In the last century, there lived a sultan who waged war tirelessly and finally made himself master of a largish desert.
"Surely I'm the greatest monarch in the world," he said to his vizier, one day. "What do the people say about me?"
"They're all praise for you, Your Excellency," said the vizier, "all except one man, Ali, a camel-driver by profession. He's always running you down."
"How dare he!" roared the Sultan. "Bring him here at once. I'll cut out his tongue!!"
When Ali was brought to the palace, he threw himself at the Sultan's feet.
"At last my dearest wish to see you has come true," he said, obsequiously. "I used to say nasty things about you so that I might be brought into your august presence."
"Why?" boomed the Sultan.
"So that I might recite the poem I have written in your honour, O Merciful One."
Ali began to recite a poem his grandfather had taught him in his childhood. It proclaimed the greatness of Alexander, the Great but Ali deftly substituted the Sultan's name for Alexander's whenever the need arose.
The Sultan was flattered.
"Good poem," he said, when Ali had finished. "Describes me exactly. You deserve a reward. Choose from one of these magnificent saddles," and he indicated a pile of saddles, lying nearby.
Ali chose a donkey's saddle, and thanking the Sultan, bowed himself out of the palace.
The people from his village who were sure he would be executed, and were waiting for news about it, outside the gate, were astounded to see him.
"The Sultan let you go?" they asked, bemused.
"And why not?" he asked. "I recited a poem in his honour and he rewarded me with one of his best robes."
"The sultan gave you his robe!" They gasped. "Where is it?"
He showed them the donkey's saddle.
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Former Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Dead at 83
Shillong: A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who won popular acclaim as India's president during 2002-07, died here on Monday evening after collapsing during a lecture at the IIM-Shillong, officials said. He was 83. "Kalam is no more," Meghalaya Chief Secretary P.B.O. Warjri told IANS, shortly after the president passed away at Bethany Hospital, where he was taken to from the management school.
Doctors said Kalam suffered cardiac arrest. To Kalam, becoming a fighter pilot was a "dearest dream" but he failed to realize it by a whisker, bagging the ninth position when only eight slots were available in the IAF.
In his new book, “My Journey: Transforming Dreams into Actions,” published by Rupa, Kalam, who specialized in aeronautical engineering from Madras Institute of Technology, says he was desperate to pursue a career in flying.
"Over the years I had nurtured the hope to be able to fly to handle a machine as it rose higher and higher in the stratosphere was my dearest dream," he writes. Out of the two interview calls Kalam got, one was from the Indian Air Force in Dehradun and the other from the Directorate of Technical Development and Production at the Ministry of Defense in Delhi.
While the interview at DTDP was "easy," he recounted that for the Air Force Selection Board, he realized that, along with qualifications and engineering knowledge, they were also looking for a certain kind of "smartness" in the candidate.
Kalam bagged the ninth position out of 25 candidates and was not recruited as only eight slots were available. "I had failed to realize my dream of becoming an air force pilot," he writes. Kalam says he "walked around for a while till I reached the edge of a cliff" before deciding to go to Rishikesh and "seek a new way forward."
"It is only when we are faced with failure do we realize that these resources were always there within us. We only need to find them and move on with our lives," says Kalam, who went on to put his "heart and soul" at his job as a senior scientific assistant at DTDP.
The book is filled with stories of "innumerable challenges and learning" in his years as the scientific adviser when India conducted its second nuclear test, his retirement and dedication to teaching thereafter and his years as president.
Silicon Valley Indian Americans Plan Rock Star-like Reception for Modi
The Indian American community in California has begun preparations for a grand reception similar to last year's Madison Square Garden event for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who would be the only second Indian Prime Minister to visit the state with a trip planned in September to Silicon Valley, reports PTI.
Representatives of Indian American organizations held their first full-fledged preparatory meeting in Sunnyvale, Calif., to put on the grand reception for Modi, who will be attending the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York at the end of September.
Following the UN meet, Modi is set to visit Silicon Valley and address the Indian American community, including technology entrepreneurs, though an official announcement is yet to be made.
"We have planned a community reception on the evening of Sept. 27 at the SAP Center, San Jose, where close to 20,000 people are expected to gather to hear him speak," Khanderao Kand of newly-formed Indo-American Community of West Coast USA told PTI.
The meeting was addressed by Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Arun K. Singh, via a video conference, and was attended by, among others, Indian Consul General in San Francisco Venkatesh Ashok, and Dr. Vijay Chauthaiwale, in charge of the foreign relations department of the BJP.
Chauthaiwale is on a visit to the San Francisco Bay Area to oversee the preparations for the reception. "The event is a historic moment for the Indian community in Silicon Valley and the diaspora in general," he said.
The prime minister's visit is considered significant, especially with regard to his “Digital India” initiative that aims to use technology in connecting people and transforming governance in India, said a media note by the organization.
Modi would be the second Indian prime minister to visit the San Francisco Bay Area after Jawahar Lal Nehru's trip in 1949. Last year, when Modi visited the U.S., he was given a grand reception at New York's historic Madison Square Garden where he addressed nearly 20,000 Indian Americans there.
"Interplay between India, China and US will determine strategic balance in Asia": Jaishankar
NEW DELHI: The interplay of India, US and China "is among the key factors that will determine the strategic balance in Asia and beyond", said foreign secretary S. Jaishankar. In two back-to-back speeches, India's top diplomat has laid out the drivers of the Modi government's foreign policy.
Delivering the IISS-Fullerton lecture in Singapore on Monday, Jaishankar said the "transition in India is an expression of greater self-confidence. Its foreign policy dimension is to aspire to be a leading power, rather than just a balancing power. Consequently, there is also a willingness to shoulder greater global responsibilities. This was demonstrated recently in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in Yemen and Nepal. It is also reflected in our role in peace-keeping and in keeping the maritime commons safe and secure. And it is affirmed by India's active participation in important global negotiations."
Over the weekend, Jaishankar, releasing a book by C. Raja Mohan, said the term "'Neighbourhood First' has a clear self-explanatory message. Even a shift from 'Look East' to Act East" is not without its meaning." The themes of"greater connectivity, stronger cooperation and broader contacts" dominate India's engagement with the neighbourhood."Even in a short span of time, some results are already evident. In the case of Bangladesh, it includes the settlement of the land boundary and major connectivity and infrastructure initiatives. With Nepal, the long-standing potential for hydro-electric power is beginning to be tapped. India was not only the first responder during the earthquake but also the principal contributor to its reconstruction efforts. With Bhutan, a traditionally strong relationship has been further consolidated."
Beyond the immediate neighbourhood, he said, countries appear to be more"ready to respond to a more business-like India." He highlights India's new style of a"regional approach to engagement, reflected in Prime Minister's recent visits to the Indian Ocean, Northeast Asia and Central Asia. Summit level meetings with Pacific Islands and Africa will take place in India this year."
The bottomline of India's foreign policy, Jaishankar said, is that its prepared to play the role of a growing power in the world, and is prepared to think afresh, even discard the dominant philosphies of non-alignment and "strategic autonomy" of the 20th century."India engages the world with greater confidence and assurance. It does so with the intent of ensuring stronger growth, greater connectivity, closer integration and deeper harmony. It wants to expand its comonalities and manage its differences. It is prepared to shoulder greater responsibility and expects that this would be duly reflected in the structure of the international order. With specific reference to India's ties with the US and China, we approach them both positively. In doing so, we look beyond the 20th century orthodoxies."
Therefore, the PM's personal outreach is an aspect of Indian diplomacy. India, he said, has done away with"reactive diplomacy" -- no longer will India deal with single regions with a one-size-fits-all strategy -- the new view will enable India to go beyond taking"an integrated view of regions where local balances sometimes offer advantages to be exploited."
Giving a glimpse of the work underway within the foreign ministry, Jaishankar said,"in its implementation, (the new foreign policy) overcomes the silos that are a particular bane of our working style."
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Tawa Paneer Masala
•200 to 250 gms paneer/cottage cheese
•1 large onion finely chopped, about 100 to 120 gms
•1 medium capsicum/green bell pepper, about 80 to 100 gms
•3 medium tomatoes, chopped, 180 to 200 gms
•4 to 5 medium garlic/lahsun
•1 inch ginger/adrak
•1 green chili/hari mirch, chopped
•½ tsp carom seeds/ajwain/omam
•1 tsp coriander powder/dhania powder
•¼ tsp red chilli powder/lal mirch powder
•¼ tsp turmeric powder/haldi
•1 tsp pav bhaji masala or ½ tsp garam masala + ¼ tsp dry mango powder/amchur powder
•2 tbsp butter
•½ tsp crushed kasuri methi/dry fenugreek leaves
•salt as required
•few chopped coriander leaves/dhania patta for garnish
1.Finely chop the onions and capsicum/green bell pepper.
2.Roughly chop the tomatoes, green chili, ginger and garlic.
3.Crush the ginger and garlic in a mortar-pestle to a paste.
4.Add the chopped tomatoes in a blender and make a smooth puree. keep aside.
5.Chop the paneer in ½ inch cubes.
6.Melt butter on a tawa or skillet.
7.Add the carom seeds/ajwain and fry them for a few seconds or till aromatic.
8.Add the onions and saute till translucent.
9.Add the ginger-garlic paste, green chilies, finely chopped capsicum/green bell pepper and saute for about 3 minutes.
10.Then add the red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and pav bhaji masala. if you don't have pav bhaji masala, add garam masala + amchur powder/dry mango powder.
11.Stir and saute for about a minute.
12.Then add the tomato puree and salt.
13.Stir well and saute till you see butter releasing from the sides and the masala has thickened a bit. this takes about 8 to 10 minutes on a low flame.
14.If the tomato masala looks dry, then add 1 or 2 tbsp of water and continue to saute.
15.Add the paneer cubes and stir well, so that the masala coats the paneer cubes evenly.
16.Cook the paneer for 1 to 2 minutes. then add the crushed kasuri methi/dry fenugreek leaves. stir very well and switch off the flame.
17.Garnish with coriander leaves and serve tawa paneer masala with chapatis, phulkas, naan or bread. accompany with a few wedges of lemon slices which can be drizzled on the tawa paneer and a side onion salad.
Contributed by Das