New Editor takes charge of The Herald, oldest English Catholic weekly in India

 C.M. Paul, KOLKATA

Fr Julian Das

The archbishop of Calcutta, Rev Thomas D’Souza has appointed the director of Chitrabani Jesuit Communication centre in Kolkata, Fr Julian Das as editor of The Herald from 1st July 2012. Besides continuing his present office, Fr Das will also edit the oldest English language Catholic weekly in India established in 1839.

“I am soon planning to send soft copies of The Herald in PDF file version soon, so that you do not need to wait so long for the post version. Besides I am starting this week The Herald Blog to post important articles and reports. The blog link is: http://calcuttaherald.wordpress.com. I am yet to populate the blog. Will do it tomorrow (3rd July) the solemnity of St Thomas the apostle, patron of India.

Fr Das succeeds Fr. B. L. Mathai, a priest of the archdiocese of Calcutta who proceeds for higher studies in media at the National Institute of Social Communication, Research and Training in the National Capital Region, Delhi. NISCORT is a national venture of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India.

The Herald is owned by the archdiocese of Calcutta and is a published under the banner of Catholic Publications West Bengal. (courtesy: NewsGrab & C M Paul)

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Undemocratic Mamata orders police inquiry on student who raised voice!!!

Cartoon: R. Prasad: Sohail Abdi, a second-year student of history at Presidency College who was also present on the TV show, said Mamata was ‘undemocratic’.

Next time you get a chance to ask West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee a question or criticise any of her moves, think twice as you could be labelled a Maoist sympathiser or a CPM cadre.

Taniya Bhardwaj, a student of political science at Kolkata’s Presidency College, dared to do as much on a TV news channel’s show on Friday at the Town Hall here. A furious Mamata labelled Taniya a ‘Maoist and a CPM cadre’ and asked the police to do a background check on those asking awkward questions.  Immediately after the show was recorded on Friday evening, some officers of the state police’s special branch descended on the TV channel’s office in Kolkata and demanded that the contact details of the participants be handed over.

She asked a simple question about the conduct of state ministers and officials over crimes against women. Taniya is now quite apprehensive about the consequences as the Kolkata police have already started collecting information about the students who asked Banerjee uncomfortable questions on the show.

‘Have I done anything wrong? I just asked a simple question. She could have avoided the question easily. But she started castigating the audience instead,’ Taniya said.

The CM lost her cool when members in the audience questioned her on the arrest of Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra and the increased attacks on women in the state.

Read full story by SOUDHRITI BHABANI  in MailOnlineIndia: Didi unleashes cops on students

Poli(tics)wood, like Bollywood

Shombit Sengupta an international creative business strategy consultant writes in The Indian Express

Electronic media has made Indian politics more and more entertaining. It’s beating Bollywood’s clichéd storylines of love, hate, fight, prison, poor man becomes rich man. Indian politics has more or less the same storylines except the love affair bit, making it Poliwood. Wonder why our political journalists are avoiding love affair diagnostics?

We’ve got enough titillating stories where politicians invoke celestial powers to get jobs done. Even Indira Gandhi had visited Ma Anandamayi with daughter-in-law Maneka. A few months ago, instead of inviting investors, a yagna was held in Bengal for getting business into the state. Did it work? A believer pointed out, “Didn’t Hillary Clinton come to Kolkata last week to promise American economic partnership?”

On issues of governance, we seem to witness Bollywood-style histrionics or banana skin slips, where the banana skin can be clandestinely put in front of a politician by anyone with a vested interest. In a one-party majority Presidential system of government where the whole nation elects the leader, there’s less of a chance for Poliwood drama. 

In India, from being colonised by a gun-toting monarchical British political system, we chose our current Parliamentary politics. This democratic government process seems to match the diversity of our Hindu-dominated, multiple God culture where all politicians are perforce wary of banana skins, from voters and opposition alike. In trying to escape banana skins, how much attention are elected politicians paying to keeping their electoral promises? Only when the quality of politics is at a higher ground can there be better governance. Instead of giving us Poliwood stories of corruption, divisive politics, managing caste equations and allies, can we have our elected representatives resolve our many economic problems, and provide employment, education and health for the masses?

Read the full column : Poliwood

Photo Treasure: 1912, Kolkata at the high point of British Raj

H Hobbs & Co, 4 Esplanade East, Kolkata, lit for the British royal visit. The shop sat next to the Military (Ordnance) Department. Harry Hobbs (1864-1956) arrived in Calcutta to work as a piano tuner in 1883. In 1893 he established his own company, H Hobbs and Co Ltd which advertised as ‘Pianoforte importers, repairers and tuners, player pianos and extensive library of perforated music. Agents for Ky-Ko non-electric fans’. Hobbs lived above the branch on 4 Esplande East until his death in 1956 (apart from travel to the UK and abroad). The shop itself moved to 9 Esplanade East and then 21 Old Courthouse Street. For a period before and then again during and after World War II, he was also ‘Special Director’ Manager of Spence’s Hotel (now demolished). He was a succesful businessman and Calcutta character, writing a number of newspaper articles and books on Calcutta life. By the time of his death his obituary made the claim that he had been the oldest living European in India. Information on Hobbs from various sources including from ‘The Chingri Kal Chronicles’ by Malcolm Tucker, Hobbs’s grandson.

An impressive collection of photographs of India, dating more than a century ago, have been discovered in a shoebox in an Edinburgh institute, London. However, identity of the photographer is a mystery.
The rare and fragile glass plate negatives, which date back to around 1912, show life on the subcontinent at the high point of the British Raj and mostly detail life in Kolkata, which was a major commercial hub.
The plate-glass negatives were found by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland in Edinburgh.

“The 178 negatives were found in a shoebox for a pair of grey, size 9, Peter Lord slip-on shoes, and were stored in their original five-by-eight-inch plate boxes,” the commission said. The negatives had been wrapped in copies of the Statesman newspaper dating from 1914.
“As the negatives were still wrapped in newspapers from 1914, it is possible that they were transported back to Britain from India at this time, and have remained unopened until now,” the commission said.
However, the commission does not have any details about the provenance of the rare photographs. “Among the theories are that the photographer was a British civil servant headquartered in Kolkata, or was connected to the jute trade, as many Scots were at the time.,” the commission said.
“We don’t know for sure how the negatives came to be in our collection. We receive archive material from countless different sources, from architectural practices to generous donations from the public, and sometimes take large amounts of material in at once, and often documentation for historical deposits does not exist,” RCAHMS architectural historian Clare Sorensen said.
“Over time all this new material will be inspected and catalogued as part of our collection and then made available to the public. It’s fantastic that a small shoe-box contained such a treasure-trove of photographic imagery, but in some ways it’s not unusual. Our experience as an archive has shown us that some of the most interesting discoveries can be made in the most unlikely of places,” she added.
The commission approached John Falconer, curator of photographs at the British Library, who correctly identified some of the locations.
The 178-photograph collection includes images detailing celebrations for the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Calcutta in 1912, the only visit by a British monarch to India as Emperor of the subcontinent. The photographs show Kolkata’s buildings lit up at night in tribute. The collection also includes photographs of ships arriving at the Chandpal Ghat, the main landing place for visitors to Kolkata along the Hooghly river; and pilgrims gathered for a religious festival on the Maidan in the centre of Kolkata.
The collection also includes photographs of Britons playing tennis and socialising as part of their day-to-day lives in India in the early 20th century. The photograph collection can be viewed online at (http://canmore.rcahms.gov.uk/en/site/304615/digital_images/india+general…).

Mamata gags the Dodhichi newsletter

Now, it is the turn of the alternative media in West Bengal to be at the receiving end of governmental intolerance. There is a clampdown on a unique mobile alert service in Kolkata, writes RANJIT SUR in The HOOT.

The Mamata Banerjee Government in West Bengal is trying its best to gag the language media. It is not news anymore. To some extent she is exposed in this regard, and people are protesting against such a move. But gagging a small but very important alternative media centre remained out of sight of the people. It is mainly because the big press or the corporate media have not shown any interest over it. Moreover, most of the media persons even do not understand what alternative media could be. So the news of gagging of  the Dodhichi Newsletter did not find any place in any major publication in Kolkata, in print or on TV media, barring a line or two in a couple of news media.

What is the Dodhichi Newsletter? According to its director, Dr Shyamal Roy, “Dodhichi Newsletter is a Kolkata-based cellphone text messaging service disseminating information, news, and views not appearing in the mainstream media.” It is in operation running since 2010. In a letter addressed to Home Secretary, Government of India, Dr Ray said: “ Our service provides a platform to hundreds of freelance news-gatherers, social and cultural activists, and NGOs and reaches out to a select list of thousands of message receivers, among them MPS, MLAs, Ministers, political leaders as well as eminent personalities in various fields.“
This writer himself is a message receiver and sender listed with Dodhichi. It’s a unique service, at least in Kolkata. There is no other service of this kind here. During the last two and a quarter years it has provided wonderful service to all the mass organisations and their activists.
Whenever an organisation calls for a demonstration or rally, or any State crackdown occurs on any mass organisation, a single text message (SMS) sent to Dodhichi was enough to inform and mobilise all the activists. Through the Dodhichi mobile newsletter the SMS containing the information reached hundreds of interested persons within seconds. Within a short time, the activists could decide on their duty or they could assemble at the place of demonstration or at the site of the happenings.
During the last months of Budhadeb Bhattacharjee government Mamata Banerjee got the benefit of this service, as it was the time of anti- government and anti-establishment mass movements.
(Read the full article in The Hoot: Dodhichi Newsletter

‘the people of West Bengal will turn their back on her’

Rudrangshu Mukherjee writes in The Telegraph, Kolkata:

..No one can deny that Mamata Banerjee came to power through democratic means. She led a relentless campaign against the Left and her campaign would not have been possible or successful if the Left had effectively stifled democratic rights and expressions. When she sat on a hunger strike in Esplanade and then later blocked a major highway for days on end, the state administration did not send in the police to break up the protests and neither did the CPI(M) let loose its goons on the demonstrators. Moreover, the media were left free to report on these agitations in ways that they deemed fit. Some supported the protests and some didn’t. There was no external interference in editorial decisions.

….The Bengali word, paribartan, has suddenly come to acquire very ominous overtones. When the people of West Bengal voted overwhelmingly to overthrow the Left Front, they did not quite expect that they were ushering in a regime that would be irre sponsible, intolerant of criticism and would display a pronounced propensity for authoritarianism.

….The people of West Bengal, like people all over the world, have the right to dissent, to laugh, to mock, to criticize and, above all, to speak and write freely without the fear of the State and the bullying of party cadre. The present political regime appears to have scant regard for these rights. It wants to create an ambience of fear and to rule through terror. For this alone, the present dispensation has to be opposed.

Read the full article: http://epaper.telegraphindia.com/PUBLICATIONS/TT/TT/2012/04/18/ArticleHtmls/Fear-of-freedom-18042012010005.shtml?Mode=1

“Bangla amar Mamatamoyee”: how dare you make fun of me? arrest her!

Illustration courtesy: Satish Acharya. "How Dare" !!!

“Bangladesh is Pakistan’s neighbour.. !?!”

A professor of chemistry at the Jadhavpur University was today arrested for allegedly spreading derogatory messages against “respectable people” through the internet. “Professor Ambikesh Mohapatra has been arrested for spreading derogatory messages against respectable persons via 65 emails.

The cartoon in question has been doing the rounds in West Bengal after Mamata forced Trivedi out of the rail ministry and put Roy in his place. Apparently, the cartoon is a caricature of Satyajit Ray‘s detective masterpiece on celluloid Sonar Kella.

Over the past few weeks a section of Kolkata‘s intellectuals who campaigned for Mamata before the 2011 assembly polls, have started protesting against what they call dictatorial tendencies of her government.

Manas Paul, an ex-Time Of India journalist takes Mamata to task. He says,

She is increasingly turning out to be the worst kind of fool to have ever been voted to power…the cartoon in question was actually the dumbest of all too. It was a simple cartoon and I did not find much of pun and fun in it. Virtually nothing. There were millions more caustic ones against the politicians as well as Mamata banarjee herself too. She should know we are not in China. Ours is India. And she also should know if she wants to take on social network or a virtual world like FB she will stand nowhere.

Manas Paul: Bangladesh is Pakistan's Neighbor said didi in an international conference in WB !!!

MY TWO CENTS ON CARTOONS AND MAMATA…

Cartoons are classed as NEWS…the news that exposes social, political, economic, religious maladies, and , yes of course, of Individual’s too –reflecting shades of their varied idiosyncrasies and idiocies as well.. Cartoons are essentially reflections of what was going wrong and sought to make it political satire out of it despite not actually being politically motivated and prejudiced . Cartoon is a NEWS ( refer as to how Supreme Court took cognizance of a R K Laxman’s cartoon on special exemptions of custom duties etc for the Cricket players given in Times of India). BUT… Cartoons are also part of ‘Creative arts’ and as such reflections of finer senses and also..Satire.. that bring about the subtlety and often obscured malice that beset us in our society, as imagined by the Cartoonist..There is a difference between a photograph and a cartoon. A photograph despite being again a News is different than that of the Cartoon. Photograph, and I am talking of political ones, though often satirical and poignant with message, are the moments captured , not the moment Created in Imagination by an artist. Here lies the difference…while in most of the case Cartoons do not need ‘Captions’ to tell us what it is all about… Photographs needed -mostly- a caption. And caption can be given for a twist. It so happens that because of the comments ( not caption) given with a photograph the element of satire and fun come out. ( captions meant to tell the readers what it was in reality)…. the context and perspectives could have been different…

Just recently ‘didi’ devoted goons, ran after striking employees, followed by her ban on popular newspaper in thousands of libraries ‘Poschim Bongol’ and now her same devoted goons heckled Mohapatra for defaming their ‘respectable didi’ !!

Bangladesh is Pakistan’s neighbour.. !?!

said didi, in an internationla trade meet in Kolkata.

First newspaper, now cartoons. Can she arrest R K Laxman if he ever draws her ? Someone should tell her if one day Sankar the great Cartoonist missed to draw Nehru, the PM would call him to ask what went wrong . West Bengal had hoped for a better governance and wanted respite from 34 years of CPM rule which became a nightmare. Unfortunately, Mamata with all her idocyncracies and stupidity already proved..she was a wrong choice. Something seriously amiss.

writes Manas Paul, a ex-Times of India journalist on Mamata Banerjee’s gimmick.

Former Indian Intelligence Bureau Chief Maloy Dhar ridicules Mamata on his facebook page:

Hitler Didi’s police arrests JU professor, Kolkata for creating & circulating a cartoon of Mamata in social media. She is shaming Hitler. Earlier Trinmool goons had beaten up the professor while he was returning home. Police booked the professor for cyber crime. Where are the intelligentsia of Bengal? Where are the voices of Indian democracy? How can they alow this dictator to rule in Bengal?

Felix Pinto reacted on facebook :

A rare specimen! What a bad luck my dear Benagali brothers! Either you have CPI/CPM morons or this cranky old lady! You certainly deserved something better.

Besides, questions are raised on where the WB police stands as far as legal issues are concerned. There seems to be a serious infringement of Privacy right of the arrested prof. and his neighbour. They snooped into their e-mails and no allegations of national security threat from them had been lodged against them prior to such surveillance on their private communications. Prima Facie the police with the help hackers ( who could be policemen too) broke their wall and scooped out the contents..which is again a crime. For investigation or for tracking someone or to find what was going on police needs to follow some strict procedures ( while Intel agencies have their own ways of secret surveillance into private citizen’s internet and all other communications if so they feel required, which they regularly do on suspects and also acting on specific information, but they donot ‘arrest’ on the basis of such evidence and they do not have to answer to the court of law). But police has to stand before the court of law. In the court of law I am curious to know how police would stand by their ‘evidence’ and process of collection of the evidence in exhibit.