Category Archives: World Opinion

Focus French connection

French consul general Damien Syed during an earlier visit to the Registry Building in Chandernagore, accompanied by Metro


Registry Building, a derelict colonnaded structure with louvered screens, caught in the clasp of myriad tree roots at the corner of the Strand, declared as condemned by the civic body, is the focal point of an initiative in Chandernagore for the former French colony to reconnect with its built architectural heritage.

Friday will see the launch of Know Your Indo-French Heritage, a week-long multidisciplinary workshop that is taking place within the ambit of Bonjour India, a celebration of Indo-French partnership in innovation and creativity across the country, organised by the French Embassy and Institut Francais.

“It is a collaborative workshop designed for the restoration of French-built heritage which will not survive unless people are proud of the town’s assets and realise that this can be a source of economic growth,” said French consul general Damien Syed, who reiterated his distress at the state of dereliction of the French heritage structures.

Students from Jadavpur University, Chandernagore College and The Confluence Institute for Innovation and Creative Strategies in Architecture, Lyon, will meet at Chandernagore College on Friday. “They are expected to come up with innovative design solutions as to how public spaces in the town can be better utilised. One of the outcomes of the workshop would be a sustainable business model for the reuse of the Registry Building. IIM Nagpur will collaborate on that,” said Aishwariya Tipnis, a conservation architect who has worked to identify the heritage buildings in Chandernagore. Seven buildings from her list, including the Registry Building, have recently been selected for notification as heritage structures by the state heritage commission.

All ideas from the workshop will be exhibited on the Strand as part of the closing ceremony on January 12 for the public as well as French ambassador Alexandre Ziegler to see. “We will also launch a crowd-funding initiative which will possibly be a first in India for restoration of a building,” she said.

Four heritage adda sessions will take place involving eminent residents like lighting wizard Sridhar Das and representatives of heritage businesses like confectioner Surya Kumar Modak.

Beyond Chandernagore

France will be the partner country this year at the state government’s Bengal Global Business Summit. “For the first time, we will have a delegation of nine or 10 companies,” said Syed. This is a significant development after the pullout of a French joint venture from the Haldia port which was blamed on strong-arm tactics by an entrenched lobby close to the ruling establishment. The then ambassador Francois Richier had raised the matter with the state government during his city visit in 2014.

source: / The Telegraph, Calcutta,India / Home> Calcutta / by Special Correspondent / January 05th, 2018

It’s Bach to the cemetery for a musical feast in Kolkata

One of the city’s oldest Christian cemeteries will host an evening of Baroque music to celebrate its 250th birth anniversary
Come Saturday, Kolkatans, both the living and the dead, can look forward to a grand musical feast as the South Park Street Cemetery, one of the city’s oldest cemeteries, will celebrate its 250th birthday by holding a concert on its premises.

In a clearing amid small and giant sepulchres, ageing plaques, and 300 varieties of trees, its sprawling, leafy compound will host a performance by a string quartet and a pianist on January 6.

The performances, according to the programme booklet, will mainly be of “17th and early 18th century Baroque composers” such as Antonio Lucio Vivaldi, Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frederick Handel. Some of the finest musicians of the city, including some who are based abroad, such as the violinist Prosanto Dutt, will perform. “He will also talk about the music,” said Ranajoy Bose, the architect of the two-hour show and a managing member of the Christian Burial Board, which manages the cemetery. The tickets are priced at a modest ₹20.

On being asked about the low price of the tickets, Mr. Bose said, “This is a strange cemetery. For instance, there are no crosses here. Instead, the tomb designs carry the architectural imprint of many civilisations, including Greek, Roman, Turkish and Mughal influences, and some are even shaped liked Hindu temples. We would like school children to know something about these eclectic designs created by Indian masons, besides some Western classical music.”

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Other States / by Suvojit Bagchi / Kolkata – January 03rd, 2017

Doc with city roots a star author in Britain


Who is Rangan Chaterjee and why has he suddenly become just about the most famous doctor in Britain – a bit of a heart throb, actually?

For starters, Chatterjee, son of a doctor, Tarun Chatterjee, who came to England from Calcutta in the 1960s, has written a book, The 4 Pillar Plan: How to Relax, Eat, Move and Sleep Your Way to a Longer, Healthier Life, which is now No. 1 on Amazon UK.

“I am a Bengali boy and this book will have special appeal for Bengalis who tend to eat late at night,” Chatterjee told The Telegraph, as he remembered frequent Calcutta holidays at his father’s home in Shyambazar and his mother Bandana’s in Chetla.

Chatterjee, who has been interviewed by BBC News, The Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and elsewhere, appears to have struck a chord by focusing “on finding the root cause of diseases and helping my patients make their illnesses disappear”.

“The handsome 40-year-old father-of-two, star of BBC One’s Doctor in the House, is at the forefront of a new generation of social-media-savvy medics,” wrote one interviewer about the 6ft 6in tall doctor who lives in Wilmslow, Cheshire, with his Gujarati wife, Vidhaata, a criminal barrister, and their children, aged seven and five.

Based on his “experiences serving as a doctor for nearly 20 years”, Chatterjee, MBChB, BSc (Hons), MRCP, MRCGP, says that his “book goes beyond the sort of health advice we’ve all been reading about for so long – beyond the fad diets and the quick fix exercise programmes”.

His plan has been endorsed by, among others. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who believes “Rangan’s easy, common-sense plan can help everyone live a happier, healthier life”.

Two events have shaped Chatterjee’s life – one was caring for his father who died five years ago. He was a consultant at Manchester Royal Infirmary, “a first-generation immigrant, who worked and worked and worked”.

Even more traumatic was the near death of his infant son who was diagnosed with “an easily rectified calcium deficiency”.

With a sensible diet, exercise and meditation, Chatterjee says: “I have routinely helped my patients reverse type 2 diabetes; eliminate irritable bowel syndrome; lower blood pressure without drugs; reduce menopausal symptoms naturally; sleep better and regain their energy; regain control of their autoimmune conditions; restore harmony to their circadian rhythms; add life to their years, as well as years to their life.”

source: / The Telegraph, Calcutta,India / Home> Calcutta / by Amit Roy / January 03rd, 2018

Gratitude to genius behind Boson

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays tribute to S.N. Bose (below) on his 125th birth anniversary
via video-conferencing from New Delhi on Monday. (PTI)


Physics was his calling but he could play a complex classical raga on the esraj with as much dexterity as he could read out a French novel in impromptu English translation.

Stories highlighting the multifaceted genius of Satyendra Nath Bose, after whom the Boson particle is named, on Monday filled the curtain-raiser to a yearlong commemoration of his 125th birth anniversary.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the event from Delhi through video-conferencing, reminding the audience at the SN Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences in Salt Lake that “just as a quantum particle does not exist in isolation, we should also get out of isolation”.

Modi said the scientific ecosystem needed to connect with innovators, entrepreneurs and technocrats to work on artificial intelligence, big data analytics, machine learning, genomics and electrical vehicles. “These are some of the rising technologies on which we need to get ahead,” he pointed out, holding up Bose as the inspiration to test new frontiers.

Born on January 1, 1894, Bose had collaborated with Albert Einstein to create what came to be called the “Bose-Einstein Condensation”. Physicist and author Partha Ghose, who did his PhD under Bose, recounted one among many instances of how humble he could be despite his brilliance.

“He was in a reflective mood one day and spoke about the ‘photon spin’ aspect in his derivation of Planck’s law. But then, with a mischievous smile, he said, “But the old man (Einstein) struck it off”.

Ghose said the anecdote left him flabbergasted because Nobel laureate C.V. Raman’s research later vindicated Bose’s derivation.

“When I asked him why he didn’t claim credit for his discovery, he said, ” Ki ba eshe gelo? Ke baar korechhilo tatey ki eshe jaye? Baar to hoyechhilo (How does it matter? Who discovered it is not the main thing, is it? At least it was discovered)’,” he reminisced.

Planck’s law is the basis of quantum theory.

In his speech, the Prime Minister said many Nobel prizes had been won for work based on Bose’s research.

Union science and technology minister Harsh Vardhan also paid tribute to Bose.

source: / The Telegraph, Calcutta,India / Home> Calcutta / by Anasuya Basu / January 02nd, 2018

City girl on a roll in New York

An outlet of The Kati Roll Company, which has branches in New York and London


The Calcutta girl who makes “the next best wrap after Pashmina” rolled out her sixth kati roll shop in New York in November and has another one lined up in March.

Payal Saha, who comes from a music family that runs Hindusthan Records of 1932 vintage, has five stores serving up kati rolls in Manhattan New York , where she is based, and a solo near Oxford Street in London.

The newest store of The Kati Roll Company opened at Grand Central in New York and the earlier ones are at Greenwich Village, East Village, Midtown West and Midtown East.

Daughter of a college professor and an entrepreneur, Payal perhaps had it in her blood to excel in business. Both her grandfathers were entrepreneurs, she said over an email chat from New York.

Payal’s paternal grandfather founded Hindusthan Records after training in Germany. “He travelled through India looking for regional content from the brothels of Varanasi, recording recitals by baijis to Bade Ghulam Ali and Debabrata Biswas,” she said. The Akrur Dutta Lane studio of Hindusthan Records was inaugurated by Tagore where he also recorded his songs.

Payal Saha

Her maternal grandfather jumped ship on Staten Island as an illegal immigrant in NYC and went on to become a chemical engineer from New York University before returning to Calcutta to open a paint factory.

The first store of Kati Roll Company opened in 2002 and soon became a raging trend for “fast casual dining” in New York. It has been widely covered in the American and London press, including The New York Times and BBC America. “After 15 years we still have snaking queues and on weekend nights we need bouncers to manage the rush. Last year, we sold over a million rolls,” Payal said. The bestseller: Chicken Tikka Roll with Achari Paneer a close second.

The decor at her stores is very street and Bollywood with film posters and a rugged charm.

Payal studied at Loreto House before moving to Lawrence School in Ooty for her PLus II and Jesus and Mary College in New Delhi for her graduation. She left for New York in 2000. “My husband (Anil Bathwal) was working in advertising and found a job in New York,” she said.

While Payal missed her Calcutta food, it was the kati roll that she most yearned for. Her personal favourite: Golden Spoon on Middleton Row near her school. “I also like the rolls at Stop and Go near Ballygunge Phanri,” she added.

Soon, Payal started experimenting with recipes and came up with The Kati Roll Company. On her next visit to Calcutta, she visited as many roll shops as she could – from Anamika in New Alipore to Badshah in New Market. She also gained some hands-on experience at a kati roll shop run by a Bengali in Mumbai. “I was determined to make it taste like the best of Calcutta rolls, if not better,” she said.

In the early days, Payal made everything on her own, with just one helper. “We would grind the spices, make the parathas and marinate the fillings. It was a lot of work.”

With several shops under her wings, operations stabilised and a baby to take care of, she now depends more on her “capable managers”.

The core menu is authentic kati roll but for healthy eating, she offers chapatti instead of paratha. Recently, Payal started a line of flavoured lassi with organic yogurt. Mango Lassi and Mishti Doi Lassi made with patali gur are among the top picks.

Her one earnest wish: Bengal should apply for a GI tag for the kati roll.

source: / The Telegraph, Calcutta,India / Home> Calcutta / by Anusuya Basu / January 02nd, 2018

Kolkata artist’s paintings stamp their authority in Germany

Kolkata :

German postal service Deutsche Post AG has issued two postage stamps featuring paintings by an artist from Kolkata.

Sudip Chatterjee, who passed out of the Indian College of Art & Draftsmanship in 1986 after graduating in science from University of Calcutta, was pleasantly surprised when he received a mail from the Deutsche Post headquarters in Bonn, seeking his approval to use two of his paintings in postal stamps. Each stamp is priced 1.45 euro.

Awarded senior fellowship by HRD ministry for 2016-18, Chatterjee was in Germany for an exhibition at Galerie Sabine Neubuhr from May 30 to June 19. He is again due to visit Germany next year for an exhibition at Gallerie Stauferland at Goppingen near Stuttgart from May 31 to June 17.

Chatterjee association with Germany goes back two decades. In 1998-99, he was an artist in residence at the Kuntseminar Freie Hochschule in Metzingen, Germany, and has done several shows in Stuttgart and Berlin, apart from Paris, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata.

His Paintings are part of the collection at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Roopankar Museum, Bharat Bhawan and other private and public collections in India, Germany, France, UK, Finland, Austria, Canada and the US.

source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / TNN / December 28th, 2017

Docspeak on Hepatitis cure 12 weeks for treatment


Hepatitis C is now curable with 12 weeks of treatment and the chances of developing liver cancer from Hepatitis B has gone down, a professor of medicine from Weill Cornell Medicine said here on Saturday.

The most common liver disease in the world now is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease that can develop because of obesity, excess fat and genetic factors, Patrick Basu said.

“There are medicines that can cure Hepatitis C in 12 weeks. Vaccines can reduce the chances of development of cancer from Hepatitis B. There is a lot of advancement in treatment of hepatitis,” Basu told Metro.

Basu was in Calcutta to speak at a seminar for doctors at the Belle Vue Clinic.

Both Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B are viral infections.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus and modes of infection include unsafe injection practices, unsafe health care, and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products, according to the World Health Organisation.

Hepatitis B is a potentially life-threatening liver infection. The Hepatitis B virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person.

When non-alcoholic fatty liver disease worsens, it can cause cirrhosis, a doctor said. It is possible to reduce the amount of fat in liver if detected early. Ideally, the liver should have no or little fat, he said.

Arun Sen, a professor in the Texas A&M University, spoke of the benefits of telemedicine in Bengal where doctors are few in rural areas.

Saurabh Kole, in-charge of Belle Vue’s intensive care unit, said the hospital was trying to create an organised platform of doctors for telemedicine in the state.

source: / The Telegraph, Calcutta,India / Home> Calcutta / by Staff Reporter / December 24th, 2017

Diagnosing early-stage cervical cancer using artificial intelligence

New approach: “The change in tissue morphology as the disease progresses can be picked up by light scattering,” say Prof. Prasanta K. Panigrahi (right) and Sabyasachi Mukhopadhyay

The AI identifies precancerous tissue, and also the stage of progression in minutes

The morphology of healthy and precancerous cervical tissue sites are quite different, and light that gets scattered from these tissues varies accordingly. Yet, it is difficult to discern with naked eyes the subtle differences in the scattered light characteristics of normal and precancerous tissue. Now, an artificial intelligence-based algorithm developed by a team of researchers from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Kolkata and Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur makes this possible.

The algorithm developed by the team not only differentiates normal and precancerous tissue but also makes it possible to tell different stages of progression of the disease within a few minutes and with accuracy exceeding 95%. This becomes possible as the refractive index of the tissue is different in the case of healthy and precancerous cells, and this keeps varying as the disease progresses.

“The microstructure of normal tissue is uniform but as disease progresses the tissue microstructure becomes complex and different. Based on this correlation, we created a novel light scattering-based method to identify these unique microstructures for detecting cancer progression,” says Sabyasachi Mukhopadhyay from IISER Kolkata and first author of a paper published in the Journal of Biomedical Optics.

Elaborating on this further, Prof. Prasanta K. Panigrahi from IISER Kolkata and corresponding author of the paper says: “The collagen network is more ordered in normal tissues but breaks down progressively as cancer progresses. This kind of change in tissue morphology can be picked up by light scattering.” White light spectroscopy (340-800nm) was used for the study.

Statistical biomarker

The change in scattered light as disease progresses is marked by a change in tissue refractive index. The team has quantified the changes in tissue refractive index using a statistical biomarker — multifractal detrended fluctuation analysis (MFDFA). The statistical biomarker has two parameters (Hurst exponent and width of singularity spectrum) that help in quantifying the spectroscopy dataset.

While MFDFA provides quantification of light scattered from the tissues, artificial intelligence-based algorithms such as hidden Markov model (HMM) and support vector machine (SVM) help in discriminating the data and classifying healthy and different grades of cancer tissues.

“The classification of healthy and precancerous cells becomes robust by converting the information obtained from the scattered light into characteristic tissue-specific signature. The signature captures the variations in tissue morphology,” says Prof. Panigrahi.

“The MFDFA-HMM integrated algorithm performed better than the MFDFA-SVM algorithm for detection of early-stage cancer,” says Mukhopadhyay. “The algorithms were tested on in vitro cancer samples.”

In vivo samples

The team is expanding the investigations to study in vivo samples for precancer detection. While the accuracy achieved using in vitro samples was over 95%, based on a study of a few in vivo samples the accuracy is over 90%.

“In the case of in vitro samples we were able to discriminate between grade 1 and grade 2 cancer,” says Prof. Nirmalya Ghosh from IISER Kolkata and one of the authors of the paper. “More testing is needed using in vivo samples.”

“Superficial cancers such as oral and cervical cancers can be studied using this technique. And by integrating it with an endoscopic probe that uses optical fibre to deliver white light and surrounding fibres to collect the scattered light we can study cancers inside the body,” says Prof. Ghosh.

source: / The Hindu / Home> Sci-Tech> Science / by R. Prasad / December 23rd, 2017

IACS develops hydrogel to remove toxic dyes and metal ions

Useful tool: “The hydrogel can be used by the industries for effective treatment before wastewater disposal,” says Prof. Arindam Banerjee (Centre)

It could begin absorbing dyes within 15 minutes, metals in about 6 hours

Scientists from Indian Association for Cultivation of Sciences (IACS), Kolkata, have developed a new gel that can remove toxic organic dyes and metal ions from waste water. They found the hydrogel began absorbing various commonly used dyes within 15 minutes. The dyes tested were malachite green, congo red, brilliant blue and rhodomine B. In the case of metals, the hydrogel was able to considerably remove commonly found ones such as cobalt and nickel from industrial effluents in about six hours.

Basic amino acids like leucine and phenylalanine were used to make the gel; the gel is biodegradable. It was stable at room temperature and remained as a gel for several months.

Effective treatment

The current methods used for treating wastewater — adsorption using activated carbon, chemical precipitation or electrochemical techniques — are largely ineffective due to incomplete removal or high energy requirements. In comparison, the new hydrogel-based material is able to remove the hazardous waste effectively as it has high water permeability, large surface area for adsorption and is also simple to use.

“We monitored the uptake capacity of the hydrogel using UV spectroscopy and found that within a few hours the gel absorbed the dyes and the waste water turned almost colourless. The hydrogel can absorb the wastes for up to 60 hours before reaching a saturation point. The gel was able to remove 78-92% of the dyes and more than 80% metals ions,” explains Nibedita Nandi, research scholar at IACS and first author of the paper published in Peptide Science.

Reusable resource

“The hydrogel can be washed with sodium bicarbonate and ethyl acetate and reused. As the dyes and metal ions are soluble in water they get washed out from the gel and the hydrogel can be used for up to four cycles. It can be used by the industries for effective treatment before wastewater disposal,” says Prof. Arindam Banerjee, senior professor at the Department of Biological Chemistry, IACS, and corresponding author of the paper.

The researchers say that the production of the gel can be scaled up to the desired volume for use in water treatment at industries.

source: / The Hindu / Home> Sci-Tech> Science / by Aswathi Pacha / December 23rd, 2017

Kolkata boy defeats asthma, scales nine peaks in five years

Kolkata :

A mountaineer from Kolkata completed the rare feat of scaling nine peaks, including the Seven Summits (the highest peaks of each of the seven continents), on Saturday. Software engineer Satyarup Siddhanta, 34, climbed Mt Vinson in Antarctica shortly after 9am (local time) – his ninth summit since 2012.

An asthma patient who has never had any formal training in mountaineering, Siddhanta climbed the Everest in 2016. He has also scaled Mt Albrus, Mt Aconcagua, Mt Kilimanjaro, Puncak Jaya and Mt Denali. These apart, Siddhanta has also climbed Mont Blanc and Carsten’s Pyramid in Pappua New Guinea – the highest point in the Australian continent.

A resident of Kalitala Housing in Thakurpukur, Siddhanta is now based in Bangalore. According to his fellow climber Rudraprasad Haldar, Siddhanta once went to the Everest Base Camp and was inspired to begin his mountaineering journey, though he had no training. “It changed him forever and he decided to climb the Seven Summits,” said Haldar. Siddhanta’s website, however, mentions that he is a certified mountaineer from the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling.

He overcame asthma which could have been a major barrier. “I realized I needed to reduce my dependency on inhalers when I was in college. I was also allergic to food items which triggered asthma. I struggled for years, continuously challenging myself by avoiding inhalers and consuming the food I was allergic to, without taking anti-allergic medicines,” Siddhanta wrote on his website.

But he didn’t give up. “I wanted to push limits to see how far I could go. Finally, with exercises, discipline, diet and some considerable will power and determination, I got rid of asthma,” he wrote.

His mother Gayatri, a homemaker, stayed up all night on Friday, following his march to the peak of Vinson.

“I couldn’t sleep a wink. I was more relieved than happy when he finally reached the summit,” she said. Siddhanta’s father Subhamoy is a doctor.

Gayatri said Siddhanta received funds from a few corporates for the climb. “He also auctioned some of his belongings and took a loan of Rs 30 lakh,” she added.

source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Monotosh Chakraborty / TNN / December 17th, 2017