November 21, 2018

Pakistan, China, Afghanistan dominated Mattis-Doval meet, says US official

Delhi/India/Politics by

Washington: Presence of terror safe havens in Pakistan, aggressive Chinese behaviour and the Afghanistan situation dominated last month’s meeting between US Defence Secretary Gen (retd) James Mattis and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, according to an American defence official.

“They talked a lot about China…the concern about China sometimes bullying some of its neighbours in the region. There was concern about that,” a US defence official told PTI about the Mattis-Doval meeting at the Pentagon on 24 March.

This was the highest-level interaction of Mattis with a top Indian official after becoming the Defence Secretary.

China is also very important to the US with regard to the North Korea situation, said the defence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Ajit Doval. AFP

Pakistan and Afghanistan were the two major topics of discussion between the two leaders, the official said.

“They talked about Pakistan,” the official said, adding that Doval “talked more” on the issue than Mattis.

“There was not a whole lot specifics. We have a number of concerns with respect to Pakistan…counter-terrorism, nuclear weapons. They talked a little bit about that. It is obviously a concern of India’s and it is an important player in the region and the world,” the defence official said.

The US would like to see Pakistan in a situation with it where they can have a productive relationship, the official said.

“They talked a lot about Afghanistan…and the need to try to get it…just finish it (the war). It has been going on (for) too long,” the defence official said.

The official explained that this meant “finish the operations and leave (Afghanistan) in a stable state”.

While successive US administrations have praised India’s developmental assistance in Afghanistan, some recent media reports both in India and the US have referred to Trump Administration’s desire of enhanced military role of India in the war-torn country.

The official said he “did not recall” any such conversation during the Pentagon meeting.

Reflecting on the meeting, the official said the Defence Secretary is “very keen on India”.

Mattis “recognises the important role that it plays in the region and the world and It’s unique position vis-a-vis Pakistan, vis-a-vis China,” said the defence official.

Secretary Mattis wants to have a solid defence relationship with India, the official said.

The Secretary was interested in listening from the NSA what India’s perspective was on most of these issues, both regional and global.

“I think, the NSA probably did most of the talking. It bodes well for the future. I think, he (Mattis) wants to have a solid defence relationship with India,” the official said in response to a question.

Doval made a quite visit to the United States for a few days around March 20, during which he also met the Homeland Security Secretary Gen (retd) John Kelly and US National Security Advisor Lt Gen H R McMaster.

Published Date: Apr 04, 2017 11:27 am | Updated Date: Apr 04, 2017 11:27 am

Remembering Kishori Amonkar: Sought after as guru, tai remained a devoted student of music

Delhi/India/Politics by

One of the longest-standing voices in Hindustani classical, Kishori Amonkar passed away in her sleep at 84 at her Mumbai home late on Monday night. From bhajans to Marathi music to even a short stint in Bollywood, Amonkar was one of the most distinctive voices in Indian music.

Trained by her mother Mogubai Kurdikar of the Jaipur Gharana, Amonkar became the strongest and most well-known proponent of the Jaipur Gharana, building on tradition even as she learned from a varied group of tutors. Amonkar said in an interview to NDTV in 2000, “My mother wanted me to learn all the aspects of music. Different colours of music. She wanted me to learn a little bit of Marathi songs, a little bit of bhajans. For that, she had appointed some masters.”

Kishori Amonkar passed away on 3 April 2017 at her home in Mumbai. Image courtesy YouTube

Where she first received training from Anjanibai Malpekar from the Bhendi Bazar Gharana, she crossed over for lessons from masters of the Agra Gharana and Gwalior Gharana as well. That fluid approach was what Amonkar personified throughout her career, innovating upon the timeless barriers of the Jaipur Gharana. Thumris, ghazals, or just raga-based performances, Amonkar’s concerts were all soul.

And when she was proving herself on stage, she was wooed by the ever-present Bollywood music industry, singing for Waheeda Rahman on Geet Gaya Patharon Ne in 1964 as well as much later in 1990, singing four songs – both traditional and modern renditions –  for Drishti. In a 2011 interview with IANS, she said that she would never sing in a Bollywood movie again. “I don’t think I’ll sing in films again because, for me, the language of notes speaks much more. It can take you to ultimate peace, it can give you a lot of knowledge of life. Adding that to words and rhythms lessens the power of a note.”

With that much insight, it’s no surprise that Amonkar considered herself as much of a permanent student even as she became a sought-after guru, training the likes of Manik Bhide, the mother of Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana proponent Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande. Music writer Vibha Purandare noted in a 1988 profile on Amonkar, “Like a sincere hard-working student, she still gets up early in the morning to study and interpret the texts and spends or invests some time with the textual notes. Then after an interval of some kitchen work, she turns to and becomes one with her musical notes. The journey from the world of words to the universe of ‘sa-re-ga-ma’ is as smooth as the sliding of the finger from one string to the other of her tanpura.”

Admittedly a contradicting personality at times, when she was the most sought-after singers right until yesterday for concerts, Amonkar did not sing for entertainment. “People have to understand that music isn’t entertainment. It is not to be sung to attract the audience, which is why I never play to the gallery,” she told The Indian Express in 2016.

It was perhaps this intrepid attitude towards performing music that gained her fans in the likes of tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, who held her renditions of Bhoop raga in high regard. “These are landmark performances that take place over hundreds of years and you will talk about it for the rest of your life and for centuries to come,” Hussain said in the Government-commissioned documentary on Amonkar, Bhinna Shadja, in 2011, co-directed by Amol Palekar.

Even as the praises ran and continue to exalt Kishori Amonkar as a virtuoso, she was quick to tell one TV journalist what she thinks when people term her a genius. “I only know that I’m a devotee of music. I treat my music as a divine path.” She said in a 2011 TV interview. She told Purandare back in 1988, “When I sing, I want everything to be beautiful — my notes, my rhythm and myself too. My desire is so intense that on the stage you have beauty personified, not Kishori looking beautiful.”

Published Date: Apr 04, 2017 11:26 am | Updated Date: Apr 04, 2017 11:26 am

Goa Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar wants to ban Lamanis from entering state

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Panaji: Goa Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar said that Lamanis, members of a nomadic tribe mostly hailing from Karnataka, should be banned from Goa because they besmirch the reputation of Goa and don’t fit in the coastal state’s culture.

Representational image. CNN News-18

Lamanis, known for their colourful costumes are involved in the seasonal tourism trade, sell trinkets and handmade clothes along the coastline to the hundreds of thousands of tourists who frequent the coastal state.

Speaking to IANS on Monday, Ajgaonkar also said that police inspectors in whose jurisdiction drugs are sold, should be suspended immediately, because they are complicit in drug trade.

“Outsiders who can uphold ‘Goenkarponn’ (Goanness) should be allowed to stay, the rest should be chased away. Goa’s culture and ‘Goenkarponn’ should be retained. These Lamanis should be stopped (from coming to Goa). A wrong message is sent because of them and the reputation of Goans is spoilt. This has to be done,” Ajgaonkar said, adding that his ministry would take action against Lamanis involved in illegal businesses.

After taking over as chief minister last month, Manohar Parrikar said that ‘Goenkarponn’ would be the cornerstone of his government’s policies and governance.

Ajgaonkar also said that drugs cannot be sold in Goa, if the police decide to crackdown on it and alleged complicity of the police personnel in the trade.

“Our officers know how the drugs are coming in or there cannot be a drugs business. Everyone who deals with this is connected. I am telling the CM that wherever drugs are found, the concerned officer should be suspended. Only this way we can find a way out of this,” he said.

Published Date: Apr 04, 2017 11:22 am | Updated Date: Apr 04, 2017 11:22 am

Russia metro attack staged by Kyrgyz suicide bomber: Kyrgyzstan

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Blast victims lie near a subway train hit by a explosion at the Tekhnologichesky Institut subway station in St.Petersburg, Russia, Monday, April 3, 2017. | AP

BISHKEK: A suicide bomber from Kyrgyzstan was behind the explosion that killed 11 people and injured dozens more in the Saint Petersburg metro, security services in the Central Asian country said Tuesday.

“The suicide bomber in the Saint Petersburg metro was a Kyrgyz national Akbarjon Djalilov… born in 1995,” a spokesman for the country’s security services told AFP. 

Sourav Ganguly congratulates Sachin Tendulkar on his singing debut with Sonu Nigam

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Kolkata: Former India captain Sourav Ganguly on Monday congratulated his long time opening partner Sachin Tendulkar for his singing debut with Sonu Nigam in a new song titled ‘Cricket wali beat’.

“@sachin_rt well done Tendulkar .. great stuff .. talent not restricted to batting only,” Ganguly tweeted.

Tendulkar, known to love music, featured in a video premiered during the grand finale of reality show “Indian Idol 9” on Sunday night where the iconic cricketer was the celebrity guest.

“He is a very good singer. We did not use pitch corrector on his voice as he was singing in the right sur (tone) and (despite being) the shy person that he is, he got extremely comfortable the moment I kind of increased the masti (fun) quotient while we were shooting the video,” Sonu had told IANS.

The song is yet to be released in entirety on social media and is only available on Tendulkar’s new app which will give fans access to all the information on the legend.

Published Date: Apr 04, 2017 11:21 am | Updated Date: Apr 04, 2017 11:21 am

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