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Silchar to Shanghai: Assam grocer's son to represent India at global bartending slugfest

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Silchar to Shanghai: Assam grocer's son to represent India at global bartending slugfest

New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) When Shantanu Chanda cleared his B.Com. in Silchar, Assam, his father, who ran a neighbourhood grocery store, said that it was time for him to tie the marital knot with a good-looking Assamese girl. Shantanu, though, had other plans.

He took a train to Kolkata and from there he set off to Goa for a career of his choice. After working in a shack for some time, he landed a job at the well-known Goan nightclub Titos, where he got paid Rs 900 for rinsing glasses and removing beer bottle caps. That was in 2011.

Cut to 2023, and you find him, now a world-travelled bartender presiding over PVR Limited’s plush Home lounge and bar in New Delhi, preparing to represent India for the Diageo World Class Global Bartender of the Year faceoff in Shanghai, China, in September. He got his ticket to Shanghai after a two-stage contest — Best of 100 followed by Best of 16 — that engaged the best bartenders from all over the country.

Shantanu’s dream for the competition — he’ll know only on July 4 about the parameters for this year’s slugfest — is to shake up a disco-inspired cocktail to the beat of Parvati Khan’s ‘Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja’ from the MIthun Chakraborty-starrer ‘Disco Dancer’.

He knows the burden of expectations lies heavy on his shoulders — because last year, when the competition was staged in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Delhi-born, Pune-based Aashie Bhatnagar was one of the 12 finalists and returned home with the People’s Choice Award.

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Unfazed, Shantanu declares with confidence, “I will be this year’s winner.” It is not an idle boast, but what he calls ‘positive manifestation’.

Whenever he has a target to fulfil, he makes it a point to wake up seeing a notice pinned on the board next to his bed. It spells out the current target he has set for himself. His wake-up note for himself now says: “I will be the Diageo World Class Global Bartender of the Year”. These notes, according to Shantanu, help him get focused on the goal and develop the positivity within himself to achieve them.

So, how did Shantanu move from being rinser of glasses to a champion bartender? It started in Goa when a bartender friend of his got selected for a cruise liner and landed a Rs 80,000 per month job.

The friend’s lucrative salary package gave Shantanu a purpose in life — he had to become a bartender, but he needed a mentor, so he tried to get into the good books of a Ukrainian expat, Artem Klymenko, a champion flair bartender who was a trainer at Titos.

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Artem first tested Shantanu’s resolve — he did not even acknowledge his presence for a week — and then made it clear to his future student that he could never become a good bartender if he only wanted to make money. He had to love bartending and be passionate about it.

Shantanu agreed, became Artem’s disciple, attended a three-month course, read up all the books he could lay his hands upon, and six months later, he made his life’s first cocktail, a Cosmopolitan.

His next break came because of two rising stars of his profession — Pankaj Kamble (who’s now no more) and Sachin Gowda, who ran Pune’s Flairology Bar School and Events. They recommended Shantanu for a job at the JW Marriott, Pune.

Shantanu’s friends had to raise money for him to buy decent clothes and a pair of shoes for Pune. Looking back at those days, he said, “I used to earn Rs 8,000 and send Rs 7,000 for my parents, which left me with very little to spend on myself.”

When he was at the JW Marriott, Pune, Shantanu attended his first World Class, becoming a part of a global community of bartenders created by Diageo to enable them to connect, get acquainted with trends, and pick up new skills.

That proved to be his gateway to the famous Buddha Bar in Dubai, where he spent six years and won international competitions — up against French and Italian bartenders. Then the call came from Reynaud Palliere, CEO of PVR’s Luxury Collection and Innovations, who head hunted him for Home, which was then a members-only club at a Delhi mall.

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Home is no longer a private club. Shantanu has helmed its transition to a popular, albeit exclusive, lounge bar with a food menu designed by Japanese Chef Yutaka Saito and MasterChef Australia finalist Sarah Todd.

Today, Shantanu’s father is proud of what his son has been able to achieve by not listening to his advice. The dutiful son, in fact, looks after their financial needs, so his parents are back to doing what they love — they have returned to their paddy fields and his father, who has shut down his grocery store, spends his days fishing when he’s not in the fields.

Shantanu takes immense pride in pointing out that John Walker, the man behind the iconic whisky brand, was a grocer like his father.

Well, he may not yet be India’s answer to John Walker, but Shantanu has up his sleeve a variant of the Johnnie Walker Highball, one of the three cocktails that booked his ticket to Shanghai.

–IANS

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YSRCP interrupts Andhra Governor's speech over 'political killings'

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YSRCP interrupts Andhra Governor's speech over 'political killings'

YSRCP interrupts Andhra Governor's speech over 'political killings'

Amaravati, July 22 (IANS) Opposition YSR Congress Party on Monday disrupted the Andhra Pradesh Governor’s address to the joint session of the state Assembly and Legislative Council and later staged a walkout to protest against ‘political killings’ and deteriorating law and situation in the state.

Raising slogans of ‘stop political killings’, ‘save democracy’ and ‘we want justice’, the YSRCP members interrupted Governor S. Abdul Nazeer’s speech on the first day of the Budget session.

As soon as the Governor began his speech, the opposition MLAs and MLCs, who were wearing black scarves, were on their feet to express their dissent over politically motivated killings in the state. He continued reading his speech amid the uproar.

After continuing slogan shouting for some time, YSRCP members staged a walkout.

Earlier, former Chief Minister and YSRCP President Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy along with YSRCP MLAs and MLCs reached the state Assembly wearing black scarves.

Chanting slogans of ‘Save democracy’, Jagan and the YSRCP legislators marched towards the Assembly. However, they were stopped by the police at the Assembly gate.

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The police personnel snatched and tore the placards and papers held by the YSRCP legislators. Jagan Mohan Reddy confronted the police personnel, questioning who had given them such authority.

The YSRCP legislators expressed intense displeasure at the behaviour of the police. Jagan stated that the police’s high-handedness would not persist forever and issued a stern warning for them to remember their duty to protect democracy, not to undermine it.

Highlighting the insignia of lions on police caps, Jagan stated that they symbolise the protection of democracy, not its destruction. He questioned the police’s right to seize and tear the papers held by the MLAs and MLCs, demanding accountability for their actions.

Jagan Mohan Reddy met Governor Abdul Nazeer at Raj Bhavan in Vijayawada on Sunday evening to demand an investigation by Central government agencies into the atrocities of the TDP-led government.

The YSRCP president alleged that Constitutional institutions have failed in the state and the administration has been paralysed. There is no protection for the life, limb and dignity of the people. Leaders and workers of the ruling party, with their barbaric and inhumane activities, are spreading widespread fear among the people of the state, he said.

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He said that after coming to power, the TDP-led coalition government immediately targeted those who didn’t support them in the recently concluded elections. He informed that TDP has targeted the known sympathisers of the YSRCP party and started terrorising them by humiliating, beating and even killing them.

Jagan told the Governor that YSRCP activist Rashid was brutally hacked to death in Vinukonda on July 17. This incident happened in the middle of a busy street, and surprisingly the police were nearby when it happened. He said even YSRCP elected representatives to Parliament and the state Assembly, as well as candidates who contested the elections, have no protection.

“On Thursday, in Punganur, Chittoor district, TDP mobs attempted to murder our party’s Lok Sabha floor leader, MP P.V. Midhun Reddy, who had gone to meet former MP N.Reddeppa,” said Reddy.

He said in just one month of the new government, 36 people have been murdered, 300 murder attempts have been made, 35 people have committed suicide due to TDP harassment, 560 private properties have been destroyed, 490 government properties have been vandalized, and nearly 2,700 families have left their villages due to these atrocities. Additionally, there have been over 1,050 incidents of violence and attacks, he added.

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–IANS

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Budget will lay foundation for 'Viksit Bharat': PM Modi urges MPs to rise above party lines

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Budget will lay foundation for 'Viksit Bharat': PM Modi urges MPs to rise above party lines

Budget will lay foundation for 'Viksit Bharat': PM Modi urges MPs to rise above party lines

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that the first budget of his government’s third term will set the foundation for achieving the goal of ‘Viksit Bharat’ (Developed India). He called upon parliamentarians to “rise above party lines” and serve the nation.

Addressing the media ahead of the budget session in Parliament, the Prime Minister stated, “Today, is the first Monday of Shravan, and on this auspicious occasion, an important session is commencing. I congratulate all countrymen. The monsoon session of Parliament begins today, and the country hopes this session will be positive, creative, and lay the groundwork to fulfill the dreams of the citizens.”

Reflecting on the significance of the session, he remarked, “I see this as a step in India’s ‘gaurav yatra’ (pride journey). After 60 years, a government has come to power for the third time to present its budget. This is a landmark in the country’s pride journey.”

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The Prime Minister emphasised the importance of the budget, calling it crucial for the ‘Amrit Kaal’. “This budget will chart the path for the next five years, guiding us towards our resolution of ‘Viksit Bharat’ by 2047, the time our country completes 100 years of Independence,” he said.

Highlighting India’s economic progress, PM Modi noted, “It is a matter of pride that, today, India is the fastest-growing among all the major economies in the world, with a continuous growth rate of 8 per cent over the last three years. Positive outlook, investment, and performance are at their peak, presenting immense opportunities.”

Urging all parliamentarians to focus on the country’s welfare, the Prime Minister said, “I urge all MPs, regardless of party affiliation, to dedicate themselves to the nation. We must fight for the empowerment of farmers, youth, and the country. The mandate has been given; now, it’s our responsibility to work together for the nation’s progress.”

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Expressing concerns over the obstructionist tactics of the Opposition, PM Modi said, “With sadness, I have to say that after 2014, some MPs came for 5 years, some stayed for 10 years, but many were there who were not able to present their views, opinions and the issues of their areas because of the negativity of some political factions,” adding that it “had wasted valuable time of the parliamentarians.”

He appealed to all MPs, especially newcomers, to engage constructively.

PM Modi charged the Opposition with attempting to “suppress the voice” while he was speaking in the Parliament.

He said, “You must have seen that in the first Session of the Parliament, an attempt was made to suppress the voice of the government that has been elected with a clear mandate by a majority of 140 crore people of the country. For 2.5 hours, an attempt was made to suppress the voice of the Prime Minister. The people of the country have sent us for the country and not for the party. This Parliament is for the country, not for the party.”

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Concluding his address, the Prime Minister called for “unity and a focus” on national interests. “This Parliament is for the country, not for the party. Different views are welcome, but negativity is not.”

He urged all the parliamentarians to use the position to meet the “expectations of our countrymen.”

–IANS

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K'taka landslide tragedy: As political slugfest erupts, Army joins rescue operations

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K'taka landslide tragedy: As political slugfest erupts, Army joins rescue operations

K'taka landslide tragedy: As political slugfest erupts, Army joins rescue operations

Bengaluru, July 22 (IANS) Amid a political slugfest between the ruling Congress and the opposition over the handling of the landslide tragedy on the Shirur highway in Karnataka’s Uttara Kannada district, the Army on Monday joined the local authorities in rescue operations.

The district authorities have estimated the official death toll to be 10, with seven bodies recovered, and an operation has been launched to track three more.

Meanwhile, the Army has sent a team of 40 soldiers to join the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) to retrieve the bodies trapped under the debris of the massive landslide.

Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Steel, H.D. Kumaraswamy, has criticised Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar for his comments regarding his visit to the landslide site.

Taking to X, Union Minister Kumaraswamy said on Monday, “When I visited Shirur village in Uttara Kannada district, where seven people died due to a landslide, on Saturday, the Deputy Chief Minister of the state, D.K. Shivakumar, had made a mockery of the situation. He lightly commented that the military should have been called in and questioned what one person alone could do.”

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“In his eagerness to speak lightly about me, the honorable Deputy Chief Minister also insulted our proud army. This is an unfortunate incident,” Kumaraswamy said.

He further stated, “I did not say that the district administration is not carrying out rescue operations. I did not criticize the government either. Nevertheless, over 40 brave soldiers of our proud military have rushed to the rescue operations, speeding up the efforts, moved by the tears of the bereaved families. Does the Deputy Chief Minister have any objections to this? He should answer to this.”

“We are in a federal system. Saying ‘I’ is arrogance; saying ‘we’ is culture. If a person who holds the position of Deputy Chief Minister does not understand such a simple principle of harmony, then there is no greater folly than this,” he charged.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah during his visit to the tragic site had stated that Karnataka would write to the Centre regarding the sub-standard national highway. The BJP criticised CM Siddaramaiah for visiting the site six days after the incident and blaming the Centre for hiding his government’s failures.

ALSO READ:  Charred body of missing TN Congress district president found in his farmland

–IANS

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Retired soldier kills five family members in Haryana

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Retired soldier kills five family members in Haryana

Retired soldier kills five family members in Haryana

Chandigarh, July 22 (IANS) An ex-serviceman killed five members of his family by slitting their throats with a sharp-edged weapon in Haryana’s Ambala district, police said on Monday.

The deceased comprised his mother, brother, sister-in-law and two children. Two injured have been admitted to hospitals.

After the crime, the accused tried to cremate them at midnight when the police reached the spot and recovered the half-burnt bodies. The retired soldier, however, managed to flee from the spot.

The crime was reported in the Narayangarh area over a dispute over two acres of land. The victims were identified as 35-year-old Harish, his 32-year-old wife Sonia, his 65-year-old mother Saropi, five-year-old daughter and six-month-old son.

The injured father, Om Prakash, has been admitted to the Civil Hospital in Narayangarh, some 35 km from the state capital.

One of the daughters of the victim has been referred to the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI) in Chandigarh with critical injuries.

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The police have kept all bodies in the mortuary of the Civil Hospital.

On receiving the information about the crime, Superintendent of Police Surendra Singh Bhauria reached the spot at 3 a.m. and started investigating the case. Also, teams have been formed to arrest the accused.

–IANS

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Karnataka man arrested on conversion bid complaint by Hindu devotees

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Karnataka man arrested on conversion bid complaint by Hindu devotees

Karnataka man arrested on conversion bid complaint by Hindu devotees

Bengaluru, July 22 (IANS) Karnataka Police arrested a man on Monday and launched a hunt for another in connection with an alleged religious conversion bid targeting Hindu pilgrims in Bellary district.

The arrested person was identified as 44-year-old Hussain Basha, while his accomplice, 24-year-old Saibaba, was absconding. Both are residents of the Tekkala Pattana area in the district.

According to the police, on July 18, the accused targeted devotees who were walking to the Hindu pilgrimage centre ‘Mantralaya’.

The Hindu devotees were carrying and waving saffron flags in their hands. The accused allegedly stopped them and started preaching about Islam, insisting they abandon Hinduism.

A Hindu devotee, Gadilingappa, later filed a complaint with the Tekkalakote police station. he also provided a video clip of the alleged religious conversion attempt.

The Hindu devotees have expressed concern over the incident, and the police have initiated an investigation.

–IANS

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