Harish Jharia

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30 June 2013

Uttarakhand floods - Indian politicians reaping political advantages out of Kedarnath cloudbursts catastrphe


- Harish Jharia

Indian state Uttarakhand witnessed a nightmarish catastrophe on 16th and 17th June that started with heavy rains on Kedarnath Mountains, followed by cloudbursts, killing a thousand plus people and devastating billions of Rupees of properties of the holy shrine Kedarnath Dham and hundreds of villages in its vicinity. 

The Uttarakhand state government, the district administration and other self-governing bodies miserably failed to evacuate the stranded pilgrims from the devastated pilgrimage township. The authorities also ignored the widespread devastation across the hundred odd villages and the starving people of those villages of Gadhwal Hills. 

Indian Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh and the ruling alliance UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi went on an aerial survey of the devastated area of Kedarnath Mountains. Their aerial surveillance of the leaders resulted in huge deployment of army personnel including Indian Army, Indian Air force, ITBP, and other paramilitary forces. These armed forces and paramilitary personnel did exemplary services to the stranded people and saving lives of thousands of pilgrims in Kedarnath and elsewhere in the flood affected Himalayan valley. 

At the same time, the Indian politicians, especially from the ruling party in Uttarakhand and in the center, were busy in reaping political advantages by showing off their efforts in serving and helping the flood affected pilgrims. The most visible and widely publicized act was supplying food and relief material to the marooned people in the Himalayan pilgrimage. 

TV news channels beamed clips of trucks carrying relief material for the stranded pilgrims at Kedarnath hilly areas. It was declared that the relief material was sent by the government; at the same time, the trucks loaded with food and basic necessities were wrapped with huge banners displaying imaged of Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. The banners also were carried captions of ‘Youth Congress’.  Some snaps of Sonia Gandhi flagging off truck fleets loaded with relief material along with her son Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders were also releases to the media. 

The chief minister of Uttarakhand refused permission to other state governments of Gujrat, Madhya Pradesh etc, when they offered to join the evacuation and relief operations in the Himalayan devastated hills. They even refused entry for trucks that were proposed to be sent by other state governments. The obvious reason for this arrogant refusal of humanitarian help was that the other chief ministers were heading non-congress governments. 

A couple of Congress spokespersons kept justifying Uttarakhand Chief Minister’s refusal of permission to other Indian states governments for the evacuation and rehabilitation mission. Nevertheless, the Uttarakhand government has accepted that they failed in saving the lives of thousands of pilgrims and billions of Rupees of properties. 


28 June 2013

What is normal Blood Pressure BP - depending on Age

- Harish Jharia 

Human blood pressure, commonly known as BP is an important characteristic that is invariably measured by doctors at the very first medical examination. There are two values that are measured and recorded at the time of measurement of blood pressure BP. They are Systolic BP and diastolic BP. 

Systolic pressure is the pressure at which the blood is pumped with the contraction of heart's ventricles for pushing-out the blood through the veins.  The diastolic pressure is the pressure of your blood when your heart is idle and not pumping out blood. 

The normal blood pressure BP of a healthy young human being is considered to be 120 / 80. That means the Systolic BP should be 120 and the Diastolic BP is expected to be 80. The scale of measurement of BP is mmHg that we are not going to discuss in this article. 

High blood pressure can result in damage to heart and other vital organs of human body, if left unattended. Therefore, monitoring of BP is essential for humans, especially after the age of 40 for detecting any health hazards well in advance and avert loss of life. 

Here are the approximate normal ranges of blood pressure BP* specified for different age groups:

Age 15 to 19: 105 / 73 min; 120 / 81 max
Ages 20 to 24: 108 / 75 min; 132 / 83 max
Age 25 to 29: 109 / 76 min; 133 / 84 max
Age 30 to 34: 110 / 77 min; 134 / 85 max
Age 35 to 39: 111 / 78 min; 135 / 86 max
Age 40 to 44: 112 / 79 min; 137 / 87 max
Age 45 to 49: 115 / 80 min; 139 / 88 max
Age 50 to 54: 116 / 81 min; 142 / 89 max
Age 55 to 59: 118 / 82 min; 144 / 90 max
Age 60 to 64: 121 / 83 min; 147 / 91 max

*(For BP monitoring only)

This article is written, based on my personal observations and on the information collected from the media. My intention for publishing the same is to provide healthy reading and intellectual entertainment and not for educating the visitors. No literature or authentic books have been referred for writing the contents of this article. The visitors are advised not to refer the contents of this article for any research or testimony on athletic or legal purposes. The visitors are further advised to consult relevant experts before adapting any information from this article. The author or the website are not responsible for any errors, mistakes, or omissions there in. 
- Harish Jharia

26 June 2013

Gobhi Manchurian Chinese Recipe - गोभी मंचूरियन चाईनीज़ व्यंजन

Gobhi Manchurian is one of the most popular Indo-Chinese dishes, cooked and eaten in India. This cuisine is an adaptation of Chinese seasoning and cooking techniques to suite Indian spices, herbs and the tastes of Indians. It is believed to have been discovered by the Chinese Indians settled in Kolkata, India, for over a century. Being extremely popular among urban Indians, it is widely cooked and sold in major Indian cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Pune etc.  

Ingredients for Gobhi Manchurian - गोभी मंचूरियन के लिए आवश्यक सामग्री

15 cauliflower pieces of lemon size - १५ नीबू की साईज के गोभी के टुकड़े 
3 tablespoons corn flour - ३ बड़ी चम्मच कार्नफ्लोर 
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour - ५ बड़ी चम्मच मैदा 
¼ cup water - १/४ कप पानी 
1 teaspoon black pepper powder - १ छोटी चम्मच पीसी काली मिर्च 
Salt to taste - नमक स्वादानुसार 
oil for deep frying - तलने के लिए तेल 

Cooking Method for Gobhi Manchurian - मंचूरियन बनाने की विधि 
  • Heat up oil in a wok or in a deep fryer. - कढाई में तेल गरम करें. 
  • In the meanwhile, dissolve the corn flour and all-purpose flour along with pepper and salt in water. - साथ ही, कार्नफ्लोर, मैदा, काली मिर्च और नमक को १ कप पानी में घोलें 
  • Add the cauliflower pieces and mix until they get coated with the flour mixture. - गोभी के टुकड़ों को इस घोल में डाल कर अच्छी तरह मिश्रण में लपेट लें.
  • Slide about 5 pieces at a time into the hot oil and fry them until golden brown. - इन लपेटे हुए गोभी कि टुकड़ों को तेल में सुनहरे होने तक ताल लें. 
  • Remove from oil and drain them in paper towels. Keep aside. - तलने पर इन्हें निकालकर टिश्यू पेपर पर निथार लें और एक तरफ रखलें. 
Ingredients for Manchurian Sauce - सॉस के लिए आवश्यक सामग्री

½ cup chopped spring onions - १/२ कप कटी हरी प्याज 
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic - १ बड़ा चम्मच बारीक कटा लहसुन 
2 teaspoons finely chopped green chillies - २ बड़ा चम्मच बारीक कटी हरी मिर्च 
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger - १ छोटा चम्मच बारीक कटा अदरक
1 tablespoon corn flour - १ बड़ा चम्मच कार्नफ्लोर 
1 cup water or vegetable stock - १ कप पानी या वेजीटेबल स्टाक 
1 tablespoon soy sauce - १ बड़ा चम्मच सोया सॉस 
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup - १ बड़ा चम्मच टोमैटो कैचअप
1 teaspoon red chilli sauce (Asian style) - १ छोटा चम्मच रेड चिली सॉस 
1 tablespoon vegetable/sunflower oil - १ बड़ा चम्मच वेजीटेबल या सनफ्लावर आयल 
Salt to taste नमक स्वादानुसार 

Cooking Method for Sauce - सॉस बनाने की विधि
  • Mix the corn flour with ¼ cup of water. - Add soya sauce, ketchup, chilli sauce and salt. कार्नफ्लोर को १/४ कप पानी में कार्नफ्लोर घोलें और ऊपर से सोया सॉस, चिली सॉस और नमक डालकर मिलाएं. 
  • Heat oil in a wok or frying pan on high heat; add garlic, ginger, green chillies, spring onions and stir fry for a few seconds. - एक कढाई में १ बड़ा चम्मच तेल गरम करें. ऊपर से अदरक, लहसुन, हरी मिर्च और हरा प्याज डाल कर कुछ सेकण्ड तक ज़रा सा भूनें. 
  • Add the corn flour mixture to the above and cook for a few minutes until thick and the corn flour is cooked. - ऊपर से कार्न्फलौर का मिश्रण डाल कर मिलाएं और गाढा होने तक और पकने तक पकाएं.
  • Turn off heat. Toss the Fried Cauliflower with the Manchurian Sauce and serve. - पकने पर गैस बंद कर दें फ्राई किए हुए गोभी मंचूरियन इस गरम सॉस में डालें और खाने के लिए प्लेट में डालें. 
  • Garnish with spring onion leaves and extra green chillies if you like it spicy. - ऊपर से हरी प्याज और हरी मिर्च से गार्निश करे और परोसें. 
Compiled by – Harish Jharia

24 June 2013

16th June Uttarakhand floods and cloudburst on Kedarnath Hills: how could the disaster be minimized?

- Harish Jharia

How and why did the devastation occur:

16 June 2013 was the worst day in the history of Kedarnath shrine that turned into a real hell for the next 24 hours until 17th June 2013, stranding 50,000 plus pilgrims, leaving more than 19,000 people missing and 5000 feared dead in the catastrophe.    

The nightmarish deadly episode is believed to have been initiated with incessant heavy rains followed by a massive cloudburst that resulted in fragmentation and landslides of Kedar Dome Mountain due to enormous accumulation of water in the valley.  Huge masses of mud silt and rocks along with heavy floods of rainwater swept down the mountains engulfing the Kedarnath Shrine and the township around the holy pilgrimage. 

The weather conditions in the valley started deteriorating on Saturday the 16th June and turned into a mammoth devastating machine after Mandakini River began to swell and enormous floodwater swept down the mountains. Subsequently, in the early hours of Sunday the 17th June, the deadly cloudburst took place and a huge volume of rainwater flooded down the hills with massive deadly force. 

Huge rocks broke away from Kedar Dome Mountain and rolled down towards the Kedarnath Shrine. These mammoth rocks got stuck at some distance from the temple, thereby forming an obstruction for the flooding water, mud silt and debris to strike the Kedarnath Temple. These rocks diverted the direction of the flow of mud and sludge, away from the main temple and prevented its destruction. Nevertheless, the ‘Himalayan Tsunami’ devastated everything else in the Kedarnath Township that came in its way.

Where the Government failed in protecting Kedarnath Shrine and pilgrims:
  1. The cloudburst, fragmentation of mountain and floods were natural disasters that could not be stopped or averted by human efforts. Nevertheless, proper advanced precautions, weather forecasting arrangements and hi-altitude civic management (town planning) could have reduced the devastation and deaths of thousands of innocent pilgrims. 
  2. Weather / Cloudburst forecast and precautions:
  3. There is a misconception in the minds of people and the government that ‘cloudbursts’ cannot be predicted. Experts say that tailor-made cloudburst forecast equipments are available in the world that could be installed at places like Kedarnath, Badrinath etc where thousands of pilgrims use to visit round the year. Such infrastructures may also be installed at the tourists’ places at hi-altitudes where possibilities of cloudbursts are there.
  4. The authorities should also take precautionary measures for reducing the probable devastation and deaths. They could be something like the following:
  5. Hi-tech weather and cloudburst forecasting infrastructure should be installed at these vulnerable places. 
  6. Huge and strong concrete walls should be constructed around the shrines and localities at the bases of the hills, in order to divert the flow of flood waters. 
  7. Deep rooted trees and thick shrubs should be grown on the hills and mountains for avoiding landslides and fragmentation of the hills and mountains.
  8. All the hilly roads should have extra strong reinforcement done along the slopes beside them. 
  9. Extra strong reinforcement is also required to be provided at the banks of rivers like Mandakini where residential buildings, hotels and commercial structures are constructed alongside. Many buildings were uprooted and catapulted when the flood-waters swept away the earth at riverbanks during the Kedarnath catastrophe. 

Disaster management:

Disaster Management, an essential requirement in modern-day civic life is practically nonexistent in India. India will have to work on something like the following lines:
  1. We should have an effective Disaster Management infrastructure and a dedicated workforce to implement its activities. 
  2. There should be a laid-down drill specified for the Disaster Management Authorities without any confusion, bias or prejudice. 
  3. The State Government as well as the Central Government should be equally responsible for addressing the emergency crisis.
  4. The concerned Collector, state and central Ministers and other civic officials should reach the affected place or at the nearest possible locations for managing the activities of Disaster Management. 
  5. There should be a time limit for attending to each action viz- initialization; food & water supply; rescue operation; recovery of essential commodities, currency and treasures; medical assistance and escorting people to the nearest location or facilities to their destinations etc.  

23 June 2013

TV Review of Uttaran – how a Bengali family speaks UP dialect

Ichchha / Meethi (double role of Tina Dutta )

- Harish Jharia 

Story until now:

Uttaran is a story of a domestic maidservant Damini (Vaishali Thakkar) and her offspring Ichchha (Tina Dutta) who eventually transformed into the owners of the household where they were employed. Damini became the owner of a catering firm and Ichchha got married to a Bundela family. The story revolved around Ichchha who faced many adversities of her life and kept moving frequently from one place to the other. 

During one of her destinations, Ichchha happened to stay with a Bengali family of Chatterjees. In frequent turns of events Ichchha committed murder of Avinash Chatterjee who was a rogue and the only son of the Chatterjee family.  Avinash Chatterjee died leaving behind his wife Ekadashi Chatterjee (Krutika Desai) and a son who grownup into Akash Chatterjee (Mrunal Jain). These two characters appeared in the serial when the third generation began in the story and Ichchha’s daughter grew up into a young woman Meethi (double role of Tina Dutta ) . 

The story takes a dramatic turn when Akash Chatterjee (Mrunal Jain) fell in love with Meethi (double role of Tina Dutta as Ichchha and Meethi). At this juncture there are two lead families portrayed on the screen and they are Damini’s family and that of Ekadashi Chatterjee’s (Krutika Desai) Bengali family. 

Akash Chatterjee (Mrunal Jain) 

Observation and Review:

There is a serious fault in the story and that is the language spoken by the Chatterjee family. In spite of being a Bengali family the members of Chaterjee family speak a UP Hindi dialect rather than interacting in Bengali language. Bengalis basically feel pride in speaking in their own language ‘Bengali’. Therefore, it looks odd when a Chatterjee speaks a Hindi dialect like Bundeli, Awadhi or Braj Bhasha.

It appears that the makers of Utaran have resorted to use Hindi dialect with Chatterjees just to justify the aggressive attitude and revengeful cruel activities of that family. They might have used some twists in between the episodes; nevertheless, Chattejees speaking Hindi dialect like Bundeli, Awadhi or Braj Bhasha looks a dedicated attempt to hit higher TRP. 


13 June 2013

LK Advani’s resignation following Narendra Modi’s elevation and its effects on BJP’s 2014 election strategy

Harish Jharia

Lal Krishna Advani, the 85-year-old BJP veteran, resigned from all BJP posts on 4 June 2013. This is for the third time in last eight years, when BJP leader LK Advani has resigned from the top BJP posts. The three occasions of his resignations are as follows:
  1. LK Advani, one of the founder members of BJP, had first resigned as party president on June 7, 2005, following stern objections from the RSS and right wing outwits against his praise for Pakistan founder Md Ali Jinnah. Advani described Jinnah as a "secular" leader during his six-day Pakistan visit. He had described Jinnah as one of the "very few who actually create history". Nevertheless, Advani, withdrew his resignation from the party chief's post after extensive negotiations, ending a emergent leadership crisis in the main opposition party of India.
  2. However, after about six months he again stepped down as party president on December 31, 2005, in order to bring down the Jinna controversy to an end. He was then succeeded by the current party President Rajnath Singh.
    Note: The BJP veteran, who was appointed President in October 2004 for his 3rd inning, stood by his comments while submitting his resignation letter. Advani wrote in his resignation letter that "I have not said or done anything in Pakistan which I need to retract or review".
  3. It was the third time when Advani resigned from all BJP posts, on June 4, 2013 following the elevation of Narendra Modi, on the occasion of BJP’s National Executive Meet in Goa, to the status of the Chairman of BJP's Election Campaign Committee for 2014 elections.  
Advani’s resignation was not a surprise to the people, as his dissatisfaction was obviously visible for the last many months, when BJP party organization was successively elevating Narendra Modi in Indian politics. Modi’s appointment to the coveted post of the Chairman of BJP's Election Campaign Committee for 2014 elections brought the final turmoil in the national politics of India. Nevertheless, people never expected a resignation from the BJP founder at a crucial time when the party was preparing for the historical election of 2014.  

The first negative reaction of Advani’s resignation was a horrifying scare of more resignations by other BJP leaders. BJP supporters were in fact waiting in shock for suspected resignations of other senior politicians from Advani group.  But, not a single BJP leader came forward to resign in support of Advani. On the other hand people at many places, rejoiced and celebrated the elevation of Narendra Modi and media gave extensive coverage to those celebrations.

Secondly, Advani’s resignation had sparked off the fuse of explosives blazing within the politicians and parties who opposed Narendra Modi from day one. These were a couple of NDA allies who watched with fear and envy, the dedicated projection of Narendra Modi as the future PM of India. Immediately after the Advani resignation episode, the main NDA ally Nitish Kumar led JDU, came forward to express their intentions of withdrawing as ally from NDA. JDU in fact, won the election in Bihar, with the support of BJP and formed government in alliance with BJP.  Nevertheless, now playing the pro-minority card, JDU is now dreaming of survival with support of new ‘secular’ allies, after the resignation episode.

In view of these fallouts, it is felt that Advani’s resignation was a mistake that has harmed the main Indian opposition party BJP. It is yet to be seen as to how much damage the resignation drama has done to the 2014 election strategy of BJP. However, this resignation episode has definitely reduced the weight of Advani’s persona. Advani, being one of the founder fathers of BJP was expected to take much more careful steps to express his displeasure about the states of affairs in BJP. A leader of his stature should have given priority to the interests of the party rather than putting them at stake.


07 June 2013

Indian food and recipes - what is chhaunk छौंक, baghar बघार, tadkaa तड़का

© Harish Jharia 

Indian foods, cooked in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are different from their counterparts prevalent elsewhere in the world. Most of the Indian foods are independent recipes cooked separately and cannot be eaten as single eatable items. At least two items or more are required to be eaten together each time (examples- daal, sabzi, curry, roti, boiled rice etc). This Indian style of cooking and eating is different from the recipes cooked in other countries in the world, where assortments or ready-to-eat single recipes are cooked and eaten (examples- chaomin, Chicken Enchiladas, Spinach-Feta Stuffed Chicken etc).  There are many ready to eat single recipes in Indian cuisines also like khichdi, biryani, pulaos, poha, upma etc; but they are not eaten as daily foods.

In this article we are going to discuss the most important and basic cooking action called chhaunk छौंक, baghar बघार, tadkaa तड़का; without which Indian recipes are incomplete and regarded as tasteless. I tried to find English synonym for this Indian terminology but could not find across the internet. The obvious reason for that is that chhaunk छौंक, baghar बघार, tadkaa तड़का are not used in intercontinental cooking. Nevertheless, we may consider tempering or seasoning as English equivalents for Tadkaa. 

The other names of tadkaa used in different languages of India are: Nepali- jhaneko; Punjabi– tadkaa (ਤਡ਼ਕਾ, تڑکا); Gujrati– vaghaar (વઘાર); Bengal – bagar (বাগার; Tamil- Thaalittal (தாளித்தல்); Kannada- Oggarne ( ಒಗ್ಗರಣೆ ); Telugu– Thalimpoo (తాలింపు), Marathi– Phodni (फोडणी); Urdu– tadkaa (تڑکا ), baghaar (بگهار ) and  Konkani- fonna फोण्ण.

The contemporary style of applying tadkaa तड़का: Tadkaa is a cooking action done by tossing dry spices / herbs in smoking hot oil in the beginning or at the end of cooking of most of Indian recipes. By doing so the aromatic flavors of the spices / herbs are extracted from the seasonings for flavoring the cooking food. For giving tadkaa, a couple of tablespoonful of vegetable cooking oil or rectified butter (ghee घी) is poured in a frying / cooking pan. It is than heated to smoking hot state. 

The seasonings of few of the dry spices / herbs like asafetida हींग, Cumin Seeds जीरा, Mustard Seeds राई, dry red chilies सूखी लाल मिर्च, black peppercorn काली मिर्च, Bay leaf तेज पत्ता, cinnamon दालचीनी are kept ready before heating the oil for tadkaa. The raw material of the recipe like cut and washed vegetable, chicken, meat should also be kept ready before heating the oil for tadkaa. 
Once the oil comes to smoking hot state, the seasonings should be tossed into the hot oil spontaneously. The seeds of the seasonings will soon start spluttering. The cut and washed raw material of the recipe should be tossed in the pan well before the spices start burning. This entire tadkaa process takes less than a minute and you need to act as fast as possible to achieve optimum results. 

The traditional style of tadka given to Rayta रायता: Here is an exciting traditional way of applying tadkaa to an accompaniment dish cum appetizer- Rayta रायता, made of curd or buttermilk, mixed with grated cucumber or boondies बेसन की बूंदी. This style of tadkaa is followed for community cooking of Rayta with huge quantity of about 5 litres and more.

Preparation: Keep all the following items ready:
  1. Prepare Rayta रायता of your choice and keep it aside in a pot with narrow neck and covering lid.  
  2. A miniature earthen urn called small kullhad कुल्ल्हड़ / डबुलिया of about 50 ml size.
  3. A pair of tongs संडासी for holding and carrying the hot earthen pot. 
  4. Seasonings of spices /  herbs: Dry red chilies साबुत लाल मिर्च, mustard seeds राई, cumin seeds जीरा, Asafetida हींग, curry leaves कढी पत्ता
  1. Hold the earthen urn with the tongs and heat the same on fire.
  2. Pour vegetable cooking oil in the hot earthen pot on fire unto ¾ of it.
  3. Toss the seasonings of spices / herbs when the oil starts smoking.
  4. As soon as the seeds of spices start spluttering, carry the hot earthen pot held in the tongs to the Rayta and drop it in the Rayta. 
  5. Close the Rayta pot with its lid and you are done.
Caution: The above procedure of tadkaa is quite adventurous and risky. Children should be kept away from the place of this cooking action. Proper care and precautions should be taken by the cook while performing various acts of this procedure; lest, severe burns and / or injuries may be inflicted.