Anant Maral Shastri – The Doyen of Information and Publicity at the dawn of Independence

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Anant Maral Shastri was a student of Kashi Vidyapth. Alumni of Kashi Vidyapith include Chandra Shekhar Azad, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Kamlapati Tripathi, Raja Ram Shastri, B V Keskar, A.R. Shastri, Manamath Nath Gupt, Pranavesh Chatterjee, Tribhuvan Narain Singh, Harinath Shastri, Bhola Paswan Shastri, Anant Maral Shastri, Ramakrishna Hegde and Dr. Naheed Abidi.

At the time of Independence, Anant Maral Shastri was the first Editor of Aajkal, the popular Hindi magazine published by the Publications Division, Government of India. The circulation figure of the Independence Day edition of Aajkal was more than 1.50 lakh. Famous litterateur Manmath Nath Gupta was the Deputy Editor of Aaajkal in August 1947 and renowned poet Harivansh Rai Bacchan was a regular contributor to this magazine.

Front-ranking freedom fighter Acharya Narenda Dev with Anant Maral Shastri in Indore

In 1949, Anant Maral Shastri was selected by the State Public Service Commission and appointed as Director Information, Publicity and Braodcasting in the erstwhile Madhya Bharat State. Two major cities Indore and Gwalior jointly shared the status of the capital of Madhya Bharat and the erstwhile Maharajas – Jiwajirao Scindia of Gwalior and Yashwantrao Holkar of Indore were the Rajpramukhs of this State. Shastri was appointed in the pay-scale of Rs. 950-1000-1100 per month through the direct recruitment process. The maximum pay-scale of Secretaries in Madhya Bharat at that stage was Rs. 750 per month. When Shastri was Director Information and Publicity in Madhya Bharat, famous litterateur Ramdhari Singh Dinkar was Deputy Director Information and Publicity in Bihar, Govind Narain, who later became Union Defence Secretary and Governor of Karnataka was the Director of Information in Uttar Pradesh and Ali Yavar Jung, who subsequently became the Governor of Maharashtra was also Shastri’s contemporary as Director of Information in the Hyderabad State.

Anant Maral Shastri with his friend Durga Das, the legendary Editor of Hindustan Times, and his wife at Mandu, near Indore. This was in the early 50s of the last Century. Shastri is in background in a felt hat

In November 1956, at the time of the reorganisation of States, Central Province and Berar merged with Madhya Bharat, and a new State of Madhya Pradesh was created. This led to merger of different service cadres including Department of Information and Publicity cadre. Consequently Shastri was absorbed in the new cadre as Officer on Special Duty initially and later took over first as Director of Languages Department and subsequently again as Director of the Information and Publicity Department. In 1969, when the nation was preparing for the Gandhi Centenary celebrations , he played a yeoman’s role and oversaw the planning and execution of the publicity related to this historic event. He also worked over-time to ensure the first major reorganisation of the State Information and Publicity Department. It was due to this initiative that a large number of new posts were created at all levels, there was large-scale recruitment and serving officers also received quick promotions. Within a short span of time, officers working for a long period as Assistant and Deputy directors with no avenue for promotion, became Additional Directors and head of Department. Hanuman Prasad Tiwari and Amba Prasad Shrivastava, both experts , were among those Cadre officers who benefited from the reorganisation process and became Directors of Information and Publicity in Madhya Pradesh. Shastri was a towering figure and a major credit for all the initial nurturing and shaping  of the “Publicity Department ” in its growing years which has made the Department a great institution today, goes to him.

Photo shows Anant Maral Shastri with Marshal Tito. The former Maharaja of Gwalior Jiwajirao Scindia is on extreme left.
Anant Maral Shastri with Marshal Tito. The former Maharaja of Gwalior Jiwajirao Scindia is on extreme left.
The cover of Raghu Vansh, epic by Mahakavi Kalidasa. It was translated from Sanskrit to Hindi by Anant Maral Shastri and published by the State Government. It was presented on behalf of Madhya Pradesh government to the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru when he came to inaugurate the national Kalidasa Samaroh at Ujjain.
Anant Maral Shastri (2nd from right) is seen receiving Dr. Karan Singh at Bhopal airport from where they drove together to Ujjain. Renowned Sanskrit Scholar and former Union Minister Dr. Singh was then the Rajpramukh (Governor) of Jammu and Kashmir. He was the Chief Guest at the national Kalidas Samaroh (festival) that year (mid ’60s). On extreme right is the then State Chief Secretary MS Choudhary.

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Air India defies Coronaviris threat: will continue flights to China

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New Delhi: When Air India is on sale and the Government of India even has released the Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) for inviting Expression of Interest (EOI) from the Interested Bidders (IBs) for Strategic Disinvestment of the national carrier, Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani has failed to acknowledge the threat posed by major epidemic of Coronavirus that has been spreading in China and has chosen not to suspend with immediate effect all Air India flights to Hong Kong and China.

Instead Air India is only curtailing some flights to China. Air India will continue to operate its flights to Hong Kong. On Wednesday evening, One business class seat was still available on Air India flight AI348 between Delhi and Shanghai. Similarly Air India was also offering Business class seats on Shanghai-Delhi route on different dates in the first fortnight of February through code sharing.

Wednesday evening, Air India said it is suspending its flights on Delhi-Shanghai route but not Hong Kong from January 31 to February 14. Air India has also suspended its Mumbai-Delhi-Shanghai flight from January 31 to February 14. In the meanwhile, the only advisory to the Air India crew on other flights between India and China is that they should be wearing masks. This is in sharp contrast with British Airways that was the first carrier to suspend all direct flights to and from mainland China because of the Coronavirus outbreak. British citizens returning to the UK from Wuhan have been put in quarantine for two weeks.

This is the state of affairs vis-a-vis Air India when Government of India is all set for transfer of management control and sale of 100% shares of Air India along with Air India’s 100% stake in its subsidiary, Air India Express Limited and 50% stake in joint venture, AISATS.

Just like British Airways, United Airlines of the US has also temporarily suspended its flights (February 1 though February 8) between its US hubs and Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

AirAsia also has extended suspension of flights to Wuhan until February 29

There are also other international carriers that have cancelled flights connecting Hongkong and mainland China.

Among private Indian Carriers, Indigo has suspended its flight to Chengdu but continues to operate the Kolkata-Guangzhou flight.

Instead of appreciating the emergency and taking a cue from airlines that have suspended all flights to China taking into account the Coronoavirus threat, the decision to continue Air India flights to China, barring suspension of flights to Shanghai, amounts to endangering crew and importing Coronavirus.

Padma Vibhushan for George Fernandes, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj

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New Delhi: This year the President has approved conferment of 141 Padma Awards, including 7 Padma Vibhushan, 16 Padma Bhushan and 118 Padma Shri Awards. 34 of the awardees are women and the list also includes 18 persons from the category of Foreigners/NRI/PIO/OCI and 12 Posthumous awardees.

Padma Awards – one of the highest civilian Awards of the country, are conferred in
three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz.- art, social work, public affairs,science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc. ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of high order and ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field. The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year.

These awards are conferred by the President of India at ceremonial functions which are held at Rashtrapati Bhawan usually around March/ April every year.

Padma Vibhushan (7)

Shri George Fernandes
Public Affairs Bihar

Shri Arun Jaitley
Public Affairs Delhi

Sir Anerood Jugnauth GCSK Public Affairs Mauritius

Smt. M. C. Mary Kom Sports Manipur

Shri Chhannulal Mishra Art Uttar Pradesh

Smt. Sushma Swaraj
Public Affairs Delhi

Sri Vishveshateertha Swamiji Sri
Pejavara Adhokhaja Matha
Udupi (Posthumous)
Others-Spiritualism Karnataka

Padma Bhushan (16)

Shri M. Mumtaz Ali (Sri M) Others-Spiritualism Kerala

Shri Syed Muazzem Ali
Public Affairs Bangladesh

Shri Muzaffar Hussain Baig Public Affairs Jammu and

Shri Ajoy Chakravorty Art West Bengal

Shri Manoj Das Literature and

Shri Balkrishna Doshi Others-Architecture Gujarat

Ms. Krishnammal Jagannathan Social Work Tamil Nadu

Shri S. C. Jamir Public Affairs Nagaland

Shri Anil Prakash Joshi Social Work Uttarakhand

Dr. Tsering Landol Medicine Ladakh

Shri Anand Mahindra Trade and Industry Maharashtra

Shri Neelakanta Ramakrishna
Madhava Menon (Posthumous)
Public Affairs Kerala

Shri Manohar Gopalkrishna
Prabhu Parrikar (Posthumous)
Public Affairs Goa

Prof. Jagdish Sheth Literature and

Ms. P. V. Sindhu Sports Telangana

Shri Venu Srinivasan Trade and Industry Tamil Nadu

Padma Shri (118)

Guru Shashadhar Acharya Art Jharkhand

Dr. Yogi Aeron Medicine Uttarakhand

Shri Jai Prakash Agarwal Trade and Industry Delhi

Shri Jagdish Lal Ahuja Social Work Punjab

Kazi Masum Akhtar Literature and Education West Bengal

Ms. Gloria Arieira Literature and Education Brazil

Khan Zaheerkhan Bakhtiyarkhan Sports Maharashtra

Dr. Padmavathy Bandopadhyay Medicine Uttar Pradesh

Dr. Sushovan Banerjee Medicine West Bengal

Dr. Digambar Behera Medicine Chandigarh

Dr. Damayanti Beshra Literature and Education Odisha

Shri Pawar Popatrao Bhaguji Social Work Maharashtra

Shri Himmata Ram Bhambhu Social Work Rajasthan

Shri Sanjeev Bikhchandani Trade and Industry Uttar Pradesh

Shri Gafurbhai M. Bilakhia Trade and Industry Gujarat

Shri Bob Blackman Public Affairs United Kingdom

Ms. Indira P. P. Bora Art Assam

Shri Madan Singh Chauhan Art Chhattisgarh

Ms. Usha Chaumar Social Work Rajasthan

Shri Lil Bahadur Chettri Literature and Education Assam

Ms. Lalitha & Ms. Saroja
Chidambaram (Duo)*
Art Tamil Nadu

Dr. Vajira Chitrasena Art Sri Lanka

Dr. Purushottam Dadheech Art Madhya Pradesh

Shri Utsav Charan Das Art Odisha

Prof. Indra Dassanayake
Literature and Education Sri Lanka

Shri H. M. Desai Literature and Education Gujarat

Shri Manohar Devadoss Art Tamil Nadu

Ms. Oinam Bembem Devi Sports Manipur

Ms. Lia Diskin Social Work Brazil

Shri M. P. Ganesh Sports Karnataka

Dr. Bangalore Gangadhar Medicine Karnataka

Dr. Raman Gangakhedkar Science and Engineering Maharashtra

Shri Barry Gardiner Public Affairs United Kingdom

Shri Chewang Motup Goba Trade and Industry Ladakh

Shri Bharat Goenka Trade and Industry Karnataka

Shri Yadla Gopalarao Art Andhra Pradesh

Shri Mitrabhanu Gountia Art Odisha

Ms. Tulasi Gowda Social Work Karnataka

Shri Sujoy K. Guha Science and Engineering Bihar

Ms. Harekala Hajabba Social Work Karnataka

Shri Enamul Haque Others-Archaeology Bangladesh

Shri Madhu Mansuri Hasmukh Art Jharkhand

Shri Abdul Jabbar
Social Work Madhya Pradesh

Shri Bimal Kumar Jain Social Work Bihar

Ms. Meenakshi Jain Literature and Education Delhi

Shri Nemnath Jain Trade and Industry Madhya Pradesh

Ms. Shanti Jain Art Bihar

Shri Sudhir Jain Science and Engineering Gujarat

Shri Benichandra Jamatia Literature and Education Tripura

Shri K. V. Sampath Kumar &
Ms. Vidushi Jayalakshmi K.S.
Literature and

Shri Karan Johar Art Maharashtra

Dr. Leela Joshi Medicine Madhya Pradesh

Ms. Sarita Joshi Art Maharashtra

Shri C. Kamlova Literature and Education Mizoram

Dr. Ravi Kannan R. Medicine Assam

Ms. Ekta Kapoor Art Maharashtra

Shri Yazdi Naoshirwan Karanjia Art Gujarat

Shri Narayan J. Joshi Karayal Literature and Education Gujarat

Dr. Narindar Nath Khanna Medicine Uttar Pradesh

Shri Naveen Khanna Science and Engineering Delhi

Shri S. P. Kothari Literature and Education USA

Shri V. K. Munusamy
Art Puducherry

Shri M. K. Kunjol Social Work Kerala

Shri Manmohan Mahapatra
Art Odisha

Ustad Anwar Khan Mangniyar Art Rajasthan

Shri Kattungal Subramaniam
Science and Engineering Kerala

Shri Munna Master Art Rajasthan

Prof. Abhiraj Rajendra Mishra Literature and Education Himachal Pradesh

Ms. Binapani Mohanty Literature and Education Odisha

Dr. Arunoday Mondal Medicine West Bengal

Dr. Prithwindra Mukherjee Literature and Education France

Shri Sathyanarayan Mundayoor Social Work Arunachal Pradesh

Shri Manilal Nag Art West Bengal

Shri N. Chandrasekharan Nair Literature and Education Kerala

Dr. Tetsu Nakamura
Social Work Afghanistan

Shri Shiv Datt Nirmohi Literature and Education Jammu and

Shri Pu Lalbiakthanga Pachuau Literature and

Ms. Moozhikkal Pankajakshi Art Kerala

Dr. Prasanta Kumar Pattanaik Literature and Education USA

Shri Jogendra Nath Phukan Literature and Education Assam

Ms. Rahibai Soma Popere Others-Agriculture Maharashtra

Shri Yogesh Praveen Literature and Education Uttar Pradesh

Shri Jitu Rai Sports Uttar Pradesh

Shri Tarundeep Rai Sports Sikkim

Shri S. Ramakrishnan Social Work Tamil Nadu

Ms. Rani Rampal Sports Haryana

Ms. Kangana Ranaut Art Maharashtra

Shri Dalavai Chalapathi Rao Art Andhra Pradesh

Shri Shahbuddin Rathod Literature and Education Gujarat

Shri Kalyan Singh Rawat Social Work Uttarakhand

Shri Chintala Venkat Reddy Others-Agriculture Telangana

Smt. (Dr.) Shanti Roy Medicine Bihar

Shri Radhammohan & Ms.
Sabarmatee (Duo)*
Others-Agriculture Odisha

Shri Batakrushna Sahoo Others-Animal

Ms. Trinity Saioo Others-Agriculture Meghalaya

Shri Adnan Sami Art Maharashtra

Shri Vijay Sankeshwar Trade and Industry Karnataka

Dr. Kushal Konwar Sarma Medicine Assam

Shri Sayed Mehboob Shah Qadri
alias Sayedbhai
Social Work Maharashtra

Shri Mohammed Sharif Social Work Uttar Pradesh

Shri Shyam Sunder Sharma Art Bihar

Dr. Gurdip Singh Medicine Gujarat

Shri Ramjee Singh Social Work Bihar

Shri Vashishtha Narayan Singh
Science and Engineering Bihar

Shri Daya Prakash Sinha Art Uttar Pradesh

Dr. Sandra Desa Souza Medicine Maharashtra

Shri Vijayasarathi Sribhashyam Literature and Education Telangana

Smt. Kalee Shabi Mahaboob &
Shri Sheik Mahaboob Subani
Art Tamil Nadu

Shri Javed Ahmad Tak Social Work Jammu and

Shri Pradeep Thalappil Science and Engineering Tamil Nadu

Shri Yeshe Dorjee Thongchi Literature and Education Arunachal Pradesh

Shri Robert Thurman Literature and Education USA

Shri Agus Indra Udayana Social Work Indonesia

Shri Harish Chandra Verma Science and Engineering Uttar Pradesh

Shri Sundaram Verma Social Work Rajasthan

Dr. Romesh Tekchand
Trade and Industry USA

Shri Suresh Wadkar Art Maharashtra

Shri Prem Watsa Trade and Industry Canada

Thinking of Club Mahindra: A Word of Caution

Dipankar Panda

Club Mahindra entices the unsuspecting citizens by offering them a new holiday every year for 25 years. Whether it’s at a beach or a jungle, a desert or a mountaintop, enjoy a new holiday for 7N/8D every year for 25 years, they offer as if on a silver platter

Don’t you ever think of becoming member of CLUB MAHINDRA. I am talking from my own experience. Being an avid tour and travel freak, I fell into their trap. Once you become a member and pay the huge sums, you become a persona non-grata for them. On 1st and 2nd of every month, they open their booking for the third month. From the date of opening of booking, you will get messages that booking will open at 9.30 a.m. You open the app at 9.31 a.m. and you will find the resorts are Not Available for you. But when you open the various booking apps, you will find 100% availability. As a member, rooms are not available to you but as a non-member, rooms are available for you at high prices. So once you fail to book the resort, you will contact the fellow who made you a member and acts as your relationship manager. The poor fellow will try his best to confirm your reservation and will later surrender or will come up with some other resort that you don’t want. After all, he being a small cog in this vast machinery of Club Mahindra, what can he do? Club Mahindra uses its resorts as hotels rather than a club resort for their members. They launch membership drive throughout the year just to raise huge capital. I feel really sorry that I referred this company to some of my friends. If anyone of you is thinking of taking membership of this so-called Club, please don’t let them burn a hole in your pocket. Now I want to cancel my membership and get my money back. Can anyone suggest how to do this?

Postscript: Every year they collect huge annual service fee from the members to maintain the resort while they are not using it and rent out the same as a hotel. So double income – “Aam ke aam guthliyon ke bhi daam”.