Puja memories from Calcutta 16

First published in Calcutta Times (print), 18 September 2017

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/puja-merories-from-calcutta-16/articleshow/60720446.cms?from=mdr#ampshare=http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/puja-merories-from-calcutta-16/articleshow/60720446.cms#ampshare

TNN | Updated: Sep 18, 2017, 13:29 IST

Cal16

Half a century ago, I was growing up in Calcutta 16. Roughly, the area between Mother Teresa Sarani and Lenin Sarani today, or Park Street and Dharmatala. Calcutta 16, and I did not consider it then but I realise it now, was cosmopolitan Calcutta. That means, for people who prefer elaboration, it was where people living did not consider your community, your religion, your very existence as anything more important than their own. Those previous and present street names themselves prove the point. Mind you, that particular Calcutta has no synergy with globalised Kolkata, this city of malls, ugly real estate over-development, this land grabbing in another name.

I spent about 14 formative years of my life in a building built 30 years before I was born, adjacent to what we still call Chowringhee, even though its official name is Jawahar Lal Nehru Road. It was a slice of a city that I am very proud of, a place where every person from every community lived in affable coexistence. Bengali, Sikh, Chinese, Anglo-Indian, Jew, Armenian, Tamilian, Sindhi, Marwari, Parsi, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jain, Buddhist, you name it.

In the Durga Puja season, walking out of our building gate towards Free School Street before which a left turn took us down Chowringhee Lane, another left at Sudder Street, then turning right on to Madge Lane past Globe Cinema, Bertram Street past New Market, we would come to a Durga Puja pandal next to a shabby little park, now called Charlie Chaplin Square, opposite the Calcutta Corporation headquarters. It was a simple construction of bamboo, tarpaulin and cloth, the nearest pandal to where we lived. The Durga idol was made in the traditional style, designer Durgas still a decade or more away. Our Hindu friends would go in and pay obeisance with a mysterious holy air about them we would subsequently laugh about. All of us then strolled down to Nizam’s to eat 25 paisa beef and kheeri rolls, maybe even watch a movie for another four annas at Minerva or Elite if it had a ‘U’ certification.

We were ignorant about Sabarna Roy Choudhurys, Sovabazar, the bonedi bari pujos, or the other “heritage” Durga Pujos happening in other parts of the city. We would be taken to Mohammad Ali Park and Park Circus, the two big puja pandals closest to us, as an after-dinner treat. It was not this carnival atmosphere people rave about today. Thousands upon thousands did come from all over, thronging the streets to witness Durga Pujo in Calcutta. For us, this was just a minor inconvenience for a few days, a welcome week’s holiday from school. It was another big celebration, just like Diwali, Christmas, Eid, or New Year. Today this event has become a grand assertion of Bengali identity.

We flew kites on Vishwakarma Puja from our terrace, idly wondering why this date was fixed on the calendar but the Durga Pujo ones were flexible. It was just something one did, no religious significance attached, merely a precursor to the merry-making season coming up. Our concern was about the quality of the kite string and paper, and little else. My Hindu friends’ fathers, others went to the river on Mahalaya and did what they had to do. We went to school. We made our own fireworks with materials bought for us by our elders and blew it all up on the two back-to-back evenings of Kali Pujo and Diwali. Bakrid is what really kicked off the festive season of Calcutta, culminating the next year at Saraswati Puja. This was when biryani and other flavoursome wonders integrated so well into life and living. We would all, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Jain, Parsi, Jew, wait for the upcoming festivals where food was the prime mover of emotion and faith. Some years later I saw a Jishu Pujo, Christmas, as celebrated in an urban village just a short trip out of the city. Today I endorse this as a real definition of secularism, of being cosmopolitan, the true Calcutta heritage.

I remember Santana’s hit Black magic woman being played in a Kali Puja pandal in Park Circus, very much part of Calcutta 16, and thinking it so appropriate. The Kali pandals were far fewer than the impressive Durga ones but they had an aura that gave me goosebumps. We celebrate Durga Puja as an auspicious event of a daughter returning home to be with her loved ones, something north India cannot relate to, because for us it’s a feast for the senses, rather than a deprivation. But Kali Puja is serious. She is the real patron saint of this city, not an Albanian missionary. Ironically enough, that too fits the mould this city sprang from, which they threw away.

Carlos Santana, who really should perform in Calcutta, has collaborated with another old time vocal group, The Isley Brothers, just releasing his new album Power of Peace. The tracks, mainly covers, but also featuring Carlos’ wife Cindy Blackman on her own composition, are themed to reflect love and peace. Santana says, “This CD wakes you up beyond religion, beyond politics, beyond nations. It’s our duty to do this.” This is indeed the power music can have.

PATRICK SL GHOSE


Comments from the web edition as on 19 September 2017

Gordon Maelzer,

I think the area in front of KMC building has been apply named Charlie Chaplin Square for the bunch of jokers employed around there.

Sourav Pal

I think Kolkata is still cosmopolitan. Good to know about old Kolkata

A perfect depiction of the area & then prevailing atmosphere – me too spent about 4 yrs in Xavier”s in early ”70s … enjoyed the cosmopolitan ambience

Really pleasant memoir!!! Thanks

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Have Bangla rockers truly affected their society?

First published in Calcutta Times (print), 11 September 2017

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/have-bangla-rockers-truly-affected-their-society/articleshow/60463069.cms

TNN | Sep 11, 2017, 16:58 IST

Moheener Ghoraguli

A terribly amusing yet tiny maelstrom in a cha’er bhar twisted up recently in the Bangla pop music circles on social media. The debate being about who pioneered Bangla rock in the city. Was it Moheener Ghoraguli? Or some other band? Is it by default the band who just celebrated their being around for a quarter of a century?

It is generally accepted that the blues begat rock and roll. Though signs of it existed since the 1920s, it really took definite shape and form in the ’50s. How it got called rock and roll is still being debated but the Encyclopaedia Britannica has very authoritatively stated that R’n’R morphed `into the more encompassing international style known as rock music’. In the glow of such revelation, the Bangla bands should consider a fact or two. Bangla rock is not a genre. Rock music is. You put Bangla lyrics to it and call it that, merely to distinguish it from 21 other Indian languages which in all likelihood have their own rock musicians. You use elements from various related genres in rock and R`n’R, like gospel, the blues, jazz, soul, as the base for those lyrics. You slap strains of Baul, bits and pieces of Hindusthani/Carnatic classical, some Rajasthani folk or RD Burman maybe on to all this and voilà, you have Bangla rock. In the Brazil of the ’70s they took rock’n’roll, fused it with salsa, bossa, folk, other styles of the times, put Portuguese lyrics to it, and they begat Musica Popular Brasileira, MPB, which is still the most popular style of music there. There are similar trends in Indonesia, Bosnia, Japan, and the rest of the world.

THE NATURE OF ROCK

The thing about rock music is that it can be syncretic. It can absorb many styles and rhythms but nothing really changes its nature. It will remain rock music. The reasons for this syncretism are many and complex, but suffice it to say that the music emerged out of sorrow, misfortune, displacement, and a yearning for more, for better.Humans at such times will beg, borrow and steal to survive, and they did it with music. Through the ’60s and ’70s, modern cultural thinking within other ethnicities, was drawn to rock music as a form of expression primarily because it appealed to the youth in ways that other older music could not. And really, that’s how Bangla rock began.

Then there is the other non-issue spun by the pompously bratty post of an event engineer, as he prefers calling himself. He opined that a young, upcoming band who he allowed to open for a recent concert featuring a big daddy band of Calcutta, were disrespectful of the biggies when they made a comment on stage about how they too played all 12 chords. Apart from being a rather lame comparison of their presumed talents and skills, why should this comment offend anyone? Rock music, the kind I grew up listening to, was all about being iconoclastic, radical, edgy , cynical, and a solid sock in the jaw. It made you reconsider things, question the established, decry the formal, be instrumental in a change in yourself and in others. All this did happen. The past offers evidence. Young kids taking a swing at those who have made it is par for the course. Why turn it into some fake, classical music parampara respect issue? It’s rock music. That’s the beauty of it. Unless of course the big daddies, who have staked their claim to pioneering Bangla rock in Calcutta, don’t play rock music. In these alt-fact times, anything is possible.

SEALED IN A BUBBLE

The unfortunate bit is that very few musicians in Calcutta are involved in effecting positive change in society, in people. Immersed in their self-love and importance, they have sealed themselves in a bubble. Conversely, rock music, R’n’R can be held partly culpable in some of the great social movements of modern times in the USA -the civil rights, anti-Vietnam war, the hippies. Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind said: “That’s what drew me to rock music in the first place – that sense of remaking the world on your own terms.” Perhaps the Bangla rockers should introspect and examine how they have affected their society. When they can, in all honesty, claim to have made a significant change to society, they can then claim a separate genre for themselves. But again, why bother?
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I also grew up listening to the music of Steely Dan. They were initially difficult to digest, straddling as they did, the many continents of music. One could never pin down and label them, but to stay happy on my side of the comfort zone, it was rock.Walter Becker, the guitar playing founder-member of the duo with Donald Fagen, died recently . I was glad to read what he said about their music: “I’m not interested in a rock-jazz fusion,” Becker told a well-known magazine in 1974.

“That kind of marriage has so far only come up with ponderous results. We play rock & roll, but we swing when we play . We want that ongoing flow, that lightness, that forward rush of jazz.” That was sweet enough music to dispel my past doubts.
———————–
The words above seemed to ruffled feathers, rocked boats, and unstrung guitars! While the TOI website this time did not get any comments, a lot of comments got space on Facebook. Read on:
Rupsha Dasgupta
Yesterday at 08:54 · Calcutta ·

Just read an article by Patrick Sl Ghose in today’s Calcutta Times. He definitely seems like a very learned man but unfortunately I wonder how aware is he about the bangla band scene to be able to write such a big article on bangla rock. He seems to be following facebook quite well. He directly attacks Kinjal Bhattacharya and criticises his facebook post. Surprising, that he didn’t bother to find out why that particular comment had angered Kinjal so much.
He also talks about musicians being involved in effecting positive change in society and he feels ‘Bangla Rockers’ have not done their bit. Well, I clearly recall Cactus was one of the first to organise a rock show for AIDS awareness, and yes, back then distributing free condoms was not a very easy thing to do, it was these ‘Bangla Rockers’ who could do it.
I know for certain that Koushik Chakraborty keeps doing his bit for the society. Koushik, has been after me to organise an all band event for the North-Bengal Flood relief.
I think Mr Ghose isn’t aware of the “Kolkata for Nepal’ concert where all the “Rock Bands’ united for a cause.
And yes, of course I am sure Mr Ghose isn’t aware about FOSSILS at all. I don’t even know where to start. I don’t thik there has been any event in Kolkata continuously for 4 years as big as the “Santa Claus is coming to town’ event. I don’t know anyone apart from Kabir Suman and Rupam Islam who keeps writing songs for social issues – each and every issue that affects him. Be it ‘Hok Kolorob’ or ‘JNU’ or an incident as recent as the Gurugram incident of a woman after being raped caries her dead baby in the Delhi Metro. FOSSILS makes it a point to do atleast one or two ‘free of cost’ shows for a cause, every year. Incidentaly the 20th September gig for Amnesty International is also part of our ‘free gigs for a cause’. Rupam is directly involved with Kolkata Sukriti Foundation and Tanushree Dasgupta Breast Cancer Trust. Fossils didn’t have an official fan club for long, because they made it a point that their official fan club has to do their bit for the society and not just attend Rock Shows. Hence, Fossils Force is always involved in different kinds of social issues. Not just Fossils Force but Fossils has been able to inspire the un-official fan clubs like Force Of Fossils to do their bit for the society. And yes, when Orange Production and Fossils Force came up with the idea of the Fossils 18 concert, Fossils made it a point that there HAS to be a social cause involved in this show. Rupam has till date not done a single solo show where some cause or the other is not addressed.
At the end of the article the writers email address is mentioned and people can get in touch with him. After reading his article I thought it would be better to write my views over here than write to him directly as I am sure this will reach him someway or the other.

Puja Das এটা যদি অশিক্ষা হয়ে থাকে, তবু ভাল। কিন্তু যদি ইচ্ছাকৃত হয়ে থাকে, তবে চিন্তার। একদিকে গৌরি লঙ্কেশের মতো সাংবাদিকরা সত্যের পক্ষে লড়ে প্রাণ হারাচ্ছেন। অন্যদিকে এইরকম সাংবাদিকরা সাংবাদিকতার নাম খারাপ করছেন
Rupsha Dasgupta I don’t think he is an journalist. Seems like a guest writer.
Puja Das
Puja Das ওহ। তবে যে বিষয়ে জানেন, তা নিয়ে লিখলেই হ’ত। স্কুলে যেমন সবাই বেশি মার্কস পাওয়ার জন্য কঠিন কঠিন রচনা বেছে নিত। তারপর ভাল লিখতে না পেরে কম মার্কস নিয়ে আসত। এখানেও সেই ঘটনা বোধহয়। আমি ‘একটি বৃষ্টির দিন’ বা ‘তোমার প্রিয় লেখক’ দিয়েই সারা স্কুলজীবন ‘বিজ্ঞান: আশীর্বাদ না অভিশাপ’, ‘ভারতীয় সংস্কৃতি’দের হারিয়েছি 🤣 সাবজেক্ট স্মার্ট হলেই তো হবে না। সাবজেক্টে দখল লাগবে
Priyam Sengupta
Priyam Sengupta বাংলা ব্যান্ড কিচ্ছু করেনি?‌ বড় বড় ফান্ড রেইজিং শো–গুলোর কথা বাদ দিলাম। অরিন্দম জাগাতির জন্য ‘‌রূপম একাই এক ऽ‌h‌o‌w’, মালদায় বন্যা দুর্গতদের জন্য ফকিরার শো, প্রতিবছর ক্রিসমাসের আগে ফসিল্‌স ফোর্সের ফুটপাথবাসীদের জন্য গরম জামা দেওয়া, রক্তদান শিবির— কত বলব লিস্ট লম্বা।
আসলে রক ব্যান্ড কী করছে, সেটা মেনস্ট্রিম মিডিয়ার বেশিরভাগ নজরে রাখার চেষ্টাই করে না। তাই জানতেও পারে না কী হচ্ছে। অভিেনতারা জন্মদিনে অনাথআশ্রমে হাসিমুখে কেক কাটলে সেটার ছবি বেরোয়। রক ব্যান্ড চিরকালই দুয়োরানি।
আর হ্যাঁ, বিগত ৯ মাসে মূলত ক্যানসার আক্রান্ত রোগীর জন্য Bloodmates – ব্লাডমেটস শ’পাঁচেক ব্লাড ডোনার জোগার করেছে । আর ব্লাডমেট্‌সের থিম লাইন (অনুমতি না নিয়েই দখল করে নেওয়া অবশ্য) ‌‘‌আসল অস্ত্র সমন্বয়’‌। সেটাও ‘‌কোনও এক’‌ রকস্টারেরই মস্তিষ্কপ্রসূত। যে লাইনটা আমাদের ভাবতে শিখিয়েছে মানুষের মধ্যে সমন্বয় গড়ে তুলতে পারলে প্রায় সব সমস্যাই মিটিয়ে ফেলা যায়। ব্লাডমেট্‌সের এই সাফল্যটাও তো রকস্টার তথা রকসমাজেরই অবদান। এসব কি ওই প্রবন্ধলেখক জানেন?‌
Abhijit Dasgupta
Abhijit Dasgupta Rupam and usha uthup broke the barrier in kolkata sukriti foundation’s aids awareness program. It was not easy to perform with aids patients in public for the first time.
Rupsha Dasgupta
Rupsha Dasgupta Mr Patrick Ghose isn’t aware about my family background. If I am involved with Bangla Rock and if I manage a rock band then social causes are bound to be involved.
Biprotim Ganguly
Biprotim Ganguly Another attention seeker perhaps. This is a trend now a days, if you want to come into limelight, thrash some shit out to the successful Musicians and bands in Kolkata. People still say, “Bangla Band er shafollyo koi..??”, see this and get some peace buggers. Bollywood, Tollywood ki kore?? Bangla Band fraternity onek onek beshi active on uniting for Social Cause.
Rupsha Dasgupta
Rupsha Dasgupta Na he seems like a very learned respected man. I don’t think he will seek for attention. It is just unawareness is what I feel.
Biprotim Ganguly
Biprotim Ganguly Why does these people have so much of hate about Bangla Band fraternity, r where is the responsibility of the Media house printing such stuff, is it not there responsibility to make the writer aware of the facts before printing out wrong information. Facts should be correct, what if someone new to the city reads the news today, what perception will this news lead him/her to ..??
Kausturi Bhattacharya
Kausturi Bhattacharya So much to know about the pompously bratty event manager before writing something so brazen in public. 🙂 So much to learn about the philanthropic side of the band before declaring about the non-contribution of the same in the society. 🙂
Let’s continue being disrespectful and blind towards everything. That’s the best idea!
Kinjal Bhattacharya
Kinjal Bhattacharya I’m surprised at Patrick da’s attack on me. But as far as opinion is concerned, to each his own. Maybe he is irked off coz the said meeting never happened. It was my mistake that it slipped my mind. I’m sure he was planning something life changing for the musicians and the society. I still want to be a part of his project if something like that happens. My entire team will be at his service.
Koushik Chakraborty এরা আসলে নিজেরাই জানেনা যে নিজে কি বলতে চাইছে
Ronny ভদ্রলোক মনে হচ্ছে শিক্ষিত, তবে বাংলা রকের বর্তমান অবস্থা সম্পর্কে উনি সিম্পলি ক্ল্যু-লেস। ওনার কোন ধারণাই নেই। উইকিপিডিয়া, ফেসবুক পোস্ট, এবং নিজের ব্যক্তিগত তিক্ততা মিশিয়ে একটি অর্থহীন উস্কানিমূলক কলাম লিখতে গেলে এরকমই হয়।

… I read the article by Patrick Ghose for #CalcuttaTimes , after I returned yesterday, from #nit#silchar, from a hugely successful Cactus concert. Some of you asked for my opinion, so I will be honest here…
1)it’s always very refreshing to come across an article that makes a really good read.this one is definitely one such good article.
2) I am actually quite “amused” at Patrick’s, point of view, In a good way.
3) I kind of agree, and this is completely a personal opinion, as how to “rock” music probably has no linguistic boundaries.I like the way he drew examples . Sibaji Baji Paul has waged war all his life in support of the same.
4) I am a peace loving person and I would rather dedicate all my time to music, and so I stand “with ” Patrick, NOT in favour of mud-slinging in public

But there was this question, whether “bangla rockers” are of any signifance at all.. That gets me to the last point

5) yes. I stand with Rupsha Dasgupta on this. I stand with a bunch of us, friends agreeing to disagree, who DID ( and who DO) make a difference.
Sorry Patrick, if it hadn’t been for us, and our predecessors like “Gautam Chattopadhyay ” ,the kids ” across the State”,this state, wouldn’t have picked up a guitar, or drums, or bass, or start writing their own songs. We gave them courage to ” not give a shit “. and we still dont give a shit .I remember people back then (considered to be of authority in music) discarded us, publicly in print n television. They have ALL gone. We stand tall. Also, regular “solo” vocalists and” bands”, across the state,cover our music.
Sorry Patrick, we do make a huuuuge difference. And we mean what we say through what we write and sing, and play and that is WHY, we have THE audience connection ,from professors to a college freshman.
Corporate and governments PAY for such events, as they are NOW, and possibly for two decades,as this has been as legit for Bangalis to have a good time, as much as a Dylan cover in a prestigious club in Calcutta.
just imagine,from #RoderAshayeAbhilasha to #BeBand to #PlugAndPlay to all that Rupsha mentioned ,we stand tall in ” actually ” DOING something about what we believe.
and lastly, we get written about, from front pages to the last in reputed newspapers, not only for things we do, but also for what others think we do.
Hahahaha. I had a good time reading the article.
I guess that says it all. But nevertheless, thank you all for making #banglarock a success.

 

Patrick Ghose Bumpy, thank you for your response. Perhaps all that you say in your last point is true. Perhaps not entirely. Some of it is like corporates doing mandatory CSR. What has happened is that you have missed the point I was making except to acknowledge that younger generations got into rock music. Sure. How responsible you guys were for that is moot. The fact is that none of you’ll are in any way involved in social change directly. On the fringes, of course. My column is an opinion piece. There is no compulsion to like what I write. But if I have made you respond then I must have touched a nerve. All the very best to all you musicians. No grudges. Just wish you would all do so much more. One last thing, why have all you guys stopped doing genuine protest music? With the history that Calcutta and Bengal has in this? Get my drift?
Mainak Bumpy Nag Chowdhury
Mainak Bumpy Nag Chowdhury Patrick, I think, that “music ” IS the tool or device that we resort to for making change. Music as a career is punishing as much as any demanding career,. We did provide enough evidence to print n electronic media for promoting bands. We are accepted as a parallel culture that didn’t exist in Bangalis before .
But yes. There is a lot I agree with in what you have pointed out. #Blahblahblah #nagorikbotam has been produced from the same anti-establishment belief that you pointed out. But I must admit, a lot more can be done.
Thank you, honestly, for voicing your opinion. We NEED a distant perspective and you provided us with one. Thank you
Patrick Ghose
Patrick Ghose Bumpy, cheers! I do believe the music you all perform is worthwhile. Needless to point out my own involvement in the early days. Yes, you do need to do more. Protest music at a level that takes every one in, earthy, grassroots, like folk. That could be a start to making changes. Don’t distance yourself from the politics and situations of the day. We need music to join the resistance.
Rupsha Dasgupta
Rupsha Dasgupta Patrick Ghose Sir, I don’t know you personally but since you are talking about protest songs I think I should point out that yes, we do a lot of protest songs, atleast Rupam does. Some examples are Hok Kolorob – JU (posted on Soundcloud directly https://soundcloud.com/banglarock/hok-kolorob-rupam-islam ), JNU (Shonghoti Janai – https://www.saavn.com/…/Not…/Songhoti-Jaanai/RlAFYUdnfEI ), Rohit Vemula (Vemular Chitthi – https://youtu.be/PZmLKaF_87w ) Mamta Agarwal incident in Kolkata ( https://youtu.be/omzsWxNiNB8 ) Harish Nanjappa incident ( the song is yet to be recorded but has been published in Rupam’s latest book), Tripura Bangladeshi Refugee Amuda Khatun ( Also on Rupam’s latest book – Biswo Rupam) Sweden’s refugee 12 year old kid Ahmed (Gustakhi Mafh – Also on Rupam’s latest book), Syria’s 5 year old kid – Omran ( Mrityu perono Jonmo gaan – performed in concerts and published in Rupam’s facebook page) the Gurugram incident of a woman carrying her dead child in the Metro (Andhar Chitro – to be published in a puja barshiki this year) and more… All these songs are performed regularly in Rupam’s solo concerts and have even been performed in some Fossils shows as well. We should also point out that we run a printed magazine called the Bangla Rock Magazine where we had done a cover issue on Protest Songs. Where Anjan Dutt, Kabir Suman, Anupam Roy and Rupam Islam spoke at length about protest songs. In that discussion it was quite evident that protest songs are a separate genre of music which might or might not coincide with rock n roll. There are examples of some great rock musicians who have never written/sung a single protest song. It is entirely one’s own discretion whether or not they want to do protest songs. But yes, social relevance is always present in rock songs and are present in most bangla rock songs as well – From Millennium to Mohakash, to Shasti to Shoytan – atleast Fossils songs have a lot of social relevance.


I would also request you to please see this video – https://youtu.be/tiObPajMtrs This is a project our fan club – Fossils Force has been doing for 4 consecutive years.

Patrick Ghose
Patrick Ghose Rupsha Dasgupta, I’m impressed and I think it’s wonderful Rupam and Fossils are doing protest music. You maybe need to get this music out to a lot more people? I’m very aware of the power of music and how it can effect change. My wish is that you take this music out of small circles and make it universal. I’m sure you will find many ways to do this. One of the best ways is to not bother about what returns come your way. Cheers!
Rupsha Dasgupta
Rupsha Dasgupta Patrick Ghose We have never bothered about returns hence all these songs are posted on social media first. Yes, we need a bigger reach, unfortunately may be our language is what prevents us from reaching a bigger mass. We are still trying out different ways to reach out. Thank you so much.
Kalyan Kamal Roy Only one small correction : There were people who picked up guitars to write and sing Bengali songs in mid eighties, who, for that matter, hadn’t heard Gautam Chattopadhyay or Mohin till then. Suman was also not on the scene. I draw my reference (though I could never possibly become a singer songwriter of any repute, but that is another point). Perhaps the only influence for people like us would be Ranjan Prasad (Prasad Ranjan Das) whose 1978 EP was a huge influence. Would like to read the article though.
Kalyan Kamal Roy Mainak Bumpy, one more, it would be a wrong statement to say that we were all writing Bangla Rock. Not actually. Influences were varied, from World Folk to American Country to Ballads, and even straight forward Bengali sweet tunes, but all with a guitar in hand.
Mainak Bumpy Nag Chowdhury
Mainak Bumpy Nag Chowdhury True. But you are talking about “then”. Now, it IS banglarock. Like I said, for me, personally, it’s good old rock n roll
Praggya For me, I believe in music being an essential component that makes one’s life holistic. It’s a catalyst for emotions that eventually leads into actions, sometimes that even redefine history. The spiritual and worldly balance, to me lies completely on the artist as to how he, she, they are presenting it. Hence I love music and I do not believe that it can be an object of politics and mudslinging – so let’s celebrate music! Only “TIME” will determine “doers ” from “people who watch it being done” and hence “Winners and Losers “.

Cemetery chronicles

First published in The Hindu on Sunday Magazine (print), 10 September 2017

Society > History & Culture >Rubric History & Culture

September 09, 2017 16:00 IST| Updated: September 10, 2017 01:03 IST

10SM1CEMETERY4

Oldest grave in Sola Ana Burial Ground   | Photo Credit: Patrick Sanjiv Lal Ghose

Kolkata’s buried heritage tells of a past that was as cosmopolitan as its present

Years before zombies became a trope for scaremongering, we relied on ghosts to curdle our blood. Kolkata, like any city with part of its history steeped in blood and gore, has its share of ghosts and fascinating urban legends. Whenever we would go looking for excitement in places reputed to be haunted, we would end up at the South Park Street cemetery. Back in our ghost-hunting days, it used to be a dilapidated, unkempt place, quite unlike how it looks today, now that it has been partially restored, with glass and concrete towers peering down on it.

I find the recent tourism venture of cemetery walks in Kolkata, restricted to the Christian ones, silly and perhaps intrusive. As a minority community, I suppose they are tolerant of such curiosity since a significant chunk of Kolkata’s history is interred in such places.

If you consult a map, you will notice that all of them, regardless of community, are all located on one side of the erstwhile Circular Road, once the outer reaches of the city, which has expanded since to cover these areas.

The Upper and Lower Circular Roads have a history going back to the 18th century. The Mahratta Ditch, which was a little less than five km long, was an incomplete moat built by the British in the mid 18th century to keep marauding Bargis, or Maratha warriors, at bay. The raiders never came and the moat was eventually filled up and extended to become the Upper and Lower Circular Roads.

Now named after two eminent Bengali scientists, Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray and Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose respectively, the road is far longer today than it used to be. The Circular Road was once considered the outer boundary of Calcutta; the burial grounds were located beyond it.

The exception to this rule is the oldest graveyard in the central business district, located within the confines of the Armenian Holy Church of Nazareth and containing the first grave from 1630.

Armenians have another graveyard, next to the third oldest Christian cemetery in Kolkata, established in 1840 and still in use.

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Photo by Debashish Bhaduri

Derozio & co.

The Christian cemetery in South Park Street, a short walk away from A.J.C. Bose Road, is the second oldest, in existence since 1767. Known as the Great Cemetery of Asia, it is no longer in use and has around 1,600 colonial-era tombs. It is at present in the third phase of renovation.

Opposite it was the North Park Street Cemetery, now replaced by a school, a hospital and a church. In fact, some 250 years ago, the posh Park Street was known as the Road to Burial Grounds.

In the South Park cemetery lies buried the Anglo-Indian Henry Louis Vivian Derozio, the first nationalist poet of modern India, who inspired an entire generation of free-thinking patriots, and died in 1831 aged just 22.

Two smaller cemeteries, one French and one Italian, also came up a little further west on Park Street. They can no longer be found today, long replaced by offices and schools. Edward Tiretta, an Italian adventurer, was buried in one of these. He is supposed to have been a companion of Casanova who fled Italy for some political offence.

He became the Superintendent of Streets and Buildings in Calcutta during the governor-generalship of Warren Hastings. The post must have been lucrative — he became so rich that he bought a bazaar in central Kolkata, which is still known by his name. The city’s first China town is located here, now famous as the place to go for an early breakfast of Chinese delicacies.

The Scottish Church cemetery, established in 1820 but no longer in use, is also on the other side of A.J.C. Bose Road. A conservation project by the Kolkata Scottish Heritage Trust is currently in progress here along with a local community outreach programme.

War graves

Far west of these places, adjoining the Kidderpore dockyards, is the extant St. Stephen’s Cemetery, once called the Sailors’ Cemetery, which was established in 1820. Between these two extremes of the city is the Bhowanipore Cemetery, best known for its Commonwealth War graves dating back to the World War I.

North Kolkata has the rather decrepit Manicktala Christian Cemetery where Tarulata Dutt, better known as Toru Dutt, is buried. Known for her poetry in English and French, she translated and compiled Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan from the Sanskrit. She died in 1877.

There are interesting stories about the Lower Circular Road cemetery. The land for it was acquired from Tipu Sultan. At the back, separated by a narrow street, is a gas crematorium and a tiny graveyard. Considered to be the first such crematorium in the world, it was built in the 19th century especially to cremate those who died from various contagious diseases. It fell into disuse because of erratic gas supply and objections from people in the neighbourhood. Members of Brahmo Samaj once used it for cremations; Jagadish Chandra Bose, was cremated here.

Buried here is Bengal’s first dramatist and 19th century poet, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, besides many other people of eminence. There’s Dr Austin Ghosh, the founder-director of ONGC; Harendra Coomar Mookerjee, the first Bengali governor of West Bengal; Leslie Claudius, India’s first Olympic hockey medallist; Reverend Lal Bihari Shah, who set up Calcutta Blind School, the first of its kind in India; John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune, who established India’s first secular educational institution for women in Calcutta in 1849 which is named after him.

On the city’s fringes are found the Muslim cemeteries. The oldest of these, more than two and a quarter centuries old, is the Gore Gariban Burial Ground, also known as Gobra and Tiljala burial ground. Eminent surbahar player and sitarist, Ustad Enayat Khan, and his son, Ustad Vilayat Khan, were buried here.

Buried for 16 annas

In Ekbalpore, not far from the Sailors’ Cemetery, is the Sola Ana Burial Ground. In 1829, a European lady who converted to Islam purchased this land and laid the foundations of a mosque. Later, two local gentlemen convinced the British to build a burial ground for Muslims here. The charges for burial were 12 annas for adults and 4 annas for children: hence the name. It is almost two centuries old. There is another kabristan for children in South Kolkata’s Topsia area, right next to a Hindu burial ground. Another Hindu burial ground is in Taratala, in the west of the city.

The first recorded death of a Jew in Calcutta was in 1812. The Jews have their cemetery in North Kolkata, in Narkeldanga, and it houses the grave of Elias Moses Duek Cohen, a Commissioner of Calcutta Corporation and a minister in two of the city’s synagogues, who helped found the Jewish Girls’ School. The grave of David Nahoum, the proprietor of the eponymous and probably the country’s only Jewish bakery in Kolkata’s New Market, is here too.

If one travels a little to the west, the Parsi Dakhma, the Tower of Silence, in Beleghata stands in a wooded area. Further west and a bit to the south are the Chinese cemeteries — six of them scattered in the general area of Tangra, famous for the Chinese tanneries and now the destination for crowds looking for ‘authentic’ Chinese food. They are more than a century old and still in use.

A journalist once unkindly remarked that there was nothing to Kolkata other than its heritage and its glorious past. In the burial grounds of the city, this past lives on. A marker of the cosmopolitan entity in the truest sense of the term that the city was and still is. Inclusive, secular, pluralistic, it makes space for any and all, regardless of creed and community. Generations of Muslims and Hindus have been the main caretakers of burial places that belong to other faiths. If heritage must signify something, let it signify this rich tradition of harmonious living in these fractious times.

 

Patrick Sanjiv Lal Ghose

The author, who lives in Kolkata, keeps rediscovering it, often with wonder.

Can we still call ours a learned city?

First published in Calcutta Times (print edition), 4 September 2017

http://m.timesofindia.com/city/kolkata/can-we-still-call-ours-a-learned-city/articleshow/60357733.cms

TNN | Sep 4, 2017, 11:42 IST

Education

Every now and then, posts circulate on social media giving us `amazing facts’ about Calcutta, or the 10 great things that you can’t miss seeing, doing, eating in this city , and similar feel-good writings. A blog written some years ago by a past editor of a city newspaper titled `Why Calcutta Is The Best City In The World’, still makes the rounds. Do we need reminders to stay on the right side of optimism because we see decay and doom all around us? Or is it merely some misplaced, juvenile pride?

There is plenty to be proud of in the people and the institutions of this city.By institutions I mean both the formal and the informal. For instance, many might agree that the Indian Coffee House provides equally useful learning as do the universities and colleges that surround it. It is true that the Bengali, and here used as an inclusive generic word for all who live in Bengal, are people who pay an inordinate amount of attention to learning. Unfortunately, that has deteriorated into rote, mass-scale education today to qualify students for employment. There is much to be proud of in the learning Calcutta offers. The first modern university of India established in 1857. Bethune -the first school in the country for women in 1849 to later become Asia’s oldest college for women since 1879. Calcutta Civil Engineering College set up in 1856 in Sibpur, now known as Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology .Along with Jadavpur University set up in 1906, both of these are India’s oldest centres of engineering learning. Calcutta Madrasah College, 1781, today Aliah University. Calcutta Medical College and Hospital since 1835. 1894, Calcutta Blind School, the first of its kind in the country . The Asiatic Society, 1784. The first IIM in the country since 1961. The Indian Statistical Institute, 1931. The Bose Institute, 1917. Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, 1949. Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, 1876. Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, 1935. The Government College of Art and Craft since 1854. Hazra Law College, 1909. The list is exhaustive when schools for primary and secondary education are included.

ENLIGHTENED THINKING

It is obvious education led to enlightened thinking. The Bengal Renaissance which changed the course of our nation’s history and is still being stud ied, is a direct result of it. Education liberated the mind leading to major advances and developments in the sciences, the humanities, the arts. And India’s Independence. A mere glance at those who excelled in their fields, including Nobel Prize winners, informs us how many achieved what they did in Calcutta alone. Yet today , our students seek education in other parts of the country and the world. Education nowadays is imparted through tutorial classes, an extra-curricular activity that has assumed far greater importance than formal schools. This may seem to be unfair generalisation, but it is the ugly truth. Over the years, things went awry .

There is no doubt the education system in our country needs a serious makeover. As an occasional teacher in some private institutes, I have seen the drought in student minds from every schooling background. In 2016, The Times of India wrote on the tutorial business in Kota, Rajasthan: “These breakdowns are all too common, across a city that reinvented itself in the late ’90s as coaching hub for the hyper-competitive engineering and medical school exams. Roughly 1.6 lakh teenagers from the surrounding states flock to Kota’s coaching institutes every year, paying between`50,000 and a lakh for annual tuition… They may desperately dream of IIT, but many of them are unprepared for the psychological costs.Kota has now become a byword for student suicides.”

 

Do hand-pulled rickshaws exist just to tickle our fancy?

First published in Calcutta Times, 28 August 2017

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/do-hand-pulled-rickshaws-exist-just-to-tickle-our-fancy/articleshow/60260110.cms

TNN | Aug 28, 2017, 17:05 IST

Rickshaw

I can hear the distinctive sound of those wheels rattling over, not cobblestones, but uneven tarmac around 3 am every night. I happened to be awake the first time, and then come awake every night with that slow clatter of large wooden wheels rotating at the speed of an exhausted man walking.That is the time when there are no vehicles roaring down the lane, no human noise but those rickshaw wheels. Where does he come from, or where is he going at that time of night? The iconic hand-pulled rickshaw that so unfortunately is a representative image of my Calcutta. Like the Howrah Bridge and the Victoria Memorial. I have always been dismayed by these three typical images which supposedly identify Calcutta. Every photographer, amateur and professional, reverts to this trio of archetypical imagery , as do organisations who profess their Calcuttaness. Dilip Banerjee is an exceptional journalist photographer I have had the pleasure and privilege to have as a colleague in a couple of the media houses I worked in over the years. Born and brought up in Calcutta, he presently resides in Delhi, but has never forsaken his roots. His documentary, On His Last Leg, was screened at Nandan on August 18. With English narration and imagery that for me seemed to be targeted at a foreign audience, his film on the plight of Calcutta’s rickshawala, about 26 minutes long, was typical of that imagery I do not care for. Yet, it was a film that bravely attempted to be sensitive, and one that raised uncomfortable questions about the migrant people who ply their trade on Calcutta’s streets.

CARRIED AS A DEADWEIGHT

There are persons like me who do not care to be carried as a deadweight by people, especially those far more disadvantaged than me. And there are others who couldn’t care less because it is a convenience for them. In 2005, the government of Poschimbongo stopped issuing new rickshaw licenses and renewing old ones so what you see on the streets today are those which are constantly being repaired to be functional. Hand-pulled rickshaws do not come under the purview of the all India Motor Vehicles Act and are termed a municipal matter.In Calcutta, they have been confined to specific roads and certain parts of the city by the traffic police who, understandably, do not want slow moving vehicles on the main and arterial roads, precious space our city severely falls short of in any case.

A section of our citizenry claims hand-pulled rickshaws as our heritage, oitijjho, and wants them around until the powers-that-be can offer viable alternative solutions for their livelihood. At this point, it is worth remembering that hand-pulled rickshaws were introduced sometime in the 19th century, soon after they were invented in Japan, to convey the wealthy and powerful. There is no significant change in the attitude of those who continue to use this conveyance. This mode of transportation simply replaced the palanquin with the advanced technology of the times, and continues to perpetuate and exploit class differences. I find the simpering nostalgia some people evoke to be sickening when they say how rickshaws were their saviours during the flooded monsoon streets of Calcutta, how one trusted the rickshawalas to carry children back and forth from school, and how one, superciliously I might add, provided a means of living to these migrants from poverty-stricken Bihar who could do nothing else.

FEEDING OUR PRIDE

It is also abysmally sad that our government, past and present, claims to have considered many solutions to rehabilitate rickshaw pullers, but continues to endorse this means of livelihood by simply looking away as they pass laws that make us, who are in a position of advantage, feel good. The rickshawalas have given us their blood, sweat and tears, their very lives, becoming the unfortunate victims of a false heritage that feeds our pride. With no practicable solution, and an enforced diminution, could it be a ploy to be rid of this heritage, without actually doing anything about it? Dilip’s film ends with exactly that awful question.

What is even worse is that cycle rickshaws and the new e-rickshaws are proven to be dangerous and unsafe modes of conveyance, yet are touted as alternative means of livelihood for hand-pulled rickshawalas. It is why these alternatives are restricted to the outer, and obviously neglected areas of the city. (A bitter laugh should follow that sentence). Like all matters of heritage and history in Calcutta, here is another grey area. We pay excessive lip service, but neglect heritage buildings to let them come crashing down, trams transformed to token tourist transport, hand-pulled rickshaws become icons, and they all seem to exist merely to tickle a photographer’s fancy.

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In 1946, post-World War 2 USA, a song called The rickety rickshaw man written by Ervin Drake and sung by crooner Eddy Howard became immensely popular, proving to be the composer’s biggest hit. Apparently composed in one go while lying in the bathtub, the song is full of crude racial stereotyping and begins: “There’s a coolie named O’ Chulee Runs a rickety rickshaw south of Peking…” If you want to listen, it is available on YouTube.

 

History reveals the many versions of Calcutta

First published in Calcutta Times, 21 August 2017

For some reason they never uploaded this on their website. The picture below is mine.

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Winston Churchill famously said, history is written by the victors. On the other hand, the American author Robert Fulghum said, I believe imagination is stronger than knowledge, that myth is more potent than history.

The city of Calcutta’s history was first written by its founders, once Clive won it back from Siraj ud-Daulah. To Siraj, Calcutta was just a grouping of villages and a militarized trading outpost of the British East India Company; Murshidabad his capital, was far more important. He was mostly upset with the British attempting to strengthen Fort William v.1 without his say-so apart from a couple of other conspiracy theories he harboured, and so decided to assert his supremacy. After defeating the British and causing the Black Hole of Calcutta, he even renamed it Alinagar. This automatically leads to the legend of Calcutta’s name. Was it or was it not a corruption of a local name? India Today, in their special millennium issue of June 2000, rather pompously proclaimed that the renaming of Calcutta “springs from frustration and an inferiority complex rather than genuine pride in heritage”. The truth in that statement is moot. Those pro-Calcutta love the legends that accompany its name and those who are pro-Kolkata believe that history is written by the victors. It is certainly true that imagination is stronger than knowledge.

History, based on the recording and documentation of actual events and incidents, and by other previous works, is also influenced greatly by legend, fables, and personal accounts. The writers of history will of course tend to put their own spin to the tale, interpreted through the veil of prevailing circumstances at the time of writing. Which is why today we have numerous attempts to rewrite the history of our city and our nation. The victors now making amends. And amendments.

At a time when Calcutta was being established to shortly become the second city of the British Empire, it was only the victors, the rulers, who documented, often in minor and petty detail, all the happenings. Historical accounts by those other than Europeans paid scant attention to this riverine port city. We tend to base our knowledge of Calcutta on such documentation. Yet even in such cases there are contrarian accounts. Take for instance, the Black Hole of Calcutta. There are British from those times and now, as well as Indian historians, who claim that the account of John Zephaniah Holwell, one of the handful of survivors of the infamous incident of 1756, was unreliable and exaggerated in its recounting. What is now relegated to the back pages of history is that Holwell was probably one of the first Indophiles. He was obviously a learned man and may have been the first to promote the idea of Hinduism as a religion, a nationality, and a philosophy and has eloquently detailed his understanding in a work he published. In it he exhorts Englishmen not to apply their own standards to Indians.

At the same time, Siraj ud-Daulah, now considered by historians of the Indian sub-continent as one of the first to resist British ascendancy in India and hence ranked up there with freedom fighters even though he failed, was a megalomaniac, of cruel nature, with a historian of those times commenting that he could make “no distinction between vice and virtue, he carried defilement wherever he went”. I wonder how historians in the future will view many of our present day leaders who obviously share the same character traits as Siraj ud-Daulah.

The history of Calcutta they say, is preserved in its architecture of the colonial rulers and of the local populace. These buildings seem to exist in a time warp and are full of memories that transmogrify the real. History then becomes the stuff of legends, personal tales, to give us many versions of our Calcutta. I am often told that Calcutta has nothing but its heritage and is averse to change. The change that people desire is tangible, of economic advantages and favourable political dispensation. The change we should not want is that which makes us think we are a mono-cultural people aspiring for a singular identity. We are confident in knowing who we are and relishing our differentness even as we sustain our real Calcutta heritage of being secular, inclusive, pluralistic, able to maintain a communal and social amity to be emulated.

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In 1958, two Germans composed a song, which after much retitling came to be called ‘Calcutta’. Later, two Americans wrote English lyrics and it’s better known as ‘Ladies of Calcutta’. It stayed at #1 on the charts for two weeks and has had many others covering it.

And then there’s the probashi Bangali, Sawan Dutta, who has been doing these rather enjoyable song videos on cooking Bengali food. She sings ‘Ode To Calcutta’ in which she kind of tells the city’s story through its many cuisines. Check out both these Calcutta odes on YouTube.

Not only netas and babus: Pvt sector is new fountain head of corruption

Published in http://www.firstpost.com/business/not-only-netas-and-babus-pvt-sector-is-new-fountain-head-of-corruption-821165.html

By Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and Patrick SL Ghose

Mention the word “corruption” and images of sleazy netas and babus are conjured up in the popular imagination. Corruption is typically associated with politicians and bureaucrats who run government organisations, spearheaded by individuals who abuse their discretionary powers to enrich themselves at the expense of the public at large.

But at least two studies that recently entered the public domain indicate that corruption in the Indian private sector has come of age. This is what has been highlighted in two reports prepared under the aegis of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) – interestingly, this particular UN agency deals with corporate corruption. These reports were prepared despite the non-cooperation of representatives of private firms.

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Private sector corruption is apparently no longer confined to isolated cases of unethical business practises – for instance, Enron or Satyam. The world body has contended that corruption in privately controlled enterprises in India became pervasive as the working of the country’s economy was liberalised since the early-1990s.

Importantly, the UNODC points out that while there are many laws in the country that are aimed at checking corruption, “India has no specific legislation addressing corruption in the private sector”. It calls for strengthening of existing laws and enactment of new legislation to, among other things, protect whistleblowers.

The first report titled Corporate Integrity – India: Incentives for corporate integrity in accordance with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption “which addresses a larger umbrella of private sector integrity issues”, states: “The opening up of the Indian economy in the 1990s, which led to the free inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI), not only increased the role and importance of the private sector in the Indian economy but has also heightened the need for focus on business ethics and corporate integrity.” (The full report can be accessed here).

The second report of the UN body, India: Probity in Public Procurement – Transparency, objectivity and competition in Public Private Partnership projects in line with United against Corruption, which has been released simultaneously on 17 May, “… seeks to reduce vulnerabilities to corruption in the intersection between the private sector and the State under public private partnership projects”. (The second report can be accessed here)

Since May 2011, India has been one among 161 countries that are party to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption which draws attention to the need for preventing and addressing private sector corruption. “The purpose of this project is to create awareness on the need for a system of incentives, both within organisations and in the competitive landscape they work in, so as to strengthen an environment where companies are more willing to self-report an incident of corruption”.

While the studies observe that “India is well on the way to achieving comprehensive legislative coverage for probity in public procurement in India”, the country had no “specific legislation addressing corruption in the private sector.” In fact the Ministry of Home Affairs is contemplating an amendment in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to include bribery as an offence within the private sector among other unethical and fraudulent practices being followed.

The bill to amend the IPC also contains provisions for “the investigative roles of selected organisations to look at private sector management”. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs, which has drafted the Companies Bill, 2012, seeks to criminalise a number of offences. The government has also drafted the ‘Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of Public International Organisations Bill 2011’.

The UNODC studies point out that what “currently exists are broad offences against different legislations” even as “amendments and enactments remain pending”.

There are several recommendations contained in the Corporate Integrity report. These include “a need to create legal liability of legal entities along with the liability of natural and legal persons who are proved to have committed acts of corruption. This liability of an entity must be different and additional to the liability of the person.

“Secondly, what is required are legal provisions by which there are reduced sanctions, punishments and penalties for self-disclosure or for cooperating with law enforcement during investigations, such as commercial and operational sanctions, legal sanctions, and reputational sanctions.

“Thirdly, it is important to include in legislation the requirement for companies beyond a certain threshold to have a whistleblower mechanism or some form of internal reporting channels of corruption, as well as some form of external audit. Protection of witnesses, experts and victims is also a much required area that needs to be addressed”.

The UNODC calls for better sensitisation of personnel in privately-owned enterprises. The first report states: “High targets and tight deadlines, low orientation of the management’s focus on ethical issues along with a highly dynamic and competitive market are some of the reasons cited for corruption in the Indian business sector. Most companies have a code of ethics, but there is very little adherence as they remain voluntary codes. The challenges to small and medium sized companies in an environment such as this are even greater”.

Even as the report acknowledges that strong legislation is effective only with effective implementation, it has recommended “a balance between incentives and sanctions to strengthen corporate integrity”.

In the light of such observations it is not surprising that the UNODC has found the need to insert what might amount to be a disclaimer: “Both research teams faced several challenges during the process of eliciting information and opinions. Responses were not forthcoming from the selected entities on queries about corruption and areas vulnerable to corruption. Most entities were silent, reticent or cautious in their responses. Whatever little was received by way of responses around practice were more statements of intent rather than how these are translated into practice on the ground.”

The research teams thereafter “undertook a course correction and focused on obtaining information on practical difficulties encountered” and gleaned information from official reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and the Central Information Commission.

The first UNODC report repeatedly stressed the need to provide legal protection to whistleblowers. It added that the “reluctance and fear to talk about corruption is an important area that needs to be addressed”.

In 2002, the then Department of Company Affairs (DCA) under the Ministry of Finance and Company Affairs had set up a commission headed by Naresh Chandra (former Cabinet Secretary and India’s Ambassador to the United States) to examine various corporate governance issues, including regulatory mechanisms to monitor actions of a company’s management and its directors to mitigate risks which may stem from the misdeeds of corporate officers.

The GOUNOD highlights a particular observation made by the Naresh Chandra commission, namely, that “unlike in many other countries, the need for strong and effective corporate governance in India does not emerge from financial crisis; it stems from increasing international competition resulting from the liberalisation or opening (up) of (the) economy, and several large scams…”

One can only hope that the saying attributed to Samuel Johnson-“The road to hell is paved with good intentions”-does not ring true.

It may not be inappropriate here to quote from F Scott Fitzgerald’s book The Great Gatsby, “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy. They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

Is the Indian corporate sector serious about cleaning up the mess within?

Published Date: May 28, 2013 05:41 pm | Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 09:12 pm