Igo’s chatacter in Othello (Shakepeare)

December 31, 2013 at 3:48 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Describe Iago as a monster of villainy.

A Complex Villain

Iago is the villain who spices up ‘Othello’ with his intrigue and wheeling and dealing. He is the most sophisticated and complex of Shakespeare’s villains. Many critics have tried explain Iago’s wickedness and his penchant for back door deals. He himself suggests a number of motives that made him to bring about his destruction of Othello and Desdemona.

Coleridge delved into this matter in detail and came to the conclusion that Iago’s villainy is motiveless. It is motiveless malignity. It seems clear that Shakespeare sought to create a perfidious character merely as a counterbalance to the moral and ethical aura attributed to Desdemona. Iago’s lies are so ingenuously crafted that few doubt them, and there is some truth in his evaluation of experience, but he befools everybody. Yet his lies are, nonetheless, vide and hideous.

An intellectual Giant

In intellect, Iago towers over all his compatriots. He has an agile heart, but a heart made of stone. He is guided by his sharp intellect and not by emotions. When he talks to himself, he discloses a unique gift of reasoning. His intrigues are meticulously worked out. He uses all as his mental faculties to cover up his tracks. This is why no one sees through his wicked actions. Owing to his superior intellectual acumen, he is able to pull the wool over the eyes of Othello, Cassio and others. Despite his fiendish traits, he wins a place in everyone’s heart as the “honest” Iago.

A Cynic

Cynicism is the hallmark of his reading of life. He looks at everyone around him with disguised contempt. He regards Roderigo as a simpleton, a “trash” and a fool, with whom he has dealings only for his own “sport and profit”. Towards Cassio, he is more dismissive. He calls Cassio a “bookish theoric”, an “arithmetician”, an ignorant “counter-caster”.

Even Desdemona does not escape his criticism. He terms her “Blessed fig’s-end. The wine she drinks is made of grapes. Iago feels that she carries a curse for which she had to tie the nuptial knot with Othello, the Moor. Iago has scant regard for righteousness or the goodness of virtue. He sees little value in ‘reputation’, which he thinks is a dispensable and false imposition. He considers love as “merely a lust of the blood and permission of the will”.

His attitude towards the fair sex reveals a somewhat misogynous mindset. is a critic of the fair sex. Here are his comments on womankind in general:
You are pictures out of door
Bells in your parlous, wild cats in your kitchens.
Saints in your injuries, devils being offended,
Players in your housewifery, and housewives in your beds.

Cruel and Heartless

No doubt, Iago is gifted with great intellect, but he has a heart of stone. There is not even an iota of compassion and forgiveness in it. His psyche is blackened by evil. He has no remorse in planning the destruction of Desdemona and Cassio, who certainly have committed no sin grave enough to be murdered. He makes little effort to conceal his glee is when Othello lies unconscious at his feet seething in insufferable pain.
Moral scruple and the sense of guilt are alien to his character. It is he alone who remains unmoved and stoic at the tragic end of Desdemona. He remains composed and unruffled like the graveyard stones.

An Artist in Villainy

This is why, he has been aptly called “an artist in villainy”. With morbid zeal, he executes his plan to smother his victims, who unfortunately incurred his wrath. He is the epitome of evil and hideousness. He stalks the other characters of the play casting his evil spell on those unsuspecting figures.
Iago is a unapologetic hypocrite. He boasts about the way he camouflages his wicked interior with a pleasant exterior. He endears himself to his victims by showing interest in their affairs as a well-meaning benign friend. He generously gives his wise counsel to his friends during their hard times. His words are couched with sincerity and softness. Like the Devil, he shrouds himself as a saint before his unsuspecting victims. He does this with such aplomb that none can discover the devil in him. To his friends, he is the “honest, honest Iago”, not a Satan.

His Motives

The first motive that Iago justifies his disloyalty to Othello is the fact that he was superseded for the post of lieutenant. Cassio snatched away his job. Iago is superbly confident of his own abilities ‘I know my price, I am worth no worse a place’, but he pours scorn over the abilities and integrity of others. It is evident that Iago is envious of Cassio, “He has a daily beauty in his life, / That makes me ugly”, but he is equally critical of Othello’s judgement, for having opted for the comparatively inexperienced Cassio instead of him.

The Real Reason: Will to Power

Iago resorted to wicked deeds because wickedness was ingrained in him. With little scruple, he utilized this devilish ability to further his own interests. He loved power and could go to any length to usurp it. He is vainglorious and superbly confident of his abilities. He sees himself as the miserable wronged person, whose merit the world has chosen to ignore. This sense of injustice drives him to be vengeful against those who have slighted him. He looks down upon others with dismissively. He feels he can use his sharp intellect to destroy those who have heaped humiliation on him. and by his superior intellectual power he seeks to destroy others and gain his end.

Conclusion

He remains unchanged, unreformed and unrepentant till the curtains fall. With phlegmatic temper, he decides to keep mum, thus not admitting his nefarious deeds. He is taken out to be tortured. His plots are revealed but he stubbornly refuses to explain them. The torture he has to endure is poetic justice for him.

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Read about Desdemona in the next post.

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FIGURES OF SPEECH

December 29, 2013 at 10:58 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Figures of Speech, Simile, Metaphor, Hyperbole, Oxymoron, Metonymy, Synecdoche, Hyperbole, Pun Exclamation, Interrogation, Climax, Anticlimax

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Figures of Speech ..

Introduction .. If we write English using words to describe objects, feelings, situations etc. using precise and the most befitting word, our writing, both in prose and poetry form, will appear drab, monotonous and uninteresting.

Example .. 1. Seeing the approaching bull, the small boy ran very fast to escape the danger.
Compare this with …
Seeing the approaching bull, the child ran for his life.

2. The girl was jilted by her lover. She went to her mother and described in detail how hurt and sad she was.
Compare this with …
The girl was jilted by her lover. She poured her heart out to her mother.
If you examine both cases, you will see that the second versions are shorter, more expressive and more pleasant to the reader.

Such use of words, phrases, idioms etc. involving completely different words are known as ‘Figures of Speech’.

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Definition .. A Figure of Speech is a departure from the ordinary form of expression, or the ordinary course of ideas in order to produce a greater effect.

Classification of Figures of Speech .. Figures of Speech is classified as under.
a. Those based on Resemblance —- Such as Simile, Metaphor, Personification and Apostrophe,
b. Those based on Contrast —- Such as Antithesis and Epigram
c. Those based on Association –Such as Metonym and Synecdoche
d. Those depending on Construction – Such as Climax and Anticlimax
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Examples

Simile … In Simile, a comparison is made between two objects of different kinds which have at least one point in common.

The Simile is usually introduced by such words as little, as or so.
Example ..
a. Arvind Kejriwal has barged into the citadel of power in Delhi like a storm.
b. After rumours of large frauds spread, the bank collapsed like a pack of cards.
c. The news of the death of her husband struck her like a lightening.
d. Leaders of the Congress Party think uttering a word against Rahul Gandhi is like desecrating the Ganges.
e. For Arvind Kejriwal, being the chef minister of Delhi is not going to be like a bed of roses.
f. For centuries to come, Tendulkar will shine in the world of cricket as a star in the night sky.
g. The news of his losing the job struck him like a bolt from the blue.

Metaphor … A metaphor is an implied Simile. I does not, like the Simile, say that one thing is like another, or acts as another, but takes that for granted and proceeds as if the two things were one.
Example ..
a. In a traditional Hindu family, the father is the lord of the house.
b. The Controller and Auditor General of India (CAG) is the watchdog of the country’s finance.
c. For the ailing Sadhu, a sip of the Ganges water, was a nectar of life. He recovered soon after drinking it.
d. The Constitution of India is the skeleton of the country’s political system.
e. This highway is the lifeline of the valley surrounded by hills on all sides.
f. Corruption is the cancer that weakens India.

Personification .. In Personification, inanimate objects and abstract notions are spoken of as having life and intelligence.
ExampleS ..
a. The dark cloud of corruption and loot looms large over the Indian sky.
b. The brook danced down the mountain slopes making a continuous sound.
c. The fire of the enemy guns pounded our hearts throughout the night.
d. The moon smiled as the lover kissed the girl.
e. The river twisted and turned for hundreds of miles before discharging itself into the sea.
f. The inferno swallowed apartment after apartment, shops after shops till it reached the city mayor’s residence, for which it had reserved its maximum vengeance.
f. The majestic Konark temple lies in ruins, but it sings the glory of the master artisans and craftsmen who built it centuries ago.

Apostrophe … An apostrophe is a direct address to the dead, to the absent, or to a personified object or an idea.

Example …
a. ‘Mother India! give me strength, ideas and inspiration to serve you with my sweat and blood,’ prayed the RSS worker.
b. ‘Oh, death! give me a few more years to go on a voyage and accomplish something more,’ beseeched Ulysses.
c. ‘Bapu, you should be living at this hour,’ prayed a Gandhian AAP worker after the Delhi election results were out.
d. O Solitude! Where are the charms
that sages have seen in thy face?

Hyperbole .. In this style, one exaggeration is followed by another bigger exaggeration.

Examples ..

a. Oh dear, your demise has left me alone in this whole world, like the lonely star in the dawn sky.
b. The lover’s taunt pierced her heart like an arrow and pounded her mind like a hundred hammers.
c. Oh, Guru, your sermons has soothed my broken heart and lighted my mind with the blaze of a thousand suns.

Euphemism … Here an unpleasant thing is described by softer, more agreeable word.
a. He took me for a ride. (He cheated me.)
b. After the meeting, my boss showed me the door. (He threw me out.)
c. The chickens are coming home to roost. (Time has come when you will suffer for your misdeeds of the past.
d. The investment consultant led some investors up the garden path by his clever talk. (He deceived the investors through clever talk.)

Antithesis .. … In this style strikingly opposite words or sentiments are made in the same sentence to emphasize an idea.
Examples …
a. Arvind’s victory is a small step for the fledgling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), but a giant step for India’s democracy.
b. It is never too soon; It is never too late.
c. Love is a real thing, mirage is a real thing. (Goethe)
d. To err is human, to forgive, divine. (Alexander Pope)
e. Patience is bitter, but it has a sweet fruit.

Oxymoron .. In this style, two opposite words are used to emphasize the same sense.

Example …
a. After the chairman’s speech, there was a deafening silence.
b. It is an open secret that politicians are involved with the mafia.
c. My friend has an awfully pretty dog that helps to keep his moron wife happy.
d. His comment was so clearly opaque.

Epigram … An Epigram is a brief pointed saying frequently introducing antithetical ideas which give rise to surprise and arrest attention.
Examples …
a. Where angels fear to tread, fools rush in.
b. Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.
c. The situation must get worse before it gets better.
d. It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

Irony .. It is a style where the sense is just the opposite of what is stated.
Example …
a. His speech was as exciting as cow dung.
b. He roared like a cat and fought like mouse.
c. The robbers have enriched our understanding of crime.
d. The speaker floored me with his high praise.

Pun … A Pun consists in the use ofa word in such a way that it is capable of more than one application, the object being to produce a ludicrous effect.
Example ..
a. An ambassador is an honest man who lies abroad for the good of his country.
b. A red rose is a token of love that pricks if not handled properly.
c. A wife is your companion who reduces your grief by half and increases your suffering by double.
d. The maths teacher was an exponent of his own powers.
e. Without geometry, life is pointless.

Metonymy … In Metonymy (literally, a change of name), an object is designated by the name of something which is generally associated with it.

Example .. a. The M.P was pulled up for showing disrespect to the Chair (Speaker, who sits on an ornamental chair)
b. The literary genius was decorated by the Crown. (honoured by the King who wears the crown)
c. Each of the senior officers of the army dreamed to hold the baton one day. (to be promoted to the highest post of Field Marshall who customarily holds a baton)
d. The fugitive returned home to be able to see his ailing Love, but was trapped by the sleuths just when he was steps away from her. (‘Love’ means the woman he loved.

Synecdoche .. In Synecdoche, a part is used to designate the whole or the whole to designate a part.

Example …
a. President Obama’s plans to put more boots in Afghanistan did not work. (It means more soldiers.)
b. All automobile mechanics are first taught about the nuts and bolts of a internal combustion engine in a theory class.
c. To be able to understand the voluminous report, you have to read the fine print.
d. The victory of AAP has forced the brains of BJP and Congress to re-think their election strategy.

Transferred epithet .. In this style, an epithet is transferred from its proper word to another that is closely associated with it in the sentence.

Example …
a. The boy magician showed a trick at which the audience looked with wide-eyed amazement.
b. He spent a sleep-less night in his first day in the school.
c. A cringing sycophant presented an obsequious cup of coffee to the politician and waited outside the room to remove the cup and plate after his lord finished drinking it.
d. The senior politician gave a deferential nod when Rahul Gandhi asked him to accompany him for the tour.

Litotes … In Litotes, an affirmative is conveyed by negation of the opposite, the effort being to suggest a strong expression by means of a weaker. It is the opposite of Hyperbole.
Example …
a. Arvind Kejriwal has done no less sacrifice than Anna Hazare.
b. I am no novice to not see through your sales talk.
c. I am not a little surprised to see Congress and the BJP attacking AAP with equal venom.

Interrogation … Interrogation is the asking of a question, not for getting an answer, but to put across a point more forcefully.
Examples ..
a. The boy asked his mother, “Mummy, don’t you feel I deserve a cake for doing so well in the examination?”
b. The angry M.P asked, “Minister, isn’t it time for you to resign?”
c. Ulysses wondered, “Should I not go on another adventure? Wasting away is so degrading.”

Exclamation .. In this style, an exclamation is used to accentuate the sense of the sentence.
Example …
a. Oh, Taj, how marvelous you look under moonlight!
b. God, how magnanimous you are!
c. Oh, my countrymen, how much you suffer due to corruption.

Climax … Climax is the arrangement of a series of ideas in the order
Example …
a. The wounded soldier lay there sick, shivering and shrieking.
b. The man emerged from the prison, triumphantly, with his head held high in pride.

Anticlimax
It is the opposite of ‘climax’ as a sudden descent from higher to lower. It is used for site and ridicule.
Example ….
a. After the no confidence motion was passed, the leader emerged from the parliament house, despondent, ashamed and in tears.
b. After the Tsunami, he lost his young wife, his motorcycle and his T-shirt.
c. The commander set out to launch a new campaign, to avenge his defeat and to recover his lost pet.

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Stay-ahead-in-English 29 — The many uses of ‘gnaw’.

December 21, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Stay-ahead-in-English 29 — The many uses of ‘gnaw’.
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Stay -ahead-in-English 29 … The many uses of ‘gnaw
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How to use the word ‘gnaw’ for many different purposes ……

See how the captain of a ship used this word in his diary to record his depressing feeelings.

Extracts of the diary …

The sea is unusually choppy today. A huge blanket of fog has shrouded the sea. I feel gloomy. Clara is sick. I understand she has been admitted to hospital again. When will she get relief from her spinal pain? How long more will she suffer? She developed this ailment soon after Ted arrived. Now Ted is five.

But, when will Clara get her deliverance from this pain. This disease is gnawing at her frail body. She is unable to do the household chores. How lonely she must be feeling in her hospital bed!

Continue to read this post for free on writetoscore.com and see how the captain uses the word “gnaw” to describe the situation.

 

Comprehension exercises for school and college students —— Story by Guy de Moupassant

December 19, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Comprehension exercises for school and college students —— Story by Guy de Moupassant
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Read the following story and answer the short questions given at the end. ——
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FATHER MILON  by Guy de Moupassant

For a month the hot sun has been parching the fields. Nature is expanding beneath its rays; the fields are green as far as the eye can see. The big azure dome of the sky is unclouded. The farms of Normandy, scattered over the plains and surrounded by a belt of tall beeches, look, from a distance, like little woods. On closer view, after lowering the worm-eaten wooden bars, you imagine yourself in an immense garden, for all the ancient apple-trees, as gnarled as the peasants themselves, are in bloom. The sweet scent of their blossoms mingles with the heavy smell of the earth and the penetrating odor of the stables. It is noon. The family is eating under the shade of a pear tree planted in front of the door; father, mother, the four children, and the help—two women and three men are all there. All are silent. The soup is eaten and then a dish of potatoes fried with bacon is brought on.
From time to time one of the women gets up and takes a pitcher down to the cellar to fetch more cider.

The man, a big fellow about forty years old, is watching a grape vine, still bare, which is winding and twisting like a snake along the side of the house

At last he says: “Father’s vine is budding early this year. Perhaps we may get something from it.”

The woman then turns round and looks, without saying a word.
This vine is planted on the spot where their father had been shot.

It was during the war of 1870. The Prussians were occupying the whole country. General Faidherbe, with the Northern Division of the army, was opposing them.

The Prussians had established their headquarters at this farm. The old farmer to whom it belonged, Father Pierre Milon, had received and quartered them to the best of his ability.

For a month the German vanguard had been in this village. The French remained motionless, ten leagues away; and yet, every night, some of the Uhlans disappeared.

Of all the isolated scouts, of all those who were sent to the outposts, in groups of not more than three, not one ever returned.

They were picked up the next morning in a field or in a ditch. Even their horses were found along the roads with their throats cut.

These murders seemed to be done by the same men, who could never be found.

The country was terrorized. Farmers were shot on suspicion, women were imprisoned; children were frightened in order to try and obtain information. Nothing could be ascertained.

But, one morning, Father Milon was found stretched out in the barn, with a sword gash across his face.

Two Uhlans were found dead about a mile and a half from the farm. One of them was still holding his bloody sword in his hand. He had fought, tried to defend himself. A court-martial was immediately held in the open air, in front of the farm. The old man was brought before it.

He was sixty-eight years old, small, thin, bent, with two big hands resembling the claws of a crab. His colorless hair was sparse and thin, like the down of a young duck, allowing patches of his scalp to be seen. The brown and wrinkled skin of his neck showed big veins which disappeared behind his jaws and came out again at the temples. He had the reputation of being miserly and hard to deal with.

They stood him up between four soldiers, in front of the kitchen table, which had been dragged outside. Five officers and the colonel seated themselves opposite him.

The colonel spoke in French:
“Father Milon, since we have been here we have only had praise for you. You have always been obliging and even attentive to us. But to-day a terrible accusation is hanging over you, and you must clear the matter up. How did you receive that wound on your face?”

The peasant answered nothing.
The colonel continued:
“Your silence accuses you, Father Milon. But I want you to answer me! Do you understand? Do you know who killed the two Uhlans who were found this morning near Calvaire?”
The old man answered clearly
“I did.

The colonel, surprised, was silent for a minute, looking straight at the prisoner. Father Milon stood impassive, with the stupid look of the peasant, his eyes lowered as though he were talking to the priest. Just one thing betrayed an uneasy mind; he was continually swallowing his saliva, with a visible effort, as though his throat were terribly contracted.

The man’s family, his son Jean, his daughter-in-law and his two grandchildren were standing a few feet behind him, bewildered and affrighted.

The colonel went on:
“Do you also know who killed all the scouts who have been found dead, for a month, throughout the country, every morning?”

The old man answered with the same stupid look:
“I did.”
“You killed them all?”
“Uh huh! I did.”
“You alone? All alone?”
“Uh huh!”
“Tell me how you did it.”

This time the man seemed moved; the necessity for talking any length of time annoyed him visibly. He stammered:
“I dunno! I simply did it.”

The colonel continued:
“I warn you that you will have to tell me everything. You might as well make up your mind right away. How did you begin?”

The man cast a troubled look toward his family, standing close behind him. He hesitated a minute longer, and then suddenly made up his mind to obey the order.

“I was coming home one night at about ten o’clock, the night after you got here. You and your soldiers had taken more than fifty ecus worth of forage from me, as well as a cow and two sheep. I said to myself: ‘As much as they take from you; just so much will you make them pay back.’ And then I had other things on my mind which I will tell you. Just then I noticed one of your soldiers who was smoking his pipe by the ditch behind the barn. I went and got my scythe and crept up slowly behind him, so that he couldn’t hear me. And I cut his head off with one single blow, just as I would a blade of grass, before he could say ‘Booh!’ If you should look at the bottom of the pond, you will find him tied up in a potato-sack, with a stone fastened to it.

“I got an idea. I took all his clothes, from his boots to his cap, and hid them away in the little wood behind the yard.”
The old man stopped. The officers remained speechless, looking at each other. The questioning began again, and this is what they learned.

Once this murder committed, the man had lived with this one thought: “Kill the Prussians!” He hated them with the blind, fierce hate of the greedy yet patriotic peasant. He had his idea, as he said. He waited several days.
He was allowed to go and come as he pleased, because he had shown himself so humble, submissive and obliging to the invaders. Each night he saw the outposts leave. One night he followed them, having heard the name of the village to which the men were going, and having learned the few words of German which he needed for his plan through associating with the soldiers.

He left through the back yard, slipped into the woods, found the dead man’s clothes and put them on. Then he began to crawl through the fields, following along the hedges in order to keep out of sight, listening to the slightest noises, as wary as a poacher.

As soon as he thought the time ripe, he approached the road and hid behind a bush. He waited for a while. Finally, toward midnight, he heard the sound of a galloping horse. The man put his ear to the ground in order to make sure that only one horseman was approaching, then he got ready.

An Uhlan came galloping along, carrying des patches. As he went, he was all eyes and ears. When he was only a few feet away, Father Milon dragged himself across the road, moaning: “Hilfe! Hilfe!” ( Help! Help!) The horseman stopped, and recognizing a German, he thought he was wounded and dismounted, coming nearer without any suspicion, and just as he was leaning over the unknown man, he received, in the pit of his stomach, a heavy thrust from the long curved blade of the sabre. He dropped without suffering pain, quivering only in the final throes. Then the farmer, radiant with the silent joy of an old peasant, got up again, and, for his own pleasure, cut the dead man’s throat. He then dragged the body to the ditch and threw it in.

The horse quietly awaited its master. Father Milon mounted him and started galloping across the plains.
About an hour later he noticed two more Uhlans who were returning home, side by side. He rode straight for them, once more crying “Hilfe! Hilfe!”

The Prussians, recognizing the uniform, let him approach without distrust. The old man passed between them like a cannon-ball, felling them both, one with his sabre and the other with a revolver.

Then he killed the horses, German horses! After that he quickly returned to the woods and hid one of the horses. He left his uniform there and again put on his old clothes; then going back into bed, he slept until morning.
For four days he did not go out, waiting for the inquest to be terminated; but on the fifth day he went out again and killed two more soldiers by the same stratagem. From that time on he did not stop. Each night he wandered about in search of adventure, killing Prussians, sometimes here and sometimes there, galloping through deserted fields, in the moonlight, a lost Uhlan, a hunter of men. Then, his task accomplished, leaving behind him the bodies lying along the roads, the old farmer would return and hide his horse and uniform.

He went, toward noon, to carry oats and water quietly to his mount, and he fed it well as he required from it a great amount of work.
But one of those whom he had attacked the night before, in defending himself slashed the old peasant across the face with his sabre.

However, he had killed them both. He had come back and hidden the horse and put on his ordinary clothes again; but as he reached home he began to feel faint, and had dragged himself as far as the stable, being unable to reach the house.

They had found him there, bleeding, on the straw.

When he had finished his tale, he suddenly lifted up his head and looked proudly at the Prussian officers.
The colonel, who was gnawing at his mustache, asked:
“You have nothing else to say?”
“Nothing more; I have finished my task; I killed sixteen, not one more or less.”
“Do you know that you are going to die?”

“I haven’t asked for mercy.”
“Have you been a soldier?”
“Yes, I served my time. And then, you had killed my father, who was a soldier of the first Emperor. And last month you killed my youngest son, Francois, near Evreux. I owed you one for that; I paid. We are quits.”
The officers were looking at each other.

The old man continued:
“Eight for my father, eight for the boy—we are quits. I did not seek any quarrel with you. I don’t know you. I don’t even know where you come from. And here you are, ordering me about in my home as though it were your own. I took my revenge upon the others. I’m not sorry.”

And, straightening up his bent back, the old man folded his arms in the attitude of a modest hero.
The Prussians talked in a low tone for a long time. One of them, a captain, who had also lost his son the previous month, was defending the poor wretch. Then the colonel arose and, approaching Father Milon, said in a low voice:
“Listen, old man, there is perhaps a way of saving your life, it is to—”

But the man was not listening, and, his eyes fixed on the hated officer, while the wind played with the downy hair on his head, he distorted his slashed face, giving it a truly terrible expression, and, swelling out his chest, he spat, as hard as he could, right in the Prussian’s face.

The colonel, furious, raised his hand, and for the second time the man spat in his face.
All the officers had jumped up and were shrieking orders at the same time.

In less than a minute the old man, still impassive, was pushed up against the wall and shot, looking smilingly the while toward Jean, his eldest son, his daughter-in-law and his two grandchildren, who witnessed this scene in dumb terror.
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Questions …
a. Why was Father Milton so vengeful towards his Prussian guests?
b. Which of the following words you can use while describing Father Milon?
Stoic, Defiant, Gutsy, Crafty, Wizard, Camouflage, Foolhardy, Muscular, Vengeful, Daredevil
Using these words, sketch the personality of Milon (15 lines)

———————-ANSWERS WILL BE POSTED ON DECEMBER 23, 2013———————————-

Imaginative writing exercise –Speech of a captain to his crew

December 17, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Imaginative writing exercise –Speech of a captain to his crew
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Speech of a captain to his crew aboard a ship which has been hijacked and taken control of by Somali pirates
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Dear friends,

Our ship m.v Augusta has been captured by the Somalis. We are under their control and at their mercy now. These pirates, who are in our ship’s engine room right now, have allowed me just five minutes to talk to you. After that we will be separated and locked elsewhere. So, let me hurriedly tell you some very important things.

1. They will not kill us, because they gain nothing by this. They want ransom money from our company based in Hong Kong. But, these guys are dangerous. If we annoy them by our conduct, they will pull the trigger. So, be discrete and careful when they speak to you.

2. Our ship is owned by Chinese and British nationals. So, we can expect these two governments to exert pressure on the pirates at some stage.

3. Most important — Never disclose what is there in the containers. These are very hi-tech spares for China’s nuclear power plants. There are some sensitive air force equipment meant for India in another container. Don’t let the pirates know this. If they get to know, they will raise their ransom which our company can not pay. Rest of the cargo is potato and onion. These are perishable items. In two or three months, these will rot. So, the pirates will hopefully try to close all their bargaining before that.

4. Now, let me tell you the most important thing. Don’t panic. Don’t give up hope. Put up a normal face. If we look nervous, the pirates will be emboldened to maltreat us.

Hide your anger. When they bring us food, thank them smilingly. Such behaviour will soften their attitude towards us. Stay away from liquor.

Always try to think that one day we will all be free. We will return to our families. Try to wait out this ordeal tenaciously. It may be over in weeks or it may last for a couple of years. We don’t know. So, be prepared for the worst.

Do your physical exercises daily. Say your prayers, and ask God to give you strength to survive this ordeal.

As your captain, I will always be there to shield you from these odious pirates. If needed, I will face their wrath at the cost of my life. Trust on me.

Bye

Precis writing for school and college students –Use of vocabulary

December 17, 2013 at 6:27 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Precis writing for school and college students –Use of vocabulary
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Précis writing – The smart way – Use your vocabulary

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In precis writing, we need to concise a text to one third its word count without omitting any of its main points or facts. You can leverage your vocabulary to great effect.

See some example ..

a.. My grand daughter had a bad day in the school. On reaching home, she came to me and narrated her woes with tears rolling down her cheeks. Unable to control her emotions, she cried out intermittently. [Words –36]

Concise form .. Returning home from school, my grand daughter sobbed out her troubles to me. [Words – 13]

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b. Mike had concluded that he would come last in the school short story contest. However, the examiners felt otherwise. Mike’s short story was adjudged the best among the forty one entries. He got the Governor’s Prize. His friends rushed to congratulate him for his feat. They all said how lucky Mike had been to win the prize. [Words –55]

Concise form .. Mike unexpectedly won the Governor’s Prize for short story writing beating 40 contenders. His friends gushed about his luck. [Words – 19]

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c. Raj Kapoor’s film Awara was received very enthusiastically by the Russian people. It was hugely applauded by both critics and the ordinary viewers wherever it was screened. [Word – 27]

Concise form – Raj Kapoor’s film Awara went down a storm in Russia. [Word count — 10]

See the meanings of ‘sob out’, ‘gush about’ and ‘go down a storm’ in the dictionary for better guidance.
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NCERT Class 9 – Clothing – A Social History

December 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on NCERT Class 9 – Clothing – A Social History
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NCERT –CBSE – Class 9 – Clothing: A social history
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Human race has evolved graduallyFrom the stone age to the space age.

From housing to farming to healthcare to travel to clothing; everything that the present human society uses with such ease and comfort has been improved through experiments, application of mind and enterprise.

Clothing the human use, from winter garments to Burqas to polo caps to sarees to Kimono to Dhotis to western suits, all have gone through a process of evolution and innovation. Today, in the globalized world, one sees myriad varieties of clothing people use. The variation is due to weather conditions, overhang of culture, economic status and religion. Just as all items—from medicines to safety razors to aeroplanes have a history behind them, clothing have a history of their own.

Apart from the purely functional needs, clothing represents our sense of fashion, aesthetic and beauty. The most eventful period in the history of clothing are the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is interesting to know why it is so.

Before the winds of democracy swept through Europe, and capitalist markets developed in eighteenth century Europe, people were rather too orthodox in their dresses. Mass-produced textiles and clothing had not entered the market. So, one could not experiment with clothes, even if one attempted to. Rigid feudal society was conformist giving little leeway for any sort of innovation in clothing.

So, people bought whatever was locally produced and sold. Weather, availability and cost determined people’s choice of clothes. This apart, every region had its dress codes. Men and women seldom violated these codes. Social hierarchy, economic status and political standing codified who would wear what.
In eighteenth century, such dress codes were decimated by three factors, such as

a. Industrialization

b. Spread of democratic ideas

c. Colonization of almost entire world by Europeans.

People became richer.

Textiles of far off lands begun to be available in markets. Impulses to look smarter and more beautiful became stronger. Democracy’s spread resulted in a churning of ideas and populations.

Medieval Europe had societies divided into different strata based on their political and economic clout. The affluent class, who wielded considerable power, were quite jealous mindful about retaining their elevated position in the social hierarchy. To do this, they had prescribed a ‘code of conduct’ regarding the way people of ‘lower’ classes should dress themselves. These were supported by actual laws. These set of laws were known as ‘Sumptuary laws’.

The lifestyles of the supposedly ‘inferior’ classes were regulated by these laws. Their dress, food and beverages, and recreation through hunting were rigidly controlled. Such oppressive and discriminatory practices remained in vogue from 1294 till the French Revolution in 1789.

The restrictions look farcical today, but the French society practiced it for a very very long time. The item of clothing a person could buy annually was restricted by certain numbers. Two factors – his income and his social rank — determined this. The material to be used for clothing was also regulated. The most expensive clothes made out of silk, fur, velvet and brocade were reserved for use by the royalty. It was considered a violation of law and an affront when a commoner dared to wear clothes meant for the aristocracy.

The French Revolution pulverized all these archaic barriers. To demonstrate their new-found freedom, members of the Jacobin clubs began to wear trousers that were loose and comfortable. It was in contrast to the traditional knee breeches’ worn by the aristocracy. These defiant groups called themselves sans culottes’ which translates to ‘without knee breeches’. From then on, men and women of France began to wear loose and comfortable dresses, casting aside the old regulated attires.

The colors –blue, white and red – became the flavor of the day as they represented nationalistic favour. Other symbols of the revolution such as the red cap of liberty, long trousers, and the revolutionary cockade pinned on to the hat became fashionable. Simplicity of clothing was adopted to express the idea of liberty.
It would be wrong to assume that the French Revolution put all citizens on the same flat ground. It ended the special tax breaks and other benefits of the privileged class. The royalty was gone for good.

However, the age-old stratification of the society did not vanish. Due to economic factors, a poor peasant could not afford the same food or clothing as his affluent neighbor. So, the entrenched practices with respect to food and clothing remained despite the fact that the archaic restrictive laws were abolished.
Life style changed bringing about some changes in clothing and food. However, different strata of society made use of the freedom differently. New trends in fashion and notions of practical utility evolved, but differently for different strata of society.

The changes manifested differently for the two sexes. Women in Victorian England were trained to be submissive, dutiful and loyal to their husbands. They were asked to weather pain, suffering and slights without any protest. On the other hand, men were conditioned to be aggressive, domineering, serious and chivalrous.
Such contrasting mindset of the two sexes was reflected in the style of their dresses. Girls wore tightly laced dresses with stays. The intent was to restrict the natural growth of their bodies, so that they stay small and subdued. As they grew up, the adolescent girls had to wear corsets. Girls with slimmer waists and smaller busts were considered beautiful. This notion of beauty dictated the design of their dresses.

How did women react to these norms?

Most women were conformists. Their idea of ideal womanhood was shaped by the grooming at home, the societal norms and the education at school. By the time they reached adolescence, these values were deeply ingrained in their psyche. They to were conditioned endure pain without a whimper, restrain the natural growth of the waist and the lower parts of their bodies by wearing corsets so that they looked slim. It was, no doubt, a very stifling ordeal, but all ‘nice’ girls willingly accepted it.

But, there were non-conformists too. With the advent of the nineteenth century, such subdued and submissive persona of women seemed to be on their way out.

By 1830, the women of England began to demand voting rights, at par with the men folks. The campaign for women’s suffrage gathered wind as many women and some men actively supported the cause.

Such assertiveness was evident in other areas too. Women wanted to do away with their traditional ‘restrictive’ clothing styles. Women magazines highlighted the debilitating effects of corsets and other restrictive devices on a woman’s long term health. Clamping down a woman’s body’s growth hampered blood circulation, cramped the muscles and weakened the spines. Medical opinion supported these assertions. Some women were so badly affected by the ‘conformist’ practices to restrict growth that they fainted frequently. The consequences of such pursuit of beauty were devastating.

The wind of change and change was blowing in all directions. It reached the eastern shores of America. Opinion against prevalent dress code became vociferous.

Women said their long skirts needlessly got sullied as they came in contact with the floor causing problems of hygiene. It was, thus, advisable to reduce its length. The skirts were too full of frills, looking farcically bulky and inconvenient.

Pruning such elaborate costumes of women would unshackle them, making them ready to move out of the confines of the home with ease. Then, they could take up gainful employment, earn wages and build an identity of their own.

Such demand for abandoning the traditional dress code and adopting a ‘functional’ clothing style found two very eminent supporters. They were Ms. Stanton of National Woman Suffrage Association and Ms. Lucy Stone of American Woman Suffrage Association. They demanded functional short dresses for women and a permanent burial of the dreaded corsets. The winds of change of women’s clothing blew strongly on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

The protagonists of reform ran into resistance from men and some women. They ridiculed the idea and were ready to adopt questionable means to subdue the reformists. ‘Women who took to shorter dresses abandoning the voluminous ones, lost their beauty and charm,’ claimed the conservatives. Unable to stand up to the pressure of the men, some women lost their reformist zeal and reverted to the old style.

As the nineteenth century drew to a close, the reformist movement had gained enough pace to be reversed. Perception of feminine beauty and grace were recast in a different mould. The society began to accept the newer, more functional attire of women. The reformists were clearly winning the battle. Values of an ideal woman were recalibrated and reset. It is interesting to re-examine the many pressures that facilitated such a momentous change.
The two World Wars brought on new demands on women to step out of their homes and join the work force. Apart from this, new varieties of textiles and new technology came into vogue making it possible for ‘smarter’ dresses for women to be produced in mass scale.

What are those new materials for clothing…..

Women’s dresses used to be made out of flax, linen or wool. This practice had continued till the beginning of the seventeenth century. Such textiles were heavy and difficult to clean.
The import of completely new types of textiles from India drastically changed the scenario. Indian textiles, known as the chintzes, were attractive, cheap and easier to use. The British took to these Indian goods with great liking.

Then came the Industrial Revolution. Many types of high-productivity machines were invented in England. Producing large quantities of cotton textiles with cotton imported from India became a viable commercial idea.

British merchants started to sell their ‘Made-in-England’ textiles all over the world, including India. By early twentieth century, artificial fibers were invented. These made textiles cheaper, easier to clean and accessible to as many people as possible.

In the 1870s, the tight under garments that were once mandatory for western women became passé. A horrible saga in women’s clothing thus ended once and for all.

By 1914, women’s clothes hung till the ankles. However, it became shorter and shorter in the coming years to reach mid-calf.

Why this change?

The War

The two world wars upended many of the social practices that existed in Europe. Women’s clothing was one of these.
The grim situation in the war front and the heavy sacrifices people, in general, made wearing jewelry and ostentatious apparel incongruous with the mood of the society.

There was shortage of workers as a great many able-bodied men were dispatched to the battlefront. Women had to step out of their homes to do the jobs that supported essential services and met battlefront demands like — telephone operators, tailors, clerks, medical staff, drivers, teachers and factory workers. For these roles, the dress had to smart, short and devoid of grills.

By 1917, at the height of the First World War (1914-18), Britain’s ordnance factories employed 70, 000 women in their rolls. They were asked to wear uniforms consisting of trouser and blouse and a scarf. Later, this outfit was replaced by khaki overalls and caps. Glamorous dresses, flashy styles fell out of fashion, in tune with the somber mood of the nation. Women found having shorter hair was more convenient as the time available for make-up became shorter and shorter. Trousers for women gave them the required mobility and freedom to shuffle their legs in the work place.

By twentieth century, working women professionals felt wearing simple and staid costumes befitting to the dignity and seriousness of their jobs. Children in schools were taught the value of frugality and austerity in clothing. Ornamental costumes were disapproved of. Girl children were encouraged to take to games and athletics at par with the boys. So, as a matter of necessity, they gave them the privacy and allowed them free movement of limbs. The demands of the work place were also similar.

So we can conclude that dresses kept pace with the mood and state of the society. When life was lazy and indulgent, women’s beauty and grace were paramount. When the mood became dire, practical utility of the fairer sex came to the fore. The transition was punctuated by bitter fights between the reformists and the conservatives. The role of technology and the expanding economy in hastening such transition makes interesting reading.

Transformations in Colonial India

In colonial India, attitudes to clothing were influenced by the domineering presence of the British. The British men and women wore clothes that were radically different from that of their subjects.

Many Indians, particularly men, adopted western dresses quite enthusiastically thinking that dressing like the masters elevated their status. There were other nationalistic minded leaders who thought such make-over amounted to capitulation and smacked of slave mentality. They found renewed pride in wearing the traditional dress of India. The effect of such conflicting pressures on India’s clothing habits makes interesting reading.

When the British became the masters of Indian destiny, their dress influenced Indians in three different ways.

a. Some wealth Indians, particularly the wealthy Parsees of western India were the first to add elements of British ways. They began to wear baggy trousers and phenta (hats) were added to long collarless coats with a stick in hand gave them the persona of a dignified affluent individual.

The western evangelists found the Dalits a good target for their conversion agenda. Scores of Dalits cast off their Hindu identity to become Christians. The men among these converted Dalits adopted western dress style to assert their liberation from age-old repression and caste-rooted humiliation.

b. There were many who felt wearing western dresses would rob the Indians of their national identity. They argued forcefully in favour of wearing traditional dresses. The desi enthusiasts of western clothing were criticized, mocked and derided as being rootless individuals.

c. There were others who struck a balance between above two conflicting trends. Some Bengali bureaucrats wore the colonial British attire for office. At home, they changed to traditional Indian clothing that was more comfortable to India’s hot and humid climate. The western anthropologist Vernier Elwin mentions interesting anecdotes about policemen in Ponna who took off their western style duty uniform at the end of their work right on the road in full view of the public.

Nevertheless, the attempt to please the colonial masters by wearing British dress was always countered by nationalistic urges. So, in different parts of India, people experimented with varying combinations of western and Indian clothing.

Caste Conflict and Dress Change ….

India was more rigid than the Europeans in segregating the lower sections of the society from the higher and affluent sections. Laws were put in place to enforce strict dress and food code for the lower and higher castes. Any infringement by the lower castes was severely dealt with. Quite naturally, it gave rise to painful backlashes and social strife.

In May 1822, women of Shanar caste in the Travancore state dared to cover their busts. This act was perceived to be a rebellion by the upper caste people. They meted out punishment to the people of the Shanar community. The Shanar folks resisted sparking a long and violent reprisal.

The Snars belonged to the Nadar community, considered a ‘subordinate caste’. Toddy tapping was their profession. They worked under the Nair landlords who subjected them to utter humiliation. The Nadars were prohibited from wearing shoes and gold jewelry. They could not use the umbrella too. Most demeaning was the diktat that neither the men nor the women could cover the upper part of their bodies before their Nair masters.

Later conversion to Christianity broke this shackle of caste. Being a Christian brought them deliverance from the humiliation of being half-naked before the masters. The women began wearing blouses. The men folk also refused to work under the Nairs as bonded labours. In one ugly incident, Nair men attacked Nadar women in public and tore off their blouses. Avery violent reprisal of the Nadars followed. The matter went to the court.

The government of Travancore gave its verdict continuing the age-old inhibition on the Shanar women not to cover the upper part of their bodies.

But, it also started a forceful trend of defiance. Both the Christian and Hindu Shanars broke the Nair hegemony daringly.

The slavery of the Shanars officially ended in 1855. The scourge was finally gone. But, it made the Nairs embittered and angry. The discontent among the Nairs simmered till it erupted in 1859. Nairs attacked Nadar women in public and tore of their upper clothing. It triggered a chain of violent incidents. Arson and loot followed.
Finally the government issued a compromise order.

The Shanar women could wear some sort of jackets to cover their upper body, but the design of this garment had to be different from that worn by the Nair women.

British Rule and Dress Code

The subject of clothing under colonial rule often caused arguments and misunderstanding mainly because the two cultures were so widely divergent.

The headgear ‘turban’ was an integral p-art of most Indians’ historic clothing style. In the same way, the colonial rulers wore their hats. Thus, the people of the two races were often identified as ‘turban wearers’ and ‘hat’ wearers.

The turban, besides protecting the head from sun’s heat, bestowed social respectability on the wearer. The hat on the other hand was a part of any commoner’s dress and was to be removed as a show of respect. The turban was not to be ever removed in public as it meant humiliation. This contrast in headgear often caused some disquiet among the colonial masters.

The wearing of shoes was also another area where the two cultures clashed. The cunning British did well to remove their shoes while entering the courts of the kings. Entering a court with shoes is considered offensive and disrespectful.

Some British officials had begun to wear Indian dresses initially. But this was frowned upon and in 1830, a law was passed asking the British officials not to wear Indian dresses at all.

The Indians were asked not to imitate their masters in dress, and stick to their ethnic dresses while at work in the office. This was meant to mark the division between the ruler and the ruled.

Governor General Amherst passed an order asking Indians to take off their shoes while entering his office. It was British adoption of Indian value system that suited the colonial masters. But, it was not rigidly enforced.

By the mid-nineteenth century, with the coming of Lord Dalhousie, the shoe taking off rule was made stricter. Those wearing European clothes were, however, allowed to walk in with their shoes on. It caused unease among some government servants.
There was a case in the Surat Sessions Court where an Indian assessor by the name Manockjee Cowasjee Entee refused to take off his shoes while entering the court. The British judge was adamant. Finally, he did not relent making the Indian party to send a petition to the governor of Bombay.

The British position was clear. If the Indians took off their shoes while entering their homes and temples, they should do the same while entering courts. The Indians countered by saying that Indians kept their shoes out of their homes and offices because of considerations of hygiene. Courts, being public places, need not have this restriction.

But it took many years for shoes to be allowed into courts.

Designing the National Dress ….

By late nineteenth century, there was a surge of nationalist sentiments all over the country. The country was eager to discover symbols that could be rallying point for the unity of the country that could bolster the fight against the British.

Writers, painters and performing artists all waged their voice through their mediums. There was the need for a national flag and a national dress.

Some eminent persons began experimenting with different styles of dresses that could exude nationalistic fervor. The affluent Tagore family experimented with dresses for men and women in the early 1870s. Tagore wanted the national dress to be a hybrid of the Hindu and Muslim styles instead of being a mixture of the Indian and western styles. The long buttoned coat Chapkan was thus conceived.

There were also attempts to arrive at a design of a national dress which could synthesize the designs of various regional dresses of India. In the late 1870s, Jnanadanandini Devi, wife of Satyendranath Bose, the first Indian ICS, began wearing the Parsee style of saree pinned to the left shoulder with broaches accompanied by blouse and shoes. The Brahmo Samaj adopted this style calling it Brahmika Saree. Soon this style spread to Maharastra and Uttar Pradesh and was worn by those not belonging to Brahmo Samaj too.

But a national dress for all Indian women still remained elusive as the women of Gujrat, Kerala, Kogudu etc. continued to wear their old traditional sarees.

The Swadeshi movement

Bengal was the nerve center of nationalistic politics in the first decade of the twentieth century. Quite curiously, clothing was the pivot of this politics.

The British began their relations with India as traders. Textiles produced by Indian artisans were the main commodity of such trade as European consumers loved their quality and designs. In the seventeenth century, India was the hub of textile manufacturing accounting for one fourth of global output. Almost a million weavers in Bengal earned their living through making textiles.

The world dominance of Indian textiles was grievously challenged during the Industrial Revolution. High- productivity textile machineries that did the jobs of spinning and weaving were invented in England. It gave the diminutive British textile industry a huge boost. Taking cotton and indigo from India, British textile industry churned out high quality, and low cost textiles in huge quantities. The goods were exported back to India and many other markets around the world.

The traditional textile hubs in Murshidabad, Machlipatanam and Surat shrank gradually as the British goods took over.

By the middle of twentieth century, Indian consumers started boycotting textiles imported from England. It disrupted British exports and forced un-utilized capacity on textile industries in England. The place of the imported British textile was taken by the Indian khaki clothes although it could not match the imported textiles in price and quality.

Bengal, by then, had come to the forefront of Indian nationalism. The British were clearly worried. Lord Curzon decided to bifurcate Bengal along religious lines to break the nationalistic zeal of the Bengalis.

The Indian leaders decided resist the British move of partitioning Bengal by stepping up the Swadeshi movement. From textiles, boycotting of British goods spread to other items like march boxes and cigarettes. The nationalistic sentiments became strident with people using the khadi to symbolize their disconet. The rough, hand-spun khadi was glorified in songs and writings.

Due to the khadi being costlier, only the middle and upper classes bought and used it. For the low-income lower caste people, the cheaper imported clothes remained the preferred option. The charm of the Indian dress made out of khadi could last only for 15 years. The upper class reverted to European clothing after one and half decades. The India khadi lost out to cheap imported clothes.
However, this experiment with Khadi was an eye-opener for Mahatma Gandhi in shaping his anti-Britisg agitations.

Mahatama Gandhi’s experiments with Khadi ….

The most endearing image of Mahatma Gandhi is that of a small-framed, bare-chested man squatting on the floor with his Charkha.
He elevated the innocuous activity of spinning on the Charkha to the status of being a powerful symbol of India’s search for a national identity and the national struggle for freedom.

Mahatma Gandhi wore Gujrati dress in his student days in India. When in England, and later as a lawyer in South Africa, he wore British dress. In Durban in 1913, he dawned upon him that dress can be a symbol of defiance. By not wearing the accepted dress, one could assert one’s non-conformist outlook. To this end, in the first few days of his social leadership, he wore a lungi and kurta and shaved off his head. He wanted to assert his rebellious mind.
On landing in India in 1915, he decided to dress like a Kathiawadi farmer. He adopted the knee-length Dhoti only in 1921. He made a declaration to this effect in September, 1921.

He had taken to the knee-length Dhoti as a mark of his solidarity with the impoverished farmers. But as he went deeper and deeper into social transformation movements, the short dhoti stuck to him as his companion in his crusade.

While attending the Round Table Conference in London, he wore his frugal dhoti much to the amusement of the die-hard British aristocracy. While on an audience with the King George V at the Buckingham Palace, he did not give up hiss dhoti. On being asked about it, he had remarked that the king had enough for both of them.

Mahatma Gandhi felt the khadi could be a great equalizer in this land riven by religion, language and ethnic barriers. So he had become an ardent supporter of Khadi. There were many among his core group of supporters who felt such austerity in clothing to be inconvenient and impractical.

Some example of people who did not exactly fall in line with the Mahatma were

a. Motilal Nehru who wore dhoti and kurta, but not of the coarse cloth

b. Dalit leaders like Babasaheb Ambedkar continued to wear western suits.

c. Poor women found the nine-yard khadi a luxury.

d. Eminent women like Sarojini Naidu and Kamala Nehru wore colourful sarees.
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Civil Service – Looking back at Bali –Some optimism for international trade

December 13, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Civil Service – Looking back at Bali –Some optimism for international trade
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WTO negotiations gain traction in Bali

Caught in a welter of conflicting demands, suggestions, refusals and cynicism, the WTO negotiations had almost ground to a halt. In the face of dogged intransigence of both divergent groups – the group of countries led by America in one side, and large countries like India 0n the other—WTO had nearly lost its way. It hung at the end of its tether on the eve of the Bali meet.

The issue that had nearly killed WTO was the insistence of countries like India to give generous subsidies to the grower and consumer of major commodities like rice, wheat etc. America and other western nations opposed it because such subsidies distorted the market and stifled the small growers. Until the last day of the meet, the two sides stuck to their positions. It appeared as though the Bali summit would fail, driving WTO to cold storage.

Agreement on unrestricted flow of goods across borders that could boost global trade appeared to elude the member countries.

Happily, the cloud of doom melted away in the right time, and the Americans gave up their demand for roll-back of subsidies by India. The Bali meet was pulled back from the brink of collapse.
The WTO negotiations had muddled along too long frustrating its members. Seeing no end to the continuing imbroglio in the trade negotiations, many countries, including India, had entered into bilateral and multilateral trade agreements with other partner countries. Such agreements, though welcome, undermined the broad WTO vision.

The Bali negotiations were an extension of the Doha Development round of negotiations started in 2001. Since then, the member countries had tried hard to reach a deal for expanding global trade. But their efforts were lost in a maze of conflicting national interests, and vainglorious grandstanding by irresponsible trade delegations.

The successful conclusion of the Bali meet paves the way for truly open multilateral trade. The anemic WTO, subject of much sarcasm due to its meandering progress, got the much-needed infusion of blood. A much relieved Roberto Azevedo, Director-General, WTO beamingly stated “We have put the world back into the WTO.”

What is this agreement ? The agreement will substantially reduce the paper work and hassles at the customs check gates of nations. The trade barriers that impede free flow of goods from one country to another to another will nearly be non-existent.

In concrete terms, it will increase global trade by one trillion in the coming year. Over a longer period, its impact will be much more boosting global trade considerably.

The regional trade blocs such as the one among ASEAN countries, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Canada and Mexico, and the European Union (EU) were essentially between well-off countries. Countries like Brazil, South Africa, Russia and India got left out of these regional trade agreements. Ironically, it is this seclusion of these large economies that brought to sharp focus the need for a quick international trade deal. This is one of the reasons why Bali succeeded.

India’s Food Security Act is pivoted to large subsidies for both growers and consumers. The hoopla that had been generated about this bill by the Congress Party forced the Indian delegation’s hands at Bali. It could not cede any ground on the subsidy issue. At one stage, all thought that India would rock the Bali meet by its selfish defiance.

By mooting the idea of the interim mechanism to work as a via media, road has been cleared to allow India to continue with its agricultural support price programme till a final resolution is arrived at. But, this is a patch work solution. Tough negotiations lie ahead for India. This is because India must make the WTO agree to its subsidy policy for future in the long run. To bolster its negotiating position, India must garner support from other nations facing similar problems.

WTO has very tricky and difficult days ahead as it steers itself towards a firm trade global arrangement in the coming months and years. Mr. Azevedo’s hands are full. He is aware of the onerous responsibility he carries. The Doha Round agenda must be brought to its logical conclusion as early as possible. The success at Bali will give it the required impetus. Regional groupings such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership involving the U.S., Japan and ten other Pacific Rim countries will prove to be a hurdle. So will be the powerful trans-Atlantic alliance between the U.S. and the European Union. Good luck Mr. Azevedo.

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Answers to Writing Inspirational Speeches –Football captain’s call

December 12, 2013 at 8:10 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Answers to Writing Inspirational Speeches –Football captain’s call
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Football captain’s inspiring speech … Your school’s football team has been slipping in the league due to consistent poor performance. You are the school football captain. Prepare a rousing speech to inspire your team members and other football players of the school to work hard to reverse the downward slide.
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Dear team mates and all the football lovers of our school

Why are we here? There is only one objective. We must prove our critics wrong. We must make our teachers look at us with beaming faces. We must make our parents proud. As you all know, my grandmother in wheel chair comes to see all our school matches with my parents. I must make her forget all the travails of her life when she sees our school team lift the Cup this time. I owe it to her as a small token of gift from a boy on whom she has lavished her affection so generously ever since I was born. I am sure most of your parents will feel the same elation to see the Cup returning to us after seven long years.

But, this is going to be a Herculean task my friends – almost like a rags to riches story. We have slipped to the 6th position from the second slot. We have scored just nine goals in as many matches against our opponents who have scored 15 goals against us. This is a dismal position to be in. What do we do now? Let the trend continue and we end up in the last position in the tournament? Oh, this will be odious! It is like lying wounded in the battlefield and let your enemies trod on you triumphantly.

Come on, my friends. Our credo is to win, to lead, to be marveled at. Yes, we have lost matches. Yes, we have been vanquished at the hands of teams we could beat any day, any time. Perhaps, we did not give our best on those days. Perhaps, luck was against us. The string of defeats has robbed us of our confidence. We feel winning has deserted us for good. To lose hope and capitulate is not in our gene.

Dust off this defeatism.

I am going to promise you something now. From now on, I will lead you to victory till the finals are over. I want something in return. I want your sweat and blood, your mind and muscle, your energy and élan, and most importantly, your courage and commitment.

Every morning, at 6am, I will wait for you in our school ground for practice. Come here and join my friends to tone up your mind and body. We have taken on to ourselves the task others will deem impossible. We have to prove them wrong. We must pledge to win the Cup. Jump, my friends, to grab this opportunity. It is within your reach. Show your mettle, men.

Remember – When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

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Qatar must stop exploitation of Asian workers — Civil Service International Relations

December 11, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Qatar must stop exploitation of Asian workers — Civil Service International Relations
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Exploitation, most odious — Qatar exploits Asian workers 

Quatar has won the right to hold the 2022 FIFA World Cup. This is a unique honor for which nations compete fiercely. Among a long list of critical parameters used to judge the suitability of a nation to be a contender for staging this international event, record on human rights is a critical one. Persistent violations of human rights blemish the contender that can lead to its disqualification.
Sadly, Qatar has become the hotbed of exploitation of migrant workers mostly from the Indian sub continent. These workers are working under subcontractors who do the massive civil construction jobs meant for the FIFA Cup. It would not be an y exaggeration to state that the frantic construction work would slow down dangerously without the construction of these large contingents of South Asian migrant labour.

As per Qatari rules, the subcontractors, who engage the migrant workers, will retain the travel documents of the overseas workers engaged by them till the government issues them the valid residence permit. This clause of the law gives the private contractors disproportionate control over the people engaged by them. In defense of this archaic law, the Qatari government says that the intention of doing this is to keep illegal migrants away. But, having handed over the all important travel document to the private employer, the worker puts himself in huge disadvantage vis-à-vis his employer some of whom are unscrupulous operators with no past record of fair treatment of migrant employees. At times, they delay return of passports and hold back substantial salary dues of the workers.

Countless cases of harassment of workers of Indian, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi and Pakistani workers have come into the open recently. Such complaints have been investigated by Amnesty International and found to be true. It is sad to note that the Qatari government’s response to such allegations have been slow, evasive and unworthy of a country selected for the FIFA World Cup, 2022. Regard for human rights is the touchstone of a government’s respectability. Failure here should raise doubt about the errant government’s ability to hold a highly visible global event like the FIFA Cup. International football must not be played in stadiums built with the sweat and blood of exploited workers.

The government of India’s response to the plight of its citizens working in Qatar has been unnecessarily lukewarm. Perhaps the Indian government does not want to risk annoying the Qatari authorities by demanding fair treatment of its citizens. The large flow of remittances from these migrants is precious for India facing a big current account deficit.

Such attitude amounts to capitulation before the Qatari government. Just as India needs the remittances, the Qataris need the skilled hands from the subcontinent to build their FIFA Cup-related projects in amanner. If the workers pull out en masse, the Qatari government will find it very difficult to find replacement workforce. So, there is no need to bend backwards on this issue.

Instead, the government should actively engage with the Qatari authorities to address this issue. The way India resolved its migrant workers problem with the Saudi Arabia government should provide an example. The Saudi government had enacted the Nitaquat legislation to purge the country of illegal workers. Through deft negotiation, the two countries came to an amicable settlement. As a result, thousands of Indian workers escaped forced deportation in the last minute. Indians can, therefore, use their diplomatic clout in the region to sort out this issue of unfair treatment of its citizens in Qartar.

The exploitation of Asian migrant workers in Qartar has already been highlighted by the British newspaper The Guardian. The Amnesty International findings have corroborated the Guardian story. So, it will not be possible for the Quarter government to push this sordid affair under the carpet and deflect global attention from the problem. They will have to sit up and act.

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The widespread exploitation of migrant labourers in Qatar threatens to undermine whatever prestige the country may have earned by winning the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. In September this year, the Guardian had shone light on the deplorable treatment of contract labourers — mostly from the Indian subcontinent — engaged in World Cup-related construction projects. Since then, Amnesty International has meticulously documented serial violations of Qatar’s labour laws by private contractors. Migrant workers from Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are at the mercy of their Qatari employers, thanks to the harsh systems in place to check illegal immigration. Qatar’s “sponsorship” law designates private contractors as the custodians of their employees’ travel documents until they are issued a valid residence permit. Many migrant labourers are yet to receive their passports back. What is more, Qatari law requires the “sponsor” to issue supporting documents for an “exit visa”. Without workers’ unions to represent their case, access to justice for foreign labourers remains elusive. Amnesty’s report suggested many of them were yet to receive their salaries. While the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, the nodal agency for World Cup affairs, has acknowledged these reports, the country needs to ensure that its economic growth does not ride on the inhuman treatment of migrants.
New Delhi would do well to express its concerns to Qatari officials about the plight of Indian labourers. For the most part, India has been restrained in its diplomatic overtures on labour-related issues in West Asia; this is not surprising since remittances from migrant labourers are the main source of income for hundreds of thousands of families back home. That New Delhi and Riyadh could coordinate their actions and successfully regularize the stay of most Indian laborers in Saudi Arabia ahead of the ‘Nitaqat’ deadline, however, suggests that such issues are eminently resolvable. India should consider its migrant workforce in West Asia as an asset rather than as a vulnerable constituency. Countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia have sought to raise their profile by positioning themselves as global commercial hubs. In pursuit of this aim, they have invested considerably in infrastructure projects. Hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup figures prominently in Qatar’s efforts to boost its marketability. Needless to say, Indian labor is very much in demand for the successful completion of these projects. The reports from the Guardian and Amnesty International serve as a reminder to West Asia that it cannot take migrant labor for granted. South Asian countries must insist their citizens are granted their rights and benefits as per international obligations.
Keywords: Qatar, migrant labourers, 2022 FIFA World Cup, Amnesty report, workers’ unions, Nitaqat deadline

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