Sunday, Dec 19, 2021 08:00 [IST]

Last Update: Sunday, Dec 19, 2021 02:28 [IST]

A watershed moment in History

Mrinal Chatterjee

Window Seat
On December 16, 1971, a new nation was born. It broke a myth, which was one of the premises basing on which India was divided. Faith did not bind people for long. This was also the day independent India got its first major decisive victory, which heralded the transformation of East Pakistan into a new nation-Bangladesh. The commander of the Pakistani forces in Bangladesh Gen AAK Niazi along with more than 90,000 soldiers surrendered before the Indian Army and Muktibahini in Dhaka.
On this day Bangladesh celebrates ‘Bijoy Dibosh’, Victory Day to mark the day it attained liberation from Pakistan in 1971 under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The victory over Pakistan army was achieved after a nine month long liberation war carried by the people of Bangladesh and supported by Indian armed forces. Close to 3 million people of Bangladesh and several thousands of Indian soldiers lost their lives during the liberation war. Tens of millions fled to in India and found shelter. It was an enormous economic strain on India, but people of India bore it with resilience.
In the last half a century, Bangladesh has made rapid economic and social progress, thanks mainly to Seikh Hasina’s charismatic leadership. In several development matrix, Bangladesh is way ahead of Pakistan, and in some it has moved ahead of India. From being a poor country dependent on foreign charity it is gradually emerging as an economic power house. India, despite some hiccups has had a friendly relation with Bangladesh. It is to the mutual interest of both the nations that they maintain a cordial relationship.  
Benefit of Lock-down
The lockdowns induced by Corona pandemic have wrecked our economy, rendered millions job-less, negatively impacted the general physical and mental health of tens of millions and pushed many below poverty line.  However, it has had some benefits. We discovered that one can work from home. In some cases it works out better and more profitable both for the employee and employer. We discovered on-line teaching learning. We discovered tele-medicine system can actually work.
Another one of the visible benefits is that during the extended lock-down a disproportionately large number of books have been written. Extended lock-downs forced people to stay indoors and that provided them opportunity to reflect and ruminage. Some of them used this opportunity to write books, which they otherwise probably would not have written.
Many interesting experiments have been done in film-making, fine art, dance and music while staying locked up at home.
50 years of Ajanta Clocks
I got the idea of writing about Ajanta clocks from a short story that a rookie writer had sent to me to read and comment on. There was a description of an old household with a ‘British-era ‘Ajanta’ wall clock.
As a former journalist, checking facts has become my second nature. Ajanta and British time watch! I tried to check, googled the word and looked up to facts that I could manage to lay my hands on. I was amazed to find out that 2021 is in fact the golden jubilee year of the company which manufactured a brand which became an icon.
It was in 1971 Gujarat based Odhavjibhai R. Patel (1925-2012) started making wall clocks by the brand name Ajanta with Rs 1 lakh. Fifty years later, the company claims to be the largest manufacturer of wall clocks of the world. The company now being run by the third generation in the family also manufactures other consumer goods products and registered a turnover of Rs 1,200 crore in 2019.
Odhavjibhai and his son Pravinbhai Patel were also the first to bring the quartz technology to India after a visit to Japan in 1975. Quartz clocks use an electric oscillator regulated by a quartz crystal to keep time. With this technology, clocks no longer had to be winded.
Soon, the company launched Ajanta Quartz and India’s first quartz clock, called ‘Janta’, was launched in 1985-86 and gained immense popularity in the market.
A few years later, in 1996, Ajanta introduced another subsidiary called Orpat and launched telephones and calculators. Soon enough, Orpat, which was derived from Odhavjibhai Patel’s name, began manufacturing different consumer electronics and home appliances.
As of 2021, the company has around 450 depots and 50,000 retailers for Indian markets and also serves 45 other countries across the globe.
Miss Universe
Harnaaz Sandhu created history when the 21-year-old was crowned Miss Universe, ending the 21-year title drought for India. She joined the league of former winners Sushmita Sen and Lara Dutta—the only two winners in Indian history who brought the crown home. A large section of media went gaga over the feat. Even Amul released an advertisement lauding the feat ‘Harnaaz pe kar naaz’. Sand art lauding her was installed at Puri sea beach by no less a person than Sudarshan Pattanaik.
Now consider this. Even as Ms Sandhu was lauded and cheered, Prof Neena Gupta of Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata was awarded the 2021 DST-ICTP-IMU Ramanujan Prize for young mathematicians from developing countries. She received the prize for her outstanding work in affine algebraic geometry and commutative algebra, in particular for her solution to the Zariski cancellation problem for affine spaces. She was the third woman in India to receive this prestigious award.
And there was hardly any media coverage of this. Few newspapers like Indian Express covered. No television footage, no congratulatory advertisement from Amul, no sand art.
The question remains- by creating hype around beauty pageant are we not promoting a culture that values gloss over substance, beauty over intellect and allow a free run of ‘old fashioned’ patriarchy? Is it not a case of misplaced priority?
Tailpiece: Slogan on T-Shirt
Knowing you are not alone is like peeing in your pants, others may notice it, but only you can feel its warmth.
(Journalist turned media academician Mrinal Chatterjee lives in Dhenkanal, Odisha. He also writes fiction and plays.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi