Asian Life & Times - SALT
SALT will turn five this April, and to celebrate our
milestone year we have brought you five subjects close to our heart and mind
– organic farming, conservation of our colourful albeit crumbling havelis,
exciting schools at age 90, cultural events (art, films, literature, and
music), and of course the state of Indian cricket today, which is on
everybody’s mind as well. We had the great fortune of getting time with Dr
Narottam Puri – India’s ace commentator on cricket - who spoke at length on
The single most positive story of post-Independence
India would have to be the success of organic farming in the country – a
true green revolution waiting in the wings to happen. Though it has a
miniscule share in the agricultural sector of the country ,it has already
made an immense difference to many a small farmer by getting him out of a
spiralling debt, slashing the cost of his agricultural inputs by 70%, and
increasing his income and yield two times over.
However, the faded havelis of Shekhawati area in
Rajasthan are a silent reminder of what human indifference can do to a rich
heritage. It has been our attempt to awaken the people and authorities
concerned to move fast and save these beautiful mansions from complete
destruction. They are a true national treasure. It is strange that this
neglect should be starkly visible in an area so well known for the number
and quality of its educational institutions. Driving through Jhunjhunu, a
district abounding in these abandoned havelis, one can’t help but notice
that the only ads, posters, and bill boards in the town are of schools,
colleges, and training institutes. There is even an engineering college for
women. It is a Bollywood-free territory. No film posters, no ads for Coke or
Pepsi – or for that matter any consumer product. I was later told there are
no cinema halls either!
did the havelis fall prey to indifference in an area so devoted and
dedicated to education?
Mr O P Dutta, who wrote regularly for SALT, passed
on in February this year. It is an immense loss for all of us and for the
film fraternity in Mumbai – Mr Dutta had directed films, and written the
stories and dialogues for many – including those made by his son JP Dutta.
Known for his incredible sense of humour, he was also a delightful
raconteur. No story was ever repeated. We shall miss his endearing self.
The lazy days of summer, and then monsoons, will
soon be upon us. Wishing you all a pleasant summer break and many reading
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