Is a College Degree Necessary for Smriti Irani to hold the HRD Portfolio?


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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I do not subscribe to any political party. But, when I perceive talent in any form, I will be the first person to endorse it.

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Smriti Zubin Irani, incumbent Minister of Human Resource Development of Government of India since May 27, 2014.

Smriti Zubin Irani, incumbent Minister of Human Resource Development of Government of India since May 27, 2014.

Smriti Zubin Irani, a former model, television actress and producer represents the Bharatiya Janata Party and is the incumbent Minister of Human Resource Development of Government of India since May 27, 2014. She is a first time Lok Sabha polls contestant and a first time minister and the youngest in the Narendra Modi cabinet.

She is a first time Lok Sabha polls contestant and a first time minister.

Born on March 23, 1976, in Delhi to a family of Punjabi–Bengali background, Smriti Malhotra is the eldest amongst three sisters. She studied up to class 12 at Holy Child Auxilium School (HCA) in New Delhi, and discontinued further education.

Smriti worked as a waitress at McDonald’s before finding stardom in modelling. In 1998, Smriti was one of the finalists of the Miss India beauty pageant.

In 2000, she made her debut with TV series Aatish and Hum Hain Kal Aaj Kal Aur Kal, both aired on Star Plus. In mid-2000, Irani bagged the lead role of Tulsi Virani in Ekta Kapoor’s production Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi on Star Plus. She holds the record of winning five consecutive Indian Television Academy Awards for the Best Actress (Popular), four Indian Telly Awards, eight Star Parivaar Awards.

In 2001, Smriti married Zubin Irani, a Parsi.

Smriti Irani is a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat and is now widely acknowledged in the BJP as a key member of Narendra Modi’s inner circle.

In her message to the Subject Toppers of Senior School Certificate (Class XII) Examination, 2014 conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education, Delhi, posted on the website of the Government of India Ministry of Human Resource Development she said:

I congratulate all the students of CBSE who have excelled in their schools, districts and States in different subjects.

I applaud those who have worked hard and have got good results which make them and their families proud.

Examinations, marks, and above all values and Character in life, are the means to move forward and achieve progress

I wish all the students success in achieving their dreams in whatever walk of life they find joy and fulfilment and thereby contribute to a healthy, harmonious society and a strong nation.

But, there is something to be said about Smriti Irani’s own education.

Congress leader Ajay Maken questioned Smriti Irani’s credentials to lead the HRD ministry which oversees the country’s education system including the prestigious IITs and IIMs. Hitherto, the portfolio had always been held by a person with high academic qualifications. Maken tweeted: “Smriti Irani is not even a graduate,” triggering a political row, which until then had been fuelled online solely by her main detractor Madhu Purnima Kishwar, an Indian academic, and writer, who has been going hammer and tongs at Smriti Irani since the swearing-in.

In the past Madhu Kishwar vociferously defended Narendra Modi both on Twitter and on television channels. Now, after the swearing-in, Kishwar seems to have taken on a new role of being his critic-in-chief.

Smriti Irani seemed unfazed by the drama. However, there is more to this controversy.

Her BIODATA published in the HRD website states:

Educated at Holy Child Auxilium, Delhi and School of Correspondence and Continuing Education, University of Delhi, Delhi.

Smriti Irani has herself provided conflicting affidavits of her educational qualifications.

In 2004, in the affidavit filed with the Election Commission of India she submitted that she had received a bachelor’s degree in Arts (B.A.) in 1996 from Delhi University (School of Correspondence).

Details of school and university education - 1

 

In the affidavit filed with the Election Commission of India for the recent 2014 elections Smriti Irani claimed that she only completed Part I (first year) of her bachelor’s degree in commerce (Part I B.Com.) in the year 1994 from Delhi University’s School of Open Learning (correspondence)..

Details of school and university education - 2

 

To add venom, a leak from the School of Correspondence, as reported by a newspaper, claims that Smriti Irani had enrolled in 2013, but had not written the examination.

This incidence of doubts raised about Smriti Irani’s education leads to the perennial question “What is education?

When knowledge, skills, and habits convey from one person to another through teaching, training, or research we call it education. So, we can say that education is any experience that has a developmental effect that leads to the way one thinks, feels, or acts.

Education - 1

By the way, do you think that all recipients of diplomas and college degrees are really educated?

At present, most people look at education as commonly divided into stages: preschool, primary school, secondary school and then college, university or apprenticeship under the guidance of others. But many do not freely acknowledge that education may also be autodidactic.

Autodidacticism or autodidactism or self-education is self-directed learning.

An autodidact is a self-teacher. Autodidactism is a contemplative and absorptive process. One may become an autodidact at any point in one’s life. While one may have studied a particular field in the conventional method they may choose to inform themselves in other, often unrelated areas by self-study.

Many autodidacts have complemented their formal learning with self-study. Though I have a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, I am an autodidact in computer science. Forty-two years ago, I was not able to find any teacher who could teach computer science. So, I spent a great deal of time reviewing the resources found in physical libraries and buying whatever books on computer science that I came across in search of knowledge. I always say: “To learn, teach!” I gained most of my knowledge in computers by following this dictum — teaching others who sought knowledge in basic computer science.

Though autodidactism is only one facet of learning, many autodidacts have made notable contributions to the human race. Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci is one of history’s best known autodidacts.

Since most autodidacts do not advertise themselves, why not we consider Smriti Irani as one such person.

On May 19, 2014, Smriti Irani hit back at Congress leader Ajay Maken’s comments on her educational qualifications. She said,

Judge me by my work, I would only say this… Attempts have been made to deviate my attention from my work. The party has always entrusted me with assignments as they have confidence in me.

The late Kamaraj Nadar, former Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, India, was a 3rd grader. He was a visionary and he opened hundreds of primary schools accessible to rural kids to improve the literacy rate in Tamilnadu.

The current Chief Minister of Tamilandu J. Jayalalitha is a 10th grader (Matriculation). She is fluent in several languages, including English, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Hindi.

So, before you write off Smriti Irani as an ‘uneducated’ person, just listen to the speech she gave before an International audience at the International Women’s Conference in February 2014, at The Art of Living International Center, Bangalore, India, a few months before she was sworn-in as the Honourable Union Minister of Human Resource Development, and then form your opinion about her.

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Six Qualities a Man in India Expects From His Wife


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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A woman of worth is the crown of her husband,
but a disgraceful one is like rot in his bones.
- Proverbs 12:4

The presence of near and dear ones, reception parties – large or small, and honeymoons, etc., most certainly enhance the pleasures of the occasion and the joy of a wedding.

But what is the ultimate goal of a marriage from a man’s viewpoint?

Universally, all men wish for a perfect wife. But what does one mean by a “perfect wife”? What are the qualities needed to be an ideal spouse? Many women do not know about it though most of the qualities of a perfect wife are already built into them and develops as she grows up.

In India, Neeti Saara or Neeti Sastra is a popular collection of morals written by Baddena, a 13th century Telugu poet, believed to be a Chola prince named Bhadra Bhupala.

Baddena sums the six noble virtues an ideal wife should have in a verse as:

‘కార్యేషు దాసి, కరణేషు మంత్రి, భోజ్యేషు మాతా, రూపేచ లక్ష్మీ, శయనేషు రంభ, క్షమయా ధరిత్రీ… and so on.

 

‘Karyeshu Dasi, Karaneshu Manthri; Bhojeshu Mata, Shayaneshu Rambha, Roopeshu lakshmi, Kshamayeshu Dharitri, Shat dharmayukta, Kuladharma Pathni’

Translation:

Karyeshu Dasi: work like a maidservant.

Karaneshu Mantri: advice like a minister.

Bhojeshu Mata: feed like a mother.

Shayaneshu Ramba: please in bed like Rambha.

Roopeshu Lakshmi: look beautiful like Goddess Lakshmi.

Kshmayeshu Dharitri: be patient like Earth.

Shat dharma yuktah Kula dharma Patni: A woman who has these six virtues is a good housewife.

Be a maidservant

Be a maidservant

Give advice ((Source: martofimages.com)

Give advice

Feed like a mother (Source: martofimages.com)

Feed like a mother

Please in bed.

Please in bed

Look beautiful like (Source: beautifullwallpapersfree.blogspot.in)

Look beautiful

Be patient (Source  - photogallery.indiatimes.com)

Be patient

In short, a good housewife should serve her husband like a maidservant; counsel him like a minister to deal with various problems that confront him; feed him like a mother; please him in bed as a courtesan like the heavenly seductress Rambha, unrivalled in the art of making love; maintain her beauty like Goddess Lakshmi; be patient and endure like Mother Earth.

This indeed is a tall order! I do not think any woman in the 21st century would qualify as a perfect wife by meeting these six criteria.

In this age of sex equality, the women argue that these verses were written by a man and so are chauvinistic. What will happen if a woman expects the following six qualities in a man?

Bhogeshu Raja: Rich like a king.

Vachaneshu Rama: Honest like Lord Rama.

Chaturasya Krishna: Intellectually smart like Lord Krishna.

Dhairyeshu Karna: Courageous like Karna.

Roopecha Indra: Handsome like Lord Indra.

Kaameshu Madana: Romantic like Madana Kamaraja.

Shatdharmayuktha manadharma Ramana: A man who has these six virtues is the dear husband.

Rich

Filthily Rich

Honest as Lord Rama

Honest

Intellectually smart like Lord Krishna

Intellectual

Courageous as Karna

Courageous

Handsome

Handsome

Romantic as Madhana

Romantic

If you are a man, do you think you can qualify as a perfect husband?

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Violet Jessop, the 20th Century Lady Jonah: Part 3 – Ice Warnings for the The RMS Titanic


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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Violet Jessop said that it was her habit to breathe in fresh air on deck before retiring for the night. Regarding the fourth day of sailing on Titanic she wrote:

If the sun did fail to shine so brightly on the fourth day out, and if the little cold nip crept into the air as evening set in, it only served to emphasize the warmth and luxuriousness within.

Titanic in ice field (Artist: Ken Marschall)

Titanic in ice field (Artist: Ken Marschall)

From the second day on, after leaving Southampton on its maiden voyage, RMS Titanic received reports of ice from ships passing through, or stopped due to heavy ice in the region she would be sailing to New York. On the 11th she received six warnings, on 12th five, on 13th three, and on 14th six. As a matter of fact, the Marconi room of RMS Titanic relayed some of the warnings to the shore.

As a routine, all these messages would have been logged in the radio book as they were received or intercepted and passed on to the officers on the bridge. So, it is unlikely that Captain Edward Smith and his officers, would have been unaware of the dangerous ice that was lying directly in the path of the ship.

Here are the messages received or intercepted on Sunday, April 14, 1912 – four days into the crossing:

At 9:00 am  (“Titanic” time), RMS Caronia (call sign MSF), a Cunard Line ocean liner, Eastbound New York to Liverpool, sent an ice warning message to RMS Titanic:

“Captain, ‘Titanic.’ – Westbound steamers report bergs, growlers and field ice in 42°N from 49° to 51°W, 12th April. Compliments. – Barr.”

Action taken: This message referred to bergs, growlers and field ice sighted on April 12, 1912 – at least 48 hours before the time of transmitting the message. At the time this message was received RMS Titanic was at 43°35′N, 43°50′W. Captain Smith acknowledged the receipt of this message and posted it for his officers to read.

At about 8 am on April 14, 1912, Greek steamer Athinai (call sign MTI) belonging to the Hellenic Transatlantic Steam Navigation Company, Westbound from Piraues and Mediterranean ports to New York, encountered a large ice field containing several large bergs. During the morning she sent an ice advisory to RMS Baltic, an ocean liner of the White Star Line, Eastbound New York to Liverpool.

At 1:42 pm, RMS Baltic (call sign MBC) relayed this report to its sister ship RMS Titanic:

“Captain Smith, ‘Titanic.’ – Have had moderate, variable winds and clear, fine weather since leaving. Greek steamer ‘Athinai’ reports passing icebergs and large quantities of field ice today in lat. 41°51′ N., long. 49° 52′ W. Last night we spoke German oiltank steamer ‘Deutschland,’ Stettin to Philadelphia, not under control, short of coal, lat. 40° 42′ N., long. 55° 11′ W. Wishes to be reported to New York and other steamers. Wish you and ‘Titanic’ all success. – Commander.”

Action taken: At the time this message was received the RMS Titanic was at about 42°35′N, 45°50W. Captain Edward Smith acknowledged the receipt of this message.

J. Bruce IsmayCaptain Smith showed the message to J. Bruce Ismay, the Managing Director of the White Star Line, on board the RMS Titanic on her maiden voyage to let him know that ice was to be expected that night. The latter pocketed the message and showed it later to two ladies; and of course many people on board became aware of its contents. At 7:15 pm, Captain Smith asked for its return, when it was finally posted in the chart room.

At 11:20 am, the German steamer SS Amerika, belonging to the Hamburg America Line of Germany, Eastbound, New York to Hamburg sent an ice advisory telegram message to the Hydrographic Office in Washington, DC via RMS Titanic because Titanic was nearer to Cape Race, to which station it had to be relayed to reach Washington. Here is a facsimile of the message:

File copy from Samuel Barr of the telegram from SS Amerika via SS Titanic on location of two large icebergs 14 April 1912. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

File copy from Samuel Barr of the telegram from SS Amerika via SS Titanic on location of two large icebergs 14 April 1912. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Jack Phillips

Jack Phillips

Action taken: The location of the bergs 41°27′N, 50°08′W was 12.5 miles from where the RMS Titanic later sank. The message does not mention at what hour the bergs had been observed. However, as a message affecting navigation, it should have been taken to the bridge. The two Marconi operators on board Titanic were 25-year-old John George Phillips, better known as “Jack Phillips”, and his Deputy, 22-year-old Harold Sydney Bride. Maybe Phillips waited until the ship would be within call of Cape Race (at about 8:00 or 8:30 pm). No one on board the RMS Titanic knew about this message outside the Marconi room.

The SS Californian, a tramp steamer of The Leyland Line, transporting cargo to whichever port wanted it, commanded by Captain Stanley Lord, left London on April 5, 1912, and was on her way to Boston, Massachusetts. Although she was certified to carry up to 47 passengers, she carried none during this trip. She had a crew of 55 men. At 6:30 pm she sighted three bergs to her southward, 15 miles (24 km) north of the course the RMS Titanic was heading.

At 7:30 pm, Cyril Evans, the only wireless operator of the SS Californian (call sign MWL), sent a wireless message of the ship’s position to their sister ship SS Antillian:

“To Captain, ‘Antillian’, 6.30 pm apparent ship’s time; lat. 42°3′N, long. 49°9′W. Three large bergs five miles to southward of us. Regards. – Lord.”

Action taken: Harold Bride, the other wireless operator on RMS Titanic intercepted the message, but delivered it to the ship’s bridge only at 10:20 pm. Later, Bride said that he could not remember to whom he delivered this message.

.At 9:40 pm, the Marconi station of the MV Mesaba (call sign MMU) belonging to the Atlantic Transport Line sent the following message:

“From ‘Mesaba’ to ‘Titanic’ and all eastbound ships. Ice report in lat. 42°N to 41°25′N, long. 49° to long. 50°30′W. Saw much heavy pack ice and great number large icebergs. Also field ice. Weather good, clear.”

Action taken: This message clearly indicated the presence of ice in the immediate vicinity of the RMS Titanic and was not  delivered to the deck or to any of the officers.

Harold Bride

Harold Bride

This message never left the Titanic’s radio room because the wireless set had broken down the day before, resulting in a backlog of messages that the two radio operators Jack Phillips and Harold Bride were trying to clear. At the time time this message reached Titanic’s radio room an exhausted radio operator Harold Bride was getting some much needed sleep. Phillips may have failed to grasp the significance of the message as he was preoccupied with transmitting and receiving messages for passengers via the relay station at Cape Race, Newfoundland.

At Longitude 42°05′N, 50°07′W, a position to the south of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, SS Californian was confronted by a large ice field. Captain Stanley Lord decided to halt the ship at 10:21 pm and wait until morning to proceed further.

Officers of SS Californian.  Front row, left to right: Captain Lord, Chief Officer Stewart. Back row, left to right: 2nd  Officer Stone, 3rd Officer Groves

Officers of SS Californian. Front row, left to right: Captain Lord, Chief Officer Stewart. Back row, left to right: 2nd Officer Stone, 3rd Officer Groves.

Around 11 pm, Lord saw a light in the east, but thought it could be a rising star.

At 11:10 pm Third Officer C.V. Groves on deck, also saw the lights of a ship 10 or 12 miles away. To him, it was clearly a large liner as he saw brightly lit multiple decks. Fifteen minutes later Groves informed Captain Lord of what he saw.

They tried to contact the other ship using a Morse lamp, but did not see any reciprocal reply. The Captain then asked his wireless operator Evans if he knew of any ships in the area. Evans said: “only the Titanic.” Captain Lord instructed Evans to call RMS Titanic and inform her that the Californian was stopped, surrounded by ice.

When Evans tried to convey the message the RMS Titanic‘s on-duty wireless operator, Jack Phillips, was busy working on a large backlog of personal messages sent and received from the wireless station at Cape Race, Newfoundland. The relative proximity of SS Californian made signals sent from it loud in Phillips’ headphones. So, Phillips rebuked Evans with: “Shut up, shut up! I am busy; I am working Cape Race!

Evans waited and at 11:30 pm when he did not receive any reply from Phillips he switched off the wireless and went to bed.

Praying the Rosary

Violet Jessop was a firm believer in the power of prayer. As a devout Catholic she always had a rosary in her apron. In her memoirs, Violet says she had taken along with her belongings a copy of a translated Hebrew prayer that an old Irish woman had given her. On that fateful day, after settling down in her bunk she read the strangely worded prayer supposed to protect one who read it against fire and water. Then, she persuaded her roommate, a stewardess (according to editor John Maxtone- Graham, possibly Elizabeth Leather) to read it.

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 Previous: Part 2 – Aboard the RMS Titanic

Next → Part 4 – Sinking of the RMS Titanic

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Violet Jessop, the 20th Century Lady Jonah: Part 2 – Aboard the RMS Titanic


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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Titanic - A painting by Ken Marschall

Titanic – A painting by Ken Marschall

In 1911, RMS Titanic was the second of three Olympic class ocean liners owned and operated by the White Star Line of steamships. It was the largest ocean cruiser afloat at the time it entered service.

Harland and Wolff built the ship in their shipyard on Queen’s Island, now known as the Titanic Quarter, in Belfast Harbour. Thomas Andrew, the managing director and head of the drafting department for the shipbuilding company was her naval architect in charge of the plans for the ocean liner. It took about 26 months to build it. Although RMS Titanic was virtually identical to the class lead ship RMS Olympic, a few modifications were made to differentiate the two ships.

RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912. Author: F.G.O. Stuart (1843-1923)

RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912. Author: F.G.O. Stuart (1843-1923)

RMS Titanic was launched at 12:15 pm on May 31, 1911 in the presence of Lord William Pirrie - a leading Irish shipbuilder and businessman, J. Pierpoint Morgan - an American financier and banker, and J. Bruce Ismay (son of Thomas  Henry Ismay) - chairman and managing director of the White Star Line of steamships, and 100,000 onlookers. It is alleged that 22 tons of soap and tallow were spread on the slipway to lubricate the vessel’s passage into the River Lagan.

Captain Edward John Smith, RD, RNR

Captain Edward John Smith, RD, RNR

Captain Edward John Smith, RD, RNR

Edward John Smith, RD, RNR (January 27, 1850 – April 15, 1912) joined the White Star Line in March 1880 as the Fourth Officer of SS Celtic. He served aboard the company’s liners to Australia and to New York City and quickly rose in status. In 1887, he received his first White Star command, the SS Republic. From 1895 on, Smith was captain of SS Majestic for nine years.

He gained a reputation among his passengers and crew members for his quiet pomposity. Most England’s elite preferred to traverse the Atlantic only in a ship captained by him, thus he became known as the “Millionaires’ Captain“.

From 1904 on, Smith commanded the White Star Line’s newest ships on their maiden voyages. In 1904, he was given command of the then-largest ship in the world, the RMS Baltic. Her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York, that set sail on June 29, 1904, went without incident. After three years with RMS Baltic, Smith was given his second new big ship, the RMS Adriatic and once again the maiden voyage went without any untoward incident.

On board the RMS Titanic

Violet Jessop was one of the happiest stewardesses while working on the Olympic. But, after the Hawke incident, she was apprehensive in joining as a stewardess on any ship. However, her friends persuaded her to join the heavily advertised ‘unsinkable’ Titanic as they thought it would be a ‘wonderful experience’ to serve on her.

On April 10, 1912, Violet, ‘dressed in a new ankle-length brown suit’ set out in a horse-drawn Hansom cab to join the brand new ship as a stewardess at her berth in Southampton. The same day RMS Titanic left Southampton on its maiden voyage to New York.

Bruce Ismay usually accompanied his ships on their maiden voyages, and the Titanic was one of them.

There were 908 crew members, including Violet Jessop on board the RMS Titanic under the command of Captain Edward Smith. Most of the crew members were not seamen. They were divided into three principal departments: Deck, Engine, and Victualling. Of these crew members only 23 were female, mainly stewardesses.

Also among the crew were bakers, chefs, butchers, fishmongers, dishwashers, stewards, gymnasium instructors, laundrymen, waiters, bed-makers, cleaners, etc. The ship even had a printer, who produced a daily newspaper for passengers called the Atlantic Daily Bulletin with the latest news received by the ship’s wireless operators.

Southampton is a major port and the largest city on the south coast of England. Out of the 908 crew members, 699 of the crew came from Southampton, and 40% were natives of the city. Most of the crew signed on in Southampton on April 6, 1912.

Some specialist crew members were self-employed or were subcontractors. There were: five postal clerks, who worked for the Royal Mail and the United States Post Office Department; the staff of the First Class À La Carte Restaurant and the Café Parisien; the radio operators, employed by Marconi; and the eight musicians employed by an agency and travelling as second-class passengers. Violet says she became a friend of the Scottish violinist Jock Hume.

The pay of crew members varied greatly. Captain Edward Smith was paid £105 a month. Violet Jessop and the other stewardesses were paid £3 10s. The lower-paid victualling staff were allowed to supplement their wages through tips from passengers.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, millions of Europeans immigrated to the United States and Canada. White Star was among the first shipping lines to have passenger ships with inexpensive accommodation for third-class passengers, in addition to luxury first-class and second-class berths. The White Star Line’s quartet of revolutionary liners had the largest carrying capacity for third-class passengers: RMS Celtic of 1901 had a capacity for 2,352 passengers; RMS Cedric of 1903 and RMS Baltic of 1904 had a capacity for 2,000 passengers each; and RMS Adriatic of 1907 had a capacity for 1,900 passengers.

The passengers on RMS Titanic included some of the wealthiest people in the world: 325 first-class and 285 second-class passengers, as well as 706 third-class passengers – mostly emigrants from Great Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia and from countries throughout Europe seeking a new life in North America.

The following photos are from scenes enacted by actors for the play TITANIC at the Barrow-Civic Theatre, at 1223 Liberty Street, Franklin, Pennsylvania, USA.

TITANIC - First Class Passengers. (Source: titanic-bct.blogspot.in)

TITANIC – First Class Passengers. (Source: titanic-bct.blogspot.in)

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TITANIC - Second Class Passengers. (Source: titanic-bct.blogspot.in)

TITANIC – Second Class Passengers. (Source: titanic-bct.blogspot.in)

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TITANIC - Third Class Irish Immigrants (Source: titanic-bct.blogspot.in)

TITANIC – Third Class Irish Immigrants (Source: titanic-bct.blogspot.in)

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The proud serivce staff of the RMS TITANIC (from left to right) Stewardess Annie Robinson, Stewardess Violet Jessop, Head Steward Henry Etches, Mrs. Latimer, and Stewardess Mary Hutchinson. (Source: titanic-bct.blogspot.in)

The proud serivce staff of the RMS TITANIC (from left to right) Stewardess Annie Robinson, Stewardess Violet Jessop, Head Steward Henry Etches, Mrs. Latimer, and Stewardess Mary Hutchinson. (Source: titanic-bct.blogspot.in)

On April 10, 1912, at noon RMS Titanic left Southampton on its maiden voyage to New York. She called at Cherbourg in France at 6:35 pm. After disembarking 15 first and seven second class passengers, the ship took aboard 142 first, 30 second and 102 third class passengers. It left Cherbourg at 8:10 pm for Queenstown (now Cobh) in Ireland.

The ship reached Queenstown at 11:30 am. After disembarking and embarking passengers, she set out at 1:30 pm on her fatal voyage towards New York with a total of 2,224 people: 908 crew members, 325 first class, 285 second class and 706 third class passengers.

RMS Titanic, painted by 16-year-old Ken Marschall (Source : greenwichworkshop.com)

RMS Titanic, painted by 16-year-old Ken Marschall (Source : greenwichworkshop.com)

In her memoirs, Violet Jessop mentions Thomas Andrews, the naval architect in charge of the plans for the ocean liner RMS Titanic. Like all other crew members, she too greatly admired him for he was the only person who heeded the requests of the crew for improvements in their quarters. She wrote:

“Often during our rounds we came upon our beloved designer going about unobtrusively with a tired face but a satisfied air. He never failed to stop for a cheerful word, his only regret that we were ‘getting further from home.‘ We all knew
the love he had for that Irish home of his and suspected that he longed to get back to the peace of its atmosphere for a much needed rest and to forget ship designing for awhile.”

During the voyage, Bruce Ismay talked about a possible test of speed if time permitted.

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 Previous: Part 1 – Aboard the RMS Titanic

Next → Part 3 – Ice Warnings for the The RMS Titanic 

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Violet Jessop, the 20th Century Lady Jonah: Part 1 – Aboard the RMS Olympic


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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Jonah

The Biblical narrative of Jonah in the Old Testament, set in or around the 8th century BC, concerns the disobedient prophet Jonah. God orders Jonah: “Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it; for their wickedness has come before me.

But Jonah chose to flee “away from the LORD” to Tarshish by sea, geographically in the opposite direction. He went down to Joppa, found a ship going to Tarshish. The LORD, however, hurled a great wind upon the sea, and the storm was so great that the ship was about to break up. Then, the sailors were afraid and each one cried to his god. To lighten the ship they threw its cargo into the sea. The sailors cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Jonah admitted his disobedience to God.

The sailors asked, “What shall we do with you, that the sea may calm down for us?

Jonah responded, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea and then the sea will calm down for you. For I know that this great storm has come upon you because of me.”

Since the sea was growing more and more stormy they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea stopped raging. But the LORD sent a great fish to swallow Jonah, and he remained in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Jonah prayed to God in his affliction. God commanded the fish to spew Jonah out.

Violet Constance Jessop (October 2, 1887 – May 5, 1971)

Violet Constance Jessop (October 2, 1887 – May 5, 1971)

Violet Constance Jessop (October 2, 1887 – May 5, 1971) was an ocean liner stewardess and nurse notable for surviving the disasters associated with the British White Star Line’s trio of Olympic-class liners: RMS Olympic, RMS Titanic and HMHS Britannic.

Was Violet Jessop a 20th century Lady Jonah?

In the mid 1880s, her father, William Jessop immigrated to the Argentine Republic from Dublin to try his hand at sheep farming. In 1886, his fiancée, Katherine Kelly from Dublin joined him.

Violet Jessop was the first of nine children born to them. Violet contracted tuberculosis at an early age. However, she survived even though her doctor predicted that she would succumb to the illness. Despite a delayed education, Violet benefited from an American schooling in Argentina.

SS Orinoco (Source: clydesite.co.uk)

SS Orinoco (Source: clydesite.co.uk)

After William Jessop died in Mendoza, Katherine Kelly moved to Great Britain with her children where she found a job as a stewardess for the Royal Mail Line. Violet attended a convent school under the tutelage of Breton nuns in Kent.

When Katherine became ill, Violet left school at an early age to act as a parental surrogate to four younger brothers. Like her mother, Violet decided to become a ship stewardess.

In the early 20th century, most women working as stewardesses were middle-aged, but Violet just 21-years-old and looked beautiful which proved to be a disadvantage in finding a position as a stewardess because Employers believed that her youth and good looks would cause problems with the crew and passengers. Violet solved the problem by making herself look homely by wearing old clothes and no makeup while attending interviews.

In 1908, Violet joined as a stewardess aboard the Royal Mail Line’s passenger-cargo vessel the SS Orinoco that plied between Southampton and the West Indies. From then on, her seagoing career continued with few interruptions for 42 years.

Titanic Survivor

John Maxtone-Graham the editor of “Titanic Survivor: The Newly Discovered Memoirs of Violet Jessop Who Survived both the Titanic and Britannic Disasters,” said her beauty increased her troubles with the “philandering captains and pursers, loquacious or insufferable fellow stewardesses, and an array of sometimes horrifying passengers.”

During her career as a stewardess on various ships, at least three men proposed to her, of while one was an incredibly wealthy first-class passenger.

The White Star Line and Harland & Wolff

Harland & Wolff Heavy Industries Limited in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is a Northern Irish heavy industrial company, specializing in shipbuilding and offshore construction. The company was formed in 1861 by Edward James Harland and Hamburg-born Gustav Wilhelm Wolff, who lived in the United Kingdom from age 14.

The Belfast shipbuilders had a long-established relationship dating back to 1867 with the White Star Line founded in Liverpool, England, by John Pilkington and Henry Wilson in 1845.

White Star Line concentrated on the Liverpool to New York shipping services. They financed their heavy investment in new ships by borrowing from the Royal Bank of Liverpool. The bank failed in October 1867 leaving White Star Line with an overwhelming debt of £527,000 (£39,510,442 as of 2014) and forced into bankruptcy.

White Star Line vector logo

On January 18, 1868, Thomas Henry Ismay, a director of the National Line, purchased the house flag, trade name and goodwill of the bankrupt company for £1,000, (£76,182 as of 2014) intending to operate large ships on the North Atlantic service.

Thomas Ismay was president of White Star Line till 1899 and had several ships under his authority. Most of these ships were chartered.

Gustav Christian Schwabe, a prominent Liverpool merchant, and his nephew, Gustav Wilhelm Wolff, approached Thomas Ismay during a game of billiards. Schwabe offered to finance the new line if Ismay had his ships built by Wolff’s company, Harland & Wolff.

Thomas Ismay agreed, and established a partnership with the agreement with the stipulation that the shipbuilders would not build any vessels for the rivals of White Star Line. Harland and Wolff were given a great deal of latitude in designing ships for the White Star Line. Cost considerations were relatively low on the agenda and the shipbuilders were authorized to spend whatever on the ships and would be paid cost plus a fixed five percent profit margin.

White Star Line placed their first order with Harland & Wolff on July 30, 1869 and began operating again in 1871 between New York and Liverpool, with a call at Queenstown.

It has long been a custom with many shipping lines to have a common theme for the names of their ships. White Star Line named their ships ending in -ic.

In the late 19th century, White Star Line sought to fund construction of two ships, SS Majestic and SS Teutonic through the British government. The government accepted the proposition with the stipulation that the Royal Navy would have access to the two ocean liners in a time of war.

SS Majestic (1890)

SS Majestic (1890)

Harland & Wolff built SS Majestic for White Star Line and launched her on June 29, 1889. After fitting the ship during the next nine months, it was delivered to White Star Line in March, 1890. On April 2, 1890, SS Majestic left Liverpool on her maiden voyage to New York.

In 1895, 45-year-old English naval reserve officer Edward John Smith, who years later would gain lasting fame as the captain of the RMS Titanic was given command of SS Majestic. He served as her captain for nine years. When the Boer War started in 1899, SS Majestic under Smith’s command transported troops to Cape Colony. The ship made two trips to South Africa, in December 1899 and in February 1900, without any adverse incident.

Thomas Ismay died on November 23, 1899 and his son J. Bruce Ismay succeeded him as the chairman of White Star Line. He decided to build four ocean liners to surpass the RMS Oceanic built by his father: the ships were dubbed the ‘Big Four’: RMS Celtic, RMS Cedric, RMS Baltic, and RMS Adriatic. These vessels were designed more for luxury and for speed than safety.

In 1902, J.P. Morgan & Co., was organizing the formation of the International Mercantile Marine Company (IMM). It was an Atlantic shipping combine which absorbed several major American and British lines. Bruce Ismay negotiated the sale of the White Star Line to J.P. Morgan&Co. The White Star Line became one of the IMM operating companies. In February 1904, Bruce Ismay became president of the IMM, with the support of Morgan.

Violet Jessop’s Career with White Star Line

After a brief assignment aboard SS Orinoco, Violet Jessop was hired by the White Star Line as a stewardess aboard SS Majestic.

In the early 20th century, the Harland & Wolff shipyard built a trio of ocean liners for the White Star Line, which were popularly called the Olympic-class ocean liners. They were: RMS Olympic, RMS Titanic and RMS Britannic.

The designs for both Olympic and Titanic were on the board at the same time. However, to ease pressures on the shipyard, construction of the Olympic began three months before Titanic. Several years would pass before Britannic would be launched.

In 1912, the trio were by far the largest vessels of the White Star Line’s fleet of 29 steamers and tenders.

The RMS Olympic

RMS Olympic built by Harland & Wolff was the lead ship and the namesake of the White Star Line’s trio of Olympic-class liners. Launched on October 20, 1910, it was the largest civilian transatlantic luxury ocean liner at that time – nearly 100 feet (30 meters) longer than any other ship. Edward Smith, who had earned the reputation as one of the world’s most experienced sea captains was given the first command of the lead ship.

RMS Olympic arriving at New York on her maiden voyage in June 1911.

RMS Olympic arriving at New York on her maiden voyage in June 1911.

The maiden voyage of RMS Olympic from Southampton to New York concluded successfully on June 21, 1911. However, as the ship was docking at Pier 59 in New York harbor under the command of Captain Smith with the assistance of a harbor pilot, one of the 12 assisting tugs got caught in the backwash of Olympic, collided with the ship, and for a brief moment was trapped under Olympic‘s stern. Eventually, the tug managed to free itself and limped to the docks.

During World War I, RMS Olympic served as a troop ship and was fondly remembered as the “Old Reliable“. After the war, it returned to civilian service. Throughout the 1920s and in the first half of the 1930s, she served as an ocean liner. She was in service for 24 years from 1911 to 1935. After 1930, the slump in trade during the Great Depression, and increased competition, made her operation increasingly unprofitable for the White Star Line.

On June 14, 1911, the 23-year-old Violet Jessop boarded the RMS Olympic to work as a stewardess on it.

Three months later, on September 20, 1911, shortly after leaving Southampton at the start of her planned fifth voyage to New York, RMS Olympic collided with the old protected Royal Navy cruiser HMS Hawke off the Isle of Wight, the largest island of England in the English Channel.

At the time of this incident Violet Jessop was on board the RMS Olympic.

Satellite image showing the Solent, separating the Isle of Wight from mainland England (Source: Earth Sciences and Image Analysis, NASA-Johnson Space Center)

Satellite image showing the Solent, separating the Isle of Wight from mainland England (Source: Earth Sciences and Image Analysis, NASA-Johnson Space Center)

The collision took place as RMS Olympic and HMS Hawke were running parallel to each other through the Solent. The wide radius taken by RMS Olympic to turn to starboard took the commander of the HMS Hawke by surprise and its bow designed to sink ships by ramming, tore two large gashes on the RMS Olympic‘s starboard side, one above and one below the waterline resulting in the flooding of two of her watertight compartments and a twisted propeller shaft.

The damage to RMS Olympic (Source: Popular Mechanics Magazine December 1911)

The damage to RMS Olympic and HMS Hawke (Source: Popular Mechanics Magazine December 1911)

HMS Hawke nearly capsized after she sustained severe damage to her bow.

Despite the heavy damage to both vessels, there were no casualties and none seriously injured.

Both vessels managed to steam back to Southampton for repairs. The fifth voyage of RMS Olympic to New York was cancelled.

After two weeks of temporary repairs in Southampton, RMS Olympic returned to Belfast for further repairs. On 30th November 1911, she returned to active service.

Though Violet Jessop survived the collision of RMS Olympic with the HMS Hawke, she was slated for more traumatic experience a year later on RMS Titanic and on the RMS Britannic in 1916.

 

Next Part 2 – Aboard the RMS Titanic

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Equality for Women is Progress for All …


. Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj.

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Equality for women is progress for all.”

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Frauentag 1914 Heraus mit dem Frauenwahlrecht (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Frauentag 1914 Heraus mit dem Frauenwahlrecht (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

A century ago, the above poster in German for International Women’s Day, March 8th, 1914, proclaimed:

“Give Us Women’s Suffrage. Women’s Day, March 8, 1914. Until now, prejudice and reactionary attitudes have denied full civic rights to women, who as workers, mothers, and citizens wholly fulfill their duty, who must pay their taxes to the state as well as the municipality. Fighting for this natural human right must be the firm, unwavering intention of every woman, every female worker. In this, no pause for rest, no respite is allowed. Come all, you women and girls, to the 9th public women’s assembly on Sunday, March 8, 1914, at 3pm.”

Today, though equality for women has made positive gains, still inequality remains in most part of the world.

Women’s rights activists across the world celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) annually on March 8; and this day has been marked by the United Nations since 1975.

The official United Nations theme for International Women’s Day 2014 is “Equality for women is progress for all.

The first National Women’s Day was observed on February 28, 1909 in the United States following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America.

The day developed as a Socialist political event, and was formerly called International Working Women’s Day. The earliest observances of the day were held on different dates: May 3, 1908, in Chicago; February 28th, 1909, and on February 27, 1910, in New York.

The Working Women’s Day was celebrated primarily in Russia, and to a certain extent in many other countries in Europe. In some countries, the day became an amalgamation of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, and for men to express their gratitude and love for women.

In August 1910, before the general meeting of the Socialist Second International in Copenhagen, an International Women’s Conference was organized. At that conference, German Socialist Luise Zietz proposed to institute an annual “International Woman’s Day” (note it is singular) as to promote equal rights, including suffrage, for women. The proposition was seconded by fellow socialist and later communist leader Clara Zetkin. However, no date was fixed then. A Hundred woman delegates from 17 countries agreed to the motion.

The following year, on March 19, 1911, for the first time, over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland observed IWD. There were around 300 demonstrations in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In Vienna, women paraded on the Ringstraße (Ringstrasse) carrying banners to honour the martyrs of the Paris Commune.

Women demanded that women be given the right to vote and to hold public office. They also protested against discrimination for employment based on gender.

The American women, however, continued to celebrate its National Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February. In 1913, Russian women too observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February, according to the Julian calendar then used in Russia.

There were some women-led strikes, marches, and other protests in the years leading up to 1914, but none of them took place on March 8.

In 1914 International Women’s Day was held on March 8, presumably because that day was a Sunday. From then on IWD is always held on March 8 in all countries.

International Women's Day (Source: theobamacrat.com)

International Women’s Day (Source: theobamacrat.com)

International Women’s Day 2014 is the subject of the latest doodle displayed on Google’s home page. The Doodle video features over a 100 inspiring women from around the world. It includes the president of Lithuania, a brave Pakistani education activist, the most recorded artist in music history and an ever-curious explorer. The full list of women in this video on our doodle site.

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The Gulabi Gang – The Fearless Women in Pink


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Sampat Pal Devi and her Gulabi Gang members  (Source: i.facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi)

Sampat Pal Devi and her Gulabi Gang members (Source: facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi)

These women dressed in pink and with laathi (bamboo stick) in their hands are fearless!

Their leader Sampat Pal Devi is a mother of five children and a former government health worker. She has a long list of criminal charges against her: unlawful assembly, rioting, attacking government employees, obstructing officers in the discharge of duty, beating a policeman for abusing her, and so on. Once she even went underground to hide from the law. However, her actions have secured notable victories for the community.

Sampat Pal Devi (Source: facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi

Sampat Pal Devi (Source: facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi

Sampat Pal Devi (born 1960) is a tough woman with a commanding personality. She hails from the Bundelkhand area in the state of Uttar Pradesh - one of the poorest region in India and notorious for its rebels-turned-armed bandits. Sampat is a vigilante and activist fighting for the rights of women in the villages.

She was given in marriage to an ice-cream vendor at the tender age of 12. She bore her first child, a girl, at 15.

In 2006, responding to widespread domestic abuse and other violence against women, Sampat Pal Devi formed the Gulabi Gang (Hindi गुलाबी gulabī, “pink”), a group of Indian women vigilantes. Most Gulabi members dress in pink and carry laathis in their hand.

Despite being born into a traditional family and married off early, Sampat evolved into a charismatic leader who acts as judge and jury for girls and women who are being abused by outlawed patriarchal traditions and the caste system.

Sampat and her gang are constantly on the move fighting causes for the betterment of the community. They crusade against child marriages, dowry, and female illiteracy.

To demand their rights, the rebellious women gang submits petitions and verbally attacks corrupt officials, sneering policemen and complaisant bureaucrats. They visit abusive husbands and beat them up with laathis and warn them to stop abusing their wives in the future.

They usually travel by cart and tractor. At times, they undertake long journeys by bus and train, to fight for justice for women and dalits and other untouchable people.

In 2008, when her village was deprived of electricity because the officials of the department expected to extract bribes and sexual favours from the women, she and her stick-wielding Gulabi Gang stormed the premises of the electricity department, locked the concerned officials in a room until they cried for mercy. An hour after they left the premises, the power was on in their village.

In 2008, the group was reported to have 20,000 members as well as a chapter in Paris, France. Now, the Gulabi Gang has taken root in Banda, Mahoba, Chitrakot, Fatehpur, Farrukhabad, Kanpur, Allahabad, Etawah and Bijnore and has about 300,000 women members.

The Gulabi gang is the subject of the 2010 movie Pink Saris by Kim Longinotto as is the 2012 documentary Gulabi Gang by Nishtha Jain.

Initially, it was reported that the Bollywood film, Gulaab Gang, starring Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla as leads, is based on Sampat Pal’s life, but the director denied this, saying that he recognizes the work done by Sampat, but his movie is not based on her life.

Gulabi Gang's esrtwhile leader Sampat Pal (Source: indiatoday.intoday.in)

Gulabi Gang’s esrtwhile leader Sampat Pal (Source: indiatoday.intoday.in)

Now, the all-women Gulabi Gang is heading for a split as there is a tussle in leadership. On Sunday, March 2, 2014, six years after its inception, the group’s founder commander Sampat Pal Devi was dethroned by the Maharashtra based national convener of Gulabi gang Jayprakash Shivhare at a meeting in Banda following allegations of financial irregularities - “taking money for resolving the problems of poor and suffering women,” and “involvement in self promotion” at the cost of the organization’s mission.

The national convener of Gulabi Gang, Jayprakash Shivhare said:

“There is huge resentment in the organization against Pal. She had been playing in the hands of the Congress party… She had stopped holding meetings of the group and used to take decisions autocratically. She contested Assembly elections on
Congress ticket without taking any suggestion from other members of the group… Later, she decided to visit Rae Bareli along with other members and campaign in support of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and against Aam Aadmi Party.”

“She also went to TV reality show Bigg Boss without consulting the working committee of the group. She had gradually become extremely selfish and minting money at the cost of the organization… Removing her from all posts was the only option left with us. Since she has been defying decisions of the group, it was decided that she would no longer be its primary member.”

Suman Singh Chauhan, commander of Mahoba unit has been appointed as interim commander of the group and a seven-member committee has been constituted to run the organization as of now. A meeting of the group has been convened on March 23 to elect a full-time commander.

However, Sampat Pal Devi, asserted her authority saying she was still the leader of the Gulabi Gang.

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February 1: World Hijab Day


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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World Hijab Day - 2

Today, February 1, 2014 is “World Hijab Day”

More than 50 countries of the world celebrated “World Hijab Day” on February 1, 2013.

A New Yorker Nazma Khan born in Bangladesh founded the World Hijab Day. It was organized almost solely over social networking sites. Muslims and non-Muslims in more than 50 countries across the world have been attracted by it.

Nazma Khan came to the United States from Bangladesh at the age of 11. She was the only person in her Bronx school to wear the Hijab, the traditional Islamic veil or scarf that is worn by many post-pubescent Muslim women to cover the head and chest.

Her classmates and schoolmates ridiculed her for wearing the Hijab and called her names. They tormented her throughout her time in the middle school and high school for wearing the Hijab. She suffered many hardships when she entered City College of New York, especially after the four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda in New York City and the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. At that time, some New Yorkers wary of Muslims made her a target for ridicule and suspicion.

Nazma said: “I was made to feel like a criminal, as if I was responsible for 9/11 and owed an apology to everyone.”

However, Nazma, true to her religious beliefs, steadfastly wore the Hijab, shrugging off the rancorous comments and venomous stares.

Nazma Khan (Source: language.chinadaily.com.cn)

Nazma Khan (Source: language.chinadaily.com.cn)

She launched the website worldhijabday.com on January 21, 2013 with the mission to make non-Muslims understand the virtues of wearing the Hijab, the traditional Islamic headscarf.

Through her website, Nazma Khan has gained many Muslim and non-Muslim friends. Many of her Muslim followers are immigrants themselves, and have all experienced similar pains like her. Nazma has inspired many Muslim students to wear the Hijab.

World Hijab Day

In a message, she appealed to women across the world to wear the Hijab for just one day on February 1, 2013, to support the personal freedom to wear clothing of one’s own choice.

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I have listed and described the names of some common clothing worn by the Muslim women – from the least to the most conservative such as the Hijab, Khimar, Shayla, Abaya, Chador, Niqab, Yashmak, and Burqa, in my post titled, “A Muslim Woman’s Veil.

Jess Rhodes, 21, a student from Norwich in the UK with and without her Hijab (Source: bbc.co.uk)

Jess Rhodes, 21, a student from Norwich in the UK with and without her Hijab (Source: bbc.co.uk)

Even though there is no basis for celebrating World Hijab Day, Muslims in more than 50 countries of the world celebrated the day on February 1, 2013. However, there are detractors too among Muslims who are against celebrating the so-called World Hijab Day. Umm Ibrahim (https://www.facebook.com/umm.ibrahim.56) living in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, vehemently says:

✦ Please know there is no BASIS for Hijab Day, Mother’s Day, etc etc. Neither the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) nor his sahabah and none from the pious predecessors ever celebrated such stuff! Our scholars have warned us clearly against innovated festivals/occasions. Muslims should avoid initiating or encouraging innovated occasions in imitation to those of the kuffar, such as Mothers’s Day, the day of the Earth, etc!

✦ DAWAH starts with TAWHEED not HIJAB! Hadith of Mu’adh, when Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) sent him to Yemen, he said, “O Mu’adh, you aer going to a nation from the People of the Book, so let the first thing to which you will invite them, be the TAWHEED OF ALLAH.” (Saheeh Bukhari (book 93, no 469)

✦ This is making fun of Hijab by asking support of non-muslims to wear for a day! Allah alone is sufficient for us. More reward for sisters who are struggling more to continue their hijab in west! IF possible, migrate from their lands which ban/mock Islam. Otherwise, just stay firm and be sincere and ask Allah to help. We know many sisters who wear Niqab in the West, Alhamdulillah! So, in future do we expect World NIQAB DAY, too?

✦ Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), who said: “I urge you to adhere to my way (Sunnah) and the way of the rightly-guided successors (al-khulafa’ al-raashidoon) who come after me. Hold fast to it and bite onto it with your eyeteeth [i.e., cling firmly to it], and beware of newly-invented matters.”

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Cleavage! What’s in It?


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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English: Cleavage of a woman holding documents...

Cleavage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If the man gaping at a woman’s cleavage is handsome, she will coyly say: “He is audacious!,” if not she would retort: “He is a pervert!”

If the woman with an eyeful cleavage pays attention to a man, he will chuckle and say: “She is sexy!,” if not he would riposte: “She is a whore!”

Cleavage, anatomically known as the intermammary cleft or the intermammary sulcus, is the space between a woman’s breasts lying over the sternum.

From time immemorial, women’s breasts are synonymous with feminineness. Invariably, well-endowed women often use cleavage to physically attract and sexually lure others (mainly men). They accentuate their cleavage by wearing garments with low necklines, alluring evening attire, flimsy lingerie and revealing swimwear. Thus, they find sadistic pleasure in kindling jealousy in other less-endowed women.

Midhuna Waliya in Transparent Saree (Source: zimbio.com)

Most men derive erotic pleasure when their female companions display their cleavage with aesthetic effect. However, a few envious men, mainly companions of slim flat-chested women, resort to branding the copious women as flirts and seductresses.

Bartholomeus van der Helst. Anna du Pire as Granida. 1660. Oil on canvas, 70 x 58 cm. National Gallery, Prague.

In western societies, opinions differ about how much cleavage exposure is acceptable in public. In many cases, though displaying cleavage is permissible, it may be prohibited by dress codes set by churches, schools, and workplaces, where flagrant exposure of any part of the female breast might be considered inappropriate, and a woman who dares to show her nipples or areolae is almost always considered immodest, lewd, and indecent.

When it comes to cleavages, former British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, former US Senator Hillary Clinton, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vera Lengsfeld, the Conservative Christian Democratic Union candidate for Berlin’s Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district gained attention on the international political front for wearing low-cut blouses revealing just the slightest hint of cleavage.

Former British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith

Revealing: Jacqui Smith in the Commons (Source: dailymail.co.uk)

Jacqui Smith, a member of the British Labour Party was appointed Home Secretary in Gordon Brown’s first Cabinet reshuffle of June 28, 2007. Just one day into her new job bombs were found in London and a terrorist attack took place in Glasgow the following day.

Jacqui Smith drew attention for wearing a revealing black top under her tightly fitting white jacket. It caused a stir as other MPs struggled to concentrate on the security threat under discussion.

Her attire prompted the House of Commons wags to wisecrack as “Weapons of mass distraction.”

 Former US Senator Hillary Clinton

On July 20, 2007, Washington Post published an article written by Pulitzer Prize winner Robin Givhan in its Fashion section titled “Hillary Clinton’s Tentative Dip Into New Neckline Territory.” Givhan wrote:

There was cleavage on display Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2. It belonged to Sen. Hillary Clinton.

She was talking on the Senate floor about the burdensome cost of higher education. She was wearing a rose-colored blazer over a black top. The neckline sat low on her chest and had a subtle V-shape. The cleavage registered after only a quick glance. No scrunch-faced scrutiny was necessary. There wasn’t an unseemly amount of cleavage showing, but there it was. Undeniable.

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The Washington Post’s editorial writer, Ruth Marcus, criticized Robin Givhan’s article. She wrote that Robin Givhan “dissected” Hillary Clinton “for showing cleavage.” Marcus added, “Might I suggest that sometimes a V-neck top is only a V-neck top? As a person of cleavage, I’d guess that Clinton’s low-cut shirt simply reflected a few centimeters of sartorial miscalculation, not a deliberate Fashion statement.”

Another Washington Post columnist, Dana Milbank, also seemed to distance himself from the Givhan article during a July 26 appearance on MSNBC News Live.

 German Chancellor Angela Merkel 

Don’t look down: Angela Merkel with Mr Stoltenberg on April 12, 2008 (Source: dailymail.co.uk)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wore a glamorous and impressive blue décolletage with a blue bolero shawl designed by Anna von Griesham while chatting with Jens Stoltenberg, prime minister of Norway, at the opening of the Olso Opera House on April 12, 2008. Mr Stoltenberg maintained crucial, and diplomatic, eye contact with his guest at the inauguration of the cultural landmark.

On April 14, 2008, Gawker, a media gossip website published a page titled “German Chancellor Angela Merkel not Afraid to Show Her Breastesses” written by Shea. The writer wrote:

“For my upcoming vacation in Germany, I decided to study up on some of its elected leaders. What was discovered about Chancellor Angela Merkel? She’s not afraid to show a little cleavage during a night out at the Opera! Click for it… if you dare.

Gawker welcomed commentators to make light of the German leader’s outfit with quips ranging from the flippant: “Deutschland boober alles” to the politically slanted: “Imagine. A female head of state okay with being a woman.

This photo of Chancellor Angela Merkel provided enough fodder for the media around the world. The media focused on the German leader’s appearance. Unflattering photos of the chancellor wearing a peach-colored dress with sweat stains under her arms at the 2005 Bayreuth festival were widely circulated. In 2006, the British tabloid

"I'm Big in the Bumdestag"

“I’M BIG IN THE BUMDESTAG”

The Sun published photos of Merkel changing into a bathing suit while on vacation in Italy, giving its article the headline “I’M BIG IN THE BUMDESTAG,” in a reference to the Bundestag, home of the German federal parliament. The article and photos solicited an indignant response from a number of German publications, which felt the country’s leader deserved more respect.

Vera Lengsfeld

An election campaign poster for the 2009 general election with the words ‘ We have more to offer’ shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Vera Lengsfeld (Photo: REUTERS)

During a tough political campaign for the 2009 general election, Vera Lengsfeld (61), the Conservative Christian Democratic Union candidate for Berlin’s Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district, used pictures of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and herself in low-cut dresses. To draw attention to serious election issues she put up 750 provocative campaign posters accompanied by the slogan “Wir haben mehr zu bieten” (“We Have More to Offer”).  Lengsfield bought the rights to use the picture of Merkel but did not seek the Chancellor’s permission. However, the posters had a positive impact.

To her critics Lengsfield said: “It is ridiculous to suggest that I am being sexist or antifeminist. I am a woman and I am proud of that.”

A mother breast-feeding her baby by sculptor Aryanad Rajendran conveys the message of love.

A mother breastfeeding her baby by sculptor Aryanad Rajendran conveys the message of love.

It is said that a child’s fascination with breasts starts from the moment it is breastfed as a baby. The odor of milk emanating from a mother’s breast draws her infant towards her. The basic instinct in any living being is to seek safety from the  surrounding environment. Hence, the child too finds comfort by nestling on its mother’s breasts. It finds not only nourishment while suckling the mother’s breast, but also the mother’s unconditional love.

If this assumption is true, then what about the children who were not breastfed?

Many bottle-fed children, especially those whose mothers were buxom are just as fascinated with breasts as those who were breast-fed.

When children, whether breastfed or bottle-fed grow up the embedded image on their brain of their mother’s breast surfaces sporadically as sexual fantasies. They eye women with large breasts and quite often become obsessed with them.

Women, whether breastfed or bottle-fed, do not react the same way as men because breasts naturally grow on their own in women. However, studies show that breastfed women have a healthier opinion of their own breasts in their adulthood.

Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, smok...

Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sigmund Freud, a firm supporter of the nature argument, believed that sexual drives are instinctive. He viewed sexuality as the central source of human personality. He said that a child’s first erotic object is the mother’s breast.

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Imagine Finding Me: Photographer Chino Otsuka Meets Herself as a Child


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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“The digital process becomes a tool, almost like a time machine, as I’m embarking on the journey to where I once belonged and at the same time becoming a tourist in my own history.” – Chino Otsuka 

In today’s globalized world, each one of us yearn for a personal identity. Self-portrait in photography is one of the means to meet that goal.

Memoriography

A photographic exhibition titled “Memoriography” was run throughout the British Library from October 2 to December 30, 2008. It displayed works of Chino Otsuka, a London-based Japanese photographer. The exhibition was a sensory experience that encouraged visitors to relate their own memories with hers.

In 1982, at age 10, Chino Otsuka moved from Japan to the United Kingdom. She left the strict traditional Japanese school system for Summerhill School in Suffolk, England. There, for the first two years, she attended no lessons at all. When she left the school she had certificates in English, Chemistry and Photography. She studied photography at the University of Westminster. She received a post-graduate degree in Fine Art Photography from the Royal College of Art.

She has exhibited her work in the UK, Europe and Asia. She had a major solo show at Huis Marseille Museum for Photography, Amsterdam.

Chino Otsuka’s adolescent experience in the new country – its people, language and customs – shaped her writing. She has published four books in Japan. Her first autobiography published at the age of 15 was much acclaimed.

Imagine Finding Me

Chino Otsuka uses photography and video, to explore the seamless relationship between time and lingering memory.

Chino Otsuka wondered what it might be like to meet herself as a child. Her series “Imagine Finding Me” consists of twelve digitally manipulated composite double self-portraits of her present and past selves. She visits her younger self by digitally amalgamating recent photographs of herself, taken in 2005 and 2009, with photographs of her journeys with her parents when she was a child. This evokes a subtle and wistful realization of transience of time.

Her choice of transitional objects such as parks, bridges, vacation spots, hotels, trains, etc., was deliberate. She says:

“things are not quite past or present, or somewhere in between… that has reflected from my upbringing, where I’m neither here nor there, and I’m not really Japanese or English.”

The series “Imagine Finding Me” has become her most exhibited work shown over 14 countries.

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