PERSPECTIVE

Monthly Archives: SEPTEMBER 2016


Disabled pensioner offers £10 to help woman who raised £330,000 for him after he was mugged
17.09.16 - TEAM PT
Disabled pensioner offers £10 to help woman who raised £330,000 for him after he was mugged



Mugging victim Alan Barnes has said he would contribute about £10(749 Indian Rupee) towards paying off the debts of a woman who helped raise more than £330,000(24697935.64 Indian Rupee) for him.

Barnes, 68, who is disabled and 4ft 6in, was attacked outside his home in Gateshead in January 2015, breaking his collarbone.

Following the assault, Katie Cutler, a beautician, set up an online fundraising page, which attracted donations from across the world. The eventual sum raised enabled Barnes to buy a new house.
 
Ms Cutler, 21, was awarded a British Empire Medal for her fundraising – but is now being taken to the small claims court by a PR company over an allegedly unpaid bill of £6,687(500469 Indian Rupee).
 
Barnes said: "I would suggest that someone sets up a small fund to raise money to pay for Miss Cutler's PR".

"It's not a big amount and I think a lot of people would actually like to do that for Katie. I'm quite happy to put just a small donation in because I don't want to show off."

When asked how much he was willing to donate, Mr Barnes said: "A small amount to me is £10 or something."
 

He added: "It's easy for people to say 'he's got a lot of money, cough up' but you've got to look into all the alternatives.

"It might seem hard but if I start handing it out, other people might ask for money. It was given to me on the understanding that I use it for myself.

"A lot of people just want it to stay with me."
 
Cutler defended Barnes’s offer telling the Mirror: "I do not think Alan should have to pay anything. Like me, he did not sign anything.

"A lot of people think he should have paid that bill because things in that relate to him.

If you go out for a meal, the richest person does not have to foot the bill. I feel strongly about this.

"The money raised was Alan’s and that money was for him - it should stay with him. He can do what he wants with it.”
 
Barnes has said he will live off the money left over after the purchase of his house and donate any remaining funds to charity upon his death.
 
Barnes’ offer has drawn criticism with many voicing their opinions on social
The online fund was set up by Cutler, a 22-year-old local beautician, who initially hoped to raise £500 - enough to buy new carpets or curtains.

But the appeal went viral and Barnes’ family called a halt to it when the total reached £330,000.

Richard Gatiss, who attacked Barnes, was sentenced to four years in prison at Newcastle crown court in April 2015, having previously admitted assault with intent to rob.




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A Pak Journo's tale of 1965 war: How I won friends among ‘enemies’
07.09.16 - Asif Noorani*
A Pak Journo's tale of 1965 war: How I won friends among ‘enemies’



Bombay (now Mumbai), my native city, had always charmed me because of its cosmopolitanism and also because I have had a number of friends and relatives there.

In 1965, a year after I had appeared for my finals for my Master's in English literature, I thought it would be a good opportunity to revisit Bombay. I had already gone there the previous year and had met and interviewed quite a few Bollywood luminaries. A couple of years earlier, I had become the editor of Eastern Film, Pakistan’s largest selling English monthly, and wanted to continue my interaction with more celebrities.

I was merely 22 at the time and my friends had warned me that Pakistan and India had already come to blows in Kashmir and the situation could worsen. I didn’t take the warning seriously because a few months earlier, the two countries were involved in a skirmish over the border between the Rann of Kutch and Sindh, and the conflict had dissipated.

It was in the third week of August 1965 that I boarded the steamer Sabarmati — coincidentally the same ship that had brought me and my family to Karachi way back in 1950 when we migrated to Pakistan. The vessel dropped anchor at Bombay’s Princess Docks.

I spent the first few days watching movies. Thanks to the assistant director of Dilip Kumar’s and Waheeda Rahman’s film Dil Diya Dard Liya, I got the opportunity to see the movie in the mini theatre of Kardar Studios.

Sitting in the row ahead of me was Dilip Kumar himself, who was discussing with composer Naushad the background music, which was yet to be recorded. A.R. Kardar’s name was to appear as the producer and director of the movie but in actual fact it was Dilip Kumar who was calling the shots.

Since India and Pakistan were locked in combat in Kashmir, many Muslims avoided me like a plague.

Naushad, with whom I had a nice chat in his house on my previous trip, avoided me but Dilip Kumar was bold enough to answer a few questions. He promised to see me on his return from Madras (now Chennai), where he was shooting for his movie Aadmi.

But fate had something else in store.

At noon on 6th September, after watching Chaudhvin Ka Chand, I went to producer Irshad Ali’s office to get some stills from his under-production Saaz Aur Awaaz which I wanted to publish in Eastern Film.

Sitting with him were three refugees from west Punjab. When they realised that I was from Pakistan, one of them said: "what are you doing here? Go back to your country. Your President General Ayub has declared war on India.”

Irshad Ali took me to another room on the pretext of giving me the pictures. He told me to go away from the backdoor. "It is in your as also my interest that you disappear from here.”

I tried to leave for Karachi by air, but all the flights between the two countries had been cancelled.

The following day’s papers carried the news that Pakistanis would need exit permits to leave India. Likewise, Indians stranded in Pakistan were to seek special permission before leaving the country they were visiting.

I was staying with an uncle, who spent long hours at his office. His wife was too busy looking after her small kids.

Fortunately, Zuleikha, a school friend from Lahore, where we had spent the first three years after migrating from India, was well settled in a posh area in south Bombay. Her husband, a businessman called Yusuf, often took us out for lunch or evening tea.

One day, he dropped us at the Regal Cinema, close to the Gateway of India, where we were watching an English movie.

Suddenly, the movie stopped and the screen showed a still announcement that there was an air raid and advised the audience to go to the underground car park. "Don’t panic, the staff will guide you,” was the advice. Sure enough, the staff were the first to run.

When, after 16 stressful days, the ceasefire was announced, I thought exit permits would be issued soon, but that proved to be mere wishful thinking.

A couple of weeks after the war ended, I went to a large book store, Taraporewala, which was in those days located near the Museum. A professor at the University of Karachi had asked me to get a vial of eye drops for her father that were made by an old Parsi who worked at the bookstore.

I went to the elderly Parsi gentleman and told him that I was sent by Miss Rhoda Vania. "Oh! You have come from Pakistan,” he said in a tone that reflected his fright.

The next day, a plainclothesman from the CID office came to my uncle’s house and told me that I was to be interrogated.

I thought I was going to be interned.

I picked up the suitcase that I had packed with old clothes and a couple of books on Mr Gandhi. "Why are you taking this? We don’t have residential accommodation in our office,” he said. I felt relieved.

At the CID office, located near Crawford Market, I was taken to one Mr Takle (pronounced Taaklay), who examined my passport.

"You have the visa for Poona but it seems you didn’t go there. Why?”

"That’s because of the armed conflict between our two countries,” I replied, weighing my words carefully.

"What do you think of the armed conflict?” was the next question.

"What do you want me to think of an armed conflict between two poor countries with large ill-fed populations,” I replied.

"OK, that’s enough,” said Takle. "Now just tell me why did you go to the Taraporewala book shop?”

I realised that the old Parsi gentleman must have informed the CID office himself. Since I had nothing to hide, I told Takle the whole story. "If you forbid me, I will not go there again to collect the vial of eye drops,” I said.

"I would suggest you go and take two or three vials, because I don’t think there will be Pakistanis coming here for quite sometime. You seem to be a nice fellow. Just don’t go near defence installations,” said Takle in a gentle tone.

"Where are the defence installations?” I queried innocently, only to hear Takle laugh loudly.

"I won’t tell you because tomorrow if you are arrested, you will tell the interrogators that I gave away the locations of the sensitive places. You better ask your relatives. They will tell you where they are,” he said as he gave me my passport back.

"Where will I get the exit permit from?”

That was my last question.

"I shall give it but I need to get the ‘go ahead’ signal from Delhi. You will get to know from the newspapers.”

"You will be the last man to get the exit permit,” he teased me, as he offered me a cup of tea and shared a plate of puff biscuits.

"Don’t worry, I shall see to it that you are the first person to be issued an exit permit.”

I could see that he had taken a liking for me, a feeling that I reciprocated in equal measure. I started visiting him every third or fourth day to find out if he had gotten the notification from the Home Ministry to start issuing the exit permits.

One day Takle told me in a light-hearted tone: "Look, you are coming to my office every other day. I offer you tea but you also demand puff biscuits, as if that’s your birthright. I may be an officer but only in the middle management cadre. You stay at home and I shall phone you as soon as I get the OK from the Home Ministry.”

Since there were no phone connections between the two countries and telegrams and letters were not allowed to be exchanged, my parents in Karachi feared that I was interned.

A month or so later, a relative with a British passport left for London and phoned my father that I was having a good time in Bombay, watching movies and going to clubs and restaurants.

Almost three months after I had arrived in Bombay, I came to know that Pakistanis with ‘connections’ were able to get exit permits.

I approached a Member of Parliament who had been a Godmother to my mom. She wrote a letter to one Mr Venkatesh, a senior officer at the Sachivalya (as the Secretariat is called in Hindi). Mr Venkatesh sent for his secretary and dictated a letter to someone in the Home Ministry, asking him to send it to Delhi by a special service, along with my passport.

Three days later, I got a call from Takle. "Where the hell are you? I am issuing exit permits left, right and centre and there is no trace of you.”

I told him that my passport was in Delhi and that I would get a special permission to leave. "What? You have no idea about the red tape in government offices. Go to your friend and ask him to get your passport back,” came the irritated reply.

I made a dash to Mr Venkatesh’s office. He summoned his secretary and dictated another letter, asking the Home Ministry to return the passport as exit permits were being issued to everyone. I left the room along with the secretary.

I was tense. I took out a pack of cigarettes from my pocket only to realise that I had no match box. I offered a cigarette to the secretary and asked him to light my cigarette. He opened his drawer and, lo and behold, my passport was there.

"Give me my passport back,” I told the secretary, who it seemed had sent the letter but had forgotten to enclose the passport.

"No, I can’t give it to you. I have to follow the instructions. Your passport will go to Delhi and I shall see to it that you get it back in less than a week,” he pleaded.

"If you don’t give it back. I shall go to Mr Venkatesh and then you’ll have had it,” I almost screamed.

"OK, take it but promise me that you will not tell my boss about it?” he said. I did, and have kept my word for 51 years.

Takle issued me the exit permit even though his day’s work was over.

Two days later, I was on an Alitalia flight to Karachi, where a large number of relatives and friends were at the airport to welcome me.

On my next trip to Bombay, which was in 1976, I went to see my friend in the CID office. Takle, I was told, had retired and gone back to his village, where he had died soon after.
 
(Courtesy: Dawn.com) 
 
[Asif Noorani, a peacenik, has been writing articles and delivering lectures in India, Pakistan and the US on the need for closer relations between the people of the two subcontinental countries for several years. He is the author of four books, including Tales of Two Cities, which he co-authored with distinguished Indian columnist Kuldip Nayar.]




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The journey of an iconic image
04.09.16 - NADEEM F. PARACHA*
The journey of an iconic image



One of the most recognisable (and merchandised) images in the world has been that of the late South American revolutionary, Che Guevara. The image is of his face. He is staring sternly ahead with a pensive look. The look is further enhanced by the presence of an unkempt beard, a light moustache, and an equally unkempt flock of hair, upon which sits a black beret.

According to Michael J. Casey’s book The Legacy of an Image, ever since the late 1960s, this image has been reproduced by revolutionary outfits, political parties, painters, rock bands and advertising agencies at the same frequency as famous Disney characters are reproduced!

Whereas popular Disney or mainstream film characters are created so that they could also be merchandised for additional profit, Che’s image was once just a forgotten photograph taken by a Cuban photographer. What’s more, unlike Mickey Mouse or Iron Man, the image was of an actual man.

As Casey mentions in his book, even though Che’s image still sells big (on various merchandise) in markets across the globe, it is now being consumed by a generation most of whose members are not quite sure who the man is behind the charismatic face.

Casey suggests that the traction of the image has helped it age beyond the ideology it was once directly associated with. Che Guavara was a sensitive young Argentinian, studying to be a doctor when he was smitten by Marxism and an urge to overthrow US-backed dictatorships in South America through guerrilla warfare and revolution.

Che Guevara’s mass-produced image has moved from being a revolutionary icon to a capitalist commodity.

In the mid-1950s, he teamed up with Fidel Castro, a robust opponent of Cuban dictator, Batista, and both led a two-year guerrilla war in the jungles of Cuba against Batista’s army. In 1959, Castro’s rebels were able to topple Batista and (on Che’s urging), impose communist rule in Cuba.

Che was a leading member of Castro’s revolutionary regime until in 1965 when he quietly left Cuba to spark similar revolutions elsewhere. He fought alongside communist rebels in Central Africa, and then, in 1967, arrived in Bolivia to launch an insurgency. He was captured by CIA backed by Bolivian forces and executed. Che’s last words were addressed to the soldier who had been sent to execute him. He reportedly told the soldier: "I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man.”

The excellent 2010 documentary Chevolution, suggests that the first time the famous Che image appeared in public was in the shape of a large poster pasted on a wall in front of which Castro stood on a podium, speaking to thousands of Cubans, mourning the death of Guevara.

A year later, in 1968, the same image began appearing on posters during violent student uprisings in Europe and the US. By 1969, the image had also made its way on the walls of campuses in Asia and Africa.

But nobody knew who had taken the photograph. Trisha Ziff in her book, Revolutionary & Icon, writes that it was only in 1980 that one was made aware of the fact that the image was part of a series of photographs Alberto Korda, a Cuban photographer had taken in 1960.

Korda was a flamboyant and highly paid fashion photographer in pre-revolutionary Cuba. When revolutionary violence erupted in Cuba, Korda began photographing ordinary Cubans. A photograph that Korda took of a sombre three-year-old girl from a poor family clutching a piece of wood as if it were her doll, made him a supporter of Castro’s movement.

Korda decided to remain in Cuba after the revolution and became Castro’s personal photographer. In March 1960, he took dozens of pictures at a huge rally in which Castro was the main speaker. As Korda’s camera remained largely focused on Castro, at one point it moved to the right of Castro. There stood Che, staring pensively into the crowd.

Korda returned to his studios to develop the photographs. He sent all of them to various publications within and outside Cuba. None of them used the Che photograph.

However, six years later, in 1967, when Che had left Cuba and his whereabouts were unknown, a French monthly published Korda’s photograph. By 1968, the photograph had become an iconic image of resistance.

In 1969, a young Irish artist, Jim Fitzpatrick, gave the image its two-tone look. He simply put his signature at the bottom and did not copyright it. Many decades later, when his version had become the most reproduced design of Korda’s photograph, Fitzpatrick told Trisha Ziff that he did not copyright his design because he was a huge admirer of Che and wanted his image ‘to be reproduced like mad!’
 
Fitzpatrick’s version was inspired by the Pop Art genre of the period, and till the late 1970s, was largely being used by left-wing political outfits and radical youth. It was also in the 1970s that the Che image began appearing in Pakistan. One begins to notice it being mentioned in magazine articles of the era about how students were putting up Che’s posters in their hostel rooms.

Interestingly, the posters were not being printed in the country. According to a 1973 feature in the now defunct Urdu monthly, Al Fatah, Che posters (based on Fitzpatrick’s design of Korda’s photo) were being brought into Pakistan from Europe and also from Kabul in Afghanistan, and Kolkata, India.

After reaching a peak in popularity in the mid-1970s, the presence of the iconic Che image began to recede from the early 1980s onward – especially when populist leftist ideas began to erode.

It almost vanished when the Cold War began to fold in 1989-90. But the image suddenly bounced back when, in 1992, it was used on the T-shirts and an album cover of the then up-and-coming radical hard rock band, Rage Against the Machine.

I remember watching small stickers of the image beginning to appear on Rickshaws in Karachi in 1993. However, even though the image would once again begin to be used by radical left outfits and regimes (such as by the Hugo Chevaz government in Venezuela in 2000s), it became increasingly commoditised and commercialised.

By the late 1990s, it was being reproduced by cigarette, alcohol and fashion brands, and being put on merchandise such as coffee cups, shirts, ties, even underwear!

Incensed by the way his image had begun to be used, Korda began to sue large commercial brands who were using it. In 2000, Korda successfully sued Smirnoff. An out-of-court settlement saw Korda receiving $50,000 from the company, which he donated to Cuba’s healthcare system. He told reporters, ‘Che would have done the same.’

Korda continued to successfully sue large corporations (under international ‘moral laws’ which are a kind of copyright laws), but could only slow down the apolitical reproduction (for commercial purposes) of his image. He passed away in 2001 but his daughter continued his crusade to keep the iconic image rooted in Che’s ideals.

However, eventually, she had to settle for simply gaining the right to decide on what products the image could be used.

The image continues to be reproduced on a variety of merchandise more than ever now symbolising capitalist cool, more than communist defiance.
 
(Courtesy: Dawn)




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