Young Sikhs respond with
kindness to influencer whose
Instagram post about
turbans sparks anger
First World response
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Instagram influencer Sheena Phua (left) with president of
the Young Sikh Association Sarabjeet Singh.
REPORT ON PAGE 6
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
OCTOBER 4, 2019
MCI (P) 078/03/2019
THE SKY IS PINK
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Singapore Press Holdings
(English/Malay/Tamil Media group)
V.K. Santosh Kumar
Marketing Team Head
NBA comes to India
A man walks past a National Basketball
Association (NBA) themed mural in
India will host the popular NBA for
the first time when the Indiana Pacers
and Sacramento Kings play two
pre-season games at the National Sports
Club of India in Worli today and
Basketball is attempting to gain a
foothold in a country where cricketers
are treated like gods and the ancient
sport of kabaddi is a hot television
National control room to handle
Following glaring lapses by federal and
state agencies to immediately respond
to people in distress during natural
calamities, the Central government is
setting up an integrated control room
for quick response and to carry out a
strategic level of monitoring.
“It has been found that during
natural calamities the response time of
the state and central governments is
delayed causing loss of many lives,”
said a senior Home Ministry officer.
UK court: Nizam’s £35 million
belong to descendants
In a major win for India, The United
Kingdom High Court has ruled that
funds Hyderabad’s Nizam Osman Ali
Khan transferred to the high
commissioner of Pakistan in Britain in
1948, now worth around £35 million,
belongs to India while dismissing
Pakistan’s claim over it.
The ruling ends over 70 years of
legal dispute over the beneficiary of
the funds the Nizam sought back after
his kingdom became part of India.
The titular eighth Nizam, Prince
Mukarram Jah, and his younger
brother Muffakham Jah, joined hands
with the Indian government last year
in the legal battle against Pakistan for
possession of the £35 million which is
lying in London’s NatWest Bank.
Surgical blade found in jail
A prisoner at Delhi’s Mandoli jail has
been found with a surgical blade in his
stomach. This came to light when
Sunil alias “Chooha” returned to jail
after appearing in a court hearing. A
metal detector detected the blade and
jail staff were alerted.
The prisoner was taken to the Guru
Teg Bahadur hospital where doctors
worked to remove the object.
Seven-hour journey to Doklam
now takes only 40 minutes
A journey to the Indian Army’s
strategic Dokala base, which stands at
the edge of the disputed Doklam
plateau near Sikkim, now takes no
more than 40 minutes on an
all-weather tarred road that has no
restrictions on load.
When the Indian Army had a tense
standoff with the Chinese People’s
Liberation Army in Doklam in 2017,
access to the base used to take up to
seven hours on a mule track.
According to the Border Roads
Organisation (BRO), the newly-
surfaced Bheem Base-Dokala road
“was black topped on a war footing”.
Workers transfer onions at a wholesale
vegetable market in New Delhi.
From Kathmandu to Colombo, it’s a kitchen night-
mare: Onion prices have gone crazy.
That’s because India, the world’s biggest seller of
the Asian diet staple, has banned exports after
extended monsoon downpours delayed harvests and
And dedicated buyers across the region, like
Nepalese housewife Seema Pokharel, are flum-
“This is a terrible increase,” said Ms Pokharel,
out shopping for vegetables in Kathmandu. “Onion
prices have more than doubled in the last month
Whether it’s Pakistani chicken curry, Bangladeshi
biryani or Indian sambar, Asian consumers have
developed a serious dependence on Indian onion
supplies for go-to dishes.
Shorter shipment times than from rival exporters
such as China and Egypt play a crucial role in
preserving the taste of the perishable commodity.
But last Sunday, New Delhi banned all exports
from India after local prices jumped to Rs4,500
($87) per 100kg, their highest in nearly six years,
due to the delay in summer-sown crop arrivals
triggered by longer, heavier rains than usual.
Prices of the vegetable, as ubiquitous as spices in
Indian cooking, surged more than 200 per cent last
month from previous months after flooding from
heavy monsoon rains damaged crops and reduced
supplies, reported Bloomberg.
That prompted the Indian government to ban
exports and crack down on hoarding to lower
prices, angering farmers who took to the streets on
Monday in protest.
The onion, whose soaring prices have been
blamed for bringing down past governments, puts
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tight spot.
During his re-election campaign this year, the
Baharatiya Janata Party leader promised to raise
incomes for farmers, a key voting constituency that
makes up more than half of the electorate.
Yet, he also needs to ensure inflation remains
stable, and food prices are already spiking higher.
“The government could be caught in a dilemma,
as while it seeks to keep food inflation contained, it
also has a promise to raise farm incomes,” said Mr
Jason Yek, Asia Country Risk Analyst at Fitch
Solutions. “Any measure to artificially depress the
price of onions could spur a backlash from the
This isn’t the first time onions have taken centre
stage in Indian politics. In 1998, high onion prices
were cited for the Bharatiya Janata Party losing the
vote in New Delhi.
In 2013, onions were blamed for soaring infla-
tion. Last year, Mr Modi, in his campaign to gain
reelection, said farmers are his “top” priority, with
TOP meaning Tomato, Onion and Potato.
Onion prices in India climbed to as high as Rs80
($1.56) a kilogram last month compared to Rs20 to
Rs25 in July through August.
The crisis comes at a time when the ruling BJP is
going into its first set of state elections after
returning to power in a general election earlier this
year. The BJP is seeking to retain power in Haryana
and Maharashtra, a key onion producing state, later
“The price of onions has become symbolic. The
price of all vegetables are going up but the
government has taken no initiative to bring them
down. There is a history of governments losing
badly due to onion prices. It is a politically sensitive
issue,” said Prof Sanjay Kumar from the Centre for
the Study of Developing Societies, a research
institute.“It just adds to the (economic) problems of
“This is a
have more than
doubled in the
Ms Seema Pokharel
Jitenram Kiran Bala and Ashwini Nambiar in a behind-the-scenes shot of 128 Circle.
Actors turn hawkers in new multilingual drama
Singapore’s newest and first multilin-
gual drama is set to see actors get their
hands dirty in real hawker stalls selling
popular fare such as roti prata, mee
siam and more.
Most of the main cast who played
hawkers in the drama titled 128 Circle,
starting Monday on Channel 5 at
9.30pm, had to undergo a Basic Food
Hygiene course, accredited by the
National Environment Agency.
“It was a unique experience and a
challenge. Though it was a very short
and concise course, it was very interest-
ing,” said Ashwini Nambiar, who plays
Rani in the drama.
It is the Vasantham actress’ first
The 15-episode weekly drama,
filmed at Ci Yuan Hawker Centre at
Hougang Avenue 9, features an Indian
Chandra (Silvarajoo Prakasam), fa-
mous for his prata, runs his hawker
stall with his wife Rani (Ashwini) and
soon-to-wed son Arun (Jitenram Kiran
Bala). The close family bond is chal-
lenged when Arun makes it clear that
he does not want to take over his
In the show, the cast will speak a
mix of English and their native mother
tongues – Mandarin, Malay or Tamil –
to reflect the authenticity of local
dialogues in situations where they
Jitenram, 28, told
public launch of 128 Circle at Bedok
Mall last Saturday: “While switching
between speaking Tamil and English
was relatively easy, the biggest chal-
lenge was making sure that the context
of the scene stays true to the essence
of the story.
“Certain things when translated
may come across differently; it may
have a different meaning, so it was
important to be conscious of that.”
His on-screen mother Ashwini
“In our daily lives, we tend to
speak a mix of both English and our
mother tongue – it’s a very natural
way of speaking, so that comes
through in the drama,” said the
“I would say 30 per cent of our
speech is in Tamil and it helped us to
emote well. There’s an identity to
Tamil and I found that in the drama
amid the English.”
Jitenram and Ashwini have previ-
ously worked together in a Vasantham
drama called Masala in 2016.
Shooting in a real hawker centre
posed some challenges such as sound
recording and crowd control but it
provided a “very real vibe”, said
“People were walking in, coming to
order their food from the stalls and we
had to tell them ‘no, it’s just a set-up’.
It was hilarious at times but there was
an authentic vibe because it’s a real
The titular 128 Circle Food Centre
is meant to sound like “want to eat”, a
reference to the Singaporean passion
for food, combined with the meta-
phoric circle of community.
The multiracial cast includes vet-
eran actors such as Duan Wei Ming
and Silvarajoo, familiar faces Daren
Tan, Jae Liew, Sharon Ismail, Ashwini
and Jitenram and new faces such as
Constance Lau and Chase Tan.
128 Circle executive producer and
director Lee Thean-jeen said she could
not think of a better way to showcase
Singapore’s multi-faceted society.
“128 Circle serves as the perfect
backdrop to explore the colourful and
rich interactions between different
races in Singapore,” she said.
“The stories that these hawkers tell
are raw but very relatable to every
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