Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bharatborsho O Islam

This is my major work on Hindu Muslim Relations in Modern India, along with my later work Bharatiya Musalamanadera Samkata

If you would like to know more about my work in this field, or if you would like to obtain a copy of this book, you can email me by clicking here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Mainstream Versus The Maoist-Stream

In 1970s, when I used to make short films, I visited several tribal villages and found that many tribal people felt that the dawning of modern civilizations over their forests and hills was actually invasion over their age old way of life and destroying their own culture. The expansion of mainstream was considered as the conquest of civilization. I also found out that another section of tribal people did welcome the new ways of life.

Recently I went to a tribal village near Ranchi. Though, they considered themselves as Hindus, but they do not have any gotra identity, i.e. they do not have any lineage from sages like Vashishta, Shandilya, etc. They called themselves Nagbangshi. They do not worship any Hindu gods or goddesses and instead they worship a tree called Kharua. Yet, they take pride in calling themselves as Hindus. They are in favor of development. When I asked them, as a result of progression or development, TV sets will enter into their homes and propagation of fairness creams, soaps, etc. will reach to them, then they asked me, ‘what is the harm in becoming fairer?’

I found the tribal world sharply divided. One section respects their traditional culture and this section wants to protect their original way of living and culture and for this protection, they support Maoists and Nakshals regardless of any political implications, while others are eager to modern ways of living and ready to pay a price for that.

For an unbiased overview of what maoism is all about, do check out this comprehensive post by Vyankatesh.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Introducing Banpalashir Padabali and its author -- Sri Ramapada Chaudhuri

From this year IIPM has introduced an award in the name of Rabindranath Tagore to mark his 150th birth anniversary. For writing in the mother tongue of Tagore, this award goes to Sri Ramapada Chaudhuri for his classic novel—Banpalashir Padabali.

Ramapada Chaudhuri is the author of more than 100 short stories and about 50 novels . He has received a number of literary awards and honours. Some of them are –The Rabindra Puroskar of the West Bengal Govt, Sahitya Academi Award, Jagattarini Gold Medal of the University of Calcutta , and the honour for the highest literary achievement , the D.Litt,Honoris Causa from the University of Burdwan .

But to date, many readers of literature, especially those who are not familiar with the Bengali language and its literature, have not yet read this novel, though his short stories have been translated into English and have found a wider readership. One of his novels too has been translated into English.

Banpalashir Padabali is a stunningly vibrant and intensely human work that serves to reaffirm his reputation as a master story-teller in the Bengali language.

In the very first decade after the Independence of India, the old way of life and society began to show cracks and began to yield to the new order, and it is this breakdown of the old order and the rise of a new order that forms the backdrop of the story of a typical village in Bengal. The writer has put the story within a time frame. It starts with the return of Girijaprasad- a son of the soil, who had been serving as the headmaster of a school in the town of Deoghar. After retirement he came back to the village with his wife, younger son and two daughters in the hope of finding shelter and solace in his roots. But after coming back, he realizes through his daily interactions and petty clashes that there is a gap between him and the villagers, even with his younger brother and childhood friends. His financial, cultural and social status has created a distance which cannot be bridged and it becomes very difficult for him to continue living in the village any more. He realizes that he and his family had imperceptibly become misfits . So even before spending the second Durga Puja he leaves the village with a heavy heart to live with his elder son who had been doing well in the railway services and residing in a railway colony.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ramlila And Thereafter

This is the English article that I wrote for a leading Telugu daily.  Do let me know your feedback in the comments.


On June 5 , in the wee hours of Sunday morning ,the drama that was enacted in Ramlila Maidan , reminded me of Rabindranath Tagore’s agony about  the  religiousmindedness  of our nation when in 1926 he had raised the question of its nature. He had gone even a step further by commenting that a non-believer was better than a believer in religion . One of the characteristics of our nation is to drag religion into every field , be it economics or politics. We are in the habit of shuttling from religion to politics and from politics to religion . History records many such instances. It is indeed difficult to fathom why and how Aurobindo Ghosh would transform from being a guru of armed revolution to Rishi Aurobindo of Pondicherry and how and why swami Vivekananda’s disciple Sister Nivedita would transform from being a nun into becoming an inspiration to the followers of armed revolution and helped them actively.

Being aware of our preoccupation with religion , Gandhiji declared that India should be a secular state  as Independence had come at the price of Partition on the basis of religion. While engaged in restoring peace in the riot-ridden areas of East Bengal, on 22nd February 1947 Gandhiji said in his prayer meeting that there can not be a state- religion .Religion, he said , is absolutely a personal matter. He forcefully asserted that the state and religion are two separate domains and should be kept absolutely separate . He asserted , ‘the state should undoubtedly be secular…everyone living in it should be entitled to profess his religion without let or hindrance , so long as a citizen obeyed the common law of the land.”(Harijan,24th August 1947) But he did not have the time to elaborate on the nature of a secular state as he was assassinated before he could, in the name of religion. No one , not even Pandit Nehru  had ever used the word “secular” or “secularism” in their political sense. In the long history of the freedom struggle of India. For the Indians it was almost a new word.

From the same news report of Harijan it becomes apparent that Gandhiji came to know of this word, secularism in its political sense from Reverend John Kellas –the principal of Scottish Church College, Calcutta. George Jacob Holyoake was the first person to use this word as a political nomenclature in 1854 in his booklet entitled Secularism, the political philosophy of the people. It was later put into practice by Charles Bradlaugh in the British Parliament. But it is doubtful whether Gandhiji knew of Holyoake in February 1947. Perhaps he had derived this wisdom independently from his own experience and reflections. However the word “secular” was incorporated in the Indian constitution as late as 1976 but one wonders whether in these 36 years we have understood the real significance of the word.

In the 90s of the last century when Manohar Joshi was campaigning for election in the name of Hindutva a case was lodged in the Bombay high court. The verdict of this case (Nitin Bhaorao Patil vs . Manohar Joshi) was to declare the election result of Manohar Joshi as null and void. But the Supreme court reversed the verdict of Bombay high Court stating that Hindutva and the Hindu religion were not one and the same and asserted that Hindutva is a culture and not a religion . The supreme court however did not clarify the culture of Hindutva . Because of this it is difficult to define Hindutva. After all what is meant by Hindutva culture? What are its salient features ? What are its characteristics and nature ? How will one identify it? How does one categorise widow burning and honour killing? Do they fall within the scope of Hindutva or are outside it ? What is the difference between Hindutva and Hindu religion? Let us consider the Yoga of Ramdev. Is it an independent culture outside the scope of Hindu religion? Is it a part of Hindutva? Is saffron the predominant colour of Hindutva. These questions naturally come to one’s mind looking at the meteoric rise of saffron clad Baba Ramdev and his extraordinary popularity throughout the world.

Anna Hazare went on a fast to push a specific demand for a joint drafting committee for the Lokpal Bill . Baba Ramdev on the other hand is still fasting for the fulfillment of many demands , primarily to bring back the huge, huge, huge amount of black money stashed away in the foreign banks and to declare it as a national asset. He is also pressing for death penalty for corruption, withdrawal of currency notes of Rs. 500 and 1000 denomination , uniform wages for different categories of labourers , use of Hindi as a medium for medical and technical instruction in educational institutions and other wide ranging demands. Probably every Indian will support his demand for bringing back the black money. But very few are aware of the procedural problems related to the execution of these demands.

However when on June 1 Baba landed on the airport of the capital ,the heavy weight Finance minister accompanied by three of his colleagues went to meet and greet him and to dissuade him from the fast. The Government knew about the much hyped fast from the beginning . Once the Govt. failed to dissuade him it should have immediately banned the show instead of carrying on a brutal midnight attack on peacefully sleeping men,women and children. This is wholly barbaric and inhuman . Did the Govt suddenly realise in the late evening of June 4 that there are other political players behind the saffron screen of Baba Ramdev biding their time to swing into action? Did this late realization prompted the Govt. to act in the early hours of the day? Then we are bound to feel that the Intelligence network of the Govt has failed miserably. Perhaps the whole drama had  started at least a month ago when the naïve Baba was egged on  by some clever friends to create a space apparently for him but really for them in the current political scene of India.

Since the Supreme court had given the stay order on the verdict of the Allahabad High Court , I was apprehensive of the renewal of the Ramjanmabhumi movement by the saffron brigade . Little did I know then that the Congress itself will offer a golden opportunity to the opposition for nailing them. They are also questioning the Govt. why they had not taken any action against Gilani and Arundhati Roy .Those who carry on trade with the commodity called religion  will not easily let go of such an opportunity . The congress led Govt has brought on itself a grave problem affecting the entire nation.A congress leader  has called Baba a “thug”,a cheat . Firstly it is in very bad taste. There is no doubt that by promoting Yoga and bringing it to the doorsteps of ordinary people Baba  has helped scores of people to find relief from various maladies and lead happier life .Secondly if he is a thug why did cabinet  ministers go to meet him at the airport? Why did they invite him to a talking table in a five-star hotel for that matter? From when has the Govt . started to pamper the thugs ? In the meantime another respected congressman has stated that the decision of  eviction was not taken by the congress but was taken by the Govt.indicating a clear divide between the congress and the congress led Govt. It might just be an attempt at controlling the damage already done.

I must say the handling of the entire matter exposes the criminal ineptness of the Govt and gives rise to a deep doubt about national security. The Indian nation should also be aware of the fact that the saffron robe is nothing but a saffron robe and anybody anywhere can wear it for any reason. The Govt should also take prior cognizance of all dubious proposals and should not cajole during daytime and stealthily attack  at the dead of night.This is immoral . This is criminal.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Stand up for the sake of the future...

Manju and I will be fasting from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on June 8 along with Anna Hazare in protest against the police atrocities on peaceful demonstrators demanding clean and transparent governance and an end to corruption. Will you join us?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.  Share this on Facebook and other social networks.  Stand up for your right to protest.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Will the real Right please stand up?

The principles of yoga demand right living.  A camp organized for yoga, according to the government of today, cannot be used for agitations or protests.  What our learned politicians fail to understand is that yoga itself is a statement against all that is out of balance in the system, both internally in our bodies and minds, and externally as a reflection of this internal reality.  What we see as society, social structure, going all the way up to governance and the principles of governance are but manifestations of innumerable intent nurtured in each individual.  Read more.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Poetry Page Link

Brian Trimboli wrote the beautiful "Things My Son Should Know After I've Died," which I find it very moving.  The power of the lines, "I chose to do something with my life/ that I knew I could fail at./ I spent my whole life walking/ and hid such colorful wings" has moved many I know to reconsider their walking, and choose to spread their wings.

One such person is the one typing this post, Subhorup Dasgupta.  I will not go into his life, work, world, or worldview since he is also my son, and my views would surely be biased.

However, I would invite you to explore his work and his world.  He was recently showcased by the Trillium Gallery, Woodstock, NY, as part of their Word Art initiative.  You can find some of his work online in the writers' pages at the gallery's website.

An Empty Sky Fifty Things to Do When You Turn Fifty: Fifty Experts on the Subject of Turning FiftyEveryday Sacred: A Woman's Journey HomeThe Tiger's Wife: A Novel

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A legend moves on...

Badal Sarkar, the man who galvanized Bengali theater into daring the impossible, passed away on May 13, 2011.  Here is a tribute to him posted on another blog.

"When I read about his death, the first thing I felt was, this must be another joke of his.  I switched news channels to return to graver things, the fall of the Left front in West Bengal after 34 years, a fall brought about by a frail, crazy, and lovable woman who refused to give up. The next morning, I read the obits, and I knew it was for real.  My tribute to this genius is in the links on this page, most of which are ads for stuff to buy, like pots, pans and books.

"I am in no way qualified to comment on his body of work or his importance in the scheme of things. However, I have been reading a lot of commentary on his life and work, and feel that I should share some of it for posterity.  There are so many people who are unaware of what he did for our world and why his efforts are important.  Ananda Lal's very nice and precise article from The Telegraph is one of the best written obituaries for this larger than life personality.

You can also read my personal tribute to him over at Parth's blog."

Please do leave your comments behind.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ramapada Chowdhury receives Rabindranath Tagore International Award

Stay updated on posts like this and from all my other blogs, as well as the best of my bloggers' network, by joining theSubho's Jejune Diet Facebook Page.
I am honored to be invited to the 1st Rabindranath Tagore Memorial International Award at Delhi on May 9, 2011 August 12. 2011.  I have been searching the online media to see if there is any news about this, and the only ones I could find were from IIPM group publications.  Here is a link to an interview in The Sunday Indian with Malay Chaudhuri.

I quote from the same interview, not to be critical or controversial, but to put in perspective the absence of news on Ramapada Chowdhury, the recipient of the award.

"TSI:  Are you satisfied with the general awareness about the IIPM Awards?

MC:  No, I am not. The importance of these awards has not been fully appreciated by the media. Either we do not have the kind of high quality media that we deserve or there is a deliberate conspiracy of silence. Take the case of the leading Bengali newspaper. The Surama Chaudhuri Memorial International Award, in monetary terms, is worth 80 times more than the annual award that this newspaper group gives but they do not want to share that information with their readers. They haven’t mentioned a word about Ramapada Chowdhury winning the Rabindranath Tagore Memorial International Prize although the publishing house owned by this media group has published most of the celebrated writer’s work. I can understand if they black out our awards. But why should they black out Ramapada Chowdhury? It is completely unacceptable."

Here is a link to an older post on this blog about last year's award ceremony.
Ramapada Chaudhuri is the author of more than 100 short stories and about 50 novels . He has received a number of literary awards and honours. Some of them are –The Rabindra Puroskar of the West Bengal Govt, Sahitya Academi Award, Jagattarini Gold Medal of the University of Calcutta , and the honour for the highest literary achievement , the D.Litt,Honoris Causa from the University of Burdwan .

But to date, many readers of literature, especially those who are not familiar with the Bengali language and its literature, have not yet read this novel, though his short stories have been translated into English and have found a wider readership. One of his novels too has been translated into English.

Banpalashir Padabali is a stunningly vibrant and intensely human work that serves to reaffirm his reputation as a master story-teller in the Bengali language.

For my complete post on Banpalashir Padabali, click here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis in Mystic Pink

This is from my younger son, Abhimanyu.

Recent Pictures of Me and My Friend

A friend of mine emailed me today,

Respected সুরাজিত্দা 

নমস্কার . 
গতকাল অনেক আদর অপ্প্যায়ান করার জন্য অশেষ ধন্যবাদ .

মুল্ল্যন্বান একটি বই পেলাম , কৃতজ্ঞতা জানাচ্ছি .

ছবি পাঠালাম .
আমার বইগুলো নিয়ে আলোচনার অনুরোধ থাকলো .
(রোমান হরফে Bangla লিখলাম বলে কিছু মনে করবেননা 
ভালো থাকুন .
Probir Bikash Sarker

And these are the pics he sent me.  I posted this to let everyone know about the convenience of writing bangla in ইংরাজি 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Power of the Powerless

I cannot write as well as Jamyang Norbu can.

I wrote a letter in reply to something he wrote and wanted to stick it here for all of us to read, but it would not make sense without a backdrop.  

JN writes at the end of the year, Jan 4, 2011 is the post date I think...

It’s almost the end of the year now, and nearly two months since Aung San Suu Kyi was released, but I haven’t quite gotten over the dopamine rush of that event. I’ve been waiting a long time to see her a free woman. Not as single-mindedly and passionately, to be sure, as her loyal Burmese followers, but waiting, nonetheless, with some anxiety but also with a conviction of sorts, that she would be able to tough it out. That she would never ever give in to the junta, and one day they would have to let her go. Just like that.

So when I saw the video of her first appearance before her followers, I expected to feel lofty and profound emotions. But all I found myself doing was worrying that she might injure herself, or at least cut her fingers on the wicked looking spikes on top of the closed gate of the compound where she had been confined. She was behind the gate but someone had put a table or something for her to stand on, so you could see her quite clearly. She was smiling but those damned spikes were getting in her way. At one point she even rested her forearms on them. Then someone from the crowd handed up a bouquet of flowers. She tied a spray to her hair, it might have been her trademark jasmine. Whatever it was, it did the trick for me. All was right with the world.

When the first signs appeared that Suu Kyi would be released, but before the experts could hold forth on the possible reasons behind the junta’s motives for freeing her, quite a few reports (The New York Times, the BBC, The, etc) pressed into service the convenient phrase “the power of the powerless” to provide at least a broad, partial explanation of why Suu Kyi had prevailed over her captors. Ambiguous as the explanation was it was certainly not incorrect. When she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 (accepted by her son, Alexander) the Chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, Francis Sejested, had described Suu Kyi as “an outstanding example of the power of the powerless”.  Read more.

Kate Saunders of ICT wrote in reply over at Huffington Post.

Interesting and thought-provoking, but Jamyang Norbu is wrong (not for the first time) about the International Campaign for Tibet. Yes, the Clinton Administration mounted a campaign for permanent normal trade relations (PNTR), and even some prominent supporters of Tibet embraced this position. ICT opposed it. The term “constructive engagement ” as applied to US-China relations was a construct adopted by the Clinton Administration. The business community was successful ly advancing the position that linking trade with human rights played into the hands of those who would seek to “isolate” China. Clinton found this false dichotomy useful. ICT did not adopt this approach. On May 24, 2000, ICT said: “Today’s vote will change the tenor of U.S. China relations and bring proponents of PNTR, including big business interests, face-to-face with the reality of China — a new scenario based on China’s command and control of U.S. trade and investment dollars is about to unfold.” ICT’s then Government Relations Director (now President) Mary Beth Markey, said: “Beijing should not interpret PNTR as a referendum on human rights or a retreat from the Congress’ 1991 declaratio n that Tibet is an ‘occupied country under establishe d principles of international law.’” The Dalai Lama favored China’s entry into the WTO believing that the Chinese people merited the opportunity to fully participate in the global economy. Efforts – often unfortunate ones – were made by PNTR proponents to color His Holiness’ support for WTO entry as pro-PNTR.

I replied to the piece and though I do not know where it showed up in the print media, but I was able to find it here.

I am reproducing the text of my letter below for people like me.  However, if you click on that link above, you will reach a very serious discussion of the entire sino-tibetan issue.

Dear Sir,
What is happening in the hills of North Bengal is inevitable. Both the state and the centre are playing with fire not paying attention to the disastrous consequences that will ensue. They must settle the matter at once before the fire spreads farther into the plains as well. It had been a calculated move on the part of the British to make the Hindu Nepalese the majority community and the Buddhist Lepchas the minority in order to keep the Tibeto –chinese people at bay. The Indo –Nepal Agreement of 1950 followed the same policy. India was more concerned since China had become a communist country. As per Article 7A of this agreement the Nepalese freely immigrated to India, particularly to North Bengal and Assam, much more than Indians immigrating to Nepal. Consequently many pockets with Nepalese majority were formed in the Jalpaiguri district. The Morcha wants these places to be included in their proposed Gorkhaland because the Dooars will provide a good revenue from the three Ts– tea, timber and tourism. The agreement of 1950 must also be reviewed immediately. Otherwise soon a situation will be created when the Nepalese people become a majority in the whole of Jalpaiguri and parts of Malda and Coochbehar as well. And that will lead to the map of Gorkhaland to be redrawn.
Thanking you
Surajit Dasgupta
97a Regent Estate

Friday, March 18, 2011

Rammohan Roy: In Defense of Revolution

My recent article on Rammohan, courtesy Sahasrabda, (Editor, Fazlul Alam) Dhaka.  Click here to read.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pacific Rim hit by Tsunami - Mar 11, 2011

Please spread the word faster then the 800 kmph at which the tsunami is traveling.  visit this to learn more about the countries on alert and the time available for them to organize rescue and management.  please share and spread the word.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

From Telangana to Gorkhaland

How does popular sentiment get converted into a people's movement and then a political presence in governance?

My son lives in what is now broadly accepted as Telangana, and I was recently walking with him in what is now broadly accepted as Gorkhaland.  He went to school in what we know as Jharkhand, and I can carry on in this vein for a while.

What translates the aspiration to identity by a people to the movements that we are seeing now (and you must check what Hyderabad thinks about this by looking up the 48 hour shutdown called recently) with leaders who have risen through crimes and corruption, often of the most heinous sort.  What gives the right to the highly respectable leaders of TRS or GNLF to lay claim to these aspirations which to them is nothing more than an election issue.  I could not place punctuation correctly, question mark it yourself, please.

Here is a piece I wrote recently.  It is in Bengali, and that is a good thing.  You can click on the image to get a full sized image and then zoom in to read the finer text.  Do leave your comments and let me know what you think.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

PEN at the Kolkata Book Fair and the Kolkata Little Magazine Mela 2011

I was fortunate to be able to attend these gatherings of eminent thought leaders and writers, and at the Book Fair they even wanted to know what I was thinking and doing!!  Dont miss the all five of us.  Kidding! It is just the angle of the pic.  There were two or three other people there too.  Kidding again, this time it is my son, I guess.  How wondrous, how wondrous!!

You can read more about the events at the PEN West Bengal blog.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How to speak instead of talk.

My wife and children have become great how to fans. Any time I ask for anything, they go to the computer and tell me how to. It really is a lot of fun. So this is something I did not write, but something that a family friend writes (and he writes one of these every year) from last year, let me leave you to his words, and not mine...

Daisaku Ikeda says, we are living in an era marked by an absence of values, in which no measure of worth other than the monetary is recognized. Discussions of poverty and income disparity, for example, are cast solely in terms of monetary values, making them needlessly sterile and soulless.

Growing income disparities are an undeniable fact, and legal and systemic measures to create and maintain a social safety net are of course essential. However, these respond only to the symptoms, when more fundamental, curative measures are required. To ensure the genuine and lasting effectiveness of our response, a spiritual undergirding-a fundamental reevaluation of our priorities-is necessary.

We need to develop the awareness that the standard of values that judges human worth solely on the basis of economic capacity represents the effective absence of values. We need to ask ourselves why there is such pervasive pessimism and nihilism in advanced industrial societies.

When science and technology are divorced from the question of value, they are subject to no real control and potentially pose a deadly peril to human society. If this tendency is left unchecked, the consequences for humanity could be truly dire. The nightmare unleashed through the development of nuclear weapons technologies demonstrates all too clearly the immensity of the danger.

We need to replace this nihilism and pessimism with a new sense of value that will open the door to a new era; religion can be a source of energy to achieve this. There is a need for the kind of religion that is compatible with and embraces the insights of science, but can serve to guide and restrain those technologies which, if misused, have the potential to wreak devastation on humankind.

A key function of religion is to help people replant their feet firmly in the here and now, enabling an out-of-control civilization to realize its needed course correction. The here and now is the foundation and pivot of all aspects of human activity. If we lose sight of this and base ourselves in a virtual world, we end up the slaves of the very technologies that we ourselves created.

Toward a world without nuclear weapons

The year 2010 will be critical in terms of finding a path toward the resolution of global issues, with a number of important international meetings scheduled, including the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in May.

U.S. President Barack Obama has signaled a potentially fundamental transformation in the status of nuclear weapons. In his speech in Prague, the Czech Republic, in April 2009, he provided an important new impetus to long-deadlocked efforts for nuclear disarmament by calling for a world without nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons embody the deepest negative impulses of the human heart. The work of abolishing them is laden with profound difficulties, and it is unrealistic to expect rapid or simple progress. It is vital to maintain an approach that is both flexible and persistent.

The time has come for the nuclear-weapon states to develop a shared vision of a world without nuclear weapons and to break free from the spell of deterrence. A new kind of thinking is needed, one based on working together to reduce threats and creating ever-expanding circles of physical and psychological security until these embrace the entire world.

The nuclear-weapon states should evince their resolve to move beyond deterrence by undertaking the following three commitments at the 2010 NPT Review Conference and working to fully implement them by 2015.
1. To reach a legally binding agreement to extend negative security assurances-the undertaking not to use nuclear weapons against any of the non-nuclear-weapon states fulfilling their obligations under the NPT.
2. To initiate negotiation on a treaty codifying the promise not to use nuclear weapons against each other.
3. Where nuclear-weapon-free zones have yet to be established, and as a bridging measure toward their establishment, to take steps to declare them nuclear non-use regions.
In addition to expanding the frameworks defining the legal obligation not to use nuclear weapons in this way, it is also necessary to further clarify the norm that nuclear weapons are indeed weapons that must never be used. To achieve this, the threat or use of nuclear weapons should be included among the war crimes falling under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

The establishment of this norm will clear the way toward the abolition of nuclear weapons-the fervent desire of people the world over.

In addition, we need to create a system, based on the United Nations Charter, for the General Assembly and the Security Council to work together for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.

Article 26 of the UN Charter states that the Security Council has responsibility for formulating plans for regulating armaments in order to promote the maintenance of international peace and security, minimizing the diversion of the world's human and economic resources for armaments. However, to date the Security Council has failed to fulfill this role. It is time that new efforts be made to fully implement Article 26 so that the Security Council fulfills its disarmament obligations, strengthening impetus toward nuclear abolition and the demilitarization of our planet.

None of these proposals will be easy to implement, but all of them build on existing institutional foundations. They are by no means unreachable goals. The NPT Review Conference should initiate movement toward these goals, and such efforts should culminate in a nuclear abolition summit in 2015-held in Hiroshima and Nagasaki-which would effectively signal the end of the era of nuclear weapons.

Human Security

The impact of the current economic crisis on the more vulnerable members of society has been particularly severe. There are growing concerns that new humanitarian crises may arise in different parts of the world unless targeted assistance addressing the needs of these populations is provided. Three concrete areas where measures should be taken concern employment, children and the empowerment of women.

Human dignity is gravely threatened when individuals are unemployed or work under inhumane or degrading conditions, or if lack of job security makes it impossible to plan for the future. The G20 should take responsibility to be the driving force for global employment recovery. One means to achieve this would be the establishment of a task force dedicated to promoting decent work and the Global Jobs Pact under the G20 umbrella.

It is children who are forced to pay the highest price when their societies face a crisis. There are concerns over the increasing numbers of children who are denied access to adequate nutrition and health care or are forced to quit school in order to work. UNICEF has advocated child-friendly schools and the building of classrooms that can withstand earthquakes and storms. Schools should function as a refuge to protect children from various threats-as strongholds of human security-and become a venue for fostering children as protagonists of a new culture of peace.

Finally, girls' education has a crucial impact on all aspects of human development. Empowering a girl through education will lead to a brighter future for herself, her family and her children, eventually permeating society as a whole with the light of hope. We need to establish an internationally administered fund dedicated to realizing a better future for women, in which a portion of developing countries' debts is forgiven and the equivalent amount allocated to girls' education.

In all these efforts, the key is the power of dialogue and engagement to awaken that which is best in each individual. Just as there is no easy path to learning, there is no easy path to the realization of good. We must root ourselves firmly in reality, deliberately taking on difficult challenges, ceaselessly training and forging ourselves in the "smelting furnace" of spiritual struggle and earnest engagement with others.

There is always a way, a path to the peak of even the most towering and forbidding mountain. What is most strongly required of us is the imagination that can appreciate the present crises as an opportunity to fundamentally transform the direction of history.

I wish to be able to do all that I can to help this family friend achieve what he has dedicated his life to.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rabindranath Tagore's House at Kalimpong

Whenever Rabindranath visited Kalimpong he stayed at Gauripur House. On 25th April 1940 he recited from this house, the poem, "Janmadin" through a telephone, not the ones that we know though, but the older funnier ones. It was broadcast live. He wrote many poems when he was residing in this house. We were fortunate to be able to locate it and spend some time feeling the magic.

Rabindranath Tagore's Gauripur House in Kalimpong

There is a little plaque that the government has put up to let the mountains know of the significance of this crumbling edifice.  I could not not take a picture of me with the plaque!!

If you are trying to find it and even the locals are not able to take you there, ask for Crookety House (pronounced koorkooti by some) where Helena Roerich, a Russian herbalogist and healer came to live with her son Yuri, the Director of the "Uruswati" Himalayan Research Institute in the year 1947 till her death on 5th April 1955. Helena was the wife of the celebrated Nicholas Roerich, the great Russian Artist, Philosopher and writer. Helena wrote a number of books including Agni Yoga.

This building is just a few turns down on the same road.  Enjoy!!

If you liked this, you may or may not like my son's posts on the life and/or work of
Jimi Hendrix
Janis Joplin
John Lennon
Bob Dylan
Paul McCartney
Melody Gardot
Joan Baez 
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My visit to Madan Tamang, too little, too late!!

From earlier on in 2010, here is a clip from a Hindu report on the procession that the people of the hills, Gorkhali and Nepali, Bengali and Bihari, the British and the French took out after Madan Tamang was killed as he was preparing for a meeting in the idyllic town of Darjeeling.

A sense of simmering outrage over the politics of hate that has seized the Darjeeling Hills in recent times was evident as hundreds of mourners joined the funeral procession of prominent leader Madan Tamang as it weaved its way in intermittent rain along the roads of the hill town on Monday.

Even as some expressed their anger by bringing down some rooftop flags of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) in a public show of defiance towards the region's principal political force, the murder of Madan Tamang has precipitated an unprecedented crisis in the party with 10 senior leaders, including some belonging to its central committee resigning. More could follow suit.

Time has passed.  Storefront displays proclaim that the veggies you are buying are from a store in Gorkhaland.  Water is still scarce and no brainstorming is going to fix that.  The infrastructure and the support systems are overloaded, and lives are lost in claiming peoples and lands.  

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