Full Crowd at IPL Playoffs

After the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot has changed regarding the interaction between people and the allowance of crowds. After initial lockdown days, as the world reopened after the pandemic, the games, like cricket, football, rugby and even Olympics were held remotely without any spectators. However, as the pandemic subsided, bit by bit, the crowds were allowed in, first only 25%, and then gradually increasing it to 100% in some countries. India hosted a number of cricket matches both without spectators and with 50% or less capacity of spectators. As Covid-19 is largely becoming almost extinct in India, IPL playoffs have been allowed with full crowd.

IPL 2022 started remotely on 26th March, with no spectators and only broadcasts. But gradually, from 6th April onwards, Maharashtra Cricket Association allowed 50% of the crowd in IPL matches. This boosted up the revenue of IPL 2022, which is by far the highest revenue earning league in the world. Revenue was running quite low when the tournament started, but even allowing 50% of the crowd was enough to meet the expenditure of IPL matches, and also gain profit at the same time.

Now, as the Covid-19 is by far absent almost throughout India, the BCCI is looking for options of allowing 100% crowd for more spectators. The playoffs are expected to be held with 100% crowd in Kolkata and Ahmedabad. The news has spread like wildfire, drawing craze among the cricket fans, causing the tickets to be booked at record speed.

The Qualifier 1 and the Eliminator will be held in Kolkata, on 24th and 25th May respectively. The Qualifier 2 and the Final will be played in Ahmedabad on 27th May and 29th May respectively. This year, 10 teams are fighting out for 4 spots in the playoffs, creating more challenges. The addition of Lucknow and Gujarat this year has gone well with the crowd. Currently no team has qualified yet, with only Mumbai Indians are out of question for the playoffs, and the rest 9 teams are in the hunt. Are you all ready to find out the new champions of IPL?

Written by – Himadri Paul

Why even 37℃ is too hot in Kolkata?

Heatwave is classified in India, when a region experiences maximum temperature greater than 40℃ for plains and departure of maximum temperature greater than 4.5℃ from normal. Going by the definition, Kolkata did not experience a single day of heatwave yet in this April, though north Kolkata did experience heatwave days in the beginning of this week.

Though the maximum temperature was not that much to be called a heatwave, the real feel temperature was very high, too high to be tolerated for people of Kolkata. For example, when the temperature of Kolkata hovered around 39℃, the real feel temperature rose beyond 50℃. The humidity is the main culprit here. Water vapour content in the air remained high, which caused excessive sweating, and thus we felt unusually hot this summer. This makes 37 degrees in Kolkata, which is only 2 degrees above normal far hotter to feel than that of Asansol, Bankura, or even deserts of Rajasthan.

Also, there hasn’t been a single drop of rain in Kolkata in March and April, the last rain being insignificant on 28th February. Such rainless conditions are unusual for Kolkata, as the city usually experiences nor’westers, a wind originating from the western parts of the state, bringing in thunderstorms and rain, and temporarily cooling down the temperature. The city hasn’t experienced a single day of thunderstorm, as though the moisture content in air is high, conditions are not conducive for rainfall here. The conditions are favourable in north Bengal, which is experiencing continuous rain during the last 2 months.

The western districts of the state of West Bengal are already experiencing heat waves throughout this entire week. Bankura, Burdwan, Asansol are regularly experiencing 42-44℃ since the Poila Baishakh, the Bengali New Year. However, there is a news of respite for these states from the 1st week of May, when heat-triggered thunderstorms are predicted throughout Bengal. Kolkata too may get some share of rainfall at the same time. Kolkata has already broken the 43-day record of the longest continuous spell of dry days in this millennia. Currently, 60 days have passed without a drop of rain. Hopefully, May may bring some rain, and turn the fortunes of Kolkata.

Amidst all these, the State Government has announced early summer vacation for schools and colleges. Post-pandemic, the school’s reopened at the beginning or mid of April. Many teachers, parents, institutions are unhappy with the decision as the schools have closed as soon as they began offline classes. However, Covid-19 situation, despite being under control, is increasing in some states. Hence, considering both the pandemic and heatwave factors, the State Government has justified the closure of schools for the summer vacation.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Cleaning the Ghats of Kolkata – Part 2

This is part 2 of the series. To read about part 1, click here.

In the part 1 of the series, we have seen how we have polluted the ghats of Kolkata, which had for many decades been the lifeline of the city, through its water transport, providing drinking water, and having historical and religious sites. However, we ourselves are responsible for not maintaining the ghats, leading them to be shabby and dilapidated, making them a place for garbage dump, and a breeding area of mosquitoes. However, as we are looking at the western world, how they are maintaining cities, some of which have been raged to the ground, awareness is spreading among the masses in and around Kolkata.

We have looked at how several committees within the city are looking forward to making Kolkata a cleaner and greener city. While the authorities have done a wonderful job in the Newtown and to some extent salt lake area, such could not be made possible without the awareness of the public around the crowded old town, which lies at the bank of the river. While a rich section of the society is aware about cleaning the ghats of Kolkata, most common people, especially those living near the river are not. It is up to the committees, to spread the news of keeping the environment clean.

Some committees like Y-East and Bouddi have initiated a cleanliness drive along the ghats of Kolkata. They have engaged over 100 local people to clean up some of the well-known ghats of Kolkata. For more information about that matter, visit https://www.y-east.org/diary/bouddi-and-y-east-begin-hooghly-river-clean-up-project-in-kolkata/ Y-East and Techno Main Salt Lake college has also organized a Plogging competition around the city, helping with the cause. Schools like Delhi Public School in Kolkata also campaigned to spread awareness to keep the Hooghly river clean. There are some Facebook groups and communities where like minded people come together to save the Hooghly river flowing past Kolkata. We all need to come together and make Kolkata a clean and green city to live.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Cleaning the Ghats of Kolkata (Part 1)

The Bhagirathi-Hooghly river flows through one of the most densely populated regions in India. Starting from Berhampore in Murshidabad, Nabadwip-Mayapur in Nadia, along the Hooghly industrial region of Bandel-Naihati, Chandannagar, Chinasurah, Serampore-Barrackpore, culminating at Kolkata-Howrah, the most densely populated region in entire eastern India. It is thus a hectic task to keep the Bhagirathi-Hooghly river pollution-free at least at the ghats. Though the ghats north of Kolkata are quite clean and well-maintained, the ghats around Kolkata are one of the dirtiest, with more space for garbage than for bathing.

The ghats along Hooghly, North 24 Pargannas and Howrah were quite poor until recently. However, almost all of them underwent extensive maintenance and renovation, as well as garbage removal. Now most of the ghats along with the river banks underwent redevelopment and brought under riverside beautification project. In Kolkata, though efforts have been made to beautify the Princep Ghat area, the other ghats still lie shabby, littered with garbage. The Millennium Park, which was expected to be the top recreational centre when inaugurated back in 2007, is now a disused place, with defunct rides and amphitheatre centres. The Babughat now has a footbridge over the ghat area, which is really clean and tourist friendly, but the ghat itself is still a garbage dump area. The stretch from Armenian Ghat to Bagbajar Ma er Ghat is worse with the riverfront being used as warehouse centres and slums. Within this stretch lies the Mallick Ghat, the largest flower market of Asia, the Jagannath Ghat, in the Burrabazar wholesale market area, Nimtala Ghat, the largest cremation centre in Kolkata, the Sovabajar Ghat, with many temples, and the Kumartuli Ghat, the area which is renowned for making Durga idols. The situation is not any better north of Bagbajar ghat in Cossipore and Baranagar. Only the Dakshineshwar Ghat fared well in northern Kolkata despite being the crowdest, attracting thousands of devotees each day.

If developed, the area could have been a major tourist hub and recreational centre. The whole Kolkata riverfront contains various tourist centres, like the Princep Ghat, the Eden Gardens Pagoda, the Metcalfe Hall and other building museums of BBD Bag, the Sarada Ma house, the Sarbamangala Temple of Cossipore, and Baranagar Ramakrishna Math. However, illegal encroachments, illegal parking slots, ill-maintenance by the municipality, lack of awareness, and most importantly, lack of our interest in our own city Kolkata is what is stopping it from developing into a Grand Strand that the cities of the West have.

How we can develop the ghats of Kolkata is being covered in the second part of this article.

Swami Vivekananda – The Man Behind Youth Day in India

12th January is celebrated all across India as the national youth day, on the occasion of the birthday of Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda, a disciple of Ramakrishna and a monk, is known for his superb speech at the world Parliament of Religions in Chicago, and for establishing the Ramakrishna Mission. However, his journey to success has always been an inspiration to the Indian youth. In this article, let us go through the events that happened in Vivekananda’s life which made him so special.

Vivekananda, in his childhood days, was known by the name Narendra. He was born in Kolkata, on 12th January 1963. Today, his ancestral house has been taken by Ramakrishna Mission and has been converted to a museum and a cultural centre. In his youth days, he joined Keshab Chandra Sen’s Nava Bidhan and Sadharon Brahmo Samaj. In his youth days, Narendra was influenced by the ideas and principles of Brahmo Samaj. Nevertheless, after he met Sri Ramakrishna in 1881, Sri Ramakrishna became his spiritual focus.

Dakshineswar is one of the first place where Narendra went outside the city, to meet Sri Ramakrishna. Sri Ramakrishna was then the first priest of the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple, which draws thousands of devotees even today. Narendra used to regularly visit Dakshineshwar to discuss spiritual thoughts with Sri Ramakrishna. After the death of Sri Ramakrishna, Narendra decided to convert a dilapidated building at Baranagar to Ramakrishna Math, today known as Baranagar Math. Today, the house no longer exists, as it was demolished in 1897. The land was given to Belur Math authority and is now undergoing restoration under Belur Math. On the Christmas Eve of 1886, Narendra took monastic vows at Antpur village and left his home and everything else to lead a nomadic life afterwards, taking the title of Swami Vivekananda and becoming a monk.

Swami Vivekananda made two journeys to the west, the first to Chicago via Japan and Canada, where he attended the world Parliament of Religions. He toured across several cities of US, UK and other countries of Europe. On his return to India, he established the Ramakrishna Mission, headquartered at Belur Math, at Belur near Kolkata formed by the trustees of Ramakrishna Math. Even today it is the headquarter of Ramakrishna Mission and a major tourist and pilgrimage place near Kolkata. He went to the west a second time in 1899, to attend the Parliament of Religions in Paris, accompanied by Sister Nivedita and Swami Turiyananda. Detoriating health forced him to settle at Belur Math until his death in 1902.

Vivekananda left a lasting impact in our mind. One of the pioneers of Renaissance in Bengal, his teachings include eliminating the casteism, addressing social issues, promoting science and industrialization. The social service work done by Ramakrishna Mission include relief works in famine, poverty. Vivekananda brought a sense of nationalism and national unity among the Indians against the colonial rule. His quotes are famous throughout the world and are inspiration to the youth. One of his famous quotes “Arise, awake and stop not, until the goal is reached”, still rings in the minds of every Indians.

Written by – Himadri Paul