Vasantham Boys will celebrate veteran Singaporean artiste Mohamed Raffee’s (third from left) 50th year of music-making with a
concert at the Kalaa Utsavam today
Indian arts on show
REPORT ON PAGE 6
REPORT ON PAGE 5
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
NOVEMBER 19, 2021
MCI (P) 034/10/2021
HO CHI MINH WATCH
FALGUNI IS INDIA’S
Modi lands in Hercules plane on
Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed
in a Hercules transport aircraft on
India’s newest motorway – the 341km
Purvanchal Expressway – on Tuesday
in a spectacular stunt highlighting the
country’s dual-use roads that double
up as emergency military airstrips.
The giant plane carrying Mr Modi
landed on a dead-straight stretch of
the new expressway at Karwal Kheri in
Uttar Pradesh’s Sultanpur district
before a brief air show by the Indian
Air Force with French-made Mirage
jets and Russian Su-30MKIs using the
road as a runway.
Seven suspected militants killed
Indian security have killed seven
suspected militants in Kashmir this
week, including a district commander,
in an offensive following recent killings
of civilans by militants.
The troops also killed two men
suspected of helping the militants, but
relatives said they were innocent and
held a candlelit protest in Kashmir’s
main city Srinagar on Wednesday.
DCW chief urges President to
withdraw Kangana’s Padma Shri
Delhi Commission for Women (DCW)
chief Swati Maliwal wrote to President
Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday urging
him to withdraw Bollywood actress
Kangana Ranaut’s Padma Shri, India’s
fourth highest civilian award.
The DCW chief also sought
registration of a case against Kangana
on sedition charges after she described
India’s independence in 1947 (from
the British) as “bheekh” or alms.
Kangana controversially said the
country attained actual independence
in 2014 – when the Bharatiya Janata
Party-led government came to power.
Reddy’s open to manufacturing
new Covid-19 pill
Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, one of a
handful of Indian drug companies
licensed to make a new Covid-19 pill
developed by Merck, said on Monday
it was open to making a similar pill
from Pfizer, thought to be even more
The new drugs, which unlike
vaccines can be used to treat patients
once they contract the Covid virus, are
expected to have a huge market.
Press Council seeks report from
Tripura over journalists’ arrest
The Press Council of India has
expressed concern and sought an
explanation from the Tripura
government after two journalists were
arrested by the police last Sunday for
spreading hatred in the state.
HW News Network’s Swarna Jha
and Samriddhi Sakunia were granted
bail by a Chief Judicial Magistrate’s
court after they were arrested for
reporting on communal incidents in
American Airlines starts
New York-Delhi flight
American Airlines launched its maiden
flight into India last Saturday after a
gap of 10 years.
The airline now offers a daily
service between New Delhi and New
This flight was supposed to start at
the end of October but was deferred
by a couple of weeks for the Nov 8
United States reopening for
26 Maoist militants killed in
police ambush in Maharashtra
Police in Maharashtra killed at least
26 Maoist militants, including a top
leader, in an ambush in a dense forest,
The Maoists, also known as Naxals,
have waged an armed struggle against
government forces for decades.
They say they are fighting for the
poor who have been left behind in
India’s economic boom.
Sonu Sood’s sister to contest
Bollywood actor Sonu Sood, who is
known for his philanthropic work
during the Covid-19 pandemic, has
announced that his younger sister
Malvika is ready to serve the people of
Punjab and will contest the state
assembly elections next year.
However, he said that they are yet
to decide which political party she will
join and it will be “revealed at the
200 birds die due to avian flu
Around 200 birds have died due to
avian influenza in Rajasthan over the
past week, a senior forest department
official has revealed.
The disease has mainly been
detected in Kuranja birds or
Demoiselle cranes, which are found in
several parts of Rajasthan.
“It is now feared that the avian
influenza may spread to cattle,” said
District Forest Officer Ramesh Kumar
Akasa Air places order for 72
Boeing 737 MAX jets
India’s Akasa Air on Tuesday placed
an order for 72 Boeing 737 MAX jets,
valued at nearly US$9 billion ($12.2
billion) – a deal that could help the
United States planemaker regain lost
ground in one of the world’s most
The order by the billionaire
investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-backed
airline comes months after India’s air
safety regulator allowed the country’s
airlines to fly the MAX jet, ending its
years of regulatory
grounding after two fatal crashes in
five months killed 346 people.
Girl allegedly raped by 400 men
over six months in Maharashtra
A 16-year-old girl was allegedly raped
by 400 men over the last six months
in Maharashtra’s Beed district, ANI
She was allegedly sexually
exploited even by a policeman when
she tried to file a complaint. She is
now two months pregnant.
After she lodged a complaint with
the police last week, a case was
Beed Superintendent of Police Raja
Ramasamy said last Sunday that three
people have been arrested.
Pandya clarifies on ‘Rs5 crore
watch’ seized’ by airport customs
Cricketer Hardik Pandya on Tuesday
refuted reports that two wrist watches
worth Rs5 crore ($910,000) were
seized from him at the Mumbai
airport on his return from Dubai last
He said that only one watch worth
Rs1.5 crore had been taken for
ANI had said that two watches
were seized by the customs
department because Pandya did not
have a receipt for them.
Schools and colleges shut in Delhi
as pollution worsens
Authorities in Delhi have shut all
schools and colleges indefinitely amid
the worsening levels of air pollution.
Construction work has also been
banned until Sunday but an exception
has been made for transport and
A toxic haze has smothered Delhi
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V.K. Santosh Kumar
Channel Excellence Lead
Sikh pilgrims gesture
on Wednesday as they
return from Gurdwara
Sahib in Pakistan after
paying their respects
on the occasion of
Guru Nanak’s birth
thousands of Sikh
pilgrims to cross the
border into Pakistan
from Wednesday, ahead
of the birth anniversary
celebrations of the
religion’s founder today.
Corridor, a visa-free
crossing allowing Indian
Sikhs to visit the temple
in Pakistan where Guru
Nanak died in 1539, first
opened in 2019 for his
550th birth anniversary.
It was closed last year
because of the Covid-19
Kartarpur Corridor reopens for Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary celebrations
The groom Engels and bride Bismitha with (from left) Marx, Lenin and Ho Chi Minh after the wedding ceremony in Athirapally.
An Indian comedian and actor has been forced to
defend himself against online accusations of “insult-
ing the country”, after he performed a “two Indias”
monologue in Washington DC.
Mr Vir Das (right), one of India’s top satirical
performers, is known for his willingness to critically
observe his country.
“I come from an India where we worship women
during the day and gang-rape them at night,” Mr Das
told a packed hall at the John F. Kennedy Center in
Washington DC on Nov 12 during his current world
A seven-minute video of the speech, which
covered issues ranging from air pollution, journalism
and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Covid-19 relief
efforts to cricket, uploaded to YouTube on Monday
garnered more than 850,000 views till Wednesday.
“I come from an India where we bleed blue every
time we play green,” he said, referring to the
sporting uniforms of his country and arch-rival
Pakistan. But every time we lose to green, we turn
orange all of a sudden.”
Orange refers to muscular Hindu nationalism,
often symbolised by the colour saffron.
“I come from an India where we take pride in
being vegetarian and yet run over the farmers who
grow our vegetables,” he added, referring to the
deaths of at least eight people last month when a car
linked to a Union minister allegedly ran over several
people during a protest against controversial farm
laws. “I come from an India that will watch this and
know there is a gigantic joke. It just isn’t funny,” he
Soon after Mr Das released the video, social
media users accused him of insulting India on the
global stage, and at least two police complaints were
filed against him.
Leading Indian actress Kangana Ranaut slammed
Mr Das, calling the video “soft terrorism”, and
wrote on Instagram: “Strict action should be taken
against such criminals.”
Mr Ashutosh Dubey, a legal adviser to the ruling
Bharatiya Janata Party, said he filed a complaint with
the Mumbai police on Tuesday against
Mr Das’ “inflammatory” comments.
Indian filmmaker Ashoke Pandit said Mr Das
“should be immediately arrested” for his comments.
“I see a terrorist in this man called #VirDas,” he
wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, adding Mr Das should
be “tried under terror laws”.
Mr Das took to Twitter insisting the video was a
“satire about the duality of two separate Indias that
do different things”.
“Like any nation has light and dark, good and
evil within it. None of this is a secret,” he added.
He received support from several opposition
politicians, journalists and activists.
Mr Shashi Tharoor, a lawmaker with the opposi-
tion Congress Party, said Mr Das “spoke for
millions” in a post on Twitter. “A stand-up comedian
who knows the real meaning of the term ‘stand up’
is not physical but moral,” he said.
The backlash against Mr Das is not the first time
an Indian comic has come under fire from right-wing
groups and activists.
Comedian Munawar Faruqui was held in prison
for more than a month after being accused of
insulting Hindu gods and goddesses.
This month, he cancelled three shows in Mumbai
after a right-wing group threatened to set the venue
Marx, Lenin and Ho Chi Minh gath-
ered at Athirapally in Kerala last
Friday to watch their friend Engels tie
But there wasn’t a German, Russian
or Vietnamese in sight as members of
the local Communist Party, CPI(M),
attended the wedding at a boutique
Capturing the giants of communism
together in a photo frame was momen-
tous. But Marx, Lenin, Ho Chi Minh
and Engels were actually Keralites who
were named after the Communist
giants by their left-leaning fathers.
Mr Engels and Mr Lenin are broth-
ers, while Mr Marx and Mr Ho Chi
Minh are the sons of a local CPI(M)
activist, reported the Malayalam news-
paper Mathrubhumi. All four men are
active CPI(M) members.
Mr Marx even flew back from the
hyper-capitalist Gulf city of Dubai to
attend the ceremonies when Mr En-
gels, a native of Athirapally in Thrissur
district, got married to Bismitha, also
from the same place, at the Panchayat
“Of course, it is very rare to have
all the giants in communism come
together in a single frame,” joked
Communism remains in vogue in
Kerala, where the CPI(M) has gov-
erned for much of the last six decades.
Many followers of the party are given
revolutionary names such as Marx,
Stalin and Trotsky.
According to Mr Engels, the Athira-
pally panchayat (elected council) has
been a communist stronghold for a
“Every family here is a staunch
follower of the Communist party,” he
“My dad Thomas and Ouseph, the
father of Marx and Ho Chi Minh, have
been friends and neighbours. They are
die-hard Communists and follow the
ideology to the letter,”
Mr Engels has been a member of
the Athirapally CPI(M) committee for
the past 12 years. Mr Ouseph was its
“So, when we were born, our father
named us after the German philoso-
pher and revolutionary socialist
Friedrich Engels and the founding
Soviet head of government Vladimir
Lenin,” said Mr Engels.
“However, my two younger sisters
have normal Indian names.”
For Mr Engels, the name has never
been a problem. “I have been an
active member of the CPI(M) and was
with the (left-leaning) SFI (Students’
Federation of India) since my school
days,” he said.
“However, the same can’t be said
about my younger brother Lenin. He
is not into politics,”
Mr Engels’ wife was also with the
SFI during her college days. She is not
active in politics now.
As for giving his children commu-
nist names, Mr Engels said: “As a
staunch communist, I would like to
follow my father’s trend. However, this
is a decision that I won’t be able to
make all by myself. I would need my
wife to agree to it.”
India leant more towards the Soviet
Union during the Cold War and Rus-
sian monikers including even Pravda –
the name of the USSR’s state newspa-
per – are not unheard of, particularly
in the south.
Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister is
M.K. Stalin, named by his father
M. Karunanidhi, a former chief minis-
ter, in honour of the Soviet dictator.
A wedding in that state in June saw
Socialism getting married in front of
brothers Communism, Leninism and
His bride was P. Mamata Banerjee,
named by her grandfather after the
firebrand politician and current chief
minister of West Bengal, who ironi-
cally ended decades of communist rule
in the state in 2011.
Comedian under fire after ‘two Indias’ comments
“Of course, it is very
rare to have all the
giants in communism
come together in a
– The groom Engels
Marx, Lenin and Ho Chi Minh watch Engels wed
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