Do you want a taste of the cultural diversity of India without necessarily worrying about going round the vast country? Well, the 28th India International Trade Fair (IITF) is one place to have the experience. You can also get a glimpse of few other countries in the process.

The 14-day Trade Fair is into its second week now. Just like the previous years, this year too, the “mini India show” is getting a very good response from the public. Infrastructure development in India and women’s empowerment are the two focal themes of the present fair, with Orissa as the partner state and Kerala as the focus state.

Organized by Indian Government’s nodal trade promotion agency India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), IITF has had a history spanning more than two decades. Ever since its inception in 1980, the trade fair has proved to be a major crowd puller for consumers as well as traders, manufacturers, exporters and importers.
In tune with the government's commitment to promote closer ties with its neighbouring countries, Pakistan has been accorded Partner Country status while 'ASEAN' countries have been selected as the Focus Region at IITF' 08.

Pakistan’s participation as a partner nation is a special attraction in this year’s fair. The Pakistani exhibitors have managed to do good business. Ilahi Baksh, an exhibitor from Suad in Pakistan has rare varieties of traditional Pakistani and Afghan shawls that are much in demand with the Indian buyers. “The response is good. Even on the first day the number of customers was more than what we expected”, he says.

Pakistan has got maximum space among the foreign countries to display its products. However, a number of stalls allotted to the partner country were empty on the first day of the fair. “Our stuff is lying with the custom authorities, so what can we offer to the visitors”, said a frustrated Mohammed Rafiq, a businessman from Pakistan.

The businessmen who have got their stuff are already doing brisk business. Customers are flocking in for the unique collection of Pakistani fabrics and a taste of the partner country’s cuisines.

No right to information

Even under the Right To Information Act, departments related to the case have denied information on what transpired in the Batla House encounter. DIPU SHAW says one and a half months later the truth about the encounter still remains shrouded in mystery.

A version of the story was published in The Hoot yesterday. Check the link for the complete story.

Different treatments

How different newspapers report events makes interesting assessment. For instance, the report of the Patna youth shot by Mumbai police on October 27 makes interesting comparison.
Almost all national dailies had the report about Rahul Raj in their front pages on October 28. However, they differed in the content and details of the report.

The Times Of India put the age of Rahul Raj as 26. The Indian Express in its report said he was 25 years old. Interestingly, The Times Of India, on the reports in its inside pages reduced the youth’s age by three years. (Two reports in a later page of the TOI puts Rahul’s age as 23).

The Indian Express in its report mentions that the incident (Rahul Raj’s gun battle) took place at around 9 am in Kurla’s Bail Bazar area.
The TOI which relies more on the police version, says that Rahul boarded the bus at 9.15 am, that it after the incident (as per The Indian Express report) took place.

The report by The Times Of India which quotes Macchinder Ghule, (Hindustan Times put his name as Mahendra Dhule) the bus conductor, states that Rahul was carrying a bag and he kept opening it and checking something.

The Indian Express quotes one of the passengers of the bus, Abdul Rashid Sheik, that the only unusual thing about Rahul Raj was that he kept “shifting seats”. The newspaper also points out that the youth scribbled something on two currency notes and threw them out of the window. On the Rs 50 note he had written “Call the Police Commissioner” and on the Rs 10 note he wrote “I have not come here to harm anyone”.

TOI, which also pens the incident report in minute detail with a first hand account of the bus conductor who was held hostage by the youth, does not mention any such happening as throwing chits out of the window.

Hindustan Times in its report quotes Kundan Prasad Singh, Rahul’s father saying that his son had arrived in Mumbai on October 25 evening. This again does not coincide with the details with the other two dailies which mention that Rahul Raj had arrived in the city on morning of October 26.

The Hindustan Times story appears like a crime report. It says that 25-year-old Rahul Raj pulled out an iron chain and a gun, attacked the bus conductor, and began indiscriminate firing”. The reports in other dailies however convince us that Rahul was only upset with Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray and his campaign against Biharis.

The only passenger injured in the “indiscriminate firing” (as per HT) was 25-year-old Manoj Bhagat. The newspaper should verify its claims.

Making the films I have made – Shyam Benegal

Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal at Jamia Millia Pix: Dipu Shaw

The 3rd Anwar Jamal Kidwai Memorial Lecture was held in the Ansari Auditorium of Jamia Millia Islamia yesterday. Eminent film maker Shyam Benegal who was the chief guest on the occasion delivered the lecture on “Making the Films I have made”. Prof. Mushirul Hasan, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, delivered the key note address.

The lecture is now organised every year by the Mass Communication Research Centre as a mark of tribute to its founder, the late Anwar Jamal Kidwai. The occasion too was appropriate. Jamia Millia Islamia is celebrating its 88th anniversary with the Annual Talimi Mela.

An excellent opportunity

For the students of the Mass Communication Research Centre, it was a rare opportunity to hear the seasoned filmmaker speak about his ordeals and experiences in the film-making industry. Many students of the Centre are about to join the industry by the end of the academic year and Shyam Benegal is an inspiration for most of them.

The veteran film maker who has also made more than 50 documentaries including one on Satyajit Ray and the much applauded television serial, Bharat Ek Khoj, talked on how he began his journey in the film-making business.

Mr. Benegal's inspiration

The recipient of 17 National film awards and the coveted Dada Saheb Phalke Award related about his visit to Kolkata in the 50s when he was a student. “When I saw Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali, there was an explosion in my brain”, remembered the veteran film maker. “I saw it 12 times then and eventually ended up seeing it 26 times”.

The film made him realize that there was no need for him to follow any kind of convention that was being followed by the film makers in the country. “It had the smell of the earth and showed relationships that all of us have,” said Mr. Benegal. This probably is one reason that Benegal’s films are replete with strong social messages.

He said that the juxtaposition of the feudal and colonial set up that he grew up with also got reflected in his films. Ankur, Mr. Benegal’s first feature film, was based on a short story that he had written when he was in college. “It was a part of the change when I was growing up”, he added.

Revisiting the Indian village

Talking about his latest box office hit Welcome to Sajjanpur, the director enumerated his wish to revisit the Indian village, that had been largely neglected by Hindi films for 10 to 12 years. “But, it had to be in a form that urban people would watch it”, he enumerated. “Therefore, I chose comedy as the medium to tell the story. It could then deal with the issues of low literacy and honour killing, in an engaging fashion.