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REPORT ON PAGE 4
Rajinikanth fans book
entire Singapore cinema
to watch Petta even before
the film is released in India
MCI (P) 135/03/2018
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
JANUARY 11, 2019
SARA: NO TIME
TO FEEL LIKE
Singapore Press Holdings
(English/Malay/Tamil Media group)
V.K. Santosh Kumar
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Varanasi residents unhappy over
demolition of old neighbourhood
The authorities in Varanasi are demolishing about
300 houses and wiping away its oldest
neighbourhood – a move which has upset the
locals. Their aim is to improve accessibility for
pilgrims by providing a direct pathway from the
Ganges river to the 18th-century shrine of Lord
Shiva – the Kashi Vishwanath temple.
For centuries, Hindus have cremated the dead
at Varanasi but have had to navigate crowded
alleyways to reach the city’s ghats, or riverside
steps, reported AFP.
A local resident Ajay Kapoor hit out at Indian
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was elected
from Varanasi, saying: “Varanasi is defined by its
galis (narrow lanes), and by creating this corridor,
he is robbing the city of its very identity.”
Residents have been offered compensation
and relocation options but some of them feel it is
not adequate reimbursement for losing homes in
a prime area.
Railways passengers to check in
20 minutes before departure
Soon, Indian Railways passengers will
have to check in at least 20 minutes
before the scheduled departure of
trains. This is in order to complete the
security checks and board their trains
on time, after which the platform will
This is similar to the process of
airports’ security check and boarding
system before departures.
acquires site in Chennai
The Ascendas-Singbridge Group has
acquired a 12.2-acre site in Chennai to
develop a new IT park.
The area is strategically located on
the Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam road, an
upcoming IT corridor that is connected
to Old Mahabalipuram Road and
Grand Southern Trunk Road, the two
major IT corridors in Chennai.
The location is well-connected to
Chennai International Airport and is
situated in close proximity to
residential catchments, educational
institutions and hospitals.The land
parcel will be developed into an IT park
with supporting amenities, a trademark
of Ascendas-Singbridge Group’s IT
parks in India.
The first phase will offer
approximately 1.1 million sq ft of
high-quality office space.
India to remain world’s
India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
is expected to grow at 7.3 per cent in
the fiscal year 2018-19 and 7.5 per cent
in the following two years, the World
Bank has predicted, attributing it to an
increase in consumption and
investment. In comparison, China is
expected to register a much lower
growth rate of 6.3 per cent in 2018-19.
The World Bank report Global
Economic Prospects: Darkening Skies
says that most world economies stare at
dark times in this financial year.
However, it has projected a brighter
picture for India and South Asia.
“India’s growth outlook is still
robust. India is still the fastest-growing
major economy,” World Bank
Prospects Group Director Ayhan Kose
told the Press Trust of India.
Lady officer to lead army
contingent for the first time
For the first time in the history of the
Indian Army, a lady officer will lead a
contingent on the annual Army Day
parade on Jan 15.
An all-women marching contingent
was led by a woman officer, Captain
Divya Ajith, during the Republic Day
parade in 2015.
Lieutenant Bhavana Kasturi will
lead the Indian Army’s Service Corps
contingent, comprising 144 male
personnel, at the 71st Army Day
She praised and thanked the Indian
Army for this opportunity and said:
“This shows the kind of acceptance, the
change and the evolution which is
happening in the entire organisation.
This shows acceptance for woman
Pandya, Rahul issued show-cause
notices for lewd remarks
Indian cricketers Hardik Pandya and
K.L. Rahul were given show-cause
notices by the Board of Control for
Cricket in India for their remarks about
women on the celebrity talk show
Koffee With Karan.
The notice came hours after Hardik
apologised for making comments that
were construed as misogynist and
sexist. He said he got “carried away by
the nature of the show”.
During the show, Hardik boasted
about hooking up with multiple
women. When asked why he does not
ask women for their names in a club, he
responded by saying: “I like to watch
and observe how they (women) move.
I’m a little from the black side so I need
to see how they move.” Rahul has not
responded to the criticism.
Delhi planning to combine
old age home with cow shelter
In a unique initiative, the Delhi
government is planning to merge cow
shelters with old age homes.
Delhi Minister of Animal
Husbandry Gopal Rai said animals and
humans have been interdependent.
“It is common that people keep a
cow only till it gives milk and throws it
out when it is of no use. A similar thing
happens with humans,” he said.
“With age, when humans are not of
any use, they are forced out of their
“We will start a joint venture of cow
shelter and old age home so that old
people can spend time and interact
with animals just like in village culture.”
January 11, 2019
to ride two-
Scooty way to
freedom for women
“Each one of our
trainers and students
has a motivating story
to tell – a story of
their discovery of
– Ms Pawani Khandelwal (left)
On any busy traffic crossing in the his-
toric Mughal city of Agra, one can see a
number of women on two-wheelers.
Not only young girls, but more and more
middle-aged women, including house-
wives, are now enjoying their new-
found freedom of mobility, a stark con-
trast from a few years ago.
One can witness similar scenes some
60km away in Mathura, the city consid-
ered sacred by Hindus for being the
birthplace of Lord Krishna.
Mathura resident Pawani Khandel-
wal, who describes herself as a raging
feminist, truly believes that something
as simple as riding a two-wheeler can
transform the lives of middle-aged
housewives in small towns where even
switching from wearing a sari to a salwar
suit is seen as a revolution.
Being able to ride a “scooty” – a
smaller version of a scooter with auto-
transmission – can empower women by
making them self-dependent, she says.
That was why when she decided to
start a scooter driving school for women
she could not think of a better name
than “Aatm Nirbhar” – literally mean-
“Bicycles are now out of fashion.
Most women go for a scooty or an elec-
“After school hours, you will find so
many of them with kids tucked tightly to
their backs hurrying back home,”
commented school teacher Meera
“You can see girls zooming past,
competing with boys as if to de-
clare they are second to none,” she
The 23-year-old Ms Pawani realised
the need for an all-women driving
school when her mother Rekha Khan-
delwal – who had never even ridden a bi-
cycle – wanted to learn riding
“I have been riding a
two-wheeler (currently a
Royal Enfield motorcycle)
myself for over seven years
and therefore I was always under
the impression that it is a basic thing to
know and most people – men or women
– already know how to ride a two-
Ms Pawani told IANS.
But when her mother wanted to
learn riding a scooty, she had a really
tough time finding a woman trainer.
“That made me realise how difficult
it is for women to learn this very basic
skill because men in their families don’t
have the patience to teach them, and
women in small towns aren’t very com-
fortable with male trainers,” she said.
“When we began searching for a
lady trainer for my mum, I realised
that in every household there was at
least one woman who was in dire
need to learn to ride a scooty.
“Moreover, I realised that for
most women, especially house-
wives, riding a scooty isn’t just a
mode of transport, but a feeling of
youth and freedom,” Ms Pawani
Fuelled by this desire to help
her mother and other women,
Ms Pawani set up a purely
women-driven and women-ori-
ented two-wheeler driving
school in November last year in
In just over a year, Aatm Nirbhar
– which started with just a dozen
women – has already expanded to
four more cities – Agra, Bharatpur,
Jaipur and Vrindavan – training over
The initiative has also been recog-
nised by the transport ministry of Uttar
Pradesh and the Central government’s
“Start-Up India” programme.
Ms Pawani says that in a country with
unreliable public transport, most
women – especially in small towns and
cities – have to depend on their hus-
bands, brothers and auto-rickshaws for
one of the most basic human needs – mo-
bility – be it for dropping their children
at school, going shopping or to their tai-
lor, and other basic chores outside their
With most women who sign up with
Aatm Nirbhar not even able to ride a bi-
cycle, their training is conducted over 10
one-hour sessions over 10 days, after
which they can confidently ride the
scooty and are awarded a certificate
Since all its students are
women, the training sessions are sched-
uled keeping in mind their conve-
The women trainers pick
the student from her house
and drop her back after the
session. This has helped the
organisation win the trust of
not only the women learners,
but also their families.
Moreover, with the majority of its
trainers coming from marginalised fami-
lies, it is making more women finan-
cially self-dependent by opening up
new job opportunities for them.
Ms Pawani started by creating
a Facebook page to reach out to
women to tell them about her
Women aged 16 to 60 signed up to
learn how to ride a scooty with most of
them surprisingly being middle-aged
“Each one of our trainers and stu-
dents has a motivating story to tell – a
story of their discovery of freedom,
independence and self-reliance,” said
“In the next two years, we want to ex-
pand to every tier 2 and tier 3 city of In-
dia with the support of self-driven
women,” she added.
On March 8 – which is celebrated
globally as Women’s Day – Aatm
Nirbhar organised an entrepreneur-
ship summit for women which was
attended by more than 150 business-
women and budding female en-
“Aatm Nirbhar is not just a com-
pany, but a thought that has inspired
and continues to inspire thousands
of women to rediscover their lost
sense of independence and self-re-
liance,” Ms Pawani said.
Indo-Asian News Service
A cut-out banner of Rajinikanth at the theatre.
“It is not just about the movie,
but it also about celebrating the
stardom of a person who has been
an influential figure in our lives.
I took half a day’s leave just to
watch this movie.”
– Mr Suryakumar Vijayan, joint-secretary of Rajini Makkal
Mandram Singapore (RMM)
While most people in Singapore were
still asleep or just waking up yesterday
morning, a group of die-hard Ra-
jinikanth fans were already at a theatre
in the city watching Petta, the south In-
dian film star’s latest movie.
As early as 6am, about 300 of them
gathered at the Carnival Cinemas at
Shaw Towers and proceeded to cele-
brate the release of the Tamil film, which
has opened to a positive response from
audiences in India.
They carried a life-size cutout of Ra-
jinikanth to the entrance and garlanded
it. The ceremony was accompanied by
traditional music – nadaswaram and
Flowers were showered on the star’s
image as the fans circled it, cheered and
danced in excitement before they en-
tered the theatre to watch the specially-
arranged show at 6.30am.
According to Indian media reports,
Rajinikanth fever has once again taken
over South India with the release of
“Thalaivar’s” action-packed enter-
tainer Petta. The Karthik Subbaraj direc-
torial has come as a treat for his fans who
were downcast following the average rat-
ing that his November release 2.0 got.
But it appears the fever began raging
in Singapore even before it hit south In-
dia as the group of fans here, led by the
members of the Rajini Makkal Man-
dram Singapore (RMM), arranged the
special screening even before die-hards
in Tamil Nadu especially got a chance to
see the movie.
The film was also screened at 6.30am
yesterday at a Carnival theatre located
at S11 Dormitory, Punggol.
“It is a movie for Rajini fans, made by
a Rajini fan. Rajinikanth holds the an-
chor role in the movie, and it was a treat
for all the fans,” said RMM joint-secre-
tary Suryakumar Vijayan, 36.
“The movie was an absolute joy from
start to finish. It gave the same vibe as
his older movies like Baasha and Pa-
dayappa. The climax also had an interest-
ing twist to it.”
Members of RMM, which was
formed three months ago, informed Ra-
jinikanth fans across Singapore about
the screening at the 280-capacity the-
atre. Most of the seats were immediately
They also ran contests on their social
media pages with the hashtag #RMMSin-
Contestants had to upload Dubs-
mash videos (where iOS and Android
users can choose an audio recording or
soundbite from movies, shows, music
and Internet trends and record a video
of themselves dubbing over that piece of
audio) carrying the hashtag and the win-
ners were rewarded with tickets to the
“We wanted to reach out to as many
Rajini fans across the island as possible
and get them involved.
“ It is not just about the movie, but it
also about celebrating the stardom of a
person who has been an influential fig-
ure in our lives,” said Mr Vijayan, a tech-
nician. “I took half a day’s leave just to
watch this movie.”
Mr Magesh Kumar, 35, another
RMM member, said: “We were still cele-
brating ecstatically as we left the theatre.
The movie kept us at the edge of our
seats till the very end.”
Fans were also treated to the rice
dessert called Pongal before they left the
theatre. This was in line with the upcom-
ing harvest festival that is widely cele-
brated in Tamil Nadu.
Petta, which refers to a local neigh-
bourhood, is the first Rajinikanth film –
in 24 years – to release close to Pongal.
He plays the role of Kaali, a hostel
warden who has a happy and cheerful
personality. The warden’s style and
charisma sees people fawning over him.
Mystery unfolds as the movie pro-
gresses. What follows is a tale of action
The movie also stars Vijay Sethu-
pathi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Trisha,
Simran and Bobby Simha in pivotal
Rajinikanth revealed last month that
Petta is an entertaining throwback to
the kind of films he did in the 1990s. The
67-year-old star said: “Karthik has a
very different style of storytelling. He di-
rected this film like a true Rajinikanth
fan. Petta is an entertaining throwback
to the kind of films I did in the 1990s.
Karthik has extracted from me the kind
of work I used to perform three to four
The fans packed the theatre for the 6.30am screening.
“We were still celebrating
ecstatically as we left the theatre.
The movie kept us at the edge of
our seats till the very end.”
– Mr Magesh Kumar, another RMM member
6am frenzy for Rajini fans
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