Category Archives: Amazing Feats

Policing feather in city girl cap

Millie Banerjee

London:

Calcutta-born Millie Banerjee has been appointed the new chairman of the UK’s College of Policing.

Actually, she has been interim chairman since November last year so her appointment was today made permanent by the home secretary, Amber Rudd.

“Working with Millie over the last year I have been impressed by the insight she brings from her time leading other public and commercial organisations, including the British Transport Police,” Rudd said on Thursday.

Millie’s responsibilities are highly sensitive – keep an eye on “standards in policing” across the 43 police forces in England and Wales; developing knowledge and “what works”; and assisting with education and career development.

It is possible she will want to exchange notes on policing in Calcutta.

“Millie” is really her nickname but it has come to stay as she has become part of the great and good in Britain. She was born Urmila Ray-Chaudhuri in Calcutta on June 30, 1946, and is friendly with a number of prominent figures in the city, among them the physicist Bikash Sinha.

Millie, who was honoured with a CBE on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2002 and was High Sheriff of Greater London in 2012-13, was chairman of the British Transport Police Authority for seven years and spent 30 years in the telecommunications and satellite industries. This included 25 years with BT in senior positions.

She is currently the chairman of NHS Blood and Transplant and a board member of East London NHS Foundation Trust.

Reacting to her confirmation, Millie said: “I have spent many years in policing and it has been a privilege to witness the dedication and compassion of officers and staff to protect the public. This is evident when I see that public approval for police has remained high despite officers and staff being faced with ever more complex crime, a reduced workforce and greater demand.

“We are dedicated to providing access to the best knowledge and skills which sits behind the bravery, dedication and compassion shown by police on a daily basis. We have ambitious plans ahead and I intend on working with people across policing to continue building a professional body that supports all officers and staff.”

source: http://www.telegraphindia.com / The Telegraph, Calcutta,India / Home> Calcuttu / by Amit Roy / November 17th, 2017

‘Longest’ sari in making

– Art work with colours of national flag

Krishnagar:

An award-winning weaver from Nadia’s Phulia is leading a team to make a 3.85km long sari, which he claims is the longest in the country.

The sari will be displayed at a Phulia school ground on January 1. The sari, being built at a cost of Rs 2.9 lakh, will have colours of the national flag – saffron, white and green.

Biren Kumar Basak, 72, who took the Sant Kabir award from Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year, said he would dedicate the sari to the nation on New Year’s Day as a tribute to his country.

Basak, who designed the sari and is financing the weaving, said: “This work of art will be longer than the 3.05km long sari made at Bharuch in Gujarat in March this year. I will dedicate the sari to the nation. I will then cut the polyester sari into 700 normal saris and distribute the same among the poor women of Phulia.”

Weavers busy making the sari at Phulia. Picture by Abhi Ghosh

The sari made in Gujarat earned a Guinness book entry.

Basak and five other weavers have been working almost round-the-clock at a power loom in Krishnagar using 316kg of yarn of saffron, green and white color brought from Surat to meet the target of January 1.

“My dream was to make the longest national flag. I then changed my mind and decided to make the longest sari using the colours of the Tricolour. My workers also supported the idea and I started working on it from September,” Basak said.

Raju Basak, a weaver who is monitoring the progress of the sari, said: “We have already completed around 3.2km and hope the target will be met.”

source: http://www.telegraphindia.com / The Telegraph,Calcutta,India / Home> West Bengal / by Subhasish Chaudhuri / November 13th, 2017

A north Bengal forest ranger people love to call ‘Singham’

In 2016, Sanjay Dutta and his team seized 14 leopard skins, 500 pieces of leopard and tiger bones, two rhino horns, live geckos, seven skins of clouded leopard and 11 jars of snake venom.

Ranger Sanjay Dutta (in black T-shirt) holding a baby crocodile seized from wildlife smugglers. (HT Photo)

In the forests of North Bengal, timber smugglers and poachers are in trouble. A 39-year-old forest ranger has come to be known as the ‘Forest Singham’ (lion of the forest) after having arrested hundreds of wildlife and timber smugglers.

As a ranger, Sanjay Dutta is in charge of 3,304 hectares of forest in the Belacoba range of Jalpaiguri district. The Chicken Neck area, a narrow strip of land lying adjacent to the international borders with Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan is especially known as a haven for poachers and smugglers. But with 15-20 seizures and 70-80 arrests a year, this has also become a happy hunting ground for the law enforcers.

In 2016, Dutta and his team seized 14 leopard skins, 500 pieces of leopard and tiger bones, two rhino horns, live geckos, seven skins of clouded leopard, 11 jars of snake venom and a cache of arms and ammunition.

In April this year, Dutta was made the head of a special task force set up to check wildlife smuggling in the forests of all the eight districts of north Bengal.

“Dutta has made numerous seizures and nabbed many offenders. He must have set a record by now. He is hardworking and brave and he has developed a network. Also, he maintains a very cordial relation with local people,” said M R Baloach, additional principal chief conservator of forest, West Bengal.

Sanjay Dutta receiving an award from chief minister Mamata Banerjee. (HT Photo)

A resident of Jalpaiguri, Dutta had to abandon his dream of becoming a police officer when his father, also a forest ranger, died at the age of 48. Dutta joined the department when he was only 18.

Ten years ago he was shot by timber smugglers while he was chasing a gang along the Teesta canal. One of the guards accompanying him was killed.

In 2016 Dutta became the only Indian recipient of the Clark R Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Award given by Animal Welfare Institute of Johannesburg. But Dutta missed the ceremony because he could not afford the trip to South Africa.

In view of the threat to his life, Dutta, a father of two, is provided with security personnel but that has not deterred him from staying in touch with people. He has set up a primary school in the Lodhabari forest area. He partly funded it with the Rs 25,000 cash award he got from the state government. Dutta arranged for another Rs 1.2 lakh from the joint forest management committee and started the school.

Over the years, Dutta, has helped many poor people, cancer patients and school children. Local people try to return the favour and love. Jyotshna Roy, head of a self-help group for women in Lodhabari said, “We have never seen a forest officer like him. He does not mind taking loan to help people in need. On Bhaiduj he was given ‘bhaiphota’ by 50 women.”

“With Dutta around, we know the forests are safe,” said Tula Mohammed, president of Hiramari Joint Forest Management Committee.

Visitors to the forest are frisked by state armed police (SAP) personnel. Fifteen of them work with Dutta. Shiv Sambu Som, an assistant sub inspector of SAP, said, “Working with Dutta is a new experience. He takes care of the staff and other employees. We don’t mind putting in extra hours to assist Dutta in nabbing offenders.”

“Dutta always leads an operation from the front,” added Lalit Tiwari, a forest department beat officer.

The Forest Singham however remains grounded. “I am no hero or celebrity. I love to work for the people and that’s what I do,” he told HT.

source: http://www.hindustantimes.com / Hindustan Times / Home> Cities> Kolkata / by Pramod Giri, Hindustan Times / November 07th, 2017

FIFA President Infantino Thanks West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has thanked West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for successfully organising the matches at various stages and the final of the Under-17 World Cup last month.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino. (Getty Images)

Kolkata:

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has thanked West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for successfully organising the matches at various stages and the final of the Under-17 World Cup last month.

In a letter from FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Infantino also praised Banerjee for the way the tournament was hosted at the Salt Lake Stadium including the final.

“I would like to congratulate your government on its role in your country’s successful hosting of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup. I would also like to thank you on behalf of the entire FIFA delegation for affording us such a cordial welcome and warm hospitality,” he wrote to Banerjee.

The FIFA president also praised Banerjee’s vision about the game in breaking down the cultural and social barriers and making the game accessible to all.

He also thanked the West Bengal government for the development of football and promoting the values of the game in India.

Promising all assistance from FIFA in developing the game in the region, Infantino lauded Banerjee for deciding on providing 15-acre of land to the AIFF for the National Centre of Excellence for Football near here.

The Salt Lake Stadium here had hosted 11 matches of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, including the final. Kolkata co-hosted the mega event along with New Delhi, Guwahati, Navi Mumbai, Kochi and Margao.

source: http://www.news18.com / News18.com / Home> Football / PTI / November 04th, 2017

Meet Miss Japan who is also half-Bengali!

For the world she is Priyanka Yoshikawa -Miss World Japan 2016.

But those close to her know her as Priyanka Yoshikawa Ghosh.

Born to a Bengali father and Japanese mother, she is the first woman from a multi-racial background to have won the pageant in Japan. But Priyanka’s journey was far from easy .

When she broke the glass ceiling, there were some who questioned why the title was not bestowed upon a `pure’ Japanese, but Priyanka found support in her nation and also in India, where she has her roots.

On a whirlwind tour to Kolkata where she attended a dinner hosted in her honour by Masayuki Taga, Consul General of Japan in Kolkata, Priyanka spoke to us about the backlash and support, tracing back her roots and why her family doesn’t discuss Prafulla Chandra Ghosh, her greatgrandfather and Bengal’s first chief minister, over dinner.

Excerpts:

Is this your first trip to Kolkata since you won Miss World Japan in 2016?

Yes. But I have been to the city quite a few times before that. I lived here when I was nine years old. That was for a year. I also studied in a school here. Even before that, I have been to the city when I was two or three, but I don’t have memories of those visits. Another long visit was five years ago, when I was 18. That time, I stayed here for a month. My father is Bengali and our extended family lives here. My connection with Bengal was established with my birth though I was not born here.During the one year I was here, I explored my father’s country and got to understand my roots.

On this visit for a day, did you get to meet your relatives living in Kolkata?

My father comes from a big family and he has many siblings. My uncle and aunt live in Kolkata.Some of my cousins are still here, but many got married and live abroad. Whenever I am in Kolkata, I visit them. I came on Sunday midnight and on Monday , I visited Mother House and later, went to a doctors’ meet. Though I was not in Kolkata on work, I am the brand ambassador of a charitable foundation, and ended up doing some meaningful work. I wanted to visit Kolkata ever since my win, but it was hard to get a vacation. Then, I got a few days off and came here on my way to Guwahati.

After you became Miss World Japan 2016, the first contestant from a multi-racial background to do so, you spoke about drawing inspiration from Ariana Miyamoto, born to a Japanese mother and African-American father, who won the Miss Universe Japan 2015. She had to endure racial backlash for being a hafu (a person with a non-Japanese parent), but since she set a precedent just the previous year, was it easier for you?

To be honest, Ariana was not exactly my inspiration. We participated in different pageants. I followed my own dreams, but I have tremendous respect for her.I didn’t know her before I won, but we became good friends after winning the title. I didn’t hear stories about her trials and tribulations, but she made it big as the first hafu to win a pageant in Japan. She had to face racial backlash as she was the first and people were not used to it. For me, I was the first for Miss World in the nation. Nothing has been easy even though Ariana won the previous year. I got good media coverage and though some people questioned my win, it never affected me. I was confident and was concen trating on the international pag eant where I made a mark after 60 years. During the pageant, there was no social media back lash, but after the win, some questioned why the title was not awarded to a `pure’ Japanese. I got a lot of support too. Messages came trickling in from hafus living in Japan, and also from Indian citizens. When you get such strong support, it gives you more confidence. I am proud to have an Indian in me, but that doesn’t mean I am not Japanese.

What were the celebrations like in India?

My relatives messaged me. My first cousins are very close to me. I call them didi. One of my didis lives in the US and she was a great support during the inter national pageant. She is eight nine years older than me and she and everyone else was happy about the win.

What was the homecoming like this time around?

I was excited as I was meeting everybody after five years.Visiting home and meeting my aunt, uncle, nephews was quite something. Though they are all in touch with me, talking to them on social media is different from meeting them. I got to eat Bengali food. I was looking forward to tasting some homecooked Indian food. I often crave for white chicken, which is perhaps called doi chicken. And I love phuchkas though I missed it this time. I was in Mumbai and had panipuris there, but it’s different from having phuchkas in Kolkata.

How did you learn to speak so fluently in Bangla?

I studied Bengali in school, but I picked it up naturally as everyone speaks Bengali around me in my family .

Your great-grandfather Prafulla Chandra Ghosh was the first chief minister of Bengal. You must have heard many stories about him from your father?

He was my great-grandfather, but I didn’t meet him. My father did tell me stories about him but only at times. I never really asked questions about him.Everybody in our family knows about him, but we don’t discuss him over dinner.

An elephant trainer, are you visiting Guwahati for a purpose?

My Guwahati trip is all about wild elephant conservation and nature conservation.

You have keen interest in Bengali movies…

I remember having seen The Japanese Wife and some others that I watched on flights. I can’t read or write in Bengali though I can speak the language. It’s sad that not many Bengali films can be found in Japan, though Bollywood movies -sometimes three years old -travel to the country . I love to watch them. I have grown up watching Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Kajol. Kajol is one of my favourite actresses.

Should you foray into Bengali films if an offer comes your way?

Yes, why not! I would also love to do something with films in India, maybe bring them to Japan… There are many takers for Indian films in Japan and I am sure a lot of people here are waiting to watching Japanese films. If I can bridge the gap, I will be the happiest.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> News> City News> Kolkata News / by Zinia Sen / TN / November 02nd, 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

Blind steer cars in rally

The Agarwals of Phoolbagan and Laxman Mondal, the navigator, with their amateur category trophies

On February 5, it was the sightless in the navigator’s seat as participants in a car rally made their way from Acropolis Mall to the Harley Davidson showroom in New Town.

The Exide Rotary Car Rally for the Blind was organised by the Rotary Club of Calcutta MidTown in partnership with Just Sportz & Turnstone Global in the TSD (time, speed and distance) format.

The TSD format requires each car to pass through several manned time control points in a specified time, failing in which one is penalised. The team with the least penalty points is declared the winner.

The blind persons guided the driver with the help of the route chart printed in Braille. The rally had about 300 participants with each team being paired with a visually impaired navigator. The route map in Braille was handed over to the teams just before the flag-off and could be deciphered only by the navigator.

There were trophies for professional rallyists, amateurs and all-women teams. Director general, fire services, Jag Mohan was present for the prize distribution ceremony.

The winner in the expert category was Avik Saha with Debargha Mukherjee as the navigator.

In the amateur category, the husband-wife duo of Sandeep and Mukti Agarwal won with Laxman Mondol as the navigator. “We were debutants but Laxman had won a rally before. He was so quick with the instructions that we won easily,” said Sandeep, a Phoolbagan resident.

source: http://www.telegraphindia.com / The Telegraph,Calcutta,India / Front Page> Salt Lake> Story / by A Staff Reporter / Friday – February 17th, 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

Now, Rs 5 wonder sachet to help you save teeth, bone

HIGHLIGHTS

. Scientists have developed an inexpensive kit to test the fluorosis level in the body

. The fluoride level detection kit that will soon be available in shampoo-like sachet
—————————————————————————————

Kolkata :

Scientists at a top-notch research institute in Durgapur have developed an easy-to-use, inexpensive kit to test the fluorosis level in the body so that one can take corrective measures before it causes teeth and bone deformity.

A team led by CSIR-CMERI scientist (surface engineering and tribology division) Dr Priyabrata Banerjee has developed the fluoride level detection kit that will soon be available in shampoo-like sachet. The sachets, to be priced around Rs 5 each, will contain two kits comprising two vials and a strip of colour-coded paper. While one vial will be empty, the other will contain a chemo-sensor liquid.

“All that a person has to do is spit into the empty vial, then pour the chemo sensor into it, close the vial and shake it vigorously. There will be an instant colour change, indicating the level of fluorosis in the body. If it is orange, it will indicate unsafe level of more than 1.5 ppm. Yellow indicates safe level of less than 1.5 ppm. The vial can be placed against the colour coded strip to match the colour and the fluorosis level it indicates,” Banerjee pointed out.

The Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI) is a leading mechanical engineering R&D institute under the aegis of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) that has developed technologies to provide societal solutions.The folurosis level detection kit is one such that has already been provisionally patented and technology tranferred to small scale industry for commercial production. The institute showcased this and other technologies at the 31st Indian Engineering Congress organised by the Institute of Engineers (India) in Kolkata recently.

“We expect the kits to be available in health stores in rural Bengal, particularly villages in Purulia, Bankura and Birbhum where fluorosis is a problem,” said Banerjee, who is the key inventor. Fluorosis can be dental, skele tal or non-skeletal and cause motteled teeth or deformity of limbs.

Banerjee’s team has also developed a chemo sensor station costing around Rs 2,000 each that will be placed at the primary health centres in fluorosis-affected districts where people can get the samples electronically verified.

“The salivary fluoride level detection kit is the latest technology that our scientists have come up with. The patent for this product was filed on November18,” said CSIR-CMERI director Harish Hirani.

Another technology that the R&D institute demonstrated was a smart card operated and pluggable energy meter through which one can instantly measure the energy level of an electrical installation using a smart phone. “One only needs to have internet connectivity or bluetooth to link a smart energy meter with a smartphone,” said a scientist.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Suman Chakraborti / TNN / December 20th, 2016

There will never be another Indian soldier-diplomat like you, Ms. Ghose

C’est n’est qu’un au revoir

ArundhatiGhoseKOLKATA28jul2016

Journalist: “Ambassador, Madam Ambassador, is India walking out of the talks?”

Ambassador: “India is going to the loo.”

The journalist was a correspondent for a Japanese news agency. The Ambassador was Arundhati Ghose who passed away this week (1940-2016). She was the Indian Ambassador to United Nations (UN) in Geneva. The year was 1996 – she was negotiating the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) on behalf of 900 million Indians. The diminutive lady with a cigarette in one hand, papers in the other and India in her heart single-handedly wreaked havoc on the Conference on Disarmament (CD). She did this for India.

Leading from the front and all guns blazing, she defended India’s decision to oppose the treaty. The talks hinged on India’s decision and pressure on New Delhi to sign the skewed and dishonest CTBT was multi-pronged and fierce. She didn’t blink – diplomats will tell you what blinking in such negotiations can mean. No she didn’t blink and ensured no one in India did either. That is an even more difficult task for an Indian diplomat to achieve.

I covered the talks. Staking out with hundreds of journalists at the UN became normal life if not at GATT-WTO, then at the UN. Has Ms. Ghose spoken to India, has Washington spoken to India, will India sign, do you know anything, what is she going to do next went the drift. I felt good – this was a great story.

More importantly, in all my years of reporting from abroad including from the UN, I had never seen an Indian diplomat defending India’s interests with such force, grit, grace and determination. At the GATT-WTO, down the road from the UN, India was conceding paragraph by clause on trade and market access to the demands of the very same P5 who were being dismantled by Ms. Ghose for their double-speak and hypocrisy at the CD.

Didn’t national interest include protecting trade interests? For a journalist, the contrast was stark and which each passing day, I admired Ms. Ghose. If she could do it, why not the other guys down the road? The answer was and continues to be simple – she was a committed Indian, India’s defence interests were not just a treaty, it was her soul and her substance. She walked and talked national security, especially South Asian security.

Picture this. Press conferences during the negotiations were held throughout the day with all of us chasing the P5 (United States, United Kingdom, France, China and Russia), sharing notes, placing each others’ tape recorders in strategic places – laptops and mobile telephones had just debuted. The more important CTBT press conferences were held in a large room, always jam-packed. What will India do or what do you think India will do was almost always the first question.

One such presser was called as the endgame neared. Sitting on the stage with the P5 manel, Ms. Ghose was unperturbed, taking notes, as Ambassador after Ambassador said New Delhi would be held responsible for the CTBT’s collapse. At one point a western P5 Ambassador said “…the people of the world want this treaty.” Ms. Ghose jumped in. Hello, she said. “Which people…I represent 900 million people and you will not ignore the wishes of my people. We are not signing the CTBT text on the table.” In a spontaneous gesture journalists were on their feet applauding Ms. Ghose. The logic was on India’s side – the world had failed its CTBT mandate. The air was electric.

In 1993 the UN gave the then 38-nation Geneva-based CD its first comprehensive mandate to negotiate a test ban treaty at the earliest. The scope of the proposed treaty quickly emerged as the most important and contentious aspect of the negotiations. Linked to the scope were verification and compliance protocols which obviously meant on-site inspections. An international monitoring system would check cheaters but fears grew that this was a fishing expedition in disguise.

Just ahead of the CTBT, India said that the indefinite extension of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) – a gift the then nuclear weapons states had given to each other to blow the world apart – was an act of bad faith. Given that reality, New Delhi said any meaningful CTBT could not be a standalone piece and must be part of a time-bound global disarmament process. That set the cat among the pigeons, then.

How did Ms. Ghose handle it? How many phone calls did the Indian Prime Minister take? It was a long way from Arkansas to Haradhanahalli – maybe the Indian Prime Minister was resting when the phone rang, maybe the two men just didn’t understand each other. All we knew was that Ms. Ghose had a mandate and she was going to work it for her people. Ambassadors are supposed to do just that. Serve their countries.

Ms. Ghose did all the heavy lifting and then there were moments that tugged at your heartstrings. She told me about a visit to a bank during one of her trips to New Delhi. The clerk looked at her name, jumped up, told her the entire nation was behind her as she negotiated the ‘NTPC’ in Geneva – such was the groundswell of support for her. There were other anecdotes, of people stopping her on the streets of India, Ms. Ghose and the journalists hanging out in Geneva over peels of laughter even as she scolded us for following her to the loo or not allowing her a peaceful moment for a puff at 3 a.m.

As I write this, I wonder if Ms. Ghose is not telling god what she thinks of the man with the yellow hair trying to make his way to the White House. There will never be another like you Ms. Ghose. This is but a goodbye.

source: http://www.thenewsminute.com / The News Minute / Home / by Chitra Subramanian / Wednesday – July 27th, 2016