Rising above challenges
Kartik has turned his hobby into self-employment opportunity
Karatik is special. Special as a medical practitioner would call him and as a person who has achieved much in life. With an educational qualification which can put many to shame, his life, unlike that of others like him, has represented an uphill graph till now. With support from parents and teachers he has been able to beat his disability. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was three-years old, doctors advised Kartik’s mother, Rajalakshmi Chanderashekar, to put him in a special school.
Vidhya Sagar became his first abode, where he studied till Class X. “Kartik could not have achieved so much without the support of the school,” says his mother. He went on to finish his schooling from Lady Andal School, Chetpet. He was admitted to Loyola College where he did his under graduation in English Literature. Along with the regular course, Kartik enrolled himself into an add-on course on Media Presentation. He finished his M.A. in English and History. Studious as he is he went on to do an M.Phil in English and submitted his thesis on childhood theme in R.K. Narayan’s famous work, ‘Swami and Friends’.
Life, as Kartik would tell us, had been easy and fun-filled, with acceptance from everyone, till he had to apply for a job. On approaching organisation backed by a good education record, Kartik was turned down every time, not because he was not well qualified, but because he was different. “They only looked at my disability, not at what I could achieve. I tried every sector from BPO to journalism but no one is willing to take me. I also tried the government job meant for disabled, but was turned down. They either have a problem with my voice or my typing speed.”
Dejected after three years of job-searching, Kartik has found solace in his hobby which he has turned into a self-employment opportunity. An avid reader, Kartik has a collection of over 1,000 books, which he now lends out to others. A year ago he started a library called Sri Chakra at his home.
The library features collections of books on varied subjects such as history, literature, spiritual, children’s literature, study–related textbooks, general knowledge, competitive exam preparation books, etc. The library also has a special collection called Library of Nations, with detailed history and growth of continents. For Tamil lovers, the library offers classical works. Many of them came as presents from others.
To manage his library efficiently, Kartik also went on to get a Bachelors degree in Library and Information Science from Madras University. The membership fee for the library is Rs. 500 a year. Starting with five members, the library today has 25 patrons.
Through all ups and downs, his mother has been a rock-solid support. “I used to travel with him thrice a week to Madras Christian College, Tambaram, for M.Phil classes. My proudest moment was when Kartik went on the stage to collect his graduation certificate. People gave a standing ovation to him. Nothing can beat that feeling. I am thankful to Loyola for its support to Kartik, whenever we approached the principal with problems they were addressed immediately.”
Apart from reading, Kartik also loves chess and cricket and is a movie buff. “Vishwanathan Anand, Sachin Tendulkar and Ajit are my role models. I got a chance to meet Vishy and played a friendly match with him. I also met Sachin over dinner at Taj Coromandel and got a bat and a cap as souvenirs from him. But, my dream to meet actor Ajit has remained unfulfilled till now.”
Kartik wants to achieve a lot more. He wants to become a cricket columnist, wants to expand his library, and get a Ph.D in English, but his ultimate aim is to land a job. “I want to give back to my parents for all the sacrifices they have made for me. I want to run the library along side. Never before has my disability bothered me, but constant rejection has made me question where and when will I fit in.”
Travelling is also a major challenge for Kartik. His family is looking for sponsors for meeting transportation costs. Kartik can be reached at 98846 08795 / 91760 64755 / 81225 42365.
His library is located at No. 81/D Arihant Flats, Thambiah Road, West Mambalam. It is open from 4 to 7 p.m.
The Bengal famine of 1770 (Bengali: ৭৬-এর মন্বন্তর, Chhiattōrer monnōntór; lit The Famine of ’76) was a catastrophicfamine between 1769 and 1773 (1176 to 1180 in the Bengali calendar) that affected the lower Gangetic plain of India. The famine is estimated to have caused the deaths of 10 million people (one out of three, reducing the population to thirty million in Bengal, which included Bihar and parts of Orissa). The Bengali names derives from its origins in the Bengali calendar year 1176. (“Chhiattōr”- “76″; “mormōntór”- “famine” in Bengali).
The famine occurred in the territory which was called Bengal, then ruled by the British East India Company. This territory included modern West Bengal, Bangladesh, and parts of Assam, Orissa, Bihar, and Jharkhand. It was earlier a province of the Mughal empire from the 16th century and was ruled by a Nawab, or governor. In early 18th century, as the Mughal empire started collapsing, The Nawab became effectively independent of the Mughal rule. Following the Maratha Expeditions in Bengal, they became a tributary of the Marathas in Pune.Background
In the 17th century the then-English East India Company had been given a grant of the town of Calcutta by the Mughal Prince Shah Shuja. At this time the Company was effectively another tributary power of the Mughal. During the following century, the company obtained sole trading rights for the province and went on to become the dominant power in Bengal. In 1757, at the Battle of Plassey, the British defeated the then-Nawab Siraj Ud Daulah and plundered the Bengali treasury. In 1764 their military control was reaffirmed at Buxar. The subsequent treaty gained them the Diwani, that is, taxation rights; the Company thereby became the de facto ruler of Bengal.
The regions in which the famine occurred included especially the modern Indian states of Bihar and West Bengal, but the famine also extended into Orissa and Jharkhand as well as modern Bangladesh. Among the worst affected areas wereBirbhum and Murshidabad in Bengal, and Tirhut, Champaran and Bettiah in Bihar.
A partial shortfall in crops, considered nothing out of the ordinary, occurred in 1768 and was followed in late 1769 by more severe conditions. By September 1769 there was a severe drought, and alarming reports were coming in of rural distress. These were, however, ignored by company officers.
By early 1770 there was starvation, and by mid-1770 deaths from starvation were occurring on a large scale. Later in 1770 good rainfall resulted in a good harvest and the famine abated. However, other shortfalls occurred in the following years, raising the total death toll. About ten million people, approximately one-third of the population of the affected area, are estimated to have died in the famine.
As a result of the famine large areas were depopulated and returned to jungle for decades to come, as the survivors migrated en masse in a search for food. Many cultivated lands were abandoned—much of Birbhum, for instance, returned to jungle and was virtually impassable for decades afterwards. From 1772 on, bands of bandits and thugs became an established feature of Bengal, and were only brought under control by punitive actions in the 1780s.
East India Company responsibilities
The famine occurred due to the British East India Company‘s policies in Bengal.
As a trading body, the first remit of the company was to maximise its profits and with taxation rights, the profits to be obtained from Bengal came from land tax as well as trade tariffs. As lands came under company control, the land tax was typically raised fivefold what it had been – from 10% to up to 50% of the value of the agricultural produce. In the first years of the rule of the British East India Company, the total land tax income was doubled and most of this revenue flowed out of the country. As the famine approached its height in April 1770, the Company announced that the land tax for the following year was to be increased by a further 10%.
Sushil Chaudhury writes that the destruction of food crops in Bengal to make way for opium poppy cultivation for export reduced food availability and contributed to the famine. The company is also criticised for ordering the farmers to plant indigo instead of rice, as well as forbidding the “hoarding” of rice. This prevented traders and dealers from laying in reserves that in other times would have tided the population over lean periods.
By the time of the famine, monopolies in grain trading had been established by the company and its agents. The company had no plan for dealing with the grain shortage, and actions were only taken insofar as they affected the mercantile and trading classes. Land revenue decreased by 14% during the affected year, but recovered rapidly. According to McLane, the first governor-general of British India, Warren Hastings, acknowledged “violent” tax collecting after 1771: revenues earned by the Company were higher in 1771 than in 1768. Globally, the profit of the company increased from fifteen million rupees in 1765 to thirty million in 1777.Nevertheless, the company continued to suffer financially, and influenced Parliament to pass the Tea Act in 1773 to lift import duties on tea shipped to the American colonies, which ultimately lead to the American War of Independence in April 1775.
What drove Muslim invaders to loot and destroy Hindu temples? Was it greed? Was it hatred of idol worship? Or was it contempt towards a conquered people? Ajmer offers possible answers
First, some trivia for history buffs. James Tod joined the Bengal Army as a cadet in 1799, presumably looking for a life of adventure in the heat and dust of India. He swiftly rose through the ranks and, as a Lieutenant-Colonel, the records of the times tell us, provided valuable service to the East India Company. His uncanny ability to gather information helped the early colonisers smash the Maratha Confederacy. Later, his assistance was sought during the Rajputana campaign.
Colonel Tod, as he was known, was a natural scholar with an eye for detail and a curious mind. He was fascinated by the history of Rajputana and its antiquities as much as by its palace intrigues and the shifting loyalties of its rulers and their factotums. That fascination led to his penning two books that are still considered mandatory reading for anybody interested in the history of the Rajputs, although latter-day scholars of the Marxist variety would disagree with both the contents and the style, neither leavened by ideological predilections. The first volume of Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan was published in 1829 and the second in 1832, nearly a decade after he returned to Britain.
And now to present times. Thousands of people, Indians and foreigners, Muslims and non-Muslims, visit Ajmer every day to offer a chaadar at Dargah Sharif of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, a shrine where all are welcome and every prayer is answered, or so the pious choose to believe. Many stay on to visit the other antiquities of Ajmer, among them a magnificent mosque complex which bears little or no resemblance to its name: Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra.
People gawk at the columns and the façade intricately carved with inscriptions from the Quran in Arabic. They pose for photographs or capture the mosque’s ‘beauty’ on video cameras and carry back memories of Islam’s munificence towards its followers. Don’t forget to visit Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra, they will later tell friends and relatives visiting Ajmer.
As for Indian Muslims who travel to Ajmer and see Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra, they would be tempted to wonder why similar mosques are no longer built, a wonderment that is only partially explained by the fact that sultans and badshahs no longer rule India. The crescent had begun to wane long before a derelict Bahadur Shah Zafar was propped up as Badshah of Hindoostan by the mutineers of 1857.
Such speculation as may flit through troubled minds need not detain us, nor is there any need to feel sorry for those who wallow in self-pity or are enraged by the realisation of permanent loss of power. A century and a half is long enough time to reconcile to the changed realities of today’s Hindustan.
So, let us return to Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra in Ajmer. Few who have seen and admired this mosque complex would be aware of Colonel Tod’s description of it in the first volume of Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan: “The entire façade of this noble entrance … is covered with Arabic inscriptions … but in a small frieze over the apex of the arch is contained an inscription in Sanskrit.” And that oddity tells the real story of Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra.
This is no place of worship built over weeks and months for the faithful to congregate five times a day, it is a monument to honour Shahabuddin Muhammad Ghauri who travelled through Ajmer after defeating, and killing, Prithviraj Chauhan in the second battle of Tarain in 1192 AD. Stunned by the beauty of the temples of Ajmer and shocked by such idolatory, he ordered Qutbuddin Aibak to sack the city and build a mosque, a mission to be accomplished in two-and-a-half days, so that he could offer namaz on his way back.
Aibak fulfilled the task given to him: He used the structures of three temples to fashion what now stands as Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra. Mindful of sensitivities, his men used their swords to disfigure the faces of figures carved into the 70 pillars that still stand. It would seem India’s invaders had a particular distaste for Indian noses portrayed in stone and plaster.
The story of Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra is not unique. Hindustan’s landscape is dotted with mosques built on sites where temples stood, often crafted with material from the destroyed places of worship. Quwwat-ul Islam, the first mosque built in Delhi, bears testimony to the ruthless invader’s smash-and-grab policy, as do the mosques Aurangzeb built in Kashi and Mathura, or the mosque Mir Baqi built at Ayodhya on the site Hindus believe to be, and revere as, Ram Janmasthan.
The pillars and inner walls of Babri Masjid, as the disputed structure was known till it came crashing down on December 6, 1992, were those of a temple that once stood there, a fact proven beyond doubt. Somnath was fortunate: It was sacked repeatedly, but no mosque came to occupy the land where it stood — and still stands — in Gujarat, a coastal sentinel guarding faith, culture, civilisation. The Vishwanath temple at Kashi was less fortunate as was Krishna Janamsthan in Mathura.
Strange as it may seem, such destruction, barring the illegitimate occupation by Muslims of Temple Mount revered by Jews in Jerusalem, never happened in the land considered holiest of all by followers of the three Abrahamic faiths. The Church of Nativity in Bethlehem commemorates (and preserves) the manger where Jesus Christ was born. In the walled city of Jerusalem stands the centuries old Church of the Holy Sepulchre at the spot where Jesus was crucified and the sepulchre where he was buried and from where he rose. These and many other Christian sites have remained untouched. As have Jewish sites.
What then explains the extraordinary destructive trait displayed by Muslim invaders who raided India again and again? It couldn’t just have been the wealth of temples (as Marxist historians who grudgingly concede temples were indeed attacked would forcefully argue in justification of the destruction), there has to be something more. Was it polytheism that upset the early age Islamists? Was it idol worship that enraged them? Or was it simply hate and contempt towards the conquered that drove the destructive impulse of the conquering invader?
Ironically, to ask these questions would be considered as ‘intolerance’ today. Positing possible answers would be labelled as ‘hate speech’. And those asking the questions and positing possible answers would be described as ‘Islamophobes’. History has truly been hijacked by the perverse politics of our times.
(This appeared as Coffee Break in The Pioneer on October 20, 2012)
Man tweets that Chidambaram’s son amassed more cash than Vadra, gets arrested
Published: Tuesday, Oct 30, 2012, 23:35 IST
Place: Puducherry | Agency: PTI
A small scale industrialist here was today arrested on the charge of posting “offensive” messages on social media targeting Union finance minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram but released on bail by a court.
Ravi, owning a plastic packaging material factory, was arrested by local Crime Branch wing of CID Police on a recent complaint by Karti Chidambaram that he had posted ‘offensive’ message against him on three occasions since 2011 on the micro blogging site Twitter, police said.
He was arrested under Section 66-A of Information Technology Act after registration of a case on the complaint by Karti Chidambaram lodged with the Union Territory’s Inspector General of Police, they said.
Police produced 45-year old Ravi before Chief Judicial Magistrate Venkatakrishnan and sought 15 days remand. However, the CJM released him since the offence was bailable.
It was alleged that Ravi had posted messages stating that Karthi Chidambaram had amassed wealth more than that of Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
A Subramani TNN
Chennai:The election case proceedings, questioning the election of union home minister P Chidambaram from Sivaganga parliamentary constituency in 2009, has entered a decisive phase, with the Madras high court framing issues to be adjudicated and fixing November 1 as the date for trial commencement.
AIADMK’s Raja Kannappan filed an election petition claiming that on May 16, 2009 when the votes were counted, he had secured 3,34,348 as against Chidambaram’s 3,30,994 votes. He claimed his votes were illegally transferred to the credit of the Congress candidate, thereby tilting the result in Chidambaram’s favour. Chidambaram denied the allegations and filed a preliminary objection petition to reject the case at the initial stage itself. The high court dismissed the preliminary objection petition in June, setting the stage for a trial.
Last week, when the matter came up again before Justice K Venkataraman, the court framed key issues to be adjudicated in the matter. Among the issues now before the court are whether the allegations of malpractice leveled against Chidambaram have to be tested by the court or not, and if his election should be declared as null and void, consequently declaring Raja Kannappan as the successful candidate.
One important issue that the court will look at is if Chidambaram visited the Rajagambeeram police station in Manamadurai where his son had been detained, after a case was registered against him on a complaint from one Chelliah. Chidambaram denied it. His side has now filed a fresh petition saying a person cited as 19th respondent in the election petition should not be cross-examined. The court has since issued notice to all relevant parties.