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Art & Culture

Folk theater flavor witnessed at Gaiety





Performance of various Himachali folk theater forms captivated audiences

Shimla-A five days long ; that is from March 1 to 5; folk culture festival organized by the art and culture group Platform at the Historic Gaiety Theatre’s amphitheatre, the Mall in association with the Ministry of Culture, New Delhi and Department of Language Art and Culture Himachal Pradesh finally concluded with a bang.

While informing about the festival Ajay Sharma, President of Platform said, “It was my sincere effort to make people aware about Himachali culture and folk theatre as youngsters are getting away from their roots. We have also organized the five days long exhibition for the people where we exhibited dressed and various native musical instruments too.”

During this, five days long festival people got an opportunity to peep inside the various cultural folk theater forms like Barlaaj – Kullu; Horingfo- Kinnaur; Kareyala- Shimla; Banthana- Mandi; and last but not the least Thoda and Harul – Sirmour.

Though the festival kick started on a disappointing note as the performance of Barlaaj can easily be identified with the story of Rabindranath Tagore’s poem A broken song where Baraj says with hands clasped, ‘Master, our days are gone. New men have come now, new styles and customs in the world. The singer along does not make a song, there has to be someone who hears. . . Where there is no love, where listeners are dumb, there never can be song’ as feelings of the performing group members were mutual.

Though the performance started with full zeal and caught attention of the people but unfortunately I was brought to an abrupt end due to lack of spectators left to enjoy the traditional musical performance. As S.N. Joshi a well known theater personality while sharing his views about each day performance shared “Barlaj is presented in two different styles in Himachal. The first is ‘singing tradition’ and the ‘lokgatha’ (folklore) is sung in Rampur Bushehr, Nirmand, Sarahan, Dutt Nagar, Nirath and Outer Seraj. Slow rhythms accompanied by music from damaru or khanjari generally do not appeal to the people if the dialect is not understood. There is no drama in it. It is the story of Baliraja who was a demon-king and had tried to capture the throne of Indra – the king of Gods, but Lord Vishnu dodged him by incarnating as dwarf. This story was sung on the first evening of the folk-fest but could not impress the audience. The second style of Barlaj is opera-like, performed in the lower parts of Shimla and Sirmaur districts. Because there is drama in it, it attracts the people. Had the organizers brought the opera-Barlaj, it would have been an enjoyable evening.”


“Karyala”, folk-theatre of Shimla, Sirmaur and Solan districts has crude humour in it and the beauty of it is its vulgarity (it is different from obscenity) – the language and behavior of the folk. All the swangs (crude comedy) was nicely portrayed and the Babu, in one of the swangs, with his broken English, stance and carriage was attractive. The second beauty of Karyala is impromptu dialogue delivery and quite a few dialogues were wittily coined there and then.

Whereas, Banthra the oldest form of folk-theatre in Himachal Pradesh. It is performed in Mandi and Bilaspur districts. Banthra that was presented here was from Shiva-Badhar area of Mandi district. Its beauty was its originality. It stuck to the tradition in costumes – even the garland around the performers was made of the remains of corn after taking the grains out. The crudity of Karyala was also visible in Banthra and it started with Devstuti (praising the God) and Manglacharan (auspicious prayer)– as it should – instead of the dance of Chandrauli as in Karyala.


Thoda is a battle-folkdance of Himachal played with bow and arrow. The imagery of fight between Shathi and Pashi with bow and arrow is reminiscent of what happened in Mahabharata when Kauravs fought against Pandavas. The beauty of this sport-cum-dance is the exchange of satirical words between the two parties but the open air stage was so small for this dance that the sounds of dhol and nagara drowned the words of the players and the clarity from those went missing. The words exchanged between the two rivals are interesting but those could not fully reach the ears of the audience. Moreover, there was apprehension that the arrow, though blunted, could hit one among the audience, so the players had to restrict their movements.

To wit, it was a commendable attempt to bring the folk from the villages to the town of Shimla but the venue selected was congested. Folk needs wide open space finally concluded Joshi.

However due to some reasons the Horingfo show got cancelled leaving many spectators disheartened. However the day ended with another much talked about controversy regarding violation of rules in the Gaiety. As few people who where not aware about the cancelation of the show found the poster announcing some other show which too did not take place and instead the man was seen talking in harsh tone near the performing venue yelling at the team member who were suppose to perform.

The exhibition turned out to be a best event as it was able to please all people and did not target any particular audience. The traditional dresses and musical instruments attracted people from all over the city.

Art & Culture

Book Review: ‘The Billionaire Raj: A Journey through India’s New Gilded Age’ by James Crabtree



The Billionaire Raj A Journey through India’s New Gilded Age

For long, we all have broached the subject of India’s experiment with socialism. The state-controlled the various fields of business, planning was central; also the means of production were not with capitalists but with the state. The state promised to uplift the poor form the poverty, raise their living standard by utilization of these means of production to bring economic and social equality in society.

But years after embracing socialism growth was still sluggish, corruption percolating deep into the system, choices with the people were far and few. Inequality was, as ever, still prevalent in the society. Amenities like telephone and exuded power and exclusivity. The world mocked our “License Raj” and we became notorious for our Hindu Growth rate.

Eventually, the closed economy turned sclerotic and ran into trouble. On the contrary, economies worldwide grew rapidly, at this time. India was left with no other option, but to open its economy to the world. Finally, India yielded and opened its economy in 1991, with an hope of removing the ills of corruption, creating more jobs, removing social inequality and to overcome challenges of economic development. The new era of neo-liberalization was considered augury of prosperity and egalitarian society.

However, who would have imagined that within 27 years of opening up the economy, the majority of the wealth would be held by a handful of people. James Crabtree in his debut book, “The Billionaire Raj: A Journey through India’s New Gilded Age, offers an overview of this fascinating journey of India’s new Gilded Age.”

He writes,

Yet the decades after 1947, it at least grew economically more equal, with an elite that lived modestly by the standard of the industrialized West.

A silver lining to India’s bygone era of socialism.

The Billionaire Raj is the narrative of the breakneck rise of the Indian riches- Bollygarchs, as he calls them- corporate power, their lifestyle and the mansions.

The book is an overview of the concomitant of wealth: inequality, crony capitalism, massive corruption and mega scams. The writer explores the exorbitant funding of political parties by these tycoons, the costly affair of India’s election.

The book talks at length about the deep-rooted problem of mounting debt, IPL, about Modi and his tenure as Prime Minister of India. The pro and cons of various reforms ushered under his regime. Mr. Crabtree is successful in raising the fundamental question that holds imperative to India’s future.

The book is well researched, the exceptional storytelling skill of the writer keeps the readers engrossed; the personal interview with various business tycoons like Vijay Mallya, Naveen Jindal, Gautam Adani etc, offer the readers classic vignettes of their life, their perspective about the event that unfolded in this age.

The writer has successfully flagged various fissures as a warning that can pull India down. The country will have to fix these fissures first, only then it can fulfil the ambition to lead Asia.

Today India stands at the crossroads of what sort of superpower it will become

, he further writes.

Mr. Crabtree offers an optimistic view about India’s future:

India’s new Gilded Age can blossom into a progressive Era of its own, in which the perils of inequality and crony capitalism are left decisively behind,

he writes.

The Billionaire Raj will make us ruminate about the era of Neo-liberalization, as we did aggressively about Indian Socialism in the past. The Billionaire Raj is an eye-opener for all of us and will certainly be helpful in paving the way for our future ahead. The book is Locus classicus on the contemporary history of India- a must read for every Indian.

About James Crabtree

James Crabtree, a former Mumbai bureau chief for The Financial Times. He spent 5 years in India before moving to Singapore. At present, he is an Associate Professor at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore.

Book Review by Sunny Grack, Kotgarh, Shimla

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Art & Culture

HIMCOSTE’s workshop to aware rural artisans of Geographical Indications Act



HIMCOSTE WOrkshop on Geographical Indications

Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh Patent Information Centre (HPPIC) established under the aegis of Himachal Pradesh Council for Science, technology and Environment (HIMCOSTE) has been declared as the nodal agency for the filing of Geographical Indications applications for traditional valuable products of H.P under Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, IFS Kunal Satyarthi Member Secretary, HIMCOSTE, today informed.

He said till date, the Centre has been able to obtain registration for Kullu shawl, Kangra Tea, Kinnauri Shawl, Chamba Ruma and Kangra Paintings under Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.

The applications of Chamba Chappal, Kala Zeera, Chulli Oil are under process with the Registrar of Geographical indications at Chennai
The Centre has identified a number of products (agriculture/horticulture/handicrafts/metal crafts etc.) for registration under GI Act, 1999 (for eg. Bharmour Rajmah, Chamba Chappal, Chamba metal crafts, Angoori, Kalpa Wine, Kinnauri Apple, Rajmah).

Also, the Centre has facilitated registration of about 200 Authorized Users (AU) of registered GIs from H.P.

Recently, the State Govt.has issued a notification on State Level committee on Registration and Protection of Goods in H.P and the State Govt. has also issued a notification regulation of Kullu Shawl GI under the Chairmanship of D.C Kullu.

The above committees would perform the task of checking falsification /counterfeiting of Registered GIs in H.P and would approach the appropriate authorities for taking necessary action in the matter.

HIMCOSTE’s One-Day GI Awareness Workshop

On August 3, 2018, one-day awareness workshop on Geographical Indication, “Creating Value through Geographical indication” will be organized by HIMCOSTE in collaboration with Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Industry and Commerce, GoI.

Through this workshop, the HIMCOSTE aims to spread awareness and make the participants aware of the Geographical Indications Act. It would result in providing commercial opportunities to rural artisans of District Kullu, which in turn would result in the socio-economic development of rural artisans. During the workshop, applicants would be asked for registration of Authorised Usership of Kullu Shawl under Geographical Indications (Registration and Protection) of Goods Act, 1999.

After the workshop, D.C Kullu would chair a meeting of the committee constituted by Govt. of Himachal Pradesh. Issues related to infringement of Kullu Shawl and regulation of Kullu Shawl GI would be discussed in the meeting. About 200 participants would attend the workshop.

The Chief Guest for the workshop will be Minister of Forests, H.P Govind Singh Thakur. Yunus Khan, Deputy Commissioner, Kullu, IPS Shalini Agnihotri, Superintendent of Police, Kullu and will be the Guest of Honour.

On behalf of HIMCOSTE, Sh. Kunal Satyarthi, IFS, Member Secretary, HIMCOSTE will remain present during the workshop.

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Art & Culture

Incentives to Himachali films under State’s own Film Policy: Govt



Film policy of Himachal Pradesh

Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh Government today announced that it would form its own film-policy and will encourage local films and artists in various ways.

A meeting regarding formulating the film policy of the State was held here today under the chairmanship of Additional Chief Secretary Dr. Shrikant Baldi.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Baldi said the state had the advantage of adventurous, heritage, spiritual, seasonal and unexplored destinations and the efforts would be made to attract the filmmakers for film production in the state.

He said that the cultural, mythological, historical heritage and glorious traditions of the state would also be publicized in a big way to attract investment in the film sector in the state.

The government would endeavour to provide an opportunity to the talents in the field of acting and other related fields besides generating employment opportunities to the youth of the state.

Dr. Baldi said that production of regional films based on Himachali dialects would be especially encouraged, for which the government would provide various incentives to the producers.

Various other important issues like establishing required infrastructure and to make available desired facilities to the filmmakers and providing them attractive financial incentives were also discussed in the meeting.

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