 3,500 farmers are part of it. The Agriculture Department and NABARD have helped the formation of the Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO) and promote organically grown produce. V.G. Bhat, District Development Manager of NABARD, told The Hindu: “The bank has been encouraging organic farming. We have provided ₹9 lakh for the FPO. The response has been impressive.”

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Karnataka / by Satish G.T. / Hassan – December 15th, 2017

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    One of the installations at the festival.

    One of the installations at the festival.

    Bengaluru Fantastic 2017 opens at the Rangoli Metro Art Centre

    Art and technology share a symbiotic relationship. To bring out this aspect and to showcase how the two can collaborate for sustainable solutions to some of the world’s problems, Bengaluru Fantastic 2017, an international tech-art festival, opened at the Rangoli Metro Art Centre on Friday. The three-day exhibition is being organised by Jaaga, an NGO, in association with the Karnataka Tourism Department.

    Archana Prasad, founder,, Jaaga, said the intention behind organising the festival is to introduce Bengaluru to tech-art. “We wanted to bring together the two biggest influences in the city: technology and arts. What has resulted is truly phenomenal with so many artworks and artists coming altogether. We want visitors to see tech-art as an accessible means of expression. Each artwork focuses on an U.N. sustainable development goal and helps us envision a sustainable future for all,” she said.

    The festival features 26 artists from across the world who are showcasing their work related to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The event, which is free for all, has on display 30 artworks. The next two days will see many more innovative exhibits and programmes such as 3D printing, unicycling, community drumjam, rainbow-hut, films and more. Talks, workshops and performances will also be organised.


    Maskbook, a workshop organised by ‘Art of Change 21,’ is teaching children and adults to make masks out of waste and create awareness about the environment.

    “Participants are provided with waste and they are encouraged to make it into an art piece. They will get to take home a photograph with their masks. We are trying to promote sustainable development through innovation,” said Marguerite Courtel, secretary-general, Art of Change 21.

    Cubic Mirror

    Gene Rogan, a software developer and artist, has created an installation that brings together photography technology and art. People can stand in front of a screen that is attached to a camera. The camera clicks a photograph and converts it into cubic art. The technology makes the otherwise expensive cubic art affordable.

    Water testing

    Non-profit organisation Meghashala has an installation that checks the quality of water from various parts of the city with water testing strips.

    The strips are dipped into the water and grade the water across parameters such as nitrates, nitrites, pH, alkalinity and hardness.

    Subham Som, implementation and partner manager, Meghashala, said, “Once the values are taken from the strip, we calculate the result with the help of a Raspberry Pi (portable single-board computer) and an app. We can test the level of water contamination through it.”

    Bail Not Jail

    Amnesty International India has set up an art installation by artist Ruchi Bakshi Sharma highlighting the problems faced by undertrials in the country.

    “The installation specifically focuses on bail reform, which through our research, was found to be unfair. There are many poor people who have got bail, but are not released owing to the lack of money or political networks. Along with this installation we have put up a petition addressed to Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, urging him to reform the bail law. We are requesting our viewers to join the campaign by signing the petition,” said Leah Verghese, senior campaigner, Amnesty International India.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Bengaluru / by Vinisha Raju / Bengaluru – December 16th, 2017

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    December 14th, 2017adminEducation, Records, All

    Eleven students from Centre for Advanced Learning (CFAL), Mangaluru, have been selected in the Karnataka Regional Mathematics Olympiad 2017 to represent the State at the national-level Olympiad.

    A release from CFAL here stated they are among the 35 selected to represent Karnataka .

    The Mathematical Olympiad is one of the prestigious examinations conducted by the Union government. Those selected at the regional level qualify for Indian National Mathematical Olympiad leading to the International Mathematical Olympiad.

    A pre-regional level examination was held in August with 623 students from Karnataka qualifying for the regional level. At the regional level examination in October, 35 got selected, including the 11 from Mangaluru, all from CFAL.

    The Mathematics Olympiad Program in India is organised by the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE) on behalf of the National Board of Higher Mathematics (NBHM) of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Karnataka / by Special Correspondent / Mangaluru – December 12th, 2017

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    December 13th, 2017adminArts, Culture & Entertainment, Records, All

    Thirty senior folk artistes, one from each district, and two folk experts will be presented the Karnataka Janapada Academy awards for 2017. While the artistes will get a purse of ₹25,000 and a citation, the folk experts will get ₹50,000 and a citation.

    Announcing the names of award winners here on Monday, academy chairman B. Takappa Kannuru said they had chosen these artistes at the general body meeting on October 30. The awards will be given to them at a two-day district folk convention to be held from December 28 at Sagar in Shivammoga district.

    The award winners are Ganganarasamma (Ramanagaram); G. Siddanagowda (Davangere); K.R. Hosalaiah (Tumakuru); H.K. Papanna (Bengaluru city); Akkayyamma (Bengaluru Rural); Maramma (Kolar); Shanthamma (Chickballapur); D. Thimmappa (Chitradurga); K. Vasudevappa (Shivamogga); Hanumavva Walikar (Koppal); Shivamma Burrakathe (Ballari); Shivappa Hebbala (Yadavagiri); Rukmavva (Raichur); Nagappa Kashampura (Bidar); Ismail Sab (Kalaburagi); Veerabhadrappa U. Mullura (Dharwad); Jakkavva Satyappa Madara (Bagalkot); Sabavva Annappa Koli (Belagavi); Jagadeva Golavva Madyala (Vijayapura); Maharudrappa Veerappa Itagi (Haveri); Ramappa Dyamappa Koravara (Gadag); Somayya Sannagonda (Uttara Kannada); Puttaswamy (Mysuru); S.G. Jayanna (Chikkamagaluru); Krishne Gowda (Mandya); Sannashetti (Chamarajanagar); Lakshmamma (Hassan); Leela Shedthi (Dakshina Kannada); Rani Machaiah (Kodagu); and Guruva Dolu (Udupi). The folk experts are N. Huchappa Mastara (Dr. Jee. Sham. Pa. Award) and Shalini Raghunatha (Dr. B.S. Gaddagimath Award).

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Karnataka / by Staff Reporter / Bengaluru – December 11th, 2017

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    December 12th, 2017adminArts, Culture & Entertainment


    National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), the expansive white structure located on Palace Road, exudes a certain kind of warmth that not many government-owned cultural spaces do. It extends an invitation to a passer-by to come and discover its treasure trove of modern art. Bengaluru’s artscape deserved an institution of this stature and it took some effort on the part of cultural fraternity to convince then Chief Minister JH Patel about it. What took longer was the selection of a building. But finally, the sprawling Manikyavelu Mansion was chosen for the task. Architect Naresh Narasmihan restored this colonial style 90 year-old structure, which once belonged to Raja Manikyavelu Mudaliar, a Mysuru royalty and also added a new gallery block in harmony with its existing aesthetics. NGMA Bengaluru opened its doors in 2009 with Sobha Nambisan as its first director.

    With all its greenery, the three-and-a-half acre campus is nothing less than an oasis. After you are done with seeing the massive collection on display or an ongoing exhibition, you can sit under its myriad Ashokas, sandalwood, raintrees, banyan to catch a breath of fresh air. Soak in the beauty of the place sitting on stone benches near the mirror pool. For a visitor, there is so much to experience besides the art display.

    “I think, it is the best NGMA in the country. Its warm inviting appeal, the kind of events which happen here, make it a beautiful place,” says SG Vasudev, senior artist who was one of the few who rallied for NGMA’s counterparts in Bengaluru. The other two NGMAs are located in Delhi and Mumbai.

    NGMA houses a permanent collection of more than 500 art works. Raja Ravi Varma, Amrita Sher-Gil, Rabindranath Tagore, Jamini Roy and other seminal names comprise the collection charting the trajectory of modernism in Indian art.

    “I felt intimidated by art till I came here. I thought, I can never understand art and you need to have knowledge about it before you walk into a gallery. But here, it is different. You can get a glimpse of the evolution of Indian art,” feels Sumati R, a banker who lives in Vasanth Nagar. The art reference library, auditorium, cafeteria, sculpture garden and museum shop are other highlights of the structure.

    Its permanent collection aside, it regularly hosts exhibitions of the artists from the country and across the world. Walk throughs, workshops, panel discussions, retrospectives and major career surveys of artists are regularly held here. Transforming into a cultural hub, it also hosts film screenings, other performing and cultural arts festivals. One can hope to catch rare documentaries on Rembrandt, or a famous Iranian film by Majid Majidi or just walk into a celebration of any kind.

    NGMA is located at 49, Palace Road.

    Entry ticket – Rs. 20

    For more details visit

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Entertainment> Art / by Shailaja Tripathi / December 11th, 2017

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    December 11th, 2017adminArts, Culture & Entertainment


    The news that India’s YouTube superstars, pop-rock band SANAM recently performed at the re-launch of an old-time favourite hotspot in Bengaluru has been making the rounds over the past few days. But not many people know that the four-piece ensemble’s bass guitarist Venkat Subramaniyam (aka Venky) was a Josephite, who lived in Bengaluru from 2005-2014. In a casual conversation with Bangalore Times, brothers Sanam and Samar Puri, Keshav Dhanraj and Venky let us in on their momo-eating spree in the city, their favourite artsites from the 90s Indipop genre and the latest #SANAMorginal Itni Door . Excerpts:

    Momos in Bengaluru
    “We have a strong connect with Bengaluru, as Venky is from this city. It’s always nice to be back here. We have friends in the city, and no matter how much time we get to spend here, we know that it’s going to be a fun experience,” says lead vocalist Sanam. “I had brought Sanam and Samar to Bengaluru many years ago. Back then, we had some fun time taking part in karaoke competitions. The city always has a chilled-out vibe which is appealing,” says Venky, who has studied at St. Joseph’s College of Commerce.

    Cut to their latest trip to the city, the ‘foodie’ bandmates were busy sampling different varieties of momos here. “From pan-fried mushroom and corn momos to the ones with chocolate fillings, we tasted some very interesting options here this time,” says Sanam, who has recently turned a vegan. Meanwhile, lead guitarist Samar loved drinking coffee in the city.

    Renditions, not remixes
    The remix of an old song is often associated with electronic beats, which sometimes sound noisy. “The reason we call our music renditions of old numbers and not remixes is because we try to keep the soul of the song, which is the lyrics and melody, alive throughout. We just style it according to our sound set,” says Sanam. Adding to that, drummer Keshav says, “We work on the instrument paths all over again and recreate the entire song, without changing its original feel and essence.”

    Choosing a good song
    “We never really discuss among ourselves or within our family that these are the old songs we listen to and that these can be recreated. Our first rendition Lag Ja Gale , for instance, was a song that somehow all of us had heard of, and we knew that it’s a famous and beautiful number. We then tried playing it and singing along, and realized that it’s working for us. It matches the kind of influences we have, the kind of music we listen to and the compositions we make. So, that’s the process. But again, we do filter a lot of songs before finalizing one,” says Sanam.

    “Also, most of the old songs are owned by music labels. There can be copyright issues, because we have a channel and things are monetized. There is a method of doing this. It is necessary to get the required permissions ahead of composing the rendition and making a music video with it,” explains Venky, adding, “A lot of thinking also goes into creating song sets while we are touring with our music. In South Africa, for example, people love the songs by Mohd Rafi, so we would add more of that.”

    Indipop inspirations
    “The songs of Kailasa by Kailash Kher had made a huge influence on me,” says Samar. Meanwhile, the band Junoon and Punjabi songs by Daler Mehndi were Venky’s favourite. The independent music scene of the 90s in India greatly influenced these self-taught artistes, as none of them have received any formal training in music. So, how difficult or easy is it for an artiste to make it big? “It depends on the individual, actually. For me, the level of curiosity and interest is always high when I am learning things on my own. It’s a bigger drive than what I would get sitting in a classroom,” says Samar.

    Making music for films

    “Currently, we are more focused on our YouTube channel, which has close to three million subscribers, and are not actively pursuing making music for films. A lot of people are following us, and we really want to give our best. The business model for musicians, especially the independent artistes, is changing due to the digital platform. It gives you the freedom to put out your ideas and craft for the audience directly,” says Keshav.

    “We had started off planning to make originals, but our focus shifted to renditions. With Itni Door just out, viewers are demanding more original tracks. We are currently working on a few, which are likely to be released next year,” Sanam sums up.

    source: / The Times of India / News> Cities> Bangalore / by Reema Gowalla /  TNN / December 11th, 2017

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    December 10th, 2017adminArts, Culture & Entertainment, Records, All
    Slice of history: The exhibition will be on till December 17 at Kodial Guthu West in Mangaluru.

    Slice of history: The exhibition will be on till December 17 at Kodial Guthu West in Mangaluru.

    It showcases the splendours of Indian architecture

    The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) launched its Mangaluru chapter by hosting an exhibition on ‘splendours of Indian architecture’ at heritage structure Kodial Guthu West here on Saturday.

    The exhibition, which will be on till December 17, begins with a section of India’s achievement in the first millennium A.D. that includes a pre-historic city, ancient cave architecture, forts and abandoned cities.

    It then flows into the time of Islamic Encounters. Waves of Islamic forces invaded India from the 7th century onwards. Around the 10th century, Delhi came under Islamic rule. It was a violent encounter but a very fruitful one in the arts. The following centuries saw Islamic buildings in Delhi, Gujarat and the Deccan. Examples of such monuments are included exemplifying the syncretic elements.

    The visitor then is led to experience India’s European Encounter.

    The final section of the exhibition showcases the Encounter with Modernism. During the 1930s, the Art Deco Style from Europe became very popular in the city of Bombay, now Mumbai, and is apparent in residential buildings and cinema halls. A new style was introduced by Le Corbusier when he designed the city of Chandigarh, an INTACH release said.

    People can visit the exhibition between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., the release added.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Karnataka / by Special Correspondent / Mangaluru – December 09th, 2017

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    December 10th, 2017adminRecords, All
    ‘We will have to go back to basics, to understand water and the lives it sustains.’ | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain

    ‘We will have to go back to basics, to understand water and the lives it sustains.’ | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain

    She gave up a cushy corporate job to make a career of environmental writing

    The gated community in east Bengaluru is a picture of symmetry: one neat villa after another; identical palm trees grow in rows. In one such villa, with a cat on a window sill and another meowing by the door, sits Arati Kumar-Rao, environmental photojournalist and winner of the first ever Anupam Mishra Medal for her work on riverine ecology.

    I ask how it feels to return from her places of work — the mangroves of Sundarbans or the banks of the Ganga — to the perfectly-manicured landscape that makes up her residence. “I feel like I’m living in Dubai,” she says.

    Tech to tales

    Perhaps seven years ago, it would have been easier to connect the faux greenery of the gated community with Arati, who was then working with a multinational tech giant.

    Now though, her work revolves around rivers, forests and those dependent on them: people living in the interstices of mangrove forests, those searching for water in arid landscapes, communities caught in the middle of political fights over rivers, lakes and tanks.

    Soon, the biophysicist-turned-journalist-turned-market researcher finally decided to turn into a storyteller — about the environment, and in particular, of freshwater.

    Her love for forests emerged in bustling Mumbai. “Even though we were in Mumbai, we stayed in a colony close to the woods. We would go birdwatching or to forests nearby. Moreover, my father was an environmental activist and a part of the movements in Narmada River and Silent Valley. The environment books we had are ones I still refer to,” she says.

    By 2012, Arati had decided to give up her cushy corporate job — “not an easy thing” — and delve deep into environmental writing. It was longform, immersive journalism she preferred. “It came out of a frustration from travel pieces and spot reporting, where one zips in and out, and produces shallow journalism,” says Arati.

    Around the time she nurtured the idea of following one river from its source to end, Paul Salopek embarked on one of the most ambitious journalistic projects the world had seen.

    The seven-year Out of Eden project would see him walk the 32,600-km route taken by early humans in their migration out of Africa. “There were a bunch of people around the world independently coming up with the idea to immerse in stories. The time was right for this sort of thing.”

    It allows Arati to communicate the “slow violence” faced by those bearing the brunt of environmental change. “I think of myself as a chronicler of the land, and by nature it has to be slow as the land changes slowly,” she says pensively.

    In 2014, she visited the Sundarbans for her series on the Brahmaputra. “I saw oil tankers chugging along, and had two worries: what about the wildlife in the path of the ship sailing down the river; what if an oil tanker spills,” she says.

    By December that year, her fears came true when 3.5 lakh litres of oil spilled into the mangrove forests. While journalists parachuted in to report the spill, Arati was already there chronicling an incomplete clean-up, the suffering of the fishing community and a cover-up by authorities before a United Nations-led team arrived. Amid pictures of oil being cleaned and fisherfolk with hands and legs covered in sludge is a stark picture of a crocodile wading into the water while the surface and sand around are coated in black oil.

    Slow violence

    While chronicling the Ganga, she spent months in Bihar and West Bengal, which were affected by the Farakka Barrage. In 2015, she saw the rising water consume homes during the monsoon as the silt accumulation increased in tracts of the river leading to the barrage. A family, she reported, moved 17 times as the monsoon deluge followed them and washed away their home by the banks.

    The “slow violence” erupted in 2016 when floods consumed large parts of Bihar and displaced thousands — and the barrage finally came under the media lens.

    What she saw in the Sundarbans and in the backwaters of Farakka may well happen again when the ambitious National Waterways Act opens up the rivers to goods transportation.

    “There are marginal savings in transport costs, but what happens to biodiversity? Ganga and Brahmaputra are among the siltiest in the world. Can you keep dredging rivers? China has lost its river dolphins. Is that where we want to go,” she asks.

    But, then, the optimism returns, driven by her belief that environmental communication can make the difference. “We have to keep finding ways to communicate better and deeper,” says Arati. “ Engineering solutions cannot give us drinking water if our rivers are polluted. We will have to go back to basics, to understand water and the lives it sustains.”

    The long haul

    She is busy and has her hands full for a while. There is a book coming up, which will capture environmental degradation and the challenges to freshwater. Then there is a project to document shrinking urban commons in Bengaluru; a plan to chronicle the Cauvery River; and fundraising for the news portal Peepli, which specialises in longform journalism.

    All of this centres on outreach, which she is attempting to move beyond the filter bubble of social media and the laconic style of mainstream media. Her Instagram account, with photos from her fieldwork, has over 73,000 followers.

    In 2013, gradually eroding her savings for her first immersive story, she spent months in Thar desert, learning from farmer-shepherd Chhattar Singh who uses the ways of the land to manage water in an arid landscape. Waiting patiently in the summer, through sandstorms, she saw his system come to life on Independence Day that year — the only day it rained. The system fed on the 80 mm of rainfall, storing enough water to sustain villages for months.

    In her urban commons project, Arati will embark to remind Bengalureans of this. The city recently saw rainfall of the kind it has never seen before. But groundwater levels continue to remain unchanged and a water crisis looms large.

    In the Thar, she was deeply influenced by the works of Anupam Mishra, who passed away in 2016. “I’m not one for awards, but this one is very special to me. I started off in the desert reading his works, and it is an honour to be awarded in his name for my work.”

    source: / The Hindu / Home> 60 Minute Society / by Mohit M. Rao / December 09th, 2017

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