Interviews, Features, Events, Bengali & Indian Performing Arts & Artist Reviews

AS I WALK IN KOLKATA (Calcutta)...

Calcutta is a city of wonders engulfing it's own history of the Raj Days, the stories of Ramakrishna Paramhansa, his disciple Swami Vivekananda, the ace director Satyajit Ray, the rickshaw puller from Dwarbhanga district in Bihar and the Street Vendor Netai from Sunderbans and it's political and cultural background.

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Calcutta (now known as Kolkata, thought I prefer it's former name) is a city as personalized as it's streets and lanes and as the master film-maker / author Satyajit Ray said, that to 'know' a city, one has to walk it's streets in order to absorb it's taste, visuals, sounds and of course it's smells.

So here on WBRI, I am going to begin a series of writings on Calcutta, and it's various walks. Each article dedicated to a particular area of the city or two.

So come along with me , put on your walking shoes, wear a light slacks, a cotton shirt with a light jacket, since at this time of the year it tends to get chilly in the evening and walk with me the streets of "KOLLOLINI  KOLKATA"!

Coming up in a couple of days  - "Walking down Raj Bhavan - St. John's Church - Calcutta General Post Office - Writer's Buildings - St. Andrew's Church - Old Currency building - Raj Bhavan Outhouses and the Great Eastern Hotel" !

Just hang on with me !!!

Interview: LOPAMUDRA MITRA talks about latest Bengali Audio Songs Album MONFAKIRA (Soulmate) Released As MP3 Download By WBRi

MON FOKIRA - Lopamudra MitraWashington DC, Jan 19, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Acclaimed Bengali singer Lopamudra Mitra from Kolkata has released her 2nd audio album titled MON FAKIRA (Soulmate) via ORION Entertainment. MONFAKIRA is available in high-quality MP3 Download format from WBRi Online Digital Download Store >

Lopamudra gave us a few minutes of her time for this informal chit-chat with Arijit Chakraborty. She talks about there being eight songs in the album, all but one of which are popular Bengali traditional folk songs. The remaining one is the famous song Ghate Lagaiya Dinga written by Mira Dev Burman and performed originally by the great Sachin Dev Burman. Do not miss Lopamudra's singing during the course of the conversation !

Lopamudra shares with us the reason for the title of the album - all artists have a fakir/baul persona embedded deep inside their hearts, though not necessarily deeply entrenched in fakir and baul philosophies and ways in life. Particularly for an artist like Lopamudra who has grown up and lives in a metropolitan urban environment, the Baul inside her is more of a feeling - which Lopamudra captures in the selection of the songs as well as their performance. The songs are about love, friendship and Baul philosophical values, and Lopamudra talks about how she could clearly feel closer to her roots while singing these songs now more than she ever did previosuly.

Consumers Bullish on Movies in 2011 : Survey

Boulder, CO, January 25, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio / PRWEB) A new survey by leading customer intelligence firm Market Force Information reveals good news for the entertainment industry: about one in five consumers expect to watch more movies in 2011, while just 8% of respondents said they will view fewer flicks this year. A resurgence in spending on entertainment such as movies could indicate a lift in the economic mood.

The Movie Consumption Survey also found a change in the reasons why consumers go the theater to watch a movie. In 2009, 32% said they would go to the theater to watch a movie because they did not want to wait to see it, but that percentage dipped to 25% in 2010. This shift is likely due to the proliferation of movies available for instant download shortly after they are released.

National Voters' Day In India To Usher a Sense of Pride and Participation among Indian Youth

New Delhi, Jan 24, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio / PIB-India) The 25th of January every year, will be observed as the “National Voters’ Day”, throughout the country, starting from this year, which is the Election Commission’s foundation day. In this launch year, the day coincides with the conclusion of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the Commission. The Election Commission of India ( ECI) was set up on 25th January, 1950 while the Constitution came into force a day after, i.e 26th January, 1950.

The Election Commission’s objective behind National Voters’ Day is to increase enrolment of voters, especially of the newly eligible ones, by using this occasion so as to make universal adult suffrage a complete reality and thereby enhance the quality of Indian democracy. The day will also be utilized to spread awareness among voters regarding effective participation in the electoral process.

During the last 60 years, the Election Commission of India has conducted 15 General Elections to the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and 326 general elections to State Legislative Assemblies, thus facilitating peaceful, orderly and democratic transfer of power. From the Himalayan heights to the deserts, from isolated islands to dense forests and other extremely difficult areas, the Election Commission endeavours to reach out with the firm conviction that the vote of every eligible Indian counts. In its delivery of free, fair and transparent polls, the Commission considers it sacred to stay uncompromising and to fiercely guard its credibility.

The Commission’s journey has also witnessed a change in both quality and scale of its operations.  In 1962, the voting process moved from the balloting system to marking system and then, from 2004 onwards, to the present system based on Electronic Voting Machines. Multi-member constituencies have given way to single member constituencies. Printed electoral rolls have now been substituted by computerized photo-electoral rolls. The Elector’s Photo Identity Cards (EPICs), by now a cherished possession of all citizens, were issued to over 582 million voters in time for General Election 2009. Elections to the 15th Lok Sabha held in April-May 2009 have been described as the biggest management event in the world. It involved 714 million voters, 835,000 polling stations, 1.2 million Electronic Voting Machines and 11 million polling personnel. The management of elections in India has continually evolved, and still does, matching with the colossal proportions and ever-increasing complexity of the task.

Re-Structured Accelerated Power Development & Reforms Programme in India

New Delhi, Jan 24, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio / PIB-India) One of the major concerns of the power sector is the reduction of losses in the distribution. Though the Aggregate Technical & Commercial (AT&C) losses at the all India level have declined from 38.86 per cent in the year 2001-02 to 28.44 per cent in 2008-09, these losses continue to be high in many States.

The various issues involved in the management of distribution losses can be classified under the categories of governance, commercial and technical issues. For effective control of AT&C losses, the States and state power utilities will be required to initiate action on all the three fronts simultaneously.

The Ministry of Power initiated Power Sector reforms with focus on distribution. IT enabling has been recognized as essential component in improving customer satisfaction, business management through transparency, accountability and responsibility.

Education In India: Looking Ahead

By Kapil Sibal
Minister of Human Resource Development, Govt. Of India

New Delhi, Jan 24, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio via PIB-India) As India continues to make sustained and significant economic progress there is need to tackle much more aggressively the problems of structural inequities, especially on the education front. Consider the fact that more than 100 million youth - the combined labour forces of Britain, France, Italy and Spain - are projected to join the workforce by 2020. This is a great potential resource provided the workforce is empowered with education and skills to leverage on the available global opportunities. If we fail to provide our youth with the requisite education and skills we will not only fail to utilize our demographic advantage but we will end up alienating large sections of our young population as well. This has made it imperative for us to expand our education base so as to be able to provide   quality, affordable and merit-based education for the entire young population. To make this a reality, I have set out three principles that we must broadly embrace: First, access…providing access to educational opportunities to all who desire and need it; second, affordability…making education a reality by reducing financial barriers; and third, building quality and accountability…that we are teaching what is relevant and at global levels and delivering good value for money. The expansion in education, over the second decade of the twenty-first century, that we are envisaging, is unprecedented in modern history. Let us assess the situation.

E-Governance Initiatives-Changing Lives for the better in India

New Delhi, Jan 24, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio / PIB-India) Growing demand for services and information are pushing Governments across the globe to provide services at a faster pace and with increased capacity so as to cover all regions irrespective of geography, language or literacy levels. Continuous innovation in ICTs and rapid advancement of technology are bringing forth novel and easier mechanisms in providing seamless access to critical public services and are making Government interaction with citizens trouble-free and easy.

Services provided through the various e-Government initiatives assist Governments in reaching the yet ‘unreached’ and thereby contribute to poverty reduction in rural and far-flung areas by increasing access to critical information and opportunities. At the same time, this process also enables involvement and empowerment of marginalized groups through their participation in the government process.

The National e-Governance Plan was approved by the Cabinet in May 2006 with a vision to provide Public services to the common man in his locality at affordable costs.  The NeGP is a multi-stakeholder programme which primarily focuses on making critical public services available and promoting rural entrepreneurship.

Movie Review: Dhobi Ghat - Cinema at its purest

Movie Review: Dhobi Ghat

Starring: Aamir Khan, Pratik Babbar, Monica Dogra, Kriti Malhotra

Written & Directed by Kiran Rao

Rating: **** ½