Category Archives: Inspiration / Positive News and Features

Put your feet up and let ‘Dr Sil’ take charge

Many doctors recommend a visit to Sil over surgery

Subhendu Sil attends to a client. / Picture by Subhendu Chaki

As I settle into the client’s chair in Subhendu Sil’s little chamber, I feel a bit like a distraught visitor entering 221B Baker Street. A sudden revelation about a part of me that I had not even noticed throws me off my guard.

“Do you wear hawai chappals with plastic straps that pinch you near your toes?” is the first thing Sil asks, with the sharp precision of a detective. Yes, I do. The hard plastic, which does not stretch, has bitten into the flesh and has calloused my feet, at a spot near the heels. I need to give up on the chappals immediately, says Sil briskly, his alert eyes scrutinising my feet, but his face, unlike Holmes’s, betrays a gentleness and a serenity that are striking.

Sil, 48, has been looking at people’s feet in this room for 20 years. A Bata employee, he is a chiropodist. He treats various foot problems, some of them extremely serious. His healing touch is so well-known that people queue up to meet him; sometimes they have to wait for a month for an appointment.

His chamber is located at the Hindustan Park branch of Bata on Rashbehari Avenue. It is a small, slightly cramped square room, measuring 49 sqft, and is tucked away behind stacks of shoes at the back of the store. It has a wall-to-wall mirror on one side to make him examine his clients’ feet better, two unassuming chairs, a generous porcelain basin with taps for soaking the feet in, a shelf for the toolkit and a wooden stool covered in red for Sil to sit on.

Two slender shelves with shoes border the mirror on the two sides. The only decoration in the room — some plastic flowers.

In this room Sil is to be found almost always, bent over his clients’ feet, almost as if over a musical instrument, but working with his toolbox, patiently removing layer after layer of dead skin to relieve his clients of deep-rooted corns or calloused feet. A resident of Sonarpur, he starts his work at 10.30am every day, and works till late evening, with a small lunch break in between.

Corns, particularly, can cause immense pain and immobility. A visit to Sil can take time, but the intervention is minimal. When he is done, his client’s relief is enormous. Many of them leave the room blessing him. And keep recommending him to everyone.

Corns are the most common problem. People also come to him for treatment of in-growing toenails, calloused skin removal and hard skin removal.

Diabetic feet need special care. Any procedure becomes more complicated with the possibility of bleeding. Many diabetes patients come to him for foot care. “Warts are also an increasing problem,” he says. Though most of his clients are over 50, many children visit him too.

Sil is reluctant to talk about the effects of his work, but he does mention two or three instances when he felt particularly rewarded. “One client, who had 12 to 14 corns in her two feet, told me that after coming here, she could visit her mother’s house after 15 years.”

Many doctors recommend a visit to Sil over surgery.

After joining Bata in 1990 as a salesman, Sil was chosen to work as a chiropodist in 1999. Bata was reputed for this specialised work. Both Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi would be attended by Bata chiropodists.

“It is really a service that the organisation offers,” says Sil. It is a paid service, but it does not burn holes into pockets.

To those without a specific problem, Sil offers a pedicure. It is quite unlike a beauty parlour treatment; again, layers of dead skin are peeled off, and a great peace seems to descend on earth. “You will sleep well tonight,” says Sil, after my pedicure is done.

How many people has he seen in this room since he started?

Sil smiles. “Let me see. I see about seven to eight persons a day. In a month about 200 people.” He calculates quickly. “That would make about 48,000 people in 20 years.”

That is a substantial population.

Currently he is the only Bata chiropodist working in Calcutta, but others are being trained.

He joined Bata in 1990 when he was still in college and was chosen to be a chiropodist nine years later from five candidates, he was told later, because of his patience. He was trained by the organisation.

But patience is only one of his virtues.

The foot presents many challenges. Touching it can be an act of intimacy. At the same time, given our social and historical contexts, touching the feet also means an act of obeisance, or worship, or even abjection, as attested by so much of Hindu iconography, or Indian literatures, art or cinema. Tagore’s works are full of feet being touched.

Padasheba (foot care — pedicure) is a great tradition, and an intensely personal one.

Sil negotiates this complexity well. He is completely engaged when he looks at a pair of feet, but is discreet, and distant, in a most friendly way.

He says his greatest reward is the relief he brings to his clients. Since he sits for so long every day — he has one full day and one half day off every week — he has to exercise regularly, twice every day.

After seeing thousands of feet, has he gained any special insight into human nature? If the face is the mirror of the mind, does the foot say anything?

“No, the feet are just feet,” he says emphatically. Then adds, as an afterthought: “Even the face may not say anything about a person. How can you know anything from a pair of feet?”

source: http://www.telegraphindia.com / The Telegraph, online edition / Home> West Bengal / by Chandrima S. Bhatacharya in Calcutta / August 19th, 2019

Story of a young mountaineer

Piyali Basak, a 26-year-old mountaineer may have limited means but she more than makes up with her drive

Piyali Basak, the 26-year-old mountaineer from Chandernagore, a municipal town 50 kilometres from Calcutta / Source: Piyali Basak

BREAKING: Heartbreak. This Wednesday, Piyali Basak was 500 metres away from the summit of Mt Everest when she had to abort her attempt and return to base camp. She had run out of oxygen. She had run out of funds to purchase refills. She had run into a terrible jam on the final slope.

Now, rewind: The call record shows a missed call from an unknown number. When I call back, a woman’s frantic voice answers at first ring. “Sir, Piyali has made it to the top. She tried to call you several times. You didn’t respond…” The person at the other end is Ratna, mother of Piyali, the 26-year-old mountaineer from Chandernagore, a municipal town 50 kilometres from Calcutta. Piyali has successfully scaled Mount Manaslu (8,163m), the world’s eighth highest peak, in western Nepal.

The last time I met Piyali, she was running from pillar to post trying to raise money to fund her attempt. “For nearly two months, I visited corporate offices, met ministers, political leaders and heads of charitable organisations. But I couldn’t gather even half the money,” she had said.

Piyali belongs to a lower middle-class family; means are limited, responsibilities are Himalayan. But then, there is the siren call of the mountains. Basak Bari, Piyali’s ancestral home, is in Chandernagore’s Kantapukur locality. It is not very difficult for me to find the two-storey house. Piyali has given clear directions up to a certain point. “Then you have to ask for the girl who climbs mountains,” she had said.

The living-cum-dining room is spacious but stuffed with trophies, medals and mountaineering gear. There are about a dozen water colour paintings on the walls; these show snowy peaks, yaks. There are red and yellow prayer flags strung on a long string. We are exchanging pleasantries with Piyali and her mother, Ratna, when we hear someone groan in pain. “My husband,” says Ratna apologetically and rushes inside.

Piyali’s father is a cerebral stroke patient. Once he had his own little business, but it went bust when Piyali was still in primary school. The stroke came close on the heels of the shock, rendering him partially paralysed. Some years later he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. As Piyali is the eldest of three siblings, the responsibility of running the household fell on her.

Ratna tells me that her daughter’s attraction for mountaineering was born of a textbook account of the expedition of Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary. “She was in Class VI then,” says Ratna. It seems, those days, the family would undertake a pilgrimage a year — Kedarnath, Gomukh, Amarnath. That was around the time when Piyali joined a local rock-climbing club.

Like many mountaineers in Bengal, Piyali started with Susunia, a 450m hill in southern Bengal. To keep herself in shape, she started taking Taekwondo and swimming lessons. After graduating in mathematics, she took basic and advanced courses at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling.

Her first major expedition was to Mt Mulkila — a 6,517m peak in Himachal Pradesh — in 2010. Says the five-foot-nothing mountaineer with the physique of a twig, “I climbed efficiently and effortlessly; it seemed as if my body was built for this.” The following year, she tried to summit Mt Kamet, a peak in the Garhwal region, which stands even taller at 7,756m. “We had to cancel the trip after we ran out of food,” she says. Some other niggling issues, according to her, were poor quality gear, worn-out tents and recycled oxygen cylinders. That failure left its mark.

Soon after, a team led by Debashis Biswas and Basanta Singha Roy from Krishnangar made the first successful civilian expedition to Mt Everest from the state. An enthused Piyali joined an advanced mountaineering training course at the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) in New Delhi. Some months later, equipped with her new skills, she set off for Mt Bhagirathi 2 (6,512m). But the all-women team faced an unforeseen challenge in the infamous cloudburst of Uttarakhand. Says Piyali, “We nearly got blown away at the summit camp, just a few hundred metres from the peak. We remained stranded for four days. Our equipment, food, everything got buried in snow.” When she returned home, her relations and friends advised her to give up climbing.

Piyali was not entirely persuaded but she was now more focused on preparing for competitive exams for government jobs. In 2014, she passed the School Service Commission exam and joined as a teacher in Kanailal Vidyamandir near her home. But the mountaineering bug returned to bite her. She met Biswas and then Chhanda Gayen, the first civilian woman from Bengal to climb Mt Everest, during a felicitation programme. “Chhanda shared with the audience her experience of climbing Mt Everest and Lhotse. I got to know that she practises martial arts and swimming,” says Piyali. Soon after, Chhanda went for an expedition to Mt Kanchenjungha and lost her life in an avalanche.

Piyali returned to the IMF and took an advanced leadership training and, thereafter, undertook an expedition to an unnamed peak (over 6,500m) near the Bara Shigri glacier in Himachal, with an injured leg. She says, “That is when I realised that climbing works like a drug for me. I forget all pain, every hardship.” The newfound confidence pushed her to join another expedition, to Mt Tinchenkang (6,010m) this time. “I made it to the summit despite a terrible stomach cramp,” she says. When she consulted a doctor upon returning home, it turned out to be a huge uterine tumour. Ratna says, “While she was being wheeled to the operation theatre, she asked if she would still be able to climb Mt Everest.” Adds her sister, Tamali, “After the surgery the doctor called and showed me the huge tumour she had been harbouring inside her body for perhaps a year. He said he had no idea how she climbed a 6,000m peak with it in her body.” That year her father suffered a second cerebral stroke.

The next two years there was little time for summits, there were personal obstacles to overcome. In 2017, she missed an expedition as her father was still in hospital. Her finances were a shambles. She was also unhappy with the selection procedures of expedition organisers. And that is why she decided to go solo, plan and organise her own expeditions. With a new resolve she set out to explore the Nepal Himalayas.

Thame is a small Sherpa village in Nepal, close to the base camp of Mt Everest. Piyali had been told that it was the birthplace of Norgay. “During the trip (in 2017) I met quite a few Sherpas on their way back home from expeditions to Mt Everest. I even stayed in a Sherpa’s hut. They were quite impressed by my performance; someone even asked me whether I am actually a Sherpa,” she says with a wide grin.

In Kathmandu, she stopped at the office of Seven Summit Treks, a trekking and expedition company led by Mingma Sherpa, the youngest person to climb all mountains over 8,000 metres. When she made enquiries about an expedition to Mt Everest, it turned out that the season had ended. Besides, the estimated cost was around Rs 26 lakh. It was beyond her means. Mingma suggested she consider an expedition to Mt Manaslu, that would cost less than half the amount.

Piyali had initially jumped at the idea, but in time she realised that even arranging half the fund was no easy task. She decided to take a personal loan from a government bank. When she reached the Seven Summit Treks office on September 2 that year, she had collected barely half of required amount. “Initially, they were reluctant to take me but I put up at a dharamshala and kept badgering them. Finally, they decided to allow me to join the expedition on a loan,” she says. She shopped for cheap equipment. Eventually she hired some, and bought some used gear discarded by other mountaineers. She hitchhiked to the base camp on a truck amid pouring rain and a hailstorm. And when she reached, she discovered that most of the 200 climbers had already acclimatised themselves. “Not only did I not get any chance to acclimatise; on the contrary a respiratory infection I had contracted in Calcutta was worse,” she says.

But once she started climbing, she says, these things became a blur. She forgot everything and reached Camp Number 3 ahead of most climbers. Two Polish climbers were impressed by her spirit and skills. They told her about the legendary Polish mountaineer, Wanda Rutkiewicz, who had climbed eight 8,000-metre peaks.

On September 27, at 2.30pm, Piyali made it to the summit along with Sherpa Pemba Thendup. On her way back she slipped into a crack in the thin ice. “The Sherpa refused to help me. He said: ‘You will have to get out on your own if you want to go solo for tougher expeditions’,” recalls Piyali. Eventually, Piyali heaved herself out of the crevasse and trekked to the base camp. When she returned to Kathmandu, she was handed the summit certificate. But by then she had spent all her money.

As she boarded the train from Raxaul to Howrah, she was exhausted but happy.

source: http://www.telegraphindia.com / The Telegraph, online edition / Home> People / by Prasun Chaudhuri / May 25th, 2019

The invisible women in science

Bibha Chowdhuri and Jocelyn Bell Burnell were denied the Nobel, and Donna Strickland was denied a Wikipedia page


Bibha Chowdhuri developed the basic principles of identifying new particles by studying their tracks in cloud chambers and on photographic emulsion plates. Illustration by Suman Choudhury

One evening during my MSc nuclear physics practicals, a frail, slightly stooped lady with round gold-rimmed glasses and dressed in a spotlessly white attire enquired of me as to what I was doing. She was Bibha Chowdhuri, the lady who had been denied the Nobel Prize even though she had been the first to discover the pi-meson (pion).

Chowdhuri developed the basic principles of identifying new particles by studying their tracks in cloud chambers and on photographic emulsion plates. Accelerators were unknown in those days. The only source of high energy particles were the cosmic rays. As a student of D.M. Bose, she studied cosmic ray showers during 1938-1942 in Darjeeling. After meticulously exposing and observing half-tone photographic plates, she found new tracks created by a new subatomic particle with 200 times the electronic mass. This was the pion!

The results were published in Nature. Chowdhuri and Bose could not access full-tone photographic plates because World War II was raging at the time. Using the same technique, but with high quality full-tone photographic plates, the British physicist, Cecil Frank Powell, identified the pion at least four years later and won the Nobel in 1950. Powell, however, acknowledged the work of Chowdhuri and Bose.

Subsequently, Chowdhuri went to Manchester and obtained her doctorate degree in 1952. She was a researcher right till her death in 1991. She was never made a member of any national academy of sciences; she was not mentioned in a compendium of 98 women scientists edited by a Padma Shri winner. A handful of people have come to know about her only recently — thanks to Bose Institute authorities and a recent biography by R. Singh and S.C. Roy. But Chowdhuri never complained about anything.

In November 1988, I met Antony Hewish while visiting Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad. Hewish’s winning of the Nobel in 1974 (along with Martin Ryle) was mired in controversy because his Irish student, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, had not been a co-recipient. Her discovery of the first pulsar changed the picture of the universe and served as a pointer to later discoveries of black holes and gravitational radiation. Pulsars are born when a massive star exhausts its fuel, its outer layers explode in a supernova and the core collapses. For core masses greater than three solar masses we get a black hole. For lesser masses, the huge pressure and density fuse electrons and protons into neutrons. Some neutron stars, spinning at huge speed and with powerful magnetic fields, accelerate local electrons and produce radiation, which is observed as periodic flashes (‘pulses’) by distant observers. There are millions of these exotic objects in our galaxy alone. Bell Burnell discovered the signals in 1967 by analysing voluminous data from the Cambridge dipole array telescope. Strangely, Hewish always maintained that Bell Burnell discovered the pulsar first. Her cryptic reaction was that the Nobel Committee does not consider graduate students for the prize. Last year, she was awarded the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. To counter the existing ‘unconscious bias’, she donated the prize money of three million dollars to the Institute of Physics in Britain to fund scholarships for women and marginalized groups.

Donna Strickland developed a major portion of the physics associated with laser surgery. She was awarded the 2018 Physics Nobel Prize along with two others. She is the third woman to win the Physics Nobel in 118 years. The medical and industrial applications of her technique are infinite and will influence future technology. Yet, she was denied a Wikipedia page before she won her Nobel although she has been an authority on lasers since the mid-1990s. Strickland sees herself as a scientist — not as a woman in science. Dignity of an unusual kind is at work here again.

source: http://www.telegraphindia.com / The Telegraph, online edition / Home> Opinion / by Debashis Gangopadhyay / April 01st, 2019

The Winners scripts a success story in Kolkata Police

The Winners, an all-women patrolling team by the Kolkata Police, was launched in July 2018, with an aim to check crimes against women and make public places safer for them.

“Oye, akeli hai kya? Chalegi park me? 300 dunga. Arey bol na, jyada chahiye? (Hey, will you come with me to Park, I will pay you 300 bucks. If you want more, tell me,” said a man in his twenties to a woman near Mohor Kunja Park under Hastings police station area around four months ago. The offender had no clue that he was messing with the wrong person. Arpita Mallik, a constable with the Kolkata Police and a member of the team The Winners, made her first arrest that day.

The Winners, an all-women patrolling team by the Kolkata Police, was launched in July 2018, with an aim to check crimes against women and make public places safer for them. The team with personnel trained in self-defence has so far apprehended more than 200 “Road Romeos”.

“I was on duty in civil dress. When the man teased me, I asked him to wait and grabbed him by the collar. He put up stiff resistance but was soon surrounded by a group of policewomen and he started apologising. We arrested him and I felt good,” Arpita said with a wide smile. She stays alone and meets her husband in Malda on holidays.

EXPLAINED

Step towards better gender equation in Kolkata Police

The Kolkata Police has always been keen on increasing the presence of women in their force. The State Home Department has set up eight women-only police stations in Kolkata to investigate crimes against women. A rape or molestation survivor will be comfortable with a woman police officer, they feel. More women in the force means more women reaching out to report incidents that bother them. Several crimes, including eve-teasing, often go unreported. An all-women battalion is a step towards betterment of city police’s gender equation — 800 women in the 26,000-strong police force.

“He wasn’t very keen on me joining police but I managed,” she said. The Winners has 28 women personnel, including three senior officers. All the 25 constables are in their mid-twenties. In white uniform, they conduct patrol on scooty.

“They have been rigorously trained in self-defence and have revolver licence. Our objective is to make the city safe for women,” said Sampa Guha one of the senior officers of the team. “I am happy to see such young, smart women cops in our city. Once a man in lungi started following me on the street and retreated as soon as he spotted a group of policewomen. Cheers to these ladies,” said Anindita Ray Choudhuri, a management student.

However, the team has to fight odds while on duty. Once a constable in the team was bitten on her hand while another was heckled while on patrol inside the Millennium Park. Six persons, including two women were arrested for allegedly harassing personnel on duty.

“We face a lot of challenge and even get teased but when we are in uniform, people respect us also. There have been instances when during midnight patrolling, women came and thanked us for making them feel safe. It gives us immense satisfaction,” said Zinnatara Khatun, another member of the team.

Team Winner is headed by three sub-inspectors, including Sampa Guha, Mita Kansabanik and Zinnatara Khatun. Sampa has various accolades to her credit in power lifting in international, Asian and national events. Zinnatara Khatun is an athlete who has won the Indian Police Medal. Mita is also a power lifting champion.

“We love catching Road Romeos,” laughs Zinnatara. Mita is married and has a 16-year-old daughter, while Zinnatara and Sampa are single.

“Earlier marriage used to give a woman financial security and an identity, but nowadays it has nothing exceptional to offer a woman,” said Zinnatara and Sampa.

Madhumita Mahapatra, another member of the team, says, “My husband is very proud to see me in uniform. I have a tight schedule but he is always there to pick me up when I finish work.” Another member, Debolina Das Rai, feels they stand for themselves to bring the change. “My husband mostly takes care of our son as I have a tight schedule. We manage well and he never complains,” she said.

Their message on Women’s Day

“People talk about women empowerment but hardly practice it. We are educated and present ourselves well but our mentality remains the same. Real change has to come from within. All women should be financially independent and should speak up. Once a woman starts sharing financial responsibility of her family and her parents, people will stop craving for male child. To bring a change, it is important for women to learn self-defence. Girls are mentally much stronger than men and we must celebrate womanhood.”

source: http://www.indianexpress.com / The Indian Express / Home> Cities / by Sweety Kumar / Kolkata / March 08th, 2019

The altruist of Naradari

This retired professor in West Bengal is the reason many children of his region have an education and career


Lifeline: Professor Dilip Roy with Belaboti (left) and Uma / Image: Rabindranath Bera

Where is Dadu? Why haven’t you brought him along,” demands the petulant eight-year-old with closely cropped hair and a beige jacket over a pink frock. Her name is Bela, short for Belaboti, often referred to as Belu too. Just now she is standing akimbo, blocking the entrance to our lodgings adjacent to a two-storey mud house in Naradari, a village in Nandakumar block of East Midnapore district, five kilometres from Tamluk. The object of her query, or Dadu, meaning grandfather, is Dilip Roy, a retired professor of History and man of the house.

Bela knows that the septuagenarian had accompanied this gaggle of strangers from Calcutta to the flower show — an annual affair organised by the Tamluk Flower Lovers’ Association, founded by the good professor over 40 years ago. She is the youngest member of the Roy household, which includes Biswaranjan Pal or Bisha, Bishnupada Maity or Dipu and Joyinandan Maity or Joyi. While Bisha and Dipu are preparing for their higher secondary exams this year, Joyi is in the first year of college. There is Uma, too, whom Roy calls Kochi. She got married to Rabindranath Bera or Robi two years ago and is currently in Naradari with their newborn.

Roy is actually no kin of Bisha, Dipu, Bela, Joyi, Kochi or even Uma; at least not in the accepted sense. But each of these lives has got so entangled with his own that it is difficult to tell his story without straightening out a reference, giving an explanation or two to their lives’ stories and experiences. Also, these are lives that refract his own story, one that he himself is loath to tell.

Bisha, Dipu, Joyi were inmates of an ashram on the banks of the serene Roopnarayan river in the adjacent village, Betalbasan. When it closed down, Roy took them in. Uma is the daughter of farm labourers from Narghat village some 17 kilometres from Naradari. She had heard about Roy and his extended family from an uncle. She says, “I was not interested in studies and my parents would often beat me up for that. I literally ran away from home to escape studying and came here to work as a domestic help.”

But as it turned out, she had walked, rather run, straight into the tiger’s den. First, she was home-schooled, then at 14 she was enrolled in Class V of a local school. When the neighbours smirked, Roy — whom she and many others call Jethu, or uncle — told her, “Clear the Class X boards, that will shut them up.” Uma cleared her Class XII boards last year and is raring to resume college once her daughter is six months old.

Unlike Uma, Robi had wanted to study. He was a good student too, but his father was a hawker and couldn’t afford to support his son’s dreams. Once, while visiting his maternal grandmother in Talpukur village adjoining Tamluk, he approached Roy for help. Actually it was his grandmother who spoke to Roy as the boy explored the estate. The professor visited the boy’s school, paid for Robi’s textbooks, even arranged for free tuitions for the Class X student. And then, he supported him right through high school and graduation in every possible way. Today, Robi is team leader, back office operations, with Tata Consultancy Services, and posted in Calcutta.

Roy was born in Naradari in the late 1940s, but had left for Calcutta for his postgraduation. His father was an advocate while his mother, a housewife. When he returned home at 24, it was to teach at Moyna College, about 20 kilometres away. The youngest of three brothers, he had always been reclusive. And when he came back he chose to stay, not in the family home, but in the other two-storey mud house on the estate jointly owned by his father and uncles. He says, “The house was lying uncared for. The main house was too crowded. My parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, my Didi, her family…,” and his voice trails off as he looks at the manicured garden between the two houses.

Roy turned the ground floor into his living quarters and the upper floor he dedicated to Rabindranath Tagore. That became his library-cum-temple. He would sit there singing and listening to Tagore’s songs and reading his works. He would organise, and still does, cultural dos on Tagore’s birth and death anniversaries. “Even today, I begin my day reading sections of Tagore’s lectures, just like people read the Gita. Of course, of late, I have begun reading the Gita too,” laughs the lean, greying philanthropist.

A few years into teaching, he decided to remain a bachelor. He began to spend more and more time on his two passions — gardening and travelling. His closest friend, a doctor who died in an accident a couple of decades ago, was his travel companion. Together, they have traversed the length and breadth of the country. Somewhere along the way he began helping students from impoverished backgrounds in their pursuit of education and learning. And the more he got involved in the lives of his students, the more acutely aware he became of their hardships.

Around the beginning of the 1980s, he started providing food and lodging too to poor and meritorious young men. Today, so many years later, Roy cannot remember the first time he brought a student home. I point out that it is most odd, this date slip, of someone who teaches History, but he is distracted by Bela, who has given lunch a miss and is sulking. “She is angry with me for having my lunch without her,” he explains.

What happened was that one by one many students came to live with him. Not everyone stayed the course though. Many were taken away by their parents or guardians. But there were exceptions like Bela — the little girl from a cobbler’s family in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur. She and her older sister were brought to Roy by their maternal grandmother but a few years later taken away by their parents. Her sister notwithstanding her pleas to return to Naradari was married off, but her parents eventually let Bela go back to Roy. She is being home-schooled currently.

When his college teacher’s salary could no longer sustain the expenses, Roy started to scout around for financial help. Over time he has developed a network of connections — civil servants, engineers, doctors, authors, teachers, businessmen, artists. Some pay the fee for these students, some buy the books. And while he is dogged in his pursuit of funds, Roy is careless about his own money.

To date, Naradari and its surrounding villages have produced six doctors, all of whom have flourished under Roy’s munificent shade. He paid for their admissions, entrance tests and connected them with foundations that bore their expenses at the medical colleges. And despite Roy’s advancing years, the effort to help students continues. Says Uma, “At the beginning of the new school session villagers line up for help. Every year, Jethu buys textbooks worth Rs 25,000-30,000 himself.”

During his student days in Calcutta, Roy would spend time at the city libraries. The National Library was his home on holidays. He says, “I’d go to there, borrow a book and spend hours on the veranda. I’d hardly read though. Most of the time I would look at the lawns and trees on campus.” And that’s how another interest took shoot. Roy started frequenting the neighbouring horticultural society.

His time at the horticultural society made him aware of environmental issues. In time, he launched a movement to educate villagers and schoolchildren on the need to plant trees, especially flowering ones. The movement gradually spread to neighbouring villages. Today, there are legions of gardeners working under Roy’s supervision, planting, landscaping. “Even the nurseries here seek his advice,” says Robi, the pride in his voice pronounced.

source: http://www.telegraphindia.com / The Telegraph – online edition / Home> People / by Swachchhasila Basu / February 17th, 2019

Calcutta cop lights up lives beyond Diwali

Runs a school for poor with half of his salary


Arup Mukherjee, a constable of the South Traffic Guard, with some of the students of the school that he started with his savings in 2011 at Puncha village of Purulia district. / The Telegraph

A Calcutta police constable who as a child had made a promise to himself to help the poor now sets aside Rs 20,000 from his salary of Rs 37,000 each month to run a school for abandoned and underprivileged children.

When 43-year-old Arup Mukherjee is not managing traffic at a busy intersection, he is busy pursuing his mission to rescue and rehabilitate abandoned children and convince impoverished and unlettered parents to send their daughters and sons to school.

Some of these children were in New Alipore on Monday to inaugurate a Kali Puja, escorted by the Samaritan who works tirelessly to dispel the darkness in their lives.

Mukherjee’s zeal to rescue and educate children from the Sabar tribe of Purulia originated from a childhood curiosity about the persecution faced by a community counted among the poorest of the poor.

“I have witnessed since childhood people belonging to the Sabar tribe being blamed for theft or any other crime in the areas they inhabit. I have seen them being mistreated and ostracised and not given jobs, resulting in some resorting to crime. When I asked my grandfather about it, he told me this was because they were not educated and hence unable to find employment,” he told Metro.


Some students of the school after inaugurating a Kali Puja in New Alipore on Monday. / The Telegraph

Mukherjee, who was six years old at the time, never forgot what his grandfather told him or the promise he had made to himself. In 1999, he joined Calcutta police and started saving immediately for what would go on to become the fuel for his existence.

Puncha Nabadisha Model School became a reality in 2011, putting this unassuming constable of the South Traffic Guard on a path few like him would dare to tread. “I remember what my grandfather told me when I had spoken to him about what I wanted to do. He asked me to grow up, start earning a living and then think of doing something for the Sabar children,” Mukherjee recalled.

The initial corpus of Rs 2.5 lakh for the school in Puncha village of Purulia district, around 280km from Calcutta, came entirely from Mukherjee’s savings. He also took a bank loan of Rs 1 lakh and another Rs 50,000 from his mother to build five rooms with an asbestos roof on a plot donated by a friend of his father.

Starting with 15 children, Puncha Nabadisha Model School has grown into an institution that provides education to 112 children aged between 4 and 15.

It wasn’t easy in the beginning for Mukherjee to convince the Sabar tribe that he wanted their good. “They started trusting me after realising I did not have any motive. I would tell them, “Send your children to study if you do not want your plight to be like yours’. That struck a chord,” he said.

An incident three years ago highlights the despair and desperation that Mukherjee occasionally encounters. “I was visiting this village in Purulia when the strong smell of kerosene hit my nose outside a tribal house. A mother had wrapped three of her children, the youngest barely a year old, in a blanket and sprinkled kerosene on them to do the unthinkable. I went into the hut and held the mother by her hand. She said her children were asking for food and she didn’t have any to feed them,” he said.

Mukherjee took the three children under his care and their mother hasn’t met them since. The eldest of the siblings is now in Class III and the second one in Class II.

According to Mukherjee, who received a special honour at The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence 2018 in August, the courage to accomplish what he does comes from being a policeman.

Many among the Sabar community depend on him not only to give their children an education but also bail them out whenever they are unfairly accused of a crime. “Someone might be innocent but how to prove it when you can’t comprehend the law? They now have the confidence to speak up because they know that if they are right, I will help them,” Mukherjee said. “Most of them no longer resort to crime to feed their families.”

Around 20,000 members of the Sabar tribe are spread across five blocks of Purulia district. The children who go to Mukherjee’s school are provided food and a place to stay in. After Class IV, schooling continues in the secondary and high schools in that area.


Students and staff of Puncha Nabadisha Model School outside the school building. / The Telegraph

Puncha Nabadisha Model School needs Rs 45,000-50,000 a month to function, but Mukherjee does not believe in going around with a begging bowl. He accepts only voluntary donations. “I do not want to force people to help my children, neither do I want them to think that I am collecting funds for my own needs. People see the work that is done and offer help, which I accept,” he said.


Constable Arup Mukherjee manages traffic at an intersection in the city. / The Telegraph

Mukherjee is the father of twins, both students of Class XI, but it is the responsibility of being “Baba” to his extended family of 112 children that keeps him going. “My family does not make any demands of me. They are not upset that I don’t spend my entire income on them. They are rather proud of me,” he said.

source: http://www.telegraphindia.com / The Telegraph, online edition / Home> West Bengal / by Jhinuk Mazumdar and Pranab Mondal in Calcutta / November 07th, 2018


An unrecognised explorer

It’s time we do justice to Radhanath Sikdar, the man who first measured Mount Everest

All of us are aware from the days of our childhood that the highest mountain peak in the world is Mount Everest and it was discovered by George Everest. It was only much later that one came to know that Sir George Everest was the Surveyor General of India and the peak was so named as he had discovered it to be the highest in the world. As the Surveyor General, he had his offices in Dehradun and used to stay in Mussoorie. He left India in 1843, almost 200 years ago, but his house in Mussoorie is still being preserved and is now a place of tourist interest.

The truth, however, is somewhat different. It is a fact that Sir George Everest was the Surveyor General of India from 1830 to 1843, but it is also a fact that during his tenure of office, Mount Everest, that we know of today, was only known as ‘Peak XV’. Everest had neither initiated the process of measuring the height of this peak, nor was he instrumental in its naming, which was done much later, long after he had proceeded to England to enjoy his retirement after 1843. Located on the border of Nepal and Tibet, this ‘Peak XV’ has been worshipped as a holy place by the Tibetans, who called it Chomolungma, the Mother Goddess of the World. In Nepal, this peak is known as Sagarmatha, meaning the peak of heavens. Even these days, this peak is addressed by its traditional names, both in Tibet and Nepal, while we have followed what was given to us by the British ie Mount Everest.

In fact, the name Everest was given by Col Sir Andrew Waugh of Bengal Engineers, who succeeded Everest as the Surveyor General of India from 1844 to 1861. Circumstances under which ‘Peak XV’ was named as Mount Everest are rather peculiar and reveal a very biased handling of the matter so that the entire credit goes to the British officers of the East India Company. Going through the historical records of the Survey of India Volume IV: 1830 to 1843, pertaining to the tenure of Sir George Everest, one can observe at a glance that he had shown no interest in ‘Peak XV’ during this period. It was his successor, Andrew Waugh, who made the official announcement of ‘Peak XV’ being the highest known peak of the world in 1856, the measurements had, of course, been initiated much earlier and finalised by our own Radha Nath Sikdar in 1849.

Recognising the work of Sikdar, the Government of India had issued a postage stamp in his honour in 2004. But his work is of such a great importance that issuing a postage stamp and then forgetting about him does not do full justice to his unique and great contribution. It was Sir George Everest who had recruited Sikdar in the great trigonometrical survey and became extremely fond of him. Volume IV of the Historical records of Survey of India, pertaining to his tenure, have the following mention about Sikdar: “Radanauth is high in favour with everybody, and universally beloved in the GT Survey. You will not know him for the same person when you see him again, for he is no longer a puny stripling, but a hardy energetic young man, ready to undergo any fatigue, and acquire a practical knowledge of all parts of his profession. …There are few of my instruments which he cannot manage; and none of my computations of which he is not thoroughly master. …Eventually he will furnish a convincing proof that the aptitude of your countrymen for the practical, as well as the theoretical, parts of mathematics is in no wise inferior to that of Europeans.”

“Of the qualifications of the young man himself I cannot speak too highly. In his mathematical attainments there are few in India, whether European or Native, who can at all compete with him, and…even in Europe those attainments would rank very high.”

Later, on account of a special technique developed by Sikdar for accurate computation of heights and distances through Spherical Trigonometry, he virtually became indispensable to the organisation and rose to become the Chief Computer in the office of SGI. In that position, he moved from Dehradun to Kolkata in 1849. As to why Andrew Waugh gave the name Everest, even though he had left the scene long ago, is an interesting piece of history.

Had SG Burrard, a later Surveyor General of India, not acknowledged the good work of Radhanath Sikdar through a research paper published in 1904 in the scientific journal Nature, these facts would not have come to light. He published in detail various steps taken for the measurement of ‘Peak XV’. This in a way also exposed the machinations of Andrew Waugh who had tried his level best to take credit away from, to where it truly belonged, that is Radhanath Sikdar.

It is human nature that in case something important is achieved, one tries to take credit or gives credit to someone, but in this case, Waugh specifically mentioned that Sikdar had nothing to do with this work, indicating his bias. Later, he could be seen placating him by asking him that he should be happy that the peak had been named after his mentor. Andrew Waugh also gave the additional charge of the Indian Metrological Department to Sikdar, raising his salary to Rs 600 per month. This was unheard for an Indian in those days. Clearly, all these efforts were to keep him happy but away from the core of the survey work.

SG Burrard’s publication in the Nature specifically mentioned that the Chief Computer (who was Radhanath Sikdar) from Calcutta had informed Andrew Waugh in 1852 that the peak designated ‘XV’ had been found to be higher than any other highest measured peak in the world at that time. Raw data from theodolites, taken from seven observation stations at Jirol, Mirzapur, Janjpati, Ladiva, Haripur, Minai and Doom Dongi was collected at the trigonometrical survey at Calcutta. This was then processed by Radhanath Sikdar and conveyed to Andrew Waugh that ‘Peak XV’ had been measured at 29,002 feet, taking the mean value of all observations. Considering that the scientific instrumentation available at that time was only of a rudimentary nature, the level of accuracy reached was almost 100 per cent, and this figure has not undergone any change, despite the current state of technological progress.

Correspondence between Waugh and Sikdar reveals that Waugh did privately acknowledge the achievement of Sikdar but did not recognise his work on record and in public. In his letter dated August 25, 1856, Waugh wrote to Sikdar that he was glad to hear that naming the peak as Everest had given the latter a lot of satisfaction. Thus, it is clear that the name Everest was given to ensure that Sikdar, who could have been the rightful claimant for credit, did not object as he was extremely fond of Everest, who had recruited him in service. The situation would have remained obscure but for the research paper of SG Burrard in 1904. Later, Professor Meghnad Saha acknowledged this feat in 1938 by giving Sikdar full credit. Earlier, Kenneth Mason in 1928, recognised his work as also John Keay in his book, The Great Arc.

In the given situation, changing the name of Mount Everest to Mount Sikdar Everest will perhaps do full justice to Radhanath Sikdar and give him worldwide recognition, which was legitimately his due, long time ago. We do not have to seek anybody’s approval for such a change as the rationale is all well-documented. Even if the world continues to call it Everest, in India, we could still call it Sikdar Everest.

On several earlier occasions, achievements of Indian scientists have not been recognised, as Sir JC Bose could have got the Nobel Prize for Physics or at least shared it with Marconi for his work on wireless and radio; SN Bose could have got the Nobel Prize way back in 1932 for his work with Einstein on Bose Einstein condensate but atleast he was recognised, though belatedly naming the God particle, Higgs-Boson after him. Naming Everest as Sikdar Everest would be a recoginition of a scientist whose work has stood the test of time. Besides it would also justifiably add to our national pride.

(The writer is a retired Delhi Police Commissioner and former Uttarakhand Governor)

source:http://www.thepioneer.com / The Pioneer / Home> Columnists> Opinion / by K K Paul / November 23rd, 2018

Medical care for a low, flat fee of Rs 10

A Calcutta doctor who spends his Sundays running a clinic in a remote village asks why others don’t do so too.

Manindra Seva Sadan, a health centre in Manihara village /
Samantak Das

On the first Sunday of every month, Dr Santanu Banerjee, MD, gets up at 4:30 in the morning and sets off for a small village some 300 kilometres from Calcutta. I’ve known Santanu for some years now, as a neighbour who is also my physician, and as a keen participant in our para’s various activities, especially during the festive season. A few months ago, after he had completed my check-up, we got to chatting about healthcare issues and he told me how surprised he had been to discover the high prevalence of so-called ‘diseases of affluence’, associated with sedentary urban lifestyles, among the labouring poor in rural Bengal. When I asked, somewhat sceptically, where he got this information from, he invited me to visit the health centre that he runs in his ancestral village and take a look for myself. So, on the first Sunday of this October, I did.

We reached Manihara village, just beyond the Bankura-Purulia border, a little before noon, and went straight to the Manindra Seva Sadan, named after one of Santanu’s ancestors. The spacious three-room centre is located on a largish plot of land, with a beautiful garden and immaculate lawns — Santanu tells me that it belongs jointly to several members of his extended family, but had been lying unused until he decided to set up the centre. He took a loan from his mother, cleared and cleaned the land, and constructed the neat, single-storey structure that stands there now.

Outside the building, under a large permanent awning, villagers wait, patiently, for the daktarbabu to come. On arrival, Santanu’s team swings into smooth, practiced action. Of the three rooms, the first — which runs the length of the building — is where patients have their names, blood pressure and pulse rates noted, and are given a number (depending on their place in the queue) on a slip of paper; as they pass through the long room, they can get a battery of tests done, if needed, on a device that Santanu calls his “lab in a box”. Once all this is completed, they line up to enter the doctor’s chamber in the next room, where one of Santanu’s assistants notes down their details on a laptop. After Santanu examines them and writes out his prescriptions, they move to the adjoining room, where medicines are distributed. On the day of my visit, Santanu’s wife, Kokila, a doctor with an MD in microbiology, was assisting Santanu’s father, a retired engineer, in the medicine room. Patients leave only after collecting a month’s worth of medicines. Some will come back to the centre in a week’s time, and report their condition to Santanu via video-conferencing — he is available online between 9:00 and 11:00 am every Sunday — and some of them will return on the first Sunday of the following month. The cost for all this is the ten rupees patients pay when they register; there are no other charges.

The day I was there, over 200 people had registered to be examined. There was a low buzz around the centre, interspersed with the occasional shout, as a patient’s name was called out, or someone asked someone else not to shove others in the queue. The noise level went up several-fold as patients jostled in line, assistants shouted to patients to register their names, have their pressure noted, and so on and so forth. In the midst of all this, Santanu sat like the calm eye in the centre of a mild storm, radiating cheerful good humour as he spoke to patients in his soft, measured tones and wrote down their prescriptions. Santanu has a mild, friendly manner, and is unfailingly polite even to the most vociferous of his patients. When his assistants raise their voices, mostly in order to ask patients to maintain quiet (“Have you come to a doctor, or to a fish market?”), he remains composed. He also has a sly sense of humour and a ready smile that puts even the most grim-faced individual instantly at ease. He tells a patient, with a broad grin, that he will kill himself if she can prove she actually did take the medicines he’d prescribed last month. After much hemming and hawing, she admits that she “might have missed” a couple of doses.

Of course, many of his patients have seen him before, and he seems (at least to my untutored self) to recall every detail of their various ailments. Interspersed with talk of symptoms, diagnostic tests, medicines and so on, he exchanges pleasantries with his patients — telling someone she’s fine, reassuring another that he needn’t worry, the usual doctor’s prattle: but, sometimes, he turns to me and says, half in jest and half in despair, “Tell me, how on earth do these people get these diseases, here, of all places?” He seems to be especially puzzled by the high incidence of diabetes among his patients, including in some who are in their early thirties, as well as other diseases of the leisured, particularly hypertension. “Look at her. Not an extra ounce on her and yet she has a blood sugar reading of 210! How do you explain this?” There is speculation in the medical community that undernutrition in infancy could be a likely cause even though official statistics do not seem to bear this out. This is something that needs to be investigated thoroughly because the health of thousands is at stake. Over 33 per cent of his patients have diabetes and 40 per cent suffer from high blood pressure. He has the details of all the patients he has treated since he set up the clinic three years ago but wants to know more about the prevalence of illness in the area. “I would like to make a database of every individual and their ailments in the 30-odd adjoining villages. Once I know this, we can do more to alleviate or, best of all, prevent them.” He would also like to bring every woman, child, and man in the area under a health insurance scheme.

When I leave the centre, it is past 4:00 pm, but Santanu is still inside, talking, smiling, examining, prescribing. He will stay back tonight, along with his wife and two kids, for tomorrow they will distribute saris among the women of Manihara for the festive season. His parents will help him, as will his paternal uncle and aunt, who still live in the village.

As I speed towards the bright lights and loud noise of the city, I glance back at the endless expanse of undulating green, dotted with clumps of kaash flowers, harbingers of the season of festive joy, and I wonder: what makes a man like Santanu Banerjee do this month after month, year after year, almost single-handedly, with scarce resources and at considerable cost to himself in terms of time, effort and energy? By my reckoning, it costs Santanu some thirty to forty thousand rupees every time he visits the health centre, but when I put this to him later he only smiles at me. Does he receive any money from funding agencies? No. Do many other doctors go with him to the centre? Again that smile. Yes, he agrees, he couldn’t have done it without strong family support. But why does he do this, I persist. He looks up, quizzically, “Shouldn’t you be asking me why others don’t do it as well?” I have no answer. Santanu says he can’t really explain why he started doing this work and refuses to accept the usual explanations about giving back to society, extending a helping hand to people, and so on. Instead, he tells me a story. “One night, as I was peeling open sealed boxes of medicines and arranging the strips into smaller bundles, my fingers started to bleed. And instead of feeling upset or angry, I felt this joy radiating through me. That was my epiphany. That’s when I knew this was the right thing to do.”

Samantak Das is professor of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University, and has been working as a volunteer for a rural development NGO for the last 30 years.

source: http://www.telegraphindia.com / The Telegraph,Calcutta, India / Home> Opinion / by Samantak Das / October 26th, 2018

Scholarship for hill girl

Swareena Gurung

Darjeeling:

Swareena Gurung, a-21-year-old student from Darjeeling, has bagged a Rs 34 lakh scholarship from Bengal government to pursue a post-graduate course at University of London.

Gurung, who completed her graduation from Miranda House in Delhi in literature, had applied at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London and at the University of Oxford.

“My first preference was SOAS and I am also happy that I got a sponsorship of 36,526 pounds, which roughly translates to around Rs 34 lakh for MA South Asian Area Studies programme under the Bishwa Bangla Masters Scholarship,” said Gurung.

The one-year master degree course is specific to south Asia. The student, who completed her ICSE from St Helen’s School, Kurseong, and did her Plus Two at Loreto Convent, Darjeeling, had also got a seat at University of Oxford.

“Two students from Bengal get this scholarship every year. Bengal government has a tie-up with the SOAS but it is the university that selects the candidate for scholarship,” said Gurung.

The scholarship includes college fees to the tune of 18,980 pounds while the rest will be paid as maintenance expenses in three equal instalments.

Gurung’s major module would be culture. “We have to select a major module and I have selected culture, under which I will be studying politics and culture of contemporary south Asia,” said Gurung.

The student will be joining classes on September 24.

Asked about her plans, Gurung said: “I have kept my options open – either going for further academics or staring my career in journalism.”

Sudeep Gurung, the girl’s father, said: “We would like to thank the chief minister of West Bengal Mamta Banerjee and her government for introducing a scholarship through which students can pursue higher studies overseas.”

Sudeep is a businessman.

source: http://www.telegraphindia.com / The Telegraph,Calcutta,India / Home> West Bengal / by Vivek Chhetri / September 11th, 2018

Hicky’s Bengal Gazette: The Untold Story of India’s First Newspaper review: Winds of freedom

In 1780, an Irishman took on the British in Calcutta with a tell-all weekly that covered everything from corruption to politics

It was 1780. Great events were shaping and shaking the world. Four years earlier, in 1776, Britain had lost its first colony; a new nation was born, namely, the United States of America. And nine years, later, in 1789, the French revolution ushered in a new era of freedom and hope in Europe.

At a time when the western world was changing rapidly a new spirit was also taking shape in one of Britain’s eastern colonies. Calcutta, then capital of British India, though the East India Company ruled only a small part of India at that time, was witnessing developments that were new not only in India, but in all of Asia. As free thought and freedom of expression swept across the world, an Irishman called James Augustus Hicky gave Calcutta and India its first printed newspaper in 1780.

Taking on power

Hicky’s Bengal Gazette, according to the young American scholar Andrew Otis, was a four-page weekly newspaper priced at ₹1. And it took on the rich and mighty of British Calcutta. What did Hicky publish in the pages of his newspaper? “He tried to cover everything that might be important to Calcutta, devoting many sections to politics, world news and events in India.” Topics that featured regularly were poor quality of sanitation and lack of road maintenance. Houses of poor Indians had thatched roofs, prone to catching fire. The outbreak of fires was frequently reported in Hicky’s paper. Through the letters he solicited and published, the editor gave voice to Calcutta’s poor.

He attacked corruption in the East India Company and in high echelons of society. The Bengal Gazette reported that the Governor of Madras, Sir Thomas Rumbold, had been recalled to England to answer charges of corruption in front of Parliament. “Hicky sarcastically wrote,” Otis tells us, “Rumbold was a great man for only amassing a fortune of about 600,000 pounds while in India, much of it from bribes and extortion.”

Hicky did not spare any institution. He exposed the problems of low pay for soldiers in the subaltern ranks of the Company’s army. Failed wars of the Company also came under its gaze. The Company’s army suffered a crushing defeat in the Battle of Pollilur at the hands of Hyder Ali, then ruler of Mysore. As the news of the disaster trickled in, Hicky questioned why the British were fighting in India. He accused the Company of squandering the lives of its soldiers. He even praised the noble actions of Hyder Ali in his treatment of the captured soldiers of the Company.

But as Hicky continued his fearless mission against corruption, the powers of the day did not sit idle. A rival newspaper was born in Calcutta. The India Gazette of Messink and Reed differed from Hicky in every possible way. The two papers represented two sides of the political spectrum.

Tough rival

Hicky emphasised independence while the India Gazette made no secret that they had the support of Governor Warren Hastings. So much so that Hastings had given the facility of free postage to India Gazette. There were hardly any opinion columns in it, a clear sign of their obeisance to Hastings’s authority. And they did so for a good cause, that was monetary rewards. India Gazette became the Company’s de facto mouthpiece; the Company’s departments placed advertisements and notices in that paper.

Press freedom

But Hicky took on the might of the establishment. He alleged through his pieces in the paper how one Simeon Droz had sought a bribe from him and wanted to get favours for him from Marian Hastings, wife of Warren Hastings, in lieu of the bribe. Hastings fumed that someone could show such imprudence. He passed an order that the Post Office would no longer extend its facility to the Bengal Gazette.

Hicky fought back. He hired 20 hircirrahs (courier men) to deliver his newspaper, and his newspaper’s popularity soared. He continued his fight against the most powerful man of the day and his entourage.

Hastings hit back and the Chief Justice Elijah Impey decreed that Hicky be imprisoned on charges of libel. A grand jury sat to decide the fate of Hicky.

After a fierce courtroom battle, the jury acquitted him. Hicky won, Hastings lost. As Otis tells us, “He had proven that it was possible to protect the Press against the most powerful people in British India.”

There were still three more trials to come that tried to muffle the voice of Hicky. What happened; did freedom of the press triumph? For that you must turn to Otis’s book, as he sketches a riveting tale of the struggle of India’s first newspaper editor.

Hicky’s Bengal Gazette: The Untold Story of India’s First Newspaper; Andrew Otis, Westland/ Tranquebar, ₹899.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Books> Reviews / by Sunandan Roy Chowdhury / July 14th, 2018