Connect with us

Art & Culture

Take my breath away !!!





Shimla- Being born and brought up in Shimla, Cheenu wanted to pay his debt to this town by creating awareness among people about the historical background and leaving back sketches of building which with passage of time have changed its purpose in fifteen days long on going exhibition from May 16 to 31. More than 100 sketches permanently adorn the walls of gaiety theatre – space provided to him by LAC department.

It is often said that an artist is someone who produces things that people don’t need to have but that he – for some reason – thinks it would be a good idea to give them and following the same line Cheenu MJS (Mohinder Jeet Singh) Bhogal a local artist from Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India, created numerous sketches of town’s heritage buildings along with sketches of State Animal Snow Leopard, State Bird Western Tragopan (Jujurana) (Tragopan melanocephalus) and other variety of flowers and wild animals.

Born talented and self taught artist, completed his schooling from St. Edwards School and after completion of his graduation from Sanjauli College, he joined his ansisterial construction business. “I was always interested in drawing since my early childhood and practiced construction business for a while but however, I always felt my purpose in life was different from what I was practicing and finally I decided to negate my identity as contractor and establish myself as an artist. Heritage buildings are my passion as I am always drawn towards; I am always fascinated by stone, wood and especial the chimneys in such old buildings”, said Cheenu when he was personally interviewed few years back.


The artist used Coulour pencils, oil paints, acrylic, crayons to paint but however lead pencil sketching was his forte as by using 0.5, lead pencil, Cheenu gave birth to large number of creations including heritage buildings like Town Hall, Railway Board Building, Gorton Castle, Gaiety Theatre, Christ Church, State Library and last but not the least Advance Studies which are among few to name highly demanded sketches by the art lovers. Apart from Heritage Buildings he has also made sketches of almost 30- 40 temples like Hartkoti Temple, Baij Nath Temple, Laxminarayan Temple (Chamba), Bijli Mahadev (Kullu) to name few. A glimpse of his work can been seen on HP State’s Eco-Tourism Departmental calendar (2011) depicting 12 different forest rest houses in the state and one can easily tag his work as shadows; being so close to the original architectures.

However, the artist found it really hard to name any one particular sketch as his favorite as all were his creations but still he considered Golden Temple’s sketch to be his best creation; which definitely is a treat for an eye of the spectators; as he shared, “It is close to my heart as while sketching it, my inner voice compelled me to give up smoking and since that day I have never touched a cigarette again.”

Being 3D it stands tall among all the sketches of Golden Temple ever seen by him; especially in Himachal. It is one of its kind attempts and therefore it holds a special stature in his entire collection, as the artist said, “The original size of sketch is 54X 18 inches which is a rare attempt. It took me almost 300 working hours to complete the sketch. The sketch highlights every minute detail of the architecture which can be easily noticed.”

May that be, the original sketch of Advance Studies (Approximately 5 by 3 feet in size) displayed in the Gaiety Theater Shimla or any other sketch made by him, Golden Temple too has been made with a free hand without any external aid of scales. The artist claimed to have not even used eraser on his sketch as he said, “If I used eraser there was a possibility of damaging the minute details that have gone in sketching this master piece. If I am not satisfied with my creation instead of erasing it I remake it with a hope to make it better.” The sketch was unveiled by Himachal Pradesh’s Chief Minister, P.K. Dhumal, during the exhibition organized at Gaiety Theatre.


So far the artist was able to organize three exhibitions – 2 at Shimla and 1 at Delhi. Currently there are more than 100 sketches and colour paintings made by him, adorning walls of Historic Gaiety Theatre Shimla; which has been allotted by the LAC department to him; and even few sketches can be seen in the state museum too, mesmerizing the spectators and most of the time making their jaws drop in surprise. However often a question is raised on his self taught talent producing almost perfect replica of original architecture to which he says, “One needs study my work in part rather than looking at the whole picture. An eye of an artist is required to trace the minute flaws which can be easily pointed out and if the tempering was done then anyone could have raised a question as my work is also available online
“For me my work is my worship and I do not compromise with it so I work till I get close enough to real architecture. It gives me a sense of possessing treasure and no one like to be robbed of it so how can I negotiation with its perfection”, concluded Cheenu.

Cheenu even left behind a pencil sketch folder sketched by him containing 10 sketches of Shimla’s Heritage Buildings for art as well as travelling lovers. The folder was inaugurated by Urmila Singh, Governor Himachal Pradesh.

Cheenu while speaking his heart out on the occasion that time said, “I am really glad that finally my Heritage folder has been launched as I have been working on it from quiet a long time. My main purpose of bringing up this folder was to make people aware about the history of the town. I think this folder can serve as a good souvenir for all the tourists that come from various parts of the world. It is my way of showing my gratitude to the town that has made me the person I am.”
Commenting on folder Urmila Sing said, “The efforts of Cheenu Bhogal is worth appreciation as the folder will prove to be beneficial for the tourists coming from different places as it will give them a glimpse of Shimla’s historical background. I sincerely hope more such type of informative literatures and booklets are published in near future that could serve as a guide by providing information on various tourists’ places in Himachal Pradesh for tourists.

The folder contains ten sketches of heritage buildings that is- Railway Board Building, Gorton Castle, Gaiety Theatre, Christ Church, The Indian Institute of Advance Studies (aerial as well normal view), Bishop Cotton School, St. Bede’s College and Barnes Court. The folder is available at The Gaiety Theatre, Advance Studies, Asia Book House and The State Museum for any art lover to procure.


Currently in the ongoing exhibition is a tribute to Cheenu by the department of Language Art and Culture for his valuable contribution in the art field. Last year in month of September, he had planned to exhibit this show; but unfortunately his health failed him and so the show was cancelled; and had said, “The main purpose of this exhibition is to educate people about the history of Shimla, a town which once was British summer capital. Such sketches are not made within days; this exhibition has my five years of hard work being exhibited. I want that no one should miss this exhibition especially youngsters so that they may come to know that accept for Mall Road Shimla has many other fascinating location that they must explore.”

Before this exhibition Cheenu’s exhibition on Himalayan Birds and Pheasants, sponsored by Anand group took people’s breath away.
In this exhibition almost 240 art pieces; (on rotational basis); including of various heritage buildings including heritage temple Kali Bari and Jakhoo Temple; Thomas Cook Building; Christ Church; Railways station; Forest rest house and many other to name are exhibited. The show even has a huge frame of Raj Bhawan – Barnes Court back yard view, his last work. The coloured panorama view of Shimla is the highlight of the exhibition.

Till the time Cheenu was alive even though many people were tempted to buy his sketches but originals were always beyond their reach as he never sold them as he always said, “Originals are not for sale at any cost as two sketches of any building are never identical”; but now even his original work is available for sale. In this exhibition he answered the complaints of people for not painting in color as this time people can also see 10 sketches in pencil colour of heritage building including Tara Hall, Auckland House, B.C.S and his favorite St. Edwards along with Indian Institute of Advance Studies.

The exhibition has something or other than can fit in the pocket of everyone in forms of post card, poster, frames, heritage folder and original work.
While commenting on the exhibition Pratibha Singh, Chairperson, H.P. Red Cross Hospital Welfare Section and chief guest on the occasion said, “I find no words to comment as hard work done by Cheenu is extremely beautiful and shows how much he adored the historical buildings of Shimla. I knew him personally and cannot imagine that within such a short span he put in such a lot of time to create wonders. It pained my heart to learn that such a wonderful artist is no more amongst us.”

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

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading