Guwahati: The flood situation in Assam, rhino killings in Kaziranga, witch-hunting and Anna Hazare`s campaign against corruption are some of the key themes of Puja pandals across greater Guwahati area this year.
Major issues confronting the nation like petrol price hike, diesel, LPG subsidy cap and subsequently of essential commodities also find a display among the 475 pandals across the city here.
Floods in Kaziranga and the recent spate of poaching of rhinos will be portrayed at the 64-year-old Rest Camp Kalibari, a prominent Puja pandal in Pandu area of the city.
"Pujas are not just the expression of religious fervour but are an occasion for social gathering where people meet with an open mind. Thought-provoking themes can lead to discussion, which in turn can help in improving the prevailing situation," general secretary of the Puja Committee Tapas Saha said.
He said the committee had over the years made continued efforts to make people aware of recent events in the state, across the country and even around the world through pandal decorations.
The Geetanagar Sarbojanin Durga Puja has decided to portray Gandhian Anna Hazare`s campaign against corruption and would also make a replica of Parliament House.
"Everyone is now questioning the role of people`s representatives with corruption charges against many of them. Through our pandals, we are trying to portray that only those politicians should be elected who are dedicated to the cause of social welfare," Rajiv Kalita, a member of the Geetanagar Puja Committee said.
Festivals are also opportunities to spread awareness about issues of contemporary significance, he said.
MP, Bihar among six states yet to respond on IPC amendments
New Delhi: Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are among six states which are yet to offer their comments on the Centre`s proposal to make bribery in private sector a criminal offence by amending the Indian Penal Code.
Since law and order is a state subject, a draft IPC (Amendments) Bill was circulated to all states and Union territories for their comments.
"The comments of the state governments of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh and UT of Pondicherry have not been received so far," the Ministry of Home Affairs said in reply to an RTI query.
At present, there are no legal provisions to check graft in the private sector.
"The Bill is currently at its initial stage. It will be finalised after receipt of the comments of all or majority of state governments, along with the comments of other stakeholders," the reply said.
The MHA has proposed to amend the IPC by inserting a new Chapter VII A (of offences by or relating to officials in private sector) wherein two clauses i.e, 160A and 160B have been proposed to curb the menace of bribery in private sector, it said.
The proposed bill would cover graft by an individual, firm, society, trust, association of individuals, company, whether incorporated or not, which undertakes any economic or financial or commercial activity.
According to the draft law, whoever in the course of economic, financial or commercial activity promises, offers or gives, directly or indirectly, any gratification, in any capacity, for a private sector entity, for the person himself or for another person shall be punishable.
Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, West Bengal, Punjab, Maharashtra, Assam, Haryana, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Lakshawdeep and Delhi have agreed to the proposal, officials said.
Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Daman and Diu administrations have suggested some changes in the proposal, they said, adding that Arunachal Pradesh has offered "no comments" on the proposal.
The Lakhi Mandir Puja committee would depict the scourge
of witch-hunting in an attempt to end the gruesome practice.
"This is a good medium of creating awareness as more than 12 lakh people visit our pandal and the project will also have light and sound effects and a message delivered to create awareness among people to stop the practice," Bhagya Ram Terang, the creator of the art work of the pandal, said.
The Bhootnath Puja Committee will highlight issues like female foeticide, atrocities on women and the effects of inflation on the common person.
Kamakhya Colony Sarbajanani Durga Puja Committee, which celebrates its golden jubilee this year, has decided to invite over a hundred orphans and differently-abled children and celebrate the festival with them.
"We have also decided to organise a function to pay musical tribute to Bhupen Hazarika and Indira Raisom Goswami and would also contribute our bit to help flood-affected people of the state by collecting donations from people who visit the pandal," the puja committee`s general secretary, Subir Ghosh, said.
In another prominent Puja of the city, the Dispur Sarbojanin Durga Puja Committee, women have taken the organisational lead with the committee comprising only women from different communities and even religion.
"Women are responsible for everything -- from ordering the idol to collection of donations and even the driver of the committee and the cook who makes the `bhog` are women. We, however, failed to get a female priest though we tried hard to get one," general secretary of the committee, Kasturi Das Senapati, said.
The committee has also started a new tradition of `pushpa bali`(flower sacrifice) in place of the ritualistic animal sacrifice.