Indian Army’s Yeti ‘footprint’ pictures cause online storm

Men measure large foot prints in the snow, sighted by the Indian Army in the northeastern Himalayas. (AFP)
Updated 30 April 2019

Indian Army’s Yeti ‘footprint’ pictures cause online storm

  • Several Twitter observers asked why there was only one footprint when the beast would probably have had two feet

NEW DELHI: Pictures of a “Yeti footprint” the Indian Army posted on social media triggered a barrage of jokes Tuesday.

“For the first time, an #IndianArmy Moutaineering Expedition Team has sited Mysterious Footprints of mythical beast ‘Yeti’,” an apparently serious — though misspelled — tweet on the army’s official account said Monday, alongside three images of prints in the snow.

It added the “elusive snowman has only been sighted at Makalu-Barun National Park in the past,” referring to footprints reported by British explorer Eric Shipton in 1951 on the west side of Mount Everest.

According to folklore, the abominable snowman lives in the Himalayas but no proof of the enormous creature has ever been produced.

Social media users were quick to jump on the Indian military for its tweet. “With all due respect, institutions such as yours should be more responsible and careful before going ahead and declaring the sighting of any footprints as ‘Yeti’s’!”, said Kushal Prajapati.

“There’s been lots of research done on Bigfoot/Yeti (including sighting/footprints) with none proving its existence,” he added.

“Seriously disappointing to see Army propagating such foolish myths into reality. Expected better from you guys,” said another comment.

Several Twitter observers asked why there was only one footprint when the beast would probably have had two feet.

Others, were more forgiving, though still tongue-in-cheek.

“Congratulations, we are always proud of you. salutes to the #IndianArmy Mountaineering Expedition Team,” wrote Tarun Vijay, a leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. But Vijay said the snowman should not be referred to as “a beast.”

The army said the footprints measured 32 inches by 15 inches and were spotted by a team on April 9 close to the Makalu Base Camp, an isolated area on the Nepal-China frontier.

An army official said that pictures were released to “excite a bit of a scientific temper.” “We will share whatever we get with the domain experts to analyze. We will be contacting the team on the satphone in the evening for more details about it,” the official said.

The yeti is traditionally described as an ape-like creature, taller than a human, that lives in the Himalayas, Siberia, and parts of Central and East Asia.

Forensic results of previous samples have proved to be from prehistoric bears.

World’s biggest literature festival kicks off in Jaipur

Updated 24 January 2020

World’s biggest literature festival kicks off in Jaipur

  • Economist and Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee will attend the event

JAIPUR: The 13th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) started on Thursday.

Known as the “greatest literary show on earth,” the five-day event brings to one venue more than 500 speakers of 15 Indian and 35 foreign languages, and over 30 nationalities.

Among the festival’s participants are Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners.

The event has been expanding, with over 400,000 people attending it last year and even more expected to show up this time.  The growing crowd has made the medieval Diggi Palace, which hosts it, look small, and organizers are planning to shift the event to a bigger venue next year.

Scottish historian and writer William Dalrymple, one of the organizers, said: “The first time we came to the Diggi Palace in 2007, 16 people turned up for the session of which 10 were Japanese tourists who walked out after 10 minutes, as they had come to the wrong place. Things have improved a little since then. We are now formally the largest literature festival in the world.”

Dalrymple, who has extensively written on medieval India and South Asia, has played a pivotal role in promoting the festival.

The other two organizers are its director, Sanjoy K. Roy, and writer Namita Gokhale, who along with Dalrymple made the JLF become one of the most sought-after events in India.

“Why has the literary festival taken off in this country in this extraordinary way? It goes back to the tradition of spoken literature, the celebration of literature orally through the spoken word has deep roots in this country,” Dalrymple said.

“So the idea that a literary festival is a foreign import is something that can’t be maintained. We’ve tapped into something very deep here. Literature is alive and is loved in India,” he said.

Inaugurating the festival’s 13th edition, celebrated British mathematician Marcus du Sautoy said: “Every number has its own particular character in the story of mathematics. For me it is 13; 13 is a prime number, an indivisible number, and the JLF is certainly a festival in its prime.”

The festival this year is taking place amid a raging debate about India’s new citizenship legislation and mass agitation on the issue of preserving the secular fabric of the nation.

Reflecting on the prevailing mood in the country, Roy, in his opening remarks, said: “We are now faced with a situation where we see a spread of the narrative of hatred. Literature is the one thing that can push back against it and so can be the arts. All of us have a responsibility to do so and this is not the time to be silent anymore.”

Gokhale said: “Ever since its inception 13 years ago, we at the Jaipur Literary Festival have tried to give a voice to our plural and multilingual culture. We live in a nation which is defined by its diversity, and it is our effort to present a range of perspectives, opinions, and points of view, which together build up a cross-section of current thinking.”

She added: “We seek mutual respect and understanding in our panels — it is important to us that these often conflicting ideas are respectfully presented and heard. We also resist predictable and self-important all-male panels, and try to ensure that the vital voices of women resonate through all aspects of our programming.”

One of the attractions of the event this year is the presence of Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee, who won the prize in economics last year.

There are also panel discussions on Kashmir, the Indian constitution and history.

The prevailing political situation in South Asia is also reflected by the absence of Pakistani. Before, popular Pakistani authors would attend the JLF, but delays in visa issuance and a hostile domestic environment forced the organizers to “desist from extending invitations.”