Tidbits August 2005
Compiled By Murali Kamma
Indians Remain Attached to Uncle Sam
Any news that highlights the growing ties between India and the U.S. no longer seems so striking. The low points of their eventful relationship now belong to the history books. Just last month, during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's highly successful visit to this country, the wide media attention was invariably upbeat, but none of it caused much surprise. Also recently, a Pew Global Attitudes Survey showed that unlike many other nations these days, including those in the West, India continues to regard the world's sole superpower quite favorably. "By contrast, Indians hold largely positive views of the American people," the survey pointed out. "Clear majorities see Americans as inventive, hardworking and honest (86%, 81% and 58% respectively). None of the negative traits is linked with Americans by a majority in India." Giving America the highest rating, India was the only country from a list of 16 to pick it as a desirable destination for leading a good life. Reflecting on the vital role played by Indian-Americans, Dr. Singh reportedly said, "You embody the knowledge partnership between us, whose broadening will surely make Indo-U.S. ties one of the principal relationships of the world."
Indian Bags 2005 World Food Prize
For his pioneering work at the World Fish Center, Dr. Modadugu Vijay Gupta won the $250,000 World Food Prize last month, making him the 6th Indian citizen to receive this prestigious award since its inception in 1986. "Through his dedicated and sustained efforts in Bangladesh, Laos and other countries in Southeast Asia, Dr. Gupta made small scale aquaculture a viable means for over one million very poor farmers and women to improve their family's nutrition and well-being," according to the World Food Prize Foundation, which is based in Iowa. Dr. Gupta's scientific endeavor in fish farming, involving low costs and minimal damage to the environment, has brought about a Blue Revolution in the region, giving many indigent people a better chance in life.
Recording and Restoring Ragas
A breakthrough in sonic technology has apparently allowed Rhyme Records, a U.S.-based company founded by Prosenjit Ghosh, to take the lead in new recordings of Indian classical music and the restoration of historical performances. "With their 24-bit technology, Rhyme captures and reproduces live performances with the highest resolution available ? enabling a more natural, unsullied sound with a large dynamic range that ensures a faithful recording of even the finest nuance," states Rave, an Indian music magazine. "With 3-D processing, live recordings are given a greater depth and realism than ever before." Furthermore, a skillful combination of audio and video is a hallmark of their so-called enhanced CDs, which include ?Creating Waves' (Shubhendra Rao & Saskia Rao-de Haas) and ?Thumriyan' (Budhaditya Mukherjee). In 2002, Rhyme Records was chosen as the label to represent Hindustani and Bengali classical music in the World Music Category at the Grammy's. According to Rhyme Records, it's the only company that uses 24 bit 96 kHz with 3-D psycho-acoustic processing to record Indian music.
Granta Showcases Indian Writing in English
The Granta Book of India
Edited by Ian Jack
Granta Books, 2005
Paperback, 287 pages
Readers who lead busy lives, but hope to at least periodically sample the works of leading contemporary authors, won't be disappointed by a premier literary publication like Granta. Ian Jack, its Indophile editor, had brought out an attractive special issue to commemorate the 50th anniversary of India's independence. And now, eight years later, he's come out with another anthology that's exclusively centered on India. While Suketu Mehta dwells on present-day Mumbai and Mark Tully takes us to the Calcutta of his childhood, Urvashi Butalia tries to trace an uncle she's not seen since the partition of the subcontinent. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (?What Bengali widows cannot eat') and Ramachandra Guha (?What we think of America') are two other writers included in the volume. Pankaj Mishra's piece is on the jihadis in Pakistan, whereas the late Nirad Chaudhuri's essay is about reaching his 100th birthday. There's also fiction by R.K. Narayan and Amit Chaudhuri, and a poem on the fatwa by Salman Rushdie. As Outlook magazine puts it, "India can't even begin to be done in 287 pages, but Granta does a creditable job of shining at least a flickering torchlight on its many paradoxes."
Come, Let's Speak Indian Languages?
It can often be a challenge to pass on Indian and other immigrant languages to American-born children, prompting some parents to seek innovative approaches that will ease the learning process and also, hopefully, make it more entertaining. Namrata Grover's DVD (?Chalo Hindi Bolay') can be seen as one attempt. In conceiving and making it, this mother of three drew inspiration from widely watched children's programs on PBS and Nickelodeon. "The show stars South Asian kids from ages 3 to 11 and has Hathi the elephant for its mascot," she notes. "Key concepts are integrated and repeated throughout the show for memorization of each new idea. Popular Hindi and English nursery rhymes are presented and translated for children to follow easily and build their Hindi vocabulary. The entire show can be played with English subtitles." Vinay Chowdhry, a professor in New York, directed the program and Spencer Corbin composed the music.
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