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  Greetings to all our readers and patrons
Stewardship and Trusteesh
  By A.J. Philip  
  I ACCOMPANIED Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his visit to South Africa on the occasi  
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Letter to Metropolitan
  By Rev A.P. Jacob and five other priests  
  Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan Most Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar  
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Back to infancy -- they n
  By Shaheen Chander  
  ENJOYING a relaxed weekend, I was checking updates on the Facebook page. I came across a b  
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  By June Luthra  
  THEY say the emancipation of women in Hindusani classical music began with her. And they do not say it just because, despite being married to a Brahmin, she retained her maiden name -- a sign of her low caste status. It is also not because she adhered to the matrilineal traditions throughout her life.

There is much more to Gangubai Hangal, the legendary singer, the rebel and the sensitive woman.

In her memoir, 'Nanna Badukina Haadu' (The Song of My Life), she had commented that she was born at a time when a male musician was known as Ustad if he was a Muslim and Pandit, if he was a Hindu. But a woman musician would inevitably be known as Bai.

But Gangubai, with a musical career that spanned over eight decades, managed to bring respectability to women singers, thus changing the face of Indian musical history. Small wonder that we are all mourning her death as an irreparable loss to the musical world. She died in Karnataka's Hubli town on July 21 at the ripe old age of 97.

The title 'The Doyenne of Kirana Gharana', four honorary doctorates and a Padma Bhushan and a Padma Vibhshan -- came after prolonged struggles in her early life.

The daughter of a boatman-agriculturist father, she had to fight caste divide but most of all, the gender divide. She was ridiculed as a 'gaanewali' for trying to storm into the male-dominated world of classical music.

But gene triumphed over hurdles. Gangubai, who inherited her passion for music from her mother Ambababai, who was a Carnatic musician, blossomed under the guidance of Krishnamacharya Hulgar and later Sawai

She will be remembered for her unique style of rendering 'khayal' or 'bandish', which she did with utmost precision, embellishing it with 'sur lagav' and 'laykari'.

She was just 12 when she first sang in a group to welcome Mahatma Gandhi and other Congress leaders at the 1924 Belgaum session of the Indian National Congress. She continued her musical sojourn by singing at Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations.

Her big break came at a concert in Mumbai in 1933. She made an interesting comment on her memoir about her recording experience in Mumbai: "For my first recording, when HMV
invited me to Mumbai, I went there because they were taking care of the journey and sightseeing."

That proved really to be the journey of her musical career. She was reborn musically in her mid-career when she lost her voice after a brief illness, only to regain it later with a new masculine quality. And this proved to be a blessing as her newly acquired androgynous voice established her as powerful singer among her contemporaries.

A gift from heaven which became instrumental later in changing her image from just another Bai to 'The Baiji', the one and only in the Hindustani classical music!
  By Associated Press  
  Robert S. McNamara was perhaps the most influential US defense secretary of the 20th century. He helped lead the US into the maelstrom of Vietnam and spent the rest of his life wrestling with the war's moral consequences.

Serving Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 to 1968, Mr. McNamara oversaw hundreds of military missions, thousands of nuclear weapons and billions of dollars in military spending and foreign arms sales. He also enlarged the defense secretary's role, handling foreign diplomacy and the dispatch of troops to enforce civil rights in the South.

Mr. McNamara had recently been named president of the Ford Motor Company when he was tapped to become the country's eighth defense secretary. He became enmeshed in the plans for the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. He then helped resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the same year that he made his first trip to South Vietnam. He concluded that the American military mission there could be wrapped up in three or four years.

After Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, Mr. McNamara found that President Johnson depended on him to win the war, which became a full-fledged conflict for the US the following year.

As early as April 1964, Senator Wayne Morse, Democrat of Oregon, called Vietnam "McNamara's War." Mr. McNamara did not object. "I am pleased to be identified with it," he said, "and do whatever I can to win it."

Half a million American soldiers went to war on his watch. More than 16,000 died; 42,000 more would fall in the seven years to come.

The war became his personal nightmare. Nothing he did, none of the tools at his command -- the power of American weapons, the forces of technology and logic or the strength of American soldiers -- could stop the armies of North Vietnam. He concluded well before leaving the Pentagon that the war was futile, but he did not share that insight with the public until late in life.

In 1995, he took a stand against his own conduct of the war, confessing in a memoir that it was "wrong, terribly wrong."
  By June Luthra  
  THE omnipresent pipe, Charandas Chor...and what falls into the sequence, naturally, is the name Habib Tanvir. Alas, one has to talk of him in the past tense.

For, this unequivocal 'father figure' of Indian Theatre died of pneumonia and pulmonary complications on June 8. He was 85.

Even those who do not know Tanvir personally are aware of his working style thanks to his iconic Charandas Chor, which has been enacted in all the Indian languages and in all the states by almost all theatre groups worth their salt.

The founder of Naya Theatre in Bhopal, Tanvir created a new theatrical lingo by blending folk elements with contemporary theatre.

He worked extensively with the tribals from Chhattisgarh. It is a tribute to him that because of his endeavour, folk theatre today enjoys an international status. In turn, this instills the belief among folk performers that their art is no less important.

Some may say that Tanvir was not the only one to do so. True, in performing art it has become almost fashionable to use folk elements.

But what sets Tanvir apart from the rest is that he never used them as mere embellishment. He used the form called 'nacha' to tell a story.

Born in Raipur in 1923, his skill of story telling on stage was honed at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Scarcity of funds, which seems to be part of every successful artiste's fate, taught him to be innovative.

Tanvir had evolved the technique of make-belief theatre using human form as props on stage.

A strong pillar of the Left movement in India, particularly the Indian People's Theatre movement, his plays had a strong socialist tint– be it his earlier plays like Sutradhar, Indra Sabha and Charandas Chor or his relatively new ones like Ponga Pundit or Raj-Rakt.

He was decorated with prestigious honours like the Sangeet Natak Akademi award and the Padmashri.

Tanvir, who is survived by his daughter Nagneen Tanvir, was working on his autobiography when fell sick.

Nageen, who is unsure about the fate of the book, recalls her father as someone who never gave up on his belief and idealism despite the many hurdles he had to surmount in his life.

Whether she is able to complete the book or not, the world is waiting to know what made Habib Tanvir the man he was -- his genuineness, his ability to love unconditionally and his courage to lash out at the system when needed and his source of inspiration -- pipe and all!

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