National Testing Agency (NTA) has started the online application correction window for the All India Ayush Post Graduate Entrance Examination (AIAPGET) 2022. Candidates can apply for the vacancies on the official website aiapget.nta.nic.in till August 31 upto 11.50 PM.
Corrections in the particulars in the Online Application Forms shall be accepted and submission of additional fee (depending on the changes made in the form) upto 11:50 pm. The candidates are requested to undertake the correction(s) very carefully as no further chance of correction will be provided to the candidates, reads the notification.
AIAPGET 2022 is held for admission to Postgraduate AYUSH Courses for the academic session 2022-23. The examination will be conducted by NTA in Computer Based Test (CBT) mode on behalf of Ministry of AYUSH with the approval of the Ministry of Education.
The exam will be held for 2 hours in two shifts — from 10.00 AM to 12.00 Noon (Ayurveda) and from 3.00 PM to 5.00 PM (Homeopathy, Siddha, Unani).
The stars in the sky are on the move, declares the title of Pa Ranjith’s latest film. So is the 39-year-old Tamil director, as is evident from Natchathiram Nagargiradhu.
Ranjith’s sixth feature expands on themes he has been exploring since his debut Attakathi as well as ventures into uncharted territory – the adventurous, limitless, but also fraught realm where political theory meets practical application.
Natchathiram Nagargiradhu is being released in theatres on August 31. Form is in lockstep with narrative concerns in a film that boldly sets out to reshape the orthodoxies of the love story. Ranjith’s resonant new movie focuses on a theatre troupe assembling to mount a play about so-called honour killings. At the heart of the film is a dialectical discourse on the challenges of love – for people, art, books, music and intellectual debate.
“I had been feeling the need to go inner for a while,” Ranjith told Scroll.in during a recent visit to Mumbai. “I have been exploring, as per my own understanding, politics through commercial cinema for a long time. But the new film is different. It is an experiment in bringing together dialogue, which is very prominent in my films, and craft.”
The film’s main traveller is Rene, a feisty young Dalit woman who has broken up with her boyfriend Iniyan after he uses a casteist slur during an argument. Rene (Dushara Vijayan) and Iniyan (Kalidas Jayaram) are members of the theatre group that is preparing for a new stage production in Pondicherry. This rainbow coalition of maverick dreamers, which includes a gay couple and a trans woman, is a microcosm of the shrinking island that is liberal India.
Rene and Iniyan are not alone in their struggle to keep their professional and personal lives apart. Arjun (Kalaiyarasan) brings to the rehearsals his prejudices about people most completely unlike him. He eventually transformed by his interactions with the other actors, particularly Rene.
Natchathiram Nagargiradhu maps the distance Ranjith has travelled in the decade since Attakathi, which followed a young man’s emotional entanglements. Since Attakathi, Ranjith has directed Madras, Kabali, Kaala and Sarpatta Parambarai – films that highlight the Dalit experience in ways that have arguably transformed Tamil cinema’s broader engagement with caste.
Ranjith’s interest in protest art has carried over to the films produced by his banner Neelam Productions, which include Pariyerum Perumal, Kuthiraivaal, Seththumaan and Writer. These films, as well as the band The Casteless Collective (formed by Ranjith and musician Tenma), openly dissect Indian social inequalities rather than couching them in coded language or vague formulations.
Even by Ranjith’s standards, Natchathiram Nagargiradhu is at a remove from his previous films. Although Ranjith had been involved with theatre as a student of fine arts in Chennai, his films have dealt with actual urban spaces – Mumbai’s Dharavi slum in Kaala, north Chennai in Sarpatta Parambarai – rather than the plastic zone of the stage, where art is created from scratch and recast afresh with every rehearsal.
Natchathiram Nagargiradhu was filmed at Pondicherry’s Indianostrum theatre. The character of Subier (Regin Rose), the director of the play in Natchathiram Nagargiradhu, was inspired by Indianostrum’s leading light Koumarane Valavane, Ranjith said. Valavane also played the lead role in Arun Karthick’s Tamil film Nasir, about communal tensions in Coimbatore.
Chandala, an Indianostrum production that interweaves honour killings with William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Romeo and Juliet, was the subject of Pankaj Rishi Kumar’s award-winning documentary Janani and Juliet (2019). The cast of Natchathiram Nagargiradhu includes members of Indianostrum, Ranjith added.
Theatre, which sets store by the power of the spoken word, is an apt setting for Natchathiram Nagargiradhu, in which dazzling montages share the screen with polemical exchanges. Liberated by community spirit, the film’s characters furiously debate, discuss and agree to disagree, transforming themselves and others in the process.
The film is equally laden with metaphors and symbols, from Gustav Klimt’s iconic painting The Kiss to the writings of BR Ambedkar. At one level, Natchathiram Nagargiradhu can be seen as an allegory about the ongoing Indian experiment with democracy, where fierce resistance meets the attempt to move beyond the rigidity of socially prescribed identities. As Rene and Arjun realise, this tension is deeply personal, affecting the way we think, interact and pursue relationships.
Natchathiram Nagargiradhu also sets out to reclaim the music of legendary music composer Ilaiyaraaja, who has been co-opted by Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party in its quest to create an alternate universe of celebrities. Tamil filmmakers routinely pay tribute to Ilaiyaraaja’s music from previous decades. Ranjith’s film converts Ilaiyaraaja nostalgia into a political act.
Ranjith has been nurturing the idea of making a love story that bucked convention since Kabali, released in 2016. He had been following news reports of inter-caste relationships, which were being pejoratively described by some political groups as “naataga kaadal”, or fake love, he said. Although Ranjith set aside his original script to complete Kabali and other projects, his thoughts kept returning to the changing contours of relationships.
By the time Ranjith revisited the script, other ideas had crept in, such as LGBTQI relationships. The device of using a play within a film presented Ranjith with the opportunity to create a “democratic, participatory space” in which people with differing views on love, art and politics could justifiably be herded together into the same room, he observed.
After completing Sarpatta Parambarai, which memorably revisits the boxing sub-culture of North Chennai, Ranjith contributed a chapter to the anthology film Victim – Who is Next? (released onSonyLIV in early August). “Because of that story, I got the confidence to further explore my visual sense,” Ranjith said. The film provides a succinct snapshot of exploitation and assertion, represented by a young Dalit girl who plays an important role in defusing an act of caste brutality.
Natchathiram Nagargiradhu too has a woman at the core of a loosely structured narrative. Dushara Vijayan turns out a brilliant performance as Rene, whose acute awareness of her Dalit identity encourages her to challenge her love for Iniyan and her feelings towards Arjun. Outspoken, sensitive and unapologetic about her divided self, Rene is easily among the most radical heroines on the screen in decades.
Kalaiyarasan, who has appeared in a few of Ranjith’s films and in his co-production Kuthiraivaal (directed by Manoj Leonel Jahson and Shyam Sunder), is equally compelling as Arjun. Kalaiyarasan’s transformation from reactionary to rebel is in keeping with the film’s romantic view of progressive politics.
While Natchathiram Nagargiradhu provides a sobering account of the challenges to artistic freedom – represented by a malevolent heckler – it’s also hopeful that wherever there is a willingness to think, question and debate, a more equitable world is possible.
“I want to give out positive energy – I believe in channelling my anger, polishing it and converting it into art,” Ranjith explained. Rather than stick to your corner of the room, it’s vital to come up with ways to meet in the middle, he said.
Some of the 173-minute film’s symbolic moments prove to be heavy-handed, just as some of the verbal run on for longer than they should.
“Symbols govern and design our lives,” Ranjith argued. “There are entire stories behind a person’s name, what he wears and what he eats. This is how we understand people. For instance, I could have decided against showing Rene reading a book on the Buddha. But this is a very important book that needs to be read. Will people seek out the book after the film? That’s the hope.”
When he began making films 10 years ago, this kind of explicit expression of political leanings and caste identity simply was not possible, he said.
“When I started out, there was hardly any platform or model for movies to talk about Dalit lives in the mainstream,” Ranjith said. “When I made Attakathi, there was a scene about Ambedkar that I couldn’t include because people would not have accepted it.”
Tamil cinema set in rural India, particularly films that looked at inter-caste couplings, ignored the granular experience of Dalit lives, he said. “At best, Dalits were characters or sub-characters, but not in leading roles.”
His own films are less interested in classic tales of discrimination and more in the negotiations between the layers of socially sanctioned hierarchies, he added. Natchathiram Nagargiradhu is imbued with this give-and-take, whether it’s in the trajectories of characters or Ranjith’s crafting of freewheeling sequences with unpredictable outcomes.
“I have come to the place where I can apply my language and express a certain kind of Dalit politics in the mainstream,” Ranjith said. “Films like Pariyerum Perumal were hits, proving that an audience has been created for such films. I now have the opportunity to work with big names.”
These names include Vikram, who will headline one of Ranjith’s upcoming films. Also in the pipeline is a web series spin-off from Sarpatta Parambarai and a biopic of Adivasi revolutionary Birsa Munda.
Framing a viewpoint: How ‘Sarpatta Parambarai’ created its ground-up view of heroism and assertion
The number of deaths due to suicides in India reached an all-time high in 2021, the latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau showed.
Last year, 1.64 lakh persons died by suicide, an increase of 7.2% from 2020 when 1.53 lakh persons had killed themselves. In 2019, this figure was around 1.39 lakh, according to the data on accidental deaths and suicides released by the National Crime Records Bureau on Monday.
In 2021, the rate of suicide – the number of death due to suicides per one lakh population – stood at 12. This is the highest rate of deaths from suicides since 1967, the earliest year for which data is available, according to the Hindustan Times. Till now, the highest rate of suicide – 11.3 – was reported in the country was in 2010.
The highest number of suicides were reported in Maharashtra where 22,207 persons killed themselves in 2021. This was followed by Tamil Nadu at 18,925 suicide cases, Madhya Pradesh at 14,965, West Bengal at 13,500 and Karnataka at 13,056.
These five states together accounted for 50.4% of the total deaths by suicides in the country, according to the report.
Domestic problems and illnesses were reported as the major cause of death by suicide in the country last year. They accounted for 33.2% and 18.6% of total suicide cases.
In terms of profession, daily wage earners remained the largest group among suicide victims for the second successive year. At over 42,000 cases, one in four of the recorded 1,64,033 suicide victims in 2021 was a daily wage earner.
In 2020, too, daily wage earners accounted for the highest share of deaths by suicide – 37,666 out of 153,052. The data is significant as thousands of daily wage earners lost their livelihoods during the two pandemic years.
A total of 10,881 persons involved in the farming sector, including 5,563 agricultural labourers, also died due to suicides in 2021, according to the report.
“Housewives accounted for 51.5% of the total female victims [23,179 out of 45,026] and constitute nearly 14.1% of total victims who committed suicides [23,179 out of 1,64,033] during 2021,” the report noted.
In-form Ramji Kashyap’s all-round show and P Narsayya’s brilliant attack helped Chennai Quick Guns qualify for the playoffs with a 58-42 win over Mumbai Khiladis. Earlier, Avdhut Patil recorded the longest defence time of 6:08 minutes to help the Telugu Yoddhas to a 88-21 win over Gujarat Giants in inaugural Ultimate Kho Kho season at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Pune on Monday.
The Amit Patil-led Chennai Quick Guns became the third team to secure a playoff berth and the win also helped Telugu Yoddhas progress into the knockouts by ending Mumbai Khiladis’ hopes of a Last-4 place.
Odisha Juggernauts and Gujarat Giants have already entered the playoffs.
League’s top attacker and defender, Kashyap defended for over six minutes and also scored 11 points in the attack while he was supported by Narsayya who added 14 points for the winning team with his five dismissals, four of those coming on through dives.
For Mumbai Khiladis, Gajanan Shengal scored 11 points.
In the second match of the day, Telugu Yoddhas registered the biggest win of season with the score of 88-21, thanks to Patil’s impressive defence of six minutes and eight seconds. He, along with skipper Pratik Waikar, first scored eight points together and then alone added eight more bonus to the team’s tally. Telugu Yoddhas ended the first innings with a lead of 45 points at 53-8 score.
Having confirmed their spot in the playoffs already, Telugu Yoddhas continued to play aggressively as they eventually ended the match with a record margin of 67 points.
Prajwal KH scored 15 points in attack for the winning team.
On Tuesday, Mumbai Khiladis will face a challenge from Odisha Juggernauts, who are on a six-match unbeaten run. Chennai Quick Guns will take on Rajasthan in the second encounter of the day.
Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) has commenced the online registrations for Project Manager Main (Written) Competitive Examination 2020 today, August 30. Candidates who have been declared qualified in the Preliminary examination can apply for the Main exam on the official website bpsc.bih.nic.in till September 15, 2022.
The last date to send the application form alongwith all the required documents to the Commission’s office is September 21, 2022. Earlier, the main application window was scheduled to open on June 24 which was suspended due to server maintenance.
Since July 17, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s criticism of “revdi culture” – the distribution of sweets – has sparked a heated debate about the merits of good welfare measures and the drag to the economy caused by bad “freebies”.
The discussion has become even more intense with the Supreme Court hearing a public interest litigation against political parties promising social welfare benefits during election campaigns.
Opposition leaders and some economists have pushed back against the notion that welfare schemes are “freebies”. Many welfare schemes, they maintain, are essential for the public good despite the contention that such measures are fiscally irresponsible.
Some states, heavily burdened with high fiscal deficit and debt levels, have actually performed better on developmental outcomes and in ensuring better access equality to essential services for their populations.
States like Kerala, West Bengal have ensured efficient welfare-enhancing schemes that compliment centrally-sponsored schemes. This has helped their populations also do well and ensured high productivity for the nation as well.
Article 293 (3) (4) of the Constitution allows state governments to manage their debt and fiscal policies the way they want while being consistent with the recommendations of the Finance Commission. Despite this, a battle is brewing between the Centre and many states centered on the fiscal autonomy allowed to state governments under the Constitution.
Since health is listed as a state matter in the Indian Constitution, states are expected to incur a higher proportion of healthcare costs. Through the pandemic, most state budgets have been stretched thin. While the Centre did provide support for the direct procurement of vaccines, a lot of that help was too little too late.
During lockdown, when migrant workers and other vulnerable sections were grappling with a loss of income, states were offered liquidity support with the opportunity to borrow through the Reserve Bank of India or the Central government.
States such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Telangana – mainly those not ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party – have been sceptical of the Centre’s actions and have tried to avoid borrowing excessively to meet their increased expenses. (Read more on this from the recent exchange of letters between Kerala state finance minister and Union finance minister.)
The issue of state-accrued public debt needs to be seen in the context of each state’s fiscal situation and spending needs.
Limited revenue sources
In the chart below, the 10 selected states account for around half of the total revenue collected by all states and Union territories. For Haryana, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, tax revenues constitute about half of their total revenue collections. The major source of revenue for other states is Central transfers.
Within their own tax revenue, major sources are the state goods and services tax, state excise duties and sales tax. It also shows how most states are dependent on the Central government for funds.
According to the Reserve Bank of India, the own tax revenue of some of these 10 states – Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, and Kerala – has been declining over time, making them fiscally more vulnerable to debt exposure and risk.
For most of these states, non-tax revenue from sources such as returns on assets such as profits and rents, fees and fines has remained volatile, dropping significantly in recent years, as seen in the two charts below.
Declining own tax revenue and non-tax revenue hurts the states’ expenditure planning and increases their dependence on market borrowing.
Some states such as Rajasthan, West Bengal, Punjab, and Kerala spend around 90% of the revenue they collect. The Reserve Bank of India emphasises the need for these states to enhance capital spending or investment expenditure on areas such as infrastructure and power where the return on investment may allow states to accrue more revenues, while complementing this with other welfare-enhancing spending allocations.
But welfare-enhancing fiscal measures on areas such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee and human capital development spending on education and healthcare have their own multiplier effect in improving developmental outcomes.
For instance, improved healthcare – reducing maternal mortality, infant mortality or improving child nutritional performance – directly influence labour productivity in a state. Such enhancement in labour productivity help further the state’s Gross State Domestic Product Growth.
It also goes without saying that states do need to control their fiscal autonomy – as safeguarded by the Constitution – and spend money as they deem fit while being aware of their macroeconomic debt position, risk exposure, and other socio-economic realities.
How has this played out under the assertive Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Central government?
Pinaki Chakraborty of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, wrote in the Economic and Political Weekly in March that the fiscal challenges for the Union-states have eased but have not disappeared. There are many reasons for this.
The impact of the Ukraine conflict has been significant, as oil prices have shot up around the world.
But mainly, he notes, resources flow to the states in the form of Centrally sponsored schemes such as the rural employment guarantee scheme – under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act – the National Social Assistance Programme, Umbrella Programmes on the Development of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Minorities are still substantial.
The aggregate allocation under Centrally sponsored and Central sector schemes as per the 2022-’23 budget allocation is Rs 3.83 lakh crore. This is contributing to the Union government’s high revenue deficit. Since it binds states to make matching contributions, it also increases state-level deficits.
Welfare performance of states
The Access (In)Equality Index by the OP Jindal Global University’s Centre for New Economics Studies, with which I work, observed in 2021 how states like Delhi, despite its unique multi-party governance architecture, West Bengal, Kerala and even Goa and Sikkim, perform better than states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh in providing access to basic social and economic services.
Every state has different fiscal capabilities to meet the social and economic needs of its population. But the overall development priorities set by any state government – BJP or non-BJP-ruled – must be closely linked to welfare enhancing measures.
Based on the range of 0.67-0.23, states are grouped into three categories – Aspirants (below 0.33), Achievers (0.42-0.33) and Front Runners (above 0.42). Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Assam, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh fall under aspirants, requiring sustained efforts to improve access to basic socio-economic opportunities across all identified pillars.
Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Tripura, West Bengal, Manipur and Meghalaya are categorised as Achievers. These states must sustain their efforts to advance to the next category.
Lastly, states such as Goa, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab,Mizoram and Karnataka are listed as Front Runners.
It is worth reiterating the link between state-debt levels and their Access InEquality Index performance for welfare-based comparison.
States like Kerala, Punjab and Telangana, despite their high public debt, have ensured better access to basic social and economic services and have done well consistently across most of the categories that were measured.
At the same time, states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, and Jharkhand – four of the five are BJP-ruled states – perform the lowest across most of the index pillars and are ranked the lowest in most access-measuring indicators.
In managing the swelling fiscal deficit and public debt levels, including of fiscally weak states, fiscal priorities and the composition of public expenditure must be more clearly understood. This is especially so due to the different constitutional assignment of functions for the Union and state governments. Most redistributive expenditures – critical for welfare outcomes – are in the domain of states.
Any contraction of such expenditure at the state level, due to the coercive actions of the Union government or due to high state-accrued public debt, can have adverse consequences, with a regression that can already be observed in state-level performance on access to basic services.
Welfare-driven expenditure needs are not part of “revdi politics” but about securing a government’s basic responsibility to its people and the larger citizenry.
State governments, irrespective of their party affiliation, need all the support they can get at this point to either borrow more freely under a mutually agreed fiscal roadmap for their development needs or be supported to manage their finances on their own, or borrow financed support offered by the Centre.
Fiscal cooperation and transparent functioning are vital for protecting a state’s fiscal space and enhancing macroeconomic stability. There is no room for arbitrary decision-making mechanisms nor partisan constitutional interpretations, which might trigger more direct confrontations between state governments and the Union Ministry of Finance.
Deepanshu Mohan is an Associate Professor of Economics and Director at the Centre for New Economics Studies, Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities, OP Jindal Global University.
The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur will commence the online application process for the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE 2023) today, August 30. Eligible candidates will be able to apply for the exam on the official website gate.iitkgp.ac.in till September 30th.
Applicants will be able to make changes to their application forms from November 4 to 11.
GATE 2023 is scheduled to be conducted on February 4th, 5th, 11th and 12th and the admit card will be made available to download from January 3 onwards. The exam will be conducted by IISc Bangalore and seven IITs (IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, IIT Guwahati, IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Madras, IIT Roorkee), on behalf of the National Coordination Board – GATE, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education (MoE), Government of India (GoI).
The answer key will be available from February 21. Candidates will be able to submit suggestions from February 22 to 25. The result is likely to be released on March 16, 2023.
Regular Period (30th Aug to 30th Sept 2022)
During the Extended Period (1st Oct to 7th Oct 2022)
Female candidates (per paper)
SC / ST / PwD* category candidates (per paper)
All other candidates including foreign nationals (per paper)
Once registered, fill up the form, and pay the fee
Submit the form and take a printout
Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) is a national-level exam that primarily tests the comprehensive understanding of various undergraduate subjects in Engineering/ Technology/ Architecture/ Science/ Commerce/ Arts. GATE 2023 will be a computer-based test (CBT) which is being organized by the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur.
For more details, candidates are advised to visit the official website here.
NEW DELHI: Economist Abhijit Sen, a former Planning Commission member and one of the country’s foremost experts on rural economy, died on Monday night. He was 72.
“He suffered a heart attack around 11 PM. We rushed him to the hospital, but it was all over by the time we got there,” said Dr Pronab Sen, his brother.
In a career spanning more than four decades, Prof Abhijit Sen taught economics at Oxford, Cambridge and New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, and held several important government positions, including the chair of the Commission of Agricultural Cost and Prices.
He was a member of the Planning Commission from 2004 to 2014, when Manmohan Singh was the prime minister. In 2010, he was awarded the Padma Bhusan for public service.
When the NDA came to power in 2014, it appointed Sen to head a high level task force to frame a long term grain policy. Sen was a vocal advocate of a universal public distribution system for rice and wheat.
He would argue that the burden of food subsidy on the exchequer was often exaggerated and that the country had enough fiscal headroom to not only support a universal PDS, but also guarantee a fair price to farmers for their produce.
Sen had also been associated with several global research and multilateral organisations such as the UNDP, Asian Development Bank, Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the UN, International Fund for Agricultural Development and OECD Development Centre.
Sen, whose father Samar Sen was a World Bank economist, studied physics at New Delhi’s St. Stephen’s college before switching to pursue a doctoral degree in economics from Cambridge University.
Sen had been suffering from breathing-related ailments for the past years, which got aggravated during the Covid-19 pandemic, said his brother, Pronab.
He is survived by wife, Jayati Ghosh — also a well-known economist — and daughter Jahnavi.
National Health Mission, Madhya Pradesh (NHM MP) will conclude the online application process for recruitment to the post of Psychiatric Nurses today, August 30. Eligible and interested candidates can apply for the posts on the official website sams.co.in.
The recruitment drive aims to fill up a total of 52 vacancies.
Age Limit: 21 years to 40 years as on January 1, 2022.
Educational Qualification: Master degree/diploma in Psychiatric nursing recognised by the nursing council of Madhya Pradesh/India or BSc. Nursing recognized by Nursing Council of Madhya Pradesh/ India with minimum two years experience of working in Psychiatry/ Mental Health Institution or Hospital in Govt./ Private. More details in the notification below:
When the alarm woke him up on his first day of junior college, Yuri had been dreaming. It was an odd dream. He was standing at the door to a classroom ringing with mirth and loud conversation. He wanted to enter, but he wasn’t allowed in because he hadn’t brought his parents with him.
‘How do we know who you are?’ boomed a voice. ‘Besides, your undergarment is ridiculous.’
The class erupted in laughter.
Yuri had a single photograph of his parents, a black-and-white picture which hung in his bedroom. It was a wedding portrait, he in black, she in white, against a backdrop of stage clouds. They looked into the camera unsmiling and serious, and Yuri often wondered whether it was a premonition. He had studied that photograph for years.
He tried to imagine his mother smiling or laughing or walking in a garden, his father moving, turning, lifting something. But they remained just as he saw them, static images emptied of life.
When he tried to make them speak, they mouthed strange, clumsy lines: ‘We loved you, son.’ Or, ‘We are praying for you, son.’ He turned away in horror then – no, his beginnings could not be so embarrassing.
On his first day of college, when the Favre Leuba alarm clinked and clanked, Yuri tried not to look at that picture. He didn’t need myths and mysteries this morning, he needed the assurance of familiar things. He had hoped for monsoon light – for years, the first day of class had meant a Duckback raincoat with its rubbery smell, a new uniform’s faint abrasions, and water seeping into black rubber shoes.
But the June sun was pouring in, bright with a meaningless cheeriness. Well, at least this was familiar. He was used to unanswered prayers. Rain would have meant some continuity, some way of assuring himself that college wasn’t going to be as much of a challenge as his teachers had said it would be. ‘No one will care whether you attend class or bunk, whether you pass or fail,’ Father Kamath had said. ‘They won’t even know your name…’
Now the smell of eggs frying came wafting in. Tio Julio had obviously skipped morning service to mark the event with a hot breakfast. Normally, Tio’s departure meant time to masturbate; it was best in an empty house, Yuri had found. But today he would have to forego his early-morning pleasuring of himself.
Should I try it in the bath?
– No, you’ll have to rush it.
As the immersion heater warmed his bath water, he shaved with a new Topaz blade. It left him bleeding in three different spots, an improvement from the last time, when he had stopped counting after decapitating five pimples. He dabbed a little toothpaste on the worst cut. Vajradanti, Vajradanti, Vicco Vajradanti – a tune began in his head, then a thought interrupted it.
The sun is out because college will be different.
– You think? And how?
I’ll make friends.
Okay, one friend will do.
And this, too, was familiar. Each year, he had said to himself: ‘This is secondary school, I’ll make friends.’ Or, ‘I’ll join the cricket team this year. I’ll make friends.’ Or, ‘The tenth standard. Last chance to make friends. Should I join a study group?’ And each time the sprig of hope withered within a few hours. He would walk down the stairs into the schoolyard and there they were, the same bunch of boys milling around, already secure in their cliques and teams and groups.
Yuri knew why he had no friends. It wasn’t just that he tried to shave once a month and turned his face from a hairy pimpled mess to a bloody pimpled mess. It wasn’t just that he had grey eyes, like a cat’s, and was therefore untrustworthy by local suspicion. The real reason, he knew, was that he didn’t fit in.
For one, he thought in English while almost everyone else in school thought in their mother tongue. They took his English for a snobbery he had put on, because he was clearly no better off than they. In fact, he was probably a little poorer than many other boys in a school that gave a middle-class,
English-medium education to those who could barely afford it. English was the language that came naturally to Yuri because it was the language in which Tio Julio thought and spoke, and there had been no correctives in the shape of grandparents who spoke Konkani, or Hindi or Marathi, the languages that rang in the grounds and corridors of his school.
Add to that, he was the priest’s child. Padri ka bachcha. This was bad enough to mark him out in St Vincent’s High with its celibate priests. It felt worse because he knew it did not matter to anyone if this were true or not.
For Tio Julio was his guardian, his uncle, and not even a priest. But he was unmarried and belonged to the Order of Lay Contemplatives, an international order of people who had decided to live God-steeped lives, promising chastity, poverty and obedience to each other and to themselves. The only difference between them and the professed clergy was that they lived in the world and could hold other jobs.
If his uncle’s quiet asceticism left the boys uncomfortable, Yuri understood quite early that those who had signed up for a full-time clerical life did not think much of Tio Julio’s kind either. Although the priests in his school did not say so, sometimes there would be a raised eyebrow, sometimes an exchanged look.
But they were far away, these men in white cassocks. The boys were right there, in the schoolyard, all over and around him. The boys saw his uncle as Father Julio, a joyless padri, for he often came to school to teach Moral Instruction to the non-Catholics and scripture to the Roman Catholics. And since he was Yuri’s guardian, ‘Padri ka bachcha’ was how Yuri was known.
It didn’t help that their house was always visible to every boy in school. Their two-bedroom flat was in a church building and overlooked the schoolyard, which also served as the churchyard.
Tio Julio could often be seen putting their clothes out to dry in the narrow balcony, wringing and snapping the khadi browns and greys and Yuri’s uniform before hanging them on the rough jute.
‘What kind of man washes clothes?’ a boy had said to another.
The sight was almost daily proof of Yuri’s oddness. But as he grew older, Yuri sometimes wondered whether there was something quite else, maybe his temperament, that marked him out.
Excerpted with permission from The Education of Yuri, Jerry Pinto, Speaking Tiger.