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Friends marching forward on a mission

Tibetan writer Tenzin Tsundue along Tenzin Leckphel

Dateline Dehradun: Noted Tibetan activist and writer Tenzin Tsundue along with his friend Tenzin Leckphel, film maker from Dharamshala are out on a joint-mission. Over the next three months the duo are making their way  from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh as part of “Walking the Himalayas,” initiative, spreading the message of Free Tibet.

On their 37th day of this long march, the duo made a pit-stop at the Press Club in Dehradun, where they screened “Escape of The Dalai Lama from Tibet’  produced by Mumbai based Rangrez Films for Epic TV channel, an opportunity that the duo take to garner support for free Tibet.

The eighty minute Hindi film is screened using a projector, soundbox and a white bedsheet for a screen at villages, market places, schools and civil societies  that they have passed by over the last few weeks. This was the film’s fiftieth screening.

Tenzin Tsundue and Tenzin Leckphel addressing the people in Dehradun

Since the 17th of August, Tenzin Tsundue along with his friend Tenzin Leckphel, have  travelled the length and the breadth of the mountains come rain or sunshine, using local transport like shared jeeps or buses, if not walking through different States. So far they have covered Leh, Nubra, Kargil, Zanskar, Jangthang Nyoma in Ladakh; Lahual, Spiti and Kinnaur in Himachal. In Uttarakhand they plan to travel from Dehradun onto Pauri-Garhwal, Nainital, Almora, Dharchula, Pithoragarh before heading to Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Gangtok; Itanagar, Bomdila, Dhirang, Tawang and border areas of  Arunachal Pradesh.

Given an opportunity,  Tsundue conducts  ‘Creative Writing Workshop’ or a ‘Poetry Reading Session’ for young minds wherever it is possible to engage them in their travel schedule.

The Dehradun Chapter of hosting the two artists was organized by Regional Tibetan Youth Congress Dekyiling, one of the eighty chapters of Tibetan Youth Congress.

Trailer of the film:

Landour: Market Versus Social responsibility


Dateline Mussoorie: The residents of Landour are concerned about the decision of the Cantonment Board to auction the old Dandi-shed which has housed a branch of the State Bank of India, at Char Dukan for the past thirty years.

Hard-wired into the DNA of those to whom Landour is home is the existence of the State Bank of India located here. It has been a part and parcel of their lives for over three decades. All economic activities of the area are centred around the bank including the accounts of those living in the nearby villages or working in the Institute of Technology Management and the Cantonment Board itself.

Over the years, the bank has invested a considerable amount of public money on converting this abandoned Dandi-shed into the shape it is in today. Relocation of such a structure will mean waste of public money in these difficult times. Down the years, the bank has done yeoman service to the Cantonment residents. This includes women, children and old men from the nearby villages of Jaunpur. It has done so by giving them access to government schemes, not to be forgotten are the facilities extended to residents and tourists who come visiting .

This ill-conceived move will adversely affect the lives of those who live in the abutting villages of Mawana, Kolti, Kanda and Ladoor. Sabal Singh of Mawaana speaks for all the villagers when he points out: “Instead of moving the bank further towards the town, why don’t they bring the bank closer to the villages? We are ready to sit in protest and fight this move tooth and nail!”

CEO, Landour, Abhishekh Rathore assures us. “We propose to move the bank to the Cantonment Board premises which is only 50 meters from where the original bank stands. The ATM will remain as it is, at Char dukan.”

Char dukan was once known for its four shops, a Bank, a Telephone Booth and a Post Office, the last two have vanished without a trace. The Bank seems all set to go that way too. Once again, market forces seems to be winning over social responsibility. At least for the time being.

DehraBoom Cypher puts fans in a trance

DehraBoom Cypher

Dateline Dehradun: 24 hours later. Fifty thousand hits and counting. Supported by artists such as Raghav Juyal. DehraBoom Cypher (BLM Bonus), a seventeen minute forty second Hip Hop song is making waves online being touted as one of India’s biggest inspiring Hip Hop tracks to go down in the history of Indian Hip Hop.

‘DehraBoom Cypher’ is one of Uttarakhand’s Homegrown Hip Hop track and arguably one of the biggest and finest cypher track in the Indian Hip Hop scene, put together by thirty talented artists, spread across the hill-state.  Names include Team Evolution, India’s Dakait, Aniket Raturi, 2FISTD, N-DRAZ, Kalamkaar’s Karma, MTV Hustle fame Void, Pithoragarh’s Kobi Dai and Akash Raturi from Rishikesh and so on and so forth. The beats are produced by Semmi, Abhijay Sharma and Aniket Raturi.

A mini album in itself, DehraBoom Cypher is a living testament of coming together of rap artists who celebrate their passion for music. It sends out a message of unity, oneness and how art knows no bounds, is  winning laurels and appreciation from all quarters as it has made the world a stage, virtually.

The brain child of Dakait, Aniket Raturi, 2FISTD and N-DRAZ who worked together on Black Label Mixtape tracks with collaborations from artists across India always dreamed of featuring artists from their home-state finally making ‘DehraBoom Cypher’ a reality.

Taking a little over a year, getting the singers together virtually because of the pandemic, the team shared five hiphop beats with artists to choose from, compose and record their verses, which were then put together into this 17:40 minute exhibition of talent, multiple rhyme schemes, brilliantly put bars and unique voices that put the audience into a trance.

DehraBoom: is a Hip-Hop Community promoting the art of freestyle in India and abroad. The community is a collage of Hip Hop artists, newcomers, enthusiasts.

Black Label Mixtape: Is a collaborative collection of 24 premium Hip Hop/Rap tracks, featuring artists from India and beyond, released in III parts.


Hero MotoCorp hands over advanced life support ambulances

CM flagging of Hero MotoCorp Ambulances

Dehradun: In keeping with its commitment towards supporting COVID-19 relief efforts, Hero MotoCorp Ltd – handed over thirteen life-support ambulances to the Government of Uttarakhand.

As part of the Company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) platform “Hero WeCare”, the initiative aims to strengthen the healthcare infrastructure across the hill-state.

Flagging off these ambulances, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Shri Pushkar Singh Dhami said, “The pandemic has accentuated the need for healthcare and we are grateful to Hero MotoCorp for their significant contribution in supporting and strengthening the medical infrastructure in the state. These efforts are helping to provide immediate relief to the frontline workers and the communities most impacted by Covid-19. We appeal to other corporates around the country to come together and extend their support to the governments to handle this unprecedented crisis.”

Mr. Bharatendu Kabi, Head – Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) & Corporate Communication, Hero MotoCorp said, “An unwavering commitment towards the safety and wellbeing of the society has always been an integral part of our philosophy at Hero MotoCorp,’ adding, ‘The ambulances provided by Hero MotoCorp in Uttarakhand will not only help communities during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic; these will also go a long way in providing the much-needed infrastructual support at the time of any future health-related emergencies.”

In the past Hero MotoCorp donated eight specially designed First Responder Vehicles (FRVs)· In Haridwar, the company partnered with Ramakrishna Mission Sevashrama to strengthen their healthcare system with 122 bed COVID-19 hospital. The company also provided its motorcycles and scooters for commuting by health care workers and medical staff. Along with that the company has undertaken a project to administer ten thousand vaccine doses in a phased manner in Haridwar district. Hero MotoCorp is partnering with the local health department to facilitate vaccination for specially-abled people in Haridwar district as well.

Its Raining Vadas!

Savoy Poster

Dateline Mussoorie: It’s raining Vadas!! Literally! At The Savoy Hotel, Mussoorie.

Four talented chefs with their retinue of thirty have been working round the clock churning out Vadas (savoury) to make it into ‘The Limca Book of Records for over five hundred varieties of vadas.’

With more than five hundred varieties of Vadas, the team is worked with indigenous ingredients from Uttarakhand to add local flavour and texture to the savoury accompanied with condiments, along with authentic vadas found pan India.

Talking to us Smriti Hari, the brain behind this tantalising idea tells us, “This is a dream come true for all of us present here. With the support of The Savoy Hotel and Chef Rajeev Badola, Chef Virender Singh Rana and my daughter Khyati Hari (Junior Masterchef fame) we hope to create a new Limca Book Record.” She further adds, “We wanted to use indigenous ingredients such as jakhia, black sesame seeds, local mustard oil, madava, kandali, gaitha, jhangora, timru, red unpolished rice, poppy seeds etc to showcase our rich culinary heritage along with the regular vadas that we commonly get.

The Royal Ballroom with the vada spread

Mouth-watering cheese burst vada to poha vada, makhana vada to rice vadas, from ringing paneer to sabudana vada all spread out to entice the eye along with our taste-buds.

The youngest chef 19-year-old Khyati tells us, “It was  once-in-lifetime experience being guided by such talented chefs including my mother. We thought up the idea, laid our stores in advance and then fructified our dreams.”

Chef Rajeev Badola of The Savoy Hotel adds, “We have grown up on these flavours and our focus was to make 51 local varieties that remind us of home and hearth.”

Chef Virender Singh Rana for the past five years has been no stranger to creating new records. From samosas to regional biryani, kathi rolls, raitas to the longest coconut barfi, his forte and core interest has been Indian cuisine. “Vadas are a popular snack. You will find all varieties including 51 regional ones from the hill-state. We plan to publish a book with recipes of 350 of these in the near future.”

With the results rolling in by the end of the month, look out for the space for more.

Uttarakhand connect to the “KAZIND-21” joint military exercise

Dateline Uttarkashi: Kazakhstan joint military exercise “KAZIND-21” started today at Training Node Aisha Bibi, Kazakhstan. The 5th Edition of annual bi-lateral joint exercise of both the armies will continue until 10th of September, 2021.

While the fourth edition of the exercise was held in September of 2019 in Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand, this year around, the officers and jawans of 9 Bihar Regiment which are  presently deployed at Hursil Indo-China border will be taking part in the training at Training Node Aisha Bibi, Kazakhstan.

Leading from the front officers, Col. Rajendra Prasad, Lt. Col. Kartik M, Major Amit Kumar, Captain Kovind and Captain Mukund along with jawans from 9 Bihar Regiment will be taking part in the week long joint military exercise.

What makes this one more especial is the fact that the contingent comprises of 120 troops from Kazakhstan and ninety soldiers from the Indian Army. Both the contingents will share their expertise and skills in the field of counter terror operations. The exercise will culminate in a 48 hours joint validation exercise scheduled on 8th & 9th of September, 2021.

The validation exercise will be a litmus bed for the soldiers of both the country armies as they would be undergoing challenges of actual operations in such scenarios. The exercise will also provide impetus to the ever growing military and diplomatic ties between India and Kazakhstan. The joint exercise goes on to reflect the strong resolve of both these nations to counter terrorism and stand shoulder to shoulder to combat the same.

Tapping Rudraprayag’s dharas or water springs


Dateline Rudraprayag: If you happen to travel to Rudraprayag via the Sirohbagar Rishikesh- Mana Highway or the Tilwara – Mayali Road do look out for the dharas or natural water springs that are making quite a statement, now.

With an eye for perfection and something aesthetic the District Forest Officer Vaibhav Singh has tapped into traditional Dhara or Naali or roadside water springs and turned them into beautifully crafted work of art.

Work in progress on a water spring

DFO Vaibhav Singh explains, “We started this project in Rudraprayag with the vision that it will be replicated in other districts as well. Our springs had become an eye-sore with either pvc pipes or plastic bottles being used as a spout. They were littered with plastic waste. But these natural springs add to the scenic beauty of our state and we felt the need to creatively beautify them.

The overwhelming response by local residents and tourists to the pilot project gave it a much-needed boost. The Forest department is now in the fray to beautify over thirty more natural water-springs that dot the hill-district.

With out-of-the-box thinking and a small budget, these water-springs have been given a facelift which is insync with their surrounding. Constructed by a local artist these two water-springs are 1.5 meters in height and 2.5 meters in length with a stone-face of a leopard pouring water out of its mouth.

DFO Vaibhav further elaborates, “there is a message behind this rustic creativity. The animal-face spout reminds us that these forests are home to a wide variety of flora, fauna and a natural source of pure water which should not be taken for granted or wasted.”

The forest department is now exploring the option of contacting more artists who can help to bring alive these dharas and naalas which though considered sacred water outlets by the hill folks yet remain neglected!

‘Yakulaans’ capturing Uttarakhand’s haunting reality


Dateline Rudraprayag: Migration. A fact that stares our home-state Uttarakhand in the face. A recent RTI reveals how within a decade over five lakh people have migrated out of Uttarakhand leaving 3,946 ghost villages dotting our hills.

Capturing this poignant issue in less than 30 minutes in their debut short non-feature-film category are the ‘Pandavaas Production’ from Srinagar, Garhwal.

Yakulaans,’ means ‘to be lonely,‘ and that is what this story is all about. It is the  moving story of an elderly man who lives all by himself in one such ghost village. The man is bereft of any human company to share his joy or sorrow with, he speaks in monologues to his cattle and a few strays in the village.

Team Pandavaas hard at work

Shot from a Point Of View (POV) camera angle, the team brings alive the haunted world of the protagonist residing in a ghost village bereft of human company.

The Pandaavas explain, “The moving lyrics of Jagdamba Chamoli ji and the soulful voice of Deepa Bugyali  define the loneliness of our protagonist. The topic of ghost villages and migration have always been pertinent to our hills. Yakulaans is both liberal, progressive and dipped in nostalgia.”

As for Ishaan Dobhal the Music Director, “Sound recording in the ghost village was a challenge as the silence was haunting and disturbing. The theme song of the movie is an amalgamation of local Uttarakhand folk musicians along with classical western musicians. We have tried to capture all the emotions through music.”

The fact that Yakulaans was a crowd-funded project by two hundred and eighty people and Damodar Hari Foundation made the project more endearing for the Pandavaas team.

For Kunal Dobhal the Director of his debut non-feature film, was something he could empathise with. Armed with a master’s degree in theatre and performing arts, Kunal started the art of storytelling through acting in plays. Through Yakulaans, that has been shot on location in a ghost village in Chamoli district with local characters, Kunal’s creativity resounds the reality of ghost villages across Uttarakhand.

Pandavaas Creations Pvt. Ltd. an Uttarakhand based media production has been instrumental in working with the young artists on music videos and folk literature, video documentaries on social issues. Yakulaans is their first, yet not the last, Non-Feature Film and part 4 of their Time Machine series.

Yakulaans is slated to release @ 6:00 p.m. on social media handles coming 27th of August, 2021.

Classrooms for children: Border Road Organization

BRO Classroom in progress

Dateline Uttarkashi: For young and energetic Sandesh, Vikas, Lalita, Kavita and many amongst these seventy-five young children the month of August has been special, and no not only because of the 75th Independence Day

Thanks to the initiative taken by two young officers of the Border Road Organization 72 RCC, stationed in the Indo-China border in Uttarkashi the world of words have been introduced to young minds like them.

Rahul Yadav, Junior Engineer of BRO 72 RCC and Subedar Sandesh Pawar switch roles and teach close to seventy-five children of some five hundred labourers mostly from Jharkhand, Bihar and labourers from Naga, Hindoligarh and Jangla labour camps in the interiors of Garhwal.

In queue for books and pens

Aged between four-year-olds to fourteen-year-olds the children have been living a nomadic life in BRO camps with their folks who work as labourers for the Border Road Organization in the bordering districts of India. The idea came into being when the officers noticed how the children stayed back in the camps without any supervision as their folks set out to work early morning and returned late in the evening. The safety of the children and keeping them engaged in a fruitful activity was of utmost priority for the officers who brainstormed ideas and decided that pen and paper would be the best way forward.

A few weeks into their open-air classes, the children come together at 8:00 a.m. sharp and follow a flexible time-table. From English, Hindi to basic Maths, the boys and girls are smitten by the written word. They look forward to their daily classes as much as their dedicated teachers.

BRO Stationery distribution

Major Binu VS, Officer Commanding of BRO tells us how on the occasion of the 75th Independence Day colourful stationery was distributed amongst the children who are now hooked to the world of alphabets and numbers all thanks to the initiative of two young officers.

‘Minting’ money in Uttarakhand

Mint intercropped with Wheat

Dateline Udham Singh Nagar: Baburam Saini is a happy and content farmer from Narpat Nagar. His experiment with intercropping something as basic as Mentha/Mint has added more zeroes to his agricultural income.

Today, Baburam’s 5.5 acres of land is producing additional crop thanks to the technical assistance from the Centre for Aromatic Plant (CAP). Based in Selaqui, CAP is teaching farmers the nuances of intercropping and its multiple benefits. Baburam intercrops maize, mentha/mint and cucumber with his main crop being wheat which has assured better returns.

This one case study reflects the story of over five thousand farmers of Udham Singh Nagar who are being provided technical assistance by the Centre for Aromatic Plant/ CAP in 47 clusters.

The continuous efforts of CAP has ensured that the cultivation of Mint has now crossed borders from Khatima into Sitarganj, Rudrapur and Jaspur development blocks as well. Cultivators have taken to this new technique like ducks to water and are readily intercropping crops for lucrative returns.

Proud farmers with their mint crop

A similar story in repeated in Haridwar district where Rao Farooq Khan has been intercropping mint with wheat since 2017.  At present, 453 farmers in 14 clusters of Bhagwanpur, Narsan, Bahadarabad and Khanpur in Haridwar are reaping benefits from the technical cooperation of Centre for Aromatic Plant.

A perennial aromatic herb, Japanese peppermint (Mentha arvensis) grows to a height of 60-80 cm. A growing demand for Mentha oil and herbs in industries such as food, flavouring, pharmaceutical, cosmetics and confectionaries shows India dominating the international market with an annual turnover of Rs.6000 crores.

In Uttarakhand, the Terai region is best suitable for the cultivation of this Japanese mint which is being cultivated in 6,118 hectares of land in the four districts of Udham Singh Nagar, Haridwar, Nainital and Dehradun.

In collaboration with CAP, the State Government plans to develop thirteen Aroma Valleys over the next seven years. Plans are afloat to cover 7,000 hectares of land which will in turn benefit  close to twenty eight thousand farmers in the hill-state.