Category: Featured

The miraculous story of Ronu Mandal

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Ronu Mandal. The story of this latest internet sensation has all the exiting elements of a fairy tale. Her journey from an obscure railway station in West Bengal to the glittering platform of a singing reality show in Mumbai seems like an incredibly thrilling rag-to-rich story. It sounds like a miracle that a 59 year old woman, abandoned by her people and left homeless and poverty stricken, should become so popular and garner so much support for her singing all of a sudden, though she must had been signing to earn her bread (biscuit) for quite long. And who doesn’t like miracles?

The long and short of her story goes like this: A 26-year-old engineer, Atindra Chakrborthy, was hanging out at a tea shop in Ranaghat railway station, as a number from Mohammad Rafi’s album was playing out. When the song ended, Atindra and friends heard someone humming it. They were surprised to note that the person was an old woman, looking emaciated and dishevelled. Impressed by the humming, they asked if she would sing a song for them, which she readily did.

Atindra recorded it and posted it on FaceBook July 23. And the video went viral within no time garnering millions of views. It also drew the attention of the organisers of Sony TV singing reality show Super Star Singer. And Ronu appeared and sang in the show in the last week of August. In the process, moved by her rendition, Himesh Reshammiya, who was a judge of the reality show, announced that he would get songs sung by Ronu for his upcoming bollywood movie, Happy Hardy and Heer. Accordingly, in September she recorded two songs for the film.

Today Ronu is no more a pitiable picture with sunken eyes and dishevelled gray hair and costume. She sports jet black hair with a made-up style, and her face, with hint of makeup, is lit with an effervescent, yet innocent, smile. She appears on every possible TV channel across the languages, and cheerfully answers all kinds of appreciating, yet probing, questions.

Now her past life is tumbling out in bits and pieces, though she seems reluctant to divulge much about it. It may be assumed from what has appeared in the media so far that she had faced grievous twists and turns in life, which eventually pushed her onto the platform of a railway station. She said she was born into a well-to do family, which makes her story that more poignant.

Currently, Ronu is enjoying the lime light. But the people who are supporting her should ensure that her story will not turn into that of a shooting star. She should be able to spend het twilight years in comfort, with her head held high.

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Know all about Rajiv Gandhi’s holiday using warship INS Viraat

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s jibe at former prime minister late Rajiv Gandhi as “brashtachari No 1” (Number one corrupt) may have rattled many a soul. Especially for those in their 40s and above, the image of Rajiv invariably invokes the memory of his tragic death in an LTTE suicide bombing in 1991.

Narendra Modi, however, justified what he said, perhaps rightly so, as his continued tirade against Rajiv Gandhi seems to help reconstruct the sense of privilege and entitlement with which Gandhi family ruled India. The use of India’s premier warship, INS Viraat, for holidaying is a case in point.

A story by Anita Pratap in India Today, dated January 31, 1988 offers a peek into rampant misuse of government machinery by the powerful for their enjoyment.

Titled “Idyllic vacation for the Gandhis in the Lakshadweep archipelago”, the story provides tidbits about the holiday making by Rajiv Gandhi, his family members and their friends on the uninhabited island of Bangaram in the Lakshadweep archipelago in December 1987. It is said that the island was carefully chosen as there was no prohibition and foreigners were allowed on it unlike other islands in the region.

Other than Rajiv Gandhi, the holiday makers included Sonia Gandhi, their children Rahul and Priyanka with their four friends, Sonia Gandhi’s sister with her husband and daughter, Sonia Gandhi’s mother, brother and a maternal uncle. Apart from Sonia’s extended family members, there were Amitabh Bachhan and Jaya Bachchan along with their children as well as the daughter of Ajitabh Bachchan. The author briefly mentions that Ajitabh Bachchan was being investigated for alleged FERA violation.

The story records the arrival of different people on different dates by different flights. For instance, responding to Amitab Bachchan’s special Cochin – Kavaratti helicopter flight, the author quotes Kunji Koya, general secretary of the Indian Union Muslim League at Kavaratti, as saying: ‘It’s appalling that the helicopter should be used to transport just one man – that too a man whose name figures in the nation’s biggest scandal.”

The story claims the involvement of various agencies, such as Society for the Promotion of Recreation, Tourism and (Water) Sports (SPORTS), a wing of the Lakshadweep administration. The details that went into the holiday making include a consignment of wines and liquor from Delhi, setting up of a poultry farm with 100 chickens in Agatti, 40 crates of cold drinks, 300 bottles of mineral water, besides, fruits, Amul Cheese, cashew-nuts, sweet lime, condiments, flour, and so on. It also says the first consignment of non – perishable items was sent to Bangaram by ship on December 23, while the second three days later and replenishments were sent on January 1.

However, the most controversial arrangement, which is cited by Prime Minister Modi after 30 years is in the following paragraph.

“Questionable actions were, however, in evidence. India’s premier warship, INS Viraat, was used to transport the Gandhis and moved in the Arabian Sea for 10 days. Its daily expenditure at sea is astronomical as the Virat travels with an entire retinue of escort ships. A submarine was also reported to be in attendance and some defence experts questioned the justification of depriving the navy of its most effective fighting component merely to suit Rajiv’s holiday plans. Considerable expense was also incurred in setting up a special satellite link up at Agatti for the duration of the holiday.”

This story has resurfaced at a time when the Opposition parties are “reminding” Prime Minister Modi that Defence agencies are not his private property. Well, Rajiv Gandhi did use India’s premier warship, no less, for a private holiday making.

Read the full story at:

(File photo of Rajiv Gandhi seen with Sonia Gandhi. Image credit: flickr)