Monthly Archives: March 2016

The call of tabla

Tabla player Rimpa Siva.
Tabla player Rimpa Siva.

Tabla artiste Rimpa Siva on her passion and why she has no role models.

Hyderabad :

At three, when most of her friends were busy playing with dolls, Rimpa Siva was mesmerised with the sounds of tabla that resonated at home. She would sit next to her father pandit Swapan Siva, a respected tabla artiste and guru in Kolkata as he taught his disciples. “Initially, my father thought I would either choose vocals or some other instrument but never imagined I would take to the tabla,” she reminisces. However, her teacher-father saw the lingering passion in the child and began with the basics of tabla. “He realised my ‘shaukh’ for tabla was not casual and felt if he tutored me, I would take it forward.”

With her father’s guidance, Rimpa Siva was hailed as a child prodigy and she gave a stage performance in Kolkata when she was just eight! She soon started giving performances in music festivals and concerts; a high point was her performance in USA when she was in Standard VI. It was followed by performances in Holland and UK.

As a teenager, did she miss out on going out with friends? “I never felt anything like that. Tabla mera sab kuch hai (It is everything in my life,” she states. Her passion and accomplishments earned laurels and a French documentary titled ‘Rimpa Siva Princess of Tabla’ was made in ’98. “The crew came to Kolkata and shot the documentary in 26 days. They showed my school, the environment, the time I spent for practice and training sessions with my father. The documentary showed how I spend my day,” she recalls with a smile.

Speaking about her riyaaz, Rimpa states, “There is no set time. Sometimes, I practice for three hours. When I play tabla, I am lost in it and do not know how much time I have spent. I guess it is the same in any creative field. When you are passionate, it becomes a part of your being,” she points out.

The 30–year–old says the audience is very appreciative of her tabla concerts. “Woman playing tabla is no big deal for the urban crowd,” she says and adds, “Tabla is not easy to learn. “There is no gender issue but playing tabla requires dexterity and concentration. In singing too, one has to sit for long hours and practice; so that is not an issue. Only thing is we play with the fingers and women’s fingers are delicate,” she explains.

Rimpa belongs to the Farukhabad gharana and delights in playing kaida, peshkar and gat. Her inspiration is her father but she has no role models. “One should strive to be unique and not try to be someone else. If you try to be someone else, that will be a copy,” she smiles.

All-woman band
Formed a year ago, Nari Shakti, an all-woman band is another significant feature of her artistic career. “I play the fusion tabla and there are women musicians playing instruments like Pakhawaj and sitar. I wanted to encourage women musicians to come forward. The response has been good. For this year’s Woman’s Day, we did a show for television in Kolkata on March 17,” she states. Among the tabla artistes across the country, Rimpa makes a mark as a woman tabla artiste. What is unique is the fact that she has carved a place for herself among the male tabla players across the country.

Rimpa adds how music has taught her the truth of life. “I have interacted and observed many people. I have realised that our hearts have to be pure with no malice. If you cause pain to others, that pain will come back to you. One should also never lie and hurt others.”

(Rimpa Siva was in Hyderabad recently for a performance at State Art Gallery as part of the National Exhibition of Contemporary Art 2016.)

source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> Friday Review / by Neeraja Murthy / Hyderabad – March 31st, 2016

Indian-American Named President, CEO of Bank of The West

Photo Credits: Nandita Bakshi via Linkedin
Photo Credits: Nandita Bakshi via Linkedin

Houston :

Indian-American Nandita Bakshi has been appointed the President and Chief Executive Officer of Bank of the West, a unit of French banking giant BNP Paribas.

Bakshi, 57, will replace Michael Shepherd as Bank of the West’s next President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and is expected to join the bank as a CEO-in-training on April 1 and will take the helm officially on June 1.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in History at the University of Calcutta and a masters in International Relations and Affairs at Jadavpur University.

A New England News ‘Woman of the Year’ award recipient in 2002, Bakhshi also serves on the board of the Consumer Bankers Association.
“I am excited to join Bank of the West, one of America’s most reputable banks. Bank of the West is well positioned in the US market, and I am thrilled at the prospect of leading an organisation with such a strong focus on customer service,” Bakhshi said in a statement.

“We are pleased to welcome Nandita Bakhshi to Bank of the West. Her extensive experience in product and distribution, coupled with her visionary thinking, relentless customer focus and values-driven philosophy will serve us well in taking Bank of the West to greater heights,” head of international retail banking for BNP Paribas Stefaan Decraene said.

Bank of the West’s parent company BNP Paribas is revamping its US operations to meet new regulations.

“I am very pleased that Nandita Bakhshi is joining Bank of the West. Her energy, innovative ideas and proven record of accomplishments are a great combination with our strong franchise and corporate culture,” Shepherd said.

Bakhshi previously held several leadership roles at TD Bank, the most recent being executive vice president and head of North American direct channels where she was responsible for driving innovation in direct and electronic channels to improve digital adoption and provide customers a unified banking experience.

She also held executive positions at Washington Mutual in Seattle which is now JP Morgan Chase; FleetBoston, which is now Bank of America; First Data Corp, Home Savings of America and Banc One Corp.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Business> News / by PTI / March 28th, 2016

Baroness bats for Bengali books – Life peer on digitisation drive

Baroness Tessa Blackstone at Bengal Club on Thursday evening. (Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya)
Baroness Tessa Blackstone at Bengal Club on Thursday evening. (Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya)

Baroness Tessa Blackstone, the chairman of the British Library, is in Calcutta to speak with various stakeholders in a massive British Library project to digitise its collections of South-Asian language printed books dating from 1714 to 1914.

Digitisation will not only preserve the rare and priceless — and often brittle — books for posterity but also make them available to people across the world, transforming the scope of research in these languages.
Titled Two Centuries of Indian Print, the project is expected to encompass 22 South Asian languages and some 11 million pages.

The first phase involves the British Library’s collection of early printed Bengali books as well as the cataloguing of these resources, for which the library is collaborating with the School of Cultural Texts and Records at Jadavpur University, Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore, National Library of India, the National Mission on Libraries and other institutions in India as well as the library of SOAS, University of London.

On Thursday, the 73-year-old Baroness visited Jadavpur University and met with the university registrar and some senior professors to discuss how this project would take shape and move forward.

“This was an official meeting regarding the pilot project for Two Centuries of Indian Print that we have been talking to the British Library about. Among other things the baroness spoke about the importance of digitisation as well as funding avenues in future,” said Abhijit Gupta, an associate professor at Jadavpur University, who is one of the co-investigators in the project.

On Friday, Baroness Blackwell will meet with Arun Kumar Chakraborty, the director-general of the National Library to discuss digitisation and collaboration between the national libraries of the UK and India.

Name: Tessa Blackstone
Title : The Rt Hon. the Baroness Blackstone of Stoke Newington
Politics: Labour MP, House of Lords. Former minister for education (1997-2001) and former minister for the arts (2001-2003)
Current posts: Chair, British Library board, and chair, Great Ormond Street Hospital Trust, among others
Former posts: Vice-chancellor of Greenwich University, Master at Birkbeck College and lecturer at London School of Economics, among others
Family: The baroness was born in 1942. According to The Guardian, “her father was the chief fire officer for Hertfordshire, her mother an actress and model for the House of Worth in Paris.” House of Worth is a French house of high fashion that specialised in haute couture and perfumes

source: / The Telegraph,Calcutta,India / Front Page> Calcutta> Story / by Staff Reporter / Friday – March 25th, 2016

Chinese Indians fight shy of politics, netas


Kolkata :

The Chinese community is finally emerging from the ghettos at Terreti Bazaar in north Kolkata and Tangra in the east. A realization seems to have dawned on the community that has resided in Kolkata for over two centuries that they need to come out of the cocooned existence and assimilate with rest of Kolkata.

“For generations, Chinese Indians have lived in an insular world. The thinking has been that money will solve all the problem. But it does not. We have to connect to better the condition,” said Bean Ching Law, president of Chinese Indian Association (CIA), who has been persuading senior citizens in the community to get out of their shell.

Tannery owner Chi Chiang Wu, who was born in Kolkata in 1947 but had to struggle for nearly two decades to finally get an Indian passport, said the past continued to haunt the elders. Only Chinese born after 1951 became naturalized citizens.

“The persecution and internment of Chinese at the concentration camp in Deoli, Rajasthan, left a scar that took decades to heal. Hundreds left for foreign shores. When things were just beginning to settle down, the tannery shift happened that devastated many families. Some more Chinese migrated. These twin incidents added to the sense of unease that had prevailed in the community as few could initially converse in a language other than Chinese. The sense of being looked upon as foreigners despite being born here also led to the introvert behaviour,” Wu explained.

Though there were over 20,000 Chinese Indians split between Terreti Bazaar and Tangra till the 1970s before migration began and numbers rapidly dwindled, hardly anyone voted. The language barrier meant that most didn’t understand the nuances of Bengal politics. Also, no political party ever bothered to engage with the community till a decade ago as the 3,000-odd voters in the community split are split between two constituencies and do not make a substantial vote bank. Incidentally, 70% of the eligible Chinese Indians vote now.

Hsieh Ying Hsing, owner of restaurant Big Boss, said though the community was gradually opening up to other communities, they remained wary of politicians. “One reason why even the politically conscious Chinese Indian does not express support to any party in public is the fear of getting identified and persecuted. Since we are Chinese and look different, it is not just the individual but the entire community that could get marked,” he reasoned.

CIA is making a conscious effort to integrate with the mainstream and impress upon community elders the need to involve local politicians and bureaucrats in Chinese festivals and celebrations. Though the proposal met with stiff resistance, Law is hopeful of cutting through the ice.

“Today, we cannot survive without political leaning. The elders and women in the community feel insecure. We have to be practical and discard the baggage of the past,” said Law, an architect by profession.

source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Kolkata / by Subhro Niyogi & Sumati Yengkhom / March 22nd, 2016