Thursday, September 30, 2010

'Nation Building’ or ' Nation Damaging' Media

I heard this comment 'Singapore media hardly reports any untoward mishap that happens in private condominiums but quick to report even frivolous incident that would occur in Govt housing HDB'. The logic behind this statement is ' Singapore Govt do not like to see private property market gets hit by bad publicity’. I am not sure about the validity of this argument but have had few instances of suicide and accidental deaths in our neighboring condominiums not being reported in the media compared to ones in HDB . Last week, I heard another comment from a person who is involved with Singapore Media 'we do not have any Govt censorship but as a “Nation Building" instrument, we practice a responsible behavior not to report anything adverse that would affect our nation'.

The above comments stood in stark contrast to Indian media bashing of Common Wealth Organization. Indian media vied with each other to paint horrible picture of Commonwealth games in New Delhi. Twenty eight years ago, when New Delhi hosted Asian Games, there was a national euphoria in every sphere and section of Indian society. Every detail of the event was glorified. This time, discord and opposition has given more bad publicity than amazing work done with metro and the new international airport. With just few days away from the opening of CWG, an Email forward is being circulated with stunning and exquisite photographs of stadia, facilities and infrastructure projects with a clear message ' Dear Friends, Successful completion of CWG is a must for INDIA ’s image….There has been so much negative publicity about it… Let us support the games now, and for sure it doesn’t mean that we support the corruption involved with it!!!! Let the heads roll later...we are doing more harm than good for our NATION by focusing on the negatives...let us do that after our guests have left... electronic media...ARE YOU LISTENING >>>>>PLEASE Discard Adverse Publicity. This does not seem to have been initiated by PR managers of CWG but by enthusiastic individuals who feel aggrieved by negative publicity by Indian media.

Today is the verdict on Ayodhya. The legal battle over 80x 40 feet has four legal suits, first one from 1885. The verdict today would be on the one filed in December 1950 by Mahant Ramchandra Das Paramhans who is now the chairman of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas and another by the UP Sunni Central Boards of Waqfs in December 1961. All the four suits are now clubbed together and brought before the Allahabad High Court . I liked the phrase of supreme court "justice should not only be done, but also appear to be done" while replacing Muslim judge with Hindu one for hearing the argument on Ayodhya matter. Would Lucknow high court be categorical in their judgment ? What would the verdict be? Would the issue be decided on rational basis or faith? If one were to go by the land registry documents, chances are that land would go to UP Sunni Central Muslim waqf board. If one goes by the archaeological discovery mixed with faith of millions and the historical perspective, place would be declared as Ram Janmabhoomi represented by Nirmohi Akhada.

Blog of Zia Haq “ They call me Muslim “ has an article ' Five Tactics to handle Ayodhya'. This elicits very interesting responses from the viewers. Barring few, most net savvy young generation writers wants India to get out of religious symbolic chauvinism and get on with the economic progress. By evening, we would know the verdict of Lucknow. Press council of India has already imposed collective restrictions on reporting of ' Ayodhya HC verdict celebrations and protests' . I would be keen to see the if India Media adhere to Singapore code of ‘ Nation Building’ or CWG reporting manner of ‘ Nation Damaging '.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mai Maushi - an embodiment of love and humility

No matter how mentally I am prepared for the loss of someone who is dear, the news of an inevitable sinks the heart and emptiness prevails. I feel numb as I hear the news of passing away of Mai Maushi.

Life often is a topsy-turvy of fluctuating fortunes. However, with some, they swing and touch either extreme. Pinnacle of wealth to pitiable living conditions, from social adulation and recognition to a forgotten entity. Journey from ' Rags to Riches' is definitely soothing but would reverse be true? It is highly unlikely. More so, when one has got into the situation for no fault of own but others who one has relied and. depended on. How would such a person react to oneself and with the outside world? Most likely, the person would be upset, angry, cynical, and jealous and harbors ill will of the society around. Mai Maushi turned out to be the opposite that of common foible human traits. She remained an embodiment of simplicity, generosity and carried with her pots and pots of love and caring.

Vasanji Ved, a rich shipping business tycoon marries a prolific renowned singer Anjanibai Malpekar. They have an heir to their fortune and Mai Maushi barely in her teens walks in as a daughter in law of Ved family. All this happens before I was born. As a teenager, I remember seeing remnants of their elegant lifestyle and heard the stories of their opulence. Their serving food in silver utensils, owning buildings in prime areas of south Mumbai. Their home frequented by rich and famous from the world of Hindustani classical music, politicians and business community. Both Saraswati - goddess of creative arts and Parvati - goddess of wealth blessed their home. Mai Maushi became a witness to the heady days of glory and also slow but definite downhill of fortunes that were to set in. Her image of Diwali days of wearing yellow gold brocaded nine yard saree with 'pearl studded nath' in her nose, smile and humility etched on her face, welcoming every guest with sincerity and gracious hospitality is now part of my memories of ' Pitru Sadan' , an iconic symbol of lost glory and opulence. As the years rolled on, everything in that home dwindled except her lovable and gracious nature.

The last we met was a month ago and i knew she would not survive for long but somehow she managed and pulled herself to go through Ganesh Chaturthi. Inflicted with memory loss, no strength to stand on her feet or consume food, she was at the mercy of her children who did their best to manage her health. When we left the home, after meeting her, she coaxed her children to bring her to the first floor balcony to bid a final good bye to us as we walked past the main porch. Both of us knew this would be our last contact and it turned out to be so.

When Mai Maushi looks back, she will have solace that her children looked after her well, gave whatever they had with their meager resources and more importantly showered her love, respect and dignity. I wish I could carry even fraction of her selflessness, lovable nature and generosity. It is ironical that Mai Maushi chose to merge her identity with 'Anant' on the day of Anant Chaturdashi, observed as a day to acquire lost Opulence. Unlikely, Pitru Sadan would ever gain lost opulence or past glory. History will only record through large portraits of Raja Ravi Varma that hung on her wall and mute tanpura that has stood in showcase over many decades.

We shall miss you Mai Maushi. May your soul be at peace as you have always been all your life !!

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Mandarin Song by Akshta


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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rapist Men in India to Breastfed car drivers in Saudi Arabia

Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan remarked that “due regard” should be given to the wishes of a rape victim if she chooses to marry the rapist or have the baby conceived as a result of the crime. This means ' if a rapist gives consent to marry a woman he has raped, there lies an opportunity of rehabilitating victim in the society’. This is an example of a modern welfare mechanism of Indian Society whose ancient mythology cites rape as one of the eight forms of marriage called ' Rakshas Vivah - devilish marriage '. In a vocal and argumentative India society, the views of Chief Justice were promptly denounced by woman organizations.

In the space of a year, Official Saudi cleric proclaimed that if a woman breastfeeds another male, he become her son. Another debate followed - expressing shock, surprise on such a statement but this statement was smartly used by intelligent Saudi woman to substantiate their claims of letting them drive. Saudi woman are prevented from driving on their own and also forbidden to be with a stranger male. Another fatwa cites that a woman can be in a company of a man only if he happens to be her son, brother or husband. Gulf News article wonderfully narrates the hilarious aspects of their argument. Comments by some woman are hilarious and amusing:

"We either are allowed to drive or breastfeed foreigners,"
Is this is all that is left to us to do: to give our breasts to the foreign drivers so that we can be driven by our son and not a foreign driver "
"Does Islam allow me to breastfeed a foreign man and prevent me from driving my own car?" "I have not breastfed my own children. How do you expect me to do this with a foreign man? What is this nonsense?"
"Fatwa should also apply to the husbands who should be breastfed by housemaids. By doing so, all will be brothers and sisters,"
"Do the women have to breastfeed the driver in the presence of their husbands or can they do this alone?"
"Who will protect the wife if the husband entered the house unexpectedly and found his wife breastfeeding the driver?"

If remarks of India and Saudi learned men put into practice, Indian rapist have a choice to choose his wife with his ruthless behavior of molestation while expatriate drivers in Saudi with their driving skills can hope to be good suckers and have a chance to integrate with Saudi family.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A small story of simple Indian Farmer

It has been an exhilarating and exhaustive experience to find a land for factory project in India. This exercise took me to Mahindra Industrial Park in Chennai, MIDC in Vile Bhagad - Raigad, Chakan -Pune, Shirwal - Satara, GIDC Jaghadia - Ankaleshawar, Sanad - Gandhi Nagar, Manesar- Haryana. Some of them were spanking clean with the entire industrial infrastructure in place while some with just barren land with dried grass and hard rocks. Both conditions made economic sense. But making a factory in a verdant landscape with rich black soil that has been already been tilled and sowed, ready to receive mansoon to make agricultural produce, intrigued me. Farmers in the vicinity seemed well off with motorbike reclining in the shadow of a tree. Village had plastered wall houses, eager students tucking along their mothers hurrying to reach school premises before the bell rang, a small grocery store with refrigerator and stocked every brand of cold drink and string of packaged munching chips hanged next to the counter that also housed candies, chocolates and essential groceries. In all, this place exhibited happy and contented village. Next to this proserperous, stretch of land was Hyundai Construction factory - impressive facade of blue glass structure surrounded by well-manicured lawns. This factory would produce earth-moving equipments. The juxtaposition of Modern industrial factory with fertile land stirred me. Is it wise for India to give up her fertile land for the factory? It appears, everyone is a winner, at least for today. Farmer gets remuneration that he could never ever have imagined. Factory employs more people than agricultural land would and provide indirect jobs to vendors, dealers and support companies, Govt be happy in giving employment ,country’s GDP soars, their coffers become heavier with taxes and duties. But considering the reality of India’s billion mouths need food to stay away from hunger, would this be considered as wise decision in the future? I do not have an answer but this thought still haunts me.

Y’day I watched ‘Goshta Choti Dongraevadhi' a Marathi movie. Stark and brutal reality of Indian farmer to this indolent, self-obsessed individual who wallops in city comforts and yet remains unsatisfied. ‘When price of potato per kg is increased current Rs 8 to Rs 10, city people come on the street but no one bothers but when branded chips with 100 gm of potato are sold at Rs 10 per packet. When an Injectibles that cost Rs 5 is sold at Rs 100, business magazine gloss the story with ingenious marketing' - a hard hitting statement by educated agriculture graduate can definitely shake any city bred viewer from his cynical attitude and approach towards farming community. This movie is a tribute to scores of Indian farmers who embraced death when left with no choice to live with dignity. This movie is an amazing portrayal of farming community that bring not just tears but makes one angry of being helpless spectator in watching corrupt practices devour basic human qualities in India. When an actor decides to produce a movie, it shows his conviction in a cause. Amir khan did in ' 'Tare Jameen par', Amitabh did in 'Paa' and now Makarand Anaspure and Sayaji Shinde did in ' Goshta Choti Dongraevadhi' .मातीच्या लेकराचा a theme song penend by Prakash Holkar & Arvind Jagtap and composed by Shailendra Barve brings out rustic fragrance of soil , anguish and pain of farmer in a spiritual intonation similar to Bhimsen Joshi

After seeing this movie, I am now more confused. Who is responsible and who to be blamed for the situation that prevails in India. Govt has meager resources and only industrial growth can augment its resources to provide any succor to farmers. Which provides more productive yield? Farming or industrial production? One third of the world's workers are employed in agriculture but they account for less than 5% of Gross Domestic Product. The agricultural output of China is the largest followed by the European Union, India and the United States. Can India give up its farming in pursuit of higher GDP through Industrial production? US, Canada, France, Australia, Argentina and Thailand - supply 90% of grain exports. Would India be happy at the mercy of these six countries to feed her own people? The United States controls almost half of world grain exports and so does global economy. Would India be able to follow her path? A prudent mix of Knowledge based Industry, Mass produced industrial goods and Farming be ideal. However, would this utopia be reached by keeping social balance? Would there be a concept of ‘Factory Farming’, a farming produced in mechanized industrial manner where farmer become employee of an industrial corporation that adds not just GDP but also feeds million hungry mouths.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Ukadiche Modak

There is saying in Marathi that if a girl could make 'Ukadiche Modak' or 'Puran Poli', she could preapre any cuisine. I tried my hand at Ukadiche Modak first time. Thanks to Khana Khajana with Bharati Acharekar, I managed to try it without a major fiasco. Jaggery had already turned into stone so it was difficult to measure its quantity in proportion to the coconut. It turned out bit more juicy, thereby making it bleed from the rice cover. We also had aluminium mold that could shape it like a modak but the fun was giving it a shape with fingers. It turned out with every conceivable shape from 'crispy chicken' to ' batata wada' but it did taste like a modak.
In my school days, there was a poem in Marathi named 'pola' on a festival to honour farming companion bull. I had forgotten about this festival till our neighbour came with their son carrying wooden ' bailoba'. Its indeed nice of her to carry this indian rural tradition in a distant land. This is a day of a cow , ox or bull and they must be waiting with great expectation.On this day, they can breathe free with rope that was tied all year round his nostrils is given away. A massage with paste of turmeric powder and ground nut oil, followed by hot water bath and served khichadi by his master. A day to be at beauty parlour with horns being decorated and body is adorned with colorful ornaments and flower garlands. In India, every animal has his day and this day belong to the bull.
Tomorrow is Ganesh Chaturthi and our annual date with Maharashtra Mandal be there for next five days .

'Hare Rama' and 'Hari Raya'

' Muslim celebrate Hare Rama '. A statement that is as explosive as US pastor announcing the burning of Quaran. Akshta proclaimed this while informing us about her school today organizing a talk on ' Hare Rama '. What three and half year old Akshta could not decipher was the difference between ' Hari Raya' and ' Hare Rama' !

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Jihad against ‘Jugad’ and ‘Chalta Hain’

'Emotional Empathy' and 'Pecuniary Gain' are two potent forces to get the work done and achieve something in India. But it's not necessary to use these forces in absolute manner. Very often, a ' promise or assurance ' is good enough to get the work kick-started. Mutual expectations are never spelt out in the beginning nor work accomplishment schedule. All that is agreed is a overwhelming desire to help each other in the spirit of friendship or 'dostana 'As things stutter, as they often do after initial euphoria, both parties deviate from their assurances but maintain sketchy friendship enough to throw respective names for future transactions with prospective clients. With this scenario pervading all over, it has opened new careers that few management graduates may have envisaged. Breed of consultants, PR managers, Fixers galore and shine as the desperation sets in to match deadlines of projected activities.
I am experiencing the above scenario as we battle one of our ambitious projects in India. My friend Subba Iyer in his blog talks about two words ' Jugad' and ' Chalta Hain'. First one, pertains to an ability to work out a workable solution within a stipulated time frame , by employing methods that may or may not fall in acceptable norms and the solution often not be tenable in long term but would look good cosmetically, superficially or in short term. Second one ' Chalta Hain’. It is an attitude to accept and approve the final solution that ' Jugad' has come out with. He talks about some people who feel that ' Jugad' is an art and an ability to come with novel solution from resource constraint. I feel these two words have strengths to demolish the character of a company by attacking two of her basic foundations of existence - Quality and Durability. Be it a product, process or people - 'Jugad' and 'Chalta Hain' corrodes, disintegrates and demolishes everything within and around the company.
I am scrupulously shunning the practice of these two words within our organization. It does require a change of mindset and when it involves hundreds of human beings with disparate background, culture, it appears an indomitable task.

Homi Sethna - one of the pioneer of Atomic Power of India passed away. Times of India article in his obituary says ' Those who worked with Sethna recall that he was a taskmaster, an extreme disciplinarian and a stickler for cleanliness who could be extremely brusque at times ' I had read the similar traits about Dhirubhai Ambani , narrated by his project manager.

If I need to get rid of ' Jugad' and ' Chalta Hain', I must espouse these traits of Late Homi Sethana and this means transforming my inner core. Another challenge to conquer!

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Kabhi Yun Bhi Aa... Dr Bashir Badr

Both these rendering are so exquisite that its difficult to choose either as a favorite but as I listened to both , words enamored and in the process I learnt about Dr Bashir Badr, a prolific gazal writer. Socha Nahi, Accha Bura, Dekha Suna , Kuch Bhi Nahin is another creation.




Kabhi yun bhi aa meri aankh mein ke meri nazar ko khabar na ho
Mujhe ek raat navaaz de magar uske baad sahar na ho
[navaaz - to grant]

Vo bada raheem-o-kareem hai mujhe ye sifat bhi ataa kare
Tujhe bhulane ki duaa karun to duaa mein meri asar na ho
[raheem-o-kareem - kind & generous; sifat - talent]

Mere baazuon mein thaki thaki , abhi mahav-e-khvaab hai chandni
Na uthe sitaron ki paalaki, abhi aahaton kaa guzar na ho

Ye Gazal ki jaise hiran ki aankhon mein pichhali raat ki chandni
Na bujhe kharabe kii roshani, kabhi becharaag ye ghar na ho

Vo firaaq ho yaa visaal ho, teri yaad mahakegi ek din
Vo gulab ban ke khilega kyaa, jo chirag ban ke jalaa na ho

Kabhi dhoop de, kabhi badaliyan, dil-o-jaan se donon qubul hain
Magar us nagar mein na qaid kar jahan zindagi ki havaa na ho

Kabhi din ki dhoop mein jhoom ke kabhi shab ke phool ko chuum ke
Yun hi saath saath chalein sadaa kabhi khatm apnaa safar na ho
[shab - night]

Mere paas mere habib aa zara aur dil ke qareeb aa
Tujhe dhadkanon mein basaa lun main ke bichadne ka kabhi darr na ho
[habib - beloved]

-Bashir Badr

Here is English Translation by Ravi Kopra

Come sometime surprise me
Come, spend a night with me
Wishing the sun does not
rise up in skies again

He is kind and generous
May he grant me this gift
I pray I forget you. But my
prayers are not fulfilled

In my arms I still hold
the jaded paled moonlight
The stars don't want to leave
My sighing chest still heaves

We may get together
or we may go our ways
But I will remember you
one day passionately

Who can bloom like a
rose if he hasn't been
first gone up in smoke
burning in a lamp's flames

Let there be sunshine
Let there be cloudy skies
but don't keep me in a
city where there's no life

Let's dance sometime in the sun
let's kiss flowers in the evening sometime
let's be together like this always
let's hope our journey never ends

Come close to me, my darling
a little closer, come to me
Let me have you in my heart
that we never separate again.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Killing me Softly with his Song


Y'day Roberta Flack performed in Singapore at Esplanade Theater and Asha Bhonsle be here on Saturday. Both concerts I won't attend. Just to hear one song ' Killing Me Softly' for S$6o plus may not be worth it and listening to Asha at Suntec would not be as memorable as it was at Dubai world Trade auditorium or at Esplanade. I would rather enjoy it on You Tube.. along with the version of Perry Como .. what a rich voice.

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly
With his song...
ooooo....
I heard he sang a good song
I heard he had a style
And so I came to see him and listen for awhile
And there he was this young boy
A stranger to my eyes...

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly
With his song...

I felt all flushed with fever
Embarrassed by the crowd
I felt he found my letters and read each one out loud
I pray that he would finish
But he just kept right on...

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly
With his song...

He sang as if he knew me
In all my dark despair
And then he looked right through me as if I was not there
And he just kept on singing,
Singing clear and strong...

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly
With his song...
oooooo....la la la la la la.....ooooooooooo...la la laaaaa.la la la laaaaa
Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly
With his song...

He was strumming my pain
Yeah he was singing my life
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song...

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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Two weeks, Three Countries and Seven Cities

Two week travel in three countries is defintely tiring when its a business travel. A measure of that is felt when sleep comes without any effort and lack of desire to do any physical exercises. Visit to ' Gadget Capital of the World' ' Sex and Spiritual Capital ' and 'Population Capital' gave a chance to see contrasting lifestyles that are slowly fading in this global era.
All in one Wash basin - Remote sensing water, foamed soap dispenser and dryer. A new gadget in the realm of Toto - a ubiquitous name in Japan Toilet Industry. Hotel Toyo at Osaka is now Ramada but it abandoned old refrigerator that housed cans in horizontal position . Would there any technological marvel that has surpassed my observation of previous visit of 5 years ago ? Visit to Yodobashi in Osaka rekindled the memories of previous visits. It used to be TV era , then came Walkman era , DVD and PlayStation era ans now ? It is struggling to keep interest with US gadget iPhone and 3D display on PC. English to Japanese electronic dictionary is hard to come by. I spent a lot of time at Kinokunia at Takashimaya Singapore and Amazon.com. Apart from Seiko 2100, that I have used it over last few years, there was available. Every gadget at Yodobashi was with Japanese Kanji functions. It scares me to put money on this.

Latest issue of India Today talks about choking traffic in metro cities. A time has come when office goer would spend more time in the car than home and office. In two days in New Delhi, I experienced being in traffic but it's entertaining. One can study practically every model of the car with her structural variations and the occupants too. A time may come when people would form business association while dragging their cars in adjacent lane or couple falling in love as they watch each other over a long time.

At hospital in New Delhi, outside the ICU, shoe rack was kept with rubber slippers for the visitors to change to their normal footwear. But people kept their shoes in chaotic manner making the corridor cluttered with shoes and chappals. With visitor trying to find his pair, they got more scattered. A contrasting sight from Japan where they are kept in orderly manner.

Ayuthaya 1600 baht Kantary hotel equipped with living room, kitchen, laundry and Internet. This is value for money. Would India be able to reach this level ?

My critical roving eyes were at work as soon as my flight from Bangkok touched Terminal 3 of New airport of New Delhi. Cubicle that connects the aerobridge to the aircraft is painted in orange and yellow. Is there any art form that I am missing ?. These rectangular coloured boxes that appear like containers make incongruous match with a sprawling airport complex. Large window panes, big corridors with newly laid carpets, motorized walking belts look airport great but dust particles hardened with rain deops on the glass panel look ugly. Immigration, luggage handling area is spacious. The sight of worker manoeuvring motorized cleaning machine is refreshing from the traditional look of men and women wearing blue dress squatting and chit- chatting with dust broom lying on their side. ‘Shoddy workmanship' ' lack of maintenance and Cleanliness' are two glaring aspects that make any modern object in India pale in comparison to the rest in the world , No matter how beautiful and elegant the construction is to begin with. Premier lounge serve great food but benches have chipped in and glued plywood at different places. I pity the brainwave of the person who has kept electrical plug underneath the computer table. My plug would refuse to hang and would fall under the gravity . This section is for those whose laptops are charged or else one can go with a glue tape and stick around the plug while they charge their gadgets. Dubai airport lounge has electric sockets next to every seat and they provide choice of different plug standards. I am sure Delhi airport officials must have visited the best airports around the world. How they missed this important aspect of business traveller. While I was at immigration desk, a man who had already cleared immigration merrily walked out. Luckily Haryana bred immigration officer stopped him ' I don’t have baggage tags ' was his defence. His refusal to let the passenger go out invited rebuke from his immediate immigration officer ' that's not your job, how many people can you stop ? '. Once I was past immigration and on X ray machine, there were more people looking for baggage tags. A baggage tag with blue rubber stampis unique to India, It provides direct job opportunity to at least four people and one manufacturer. But whatever shortcomings New Delhi airport may have, it is designed on a grand scale and portrays the surging aspirations of India to match the best in the world.

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