Why Strong Democratic Relations Should Not Be Overdramatized

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Narendra Modi takes the relationship between India and Bangladesh to uncomfortable new heights

Bangladesh’s strong ties with India should not always be stressed because they are still two separate nations, with great ties, but it doesn’t always seem as if it can be so. Recently, the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi remarked at the unveiling of ‘Bangladesh Bhaban’ at a higher educational institution in Santiniketan that an aspect of the disposition of Rabindranath Tagore (India’s national poet) had struck a chord with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (the founding father of Bangladesh)

In my outlook, that is one of the many reasons which makes Rahman great. Tagore has another relationship with Bangladesh already: Rabindranath had penned the lyrics to what was Bangladesh’s first national anthem after the British left the country (and India). But was it really necessary to place Rahman and Tagore in the same frame in a locality that is so cultural in mood to further emphasize on the strong ties between Bangladesh and India? I think it would have been better if it was some core point that did it instead: for example, the language that Tagore’s creative work is composed in – Bengali, which is a shared language between West Bengal and Bangladesh also demonstrates that the cultural ties between the two countries are strong and should indeed always continue to be so.


The Middle Class & Bollywood

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Films in Bollywood often depict the middle class family structure very well. The middle class family in India can be described as typically a middle-income household, which may or may not be home to a joint family (plus, all the troubles that bring because some of the members of that family are people with really bad characters) and the daily struggles that life brings in issues such as romantic relationships.

Films such as English Vinglish, Udaan, The Lunchbox and Do Dooni Char, had put the spotlight on the middle class family in India and what it feels like to be a part of that family arrangement. But what is really needed is for the films to get a little bit more realistic with the depiction of the challenges in life that begets middle class people. Very often, it’s the opposite: it is people that are rich, who are portrayed as having tragically experienced struggles in life, such as in the film Devdas – the son of a rich man is forbidden his love. But that is too narrow of a portrayal of the Indian idea of challenges in life, when a majority of the Indian population are either poor or middle class; honestly, in my opinion, a much greater priority should be attached to the truer Indian story in Bollywood.

Mother India’s Village Life

Rural life in India isn’t always about crops and storms – it’s also about the struggles which wretched poverty brings

Mother India is one of the greatest Bollywood films ever made. Although, the movie is controversial (in the most unforgiving of manners) because of the approach it took to the fictionalization of the struggles involved in the daily lives of the poor in India, despite the fact that India had desired for independence from colonial rule, Mother India should still be considered important for its evocative portrayal of life in the villages of India. That is what makes the film so magnificent: a woman’s plight with a loan, a son who wants to murder the man who had lent his family some money and the family saga of a mother involving her sons, are few of the reasons why the film is bittersweet and thought-provoking.

Celebrations: Persistent Cultures

Celebrations: Persistent Cultures



Why Independence In Local Cuisines Is A Good Idea

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A country’s cuisine is an important part of its identity. But some countries don’t like to carve out their own identities and it’s a very surprising turn of events. Curry, for example, is a very popular Indian dish, and it is also a much loved part of Bengali cuisine (cuisine of Bangladesh and the West Bengal state of India). Meat curries, with a gravy base is a traditional food item in Bangladeshi cuisine, but fish curries seem to be the most popular kind of curry in India, instead of meat curries.

Pakistani cuisine, however, is very different and it is a perfect demonstration of how not every country likes to preserve a sense of independence in their local cuisine. A Pakistani breakfast is a blend of the English breakfast of scrambled eggs, a slice of bread or the Indian and Bangladeshi blend of roti and parathas, as well as a Westernized cuisine slant of minced meat, paired with a cup of tea or coffee, seasonal fruits, such as mango and apples, milk, honey, butter and jam. Similarly, a Pakistani lunch is a blend of Indian and Bengali cuisine: it comprises meat curry, with rice or roti. A Pakistani dinner comprises the Indian and Bangladeshi blend of pilaf and the Middle Eastern blend of kebabs, which are very popular particularly in Iraq, Iran and Israel.

To prepare pilaf you have to cook rice in a seasoned broth and it’s very popular in India and Bangladesh, probably because it’s a rice-based dish; rice is the staple dish in Japan, China, Bangladesh and India. There is no originality in Pakistani cuisine at all. Everything is borrowed from the West, or its neighbours even though Pakistan as a country is nothing like its neighbours or the West.

It’s almost as if tasting Pakistani cuisine means sampling Western, Middle Eastern, Bengali or Indian cuisine because the culinary tastes of Pakistan have adopted and made its own the culinary tastes of countries, whose cuisines I have always enjoyed and found very fascinating. It would be grand if, for a change, Pakistani cuisine showed a sense of independence from the local culinary tastes of India, Bangladesh, the Middle East and the West.

Fashion in the Indian subcontinent

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Pakistan is a conservative Muslim nation, so the dress code for women in the country can be rightfully deemed as something conservative. On occasions, sometimes totally opposite to this can be seen: women wear western clothes, or the sari, instead of the traditional salwar kameez, which is usually the fashion costume most visible on Pakistani women. It’s the most shocking thing, almost as if these women are not aware of their own country’s culture and the dress codes, which would be suitable for them.

Not every country in the Indian subcontinent is like Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Bhutan because these are moderate countries, with largely liberal cultures. What is perfectly alright for women in these four countries to wear, owing to their liberal social atmospheres, such as western wear (for women) can’t be extended to every culture in the world, irrespective of whether or not these nations are a part of the Indian subcontinent.

It is a very ignorant attitude demonstrated in Pakistani fashion, replete with what can only be observed as sheer disregard for conservatism, perhaps because other neighbouring nations are so much more rightfully modern than Pakistan, which may have pushed to such an extent of abhorrence of local fashion customs sometimes for the nation.

The sari is really meant for Indian and Bangladeshi women because the sari counts its origins to be in India, and it is the national costume of Bangladeshi women. Naturally, it is always something very grand, when the sari transcends cultures, and earns popularity amongst consumers of other cultures, as well, such as those in the West or the Far East. But this is not about that: this is about fashion in a country as conservative as Pakistan and that the sari is really not as conservative as the salwar kameez, where despite the combination of loose pantaloons + shirt, there is no concerns of a bare midriff like for women in the Indian subcontinent, who like to wear saris.

True, a level-headed approach to fashion regarding the kinds of western clothes that are suitable for Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Bhutan isn’t always demonstrated by Bollywood celebrities, even though Bollywood films do excellent work to picturize the cultures of these four nations, day in and day out. But it’s still a different kind of “fashion concept” because this occurs in a largely liberal country, where, like Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, western clothes, collectively, could almost be considered as the nation’s ‘second national costumes’.

It’s a very foolish episode and it’s detached from reality too, when Bollywood heroines wear shorts (paired with something that looks like a bikini) and dance around with total abandon in elaborate Indian sets, whilst filming for a Bollywood film. These four nations already provide more freedom to women, fashion-wise, than many in the Middle East do, even though many Middle Eastern countries are so much more affluent than India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan – there is absolutely no reason to portray such an unquenchable thirst for something that, as of now, truly belongs in the West, not the Indian subcontinent.

There is actually no sensible, observable reason behind portrayal of an alien culture – one that places fashion in an unreal corner. Since, great fashion examples exist in tenfold in these regions, anyways, the foolish individual decisions made by many Bollywood celebrities are great examples of nothing but just that – personal fashion choices of Bollywood celebrities, who, when it comes to fashion, aren’t good role models, at all, for the Indian subcontinent.