Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leaders pay tribute to Indira Gandhi on 37th death anniversary

Party leader Rahul Gandhi hailed her as a great example of women power and paid floral tributes to Indira Gandhi at her memorial Shakti Sthal in Delhi

File image of Indira Gandhi. Wikimedia Commons

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leaders on Sunday paid tribute to former prime minister Indira Gandhi on her her 37th death anniversary.

Indira was assassinated in 1984 by two of her security guards linked to Khalistani extremists.

Modi took to his Twitter handle to pay his tribute. He tweeted:

Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi hailed her as a great example of woman power.

Rahul paid floral tributes to Indira at her memorial Shakti Sthal in Delhi.

“My grandmother served the country fearlessly till the last moment — her life is a source of inspiration for us,” the former Congress chief tweeted in Hindi. “A great example of women power, humble tributes to Mrs. Indira Gandhi on her martyrdom day,” he said.

Posting her picture as a kid with Indira, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said, “Your life is a message of courage, fearlessness and patriotism. Your life is a message to keep fighting for justice by walking on the path of ideals.”

Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said history will always be a witness to the enormous contribution of India’s first woman prime minister and a “symbol of women’s empowerment”, Indira Gandhi. He tweeted:

The Congress, in a tweet from its official Twitter handle, also lauded the former prime minister’s contribution to the country.

“She represented strength. She epitomised sacrifice. She personified service. A billion salutes to the Iron Lady of India, our very first woman Prime Minister, a true Bharat Ratna, Smt Indira Gandhi, on her death anniversary,” the Congress said in its tweet.

Rashtriya Ekta Diwas: Narendra Modi and Amit Shah pay tribute to the Iron Man of India

The Prime Minister emphasised that Sardar Patel wanted a strong, inclusive, sensitive and alert India, an India that has humility as well as development

The National Day of Unity or Rashtriya Ekta Diwas is observed annually on 31 October to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. This year marks the 146th birth anniversary of Patel, who was the first home minister of India and played a crucial role in the integration of princely states into the Union of India.

On the day both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah paid their respects to the Congress leader. While Shah visited Kevadia in Gujarat where a mammoth statue of the leader is installed, Prime Minister Modi, who is on a foreign tour right now, addressed the people via a televised video speech.

‘Ek Bharat-Shreshth Bharat’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Sardar Patel is not just a mere historical figure but a leader who lives in the heart of every countryman and people who are taking his message of unity forward. They are the true symbol of unity. The Rashtriya Ekta Parades across the country and events at the statue of Unity reflect the same spirit, he said.

The prime minister also said that Sabka Prayas (unified effort by all countrymen) is even more relevant in the Amrit Kaal of Independence. “This ‘Azadi ka Amrit Kaal’ is of unprecedented growth, achieving difficult goals and building the India of Sardar Saheb’s dreams.. ‘Ek Bharat'” which to him meant, “equal opportunities for all including women, Dalits, deprived section of people, tribal and forest dwellers”, he said, “where housing, electricity and water is within the reach of everyone without discrimination”.

“This land mass where 130 crore Indian live is an integral part of our soul, dreams and aspirations,” he said.

Referring to the strengthening of India’s democratic traditions by the emotion of ‘One India’, the prime minister called for a collective effort from every citizen in the direction of achieving the goals of the country. The prime minister emphasised that Sardar Patel wanted a strong, inclusive, sensitive and alert India. An India that has humility as well as development. “Inspired by Sardar Patel, India is becoming fully capable of meeting external and internal challenges”, he added.

Referring to steps taken to strengthen the country in the last seven years, the prime minister informed that the country got rid of unnecessary old laws, strengthened the ideals of unity, and emphasis on connectivity and infrastructure has reduced geographical and cultural distances.

“Today, strengthening the feeling of ‘Ek Bharat-Shreshth Bharat’, a ‘Mahayagya’ of social, economic and constitutional integration is going on” and the country’s resolve and capability in water, sky, land and space are unprecedented and the nation has started moving on the path of new mission of Aatmnirbharta,” he said.

The prime minister reiterated the power of ‘sabka prayas’ in the fight against coronavirus where new COVID hospitals, essential medicines, 100 crore doses of vaccines were made possible due to the collective efforts of every citizen.

Referring to the recently launched PM GatiShakti National Master Plan to harness the collective power of government departments, the prime minister said that if along with the government, people’s ‘Gatishakti’ is also leveraged, nothing is impossible. Therefore, he said, “our every action should be marked by consideration for wider national goals.” He gave examples of students who can consider the sector-specific innovations when they choose their stream of study or while shopping, people should keep the goal of Aatmnirbharta, along with their personal preferences, in mind. Similarly, industry, farmers and cooperative institutions too should keep the goals of the country in mind while making their choices.

‘Kevadia is a shrine to national unity and patriotism

Meanwhile, Shah paid floral tributes to Patel at his 182-metre tall statue, which is the tallest in the world, in Kevadia on Sunday. The statue was inaugurated in October 2018 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Speaking at the event, the home minister said that Kevadia has become a pilgrimage site.

“Kevadia is not just the name of a place, it has become a shrine — a shrine of national unity, of patriotism. This sky-high statue of Sardar Patel is giving a message to the world that India’s future is bright, that nobody can damage the unity and integrity of India,” he said.

Shah said the day had unique importance. “Today’s National Unity Day is a day of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav… After Independence, while leaving, Britishers had conspired to divide into several pieces. Patel foiled that conspiracy and resolved to make ‘akhand Bharat'”, he said.

In a veiled attack on Congress, Shah said attempts were made post-Independence to forget Patel and his contributions, but the situation has changed as the world’s tallest statue is a testimony of the changed realities.

“After independence, his contributions were never given due respect. He was neither given Bharat Ratna nor proper respect. The situation has changed. He was given Bharat Ratna and this world’s tallest statue is before us to see,”
Shah further said that in 2014, when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) formed the government at the Centre, 31 October was instituted as National Unity Day.

“When there was a change in the country in 2014, the government was formed under the leadership of Modi ji, then it was decided to celebrate 31 October as National Unity Day. This was done so that the struggle that Sardar Patel put in for independence for years continues to inspire the younger generation of the country,” Shah noted.

With input from agencies

Jokes Apart | Why Mohammed Shami should now offer namaz on field

Waqar Younis should realise that saying namaz amongst Hindus is not a maverick act of courage — just a simple matter of faith.

The T20 World Cup is far from over and it has already created more controversy on the sidelines than the action on the pitch. First, there was Mohammad Rizwan catching a quick namaz in the drinks break, and Waqar Younis having his own reverse swing, sorry, spin on it. Then the trolls went hammer and tongs after poor Mohammed Shami.

Kashmiri students who celebrated Pakistan’s victory by bursting crackers were booked for sedition in UP. In their defence it must be said that Diwali is round the corner; people do start early. I wish they were more tactful though. Clapping is less in-your-face than bursting crackers. Clap as much as you want when the match ends. If the authorities question your actions, say that you were just appreciating good cricket all round.

Fandom in cricket is a mysterious thing. During a World Cup in England, I, along with several Indian fans, began supporting Pakistan. After India bowed out of the tournament, it felt natural to us to shift allegiance to a team from the subcontinent. In any case, in England, we are all clubbed together as Asians. My Aussie friends were puzzled. We were at the stadium in Leeds, watching Pakistan take on Australia, and I was rooting for Pakistan. The Aussies were like: But you’re sitting with us! I said: But India and Pakistan have a shared history; my father’s family hails from Lahore. Fortunately, no sedition charges were pressed.

Meanwhile, Quinton de Kock refused to take the knee — clearly a knee jerk reaction — in support of the Black Lives Movement and pulled out of the playing XI at the very last minute. He later changed his mind and issued a statement (ours really is the age of statements), and went on to feature in a Volini commercial. In the ad he is unable to take the knee because of a knee sprain and is in danger of missing the match. Volini, voila!

Over in Pakistan, Shoaib Akhtar and a TV anchor fought on live television; egos clashed as the Rawalpindi Express thundered out of the studio, as crowded as the train itself. David Gower and Viv Richards looked like frozen lizards. Or rather, they didn’t know where to look.

Let’s dedicate the rest of this column to the fraught issue of religion and cricket. That surely ranks as the biggest one among the controversies I listed above. It must be said that of all sports, cricket is the most worship-friendly. Unlike football, it has so many breaks built into it, it suits the needs of the advertisers and the devout alike. It’s not that footballers don’t pray, except that the praying moment is built into the goal-scoring celebration. It’s short and quick; there’s no time for leisurely namaz. The Egyptian striker Mo Salah for instance performs a prayer of thanks by getting to his knees and placing his head on the ground. The act is called sujud. It’s over in a few seconds.

Cricket, on the other hand, is tailor-made for praying. One can, if one wants, pray during the lunch and tea breaks, at the toss, and in the commercial break (which keep getting longer and longer) between overs. It’s a separate debate if players should mix religion and sport, though most will agree it’s a matter of personal choice. The old-timers will recall the days of ‘secular’ superstition when the red handkerchief performed the good-luck role in the game of glorious uncertainties. God, back then, resided in the humble red hanky.

It’s not just Pakistanis who pray, though they do have a habit of thanking god more so than other cricket-playing nations. A post-match interview often goes like this:

Presenter: What was the most crucial passage of play?

Pakistani player: First of all I’d like to thank Allah.

Presenter: Was the toss the deciding factor?

Pakistani player: First of all I’d like to thank Allah.

Presenter: Will you stick to the same playing XI in the next match?

Pakistani player: First of all I’d like to thank Allah.

And so on…

To be honest, it makes for more interesting listening than the Indian players who speak in ready-made corporate phrases, with no religious colour whatsoever. Their MBA-speak goes like this: ‘Boys showed intent‘, ‘back myself‘, ‘play natural game‘, ‘execute plans‘ and ‘concentrate on the process, not the result‘. ‘Controlling the controllables‘ used to be in vogue till a few years ago.

Rizwan prayed, Pakistan won the match and we would have lived happily ever after. But then Waqar Younis had to go and stoke controversy by saying that Rizwan’s praying was all the more commendable because he did it while being surrounded by Hindus. This one is baffling because these are Hindu cricket players we are talking about here, not a bloodthirsty mob. They have bats in their hands, not swords. The cricket ball has been known to kill but no one was chucking it like an out-of-context grenade.

Besides, the Hindus would have prayed too except that it’s a logistical headache for us. Suppose there are three players in the Indian team: Amar, Akbar and Anthony; they all want to pray while playing. Akbar and Anthony have it easy: A Maggi namaz or crossing the heart doesn’t take too much time. But the Hindu needs an entire cricket team: Priest, ghee, incense, firewood, matchbox, gangajal, etc. You see it’s just too complicated and time-consuming to bring this assortment on to the cricket field. A red tilak is an option though.

Back to Waqar. Sure enough, his comment about Hindus went up in a fireball, and Waqar, like de Kock, got busy issuing his own statement of apology. The bhakts from our side, not to be outdone, decided to go after Shami, though later Pakistani hands into the Shami trolling were discovered. The next day again was spent in the favourite pastime of the twenty-first century: Issuing statements. As our commentators and players condemned the trolls and lent support to Shami, I felt an opportunity was lost to make a bigger statement, one which would have confused both the Shami trolls and Waqar Younis. Shami ought to have gone down on his knees and offered namaz himself, with his Hindu teammates forming a protective ring around him. Waqar would have realised that saying namaz amongst Hindus is not a maverick act of courage — just a simple matter of faith. The trolls would have gone into paroxysms of beetroot rage — always a pleasant sight to behold. It would have taught them that the freedom to practice one’s religion does not dilute a player’s loyal patriotism and love for his nation.

The writer is the author of ‘The Butterfly Generation’ and the editor of ‘House Spirit: Drinking in India’. The views expressed are personal.

All you need to know about LGBTQ+ community

Who is an asexual? How is asexual different from agender or cisgender. Here’s a comprehensive primer that will define these different groups and answer all your queries about the LGBTQ+ community.

Representational image. PTI

In a landmark move, the US government on Wednesday issued the first passport with the “X” gender designation for those who do not identify themselves as either male or female.

The State Department said that it had issued the first passport with “X” for gender and would make the option routinely available by early 2022 both for passports and birth certificates of Americans abroad.

At least 11 other countries already have an “X” or “other” option for passports, according to the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion, a London-based advocacy group.

India, too, is changing rapidly, more so after the historic Supreme Court verdict that decriminalised Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on 6 September 2018. This IPC Section, introduced during the British Raj, was responsible for criminalising homosexuality in India.

As the world is getting more inclusive, there remains confusion about the actual composition of this category. What does each letter in LGBTQ stand for?

Interestingly, some also use the term LGBTQQIAAP. The full form of LGBTQ is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer. As for LGBTQQIAAP, the last five letters mean Questioning, Intersex, Allies (those who identify as straight but support people in the LGBTQQIAAP community), Asexual and Pansexual.

We bring to you a comprehensive primer that will define these different groups and answer all your queries.


Asexual is a sexual orientation characterised by a lack of sexual attraction. An individual identifying as an asexual does have emotional needs, though the proclivity for any sexual activity may be missing. This condition, however, should not be confused with celibacy, as those who live their lives as celibate do so out of a free will.


Then there are people who are agender, meaning someone without gender. A relatively new term, agender is not same as asexual. People who refer to themselves as agender cannot identify as either a man or a woman. An agender has no gender identity per se.


A bisexual is attracted to more than one gender. However, it is not necessary that the attraction to both genders is simultaneous, in the same way or to the same degree. Bisexuality is a broad term, and also includes people who identify themselves as pansexuals, whose sexual attraction is not based on gender and may themselves be fluid when it comes to gender or sexual identity.


Cisgender is a person whose gender identity aligns with the gender and sex assigned at birth. At times, cisgender is confused with heterosexual, but the fact is that the former simply refers to one’s identify, the latter refers to who one is attracted to.


Then there are demisexuals who experience sexual attraction once they form a strong emotional connection with someone. Generally, a relationship for a demisexual begins with a friendship. After all, the element of trust and security makes them attracted to someone.


Those born with sex chromosomes, external genitalia or an internal reproductive system that is not considered standard for males or females refer to themselves as intersex. Parents and physicians usually choose the sex of the child, resulting in surgery or hormone treatment. Thanks to growing awareness, some people now wait until intersex babies are old enough to decide their gender identity.


Men who are attracted emotionally, sexually to some other men, identify themselves as gay. In case of a woman who is attracted another woman emotionally and/or sexually, she is usually referred to as lesbian.


The full form of LGBTQ is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer. It is an umbrella term to refer to people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and/or queer. Of late, people use the terms LGBTQ+ or LGBTQQIAPP.


Once considered a slur for being gay, queer is now used as a broad term to encompass all non-heterosexual, non-cisgender identities. It is regarded as a unifying identity that sees both sexual orientation and gender identity as potentially fluid.


The second ‘Q’ in LGBTQQ is for questioning. The term is used to refer to those who are yet to figure out their orientation. These people are still unsure and are in the process of exploring their identity.


A transgender is a person whose gender identity is different from the sex the doctor put down on his/her birth certificate. Some transgender people who desire medical assistance to transition from one sex to another identify as transsexual.

India have to play out of their skins against Kiwis to remain afloat after Pakistan’s blitzkrieg

No one thought that we would be looking at today’s match between India and New Zealand as virtual quarterfinals, which we would need to win to remain in the race for the semi-finals. It’s the same for the kiwis too. Both sides have lost their first encounter and against the same team — Pakistan!

Both sides would be under intense pressure, but for India it’s a different kind of pressure altogether. The pressure to live up to the expectations of the 1.3 billion demanding fans who expect nothing less than the World Cup this time. In comparison, New Zealand has a population of 3.5 million people. Just to keep things in perspective, these many people live in my vicinity of the NCR! And, unlike in India, cricket is not treated as a religion in New Zealand. India’s pressure is further compounded by archrivals Pakistan’s red hot form.

At their best, India can beat New Zealand and get to the second position in the group. Also reassuring is the body language and demeanor of the Indian team. Virat Kohli and his boys seem to be in the usual aggressive mode.

Coming to today’s match, I don’t see any knee-jerk reaction from Team India. Kohli may more or less retain the last match’s team, with one or two minor changes. The toss remains the key aspect of the game, and the side batting first will have the advantage. Afghanistan, however, in their last match against Pakistan at the same venue, won the toss and threw the gauntlet to Pakistan by batting first and still took the match to the wire; it needed an Asif Ali special to take Pakistan home.

“Kohli may more or less retain the last match’s team, with one or two minor changes.” AP

The plus for India is that Rohit Sharma is due for a big score and Hardik Pandya is turning his arm over. So, on paper, India seem to have an edge if they can play to their billing and potential.

The Indian team is a battle-hardy outfit and capable of absorbing the pressure. They should do well to tackle the threats from Kane Williamson and Trent Boult. The fans and the media tom-tommed the past record versus Pakistan and we all know the result and the thrashing we got from Babar Azam and his boys. This time statistics give Kiwis the upper hand as they have dominated India in T20 in the last 8-10 games. But I have maintained that players should not get swayed by these ‘bikini’ stats, as was manifested in the last India-Pakistan match. Such stats show a lot but hide the important bits.

I would like India to be more flexible in making a couple of changes. Lack of swing means that Shardul Thakur can pip Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rahul Chahar may find a place in the playing 11 as a wrist spinner. A six-day break can be a bonus for the IPL-jaded stars of India, but it can also be a rhythm-breaker. However, the fact remains that one bad game does not make a good team ordinary, and that’s where the presence of MS Dhoni in the dressing room will be important in keeping the boys in a good mental state.

All in all, it could be a cracker of a match, and would be interesting to see Boult take on Rohit ‘Hitman’ Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah bowl to Kane Williamson. So, tighten your belt and enjoy the ride, guys. Personally, I feel it’s going to be India’s match all the way. But for that Team India will have to play out of their skins against the competitive Kiwis.

The writer is a former India fast bowler and a cricket expert. Views expressed are personal.

Dharma Files | Why ‘dharma’ is not identical with religion or Hinduism, though it overlaps with it

Although we have become accustomed to routinely translating the English and European word ‘religion’ with the Sanskrit or Indic word dharma, the semantic ambience, or even flavour, surrounding the two words is different

Representational image.

Editors’ note: In this recurring column, Arvind Sharma will share his reflections on what are called religious matters but which, in our own cultural terms, would be referred to as matters pertaining to dharma.

Although we have become accustomed to routinely translating the English and European word ‘religion’ with the Sanskrit or Indic word dharma, the semantic ambience, or even flavour, surrounding the two words is different. We see the problem involved here clearly if, instead of translating the European word religion into an Indian language, we set out to translate the Indic word dharma into a European language, or for that matter, into any other non-Indian language.

We would not be the first to try to do so. This situation was faced by King Ashoka as early as the third century before the Christian or Common Era (C.E.). As is well known, a distinguishing feature of the reign of Ashoka is that he inscribed his message to his subjects in the form of edicts on rocks or pillars all over India, which then included the land covered by today’s Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In these messages, he exhorted his subjects to imbue their lives with certain values or virtues, to which he gave the name dharma. Some of these subjects, however, lived in the border areas of the north-west, where the languages they spoke were Greek or Aramaic. So he had to translate the word dharma into Greek and Aramaic.

In delivering his messages to the people who spoke these languages, he used the word Eusebia to translate the word dharma into Greek. That word is usually translated into English as piety. In rendering the same word dharma into Aramaic, he used the word dhat. That word is usually translated into English as law. It becomes clear from the choice of these words, that two words with different connotations were used to translate the same word dharma in languages that prevailed outside India.

Let us now move from the third century BCE to the first century of the Christian or Common Era (CE). One dynasty which ruled over the north-western parts of India at the time was the Kushana dynasty, whose reign is also testified by numismatic evidence. They used the word dharma on some of these coins, inscribed in Greek. So the word dharma had to be translated again into Greek. This time the word dike was used to translate the word dharma into Greek. That word is usually translated into English as righteousness. Thus the same word dharma is translated into Greek by two different words within a few centuries.

Let us now move to the seventh century of the Christian or Common Era (CE). The scene shifts to China under the Tang dynasty. The famous Buddhist pilgrim, Xuanzang, has just returned to China with a request from King Kumar of Kamrup, a contemporary of the well-known Indian King Harsha, that the Daoist classic, the Dao De Ching, be translated into Sanskrit. So Chinese scholars conversant with both Sanskrit and Chinese were assembled to accomplish this task. But, according to one tradition, the Daoist text has remained untranslated to this day. Why? Because the scholars split into two camps. The scholars with the Daoist orientation wanted to translate the key Chinese word Dao with the Sanskrit word marga, but the scholars with a Buddhist orientation wanted to translate the word Dao with the Sanskrit word dharma. The Mexican stand-off could not be resolved. We see here the problem hinted at earlier, in reverse. (The word Dao is usually translated in English as the Way).

I hope, therefore, that the readers will not find it unreasonable that I have used the word dharma, rather than religion. The word dharma is not identical with either religion or Hinduism, though it obviously overlaps with them. This will become clear in subsequent columns.

Arvind Sharma, formerly of the IAS, is the Birks Professor of Comparative Religion at McGill University in Montreal Canada, where he has taught for over thirty years. He has also taught in Australia and the United States and at Nalanda University in India. He has published extensively in the fields of Indian religions and world religions.

India records 12,830 new COVID-19 infections; 446 deaths; active cases lowest in 247 days

The daily rise in new coronavirus infections has been below 20,000 for 23 straight days and less than 50,000 for 126 consecutive days

Representational Image. News18

New Delhi: With 12,830 people testing positive for coronavirus infection in a day, India’s total tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 3,42,73,300, while the active cases declined to 1,59,272, the lowest in 247 days, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday.

The death toll climbed to 4,58,186 with 446 fresh fatalities, according to the data updated at 8 am.

The daily rise in new coronavirus infections has been below 20,000 for 23 straight days and less than 50,000 daily new cases have been reported for 126 consecutive days now.

The active cases comprise 0.46 percent of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.20 percent, the ministry said.

A decline of 2,283 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours.

India’s COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on 7 August , 2020, 30 lakh on 23 August, 40 lakh on 5 September and 50 lakh on 16 September. It went past 60 lakh on 28 September, 70 lakh on 11 October 11, crossed 80 lakh on 29 October, 90 lakh on 20 November and surpassed the one-crore mark on 19 December. India crossed the grim milestone of two crore on 4 May and three crore on 23 June.

How Limp Bizkit’s Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water became my gateway to heavy music

As much as getting an uncensored version of the 2000 album Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water was like unearthing a treasure – each expletive uttered bringing a toothy grin upon my face – there were often times I heard songs like ‘Rollin” or ‘My Way,’ where all the abuses were blanked out.

When the going gets tough, we turn to our favourite guilty pleasures. But when entertainment is concerned, is there even any guilt to what gives one pleasure? In our new series Pleasure Without Guilt, we look at pop offerings that have been dissed by the culture police but continue to endure as beacons of unadulterated pleasure.


The years 2000 and 2001 were pretty revelatory to me, and it wasn’t just the hormones or moving to Mumbai that made me feel that way. It was more or so the kind of music that my brothers and I were being put on to, being ever the young and impressionable adolescents surrounded by slightly older kids who were scouring Napster, Kazaa, and Limewire et al for all kinds of music.

One of those friends put me on to rock and metal in a big way. Among the biggest rock and metal releases burning up the charts at the turn of the millennium was Limp Bizkit’s Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water. I was also getting introduced to artists like Eminem, Linkin Park, Korn, Rage Against the Machine, Papa Roach, Coldplay, and so many more, back when it wasn’t bizarre to utter these names in the same sentence.

Bizkit’s 2000 album – their third – was handed to me and my brothers on a pirated tape, and we spun it on a double deck cassette player probably every other day. Of course, a part of me was completely enamoured by all the explicit language I was learning, but I was also intrigued by all the references jumping straight out of American pop culture (like skateboarding or understanding a wrestling move called the Full Nelson or even what “going platinum” meant in the music industry). Plus, there was the obvious quest to figure out what this album title meant, which was certainly unsavoury and scatological, much to any fan’s delight.

Beyond that, Fred Durst’s care-a-damn, yeah-I’m-a-white-rapper delivery was hard to overlook, even if he was spouting a lot of nonsense. That was the draw — to be unashamedly saying dumb things and getting morose over cliched relationship issues, but to lay it over Wes Borland’s stomping riffs, John Otto’s roomy drum work, and Sam Rivers’ uncharacteristically slick basslines. Not to forget, DJ Lethal was often invoked in the lyrics by Durst, as if to hype listeners up to his turntablism and beat production which permeated through on several tracks.

The first glimpse of The Chocolate Starfish and The Hot Dog Flavored Water probably came to me via the music video of ‘Rollin’,’ featuring actor Ben Stiller, among others, who appears in the opening title. Every time (among the countless hundred times) I replayed this song, the part I always waited for – lyric sheet in hand – was when Durst uses f**k four times in two consecutive lines. The surge that chorus provided was a high like something I’d never heard before, opening my mind up to how anthemic a brash, crass, and seemingly heavy band like Limp Bizkit could be.

Safe to say that when I learned the above-mentioned expletives, that was pretty much all I wanted I say when I wanted to express myself. So imagine my excitement when I found an album that pretty much revered the F-word, the best example on Chocolate Starfish being ‘Hot Dog.’ Durst’s exaggerated vocals notwithstanding, ‘Hot Dog’ (proudly) used f**k 49 times in total, across three minutes and 50 seconds. The most notorious of the lines went: “If I say “f**k” two more times/That’s 46 “f**k”s in this f**ked up rhyme.”

Most days after school, this was what I would prioritise instead of homework. Over long commutes on holiday, we had our Walkman to share, which allowed us to have the track sequence burned into our minds, the booming sound of ‘My Generation’ and ‘Full Nelson’ leading to the more emotional break-up song ‘My Way,’ and of course, ‘Rollin’.’ The single version was subtitled as an ‘Air Raid Vehicle’ while there was a second version called ‘Urban Assault Vehicle,’ featuring guest verses from rappers like DMX, Method Man, Redman, and producer Swizz Beatz. The verses were so lethal that it showed me who the gruff and unsparing rappers were in hip-hop, that too from a collaboration. Earlier on, Xzibit raps on ‘Getcha Groove On,’ a primo DJ Lethal aided song that saw Limp Bizkit at their most hip-hop.

As far as I’m concerned, Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water had no fillers. It had the appropriately fast-paced energy of ‘Livin’ It Up,’ which was anthemic as much as it was, once again, explicit. Songs like ‘Hold On,’ ‘It’ll Be OK,’ and ‘The One’ were slower but they exposed me to the mellower side of the band. It made me feel like Limp Bizkit was bringing depth into an album that went on to sell over eight million copies, being certified platinum by 2001.

While ‘Rollin” was my introduction to the album, the first Limp Bizkit song I had heard was ‘Take A Look Around,’ thanks to the soundtrack for Tom Cruise-starrer Mission: Impossible 2. The pendulous, ultimately tumultuous rager of a song featured the chorus, “Now I know why you wanna hate me,” which is pretty much where I was channeling a whole lot of misguided adolescent angst. The explosive song still makes me want to throw fists and jump around, along with one of the more underrated singles on the album, ‘Boiler.’

As much as getting an uncensored version of Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water was like unearthing a treasure – each expletive uttered bringing a toothy grin upon my face – there were often times I heard songs like ‘Rollin” or ‘My Way,’ where all the abuses were blanked out.

I rolled with it, and still sometimes end up intentionally ‘blanking’ my way through the lyrics.

After I was taken in by nu-metal, rap-rock, and particularly, Limp Bizkit, thanks to Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, I dove into their discography, somehow convincing my parents to buy me their 1999 album Significant Other (whose title I did not understand until many years later). It was the first time I ever paid attention to the infamous Parental Advisory Explicit Content sticker, which was obviously explained to me by my dad.

Limp Bizkit still gets me hyped, 21 years on. Their latest song ‘Dad Vibes’ – helped by Durst’s seemingly “Dad” look at music festivals in the US – has been on repeat. Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water was a future classic for me, even if everyone else grew out of it, and laughed sheepishly about liking Limp Bizkit. It was kind of surprising to realise later that this music defined my love for heavy tunes, even if it was directionless in its angst. I believe this can still get a crowd moving anywhere in the world. If you don’t believe me, footage from their recent performances don’t lie.

Anurag Tagat is a Bengaluru-based independent music journalist, covering artists nationwide and around the globe. He is also an assistant editor at Rolling Stone India.

Read more from the Pleasure Without Guilt series here.

The Statue of Unity is a message to world that India stands united, says Amit Shah at ‘Rashtriya Ekta Divas’

India celebrates Rashtriya Ekta Divas on 31 October every year to mark the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who played a significant role in the country’s struggle for Independence

FP Staff

October 31, 2021 10:30:40 IST

File image of Amit Shah. ANI

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday paid tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his 146th birth anniversary at the Statue of Unity in Gujarat’s Kevadia. Shah presided over the ‘Rashtriya Ekta Divas’ (National Unity Day) function at Kevadia where he also paid floral tribute to Sadar Patel’s 182-metre-tall statue.

Here are a few key facts

India celebrates Rashtriya Ekta Divas on 31 October every year to mark the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who served as the first deputy prime minister of India from 1947 to 1950 and played a significant role in the country’s struggle for Independence.
It was because of his efforts that Lakshadweep is part of the Indian Union.
Amit Shah said that the Statue of Unity is a message to the world that India stands united
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel life serves as an important source of inspiration for all Indians, he said
Men’s hockey team captain, Olympian Manpreet Singh and other athletes participated in the parade at Statue of Unity in Kevadia today.
On the occasion of the 75th year of India’s Independence, 75 cyclists from ITBP, SSB, CISF, CRPF and BSF, who have travelled approximately 9,000 km from various parts of the country to Kevadiya, will be taking part in the event as per an official statement.
A total of 101 motorcyclists from police of the states of Tripura, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir and Gujarat, who have travelled from the East, South, North and West of the country to Kevadiya covering approximately 9,200 km will also be part of the event.
Twenty-three medal winners in the Olympic Games, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, including Manpreet Singh, the captain of India’s Bronze winning Men’s Hockey team at the Tokyo Olympics will also be participating in the event.

With input from agencies

T20 World Cup 2021: South Africa avoid the C-word, win over Sri Lanka could prove to be turning point

In the end, South Africa averted the loss they were rapidly hurtling towards in its ICC Men’s T20 World Cup league match against a battling Sri Lankan outfit in Sharjah on Saturday. It was almost as if South Africa were embracing navigational errors to be drawn to defeat with the certainty of moths attracted to flame.

The slide was being engineered by the diligent Sri Lankan bowlers, notably leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga who sent back skipper Temba Bavuma and Dwaine Pretorius in his final over. The sceptre of choking, a familiar presence around the South African sides since the 1999 World Cup semifinal in Edgbaston, Birmingham, was looming all over again.

It is an unwelcome intruder, no doubt, but hard as the South Africans have tried to keep the word away from their minds, there are innumerable reminders that are served to them by all and sundry. David Miller and Kagiso Rabada had to stay focussed on the task of getting 28 runs in the final two overs rather than let dismal thoughts cross their thoughts.

Many years later, it is possible that South Africans will look back in time and identify this match as a turning point. It surely has the potential to be one, more so since it came in circumstances that were challenging, to say the least. Wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock was returning to the XI after one match because he did not join the team in taking the knee.

It is credit to Bavuma’s statesmanship that he did not let much scope for tension to find a seat in the dressing room. It was with adroit steps that he did not step on landmines after the match against the West Indies which de Kock sat out of. The honest manner in which he addressed the question left no one in doubt that he was being an able leader.

By respecting de Kock’s decision to sit out of a critical match and offering his shoulder to the senior cricketer, Bavuma had defused the situation to a great extent rather than let it escalate into a messy debate on the racism divide in the squad. There were important things on hand, like winning cricket matches, but keeping the flock together was integral to that.

Spurred by Rabada’s six in the penultimate over, Miller dug deep into his reservoirs of belief to strike two sixes in the final over. AP

The challenge of keeping the side from the Rainbow Nation together must be greater than making decisions on bowling changes, field placements and batting order. And Bavuma was equal to the task. If he can sustain the good work done in the past week, he can surely hope to inspire the team to deliver an upset victory over England and get to the semifinals.

Bavuma extended his leadership to the pitch during the chase. Walking in at 26 for two, he was involved in a mix up with Rassie van der Dussen just when it seemed that the two of them were taking charge. He buckled down to play a holding role during the repair job with Aiden Markaram, showing a great understanding of the match situation and the ground conditions.

The sluggish Sharjah Cricket Stadium pitch was not the most conducive to strokeplay and teams have had to adapt to bring smart batting to the fore rather than embrace typical T20 approach. The tracks in the smallest of the grounds in the competition have made creative artists become careful craftsmen.

In the dugout, Tabraiz Shamsi’s mind would have been a veritable playground of emotions. He had bowled very effective four overs of left-arm spin, giving the Sri Lankan middle-order no chance of pairing up with Pathum Nissanka to post a big score. Sri Lankan leg-spinner Hasaranga took two wickets in the 18th over to bring the C-word to the airwaves again.

On Saturday, it would have been easy to ignore how David Miller managed to exorcise some ghosts of his own. Spurred by Rabada’s six in the penultimate over, Miller dug deep into his reservoirs of belief to strike two sixes in the final over and take the side home to make up for the times he came up short.

Dealing with thoughts of having conceded 17 runs in his final over during Sri Lanka’s innings, Rabada infused hope with a six off Chameera when the team needed 22 off nine deliveries. Miller merrily wished away mention of choking for the time being with blazing sixes in Lahiru Kumara’s final over to live up to being called Killer Miller once again.

For all that, the image from the 1999 World Cup semifinal against Australia will remain embedded in one corner of many minds. Everyone will have to get comfortable with different thoughts finding their own parking space and resurfacing every now and then. It is something that successive South African teams have come to terms with.

Happily, for the South Africa and their fans, Miller and Rabada helped add a refreshingly delightful memory to that collection. They knew they cannot change history but, on Saturday, they had to take the team over the line as they owed it to themselves, their team and their skipper for his leadership and his batting almost all the way through the chase.