Tuesday, December 24, 2013

O Holy Night

Cannot stop myself from sharing this article which is front-paper news of Kolkata edition of many newspapers today. This is the struggle of Jhuma Sarakar whose father, a small wage earner mason, was sent to life imprisonment by lower court when Jhuma was in Class VII. The devastated family saw the mother start working as domestic help. There was some support from uncle in initial years. Jhuma did not abandon study. Joined college and started giving private tution. With that she started long court battle to prove his father's innocence. Everyone in the family always saw in the father a pious and kind person and was convinced of innocence.

In the words of Jhuma, "My faith in his innocence prompted me to raise money for the legal battle by giving private tuition. My mother works as a domestic help. She brought me up. I had resolved that I would not marry before my father’s innocence was proved." (The Telegraph Link) and "I was a child then. Though I knew that my father was innocent, I couldn't do anything to help. Finally, when I joined college, I decided that we would have to get justice for him. I started giving private coaching and spent whatever I got in providing legal help for my father. My father was in jail for so many years for no fault of his and this was the least we could do to get him out. My uncle provided a lot of assistance." (ToI Link)

2004 to 2013. A long journey. The day was yesterday, the 24th Decemeber, 2013. The father was released by higher court. The Holy Night descends in Sarkar family with a different meaning all together. The stars salute the grit, the determination of the daughter. We join them and take a bow before the daughter.

And this is the country where daughters are seen as burden! We at IIT Kharagpur are exploring means to reduce female foeticide. Hope we can do our part so that Jhumas can continue to prove their worth and the Agnipariksha from Ramayan ages stop someday.

Jhuma is now studying M.A. Her brother abandoned study in Class VII.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


I am happy today. Reason? Her Highness is happy. We tend to believe that it is not-so-easy a task :-) One may ask, how much did the gift worth? The fact is different. It was a gift that I gave to myself. And that brought the smile. Yes, I took morning walk this morning after a long, long time.

There was no short-cut either. It was full 4 KM stretch and in my favourite terrain. When was it the last time? Two months back, or more - lost the count of it. Past few months had been very, very hectic. Added
responsibilities. Extra effort to fit into the shoes. Lace tied. I have earned my gift. The morning walk.

Another thing changed in between. The fun of being a part of the crowd and in a shooting spree with camera is being replaced with more formal stuffs. It was a smooth ride in crossing 10,000 marks of shooting pics in last 4 years. Most of them were for NSS (Link) and NSO Health and Fitness (Link).

I attended this year's NSS Annual camp in bits and pieces because of the new responsibilities - had been camp commandant in last five years. And this forced me to change my facebook friends policy. I started accepting friends request from students after two days of the camp. The students were posting their activities, how they were building murram roads, cleaning bushes etc. in their profile. And I could feel the pulse of the camp through them. All NSS camp pictures in this page are taken from facebook upload of students.

I spent longer on the concluding day of the 7-day long camp. The NSS faculty compering the show called me to say a few words. Later I found that another NSS faculty recorded the same and shared that with me. I
find that I thanked all, explained the policy change :-) and felt proud that the worry of what would happen when I move to other responsibility was unfounded. Feel so proud of the NSS, IIT Khaargpur team! Told the NSO Health and Fitness team too last week that they are to get

Yesterday, attended an important meeting at Delhi. Watched the movie "Naram Garam", and Kabi Sammelan "Wah! Keya baat Hai" in the flight. As said, things are under control now! Remember that last week on Friday afternoon while waiting at Fortis hospital, Kolkata for our collaborator to finish heart surgery and begin discussion (and a demonstration of laptop version of heart sound analyzer developed by us), I was checking end-semester answer-scripts much to the bewilderment of people in hospital reception.

Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Amol Palekar - you are prepared for a sweet family drama! But Birju the artist gives a test of both art and artist in the following segment (Link) at 3:30 minute onwards. "Aagar umar ke lehaj se kaha to thik hai ... Kalakar apne Mata, Pita aur Guru ko chhorke kisi ke pao mein haat nehi lagata. Samjhe aap. Namaste."

The "Wah! Keya baat Hai" program in Air India flight had interesting lines. A couplet there asked one to be cautious as "Ishq o nadi hai jiska kinara nehi." Received a mail from a young monk of Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math on Saturday. He says, "Swamiji mentioned work and worship can be performed in three ways: work and worship, work as worship and work is worship. Our way should be the last one."

I don't know which part of this story is Ishq, which is work and which is worship or if the fine line melts somewhere when we think less of our own well-being and more of the society around us.

End-quote from Vivekananda: "The whole gist of this teaching is that you should work like a master and not as a slave; work incessantly, but do not do slave's work...Love and do good to everybody, but do not become a slave. In the first place, attachment degenerates us, individually, and in the second place, makes us extremely selfish. "