• Rarely does an auteur have the fortune of starting a century of controversy from the moment he creates a piece. As a phenomenon, Rabindranath Tagore is indeed rare. And the text in question is our national anthem, born infamous exactly 101 years ago.


    Not so long ago a hoax message made its rounds via chain mails and social networking sites. This was in 2008, 2010 and 2012. It claimed that UNESCO had declared Jana Gana Mana to be 'the best national anthem of the world'. In 2004, Sadhwi Ritamvara circulated a hate audio cassette against Muslims, where she claims the song was an act of treachery. Hate mails and heated responses have done the rounds every year since 2001. In the late 1960's, 1980's, each time India went to war, each time a new government formed — there has been a furor over the origin of the song.


    The Morning Song of IndiaThe Morning Song of India : in Tagore's Handwriting

    The Morning Song of India 2The Morning Song of India : in Tagore's Handwriting

    Jana gana mana adhinayaka jaya hey,

    Bharata bhagya bidhata….

    Critics, journalists, poets, politicians, and just about everyone has wondered who this 'adhinayak' could be. The

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  • SOFT LIGHT : A G.K. Test, Almost…

    The 65th Independence Day is done and gone. But all through August, the nation celebrates by posting extra guards at rail stations, offering green, white and orange garments on clearance sales, and protesting against any public issue affecting more than ten Indians.

    To keep up the spirit, dear reader, here's a quiz cum survey on our national emblems. Not sure if it's topical or relevant, but that's what democracy is all about.


    Q. What is our national fruit?

    Yes, we actually have one. It's mango, or as the India.Gov website defines: 'a fleshy fruit, eaten ripe or used green for pickles etc., of the tree mangifera indica…' So the next time you bite into one, do it with reverence. To feel inspired, watch Katrina in the fruit juice ads.


      Our question: What is the most patriotic fruit? Mango or banana? Maybe pineapple? What about jackfruit or guava? Do you think the mango is still just as charming? May be it's not 'in' anymore, in these times of imported kiwis or healthy aloe-vera. Aam admi,

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    • Of late, we have seen a sudden proliferation of 'segment-breakers' in the Utility Vehicle category. As car buyers have become more demanding and discerning about where they spend their money, the level of choice and abilities of vehicles have improved. Consequently, Maruti's LUV Ertiga and Renault's Compact SUV Duster are currently taking the market by storm. It's Nissan's turn now; they're all set to launch what the Japanese call the 'Urban Class Utility Vehicle'. Has Nissan got everything right with the Evalia to have a winner on their hands? Let's find out.

      Design

      On the face of it, the Nissan Evalia is a conventional people mover. Though upright and boxy in design, the Evalia has an exquisite and aerodynamic frontal design. The unique grille with chrome garnish flows seamlessly into the slimline wraparound headlights and the Evalia looks great in the front three quarter view. However, the side and rear profiles are van-like and less aesthetically pleasing. I don't want to ramble

      Read More »from Road Test and Review: Nissan Evalia
    • Earlier this year, we had tested Continental AG's Simplify Your Drive (SyD) technology and found it very intriguing. The company had then promised to come up with an Indianised version of Syd by mid this year. Staying true to their word, Continental has unveiled its concept SyD, customised specially for the Indian market.

      Should you need a refresher on the Continental Simplify Your Drive technology, here's the link to our previous test drive report.

      To my surprise, the same Volkswagen Passat has undergone a complete character change at Continental's Pune facility in couple of months. While the basics of SyD remain the same, the three drive profiles — Sport, Eco and Comfort — have been redesigned as Work Mode, Home Mode and Play Mode. Well, now let's find out what these three modes mean for Indian drivers.

      Work Mode

      Work Mode is designed with the business class in mind. The focal point is the rear of the car, assuming the car is chauffeur driven, with the owner seated in the back. On

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    • Do we instinctively enjoy a game more if we are not the players? What is it about cheering from the ringside that eggs us on so much and sets our blood afire? Or is it our natural instinct to turn any public event into a carnival, and in turn, an answer to all our daily problems?

      'Religion is the opium of the people.' It's the most hackneyed quotation of Karl Marx. Sports, movies, and more than anything, politics, are also opiates for mass consumption. The basic requirement is opium. Something to numb the brain so we can black out something; may be everything.

      To forget an empty stomach and the failure to fill it, one can drink cheap country liquor and puke. But even that bottle would cost a few rupees, and the effect would last barely a night. On the other hand, hollering with a mob at a game is free if you climb over the fence, and the effect can linger for weeks.The players can be hero worshipped, gossip about corrupt organizers circulated and enjoyed, replays watched, newspapers

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    • Doctor, Soldier, Patriot: Celebrating the life of Dr Lakshmi Sahgal

      By Vinutha Mallya

      Dr Lakshmi Sahgal in her youthThe queue of women, most of them pregnant, kept growing at the clinic in the corner of a narrow street in Aryanagar, Kanpur. It was a day in January 2006, and the morning held a mild chill despite the bright winter sun. I sat at a distance on one of the wooden benches in the veranda. The old house located in a labour colony, which served as a clinic and maternity home, belonged to a bygone era. The veranda was not an ideal waiting room, but the anxious women did not seem to care. I was struck by the obscurity of the setting, where we were all waiting to meet the same woman: the legendary Col (Dr) Lakshmi Sahgal.

      I had to wait until the women, who had come from all over Kanpur and some from nearby Lucknow, had finished their turn. Unlike them, I was there to interview the doctor. Although her staff received me politely, I knew better than to expect to receive any preference in her schedule.

      Then 91, Lakshmi Sahgal had been attending to patients at this clinic since

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    • Monsoon in India is a symphony — trees blossom, birds in their breeding plumage sing mating songs, life-giving rain cascade down the mountains as streams and waterfalls, filling many rivers and lakes. As the monsoon season begins, Mahindra is in a mood to tame it. After many Mahindra Monsoon Challenge rallies across India, stage is set for the biggest Monsoon Challenge that starts from Bangalore and heads to the party capital Goa.

      We embark on the three-day TSD rally; watch this space for all the action along 1000 kilometres spread across highways, B-roads, scenic country side and the magnificent Western Ghats.

      Following is a quick breakdown of Time-Speed-Distance rallies from Bijoy Kumar, veteran automobile journalist and Chief of Adventure Initiatives, Mahindra.

      Day 1, 19th July 2012 - Flag-off

      The rally is officially flagged off in the evening in a gala event at Orion Mall, Bangalore. Not much action today, the flag-off is followed by the rules briefing and safety

      Read More »from Mahindra Monsoon Challenge – Chasing the rain
    • There is no need to wait for the payoff, I can tell you right away - the Renault Duster is a great bargain. I might sound a bit boisterous, but with a starting price of Rs 7.19 lakh, the Duster will definitely send shock waves through the Indian automobile industry.

      The Duster is a strikingly styled SUV that looks big, but is actually bigger. Based on the Logan platform, the Duster is 4315mm long and 1822mm wide.  Large chrome grilles and dual barrel headlamps give the Duster a ruggedized appearance up front. Buffed up wheel arches, chunky alloy wheels and sleek roof bars further enhance its SUV attitude. However, the rear didn't impress me as much as the front did, although I liked the large chrome 'Duster' nameplate there.

      Space, comfort & convenience

      Once inside, the first thing you'd appreciate is certainly the SUV-high driving position. Although there are some hard and glossy plastics, the cabin is solidly built. Seats are comfortable and the Duster offers plenty of room for

      Read More »from Road Test and Review: Renault Duster
    • For a company whose fluidic design philosophy created quite a stir across segments, the absence of a D segmenter must have been very concerning… but not anymore, as the fluidic Hyundai Elantra has arrived in India.

      Remember Elantra? It's not time yet to forget a car that was pleasing to the taste of many, but failed to sell in great numbers and disappeared in 2006. A six-year long void is now filled with the all-new Elantra that marks the continuing evolution of Hyundai's Fluidic Sculpture design language.

      Design

      One needs to work at Hyundai to differentiate the Elantra from its 'fluidic siblings' at the first glance. Even though the hexagonal grille presents a more sinister smile than the Verna, the fog lamps create a flavorless impression. Again, the head lamps are so similar to Verna's, but they extend further into the fenders. In profile, the Elantra too gets that well-defined line stretching from the front door to the tail light. The raked windshield, roofline flowing into the

      Read More »from Road Test and Review: Hyundai Elantra
    • A sarpanch who cleared Class 8 at 53

      By Stella Paul

      The year 2005, Handitola village in Chhattisgarh’s Rajnandgaon district:

      A Dalit hangs himself. The early stench of a decomposing body is what helps identify the tree. Yet, nobody dares go near him; for some, the man’s an untouchable. The others are just plain scared. A woman in a faded sari with that other rural staple, a very cracked heel arrives on the scene. Sukhantibai with a sickle in her hand, stands upon a stool, cuts the rope and lowers the body. The villagers mostly look on. Few days later, the villagers unanimously select Sukhantibai – a Gond Adivasi woman as their Sarpanch.

      Sukhantibai Sarpanch7 years hence she has been reelected. Not that anything in her home would give that away today. Her house is still a mud hut with uneven walls, a tiny courtyard; her kitchen consists of a wood stove, a couple of earthen pots and a few small tins containing tea and spices; her family has to fetch drinking water from the tap at the entrance of the village and no personal privilege of separate

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