Category Archives: World Opinion

3 Kolkata directors to be part of Oscar panel

Kolkata:

The Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences has invited 14 popular personalities associated with Indian cinema to be a part of its Oscar committee. Three eminent directors from Kolkata — Mrinal Sen, Buddhadeb Dasgupta and Goutam Ghose — are also in this list.

Incidentally, all three directors have never been in awe of the Oscars. Their names have been often associated with awards at Berlin, Venice and Cannes film festivals. Though highly respected in the art-house circuit of international cinema, none of them have ever won an Oscar or sent their films for consideration at the awards.

Dasgupta has never been known to have rated Oscars as the highest film event. “I have never been inspired by Hollywood. For me, Oscars has never been a benchmark for great cinema. I don’t remember aspiring for an Oscar either. Having said that, I must also mention that being invited to be a part of the committee is definitely a kind of honour for me. I have accepted the offer,” the director said.

Ghose shared that he was once the chairperson of the board that decided on which Indian film must be sent as the Oscar entry. “India produces a lot of films. Thus, we had sent a request asking if more than one film can be sent from here,” he said. Though Ghose insists that he has never been crazy for Oscars, he doesn’t have any conflict with this award ceremony. “Why just Oscars? I haven’t even craved for a Palme d’Or at Cannes. Oscar is basically an award for English language films released in the US. It is also true that some masterpieces have never got an Oscar. Even Alfred Hitchcock didn’t get an Oscar. Yet it is important to see that the academy is expanding and constituting a large committee,” Ghose said.

At 94, Sen is just a year younger than the oldest invitee (American actress Betty White). When TOI asked the director’s son Kunal about his father’s reaction to the invitation, he said, “I have mentioned it to him. He didn’t show any interest or curiosity. It makes little difference as he doesn’t watch films any more. Even when he was active, he showed no interest in the Oscars or the type of the films that compete for it. He didn’t even watch a lot of Hollywood productions. Therefore, I doubt he would have been too involved even if it happened years ago.”

Incidentally, Sen has once famously said, “Oscars didn’t make ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ a great film.”

“He preferred more serious films, not the crowd-pleasing ones that Oscars generally lean towards,” Kunal said. On being asked if Sen’s films were ever sent to the Oscars, Kunal said, “He preferred the European festivals. So, I don’t think he would have considered it, and I am not aware of any of his producers who did it either.”

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Priyanka Dasgupta / TNN / July 12th, 2017

Midmark (India) sets up experience centre in Kolkata

Kolkata :

Midmark (India), a provider of medical, dental and veterinary equipment and solutions, has set up its first experience centre in Kolkata.

This incidentally will be the company’s first “state-of-the-art” experience centre in the eastern part of the country.

The display centre will showcase a “Barrier Free” OPD room, advance hospital beds and allied medical furniture. Customers will be taken on an interactive journey through the product and solution offerings and will be able to discuss about efficient clinical spaces with the experts, the company said in a press release.

The company operates in four main business areas: medical furniture, including hospitals beds and OPD spaces, diagnostics, homecare and skill development.

According to Sumeet Aggarwal, MD, Midmark (India), the new national health policy plans to add 1.8 million beds in the next ten years.

“In line with this vision, we have an ambitious expansion plan for eastern India which includes launching three more experience centres in eastern India and another 12 in other regions of the country over the next 2 months,” he said.

source: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com / Business Line / Home> News / by The Hindu Bureau / Kolkata – April 11th, 2017

Kolkata-based oil & gas co set to buy LSE-listed firm

Kolkata :

City-based PFH Oil and Gas, promoted by Harsh V Poddar of Poddar group, is in talks with London Stock Exchange (LSE)-listed companies for acquisition to expand its energy business. The Poddar-led firm has won three gas blocks from ministry of petroleum and natural gas last week. It is one of the youngest firms in India and the only firm from east to be allotted these oil and gas blocks by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in this round of auction held on February 16.

Out of these three fields, two are in KG basin (Andhra Pradesh) and one in Cambay basin in Gujarat. During the latest auction round, CCEA awarded contracts for 44 fields, mostly smaller fields of ONGC and OIL India. A total of 47 companies submitted their bids for these blocks, out of which four were foreign companies.

Poddar, a 29 year MBA from Yale and a graduate of Duke University who came back to Kolkata after over an eight-year stint in the US, told TOI that his plan is to acquire the LSE-listed company and merge it with PFH through which its hydrocarbon firm, too, would be listed on LSE. “We are in advance talks with two-three firms. I am going to the UK later this week to finalize a deal,” he added.

However, Poddar didn’t disclose the names of the UK firms citing LSE restrictions

According to Poddar, the three gas fields awarded to PFH have adequate reserve. “There are four drilled wells, and the company plans to drill at least 11 additional wells in the near future. Our portfolio currently consists of three fields in India, which we expect to bring into production by the end of the year. By 2020, we aim to have a portfolio of at least 10 producing blocks in India,” he added. Over the next 20 years, PFH has set a target to become one of the largest global exploration and production companies with a focus on gas.

A young serial entrepreneur, Poddar has acquired or started companies in IT, semiconductors, shipping and environment engineering across India, the US, China and Israel over the last eight years. According to him, Yogeshwar Sharma, based in France, has recently been appointed as a director on the board of PFH. He is the co-founder of Hardy Oil and Gas plc, a London-listed company and served as its CEO until May 2012. PFH Oil and Gas is advised by Manuel Pinho, who had served as economy minister of Portugal from 2005-2009.

Apart from upstream business of exploration and production (E&P), it is also planning to focus on building mid-stream business like infrastructure such as pipelines in the KG basin to make it easier for independent and smaller E&P companies to enter the industry in the future. “Since transportation infrastructure in India is predominantly government-owned, often capacity constraints and lack of competition make it difficult for smaller private companies to negotiate a deal and efficiently transport and market their production. We aim to contribute towards building the necessary ecosystem to make India a vibrant domestic oil and gas market,” he added.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Udit Prasanna Mukherji / February 22nd, 2017

Doctor far-off, care close by – Satellite health unit set up at remote Rimbick

A patient being treated at the medical unit at Rimbick. Telegraph picture

Darjeeling :

An idea that bagged an award from the Acadèmia de Ciències Mèdiques, a forum of healthcare professionals in Barcelona, Spain, has blossomed into a fruitful project that is saving human lives in one of the farthest corners of Darjeeling district in Rimbick.

Plaban Das, a medical director of Planter’s Hospital in Darjeeling, during his advanced medical studies at La Santpau hospital in Barcelona, had through his Spanish friends proposed an idea in 2009 to create a satellite healthcare unit in remote areas.

The idea we bagged the Beques de Cooperacio Academia del Mon award that carried a prize money of 200 Euros in 2009.

“Anna Goma, a Spanish doctor, has presented the idea to the academy and it bagged the first prize. It was just an idea then and wanted to replicate the same in Rimbick, where I had conducted a medical camp in 2007,” said Das.

He mulled over the idea for long and once social media, more particularly WhatsApp, became common among people, he started working on the project.

“The basic idea was to ensure the people of Rimbick and its surrounding areas quick medical intervention during emergencies so that lives could be saved,” said Das.

Rimbick is about 90km from Darjeeling and one has to trek 6-7km further to reach the villages of Srikhola and Daragoan.

“With the help of local people, we formed a 12-member committee and set up the Rimbick Singalila Health Care Centre, a no-loss-no-profit venture which was inaugurated on September 13, 2015,” said Das.

Das made a personal contribution of Rs 2.5 lakh, along with the prize money of 100 Euros (the remaining 100 Euros was used in a project in Nigeria), while local people contributed around Rs 1 lakh. “Dr Hem Gosai, who practices in London but is from Darjeeling, later contributed Rs 1 lakh when he heard about the project,” said Das.

Two nurses, one para-medic and two technicians run the two-bedded centre at Rimbick with ECG, X-ray machine, nebuliser, oxygen cylinder and lab equipment.

“Whenever there is an emergency, the nurses contact me through WhatsApp. Primary tests are done there and they send the report on Whatsapp to me. Then I prescribe preliminary treatment right away, which is important in cases like brain stroke and heart attacks,” said Das.

Prakash Gurung, GTA Sabha member of the area, has also donated an ambulance to the centre.

In fact, this year, the centre observed a Stroke Survival Day, where five patient who had become paralytic and fully recovered because of immediate medical intervention were felicitated.

Shiva Rai, a hotelier, said: “I would not have been speaking to you had the centre not been there. I had gone to bed normally but in the morning, I found that my hands were paralytic and my face slanted. I could recover fully because of immediate medical intervention.

Binod Kumar Rai, a teacher of Rimbick Higher Secondary School, said: “I had a bee sting followed by fever and diarrhea. I recovered immediately. Importantly, my relative who had a stroke also recovered well.”

The centre needs Rs 30,000 on an average a month to function. “They charge a minimum amount. If we were to go and meet Dr Das in Darjeeling we need to spend anything between Rs 2000 to Rs 3000. But treatment is much cheaper and efficient at the Rimbick centre,” said Binod.

Das, along with other doctors visit the centre, once a month. A group of doctors from Zion Hospital in Nagaland held a free medical camp on February 15 there.

“People from Nepal also visit the centre now,” said Das.

Apart from the Spanish doctor, Anna, Martha Gallego, a nurse, Pau Casan Bonet, a pianist, and Begonya Crespo Bosque held a musical event in Barcelona to support the centre.

A similar project is being worked out for Badamtam tea garden, about 20km from Darjeeling.

source: http://www.telegraphindia.com / The Telegraph,Calcutta,India / Front Page> North Bengal> Story / by Vivek Chhetri / Monday- February 20th, 2017

Film on messiah of pavements to hit Kolkata screen tomorrow

Kolkata :

At 87, this doctor bends over to listen to heartbeats. He bends slightly more these days, but there is otherwise no sign of fatigue on his weather-beaten face. You may have not been lucky to come across Jack Preger — the healer on Kolkata pavements as, he is popularly called — at work, but here’s a film that captures the journey of the British farmer-turned-doctor who has been serving destitutes on Kolkata streets since the 70s.

The film, ‘Doctor Jack’, directed by French filmmaker Benoit Lange, is an 83-minute film that has already won a coveted international award and is likely to enter some more competitions this year.

It will be screened by Alliance Francaise for a select audience on Thursday and will open for public screening at a popular south Kolkata movie hall the next day.

The French/Swiss film released in those two countries in 2016 and won in the documentary section of the prestigious Solothurn Film Festival, Switzerland. Camerawork by renowned European cinematographer Camille Cottagnoud has received critical acclaim worldwide. The filmmaker has donated the entire amount of 20,000 Swiss Franc to Preger’s organization, Calcutta Rescue.

Born in 1930 in Manchester, Preger’s life has been extraordinary. After graduating from Oxford University with economics and political science, he took up a career in hill farming. It was during this time that he realised that he had a different call in life and that he should spend the rest of his life trying to take medical benefit to the poor who cannot afford structured treatment.

After training as a surgeon at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Preger decided to leave the first world for good and go to Bangladesh to treat war refugees.

Thereafter, he reached Kolkata and started his clinic on the pavements of Middleton Row. For years, he ran this clinic before Calcutta Rescue spread its wings crisscrossing pavements of the city.

“It took me four years to make the film, such is the mystery of the man. Where does he get so much strength from? I call him the Don Quixote of modern times — a farmer metamorphosing into a messiah. What an exceptional destiny,” said Lange.

Preger, however, in his characteristic humour explained, “Sometimes you don’t choose life…life chooses you.”

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey / TNN / February 16th, 2017

The accidental zamindar – The East India Company did not learn its lessons well

A painting by Benjamin West, 1765, of the Mughal emperor, Shah Alam, transferring the right of tax collection to Lord Clive

East India Company was basically a commercial enterprise; till the end it continued to make good money by exporting Indian goods. In the 19th century, its monopoly was corroded by the entry of other British traders; but trade continued to be a major activity till its demise in 1858.

But it was an odd bird from its birth. The Spanish and Portuguese adventurers who preceded it were an explicit extension of their home governments; the British crown, on the contrary, kept out of the Company’s affairs abroad. Charles II gave the Company power to judge and punish people in its territory abroad according to the laws of his kingdom in 1661; the power to make locally applicable laws followed.

The injunction assumed that the Company would occupy and own territory. But its territory in India was not virgin territory; it had its own administrative structure, of which the Company became one pillar. So it had two masters; and in so far as the two never talked to each other, it had considerable freedom of manoeuvre. But legislation and administration were not its main business; it tried to minimize the effort it put into them. One way it did so was to use local law where it existed, and import British law where there was no local law.

The two differed greatly in respect of landed property. In 1660, King Charles II abolished personal service due from noblemen and converted it into a monetary obligation; that is how land revenue became the dominant tax in Britain. In India, too, land revenue was the major tax; it was reckoned as a third of agricultural produce under Akbar. But it was not always in cash. And it did not necessarily go to the king; the nobleman delivered his dues in cash or in military service. The feudal structure applied to the Mogul empire, but not necessarily to other, smaller kingdoms. So when Lord Clive defeated the Mogul army in 1765 and took the Diwani of Bengal, the Company had to learn the ins and outs of zamindari.

The lessons it learnt are the main part of Law and the Economy in Colonial India, a new book by Tirthankar Roy and Anand V. Swamy. They are an odd pair. Tirthankar is a first-class economic historian. But he is not a leftist; so he faced discrimination from the academic powers-that-be in India. Finally he got fed up and left India; now he teaches in the London School of Economics. Anand Swamy teaches economics in Williams College. They have been running into each other in conferences, and working together on books once in a while.

Their conclusion is that the Company did not learn the lessons well. Its laws led to thousands of cases in Bengal relating to property, tenancy and rent; the system remained overloaded throughout British rule, and cases took decades. As if property law was not obscure enough, legal proceedings were complicated by succession law, which differed according to religion. They do not say so, but the mess was sorted out after Independence, first by legislation abolishing zamindari, and more slowly by population growth, which reduced the size of holdings.

It is difficult to imagine today that Indians could own slaves till 1843; and once slavery was abolished by law, all they had to do was to give a loan to the slave and turn him into a bonded labourer. That is not surprising, since Britain itself outlawed slavery only in 1811. But slavery served a purpose under conditions of labour shortage, which was commonly faced by plantations in the north-east. There were not enough workers in the area; they had to be brought from far away, most often tribals from Chhota Nagpur, which is now Jharkhand. Loading them into bullock carts and transporting them hundreds of miles cost money; a planter could not afford to bring them and then let them walk over to a neighbouring planter for a higher wage. So planters asked for and got laws which empowered them to jail their workers for not repaying a loan. But maltreating workers also earned a planter a bad reputation that he would rather avoid; so planters who could get and retain workers more easily avoided using penalties. Roy and Swamy deal with these labour market adjustments in some detail.

I found their discussion of contract law fascinating. Before the statification of the Company, Indian governments did not legislate or enforce laws. But commerce had existed for millennia; and where there was trade, there was always scope for cheating and breach of promise. Traders used social networks to deal with these risks; loss of reputation and standing was the punishment for breach of contract. But this could work only with those who had reputation to lose; it could not work with Santhal labourers or indigo farmers. When it came to workers, the Company gave penal powers to their employers. That could not be done with indigo farmers; they were not housed by indigo buyers, and could not be jailed or beaten up. So indigo buyers collected chits documenting debt against various farmers, and when an opportunity arose, sold them off to someone who had greater influence on the debtors. Partly under their influence, a contract act was passed in the 1860s; but few cases were filed under it.

Such are the narratives collected by Roy and Swamy. Their book is neither a treatise on law nor a history book: it does not systematically align legislation and case law, and it does not tell a story. The topics it has chosen are broad; a systematic treatment would take more space. Making a history out of it would require a larger role for the personalities involved; a legal treatise would require links with both legislative and case law. So there is a case for expanding the book.

Roy and Swamy should also try their hand at pathology of Indian law. The Indian judicial system is hugely overloaded, and extremely slow; the two aspects are connected, but slowness is not just due to overload. It is a good deal due to antiquated procedure; for instance, judges let lawyers drone on and on, briefs cite piles of cases unnecessary to make the point, and courts give postponements and adjournments for the asking. There are too many briefless lawyers, and too few judges. High courts reverse a high proportion of lower court judgments, generally on the ground of poor police investigation. Other systems have faced these problems and overcome them.

No one in India has looked critically at the judicial system except Arun Shourie; anyone who thinks of doing so is bound to consider the possibility that he may face judicial bias if he is hauled to court. Roy and Swamy do not have to worry about that. At worst, a book of theirs would be banned in India. But that would not be much of a loss; hardly any book sells more than a thousand or two copies in India, and the publicity would increase the book’s sales outside. If the judicial system is to be repaired, someone has to start somewhere, and no one is better placed to do so than Roy and Swamy.

source: http://www.telegraphindia.com / The Telegraph,Calcutta,India / Front Page> Opinion> Story / Writing On The Wall: Ashok V. Desai / Tuesday – February 14th, 2017

Kolkata girl bridges Bengal-Costa Rica gap

Kolkata :

This saree-clad, Spanish-speaking woman had stood out in the Costa Rica pavilion of the Kolkata Book Fair. Nothing about her looks and demeanour was Central American and yet she seemed so much at home, spreading native Costa Rican cheer. But speaking to a visitor at the pavilion, her Spanish changed into pure Bengali within seconds. Kolkata girl Baishakhi Saha has made it big in Costa Rica to gain permanent residency from the government there.

Saha used to live in Salt Lake and studied at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan before settling down with her parents in Chennai. Her ties to the city, however, remained strong as the family often returned to visit relatives. Always a brilliant student, Saha bagged a scholarship from the Singapore department of education to major in computer science and minor in German from University of Singapore. It was during her stay there that she realised being part of university exchange programmes would help her see the world.

However, she soon realised that with a partial scholarship, it was quite an expensive proposition for an Indian girl with a middle-class background. Around this time, she participated in a global essay-writing competition hosted by the government of Switzerland, on how Europe still inspires imaginations. This won her a limited period stay in Switzerland, which was a turning point in her life. “I yearned see the whole of Europe.

There were many like me and I soon found that by becoming a member of Aiesec, a global students’ body, I could get placed in jobs and get internships that could help me with that. Luckily, I managed to clear the necessary tests and was called for an interview to Malayasia, after which I was awarded a management internship with Model United Nations in Nigeria. It was a two-month job and I made $200 a month — quite a hand-to-mouth situation, but I enjoyed every moment of it,” Baisakhi recalls.

For the next one-and-a-half years she travelled the length and breadth of the west coast of Africa for the TV show Goge Africa. Aiesec acknowledged her work and her next assignment was that of an English teacher in Venezuela, after which she got a similar assignment in Costa Rica. By then, she had started writing her book, ‘magicNine’. The book was a success and Baisakhi was soon giving inspirational talks and teaching business communications at institutes. Her popularity made the Costa Rican government acknowledge her contribution and offer her permanent residency.

“Life has been a dream since then. Costa Rica is more or less like Kerala or Goa if you want to compare Indian situations. I come to Kolkata once in a while, but I have plans to take slices of Bengali culture there now,” Baisakhi said. She is a dancer too and has performed Indian dances in Costa Rica, which have been instant hits. As one of the few Bengalis in a distant land, she has much to do to bridge the two cultures, she explained.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey / TNN / February 13th, 2017

Diversity makes US great, says Nasa scientist from Kolkata

Goutam Chattopadhyay.

Kolkata :

A jet propulsion scientist at Nasa who grew up in the suburbs of Kolkata believes America owes much of its success to immigrants.

“The driving force of America is the assimilation of people from all over the world; people who are talented and have used the opportunities to drive innovation. That is what makes America great,” said Goutam Chattopadhyay, who migrated to the ‘land of opportunities’ in 1992 and lived his dreams.

Growing up in utter poverty in Konnagar, Chattopadhyay was not allowed to sit in a Class III exam as his school fee (Rs 8) hadn’t been paid. Still, he finished second in class that year, the only time he did so as he topped his class right up to his engineering degree in Electronics & Telecommunication from BE College, Shibpur. He had even cracked IIT entrance exam but could not study since his family could not afford it.

From BE College, Chattopadhyay went to TIFR in 1987. That’s when his horizon widened. “Till then, I wasn’t sure what to do other than take up a job to support my family,” the senior scientist recounted. As a design engineer at the premier institute, he was part of the team that designed the Giant Meterwave Radio Telescope (GMRT). Chattopadhyay designed the Local Oscillator System that converts the signal that comes from the sky into lower frequency signal that is easier to process.

In 1992, he went to the US to pursue higher studies, doing his masters at the University of Virginia and then PhD at California Institute of Technology (Caltech). There, he was in the group that developed Terahertz that will come into commercial telephony when 5G is rolled out.

On completion of the PhD in 1999, he got a call from Nasa. “Looking back, it has been an amazing journey and it has been possible because the US has been welcoming. I don’t think Indian students will be affected by what is happening right now. These are short-term bumps. I hope this will not stop the flow of talent to the US,” he said.

Chattopadhyay is currently working on a project that could help President Donald Trump overcome some of the fears on homeland security. His team is using Terahertz to do a remote pat-down of suspects. A project for the department of Homeland security, it is a device that allows law enforcement agencies to remotely scan a person to detect guns or bombs hidden under the jacket. “It can work at a 30-40 metre distance and be of use in airports and stations,” he explained.

Talking of airports, Chattopadhyay missed the crowds waiting at LA airport to welcome immigrants to protest against Trump’s ban on seven Muslim-majority countries as a judge in Seattle had put a stay on the executive order a day before he took his flight to India. Though he wasn’t worried about taking this trip as there are no restrictions on travel from India, fellow colleagues in Nasa who hail from the countries under the scanner won’t risk a visit ‘home’ anytime soon.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / TNN / February 09th, 2017

Chinese New Year celebrated in the oldest China Town in Kolkata

The first sounds you hear as you head towards Bentinck Street in Central Kolkata are those of measured thumping and co-ordinated beats of the drums. As the clamour reaches its crescendo, a giant lion mask made of paper mache, red and golden cloth springs to life and starts twisting and turning to the beats.

Welcome to India’s oldest China Town nestled in the chaotic central Kolkata which is decked up in red and golden to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Only, there are not enough members of the community left to conduct the lion dance for the 20 odd clubs that is an integral part of the New Year celebrations. Youths from other communities perform this ritual for several clubs.

“We thrived here,” said Jen Lee, 72, sitting in a tea shop near Kunga Hotel, close to Tiretti Market. “Our children played in these lanes and attended local schools. We had Chinese schools and our own newspapers. But now it’s mostly memories. In a few years we’ll all be gone or dead.”

But the dwindling number of the community did not hamper the spirit of the festivities on Saturday. The congested and dilapidated neighbourhood of Chatawala Gali, Lu Hsien Sarani and Tiretti Market where residences, small Chinese eateries and small manufacturing units hang cheek by jowl metamorphosised into an island of revelry. The entire neighbourhood is decorated in red and gold.

Members of the community dressed in their gladrags and festive fineries strutted to their local churches early in the morning. They light incense sticks and pray at temples to wish for an auspicious start to the New Year.

“The day starts with offering prayers after which friends and family visit each other. The lion dance where groups of youngsters visit households to offer their wishes and collect gits is the highlight of the day,” said Dominic Lee, a businessman and community veteran in Central Kolkata.

Other New Year’s traditions include the eating of dumplings and the lighting of fireworks on the eve of the New Year. “Lion dancing is our way of not only paying tribute to our ancient culture,” Tseng said. “It is also our chance to hold on to the past while living in the present. Since there are such few Chinese youths are left in the city, youngsters from other communities are keeping this tradition alive. This tradition will stay even if the city is left with no Chinese.”

Mohammed Imran, who was born and brought up in China Town learnt the lion dance from one of his Chinese frinds who has not migrated to Canada. “Uncles and aunties tell request me to perform the lion dance for their clubs because there are no Chinese youths in their clubs. They have all migrated,” said Imran.

Each Chinese New Year is characterised by one of 12 animals that appear in the Chinese zodiac. This is the year of the rooster and people born in the Year of the Monkey are believed to be hardworking, courageous, resourceful and talented.

Calcutta, which was home to 30,000 ethnic Chinese in 1962, has just about 3,000 today. Although Chinese food keeps soaring in popularity the affable Chinese dry-cleaners, the shoe-makers, the dentists and the tanners have all but gone.

Kolkata has the oldest China Towns in the country that exist in two clusters. The one in central Kolkata nestled between New CIT Road and BB Ganguly Street is the older of the two. The other one is in Tangra.

A revival plan that has hit a road block due to a dispute over a garbage dump on New CIT Road reflects that hardly anybody is bothered about restoring the dwindling Chinese population in Kolkata. This is the year of rooster which denotes courage, talent and hard work. In a few years to come, the slice of city will be no more.

Though the numbers of the community has been dwindling fast, Chinese New Year is an occasion when members of the community get together and greet each other.

Kung Hei Fat Choi (wishing you happiness and prosperity in the New Year)

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Zeeshan Javed / TNN / January 28th, 2017

Queen Victoria’s last letter to India unveiled at Victoria Memorial

The three-page hand written letter, dated December 14, 1900 with a Royal Seal and Windsor Castle being written next it

The letter, written nearly a month before the monarch’s death, was was gifted by Lord Curzon in 1904.

Queen Victoria’s last letter to India, written 116 years ago, is on display for the first time at the Victoria Memorial, one of the finest monuments built in her memory.

The three-page handwritten letter, dated December 14, 1900 and bearing the Royal Seal, was unveiled for the public on December 16 at the Prince Hall of the Victoria Memorial.

“This letter is an important piece of historical correspondence between British India and Britain. The letter was gifted by Lord Curzon in 1904,” Jayanta Sengupta, curator of the Victorial Memorial told The Hindu.

Mr. Sengupta, also a historian, pointed out that the letter by Queen Victoria was written nearly a month before her death. She passed away on January 22, 1901.

The letter is Queen Victoria’s reply to the then Viceroy, Lord Curzon, who in an earlier correspondence to the Queen had expressed his sympathies on the death of one of her “soldier grandsons” “The Queen Empress has to thank the Viceroy for the very kind letter of the 9th November, full of sincerest sympathy of her beloved soldier grandson…,” the letter begins.

The references in the letter are to the death of Prince Christian Victor, the eldest son of the third daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Prince Christian died on October 29, 1900 in Pretoria, South Africa during the Second Boer War.

“He was as good as he was brave,” Queen Victoria writes in the letter about her grandson. “All the Viceroy says of her own trials and anxieties the Queen feels very much, and she cannot deny that she feels a good deal shaken by them.”

Along with the handwritten letter, a typed copy of the text has been displayed alongside for the convenience of visitors.

Within few weeks of Queen Victoria’s death in January 1901, a meeting was convened at the Town Hall of Calcutta in February 1901, when a resolution was passed for constituting an all-India fund for building a memorial. King George V, then the Prince of Wales, laid the foundation stone of the Victoria Memorial on January 4, 1906 and it was formally opened to the public in 1921.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Other States / by Shiv Sahay Singh / December 21st, 2016