Monthly Archives: August 2016

CM dials Delhi after House nod to ‘Bengal’

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

Kolkata :

After pushing through the name-change resolution in the assembly by a brute 189-31 majority, the Mamata Banerjee government on Monday lobbed the ball in the Centre’s court, asking it to fast-track the proposal to rechristen the state as Bengal (in English) and Bangla (in Bengali and Hindi).

Minutes after the passage of the government-sponsored resolution, the chief minister spoke to Union home minister Rajnath Singh and urged him to introduce a constitutional amendment at the earliest.

The road ahead could be treacherous as BJP and Left voted against the resolution on Monday and Congress remained ambivalent -it staged a walkout. I will request the Centre to pursue the matter so that it can be placed in Parliament.We want it to be done as early as possible,” Mamata said. She also criticised state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh for saying he would not allow the bill to be passed. “I will see how he (Ghosh) can stop it. I will speak to the Union home minister. Who is he to stop it?” Mamata thundered.

“Those who are opposing the name change just for the sake of politics should be ashamed. It is a historic blunder and history will not forgive them. It doesn’t matter who opposed it.The West Bengal assembly passed it,” the CM said.

While the debate in the assembly on Monday started on predictable lines, Trinamool Congress almost outwitted the opposition by keeping only `Bangla’ in the resolution. This was the name that had been adopted by the Left Front government and supported by the Congress in 1999. The split in the Opposition was immediate, with Congress harping on a referendum on the issue and staging a walkout.

“I have no problem with the name. It can be `Banga’, `Bangla’, `Paschim Banga’, anything.But how can a state have two names, one in Bengali and another in English. I am Sujan Chakraborty . So will I be called `Goodman Chakraborty’ or Sovondeb Chatterjee be called `Goodlooking God Chatterjee’.This is ridiculous. There should be only one name. Bengal or Bangla – whatever it might be,” said CPM’s Sujan Chakraborty .

Mamata replied, “We are in favour of Bangla as it goes with the culture, language and tradition of the state, but there is only one problem. ‘Bangla’ resonates with ‘Bangladesh’ and it will create a problem in the international arena and so we have decided to write ‘Bangla’ putting ‘Bengal’ in bracket. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had said `Bangla’ is better than ‘Banga’, we endorsed your proposal.What is the problem then? Outside India, we are known as people from Bengal.”

source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Kolkata / TNN / August 30th, 2016

How the Anglo-Indian community created two No 1 hockey teams

Stick figures: It was World War II that interrupted the winning streak of the Indian hockey team, seen triumphant here in 1936

Community set the foundations for the game here. And it was their post-Independence exodus to Australia that built up the sport in that ex-colony.

Every four years, a billion-plus Indians pray that our hockey team should win a medal at the Olympics, as it has done eleven times before. This year the Indian team does, indeed, stand a chance. But, let’s face it, India’s ‘Golden Age’ of hockey is long gone.

That Golden Age was between 1928 and 1956. Some pundits, however, would narrow it down to the period 1928-1936, when India, in its first three Olympics, annihilated all opposition, with the incredible goal ratio of 97:3, thus acquiring the reputation of being “magicians with hockey sticks”. It’s an era we automatically associate with the legendary Dhyan Chand. But it’s strange that many of us know nothing about the large number of Anglo-Indian hockey stars without whom it wouldn’t have happened.

A quick glance at the numbers says it all: At the 1928 Olympics, eight of the Indian XI were Anglo-Indians; at the 1932 Olympics seven of the Indian XI were Anglo-Indians; at the 1936 Olympics six of the Indian XI were Anglo-Indians. But, as Frank Anthony, an Anglo-Indian leader of the time remarked, the hockey talent of this little community ran so deep that it could have perhaps produced six times those numbers of world-class players.

Hockey maestros like Carlyle Tapsell, Broome Penniger, Richard Allen, Dickie Carr, Leslie Hammond, the Goodsir-Cullen brothers and Joe Galibardy — now long-forgotten — all played a key role in India’s dominance of the game. If Dhyan Chand was “the world’s greatest centre forward”, Broome Penniger was the world’s greatest centre-half and Richard Allen was the world’s greatest goal-keeper (allowing only two goals through all the Olympic games of 1928, 1932 and 1936, an amazing record). The other Anglo-Indian stars were not far behind in their prowess, combining a high degree of artistry with a robust aggressiveness.

So what was the reason for this domination of hockey by the Anglo-Indians — who, after all, accounted for only about 0.1% of India’s population at the time?

The answer lies in the fact that the game came to India with the British army in the 1880s. While the officers played cricket and polo, the ordinary British soldier preferred the rugged game of hockey. The soldiers first played between themselves, and then they began to play with teams raised from local organisations, like the railways, police and port authorities — all of which employed significant numbers of Anglo-Indians. Soon, hockey was embraced by the Anglo-Indian community as an embodiment of masculine virtue, and it became an integral part of the Anglo-Indian culture: every family pushed their sons to excel at the game.

It started in Bengal and by 1895 Kolkata had a number of great Anglo-Indian hockey teams, who battled each other in the newly instituted Beighton Cup Tournament: legendary teams like Calcutta Naval Reserve, Calcutta Rangers, Bengal-Nagpur Railways and Calcutta Customs. In time, leading teams from Mumbai, Lahore, Jhansi and other parts of India joined the fray. Thus, by the time India was officially admitted to the Olympic Games in 1928, there was such an abundance of hockey-playing talent in the country that choosing only 15 players for the contingent posed a problem. Interestingly, Britain, who’d been the hockey champions in the two previous Olympics, quietly withdrew their team at that point — presumably to avoid humiliation from their colonial subjects. They would stay away from Olympic hockey until the end of the Raj.

Meanwhile, Anglo-Indian players played a decisive role in India’s Olympic hockey triumphs in 1928, 1932 and 1936. And if World War II hadn’t intervened, they would have, doubtless, continued to do so in 1940 and 1944, as well. But after 1947 there was an exodus of Anglo-Indians, and this, obviously, affected Indian hockey significantly. The Indian contingent for the 1948 Olympics in London still included seven Anglo-Indians (it would have been eight, but Joe Galibardy, that brilliant left-half, had to drop out for personal reasons). But by 1952, there were only two Anglo-Indians left in the Indian contingent.

India’s loss proved, however, to be Australia’s gain. The Anglo-Indian diaspora settled mainly in Western Australia, and created a powerful hockey culture in the state. Soon the Western Australia team began to dominate Australian hockey. And that was the beginning of Australia’s emergence as a world hockey power — driven by Anglo-Indian coaches and players, like Trevor Vanderputt, Fred Browne, Merv Adams, Dickie Carr, the five remarkable Pearce brothers, Kevin Carton and Paul Gaudoin. In the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, when India played against Australia, there were five Anglo-Indians on the field — four of them on the Australian side, and only one on the Indian side. And in the 1960 Rome Olympics when India played against Australia, the rival captains in that closely-fought match, Leslie Claudius and Kevin Carton, were both, ironically, Anglo-Indians. Meanwhile, another great Anglo-Indian player, Rex Norris, was masterminding the emergence of the Netherlands as another major world hockey power.

Leslie Claudius, arguably the greatest of the Anglo-Indian players, saw India through to the end of its Golden Age, which culminated in its defeat to Pakistan in the 1960 Olympics. When he died in Kolkata in 2012, largely forgotten, it was the end of an era. In the Rio Olympics, the top-ranked teams are (in ascending order) India, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands. The No 1 ranked team, however, is Australia. There’s probably a moral in this story, somewhere.

The writer is an advertising professional and hockey buff.

source: / The Times of India / News Home / by Anvar Alikhan / TNN / August 14th, 2016

Channel to boost Indo-Bangla ties

In 1971, Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra was opened on Circus Avenue by freedom fighters from the erstwhile East Pakistan.

The transmissions from the radio station inspired people on both sides of the border to fight the oppressive Pakistani rule. The station folded up on December 16 after the birth of Bangladesh but All India Radio (AIR) continued broadcasting – albeit intermittently – on Special Bangla Service till a transmitter broke down in 2010.

Six years on, Akashvani Maitree is being launched to remind Bangladesh and India of their similarities. The growing presence of Radio China and Radio Iran in Bangladesh might have played a part in prompting the authorities to open the channel.

Akashvani Maitree – which will air at 594 kilohertz – will crackle into life at 11am on August 23. President Pranab Mukherjee is set to inaugurate the channel and its multimedia website from the Yellow Room of Raj Bhavan.

“Maitree was originally planned for a launch with much fanfare in June but the President’s schedule didn’t match. We will have a short programme in the evening at Nazrul Mancha, which will be broadcast live,” an AIR official said.

The programme will include performances by folk troops of Bengal, a reading of Jibanananda Das’s Banglar Mukh and other poems by actor Soumitra Chattopadhyay and recitation by Bratati Bandyopadhyay.

Akashvani Maitree will offer Bangladesh-specific news and entertainment and will also address the student community through programmes highlighting secular, anti-fundamentalist views.

The programmes will be designed in a way that Bangladeshis are encouraged to choose India as a medical destination and opt for Indian universities instead of those in the UK or the US.

Some of the programmes to be aired are Sambad Prabhaha (an exchange of news and views), Campus-ey Adda, Boiparar Khobor (about books and periodicals published in India and Bangladesh), Sholoanna Bangali (about people who have contributed to Bangladesh in some ways) and Ek mati Ek Sur (about similar cultural events like baul melas in Jadavpur and Kushtia).

“This is an outreach program which will bring people closer. There is a desire in people on both sides of the border to know how similar traditions thrive on different soils. Never before have we been able to frame a channel that invites artistes from neighbouring countries to perform in our studios,” said Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar.

The popular stage and screen personality of Bangladesh, Mamunur Rashid, hasn’t heard of Maitree yet. “It must be the train you are talking about,” he told Metro over the phone from Dhaka.

On being told about the channel, he recounted the days of the liberation war when he would make radio plays with Mustafa Monwar, Aly Zakher, and others.

“If the radio connection is revived it will be a good thing. To connect more should be our motto. The more we meet the less we hate, the less we will be taken in by blind beliefs and threats by mischief makers,” Monwar said over the phone from Dhaka.

source: / The Telegraph, Calcutta,India / Front Page> Calcutta> Story / by Sebanti Sarkar / Monday – August 22nd, 2016