‘It takes a woman and her unflinching will to bring about reform’: Google pays tribute to India’s Fatima Sheikh

News Network
January 9, 2022

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Google is celebrating the 191st birth anniversary of Indian educator and feminist icon Fatima Sheikh, who is widely considered to be India’s first Muslim woman teacher, by featuring a doodle for her. Alongside fellow pioneers and social reformers Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule, Sheikh co-founded the Indigenous Library in 1848, one of India’s first schools for girls.

Fatima was born on this day in 1831 in Pune. She lived with her brother Usman, and the siblings opened their home to the Phules after the couple was evicted for attempting to educate people in lower castes. The Indigenous Library opened under the Sheikhs’ roof.

Here, Savitribai Phule and Fatima Sheikh taught communities of marginalized Dalit and Muslim women and children who were denied education based on class, religion, or gender.

The Phules’ efforts to provide educational opportunities to those born into lower castes became known as the Satyashodhak Samaj (Truthseekers’ Society) movement. As a lifelong champion of this movement for equality, Sheikh went door-to-door to invite the downtrodden in her community to learn at the Indigenous Library and escape the rigidity of the caste system.

She met great resistance from the dominant classes who attempted to humiliate those involved in the Satyashodhak movement, but Sheikh and her allies persisted.

Although Sheikh’s story has been historically overlooked, the Indian government shone new light on her achievements in 2014 by featuring her profile in Urdu textbooks alongside other trailblazing Indian educators.

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News Network
May 10,2022

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New York, May 10: Slain photojournalist Danish Siddiqui is among four Indians honoured with the prestigious Pulitzer Prize 2022 in the feature photography category.

Siddiqui and his colleagues Adnan Abidi, Sanna Irshad Mattoo and Amit Dave from the Reuters news agency won the award, announced on Monday, for "images of Covid's toll in India that balanced intimacy and devastation, while offering viewers a heightened sense of place", according to The Pulitzer Prizes website.

Their work was moved from the breaking news photography category by the judges.

Siddiqui, 38, was on assignment in Afghanistan last year when he died. The award-winning journalist was killed in July last while covering clashes between Afghan troops and the Taliban in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar city.

This is for the second time that Siddiqui has won the Pulitzer Prize. He was honoured with the prestigious award in 2018 as part of the Reuters team for their coverage of the Rohingya crisis. He had extensively covered the Afghanistan conflict, the Hong Kong protests and other major events in Asia, Middle East, and Europe.

Siddiqui graduated with a degree in Economics from Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi. He had a degree in Mass Communication from the AJK Mass Communication Research Centre at Jamia in 2007.

He started his career as a television news correspondent, switched to photojournalism, and joined Reuters as an intern in 2010.

Marcus Yam of the Los Angeles Times bagged the award in the Breaking News photography category "for raw and urgent images of the US departure from Afghanistan that capture the human cost of the historic change in the country".

Yam's work was moved from Feature Photography by the jury.

Win McNamee, Drew Angerer, Spencer Platt, Samuel Corum and Jon Cherry of Getty Images also won the award in the Breaking News photography category for their "comprehensive and consistently riveting photos of the attack on the US Capitol".

The Washington Post bagged the Pulitzer Prize in public service journalism for its coverage of the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.

According to the award committee, the newspaper "compellingly told and vividly presented account of the assault on Washington on January 6, 2021, providing the public with a thorough and unflinching understanding of one of the nation's darkest days".

The Pulitzer Board awarded a special citation to the journalists of Ukraine for their "courage, endurance, and commitment to truthful reporting during (President) Vladimir Putin’s ruthless invasion of their country and his propaganda war in Russia".

"Despite bombardment, abductions, occupation, and even deaths in their ranks, they have persisted in their effort to provide an accurate picture of a terrible reality, doing honour to Ukraine and to journalists around the world," the committee said.

The Pulitzer Prizes were established by Joseph Pulitzer, a Hungarian-American journalist and newspaper publisher, who left money to Columbia University upon his death in 1911. A portion of his bequest was used to found the School of Journalism in 1912 and establish the Pulitzer Prizes, which were first awarded in 1917.

The 19-member Pulitzer Board is composed of leading journalists and news executives from media outlets across the US, as well as five academics or persons in the arts. The dean of Columbia's journalism school and the administrator of the prizes are non-voting members. The chair rotates annually to the most senior member or members.

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News Network
May 13,2022

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Officials from the Archaeological Survey of India have rejected rumours of "Hindu idols from ancient times" being present inside 22 "permanently locked rooms" inside the Taj Mahal.

The statements came in the wake of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court rejecting a petition seeking a directive to the ASI to open the closed rooms inside the mausoleum.

Officials of the ASI told The Times of India that the contention in the plea is wrong on both counts. One, these rooms - officially called "cells" - are "not permanently closed" and they were only recently opened for conservation work. And two, being that all records scrutinised so far over the years "have not pointed to the presence of any idols".

"Various records and reports that have been reviewed till now haven't shown the existence of any idols," a senior official privy to the restoration work done three months ago told the publication.

"The petitioner's claim of 22 rooms being permanently locked is factually incorrect as conservation work, including filling of cracks, re-plastering and anti-ageing treatments, are periodically done. In fact, the most recent work cost us Rs 6 lakh," a senior ASI official said.

Another senior ASI official added that 100 cells in the complex that remain locked to the public are located in the basement, the upper storeys of the main mausoleum, the four minarets, inside the baolis (near the mosque) and on the Chameli floor on east, west and north sides. Besides these, several portions of the other world heritage sites in the region - Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri - have also remained closed to the public for years due to security reasons.

Several Hindutva outfits have claimed in the past that the Mughal-era mausoleum was a Shiva temple.

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News Network
May 10,2022

Bengaluru, May 10: In the wake of the Azaan versus Hanuman Chalisa row in Karnataka, the state government has issued a set of directions on the use of loudspeakers and to remove them if they were not authorised by the 'designated authority.'

The note issued by the state Chief Secretary P Ravi Kumar to the Additional Chief Secretary Jawaid Akhtar said Forest, Ecology and Environment Department also defined the 'designated authority.'

The development comes following a row from Monday morning on this issue with some Hindu groups, mainly Sriram Sena, Bajrang Dal and Hindu Janajagruthi Samithi organising Bhajan-Keertan from pre-dawn to counter Azaan from mosques.

As the row aggravated, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai held a meeting on Monday, following which the Chief Secretary issued a note to Akhtar. Citing the Supreme Court ruling dated July 18, 2005, and October 28, 2005, regarding the implementation of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, the Chief Secretary said loudspeakers or the Public Address System should not be used except after obtaining permission from the designated authority. Rule 5 (2) of the NPRC Rules bars the use of loudspeaker or public address system or any sound-producing instrument at night time except in closed premises, subject to other conditions, the note said.

"All users of loudspeakers or public address system shall obtain written permission from the designated authority within 15 days. Those who don't obtain should voluntarily remove or should be removed by the designated authority," Kumar said in his note.

He also directed that a committee should be formed at different levels to decide on the application of loudspeaker or public address systems. In police commissioner areas, the committee will comprise an assistant commissioner of police, a jurisdictional executive engineer of the city corporation and a representative of the state pollution control board. In other areas, deputy superintendents of police, the jurisdictional Tehsildar and a representative of the state pollution control board.

"This is applicable to all premises which are using loudspeakers and public address system. Necessary government orders or directions shall be issued to all concerned to implement this with IMMEDIATE effect," the note read.

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