Monday, January 22, 2018
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Denim catches India's fancy
2018.01.20 18:33:30

Denims today have become items of universal wear in India. These seem to have become favourites of every one – whether a billionaire or a lowly workman, urban socialite or a rustic plebian. The differences, if any, will be only in the quality of the cloth or its design and stitching - the basic material however remaining the same, the fabric.

It is amazing to contemplate the way the things have changed over the last few decades in regard to the usage of denims. In urban India or in its rural hinterland denims have won general favour and acceptance so much so that a retired judge of a high court, while talking of her tenure as a chief justice, made a mention of how she prohibited the staff  from coming to work in denims. It is not unusual to find workers coming to work in government offices in denims. Even in villages denims have become the favourite daily wear, most probably because of its amenability to rough and regular use.

A recent report, however, indicated that the demand for the cloth in the country did not build up in the manner it was expected. Sometime back the demand had strengthened and to meet that new capacity for manufacture of the cloth was added. New mills came up but they are functioning only up to 60 or 70% of their capacity on account of a shortfall in off-take of the fabric. One wonders whether it is a case of shrinking demand or over-capacity in the sector that has pulled down the production. It is well known that we have what is known as a herd mentality. Maybe tat was the reason that more than necessary number of mills came up flooding the market. Denim manufacturers had a flourishing run ever since Kasturbhai Lalbhai group’s Arvind Mills pioneered its manufacture in India. Today Arvind Mills with its capacity of more than 100 million metres per annum is one of the leading manufacturers of denim in the world. It even varies the quality according to the needs of its designers who are based both, in India as well as abroad.

When we were young we knew that the cowboys of the US wore “jeans” – the word that was used for special trousers made for them of denims. They would ride horses wearing them. In fact, their entire outfit including the shirt used to be made of denims. In the wild-west movies actors like John Wayne and those of his ilk would always be in denims with guns sticking out of their holsters that would be within their easy grasp enabling them to be “fast guns”. Their hulk with a muscular and hungry look decked up in denims topped by a Stetson and other accoutrements, made them exude muscle power and toughness that sometimes made even the sheriff in the movie squirm before them.

While today boys and girls wear denims to colleges, or, for that matter, every and anywhere, we had no such luck in our times. Sixty-odd years ago jeans were scarce in India, more so in the backwaters of Gwalior where I was growing up. Once, however, I happened to see my friend Anand’s older brother Jagat Bamroo, a class mate of my sister wearing jeans in the college. I gave it a good look and was impressed by the indigo of the warp and the bold stitches in red along the seams and for the bold patched hip-pockets. The bottom cuffs were turned up like those of the trousers of yore revealing the whites of the weft. That was my introduction to “cowboy jeans” but I did not get into one till much later in life when the cloth started flowing out of the Indian mills.

Denim can be used for all kinds of dresses, particularly for women. While in men’s wear denims find use in making of trousers, shirts, jerkins, fashionable caps, etc., in the area of women’s wear sky is the limit for its usage. Women use it for “jeans”, skirts, shorts, jerseys, dungarees, caps and even shoes or sandals. In India it is used for designing women’s “kurtas” and “kurties”. Fashionistas let lose their imagination and have a field day in designing dresses for their clientele and every year new designs flood the market. Already, the fashion trends for 2018 are in the print media for women to choose from to suit their sartorial tastes and the mix that is there in their wardrobes.

Denims come in different varieties. There are crushed denims or stone washed or acid washed denims or even marble denims – each is used by the designers according to the fancy of the fashionista. Then the designers go further up and add value to the garments by working on them with embroidery or patch work and such like. Some go much farther and add laces to the hems to give them a formal or celebrity look. Those who have stacks of money go and get diamonds attached to various parts of their dresses and they do so even with shoes made out of denims. Then there are others who make fashion statements out of ripped or frayed jeans. Some ripped jeans are so weird that a substantial part of legs around the thighs and knees remain uncovered.

The burgeoning population of India’s shanties or what are known as “JJ colonies” have not missed out on denims. One would find boys and girls emerging from them wearing whatever is trending. If it is the current body-hugging skinny denims, they have it and love to flaunt them. A whole new system of marketing has emerged to cater to the demands from this unlikely source. Used clothes markets, or markets that deal in indifferently stitched material or even duplicates of popular brands – all are oriented to cater to this genre of clientele. Some from this clientele are quite choosy as I have known people from these sections who would not be satisfied unless a pair of trousers carried a sticker of a well-known brand on its back pocket.

Denims have thus firmly established themselves in the imagination of Indian youth whether in the metros or in the back-yards of rural India. The traditional “dhoties or pyjamas” of ordinary people have yielded place to garments made out of denim. It is amazing how a fabric originating in France in the 19th Century that somehow getting purchase in far away United States in its ranching days of 19th Century has firmly established its authority world over and, more so, over India. If Indians take home something as their own, none would be able to compete with them, generally, because of sheer numbers. No wonder, out of the 700 million metres of the fabric produced world over 100 million are produced in India, feeding the ever-escalating demand from what seems to be the Rising India.


Tags: india | denim

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India's scourge -malnutrition
2018.01.20 18:26:21

“Save The Children”, an NGO is seeking donations for helping out the mal-nourished children in India. By ‘malnourished” it obviously means severely under-nourished children. It claims it has been saving children’s lives since 2008 and that last year it provided medical care and nutritional support to 1.46 lakh children.

The extent of under-nourishment in India being what it is providing succor to only a lakh and a half children is actually no big deal. The problem is huge and perhaps it would need a thousand organizations like the Save the Children to liquidate under-nutrition from among the Indian children. It needs huge amount of resources, both of well-trained men and women and financial. Both being scarce, large-scale under-nutrition of children is not likely to be eliminated any time soon.

It is, basically, a failure of the government despite its reach in the remotest recesses of the country where poverty is most manifest. Besides, the government has all the paraphernalia for the very purpose to extend relief to the stricken lot. An NGO can only do so much and not more. Any amount of donation is not going to be of help. It will not be like even a drop in the ocean.

According to a Rapid Survey of Children conducted by UNICEF about 30% of Indian children below 5 years in age are malnourished. What is more alarming is that 20% of them, which is more than a third of children of the world, suffer from wasting due to acute under-nutrition. This distressing situation does not quite match with technological boom in the country and its progressive economic growth.

One would tend to think that the government’s weak outreach has also affected the nutritional levels of children. These could be, inter alia, weak implementation of governmental nutritional schemes, inadequate health infrastructure, services, unsafe water, lack of sanitation and hygiene. All these, in addition to the reigning poverty in the country, particularly in its rural areas have contributed to severe under-nutrition of people across various age groups.

Quite clearly a high economic growth rate does not take care of the entire population, especially those who are precluded from its benefits. It has been consistently held that the gross product based growth is veritably iniquitous. India has witnessed this phenomenon as since 1991 when the country opted for the capitalistic system after opening up of the economy rich have become richer and poor have become poorer if they have not stayed where they were.

While the economy registered high growth rate it did not in any way make a difference to the deprived lots of rural and semi-urban India. The aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats” has not yet proved to be true for India. The country is almost always seen to be scraping the bottom as far as its social indicators are concerned.

And, yet the country is chasing GDP-based economic growth. A recent release indicating fall in the GDP growth rate was made an occasion by the Opposition to take pot shots at the government. Censure, condemnation, criticism, denigration, et al were hurled forgetting that under its own stewardship for fifty-odd years the country had achieved what is deprecatingly called the Hindu Rate of Growth of only 3.5%.

But that is neither here nor there. What is important is that growth or no growth a large section of the country’s population has been wallowing in poverty for decades giving rise to all kinds of scourges, like hunger and diseases such as anemia, tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/AIDS and so on. But what hits them most is under-nutrition that is carried from one generation to another. Perhaps, it is time the fetish of GDP-based growth is given up in favour of growth based on improvement of general wellbeing of people, a better and healthier life for all.

While tackling children’s malnutrition is important for the reason that on attaining adulthood they should, instead of being a drain, become productive members of the society, more important would seem to be tackling the under-nutrition of mothers. If women suffer from the results of under-nutrition, they would be incapable of providing the required nutrition to their new-born and other older children in the early years of their lives.


Traditionally in the country’s patriarchal society nutrition of daughters is neglected from childhood. On attaining adolescence or maturity, with all the handicaps developed due to their under-nutrition, they are married off early and are made to slog in the kitchen. Patriarchy also deprives women the right to decide about spacing of children which is seldom observed, draining further the strength of an emaciated mother. Besides, patriarchy demands that women in the house get to eat only the leftovers which may not even be enough to satiate their hunger. So the chain of under-nutrition continues. This has got to be broken by providing succor to them by ushering in social change.

While hunger, child-marriage, depressed social status due to the prevailing caste system, unemployment and poverty are major reasons for under-nutrition, the situation is exacerbated by unsafe water and lack of proper sanitation and hygiene. Add to these the governments’ weak implementation of its policies and the prevailing unhealthy feeding and caring practices in addition to ignorance about healthy diets and what one gets is a lethal mix.

It is in these areas that the government needs to mount an all-out assault, instead of chasing a higher figure of GDP. A healthy nation will be more productive than one that is stunted, wasted and under-nourished; in that event the gross domestic product will take care of itself. The World Bank estimates that India loses around 2 to 3% of the GDP on account of widespread under-nutrition. Laws like Food Security Act etc are useless, just as inefficiently implemented nutritional Missions of the Centre and various states. What is needed is concentrated sustained extension work in the affected areas to educate people about all matters relevant to under-nutrition.

Curiously, India has not used the leaves of the Moringa plant in the way Africans are using it to eliminate under-nutrition. Several researches have proved that the leaves of the plant have much more of the minerals and vitamins than what are found in conventional diet of vegetables and eggs. For instance, Moringa’s powdered leaves have 7 times more vitamin C than in oranges, 36 time more magnesium than in eggs, 50 times more vitamin B3 than peanuts and 50 times more Vitamin B2 than bananas. Even its seeds have been found to be capable of eliminating contaminants from water that cause so much of rural distress in India. It is a cheap way of dealing with under-nutrition. The plants grow with ease in almost every part of India and can be useful in greening the countryside. Since Africans are reported to be reaping benefits from this plant, sometimes called the miracle tree, there is no reason why India should not follow suit. The leaves of the plant are exported but curiously are not used to the desired extent in India.

Despite the Constitutional provision in Article 47 the state has not discharged its responsibility to raise the level of nutrition and improve public health. It is, therefore, for the government at the Centre and in the states to seriously take up the responsibility to deal with this huge problem instead of leaving it to ill-equipped NGOs who can only touch it only on the fringes.

Tags: india | malnutrition

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The neighbourhood bully
2017.08.28 19:14:45

How naïve Nehru was! Soon after independence he asserted India needn’t have an army. He proclaimed there was no use for an army in India as the country had no enemies. This he stated even as the state and non-state actors from across the newly drawn borders were attacking in the North in strength to grab Kashmir.

Tags: face-off | doklam

Hits: 1410 |

Never knew tiger was so valuable
2017.07.30 15:41:14

People like us who are uninitiated and unversed in matters relating eco-system services rendered by tiger reserves could not have imagined that a detailed study as conducted by an Indo-Australian team would throw up such astounding results in regard to the benefits that accrue by saving tigers in their natural habitat. The Indo-Australian study team was headed by the distinguished professor Dr. Madhu Verma who is in the faculty of the renowned Indian Institute of Forest Management located in Bhopal. Perhaps the babus who work the environment or wildlife wings of various governments too would have been unaware of the facts that have come to light now as a result of the study.

Tags: value | tiger

Hits: 1798 |

Of Indian cars and their market
2017.07.07 19:19:25

For some time I had been thinking of changing my vehicle which I had had for more than seven years.  It was an Estillo from the Maruti Suzuki stable and had rendered me decent service. We do not dare to travel out of Bhopal on account of the reported road conditions. It, therefore, ran all through within the confines of the city. It was good and economical but was small – only of 3 cylinders and was of under 1000 cc. We wanted a slightly bigger vehicle wherein we could sit with greater comfort on the rear seats, now that both of us seldom drive.

Tags: cars | indian

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Of Indian cars and their market
2017.07.07 19:19:23

For some time I had been thinking of changing my vehicle which I had had for more than seven years.  It was an Estillo from the Maruti Suzuki stable and had rendered me decent service. We do not dare to travel out of Bhopal on account of the reported road conditions. It, therefore, ran all through within the confines of the city. It was good and economical but was small – only of 3 cylinders and was of under 1000 cc. We wanted a slightly bigger vehicle wherein we could sit with greater comfort on the rear seats, now that both of us seldom drive.

Tags: cars | indian

Hits: 2068 |

India decides to privatise Air India
2017.07.01 14:41:29

Happy tidings have arrived from Delhi indicating the decision of the Central Cabinet to privatise Air India. A very bold decision for a vital economic reform that, perhaps, only this government could take blocking the drain that it had become on government finances.

Tags: privatisation | india | air

Hits: 2547 |

Of transgender and their plight
2017.05.10 18:48:51

One has to give it to the local mayor for taking a very courageous step. He announced recently that he had decided to use the services of the transgender community for recovery of property tax from defaulters. For want of any more details, it is hoped the Mayor of Bhopal has seriously thought about the matter and bring about a change in the lives of the transgender community and people’s perception about them.

Tags: plight | transgender

Hits: 3082 |

Height and size of national flag has no cor-relation with patriotism
2017.03.17 18:44:48

India seems to be in the midst of a competition to hoist the biggest and the tallest national flag. As they say, some people wear their heart on their sleeves; we seem to be showing off our patriotism on our flags. The taller and the bigger it is the better it would seem to be.

Tags: size | height | flags | national | patritism

Hits: 3737 |

Indomitable spirit of Afghan women
2017.01.29 18:25:36

A recent report on the first Afghan women’s orchestra taking Davos (Switzerland) by storm stirred some memories. Lately, it was unthinkable that music would be something which would be allowed in Afghanistan, more so, for women to indulge in it. The reasons are not far to seek. Music is reckoned as un-Islamic by the rigorous practitioners of Islam. Under the Taliban’s ultra-Islamic rule, leave alone women, it was taboo for even men.

Tags: orchestra | women;s | afghan

Hits: 4383 |

Environmental take-aways from demonetisation
2017.01.26 17:24:36

Prime Minister Modi’s demonetization has been roundly criticized on various counts by politicians, economists, social organizations and general public. The abrupt ban on the two high value currency denominations of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 caught the people by surprise and many of those who had stashed away sizable hoards of them were naturally the first to raise an outcry in opposition.

Tags: environmenr | demonetisation

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Indian demonetisation: Pakistan's sinister designs forced Modi's hands
2016.12.16 18:59:44

The e-mails had been going round and round for sometime carrying the supposed facts regarding the reasons for the sudden demonetisation but one couldn’t really believe all that was conveyed in them. True, Modi had in his election campaign assured that he would fight the menace of black money and bring back all that was stashed away in banks abroad. But, two and a half years had gone by and yet nothing was seemingly moving on that front. He was, therefore, being baited and mocked at by the Opposition inside and outside the Parliament for his extravagant unfulfilled promises.

Tags: demonetisation | indian

Hits: 4752 |

Our life our times :: 4 :: Air purifiers
2016.11.19 18:27:13

The national capital of India, Delhi, has been choking ever since the Diwali fireworks fouled up the air. That looked like a trigger, which in fact it was not, for the continuing spell of intense air pollution. With a blanket of smog settling down over Delhi schools have been shut, construction and demolition works have been banned, polluting power plants like the one at Badarpur have been closed for ten days.

Tags: purifiers | pollution | air

Hits: 7595 |

Cricketing beards have it their way
2016.11.01 15:01:01

Beards have ultimately won not one but two series against New Zealand this year. While the bearded team won all the five test matches, the one-day series was won by three matches to two. The last One Day International (ODI) at Visakahpatnam must have been very disappointing for the New Zealanders. They lost it by as many as 190 runs, a stunning defeat – all because of too many bearded men in the field?

Tags: beards | cricket

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India's disappearing freedom of expression
2016.10.22 16:03:53

Ram Chandra Guha, a free-thinker, author and a historian who has authored numerous books on Indian History and random societal matters, recently enumerated eight reasons why Indians cannot speak freely. He says India is a 50-50 democracy. It is democratic only in a few respects and it is not so in many other respects. He says the country is free in respect of conduct of free and fair elections and movement within the country. It is, however, only partly democratic in other ways. “The democratic deficit” that largely occurs is in the area of freedom of expression.

Tags: freedom | expression

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Rahul, Sonia Gandhi - like mother like son
2016.10.14 19:47:49

Plummeting standards of political discourse in the country can surprisingly be largely attributed to its “Grand Old Party”, the Indian National Congress. Some years ago, its current president, Sonia Gandhi, called Narendra Modi, the then chief minister of Gujarat, “maut ka saudagar” (merchant of death), hinting at his alleged role in the Gujarat communal riots of 2002.

Tags: rahul | sonia | like | mother | son

Hits: 4713 |

2016.10.05 19:17:53

As I came back home that afternoon, my wife excitedly told me as she opened the door that there had been a “surgical strike” across the LoC (Line of Control in Jammu & Kashmir). The TV was on and I asked her whether there had been any retaliatory nuclear bombings or missile (tactical or otherwise) attacks. She didn’t know. She had just heard of the “strike” when I rang the bell. I was expecting the worst.

Tags: surgical | strike | kashmir

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Nehru thwarted two winnable wars
2016.09.16 18:46:13

Aroop Raha, the Indian Air Force chief recently articulated his disappointment that the country’s air power was not fully utilized during the first war with Pakistan in 1948. Likewise, he said, the airpower was not used during the 1962 war with China.

Tags: india | disasters

Hits: 5224 |

India's slipping values
2016.09.02 19:00:56

A photograph was recently published of a villager carrying his dead wife’s body on his shoulder while his daughter walked alongside crying all the way. The unfortunate incident happened somewhere in the interiors of the backward district of Kalahandi of the state of Odisha.

Tags: slipping | indian | values

Hits: 4594 |

Chief Minister Kashmir gets the right perspective
2016.08.31 16:11:32

Earlier last week Chief Minister Mahmooda Mufti’s speech was being telecast live by India TV.  I wanted to check where did she speak in the vein that she did which appeared to be highly rational. I scanned all the newspapers that I get – Hindi as well as English – but I could not find it covered in any of them. The Times of India, of course, did not report it and even The Hindu – a newspaper that reports in detail everything of national interest uttered by a person of the stature of a chief minister – seemed to have glossed over it.

Tags: kashmir | unrest

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