Ananda Mandir 269 Cedar Grove Lane Somerset, NJ 08873 Return Service Requested
NON-PROFIT ORG US POSTAGE PAID NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ PERMIT NO. 1215
January 2014 A Quarterly Publication of Ananda Mandir, New Jersey
India Utsav Rocks with Top Musicians from India Reported By Sushmita Dutta
Ananda Mandir Calendar of Events (Dates are subject to Change) Please check our website frequently
www.anandamandir.org) Tel: 732-873-9821 NOTE: If a particular Puja time is not listed, please contact temple or visit our website:anandamandir.org
Picture clock-wise Top row: Performer: Debojit, MC: Arun Bhowmik, Performer: Anwesha, Performer: Sreeradha. Bottom row: PC Chandra raffle winners with Ashok Rakhit and Dipak Sarkar. India Utsav Chair, Surya Dutta receiving a plaque from Pronoy Chatterjee for his outstanding services. Also seen in the picture - Arun Bhowmik, Dipak Sarkar, and Show Co-host: Rima Lahiri.
Co-sponsored by Ananda Mandir in collaboration with PMG Publications and P.C. Chandra Jewelers, India Utsav, once again this year, was a super duper hit raising substantial funds for the temple's new
Heritage Center construction. The Midas touch of Ashok Rakhit, chairman of construction committee, dedicated efforts of the Utsav support team – Chair, Surya Dutta with dedicated members and volunteers of
Ananda Mandir - Saurav Ghosh, Dipanjan Paul, Sanchoy Das, Chanu Das, Anup Rakhit, Santosh Mukherjee; untiring efforts of Soumen Roy in managing sound system and backstage
coordinating with performing artists and musicians; and a very well planned show conducted by Ananda Mandir's Chair for Cultural Committee Arun Bhowmik; delivered Turn to page 2
Ananda Mandir Expansion – An update Reported By Ashok Rakhit, Chair, Construction Committee
After a short break in construction during month of October for Durga Puja and Kali Puja, we have started erecting structural steel for the community center building. We hope, in spite of inclement weather during the winter months, we can complete steel structures for both the community center and the temple on schedule.
After a successful Annual fund th raising event on June 30 , we celebrated Durga Puja and Kali
Puja with large gathering of members and devotees in October. Thanks to many of you who sponsored both pujas and offered your services for a smooth and enjoyable celebration by hundreds of attendees during 5 days of Durga Puja
and 1 day of Kali Puja. Our Bijoya Sammelan 'India Utsav' in November, was a grand success with packed auditorium listening to melodious voices of renowned artists from Kolkata and Bollywood. The event, sponsored in part by PC Chandra Jewelers, PMG and other businesses in Kolkata, helped us raise much needed funds in support of our construction. It is an exciting moment for our community as we are continuing our cultural and religious activities at Ananda Mandir while physically expanding the facilities for a much coveted Heritage Center for us in this country. Thank you for your valued support!
January 2014 New Year's Day Wednesday, 01, Mandir will remain open 9:00am – 8:00pm Satyanarayan Puja Sunday, 12, 5:30pm Makar & Pous Sankranti Tuesday, 14, Call for time Ratanti Kali Puja Wednesday, 29, Call for time Shyama Puja Thursday, 30, 5:30pm Sahitya O Alochana Friday, 24 Ananda Sandhya Friday, 10, 8pm February Saraswati Puja Tuesday, 04, 8:30 – 10:30am Bani Bandana Sunday, 09, Puja 10am-12pm Program 1-5pm Satyanarayan Puja Sunday, 09, 6pm Shiva Ratri Thursday, 27, 7 – 11pm Shyama Puja Friday, 28, 5:30pm Sahitya O Alochana Friday, 21, 8:00 pm Ananda Sandhya Friday, 14, 8:00 pm March Dol Purnima Sunday, 16, 5:30 pm Satyanarayan Puja Sunday, 16, 5:30pm Shyama Puja Sunday, 30, 5:30pm Sahitya O Alochana Friday, 21, 8:00 pm Ananda Sandhya Friday, 14, 8:00 pm April Basanti Durga Puja Saturday, 05 to Wednesday, 09 (see details in center page) Ram Nabami Puja Tuesday, 08, 5:30pm Nil Yatra Sunday, 13, (call for time) Satyanarayan Puja Sunday, 13, 5:30pm Chaitra Sankranti Monday, 14, (call for time) Nababarsha Tuesday, 15, 5:30pm Sahitya O Alochana To be announced Ananda Sandhya To be announced
Special Religious Services: Upon request, the priest of Ananda Mandir offers services such as in-house Sraddhas, Rituals associated with Cremations (Antyesti Kriya), Death Anniversaries, Pre-wedding rituals (Naandimukh, Ashirwad, etc), Upanayan (Paitey), Annaprasan , Wedding Ceremonies & Wedding Anniversaries, Griha Prabesh (Bhumi Puja), Consecrations of new cars (New Car Pujas) and others. If you have needs for any of the above or more, please feel free to contact Biswabhai @ 732-873-9821
A Periodical Newsletter Published By ANANDA MANDIR (A Tax-Exempt, Non-Profit Organization) 269 Cedar Grove Lane Somerset, NJ 08873 Ph: 732-873-9821 Website: www.anandamandir.org Publications of Ananda Mandir Editorial Board : Chairperson: Pronoy Chatterjee, email@example.com Assistant Chairperson:
Debajyoti Chatterji, firstname.lastname@example.org Editor-in-Chief: Pronoy Chatterjee, email@example.com Editor, Ananda Sangbad:
Guru Chakravarty, firstname.lastname@example.org Editor, Anandalipi:
Amitabha Bagchi, email@example.com Co-Editors: Subrata Bhaumik, firstname.lastname@example.org Jayashree Chatterjee, email@example.com Debajyoti Chatterji, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sushmita Dutta, email@example.com Editorial Associate Kamal Raychaudhuri, firstname.lastname@example.org Members-at-large:
Bhaswati Bhadra Santosh Mukherjee Ashok Rakhit All queries, articles, news reports and letters should be directed to the Editorial Board: Phone/Fax : 732-651-8802, E-mail: email@example.com. For general information, please contact the following executives of Ananda Mandir: Dipak Sarkar,
President Jaiprakash Biswas, Vice President Suprasad Baidyaroy, Vice President Chanu Das,
Treasurer Suranjan Bhanja Choudhury, Secretary Chitra Mondal,
A New Year's Welcome We begin the New Year with a call to the community to pay attention to the new Ananda Sangbad. If you have been throwing it aside as another piece of unsolicited news magazine, better have another look at it. Meaningful progress has been made in improving the quality of the news magazine in many ways in 2013. The pool of writers has broadened as a result of our constant endeavor to attract new writers from the local community as well as from other states. As we try to keep true to our mission of creating interest in the art of writing within the readers of our community, we also engage well known writers outside of the community to produce a news magazine with high standard. Ananda Sangbad remains the flag bearer of Ananda Mandir, with reports on its construction updates, information about all upcoming puja activities and multitude of cultural events. Activities of other Bengali communities are also included. The Sahitya O Alochana report is a great example
of high level discussions in literature, science, performing arts and businesses. A great number of high level performances in classical and contemporary music during the "Ananda Sandhyas" are also chronicled in the magazine. The "Seniors Forum" reports provide many useful insights to our aging community and help to form a cohesive group. We are proud to add a new "Medical and Health" column, generally authored by medical professionals. We try to blend in technology articles in this rapidly advancing techno-age in non-technical language so that people at all levels can find interest in reading them. Environmental issues like arsenic contaminated water in West Bengal drew attention of a lot of readers. Expert gardening tips are always at hand for those who are not afraid to soil their hands. The improved printing quality of the paper with the middle pages in color is evident. Moving forward, our first and foremost concentration is focused on creating interest in writing among new people, most importantly
PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE First of all, our construction project has been going forward, slowly but steadily, and we hope to complete it in two years. At our annual fundraising event, two hundred members attended with their families and we collected about $200,000. We organized "India Utsav" in November along with PMG Publications from Kolkata. This was a new cultural program that we initiated last year. This cultural event was a great success: over 650 people attended, and we came out ahead of our expenses. We continued to attract a large number of devotees at our temple during the various Pujas at Ananda Mandir. At Durga Puja, we had nearly a thousand devotees in a single day. At Kali puja, over 500 devotees attended in one evening. We also organized all other pujas in accordance with the Bengali panjika. We continued to bring all the local musical talents in our monthly Ananda Sandhya events. This year, Ananda Mandir presented its international Literary Excellence Award to three individuals, one for English composition and two for Bengali compositions. The monthly literary discussion group, Sahitya O Alochana, continued to feature eminent writers from Bengal as well as prominent local writers. This year, our first Community Service grant of $2000 was given to Manavi to refurbish Manavi's shelter for needy women. We have continued to maintain our Seniors
Forum as an informal group meeting where many senior issues aere being discussed. We continued to provide our members free of cost with Anadalipi and Ananda Sangbad containing many outstanding literary works and news about local news events. Additionally, through our summer internship program this year, we have given the opportunity to three youths to work in research laboratories and four to do various works at Ananda Mandir facilities. The youth group also recently started a monthly wall magazine, Kishaloy, which displays their creative works on the wall of Ananda Mandir Community Building. As you know, we have undertaken an ambitious project to construct a Community Center and to expand the existing temple. The budget for this expansion project exceeds four million dollars. We therefore solicit your generous donation so that this project can be completed successfully. Please consider becoming a life member by paying $1000 or a patron member by paying $5,000. I would also request that if you have some time to spare, please come to Ananda Mandir and give us an extra hand to keep our organization running smoothly. Please join us to make Ananda Mandir a strong religious and cultural center of our community in the tri-states area. On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Ananda Mandir, I wish you and your family a Happy and Prosperous New Year! Dipak K. Sarkar President
the youth group. This can be done in various manners - by including reports on extra-curricular activities in schools, work experiences as interns in politics or in any other professional fields, travel stories, or simply essays on literature. We welcome news about the achievements of our youth that can be used as a motivation for others to follow. Naturally, we are not in an illusive environment to think that our youth would be motivated by simply reading this editorial. Of course, we must depend on the parents to participate in this endeavor. The net gain for the family is that the youth would learn about the efforts of the community to sustain a news magazine that is interested in their stories, and that the youth in turn would get interested in the community events. Here is to a constantly improving Ananda Sangbad that stimulates a vibrant community! Guru Chakravarty Editor, Ananda Sangbad
India Utsav Rocks Continued from page 1
another memorable musical evening. Braving the chill on November 23, 2013, the lovely Nicholas Music Center at Rutgers University Douglas Campus was almost packed to full crowd enjoying the three and half hour long show loaded with melodious old and new Bengali songs and also foot-tapping Hindi popular hits. The overall ambiance of the show was truly that of an “Utsav” (festival) filled with a feeling of warmth and casualness. There were stalls on the premises with names of vendors from Kolkata showcasing traditional Bengali clothes and jewelries. Food on the premises from New Jersey's popular restaurant, Chopsticks, had traditional Bengali items like Shingara, Chop, and Biriyani. Famous P.C. Chandra Jewelers from Kolkata had arranged a raffle to give away gold ornaments. Randomly chosen, there were 3 raffle winners – two from local New Jersey community and one from Pennsylvania. Ananda Mandir has a band of super warm people who make visitors feel at home. The culture was also visible at the India Utsav show. Ananda Mandir's Bandana Rakhit and Rita Bhowmik, welcomed every person with a smile and occasional exchange of greetings at the very entrance to the auditorium. These minute details, obviously, were planned and spoke volumes about the efforts and caring that went into organizing the show. Similarly, the opening of the show was made short and crisp. Ananda Mandir's President, Dipak Sarkar welcomed the guests. India Utsav Chair; Surya Dutta was awarded a plaque for his outstanding services to the organization; and then, the master of the ceremony, Arun Bhowmik took over to announce the first performer, Sreeradha Bandopadhyay; and
the show began. With a serene and calm presence, Sreeradha has given good scores to the Bengali music world like “Banshitar ektai dosh” composed by Jatileswar Mukherjee, “Jhiri, jhiri chaitali batase” compoased by Sudhin Dasgupta, “Chand kahe chameli go” composed by Manabendra Mukherjee, to name a few. Her recorded numbers also include popular Tagore songs like “Akash jure shuninu oi baje” and “Ami tomar sange bendhechhi amar pran”. Nothing could be more appropriate than opening the India Utsav program with Sreeradha singing “Yada, yada hi dharmashya, Glanir bhavati Bharata” the popular sloka from Bhagavat Gita. Both Sreeradha's rendering of the sloka and the soft accompaniments of four live musicians were just marvelous. The entire audience was calmed down in preparation for a dozen songs that followed in Sreeradha's melodious voice. One after the other she sang “Bansi tar ektai dosh”, “Bhalo laga kokhon je” – a Hemanata Mukherjee composition from Puja album, “Kichhu to ami” and “Kije kori dure jete hoi tai” – Salil Chowdhury compositions. She also sang super hit Bengali numbers like – “Ei sundar swarnali sandhyay” by Gita Dutt and Tagore's “Tumi robe nirobe, hridaye momo.” Her closing number - “Bhalo achhi, bhalo theko”, brought tears to many listeners. A marvelous song penned by Bangladesh poet Rudra Muhammad Shahidullah is believed to be the poet's last poem written to bid farewell to this world just before his death in 1992. Very touchy closing by Sreeradha indeed! The next performer Anwesha Datta Gupta, a gifted singer that Bengal feels proud of, took the Turn to page 3
India Utsav Rocks Continued from page 2
crowd by storm. Anwesha was just 13 years old when she appeared on Indian Television Reality Show - Amul Star Voice of India where she was judged to be the best voice found in the reality show. Since then, Anwesha is moving forward with TV reality shows, live concerts and recorded tracks. At India Utsav, Anwesha began her show with popular Lata Mangeshkar Hindi number "Ishwar Satya Hai" from Raj Kapoor's film Satyam Shivam Sundaram. With a quick turn to hit Bengali numbers like "Ai Banglar Matite, Mago Janam Amay Diyo", Sandhya Mukherjee's all time popular song "Mayaboti Megher Tondra" and Gita Dutt's romantic rendering "Tumi je Amar Ogo Tumi je Amar", Anwesha kept the audience spell-bound. She proved once again her versatility in rendering songs of various moods and musical compositions. In her Hindi list of songs she had selected a very recent hit number "Balam pichkari" from film Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani delivered by two top Bengali talents in Bollywood today, Ayan Mukherjee (director of the film) and Pritam Chakraborty a music director and composer from Kolkata now settled in Mumbai. My head gets raised with a sense of pride when I see the number of Bengali talents we have in Bollywood who are making Indian entertainment scene rich and vibrant with superb work. Shreya Ghosal is another name who Anwesha says is her mentor. At the India Utsav show Anwesha received standing ovation on her rendering of Shreya Ghosal's "Mere Dholna" in Hindi, punched with "Ami je tomar" in Bengali. In her short span of career as a professional singer, Anwesha has already sung for a number of Bengali composers apart from Bollywood composers. She has also sung two Tamil songs and one Telugu song. For her Bengali track "Boro ichha korchhe dakte", Anwesha won best female playback singer award in 2011 Tele Cine Awards held in Kolkata. In remembrance of the legendary singer, Late Manna Dey, India Utsav's finale singer - Debojit began his show with an old time Bengali romantic hit sung by Manna Dey - "Hoyto tomari jonno hoyechi preme je dhonno". Here is a brief bio of Debojit Saha - a young, flamboyant singer whose series of performances on Indian Television made him a popular singer. Debojit won Zee TV's reality show, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2005 and since then he has performed regularly in Live Concerts, Star Plus reality shows and sung for Hindi films like Tees Mar Khan, Saheb Biwi aur Gangster, 88 Antop Hill and Jimmy and two Assamese films - Jonda Iman Gunda and Borolar Ghor. Almost mimicking Kishore Kumar's style of performance on live stage, Debojit is a true performer. He dances, jumps out
from stage to audience, runs to the back rows to test sound quality, and jokes with his accompanying musicians and the audience to keep the crowd cheered. His list of songs included popular Hindi tracks like "Ek Hasina thi, Ek Diwana tha" the everlasting composition by music director duo- Laxmikant Pyarellal, "Tuhi mujhko bata de" from recent hit Hindi film Ashiqi, "Chand Sifarish jo Karta Hamari" from film Fanna. He took his jacket off to add foot-tapping steps into the fast track Hindi number "Battameez dil, Battameez dil", which got the audience dancing. Keeping pace with his fast track Hindi songs, Debojit switched to old Bengali hits like "Jibone ki pabona, bhulechhi she bhabona" adding Bengali nostalgia to the show. In his second half of breath-taking performance, Debojit was joined by Anwesha for a number of duets. What could be better to start with than Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen's ever soul-stirring duet "Ke prothom kachhe eshechhi, ke prothom bhalobeshechiâ€ŚTumi na Ami"? The two singers then took the crowd by storm with a number of Hindi and Bengali duets closing on S.D. Burman's everlasting composition, a Lata/Rafi duet rendered on screen by Amitabh and Jaya - "Tere mere Milan ki ye raina." On request from audience, the singers also sang the original Bengali version of this Hindi number - "Jodi tare nai chini go sheki", composed by none other than Tagore. As the show was getting beyond scheduled time, closing was forced upon repeated "Once more, once more" requests from the audience. With such well-attended, successful shows around, it is clear that the audience of New Jersey is hungry for good musical concerts. Ananda Mandir's move in building a Heritage Center with a Community Hall for performing arts and cultural shows is a rightly envisioned venture. Our community is in need of such centers, which can be made available for community events. It will bring a sense of joy and pride to each one of us from the community when shows like India Utsav are held in our own premises auditorium - dreamed, visioned, and built by us. On construction status of the new temple and heritage center, committee chair Ashok Rakhit said, "We just completed foundation of the expanded temple. It will be a challenge that we should be able to meet with your earnest cooperation and understanding." Come, join Ananda Mandir and be a part of this proud venture. Your participation will bring value to our community and will deliver a sense of own heritage and roots to our future generations. Contact Ananda Mandir with your desired plans for active participation. It's worth the effort. And, by all means, it will be a rewarding experience.
Has The Indian Rupee Lost Its Storage Value? By Subrata Bhaumik Author's note: The article is based on a recent "Sahitya O Alochana" discussion at Ananda Mandir that the author led. Data used in the report has been gathered from various sources including The Wall Street Journal, and the websites of The World Bank and Reserve Bank of India. Introduction William Stanley Jevons, the eminent 19th century British Economist, first articulated the various functions of money, which were captured in the following famous couplet. "Money is a matter of functions four, A Medium, a Measure, a Standard, a Store." Jevons based his theory on the post Industrial Revolution society of Western Europe when international commerce and market economy were still in the nascent stage. A century and half on, it seems as though the couplet would need to be reworded to incorporate the effects of global commerce and finance. A closer look at the contemporary international financial system reveals that some of the functions, chiefly measure and store, have undergone major changes in terms of significance and applicability. "Measure" has been replaced by "Unit of Account" while the function "Store" completely lost the sense of absoluteness that was implied in the couplet. Thanks to inflation and foreign exchange market fluctuations! Sliding Store Nowhere is it more evident than in the global currency markets where some of the national currencies recently endured a wild roller coaster ride. Since the beginning of 2013, currencies of emerging economies including India, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, Malaysia, Thailand, etc. have reached record or new lows against the US dollar. In the Fall of 2013, if an investor were to move some of his/her assets from those currencies to let's say dollar, a loss of up to 25% would surely have been in store - so much for money's storage value. Should we call it a "sliding store?" The Case of Indian Rupee In this article, we will examine the specific case of the Indian Rupee's unprecedented fall in value in 2013 and the driving factors from an angle of interconnectedness of the global economies. Summary Situation Against the US dollar, Indian rupee has been declining for quite some time: from a level of 48 a
relatively low level of 9.6% during the same period last year; the benchmark interest rate has been inching upwards from a mid-year low of 7.25 to 7.75% in October; the Current Account Deficit (CAD) reached an alarmingly high level of approximately 5% of the GDP; foreign investors have been exiting Indian markets or freezing their investment plans in India; driven by the declining value large imports of oil, precious metal (gold), and other commodities including manufactured goods are fuelling further inflation; and finally, the combination of all of the above factors has been dampening the already sliding level of business activity, growth, and buoyancy of the economy. The "India Story" seems to be at a critical juncture, and is in a perilous situation that is unseen since the financial crisis of 1991 when India had to collateralize most of its gold reserve against an IMF loan of $2.2 billion. Mismanagement or the Flip Side of Globalization How has India's economic trajectory gone afoul? Why the rising Asian economic powerhouse of a few years ago suddenly finds herself struggling to stay afloat and pay bills for its imports? Is it sheer mismanagement or it is (in part) the flip side the interconnected global economy? Pundits offer varying opinions and analyses that run the whole gamut. Most of them suggest that it is the sheer mismanagement of the growth potential of an economy where policy makers often sacrifice national economic assets in favor of partisan and political ones; growth-oriented reforms get routinely stymied by bureaucracy and corruption; and the remnants of the arcane and unfriendly business climate and regulatory framework still redirect international investments to more friendly and financially rewarding destinations. Yet a great many economists and analysts maintain while the above explanations is valid, the precipitous fall (the main spike downward) in mid2013 is a typical representation of the wrong side of the gyrations in today's financial markets that are flung across the world where losses in some market(s) tend to be triggered by gains, or the perception of it, in others, and vice versa. Let's take a closer look at the factors that are driving such a free fall in the value of the rupee. Overall Economic Contraction
dollar in early Fall of 2011, it reached new low of 68 to a dollar in September 2013. The above graph captures the fluctuations in the value of rupee for 12 months ending October 2013. It recorded a 16% decline in that period; fell 25% over November 2012- September 2013 period; dropped a whopping 18% during mid-June - September 2013 period; and finally recovered about 10% during late September - October 2013. Major Impacts The beleaguered currency has put the Indian economy under severe stress: inflation (CPI) edged over the annual rate of 11.1% in October from a
Poor economic growth across major sectors of the economy including manufacturing, agricultural, mining, and agricultural has dented investor confidence. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth has been experiencing persistent slowdown in recent years: from a double digit growth a few years ago to less than 5% in 2012-13. Unless economic activities pick up significantly, perception of India as a desirable investment destination and the outlook of rupee will stay shattered. Worsening current account deficit High Current Account Deficit (CAD) remains the single most important factor that has persistently fueled rupee's downward odyssey. Indian traditional export items are slowly losing their luster in the global marketplace while demand for crude oil in a growing economy remains very high. But what propels the CAD most is probably India's insatiable appetite for gold, which accounted for a whopping 27% of the total import bill, second only to crude oil. The country posted a record current Turn to page 4
Continued from page 3
Has The Indian Rupee Lost Its Storage Value?
account deficit of 4.8 percent of GDP in 2012-13. Insufficient Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) Inflows Lured by the prospects of the "Tiger" economy, international investors began expanding their investments in plants and other projects in India since the beginning of the last decade. But, the trend started reversing in the last few years. As a matter of fact, net FDIs (external investment in India less Indian investments overseas) are on a downward slope, sliding down from a 3.6% of GDP in 2008 to 1.4% in 2010. In the recent times, India has witnessed withdrawal of major projects by global steel giants like ArcelorMittal of Luxembourg and Posco of South Korea. Posco pulled out of its Rs 30,000 crore steel plant project in Karnataka followed by ArcelorMittal who scrapped its $12 billion steel plant project, which it was planning to set up in Odisha. Factors including inordinate delays in government clearance, land acquisition problems, and lack of targeted incentives contributed to the withdrawal. Foreign Institutional Investment (FII) Outflows Overseas portfolio investors have been routinely exiting the Indian capital markets since the beginning of 2013. For example, investors sold rupee assets worth nearly $8 billion in June and $3 billion in July, further deepening the currency's slide and completely negating some of the claw back efforts on the parts of the government. Precipitous Fall in Spring/ Summer - Result of Interconnected Financial System In September 2013, Raghuram Rajan, the former Chief Economist of the IMF who famously predicted the international financial crisis of 2008 was appointed as the governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). In a press interview late summer, he observed that the precipitous fall in the rupee value that occurred in the summer was brought about by the US Fed's signaling a steady recovery of the American economy. He was alluding to the May 2013 announcement by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke that the year-old monthly $85 billion bond buying program, popularly known as "Quantitative Easing", could be tapered off sooner than later. It was around that time, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned in a report that if the U.S. Fed moved faster than the markets expected it to, or before the U.S. economy recovered enough, it could cause an estimated $2.3 trillion in bond losses around the globe as borrowing costs would rise. The interconnectedness of the global financial system means that such an action by the Fed would have ripple effects worldwide resulting in rate increases. The Fed's signal had investors around the world scrambling to get back into the U.S. markets for prospective higher returns in a recovering economy. Several emerging markets experienced voluminous flight of investors' capital after the Fed exit announcement. It had weakened their currencies and threatened to fuel inflation, forcing the many central banks around the world to raise interest rates despite slowing growth rates in their respective economies. Countries from Indonesia to South Africa, Brazil and Turkey also got slammed, as investors betting on higher returns in the U.S., pulled their money out. Soon after the Fed started talking about an exit, the rupee's value slid by about 15%; the IMF slashed its growth forecast for India; and some economists questioned whether the country was in the need for external financing. In the three months that followed, rupee lost approximately 20% of its value. It is intriguing to note here that the rupee recovered about 10% of its value following another Fed announcement on September 18, 2013, which indicated that due to continued weaknesses in the U.S. economy the central bank was reversing the intended course and would continue the easing in the near future. It was around this time, RBI announced two consecutive hikes in the benchmark interest rate despite a slow economy; it also unveiled a host of financial market reforms and some capital control measures
The Tree-Hugger By Rahul Ray A tree-hugger 'hugs' a tree like a dear friend, and prevents it from being felled by a logger's chain saw, essentially representing an environment-friendly 'green' person. Ironically, treehuggers have been butt-ends
of many jokes - persons who are a bit 'green' or immature or even screw-balls who haven't got the sense of reality in mind. As if to say - trees are plentiful to be chopped down undeterred, to make room for humans to live,
designed to shore up the rupee. And the rupee bounced back probably piggybacking the Fed's change of plan and the RBI measures. The following graph shows the recovery.
Market Overreaction or Economic Abyss For the foreseeable future, India's rupee crisis has muted any obsession with competing the economic might of China, but is it as big a disaster as it is being played out to be? Again opinions vary with some observers and economists giving up on the India story due to her poor record and slow movement on long term reforms, tackling corruption, investment in infrastructure, and decisive leadership. Yet many others think that India is nowhere near the panic button as the market and media reactions suggest it is. It is not unusual for developing countries to run a CAD of similar size until their economies mature. India's CAD of 4.8% of GDP is a bit high compared to the developed country average of 3% (US 2.8%), but it is definitely within the 3% - 6% range of the CADs of developing economies of similar nature - Turkey, Egypt, Brazil, etc. The current situation appears less like a verdict of gloom and doom on the economy and more like a case of CAD financing in the short term. With India's foreign exchange reserve of $280+ billion and Special Drawing Rights (SDR) and IMF credits approximately $10 billion, she could probably sustain the immediate need to finance the monthly accretion in the CAD and servicing its moderate level of international debt of $450 billion for about a year or so. Need for large scale external financing doesn't seem to be knocking at the door. Finally, some of the RBI reforms have started to pay dividends in terms additional availability of foreign exchange deposits in the country and lower level of overseas investment by Indian corporations and individuals. A dire situation like 1991 may be far away from recurring! Where Do We Go From Here In a global financial system where markets will generally reflect investors' expectations and confidence in respective economies, some amount of irrational reactions are bound to happen. But, a country's economic fundamentals would still continue to be the most important factors influencing investors' behavior. Given that backdrop, Indian rupee's sustained and long term recovery will depend on many structural adjustments that India needs to pursue in the coming months and years. Some of which have been discussed in this article. And it started happening - one at a time: the markets actually greeted the appointment of the new RBI governor Raghuram Rajan. If a decisive and hard charging government at the national level is elected in the upcoming election, the country likely will follow up on the economic reforms that began decades ago. Whether that happens or not, pundits and policy makers will continue to debate the tradeoff between true reforms and populist policies, but the markets will still be influenced by factors that sometimes are beyond the control of government and will impact the well-being of the nation in a way that may or may not be warranted by the fundamentals. If Jevon had lived long enough to experience the globalizations, he would have for sure seriously considered updating his treatise. to farm, and to build factories. The march of human civilization has done exactly that - forests have vanished, along with the unique eco-systems that are as old as the mother earth. Large swaths of pristine Amazon forest have been chain-sawed down to make grazing pasture for beef cows; so has all the trees in Nepal's Himalayan region leaving behind bare mountain
walls and serious soil-erosion in the wake. The list goes on. The trees that once lined beaches to protect them from erosion and flooding are no longer there. In addition, with falling trees, carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas is not being trapped resulting in global warming with devastating efTurn to page 7
Atho Puja Kahini By Guru Chakravarty Puja, Bhajan, Kirtan and Katha are very much a part of our lives, all meant to create and instill devotional feelings towards God. Whereas pujas are conducted by a pujari with Sanskrit slokas, the others are conducted in a group setting, generally in a local language. Bhajans are popular songs about the greatness of God that people sing together. Kirtans, originally popularized by Gauranga Mahaprabhu, have had a rebirth with the help of "Hare Krishna"mantra chantings of ISCKON, the Vaishnava society, and many other groups. Bhajans and Kirtans are essential parts of worship rituals in north Indian culture. Kathas were once highly popular in a village setting where one or more singers would present devotional poems from Ramayan or such other epics in a theater like stage, but they lost their glory to the modern day versions of the same on video screen. Today, puja is the most accepted way to assemble for religious celebrations, not necessarily because of its devotional value, but because it is a social event. That is a true statement particularly applicable to the Bengalis, who are known to love "addas", Bengalis love to talk incessantly, and a puja setting gives them the opportunity to do just that. Whereas a puja is being performed by a pujari, with his back to the audience, the rest of the people feel free to do anything. After all, what better venue is available at no or very little cost to attend a get-together where you can talk uninhibitedly, pass any judgment, and best of all, get the latest on whatever is happening in the community. A puja setting is a great event to achieve all that, along with the satisfaction that you offer a "pushpanjali" to console your soul that you have done something to please God. Ironically, puja without "bhakti" (devotion) is not the best path for earning God's blessings. Let us see how a standard puja is performed. A standard puja, as prescribed in the "Purohit Darpan" or such other books, has logical and sequential steps for the pujari. First, you state your "sankalpa" (objective) of the puja of a particular God or Goddess, then take oath in the name of and for the benefit of a client who is paying for the cost of the puja. You proceed to purify yourself, the puja materials like the water, the flowers, and the milk products. You establish the "Ghat" and welTurn to page 6
Out Of The Blue On A Bright Day
A brief discussion on the concept of zero, where did it come from?
By Pronoy Chatterjee It was a November afternoon; the weather was wonderful with bright sun, mild temperature, and pleasant soothing breeze. Red, tanned and yellow leaves were dropping from trees, floating in the air before being gently laid on the ground. I came out of the University Radiology Group at East Brunswick with a medical report in my hand that I read and reread. The report indicated that I was free from my deadly illness, at least for the time being. I was happy and I decided to celebrate it, but there was no one with me at the time to share my celebration, so I decided to go to a special subsandwich shop at the intersection of the Milltown Road and Old Bridge Turnpike, which had been my favorite sandwich shop for many years, since my active working days and still to this day. My LA Fitness center is located within a mile from it. After the workout, sauna, steam bath and shower, I usually pick up a half subsandwich from there with my favorite cold cut meat, Swiss cheese, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, onion, oregano, and light vinegar and oil. Coming back to my personal office at East Brunswick I enjoy eating the sandwich with a glass of coke and reading a book of my choice, sitting by my round conference table in front of the patio door. I had not been in that sandwich shop for months and maybe more than a year, since I was inflicted with that damn illness, which slowed me down in every respect. So I wanted to celebrate my happy moment, relishing the sandwich while reading a New York Time's best seller novel, "The Maids" by Katherinne Stocket, that a friend of mine gave me a few days ago. I finished almost three fourth of the book, which talked about how the colored maids felt about their white women household employers in the 60s.
At the time, in the early 60s, I just landed in this country with my wife Swapna and located in the South. I saw many of those colored maids whenever Swapna and I were invited to a dinner by my white colleagues, but I never paid any attention to them. I saw them with white aprons, serving us food and drink, stiff in their movements, polite and courteous. I didn't have the time to pay any attention to them, because I was too busy to make an impression on my white hosts, telling them how great India was and its people. Now that I read the book, I see how heavy a heart they carried in their chests, but acted as everything normal. I now feel that when they looked at my eyes they wanted to express something, maybe they thought that I being a foreigner and from India I could understand their feelings. I don't know, I didn't have that depth of understanding for others in those days as I have now; it was fifty years ago, when I was only twenty six years old, newly married and focused to move ahead in this country. Leaving aside all those memories of the past, this November afternoon I wanted to get my favorite subsandwich and go back to my office, have a glass of coke and open the book where I left a book mark, sit quietly and enjoy my lunch. I drove down the Cranbury Road while listening to a CD which played a commentary on Rabindranath's love story with his sister-in-law, Kadambari and how he remained insensitive to his own wife, Mrinalini. The rendition was very good and I was totally absorbed, listening and driving. I arrived at the parking lot of the subsandwich shop and parked my car. The parking lot was empty, it was 2 o'clock in the afternoon. I went inside the shop and ordered a ham and cheese sandwich with everything in it. I paid money and
turned back to leave but was blocked by a tall heavyset woman who stood next to me at a narrow passageway. Somehow I managed to pass by her holding my sandwich bag, entered into the car and started ignition. I couldn't wait to get back to my room and enjoy the lunch while reading the book. I was about to leave the parking lot when I heard a woman was screaming, "You hit the car, you hit the car." I rolled down my window to see who hit whom. Immediately a woman, who was in a car parked at the end of the lot, came out of the car and advanced towards me, repeating loudly, "You hit that car." "Which car?" I frowned. "That car," she pointed out showing another car at the lot, apparently parked when I was inside the shop. I saw a big dent at the right fender and a hole at the bumper of that car. I stepped down from my car while the engine was running and said dejectedly squeezing my eyebrows, "I didn't hit any car. Look at my car, there is not a single scratch anywhere. How could I make that kind of damage without having any scratch in my car?" In the mean time that tall heavy set woman who was by my side inside the shop came out and started screaming at the same pitch as the other woman, "Oh my God, you hit my car, you hit my car." Then she started crying, drawing attention of the traffic on the road. The store owners also came out, but stayed quiet. The first woman was still screaming, "I saw you hit that car." I was perplexed, embarrassed and confused. I tried to explain if I had hit that car to make that kind of heavy damage, wouldn't I have some sort of dent or even a scratch in my car?" But who would listen to me in the midst of that crying and scream-
ing of two well dressed white women, one slim in her thirties and another a heavy set middle aged. I didn't know what to do, I was dumbfounded. I asked them to call police if they thought that I really hit the car, but none of them took out their cell phone to call police. However, they kept on screaming and accusing me, continuously, non stop. Finally, I took out my cell phone and pretended to take down their license plate number and said, "You wait here; I am going to call the police. Let me find out the local police number from inside the shop." I went inside, asked the Chinese lady who was preparing the sandwiches at the counter, about the township we were in and the phone number of the local police station. She said, "It's South Brunswick." She took out her hand gloves and turned the pages of her directory and gave me the number." Quickly extending my thanks to her, I rushed outside and found that the parking lot was empty, both women left. Only my car was at the lot, its engine was still running, I forgot to turn it off. While I stood at the parking lot, bewildered, thinking what should I do now, the Chinese lady rushed outside and asked, "did the woman leave?" I said, "I don't see her." She said, "The woman who was inside bought fifty dollars worth of sandwiches and gave me a credit card. My machine was not working properly at that time, now when I entered the number, it was rejected. I don't know what to do now." I didn't know either what to do, whether to report to the police which may get me into another hassle or just forget about the whole incident. Then I thought, Turn to page 9
Marriage plans in a fish market ! By Amrita Kangle This is a story which is exactly one year and two months old..... give or take a few days. My son is now twenty seven years old, and as is normal. Ever since he turned twenty five, well-meaning aunts, uncles and cousins have all been enquiring as to when I intend getting him married. My standard reply to them all is ' I am ready to do that tomorrow, but the boy himself has to agree.' The boy in question started the discussion and ended it just as promptly by saying that he would marry who 'HE' chooses. This was totally ok by me because honestly I am scared to go through the 'girl choosing' process. I barely know myself so how on earth will I know a nice, good, docile, educated girl who will be right for him? I gave him the go ahead straight away and from that day on looked very hopefully at every girl he was friends with....as a potential daughter-in-law. My Dad of course was aghast at my attitude. He told me that he
would do the looking and grandson only had to do the marrying. Just as firmly, my son told him that not only the looking; ..... he (my Daddy) could do the marrying too. Now, don't get me wrong. There was no feud here. Grandfather and grandson were the best of pals! I was the person at fault.... because of my lax attitude. But children - they are such horrible, contrary little monsters! I swear, I sometimes wish that I had eaten him up as soon as he was born. Having gotten all the freedom to choose a girl for himself he turns around one day and tells me that if at all I want to get him married I should look for a bride for him since it is my 'Motherly Duty.' He would rather have a doggy anyway, which he had wanted ever since he was five. So, there I was, with this nice pickle on my plate. 'Why pickle?' did you ask? I will tell you. I am a true blue Bengali and my husband is an even truer bluer Maharashtrian. So, where do I look? Are you getting the picture? Why can I never have simpler problems in my life? Turn to page 6
By Ira Ganguly
Is zero just a place holder or something greater? As far as or as little as we know about zero (0), it represents a nil value for numeric grouping such as units, tens, hundreds, etc. And, with that understanding zero jumped from the position of a place holder to the representation of a definite value. In some variations of old English language, zero is also perceived as a "Naught" meaning "No" in new English. In Indian Vedic scriptures zero is termed as "shunya" which literally means "nothing" or an "empty" state which has abstract concepts. Such as, "Maha Shunya" has been termed as Nirakar Brahman which is faceless, formless energy that sustains this creation. We can only witness the manifestation of that energy. And then, Indian Vedic scripture also describes that "Sapta Kalpante" comes "Proloy" - the end of time - when all super nova are pulled by the huge vortex of giant black hole until the next awakening of Lord Vishnu (the great big bang) re-generates creation all over again, producing a new universe. Then, does universe end with zero and begins with zero? Hindu intellectual giants in the Classical era were the first ones to use zero as a numerical figure as we use it today. In their quest for the unknown, Hindu sages began discovering the principles of astronomy for which mathematics was created. In 520 A.D. Aryabhatta was the first person of the Indian Classical era who delivered the concept of place-value numbering system from 1 to 10 that marked a giant leap for humanity. He formalized arithmetic operation using zero. He used dots underneath numbers to indicate zero. These dots were named as shunya which means empty place. Later, in an collaborative effort with Bramhagupta, Aryabhatta developed the concept of zero as an actual independent number not just a place holder. They developed the mathematical rules of adding and subtracting zero from other numbers. From the placeholder to the driver of calculus, the concept of zero stirred intellectual minds across the continent for centuries. Then on, zero changed its Turn to page 6
Atho Puja Kahini Continued from page 4
come God to use it as His seat. Then there is reverence to "Guru", and bathing of "Narayan Shila." The actual puja starts with worship of "Panchadevata", first Ganesh followed by Surya, Vishnu, Shiva, and mother Durga. The main puja of the particular God or Goddess takes place after that, followed by "arati" and "pushpanjali". During all this time, the pujari is the sole performer, facing the God, his back to the audience, uttering mantras in Sanskrit. People do not have any incentive to hold their concentration during that time. Devotion loses out to the natural tendency of a conversation with the next guy. Talk about a "boring" event! As a pujari, I know that it is an almost impossible task to get Bengalis, particularly men, to sit down quietly to pay attention to the puja and to keep them away from that "adda", which is exerting a magnetic force to pull them away. How to make the Puja interesting so that people are entertained emotionally is beyond me. A concept of a 'modern puja", as a substantially devotional event with sufficient elements to hold the interest of people, is yet to be developed. Here are a few things that can be helpful to hold the concentration of the audience in a puja.
First, a microphone is essential. A loud sound of "mantra/ sloka" can not only create forced concentration in the people to listen, but it also discourages talking. Then, there are explanations of the Sanskrit slokas that can help the audience to understand what is going on. In between slokas, a line or two of "bhajans" can be introduced that breaks the monotony of the slokas. The "bhajans" and "kirtans" which are musically rendered are much more participatory in nature than pure pujas. Sometimes, disciplinary steps like a modest rebuke to those talkers in the crowd to keep quiet so that the true devotees are not disturbed, may work, albeit temporarily. There are plenty of slokas in the puja procedures that are meant to strongly warn the audience against talking during puja for the fear of invoking God's wrath. But that does not seem to work because people are not inclined to believe that the ever-forgiving God would turn against us! The recent trend of puja attendance is showing a shift from the association pujas to those held in temples. Whereas people used to be turned away at the gate because of excessive crowd in the big association pujas like GSCA and Kallol, the attendance seems to be com-
ing down in those pujas as the crowd is growing at Ananda Mandir and Bharat Sevashram. Obviously, temples are better equipped to hold puja events because they have a building facility. Whereas the community associations must cram a big event like Durga Puja at a rental place only during weekends, the temples can hold pujas on actual calendar days, for all four days, as prescribed in a "panjika" (a Hindu calendar). This has a great sentimental value to many in the community who strongly believe in adhering to the "tithi" in the calendar. Although the temples do not have the capacity needed to hold a large musical program, people do not mind that because many musical events are organized by the community outside of puja celebrations anyway, throughout the year. A looming problem for pujas in future is attendance of the second generation Bengalis. There is a noticeable absence of them, be it in a temple or at a rental hall. A tremendous concerted effort is needed to attract and motivate the second generation. The temples are better equipped to do that because now the children of the recent immigrants are getting an opportunity to learn the language and culture of Hinduism, which
did not exist previously. Hindu heritage camps are being offered at many temples for the younger generation to learn the basic principles of Hinduism. Unfortunately, Bengalis are far behind other Indian communities in this matter, because we do not have enough temples like other communities do to facilitate the exposure of our children to our religious heritage. Still there is time, and it will be of great benefit to future Bengalis if the recent immigrants become active in exposing their youngsters to Hindu religious teachings. That will be the best way for the future generations to be interested in learning the real meaning of pujas. Puja's spiritual value has been questioned by many, from average people to highly respectable Sanskrit scholars. Whereas a puja may be the first step for many to think of God, devotion in the form of meditation and repeated chanting of mantras are regarded as better ways to concentrate on God. The Vedas have prescribed "Yagnas" as the method of worship. In modern times, great religious leaders like Swami Vivekananda and Swami Pranavananda have stressed upon serving the poor and the distressed as the best way to serve God. Whether a puja is celebrated to serve God or not,
Marriage plans in a fish market !
Continued from page 5
Continued from page 5
To tell you the truth, I want a Bengali 'bahu.' Bengali girls are so nice, so sweet, so cultured, such great home makers.....so perfect in every way! Well, just look at me! Am I saying anything wrong? This is the argument that I put up to the Hubby. Do you really see him contradicting me on this one? One must always know the right cards to play when one is looking to win a point! It was at this stage of our lives that my son and I went to Kolkata to spend a few days with my Dad. It was magic from the word 'go'. Long, lazy days that began with an early morning cup of tea sitting in our magical balcony with the Palm fronds swaying lazily; the Gulmohurs majestically surveying the world in all their fiery glory; the 'Shalik's strutting about as if they owned the world; and the brilliant blue of the swimming pool rippling with the laughter of kids splashing about. A huge breakfast followed accompanied by discussions about the lunch menu! Lunch means fish. Fish means the fish market.....the Maniktala fish market to be precise, - the Mecca of fish lovers. Grandfather
decided that grandson must be educated about fish marketing, and as the first step in this direction, he went and switched off the AC in the room where grandson was blissfully reposed in the land of nod. As I had expected, there occurred an uproar! Grandson felt that he had been grossly ill treated. How could Dunda be so inconsiderate? Even cattle were treated better! And all to buy fish? Why, one could always go and buy fish at a more human time, like about three in the afternoon, when a human being was nice and fresh. But, Granddad was not to be pushed around! He got his way and having mollified grandson with a 'meager' breakfast of eggs, sausages, bacon, fried tomatoes, mushrooms and chocolate pastries......the two started off for Maniktala market. As I have stated earlier, the two were the best of pals. I merely tagged along ...... My Dad was always impeccably dressed. Never have I seen him with so much as a hair out of place. Now his grandson was another matter altogether. Here
he was with tousled hair, jeans rolled up to his knees, rubber slippers on his feet, one arm protectively on my Dad's shoulders......both grandfather and grandson, one 5'-5" and the other 6'-4" walking in perfect tandem into the fish market. Are you getting the picture? Now, for those who have never seen the place let me describe it for you. It is a huge market devoted to selling fresh fish and produce. The star of the show however, being the fish! And how? Fish of all shapes and sizes and hues! Fish so fresh that they literally jump out of the large tubs they are housed in. Huge big Rohus, Katlas, Bhetkis, Magurs, and Kois all crying for your attention! Their shiny scales and smiley faces (yes, you heard right.....and no, I am not going crazy, thank you very much!); just tempt you to reach out and touch them. And the fishmongers with their huge big 'Bontis', which are actually deadly enough to cut up a human.....cry out their ware. It is absolutely fascinating! Into this fishy heaven.....we
it's value in bringing people together is indisputable. Wherever in the world, a few Bengalis gather, the first thing they think of is performing a Saraswati Puja. As the population grows, they venture to take on a more challenging project of Durga Puja. When they are secure with their jobs and livelihood, they set their eyes to build a temple. Moorties of Gods and Goddesses are established in them. And so, we now have Ananda Mandir and Bharat Sevashram. We have a place of our own to gather, to mingle, and to feel at home. It is our home of God, and the pujas are performed on tithis, in accordance with our Hindu religious heritage, but the most important idea underneath all of that is the intense passion to be together with our fellow men and women. Puja is at the core of the community, attracting all people to join in and holding them together. The puja ceremony has never been an attractive spectacle for the Bengalis. It's the assembly of people, talking, exchanging greetings, learning about each other, smiling and sympathizing - these are more important than having to listen to the chanting in Sanskrit that most of us do not understand. The puja just makes it happen!
entered. My sonny, his sleep forgotten, eyes round with delight , got totally and wholeheartedly into learning the art of fish purchase from a master my Dad. Having bought up almost half the market as we were walking towards our car, grandson announced, "Dunda, I will marry a Bengali girl from Kolkata. That way, I will always be able to come to Maniktala market." The Bengali in him had surfaced. He had thought with his stomach, and the argument was laid to rest finally. Grandfather was ecstatic. He had killed two birds with one stone. He had taught his grandson the finer nuances of fish purchase, and in the traditions of 'Buy one, get one free' had sowed the seeds of a Bengali wedding into his grandson's mind. I was of course, a mere fly on the wall..... just closed my eyes and sent up a silent prayer to the Fish God for having aided me so beautifully. Now I just have to break the news to the son's father. He will understand I am sure... he just needs to start thinking with his stomach.
form in many different ways. Today, without zero calculus will be nowhere; similarly, financial accounting, arithmetic computation, and connected world of computers would not be developed. In 773 A.D. Arabian traders of spices and silk brought the text from India to Middle East and the concept of zero thus travelled from India to Middle East to Spain and to Italy. Around 12th century it reached England. From Aryabhatta, Bramhagupta to AlKhowarizmi to Fibonacci, Rene Descartes, and, Newton and Lebiniz, zero developed into many different forms and it is still evolving. Being at the recent Sahitya O Alochana at Ananda Mandir where mathematics was discussed by host Amitabha Bagchi and other participants, zero started dancing in my head. Even though this subject is vast, still I could not resist myself from briefly writing on this topic. Zero, which is supposed to be nothing, is holding endless possibilities in the world of mathematics.
Bye, Bye, Butler! By Mandira Chattopadhyay I was sad to hear that the Butler tract, with its barrack-like units that have long housed the married graduate students at Princeton University, will be torn down this coming spring. This is where I spent the first couple of years of my married life as a young bride. I am planning to take a sentimental trip to Princeton to take one last look at the Butler Apartments before they tear the place down. The scheduled demolition will end the storied career of a property where legendary scholars spent their early lives. My association with the Butler apartments goes back quite a few years, but I still remember the first day I stepped into one of the units from Suprasad Baidyaroy's sputtering Mustang convertible, decorated with fresh bridal floras and a poster announcing, Marry in a Hurry!, on it. This was the morning after the night of our gorgeous wedding at Dr. Paritosh Chakrabarti's former residence, a few miles away from Princeton. The Bengali groom's parents' rituals were strictly followed at our new abode, a unit in Butler subleased in a hurry from a graduate student who would be abroad for the summer on an exchange mission. We
The Tree-Hugger Continued from page 4
were extremely worried since housing was so scarce and expensive in Princeton. Now we were relieved that at least we had a place, albeit for only the next two months. That memorable morning the peach trees all around Butler would greet me as the new bride. The dandelion lawn around the unit was covered with yards and yards of saris all the way to the front door to pave the way for the bride's walk into her groom's place for the first time. The atmosphere was filled with the loud sounds of the conch shells and the rolling sounds made by the ladies (Uludhwani). The American graduate students gathered to watch with quiet curiosity and even awe. The Late Bijanda and Aratidi, acting as my new in-laws, greeted me with a bucket of fresh fish and I would place my feet on a container of Alta, dyed red water. All the other rituals were adhered to very strictly. No short-cuts allowed; everything authentically followed. Pronoyda and Swapnadi, established members of the small Bengali community, ran around giving instructions to everyone, while a handful of other Bengalis started to make humorous comments. Gayatridi, our late editor, made her Turn to page 10
Higher Education in India: Recent Developments and Emerging Issues By Alok Chakrabarti INTRODUCTION India has a rich history in higher education dating back several millenniums. In the original Indian tradition of education, knowledge was preserved and propagated mainly through oral teachings. Teachers, called gurus set up "residential schools" (Gurukuls) in their own homes. Sanskrit was the language of the educated and the texts were composed in this language. In time, a formal system of higher education evolved in India, the best examples being the centers of higher learning at Taxila (Takshasila, now in Pakistan, probably around 7th century BC) and Nalanda (5th century AD). After the Muslim conquest of India, Persian became the court language and the educated elites became conversant in Farsi and Arabic. The dual traditions of Sanskrit and Farsi education were kept alive till the colonization of India by the British. The British established schools to teach English and the sciences. In 1857 they established three universities in three metropolitan cities, Bombay, Calcutta and Madras, following Oxford and Cambridge Universities as models. Another university was established by the British in1887 in Allahabad. These universities imparted education in the liberal arts and the sciences. The main objective was to prepare people for careers in the civil service, legal profession, and medicine. Soon after the British introduced western education in India, Indian industrialists and philanthropists began to establish private universities and research institutes under non-governmental control. Around 1875, a college was established in Aligarh by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan primarily to educate Muslim students; this college later evolved into Aligarh Muslim University. In 1876, the Indian Association for Turn to page 11
fects. Earlier this year, in Northern India, a large land-mass in Uttarakhand where trees were sacrificed to make room for tourist hotels and other buildings was washed away by flash-flood, taking along all the inhabitants and their dwellings with it. The recent typhoon in Philippines is the strongest ever recorded. Lately, flash-floods, tsunamis, typhoons have become too numerous almost to count. They are taking on and wiping out entire human settlements that dared to fell the trees in the first place. I am a tree-hugger in the truest senses - an avid champion of environmental issues, and a liberal in social and economic matters. As a routine, I recycle every piece of paper, plastic and everything else that is recyclable. Though there is no need to worry about soil-erosion, I have planted saplings pretty much indiscriminately in my yard. Over the years these saplings have grown into mature trees, filling me with joy every spring with blossoms. My eco-friendliness has made me collect rain-water to water my garden in the summer. I am also the one whom colleagues secretly hate for posting signs in common areas that read 'Conserve energy - turn off lights when you leave the room.' I vote for liberal candidates in every town, state and national elections. I also put my money where my mouth is, i.e. I give donations for environmental and liberal causes. In essence, I am a dyed-in-the-wool liberal and a tree-hugger. Here comes the dilemma. I scratched my head in bewilderment when my friend Nilay, a fellow member of the writer's club that we both belong to, scorned me for having a printout of an article instead of downloading it onto the computer
"Is this the way you are going to save forests?"
I was clearly in a quandary. Those tall trees have been there probably close to a hundred years. They have given shelter to countless birds, chipmunks and what not. And, I will have to give OK to take them down! I was in deep agony. But, soon I found an escape- it will be a very expensive affair, as far as my knowledge goes. Therefore, cutting down those trees will be impractical - my heart leaped in joy!
While I sat there not knowing quite what to say, Partha, another member of the club shot back at Nilay "But, do you keep track of how much coal or gas is burnt to produce electricity for your computer? Also, have you thought of those people in the paperindustry who lost their jobs due to less use of paper? Can you be an environmentalist by hurting people?" That night I went to bed confused. Next morning, those questions of the last evening were still dogging me, when I received an e-mail in my i-phone that Bruce, the solar panel guy would like to meet with me this evening to finalize the talk about installing solar panels on the roof of my house. Bruce showed up at the appointed time with his laptop and a folder in hand. It was an easy sale in his part, because I have always been a solar-enthusiast how much pollution-free electricity I will generate, how many trees won't be cut down, how much carbon foot-print will be reduced by my action! A total environmental bonanza! I was enthusiastically chugging along when Bruce pointed towards his laptop screen and chimed "You know, your solar energy production will go up significantly if you get rid of those giant pine trees to the right of your house. They are partially blocking the southern sun." "You mean I need to cut those trees down?" "Well, I don't suggest anything, but you will produce more guiltfree watts if you remove those trees." He knew my environ-
Bruce was watching me intently and quickly read my mind. "There is a substantial rebate from the state for removing trees that come in the way of increasing solar output." Back to square one! I requested more time from Bruce to think. Again, I didn't sleep well that night - the scene in the movie 'Sophie's choice' where Meryl Streep had to choose between her son and daughter to be whisked away by Nazis for good, kept creeping into my mind. Finally, I slept and dreamt a very peculiar dream. I dreamed that suddenly a forest has grown around the house, much like 'Where the wild things are' by Maurice Sendak, and there I met with those terrible animals who gnashed their teeth and rolled their eyes, and growled at me for trying to take down those tall pines! I woke up sweating! Finally, my son who was visiting from New York brought senses back to me. "Aren't you crazy to even think about taking down those trees? Have you lost your mind? Shame on you!" My son's rebuke brought me back to my tree-hugging self. But, what about those guilt-free watts from my roof - I couldn't help thinking!
Sahitya O Alochana Reported by Subrata Bhaumik Sahitya O Alochana is a monthly literary and topical discussion forum under the aegis of Ananda Mandir that endeavors to achieve its motto "Alochana Brings Good Things to Mind." It held several exciting sessions in the September - December 2013 period. Note that there was only one session for the holiday period (late November and December), which means only three (3) sessions were held in the 4th quarter of 2013. It is interesting to note that the scope and the reach of the discussions at the forum are ever widening and deepening. Over the last several years, these ses-
sions covered some very exciting and illuminating discussions on a wide variety of topics including literature, theater and movie, history, philosophy and religion, science and mathematics, economics, social issues, and finally sports. And the September - December period was no exception with topics that are very eclectic in nature including immigration history, currency economics, and cricket. The September session featured history of early Bengali immigration to the U.S., and provided a detailed account of the genesis of arrivals of Bengalis in the Land of Liberty. It traced the initial
influx to a period that is indeed much earlier than what we may think it is. Conventional wisdom has it that most of the influx of Bengali people into the US followed the Immigration Act of 1965, with a handful of early arrivals in the 1950s. But the presentation provided findings of recent researches by Vivek Bald, a professor at MIT, documented in his book "Bengali Harlem", which uncovered fascinating facts that trace tales (more than a century old) of thriving "Chikan Trade", and growing communities of "Chikandars", and "Laskars", in Turn to page 13
By Sushmita Dutta
Reported by Arun Bhowmik, Chair, Cultural Committee
Author's Note:A special series of reports on seven holy places prescribed in Hindu scriptures Varanasi also called Benares and, named Kashi in Hindu scriptures, is one of the prescribed Sapta Tirthas. Visiting Varanasi, at least once in one's life time, is a cherished desire of Hindus, and, some believe that breathing last in Varanasi delivers moksha - liberation from the cycle of birth and death. It is believed that, at Manikarnika Ghat on the river Ganges Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva together deliver moksha to all those who die in Kashi. Considered one of the oldest cities in the world, Varanasi is located in Northern India. Ideally positioned on the banks of auspicious river Ganges, Varanasi is breathtakingly beautiful at dawn when the sun beams through the eastern sky of the river Ganges creating a celestial glittering of sparkling water of the river against the backdrop of deep orange sky. The sounds of temple bells, the chanting of morning mantras, and the fra-
Panchami celebration. Faith matters for any worship, ritualistic chores come later. With ardent faith and belief that worshipping snakes is a good religious act, snakes are worshipped on the Nag Panchami day. According to Hindu scripture of Garuda Puran, offering prayers to snake on Nag Panchami is considered very auspicious and is believed to usher goodies in one's life. In Narasinghgarh akhara in Varanasi there is a special shrine dedicated to Naga Raja (the King of Snakes) where milk is poured over the deity as a part of the ritualistic offerings. Om Bhujanga Bhushanaya Namah - says one of the 108 names of Lord Shiva, meaning salute to the Lord who is adorned by snakes. On Nag Panchami day, therefore, worshiping Lord Shiva is considered extremely auspicious. Being a festival day, the temple was thronged with people, but somehow, I managed to offer
lieved to deliver desired happiness in life. Surrounded by many other shrines, the courtyard of Vishwanath temple has a "wisdom well" called Gyan Vapi and a series of temples. There is a temple having a cluster of five lingas called Nilakantheshwar - a Vishnu temple, Virupakshi Gauri temple, Avimukta Vinayaka temple, Shanishchara temple and Virupaksha temple. A temple at the entrance called Avimukteshvara temple is disputed to be the original Jyotirlinga. But then, there is a controversy over the matter. Kashi Vishwantah temple is built like a "mandap" (Hindu temple architectural form) having a sanctum, which has a square silver altar that holds one of the 12 Jyotirlingas found in India. The Jyotirlinga in Kashi Vishwanath temple is of black stone decorated with "Bhashma" (ash). One of the 108 names of Lord Shiva includes "Om Bhashma
It was the proudest moment of Ananda Sandhya when its 100th event was celebrated on October 27th. It was a jubilant occasion for many – obviously for Arun Bhowmik, the creator of this program with his fellow musicians, for those music loving people in the community with their presence and their financial support, and for the entire Ananda Mandir organization. In spite of lacking a good acoustical friendly auditorium, and a sophisticated sound system, the program attracted talented performers from the Tri-state as well as some of the great names in classical music from India. In admiration of the dedication of Arun, the Ananda Mandir organization bestowed a special service award, see boxed announcement. This day was reserved for a performance by Pandit Kaivalya Kumar Gurav. Kaivalya Kumar hails from Dharwad, Karnataka. He was initiated into classical music by his father Pandit Sangameshwar Gurav. Endowed with a mellifluous, fluid and high
pitched tenor voice, he has achieved much recognition with awards -"Surmani", " Pt. Jasraj Gaurav Puraskar” and "Sarva Shreshta Kalakar" to name a few. He has performed at several prestigious music festivals in India and has several albums to his credit. Kaivalya Kumar was assisted by Kedar Naphade on Harmonium and Amod Dandawate on tabla. On November 2, the day of Kali Puja celebration at Ananda Mandir, Sandip Bhattacharya, a scholar from the prestigious "Sangeet Research Academy" in Kolkata, presented Shyamasangeet, Bhaktigeeti and light classical music. Born in 1980, Sandip was trained under Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan at the Sangeet Research Academy. He also trained under Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan. He has participated in many major concerts in India including the famous Dover Lane Conference. Sandip was assisted by our own Anirban Roy Chowdhury on Tabla.
Announcement Dear Members of Ananda Mandir, grance of "dhoop" (incense sticks) scattered in the air, make mornings in Varanasi a truly heavenly place unfolding legends concomitant to Lord Shiva, Parvati and, other Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
my prayers. And, that was my first puja at the famous Kashi Vishwanath temple mentioned in Hindu Purans (ancient scriptures) as the abode of Lord Shiva together with his wife Goddess Parvati.
My visit to Varanasi on the night before Nag Panchami was not planned, so, I wasn't really prepared for the ritualistic ceremonies that began from dawn, which forced me to wake-up at about 5 a.m. Looking out the window of my hotel room facing the main street that leads to Kashi Vishwanath temple, I found people (mostly ladies) carrying plates containing flowers, milk, fruits etc. to offer special Nag Panchami puja at the temple. I had to take a quick shower to join the crowd for Nag
Mythology has it that Kashi is situated on the tip of Lord Shiva's Trishul (trident), and the place will not be destroyed even at the final dissolution of the world. To date, the air of Kashi is probably jammed with the vibrating sound waves of "Om Namah Shivaya" chanted by millions and almost all sages in India who lived there and meditated upon Lord Shiva for salvation. Worshipping Lord Vishwanath at the Kashi Vishwanath temple reciting the mantra "Om Namah Shivaya" with complete devotion is be-
dhulita Vigrahaya Namaha" meaning salutation to the Lord whose murti (Vigraha) is decorated with bhashma or ash. Jyotirlingas are extremely important shrines in Hinduism, found in locations where Lord Shiva appeared in person. Fourteen Hindu scriptures including Rig Veda mention the importance of Kashi saying that Lord Shiva himself declared the place as his residence where he would live with his wife Goddess Parvati. Here, Goddess Parvati offered food to one and all, and since then she is worshipped as Annapoorna. In Puran pictures, Lord Shiva himself is seen holding a bowl to receive food from Goddess Annapoorna. The temple of Goddess Parvati is Turn to page 12
As you all know by now, the cultural events presented by Ananda Mandir (musical shows during Kali Puja, Durga Puja, Live Mahalaya to name a few) have gained great popularity in our community of music lovers. One such routine event is the monthly ANANDA SANDHYA, presented usually on second Friday evening of the month. This is a wonderful platform where our community musicians get a chance to showcase their talents. Are you interested in doing an Ananda Sandhya program at Ananda Mandir as a solo artist, or presenting a group program? If you have attended any, you know that this is a 2 hour program of high quality. If you are “READY, WILLING AND ABLE”, please contact our cultural secretary Arun Bhowmik at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call him at 908-672-1452 for details. We look forward to hearing from you.
SASTHI -5th APRIL, SATURDAY, 5:30 pm SAPTAMI -6th APRIL, SUNDAY, 9:00 am to 11.30 am ASTAMI-7th APRIL, MONDAY, 9:00am to 1:30am SANDHI PUJA (Monday Midnight) - 2:53 am to 3:41 am NABAMI & RAM NABAMI- 8th APRIL, TUESDAY, 9:00 am to 2:30 pm DASHAMI-9th APRIL, WEDNESDAY, 10:30 am to11:30am
ANANDA PRABHAT Reported By
Arun Bhowmik, Chair, Cultural Committee
Samragnee Majumdar Your Trusted Agent for Life Insurance & Financial Products SAMRAGNEE MAJUMDAR New York Life Insurance Company 399 Thornall Street , 7th Floor Edison,NJ The most impressive musical program at Ananda Mandir, the "Mahishasura Mardini" also known as "Ananda Prabhat", was celebrated on 6th October, 2013. Year after year, we are lucky to get the same impressive array of performers, who have perfected their roles in a cohesive presentation to the delight of full capacity crowd at 5 AM in the morning. Against the backdrop of the moorties of Mother Durga and her family, the assembly of all top vocalists in the area and other accomplished performers playing sarod, harmonium, tabla, khol, dhak, shankha, and kashor ghanta - all dressed in festive attires- presents an extraordinary sight. The superb presentation was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. Everything, starting with the preamble narration, meticu-
lously selected songs and the inbetween Chandipath, went flawlessly. The enchanting music and slokas, offered to Mother Durga with heartfelt devotion were surreal, as the Mother was invited into our home for her annual visit. Here are the names of the participants:
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Amitabha Sengupta, Arindam Chakraborty, Arun Bhowmik, Bhashwati Mallick, Biswajyoti Nayak (Bishwabhai), Kakali Sinha, Malika Bhowmik, Malini Ghosh, Manoshi Bhowmik, Mitali Bhawmik, Partha Mukherjee, Renee Dutta Rostad, Shreya Bhanja Choudhury, Shyamal Sen, Sucharita Das, Sudipta Bhanja Choudhury, Suranjan Bhanja Choudhury, Susmita Biswas, Swagata Chakraborty and Zafar Billah.
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Highlights of Recent Puja Activities Reported By Krishna Dutta Roy, Chair, Puja Committee September Aghor Chaturdashi was celebrated on 3rd September. The day is dedicated to the puja of Lord Shiva. The following day was "Amavasya". As scheduled, the monthly Shyama Puja was performed in the evening. Ganesh Puja fell on Monday, 9th September. Many devotees of Ganeshji showed up to offer puja during the whole day. October The biggest puja event at Ananda Mandir, the "Sharadiya Durgotsav" started off with "Pitri Tarpan" on the Friday, the 4th. This is a popular event because many people like to avail the opportunity to pay respect to all departed "pitri" and "matri" ancestors in the family. This being the "Amavasya" day, the usual Shyama Puja was performed in the evening. The precursor of Durga Puja, the Mahalaya (Mahishasura Mardini) was presented live, like previous years, on the morning of Sunday, October 6 at 5 AM.
The long awaited Durga puja started with Adhibas and Bodhan (welcoming Goddess Durga) to observe "Sashthi"on October14th in the evening. Saptami, Ashtomi and Nabami pujas were performed on each "tithi" as prescribed in the "panjika" on each morning, followed by pushpanjali and prasad. Prasad was also cooked for the evening crowd. On Nabami, a special "Kumari Puja" was performed. The Vedic rituals and the "mantras" of puja filled the environment with heightened spiritual feelings. The reading of "slokas" from "Chandi" by our priest Biswabhai in his usual magnificent tone filled our hearts with devotion. This is always a great attraction for all attendees. The celebrations ended with Bisarjan on the day of Dashami. In the evening, ladies held the ritual of Sindoor Khela and Arati. Durga Puja is the happy time to buy new clothes and jewelry. Stalls were set up to provide that opportunity in the premises. Durga Puja always needs massive amount of prepa-
rations, planning, and cooking. The call for volunteers was met with a great many of such people, very willing to selflessly give their time. One week after Durgotsav, on 18th October, Ananda Mandir celebrated Kojagari Lakshmi puja on a moonlit night (Purnima). Following the ritualistic puja of our Goddess of wealth and prosperity; puspanjali and arati were offered by the devotees. Prasad was cooked for all. November On November 2nd, Ananda Mandir celebrated Maha Kali Puja. Goddess Kali is the main deity at Ananda Mandir, therefore, this event is always a big attraction for the Kali devotees in the area. Over 600 people showed up to attend the puja and offer puspanjali. Although the puja was not completed until late in the evening, about 11 pm, the devotees stayed on until the completion of puja, to see arati, offer pushpanjali, and get prasad. A program of devotional songs was also arranged.
Ananda Mandir celebrated Jagaddhatri Puja from 9th to 11th November. The puja procedure is similar to Durga Puja, and many devotees came to participate. Ananda Mandir celebrated its ninth year of "Foundation Day" with devotional songs and Havan (yagna) on14th November. Raas Yatra and Satyanarayan Puja were celebrated on 17th November. Our own Dr. Manisha Chakravarty presented "Raas Leela" Katha, sang devotional songs and read from Bhagabat Gita. December Monthly Shyama puja was performed in "Amavasya" on the 2nd. Satyanarayan puja was performed in "Purnima" on the 15th. Another Shyama puja is scheduled on the 31st. On the New Years day, Ananda Mandir will remain open from 9:00am to 8:00pm to usher in the New Year. Please stop by. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU ON BEHALF OF ANANDA MANDIR
Out Of The Blue Continued from page 5
I must go home first. I was feeling very tired and thirsty. While driving back home, suddenly it struck me, what if they call the police now and giving my license plate number they set me up on a "hit and run" case?" I continued to drive for a few miles thinking and worrying and then turned back taking a U-turn and went to the parking lot of the shop again. I thought for a while and then dialed the South Brunswick police and reported the whole incident. At the other end, a woman, identified herself as the Dispatcher # 10, took down the report and assured me that they wouldn't take any report from the other party without contacting me first. I was finally relieved from my three hour ordeal. It was already 5 PM, I lost my appetite, I lost my euphoria of having a clear medical report on a fatal illness and gave up the idea of celebrating it by eating my favorite sandwich while reading the book about the white women's treatment to their colored maids in the 60s. I didn't like to eat that sandwich any more, at least not at that moment; I tossed it aside.
Seniors Enjoy a Field Trip Reported by Debajyoti Chatterji entire garden. A few intrepid souls decided to take the opposite approach, and armed with maps, took off on solo expeditions. Two groups of four went on team explorations. But before the whole gang broke up into groups, all agreed to meet at the cafeteria around 4 pm for some tea and snacks before heading back to Ananda Mandir.
(Photo by Dwipen Sarkar)
September 15 was a bright and sunny day. A group of men and women from the Ananda Mandir community gathered in the parking lot of the Community Center building, all looking forward to the "field trip" planned for the day - a joint effort by the Seniors Forum and the Women's Forum. This field trip was a first for the Ananda Mandir seniors (and near-seniors), so there was some apprehension mixed with excitement. They were going to spend the afternoon in the "Grounds for Sculpture", in Hamilton, NJ (near Trenton), reputed to be a beautifully landscaped garden sprawling over fifty acres and showcasing hundreds of sculptures. All were wondering: Will it be worth the effort? Will it involve a lot of walking? Will the group be asked to follow a lock-step team routine? Will there be facilities for rest and relaxation and snacks? Soon the assembled group divided itself into sub-groups and hopped into four cars and headed for their destination (a fifth car was going to meet up there). From Ananda Mandir, it took them a little over an hour to get to the gates of the Grounds for Sculpture, only to find long lines of slow-moving cars ahead of them. Once they paid their entrance fees (reduced for seniors, of course), they found themselves in parking lots filled to the edges! What was going on? Was this place so popular to attract several hundreds of cars on an early autumn Sunday? That day, they will learn later, the normally quiet and serene place was one of the sites for the annual state-wide "story-telling festival", and kids and adults alike loved the idea of listening to expert story-tellers in beautiful surroundings. Not surprisingly the five cars ended up in different parking lots but after a few frantic cell phone calls, the group of fifteen gathered together and developed their game plans. A group of keen-sighted women spotted a guided tour vehicle and smartly managed to book themselves for the hour-long ride around the
When the group gathered in the cafeteria around 4 pm, all agreed that the Grounds for Sculpture was a truly impressive place to spend an afternoon or a full day. The park-like setting housed over 230 sculptures by well-known American and foreign sculptors. Some of the sculptures were abstract in concept or fantastically whimsical while others were more serene and traditional. Some were gigantic in size while some were less than a foot tall. Some were towering over their settings and some were half-buried and barely noticeable. The garden itself was divided into many alcoves and vistas by winding pathways, interspersed with benches for visitors to sit, relax and admire nearby sculptures. Two beautiful ponds with blooming water lilies and several buildings with indoor displays of sculptures completed the picture. When the group of fifteen gathered at the prescribed time in the cafeteria, all agreed that the day trip had been a huge success - and that more such trips to "undiscovered fun places" in New Jersey and neighboring states should be organized. The following members of Ananda Mandir participated in this field trip: Suprasad Baidyaroy, Pronoy and Swapna Chatterjee, Debajyoti and Sikha Chatterji, Amal and Reeta De, Anjana Dutta, Surya Dutta, Hirak and Suparna Guha, Dwipen and Nandita Sarkar, Bandana Rakhit, and Utpal Sengupta. If you are interested in joining future field trips by seniors, please contact Debajyoti Chatterji (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ananda Mandir Seniors Forum ("Seniors Helping Seniors") Invites retirees and nearretirees to participate actively in Forum meetings and activities. Seniors Forum usually meets on the third Sunday of every month at 1:00 PM. However, the date may change because of conflict with other Ananda Mandir events. Please contact Debajyoti Chatterji (Cell: 908-507-9640) for latest updates on the meeting dates.
Bye, Bye, Butler! Continued from page 7
presence felt with her ravishing countenance. It was quite an experience for everyone. Nobody had witnessed an Indian wedding ceremony in Butler before! My husband's best friend Suprasad had relied on the help of the Indian community to make all the arrangements for a reception by the groom's side later that evening. A handful of my husband's kins and other friends arrived from New York and other faraway places. The reception was held in the Graduate College where unmarried graduate students studied beneath a medieval hammer beam ceiling. Soon the unmarried graduate students would flock to our new residence after their studies to taste freshly cooked Indian food. Events at Butler were recorded by graduate student friends with a borrowed movie camera, though in their inexperience they set it at the wrong speed. Consequently, when we watched it later the sequence sped by at breakneck pace, like a silent comedy movie. It really looked like a Marriage in a Hurry! The next day our household goods would arrive at Butler in Suprasad Baidyaroy's Mustang. In the beginning I found the units to be ugly, but soon happiness started to float around. The Butler apartments rang with laughter, potlucks and games of crossword puzzles. Everyone around us was poor but happy. I laugh to remember how the graduate student from whom we subleased our first Butler residence came back unexpectedly and was dismayed with our crowded arrangements and the smell of our Indian cooking. He told us to leave the apartment immediately. Fortunately, after a number of unsuccessful attempts to rent other places around Princeton (including one where we had to go through an hour-long interview with a landlady), we were successful in getting another unit in Butler. This one was a newer unit but substantially smaller than the first. Still, we were so excited to be able to remain there. Later on we would move to a Butler unit that was bigger but older. I went to look over another graduate student's apartment to get an idea what lay ahead for us. My eyes went wide when I saw the entire apartment was strewn with books and no furniture. The wife told me that they opened up the folding cot only at night, so that it won't take away space for their studies. They
seemed to have nothing but their books; so immersed were they in their studies. During daytime the men folks were seldom seen. To financially support the penniless graduate students, the Butler wives would work as secretaries, school teachers, piano teachers. I started to go to Drew University with a graduate student's Japanese wife in her car, commuting for an hour or so. Later during the day I took care of the children of Professor Rudenstine (later to become the President of Harvard). His wife was an accomplished lady who worked as a curator for a New York art museum. Occasionally, the Rudenstines would call me to take care of their kids at night. Some of the other professors would also call me from time to time to watch their children. Every bit of cash was important to us and I never refused any offer. We even housesat for a family who left their kids and pets behind for a weeklong trip to Italy. The cramped unit allowed no space for storage. We had piles of books heaped up on the floor of our apartment. All the furniture was pushed to the walls. My husband still tells everybody, "When I was in graduate school I used to live in military barracks," because the Butler houses were originally US army barracks hauled to Princeton after World War II as emergency overflow for married graduate students. The partition walls were so flimsy I could hear the neighbor next door every afternoon when he came home for lunch and played his Stevie Wonder. If we caught a cold, our neighbors asked about our health, having heard the sneezing and hacking through the walls. When we called India in the middle of the night, they would come to ask us to speak softer, so they could get their sleep. Phones and blue aerograms were our only contact with home. The units were so cold and so drafty all winter that we would cover the windows with plastic. A monstrous space heater stood right in the middle of the apartment. This was the sole source of heat during winter. This heater was of course used sometimes as a buffet table, and sometimes as a study table. At times the summer heat was so unbearable that we had to make a trip to the fountain by the Woodrow Wilson School in the campus to soak ourselves in. During the daytime the husbands were away but you could
always see a number of bicycles lashed to the front post of the units. We were poor, but how sweetly I remember the wonderful (but somewhat painful) rides on my husband's bike to the Graduate College lawn to join the young professors and graduate students in folk dancing. I can never forget my first Christmas at Butler. The wife of our host family read stories to her children during the Christmas day dinner to which we were invited. The same Christmas Eve, Dr. Chakrabarti arrived with a bag of presents that included my very first winter coat, a gift my sister bought with her savings. My sister's first baby shower was held in the party room of Butler, next to the Butler Laundromat. My sister was anxious to have me invite all her elite Bengali friends, when I was just learning how to cook as a new wife. That was the Laundromat where I made trips with a basketful of soiled clothes and could chat with other graduate wives about our lives. I learned different ways of saving money by hand-washing and drying our things on clothesline. We also learned to grow our own vegetables in the tiny plot assigned to us. We Butler wives met periodically to cut coupons from the newspapers. We scanned near the bulletin board in the Butler yard where the rich Princetonians would leave their castoff clothing and other items for us struggling students. Our other best bet was to make a trip to the exchange where secondhand furniture and other items were available. I remember an incident where a single student picked up a double bed over a single bed. We bickered with him, insisting that a couple needs a double bed more than a bachelor. He took exception to the point, but eventually traded beds with me. Many times we would complain to the housing department for repairs but they would demur, stating that the units would be demolished soon. Years would go by and the Butler still stayed the same. For the years that followed we would religiously bring our own kids every year to show them where their parents started their lives. At the time we couldn't wait to join the other established Indian families in larger, more comfortable suburban houses. Eventually, we did. But now I look back to the time and wish I could start there at Butler all over again.
Continued from page 7
the Cultivation of Science (IACS) was established in Kolkata by Dr. Mohendra Lal Sircar for pursuit of research in science. A couple of decades later in 1909, the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) was born in Bangalore under the sponsorship of Sir Jamshedji Tata, the father of the steel industry in India, who wanted to advance technical education in India. The Maharaja of Mysore donated land needed for the institute under entreaties of Sir Jamshedji. In 1916, Pandit Madan Mohan Malavya established Banaras Hindu University with 1300 acres of land donated by the then ruler of Kashi. And Rabindranath Tagore, India's Nobel laureate poet, formally launched Visva Bharati in 1921. After India's independence from the British in 1947, the Central Government continued to support this public/private dual approach to higher education but introduced several new elements as well. Although higher education remained the responsibility primarily of the states, the central government became heavily involved in the planning and operation of the university system in India. Both Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, India's first Minister of Education were ardent supporters of technical and scientific education in India. The Nehru government established the first Indian Institue of Technology (IIT) in the early fifties in Kharagpur, West Bengal followed by three more in Madras, Bombay and Kanpur. As degreegranting institutions, the IITs were given unprecedented autonomy and flexibility. They were kept outside the purview of the University Grants Commission (UGC) that was established in 1952 to oversee the operation of public universities and to provide much of the needed funds. The UGC was also responsible for the "maintenance of standards" across India's universities. Although the central government launched a few other initiatives during the 1960s and 1970s, the overall architecture for higher education in India remained generally stable and coherent during these decades. Most of the Indian immigrants in the US who arrived before the 1990s were the products of this architecture of the Indian higher education system. However, beginning in the 1990s, the Indian university system began to undergo rapid and significant changes that many of us are only vaguely aware of. RECENT DEVELOPMENTS Currently, there are four types of universities in India: central
Higher Education in India universities (and centrally funded "institutes of national importance"), state universities, private universities, and "deemed universities". (There are also "autonomous colleges" with degree-granting powers that are not considered universities.) As discussed above, central and state universities and private universities have been in existence in India for a long time. It is in the sphere of private universities, "deemed universities" and autonomous colleges where rapid and significant changes have taken place within the last 20 to 25 years. Today, private institutions account for almost 59% of all students enrolled in colleges and universities in India. The state universities account for 38% while the central government institutions account for approximately 3% of all enrolled students. Many of the premier universities in India are directly funded and administered by the central government. Currently, there are 44 "central universities" in India at this time, the largest numbers being in Delhi (5) and Uttar Pradesh (4). And the number of "institutes of national importance" stands at 40. Generally blessed with high (and stable) levels of funding, these institutions attract high quality faculty, which in turn, attract high quality students. Admissions to these universities and institutes are usually based on intensive, nationwide competitive tests, and huge numbers of students vie to get into these highly selective universities. IITs (16 in total), All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (7), Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) (8) , National Institutes of Technology (21), and Indian Institutes of Information Technology Management (8) fall in the category of "institutes of national importance". Visva Bharati is the only "central university" in West Bengal. State-sponsored universities in India have traditionally been the workhorse of higher education for most college-bound students in India, especially for students entering liberal arts programs. The number of universities in a state usually depends on the population as well as resources available to the state. Most of the state universities have colleges affiliated with them. These affiliated colleges provide undergraduate education while the universities manage and conduct undergraduate qualifying examinations, and are responsible for granting of degrees. Universities also conduct courses at postgraduate level awarding Masters and Doctoral degrees. The doctoral program in a typical Indian
university is very much like that in the United Kingdom where little emphasis is put on course work and is based solely on the dissertation written under the guidance of an approved "guide" or professor. The total number of state universities in India currently exceeds 300. In recent years the number of private universities has soared, but most of these newly established private institutions have targeted professional fields such as engineering, pharmacy, medicine, architecture, etc. - not the liberal arts. There were only about 20 private universities in India in 2001. In 2012, there were 166 private universities in India, concentrated mostly in the western India. Most of these universities operate as non-profit arms of non-governmental organizations. Interestingly, in 2012 West Bengal had 1 private university and Maharastra had none, whereas Rajasthan had 33 and Uttar Pradesh 23! It may be hard to believe, but in 20112012, 91% of students in engineering diploma programs in the country were enrolled in private universities. For pharmacy, the figure was 95%, for medicine, it was 50%, for management, the percentage was 67, and so on. Thus, not only has the number of private universities multiplied rapidly, education in professional fields has become privatized to a very significant extent. "Deemed universities" are unique to India. As mentioned before, prior to independence, several private institutions of higher learning were developed in India. The Education Commission headed by Dr S. Radhakrishnan (a noted philosopher and the second President of India) recommended in 1948 that some of these institutions should be recognized as autonomous and given the authority to grant degrees. Accordingly, the Government of India made a provision under the UGC Act of 1956 to recognize some institutions as "deemed to be universities". However, at the beginning such recognitions were conferred on only a handful of institutions of higher learning (for example, Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore was given this recognition in 1958). Only 29 deemed universities were recognized from 1956 to 1990. But after 1990, the number of "deemed universities" proliferated rapidly, with the total reaching 130 by 2008 (this number does not include the regional engineering colleges that were given degree granting powers in 2008). Of the total, 44% are in the public sector while 56% are in the private sector. The central government
stopped granting "deemed university" status in 2009. In fact, it tried to strip 44 institutions off their deemed university honor, resulting in law suits before the Supreme Court of India. The matter is still not fully resolved. Tamil Nadu boasts the highest number of deemed universities, 29 in all, while West Bengal is home of one such university (Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University in Belur). It should be noted that deemed universities have one restriction: they cannot operate "affiliated colleges". EMERGING ISSUES Looking simply at the numbers, India seems to have an impressive system of higher education. Almost 17 million students are enrolled in 634 universities with over 33,000 affiliated and autonomous colleges, involving some 817,000 faculty members. True, India has one of the largest educational systems in the world. Also true, higher education in India has expanded rapidly since independence, especially in the last 20 years or so, and higher education is now reaching the masses, not just an elite few. However, the system faces formidable challenges. To understand how a country is performing, the United Nations uses a metric: Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER). Simply, it is the ratio of actual number of students attending colleges to the total number college-age inhabitants in the country. GER is highly correlated with the economic development of the country, education being a major factor in driving economic growth of a country. Against this metric, India compares very unfavorably with many nations including China. The world average for GER is 26%, China has it at 23% while for India it is 13.8%. There is also wide disparity among the states in terms of GER. In the eastern Indian states like Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal the GER is around 11%, while the Western Indian states like Maharastra and Gujarat report GER of about 25%. Although achieving excellence in education has been the professed policy objective of the Indian government for many decades, the country lacks the institutional framework needed to achieve such excellence. The major problem facing higher education is the lack of properly trained faculty resources. Most of the private institutions are not staffed with properly qualified people. The pay structure is not adequate to attract the best and the brightest to join these institutions. Only a handful of centrally funded institutions such as the IITs and the IIMs are attractive places to work.
Many private universities in technical fields have inadequate laboratories and equipment. From my personal experience of working in several institutions in India, I found that there is little incentive for faculty and administrators to achieve excellence. Here are some issues that hinder the achievement of excellence in public institutions. 1. There is no real evaluation of faculty performance that has any consequences. 2. There is little incentive to work harder as the salary is determined by the Pay Commission. 3. Promotion is based on seniority, not performance. 4. The culture of equality guides determination of pay raises and other incentives, rather than productivity. 5. Corruption in the form of political influence prevents hiring of competent people. This dangerous practice is the proverbial "elephant in the room" that nobody talks about. 6. Most private institutions are concerned about generating "profit" or surplus. Education has become a lucrative business. Many politicians either in office or out of office are crowned as heads of private colleges and universities and are paid generous salaries and perks. Although colleges by definition are not-forprofit organizations, the promoters of such colleges do indeed bilk the institutes in many ways as I have noted in my experience in India. The central government control also has led to institutionalization of corrupt practices in many insidious ways. Many people in India claim that the open market system will ensure quality because those institutions that perform inadequately will be eliminated for lack of customer demand. While this argument is intellectually compelling, it relies on the presence of an efficient market system where the customers are fully knowledgeable about their choices. Unfortunately, parents of many students in the rural areas of India have little knowledge about strengths and weaknesses of competing colleges. And they spend their hardearned money for the education of their children often on the wrong choice. In order to make significant economical and technological advances, India needs to simplify its unnecessarily complex system of higher education, establish a much stronger payfor-performance culture, weed out corruption, and achieve a greater uniformity in quality of education across its colleges and universities.
YOUTH SECTION Stress, Beta-endorphins, and Cancer Growth By: Ankush Rakhit Editor's Note: An article titled "Stress, Beta-endorphins, and Cancer Growth" was published in the October issue of Ananda Sangbad by Ankush Rakhit, a young high school student in our community. This resulted from his work as an intern in the "Internship Program" initiated by Ananda Mandir. The photos below show his certification of completion of the program under the director of the Endocrine Lab, Dr. Dipak Sarkar, also President of Ananda Mandir.
KISHALOY Kishaloy is a monthly wall magazine for the youth. When you come to Ananda Mandir, you will see it hanging on the wall in the community building. Any youth member of Ananda Mandir can submit poetry, short stories, scientific article, artwork, and photographs for the magazine. The youth group of Ananda Mandir meets generally on Sunday afternoons. An email list of the youth group volunteers will be published shortly. All youth group volunteers will receive official certificates from Ananda Mandir for their volunteer services. For more information, contact Dipak Sarkar at email: sarkar@AESOP.Rutgers.edu; Phone: 609.651.1023 Continued from page 8
within the close proximity of Vishwanath temple. It is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas. Shakti Peethas, spread over Indian subcontinent, are places of worship of the female principal of Hinduism - Shakti. At every Shakti Peetha the Goddess has her husband Lord Shiva accompanying her in different names as in Kashi he is called Vishwanath the lord of the universe.
Sapta Tirtha What are the Puja timings at Kashi Vishwanath temple? The temple on regular days remains open from 5:30 in the morning to 12:00 noon. Then it reopens at 4:00 p.m., and closes after the last puja at 8:00 p.m. Aarati is rendered five times each day. During the evening Aarati known as "Shringar Aarati", the Jyotirlinga is decorated with flowers and bel
Summer Internship Program for College Students And High School Seniors Ananda Mandir has launched Summer Internship for college students and high school seniors. This year it recruited three interns in biological science area . It will continue recruiting for the internship program for the next year again. The program will include learning and helping research works in the areas of biological science, physical science and engineering at various laboratories in New Jersey. Additional internship opening will be in the area of pharmacy in New York City. Some internships are paid, others are voluntary. Paid interns have to be minimum 18 years old and US citizens or permanent residents. For the next year's internship, application with resume indicating the area of internship interest should be sent to Dr. Pronoy Chatterjee, e-mail: email@example.com by March 31, 2014.
leaves. How to visit Varanasi and get around while in the city? International flight to any major metro in India - Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai has connecting flight to Varanasi Airport, which is about 25km from the city. Major local Indian carriers like Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Kingfisher and SpiceJet have direct flights to Varanasi. Connecting flights can be booked online (makemytrip.com) from international locations and e-tickets printouts will be conveniently
handy for international travelers planning to visit the holy city of Varanasi. From Varanasi airport, road transportations are available including pre-paid taxis. On an adventurous mood, one can take an autorickshaw to Varanasi inhaling the holy dust and air of Kashi and having a closer look at the soil and its habitants. Varanasi is well connected by trains: Varanasi bound train tickets from Kolkata, Delhi, Agra, Lucknow and Mumbai are easily available from NRI quota tickets reserved by Indian Railways. For international travelers, it will be a worthwhile experience to get to know the local crowds of Indian soil by traveling in trains. The ride is bit overcrowded but one desirous to get the flavor of the soil may like traveling with local people, get to know their beliefs and culture and feel the warmth that flows from their hearts for co-travelers heading for destination Varanasi. I had taken a train from Varanasi on my way back to Mumbai. The train ride through the first two stations was extremely slow; the train was literally crawling through the tracks. There were local villagers catching-up with the train to sell bananas freshly picked from banana plantations running in the fields beside the railway tracks. Passengers were delighted to purchase low cost bananas (green skin but ripe and sweet) in dozens. I had purchased some as well and had the tastiest bananas of my life. Yes, testier than "Dole" or "Chiquita". And I am not being prejudiced. What else is unique about Varanasi? Well, I would definitely recommend two things - a boat ride on the river Ganges covering the length and breadth of the
ghats especially in the evening when the Sun is about to set and temple bells ring for evening Aarati, and a rickshaw ride within Varanasi. The city is very old and has many tiny, narrow winding alleys, which connect to many places that are recommended tourist spots. And, again, for those who are adventurous, there are bikes available exclusively for tourists. Just ride a bike with a guided book of directions to recommended spots in hand, and you will experience a sense of joy meandering through the alleys of the old city, vibrant, and displaying the religious pulse of India. A ride through the Banaras Hindu University road shaded with tall mango trees on both sides is another unique experience. Of course, what is singularly unique about Varanasi is that in the midst of everything that is so full of life seeking Lord Shiva's blessings for healthy, prosperous living, there is a parallel panel of people who are desirous for death in this holy place so that they attain "moksha"- liberation from the cycle of birth and death. So, on the banks of river Ganges there is Assi Ghat with lovely hotels, restaurants and even Internet Cafes. And, there is Kedar Ghat which is beautifully painted reflecting the colors of life making it a photographers' cherished spot. Yet, there is Narad Ghat where married couples are advised to bathe for harmony and peace in life together. Finally, in contrast, there are Harishchandra Ghat and Manikarnika Ghat where cremation takes place liberating the soul from the bondage of body. Such uniquely diverse is Varanasi. Do plan a trip in the name of "Om Namah Shivaya!" With this series we have covered four of seven Sapta Tirthas especially written for Ananda Sangbad readers - Mathura, Puri, Ayodhya and Varanasi. In our next series we will cover Haridwar. Stay tuned and stay blessed.
Ananda Mandir is pleased to announce the launch of a program to
award financial grants to support Community Service Projects
aimed at helping the South Asian community in the Greater New Jersey area ----------Project Proposals Are Welcome From Organizations and Individuals Please visit www.anandamandir.org for program details and application requirements or Contact: Pronoy Chatterjee (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Debajyoti Chatterji (email@example.com)
MEDICAL AND HEALTH SECTION
Sahitya O Alochana Reported by Subrata Bhaumik Continued from page 7
This column is prepared with the assistance of Dr. Rajat Bannerji (Member, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey; Associate Professor of Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School).
Preventing Illness During Travel to India By Rachna Gupta MD, MPH Are you planning a trip to India?Pre-travel planning for preventing illness is often a neglected part of travel preparation. Whether traveling back home to visit friends and family or traveling for work, failing to anticipate and recognize potential exposures and health risks leads to high rates of travel related infectious diseases. Expatriates often underestimate their own risk of illness and erroneously believe that living in India in the past will protect them from illness during visits back home. Typhoid, malaria and other mosquito borne illnesses are common and often preventable causes of illness in travelers returning from India. Vaccines, certain prophylactic medications, and educating yourself are effective ways to prevent illness during travel. Typhoid fever is a bacterial illness acquired by contaminated food or water. The bacteria are ingested, invade through the small bowel, and reach the bloodstream causing fever, abdominal pain, rash, and in many persons can lead to serious complications like intestinal hemorrhage, abscesses, coma and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost two thirds of typhoid fever cases among returning US travelers are imported from the Indian subcontinent; the number of new cases is nearly 18 fold higher than for persons returning from travel to any other geographic region. Also, due to increasing drug resistance to many oral antibiotics, treatment of the Typhoid fever acquired in India now requires intravenous antibiotics. A person who has had typhoid fever in the past is not protected against reinfection in the future. Vaccination is an effective way of preventing Typhoid fever. The vaccine is available in oral form (Ty21, Vivotif®), which can be given to persons as young as age 6. It comes as a preparation of 4 capsules that must be refrigerated. One capsule is taken every other day, and the schedule should be completed at least one week before your departure date. It protects against typhoid for 5 years but is not recommended for persons who are immunosuppressed or are taking
antibiotics. The intramuscular injectable vaccine (Typhim Vi®) can be given to children as young as age 2. For best protection, immunization should be received at least two weeks prior to travel. Booster doses are recommended every 2 years. Neither vaccine provides absolute immunity, but the benefit clearly outweighs the risk. Receiving vaccine must be combined with exercising basic food and water safety which protects not only from typhoid but also other gastrointestinal illnesses including diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, and some viral hepatitis. Suitable drinking water should be bottled (obtained from a reliable source), boiled (CDC recommends a rolling boil for one minute, then cooled), or filtered. Avoid unpasteurized milk, undercooked eggs and meats, or salads. Raw vegetables should be washed with clean drinking water and peeled, preferably by the traveler, before being eaten. Remember, only ice made with clean drinking water should be consumed. Malaria is a life threatening infection caused by a microorganism that can be injected into one's blood during a mosquito bite. Infection can initially manifest with chills, high fevers, jaundice, headache, vomiting and abdominal pain and requires prompt evaluation and treatment. Some species of malaria (Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale) can become dormant in the liver during infection and cause relapse infection months, sometimes years after travel. Traveling through most of India, including the greater metropolitan areas, at any the time of year is risky for acquiring malaria, and prevention using antimalarial medication is recommended. According to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation statistics, approximately 42,000 cases of malaria in 2011 and 36,000 cases of malaria in 2012 were diagnosed in the local municipality clinics. This number likely underestimates the actual burden of malaria cases in Kolkata. Exception to the recommended prophylaxis applies only for travel to areas at altitudes over 2000 meters (6000 feet) in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Sikkim. Due to drug resistant malaria in India, medications used in pre-
vention include atovaquoneproguanil (tradename Malarone®), doxycycline, or mefloquine (tradename Lariam®). When taken properly, these medications greatly reduce the risk of acquiring malaria. Atovaquone-proguanil must be taken daily starting 1-2 days before leaving for India and should be continued for 7 days after returning from India. Doxycycline must also be taken daily starting 1-2 days before leaving for India and should be continued for 4 weeks after returning to the US. Mefloquine is taken once weekly, starting at least 2 weeks before leaving for India and MUST also be continued for 4 weeks after returning from India. The choice of which medication to take should be discussed with your prescribing physician and is usually based on the duration of your trip, your other medications and medical conditions, convenience, and tolerability of the medication. Of note, people returning from India and other countries where malaria transmission occurs are not permitted to donate blood in the US for a period of time (usually one year) after their return. In addition to malaria, other important mosquito-borne illnesses encountered in India include Dengue virus, Chikungunya virus, and Japanese Encephalitis virus infections. While the mosquitoes that transmit malaria bite between dusk and dawn, these illnesses can be spread by daytime biting mosquitoes and have occurred as epidemics. There is no specific antibiotic/ antiviral treatment for each of these beyond supportive medical care, so protecting yourself from mosquito bites is the best prevention. The CDC recommends insect repellent sprays containing DEET (at least 30-50%) and wearing full sleeved clothing, tucked in shirt, and long pants to minimize exposed skin. The sprays can last about 4 to 6 hours and come off earlier with sweat and rain, so should be reapplied during the day. Clothing can also be pre-treated with permethrin, an insecticide, which is retained in clothing and remains effective even after several washings. Sleeping under insecticide impregnanted bed nets (available online or through sports/ camping supply stores) is highly effective and often a novel experience for children. Staying in air conditioned rooms and
the U.S., especially in Louisiana and the Northeast. These researches clearly and convincingly identified these groups as Bengali Chikandars and Laskars who hailed from what is presently Bangladesh vis-à-vis the Lucknow Chikandars from North India. The session was very informative and was well attended. The discussion leader for this session was Debajyoti Chatterji. October was our international economics and finance month. Subrata Bhaumik led an animated and robustly attended session focusing on an issue that has impacted, and will continue to do so, our lives in the South Asian community in one way or the other. And the topic was entitled "What is happening to the Indian Rupee?" The session included a discussion on the interconnectedness of the financial systems in a globalized economy, a background of the recent precipitous fall in the value of the Indian Rupee and the worsening affairs of the country's economy, and what are some of the ways that will help boost the currency's value in the short term. Two other veterans of our alochana community, Gautam Goswami and Aniruddha Sanyal, also assisted Subrata in the discussion. An article on the same topic authored by Subrata also appears in the current issue of Ananda Sangbad. Finally the "holiday session" was held in December. This session was unique because it was our tightly screened rooms, if available, also reduce exposure to mosquitoes. Before your trip, check with your physician if your routine vaccinations are up to date. MeaslesMumps-Rubella (MMR), tetanusdiptheria-pertussis (Tdap), poliovirus, and seasonal influenza are some vaccines that can be administered by your general physician. Some require a one-time booster in adulthood, if previously immunized, while the Tdap requires a booster vaccine every 10 years and the influenza vaccine is given yearly. Hepatitis A vaccine is an effective vaccine for a preventable disease and appears to confer lifelong immunity. Many adults who grew up in India may already have natural immunity to Hepatitis A. Your physician can check your Hepatitis A antibody levels in your blood. If Hepatitis A antibody is absent from the blood, vaccine is recommended. Depending on when and where in India you are visiting, there have been local outbreaks and some persistent endemic illnesses. These include Chikungunya virus (2005-2006), Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in
first discussion on a sports topic. The session featured a presentation on "The Cricketing Life of Sachin Tendulkar." It was a timely topic that coincided with the retirement of this most celebrated icon of the cricketing world. Attendees indulged in the intoxication of their younger days; appreciated his outstanding career; and paid respect to arguably the best ever cricketer. A healthy debate ensued the presentation, which addressed some of the noncricketing issues related to Tendulkar including some of his awards and accolades; his demigod status in India; and the obsessive fanfare that he enjoys in the sports of cricketing world. Rishi Bhattacharjee, the leader of the session, enthralled the participants with a vibrant, passionate, and informative audio/ video presentation. Future sessions - Quite a few interesting sessions are in the pipeline for the next few months including "Influence of Indian Philosophy on Western Literature" with specific references to the works of T.S. Eliot and W. B. Yeats; a reading of works of local writers; "Evolution and Future Outlook of the Indian Outsourcing Industry in the Global Market" and an intriguing discussion on "Life After Death." The friends of Sahitya O Alochana would like to thank Ananda Mandir for its continued support for the forum's contribution to the cultural enrichment of the local Bengali and Indian community. Uttar Pradesh (since 2005), Hepatitis E in Maharashtra (2012), Dengue virus (nationwide), Japanese Encephalitis Virus, and Rabies. Some of these are preventable with vaccine (i.e. Japanese Encephalitis and Rabies) taken prior to travel and with precautions taken during travel. Being aware of the latest news at your travel destination can help you better plan prevention strategies. Travel health information and the latest health alerts are available on the CDC website. Adults, children, women who may be pregnant, persons who are immuno-suppressed or with chronic illnesses should discuss their travel plans with their physicians for individualized travel advice who, if necessary, may refer travelers to specialized infectious diseases/ travel medicine clinics. So, as you plan and pack for your next trip to India, give consideration to the health risks and learn about ways to reduce your risk and to maintain your health during travel. Safe Journey!
COMMUNITY NEWS Survival Story of a Woman during Typhoon in Philippines Communicated by Partha Chatterjee Editor's Note: Here is a mail that crossed our desk depicting the survival of an eighty seven years old (November 2013) typhoon in Philippines, where several thousands perished and millions turned homeless. This was one of the worst natural disasters recorded in the recent history of the world. We wanted to share with our readers the demonstration of courage and wisdom of this eighty seven years old lady while she fought with the massive flood and devastation, as well as her escape from the scene. The following e-mail was written by her daughter to her relatives. "Date of the incident: November 8, 2013 Location: Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines
Hi everyone, Louie came back last Tuesday and I just arrived last Thursday from Manila, tired and exhausted from anxiety, all arrangements and having a long travelling. The end result though came out very positive. Mama survived the worst typhoon ever to hit Tacloban City. She is safe and in good health. She is currently in Manila and will be flying back to New Jersey on November 30th with Bim. My sincere gratitude to you for all your powerful prayers, support and concerns. Below is the detail of her unforgettable experience. My mother survived the strong typhoon and the dangers of travelling out of Tacloban. I would say the house was structurally strong and built on a good foundation so it is still standing, but only without roof and with shattered windows. Mama was all alone in the house when the typhoon hit the area. Water rose up to her neck in the living room and up to her waist in her bedroom. Things floated including furniture and bed mattresses. She would have drowned if the water rose for another few inches. However, the good thing was, the water subsided the same day. But, the house remained muddy. She said, "I didn't panic nor did I feel any fear".
Two days later, on Tuesday, a family friend of ours, who drove from Manila with his son, went to check on her and found her in the living room, sitting on a chair with an umbrella. He told her to pack her things and he would give her a ride to Manila. He and his son had to carry her out to the van. While driving out of Tacloban, she saw dead bodies on the road side and the place smelled real bad. They drove via Catbalogan, then ran out of gas in Calbayog and waited in line for five hours for gas. They had to stay overnight at a hotel, where they had the last available room. They left early in the next morning, took the cargo vessel, then drove again to Legaspi City. Mama along with the son of the family friend planned to take the plane to Manila. It took them one and half days on the road to reach a place where there was an available flight to Manila. It was a risky escape from Tacloban, as they were stopped several times along the way by suspicious people. It was a good thing that our family friend was an ex-cop and had a gun with him. He said it was really a life and death situation. My older sister, Gilda who arrived at Manila from San Francisco early Wednesday morning, booked the Thursday flight for Mama and her companion from Legaspi to Manila. However, she called me at 8 AM Thursday and said that she just found out that her credit card which she used to buy the PAL tickets was denied. She asked me to call PAL and square it out. To make the long story short, I couldn't do anything as the flight was scheduled to depart in less than 4 hours. The only way Mama could board the plane was to pay the airfare upon check- in. So I called our family friend and told him the scenario. Fortunately, Mama had enough cash and she was able to fly to Manila. She told us that if she didn't have cash, it would take them another day to drive all the way to Manila. When she got settled at my uncle's house in Ayala Heights, we asked her why she had so much cash with her? Her reply was that she withdrew money a week before to treat her
friends for her birthday on November 14. Who would think that money was going to be used to get her out of Tacloban - she had to pay extra for the gas, hotel stay and the cargo vessel ..."kailangan ng lagay, lagay, lagay..." in order to move fast. We were really impressed with her presence of mind during the typhoon as she stated the following: 1. She made sure she had all her medicines in a zip lock... and her Oil of Olay! 2. She also placed 30k cash, her ATMs and bank passbooks in a plastic bag, though they got wet. 3. She survived with chocolates, vienna sausage and spam stored in her bedroom and a water bottle. She would take a sip of the water little by little. "Nakakasawa na daw kainin." 4. Three men entered the house and were asking her to leave due to danger, but her response was "I am alone and can barely walk. I will stay, just stay here". The men left without taking anything. She assumed they felt sorry for her. The day she arrived in Manila, Thursday Nov 14, it was her 87th birthday. She was truly blessed! We thought she would be very tired, weak and we were afraid of her getting pneumonia. But no, she was strong and bubbly, excited to tell us her unusual experience. She was even mad at my sister for bringing her to the hospital for a check-up, saying there's nothing wrong with her. However, two days later, she complained of pain on her right foot. Then she confessed that she stepped on something. My sister brought her to UP clinic where she was given an anti-tetanus shot, antibiotic and cream to prevent infection. She said that this was definitely her memorable birthday ever. As for your proposal for Christmas gifts to typhoon victims, thank you. I will look into contact persons who will benefit directly from your generous help and will let you know. It really makes a difference to have a support group in times of need."
News You May Have Missed End Of A Legend Prabodh Chandra Dey (1 May 1919-24 October 2013), known by his stage name Manna Dey, a giant in Hindi film songs for seven decades, and ever popular with the Bengali music lovers, is no more.. The Government of India honored him with the Padma Shri in 1971, the Padma Bhushan in 2005 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2007. He was presented the Filmfare Life Time Achievement Award in 2011. At the celebration of 50 years singing life at Netaji Indoor Stadium, Kolkata. Dey attended Scottish Church Collegiate School and Scottish Church College and eventually graduated from Vidyasagar College. Dey started taking music lessons from his famous uncle, classical singer Krishna Chandra Dey and also from Ustad Dabir Khan. Upon moving to Mumbai with his uncle for a career in films, he debuted in the film Tamanna in 1942, and went on to record more than 4000 songs from 1942 to 2013. He recorded his duet song with Suraiya in Tamanna, and then went on to sing with Shamshad Begum, the queen of film music at the time, and eventually with Lata, Asha,
Geeta Dutt and many current singers in the music industry today. Dey sang many duets with male singers too, notably with Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar. An incident while singing "Ek Chatur Naar" in Padosan (1965), with Kishore Kumar, got wide publicity. Reportedly the song was partly improvised by Kishore Kumar at the time of recording and Manna Dey, determined to show Kishore Kumar how he would sing the duet better (since Kishore had not been trained classically), got into the mood of the song and thus immortalized the song. Though Manna Dey was disappointed that he lost to Kishore on-screen for the song at the time of film's release, they became good friends later. In an interview in 1987, Dey said about Kishore in admiration that with the kind of variety of songs - folk, pop, western and classical based songs sung by Kishore Kumar from 1968 to 1987, he was definitely greater than Dey himself and at par with Rafi and Mukesh. Manna Dey will remain immortal in the horizon of Indian Film Music.
News You May Have Missed Parthasarathi Bhattacharya Ananda Mandir Life Member - a film producer Ananda Mandirâ€™s Life Member has produced the only English language documentary, one hour long, for sequicentennial brith anniversary of our beloved poet Rabindranath. Partha Bhattacharya, the Producer/Director is a professional engineer in New Jersey and New York with a life long interest in arts and music. An ancestor of him worked with the poet and polymath Rabindranath Tagore. This opened the door for him to meet the core associates of the poet including professor Amiya Chakravarty who last taught at SUNY, New Paltz, NY. Professor Chakravarty took down by hand the conversations between Einstein and Tagore which has come to be known as the East West Dialogue and left the poet's legacy on a video tape. In addition, Partha procured a copy of the rare tome The Golden Book of Rabindranath Tagore sponsored by Gandhi, Einstein, Romain Rolland et al and published in 1931. When the United Nations observed in 2009 that the sesquicentennial birth anniversary of the poet would be celebrated world over and UNESCO kicked off celebrations in Paris in May 2010, Partha saw it appropriate to bind all the information in a film for the students and educational institutions all over the world. The movie documents messages from renowned world leaders and displays many celebrations around the world and provides a renewed platform for hope and inspiration through greatest songs and poems of the poet amid wars and strife. The concept and creation of this film by one family sans outside financial help, took about two and a half years to accomplish. It is hoped that this will be a world class heritage film and leave a permanent legacy for mankind to live in peace and harmony, championing the poet's vision. Source: Author
COMMUNITY NEWS News You May Have Missed Raj Mukherjee - A NJ State Assemblyman Democratic party nominee Raj Mukherji, a rising Indian-American figure on the political scene of New Jersey, has won the State Assembly polls in New Jersey, becoming one of the youngest to be elected to the house. 29-year-old Mukherji, a first-time Democratic nominee for the 33rd Legislative District and former Jersey City Deputy Mayor, had won the primary election in June by a 36point margin. According to the Office of County Clerk, Hudson County, Mukherji got 18,586 votes and will represent the Legislative District, which covers Hoboken, Union City, Weehawken and parts of Jersey City. He is the son of Indian American immigrants and has had a stellar rise in the political arena. According to information provided by his 'Raj Mukherji for Assembly' website, Mukherji supported himself through high school, college and grad school as an emancipated minor when his parents were forced to return to India due to economic constraints. His father Asim Mukherji was an accountant who could not work because of health reasons and could not afford health coverage without employment. "This experience shaped Raj's perspective and interest in healthcare and inspired much of his subsequent advocacy in that field," according to personal information about Mukherji posted on the website. From March 2012 through June 2013, Mukherji served as one of the two Deputy Mayors of Jersey City, New Jersey's second largest city. He had also founded an internet consulting and software development company while in middle school, which he later sold to a larger technology company. Following the September 11 attacks in the city, Mukherji joined the US Marines at age 17, where he served in military intelligence for the Marine Corps Reserve. At 19, he co-founded a public affairs firm that he grew into the state's third largest lawyerlobbying firm while learning the inner workings of the State House. With clients ranging from social justice causes to higher education institutions to government agencies to Fortune 500 corporations, he advocated to abolish the death penalty in New Jersey and replace it with life imprisonment without parole and lobbied for equality for lesbians, gays and transgender community. At age 24, Mukherji was appointed the youngest Commissioner and Chairman in the history of the Jersey City Housing Authority - the state's second largest housing authority - where his work for various reforms at the USD 70 million agency serving over 16,000 residents and over 6,700 households was widely appreciated. Source - Internet News
NJPA Corner Reported By Prasenjit Baisya This year, Ma Kali was truly benevolent to the NJPA folks. A year back, the trials and tribulations of Sandy had led to sad last-minute cancellations. The year before, a sudden and horribly inconvenient snowstorm had led to a paltry audience for the Puja. Not so this year, with the blessings of the Divine Mother !!! The weather, albeit cold, did not stop a sizeable gathering at the Judd Elementary School. The loyal lifers, young and old, some newcomers, some old-timers , all turned up to enjoy the NJPA Kali Puja 2013. It is a strange yet benign coincidence that the NJPA Kali Puja still remains the only "barowari" style Puja in New Jersey. There are others , of course, in the religious places of worship but none in our beloved Bengali style where the music, fun, frolic and food are the core ingredients to a memorable and enjoyable Puja. Thus the charm of this one , still going strong at close to 40 years. This organization prides itself on the food it serves to guests and this year was no exception. Added to that ed this year. There was the precocious talent of a young singer from a recent talent show, Malabika Guha's dance troupe with their beautiful choreographed formations and the local Bengali Band Oikataan, refreshingly different in their renditions. To honor the recent and heartbreaking demise of a musical giant , our beloved Manna Da, some of NJPA's members performed a medley of his songs in remembrance. Finally, the immensely talented and rising young musician Shamit Tyagi, took the stage, beginning with a pleasantly surprising Shyamasangeet, moving onto many popular Bengali and recent Hindi songs. Shamit literally brought the house down, getting many of the audience on the floor dancing with him and to crown it all, even had the two hall custodians dancing in the final numbers !!! Please check out our website at : http://njpa.net for past and upcoming events or connect with us on Facebook (NJPA Parivar).
ICC Corner Reported By Soumyendra Seal ICC Garden State celebrated its biggest event of the year, the 2013 Durga Puja, on the weekend of October 5th and 6th at the Parsippany High School. This event had a special significance as the ICC Durga Puja, also locally known as the Parsippany Durga Puja, was a 'home coming' for us in many ways. I, on behalf of the rest of the ICC Executive Committee, take this opportunity to thank all members and patrons who helped in making this a grand success. ICC maintained its tradition of holding the Durga Pujas in a homely and cordial environment, with active participation of all its members, all coming together and making it one huge extended family event. For many, the event actually started on Friday evening, when they gathered to setup the Protima, stage and the adjoining areas. The local performers also took this opportunity to do a final stage rehearsal. This year's event was in stark contrast from last year's, which was marred by Hurricane Sandy. The two hundred and fifty odd families that attended the puja this year were all dressed in their festive attire, and were treated to two days of solemn pujas, sumptuous food and great entertainment. A large number of vendors also attended offering everything from dresses, jewelry, books, periodicals and CD/DVDs, which provided the attendees with ample choices to complete their puja shopping. There were also a couple of snack bars selling authentic Bengali cuisine and refreshments. The Maha Saptami and Maha Ashtami Pujas were observed on the 5th with devotees offering their Pushpanjali and then getting Prasad at its conclusion. A delicious Bengali dinner which included traditional vegetarian dishes, goat curry and mishti - was served prior to the commencement of the cultural program. Rumeli Dutta Majumdar, an ICC member and an upcoming Dancer and Choreographer from Kolkata, accompanied by other ICC Members opened the cultural program with a tantalizing performance of 'Mahishasura Mardini', directed and choreographed by herself. This was followed by a Shruti Natok 'Paka Dekha' performed by the renowned local couple - Jaya and Keshab Chatterjee. Neelanjana Banerjee of RDM, also an ICC member and a prolific dancer, presented moods of sringar, choreographed by our own Mitra Purkayastha. The final dance program of the evening was by Debolina Sanyal and her group, who performed a contemporary take on a traditional folk dance. The main attraction of the evening was the famous Kolkata Band 'Robi o Nobin', featuring lead vocalist Soumitra Ray with Robin Lai on violin and keyboard - both of 'Bhoomi' fame. The group also consisted of Irene Sarkar on vocals, Arjyesh Ray on drums and Subhomoy Mitra on guitar. This, their first program of this season, featured many contemporary, folk, Rabindra Sangeet as well as some occasional English songs. They captivated the packed auditorium, many of whom moved up to the front of the stage to dance to their tunes, and were often joined by Soumitra himself. The troupe also organized a fund raiser for the Malala Fund for girls' education, to which the attending audience gladly contributed. Maha Nabami and Dashami were observed the following day, which was followed by 'Sindur Khela' and dinner. The second day's cultural program was opened with a fusion rendition of the National Anthems of the United States and India. This was performed by the ICC Junior Members Band consisting of Subrata, Unmukt, Nitant, Portia, Kunal, Monisha, Ishan, Toto, Aditya and Sameer, and directed by Sourav Seal. This was followed by a classical 'Raaga' performed by ICC Junior MembersUnmukt, Nitant, Sourin and Sourav. This was followed by a dance recital by Monisha. Then local vocalist and member Tapasi Seal, presented a beautiful selection of Bengali and Hindi songs. The main attraction was the captivating performance of Rabindranath Tagore's dance drama, 'Shaap Mochan', presented by the 'Tathai' group from Connecticut. The final program was 'Abar Dekha Hobe Ei Banglay', directed by Arpita Gupta and performed by many ICC members. The masters of ceremonies were Bidisha Sarkar and Sanchita Deb. Excerpts of all the cultural programs may be found at the ICC website www.icc-gs.org. ICC also observed Lakshmi Puja on October 19th. It was attended by a number of members, who also used this occasion as 'Bijoya Sammelani'. A light dinner was served at the conclusion of the ceremony. Other events scheduled for the near future are ICC AGM in mid-December and the Saraswati Puja in January. I wish all readers Season's Greetings and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.
Acknowledgement The Board of Trustees expresses its deep appreciation to Suprasad and Rita Baidyaroy for their continued financial support to the publication of Ananadalipi.
Didnâ€™t Receive Your Copy of Ananda Sangbad? If you are a Life Member or an Associate Member, but didn't receive your copy of Ananda Sangbad, it may be because we do not have the correct address on file for you. Please send an email to : Guru Chakravarty (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your correct address, and we will send you another copy.
Ananda Mandir (Somerset, NJ) congratulates the winners of 2013 Gayatri GaMarsh Memorial Awards for Literary Excellence Gouri Datta of Massachusetts (In English Publications Category)
Gouri Datta Ivy Chatterjee of Jharkhand, India (In Bengali Publications Category) and Sumit Nag of Massachusetts (In Bengali Publications Category) and wishes continued success in their future literary activities
*** Our special thanks go to the following judges for their invaluable support
Surya Dutta has been coordinating all large festivals of Ananda Mandir, quietly but efficiently, for a number of years. At those festivals, he leads the scores of volunteers assigned to different functions and remains active, for sometime eighteen hours a day, to supervise and check each and every function. He is also seen everywhere, throughout the year, helping Treasurer to balance the receipts, negotiating with the post office on our mailing activities, checking the membership criteria, Surya Dutta on left receiving plaque helping the publications and puja The Board of Trustees of functions and many other. He Ananda Mandir recognized spends an enormous amount of Surya Dutta with a certificate time to oversee that Ananda of appreciation at the India Mandir operates properly and Utsav festival in November efficiently. The Board of Trustees 2013 for his outstanding of Ananda Mandir is grateful to leadership . On behalf of the him ” Board of Trustees, Dipak The citation plaque reads: Sarkar, President and Pronoy Ananda Mandir is pleased to Chatterjee, Chair, Awards and present this Certificate of R e c o g n i t i o n C o m m i t t e e Appreciation to Surya Dutta for his expressed the organization's outstanding dedication and gratitude and made the service to the organization over following statement at the many years and for establishing event: an admirable role model.”
Surya Dutta Receives Recognition For His Leadership
in evaluating the submitted nominations: For Bengali Award Category: Sudipta Bhawmik, Alolika Mukherjee and Manisha Roy For English Awards Category: Sumit Roy, Arundhati Sanyal and
Arun Bhowmik Recognized for Outstanding Service
The Board of Trustees of Ananda Mandir recognizes “Outstanding Volunteers,” selected from the nominations received from the Life Members of Ananda Mandir. The application form for nomination is available at www.anandamandir.org. If you are a Life Member and believe that someone deserves this recognition, please feel free to e-mail nomination to Pronoy Chatterjee(email@example.com)
Arun Bhowmik on right receiving plaque
The Board of Trustees recognized Arun Bhowmik with a certificate of appreciation in at the conclusion of the live
orchestral presentation of Mahisasurmardini on October 6, 2013. Expressing the gratitude of the organization, Dipak Sarkar, President, explained that Arun Bhowmik has been singularly responsible for leading cultural efforts such as Ananda Sandhya and Mahisarsurmardini for ten long years without interruption. In so doing, Arun has established an unenviable record and created an admirable role model. The certificate of appreciation presented to Arun Bhowmik reads: “Ananda Mandir is pleased to present this Certificate of Appreciation to Arun Bhowmik for his creative and dedicated leadership in organizing Mahisasurmardini presentations for the past ten years and for organizing one hundred sessions of Ananda Sandhya.”
Ananda Mandir's membership category changes for the 4th quarter of 2013 Benefactor:(1) Paritosh and Srimati Chakraborty Grand Patron: Gold (1) Arun and Rita Bhowmik Grand Patron:Silver (2) Alakendra and Shikha Basu Debashish and Srijata Sarkar
Patron:(4). Nimai & Manideepa Ghose Phalguni & Sutapa Ghosh Swapan & Uma Roychowdhury Utpal Sengupta
Life Member: (7) Mandira Bose Achintya k. Pal & Sangita Chakravarty Please note that you can become an Associate Indrani E. Ray Member of Ananda Mandir by donating a minimum Jayjit & Payal Roy of $50. Your subsequent donations of $50 or more are credited to your account. When your total Krishna C. Sen cumulative donation reaches $1000, you become a Ericsson Matching Gift Life Member. Your support small or large, are most Lafontaine & Budd Inc. welcome and sincerely appreciated.