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Seeking Wisdom in Tribal Storytelling

There was a beautiful girl called Ramenhawii who was famous for her very long hair. All the young men in the village desired her but none could win her favour. One day she was washing her hair in the river, a fish swallowed her hair. A strand of the hair found its way to the plate of the king of the valley as he was being served dinner by the palace cook. Filled with curiosity at the sight of the beautiful hair the king ordered his guards to look for the owner of the hair as he wished to make her his queen. After a long search, the guards at last found the place where the girl lived but they were unable to approach her as she lived protected by barricades around her.

“Oh! Please tell us at least your name” implored the king’s guards.

She replied: ‘No name, no name have I, I live on pure water, I live on pure vegetables.’

Mizo tale of “Ramenhawii.”

“If the end of nineteenth century underlines the distressing effects of industrial revolution and colonialism, the end of twentieth century witnesses the emergence of two paradoxical processes: (i) globalization: a process that cuts across the boundaries of nations, cultures and societies privileging a move towards larger integration of the world and facilitating interdependence moving towards a global culture; and (ii) resistances to globalization: in the form of a vehement articulation of the local  for preservation of indigenous cultures and identities,” writes Kailash C. Baral, Director of Northeast Campus of the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages (CIEFL) at Shillong in his essay Globalization and Tribes of  Northeast India . There is no escape from the emerging reality that the ‘Global Village’ is a community stripped of all heterogeneity of cultural and traditional flows of life – life here is equated with economic aspirations of market that sell a pipe dream of prosperity while hiding the bleak future. And such realization cannot be disposed off anymore as alarmist.

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The Purple Frog and Development

The rain stopped a while ago. It sat inconspicuous on the mulch and turned its small head towards the distant haze, sensing for the direction of the sea with its ancient amphibian wisdom. It is the sea that came up 150 million years ago separating the great Sahyadri from Madagascar and Seychelles – a time far in the past ruled by the dinosaurs.

It sat confused, its frog brain registering the melancholy of losing out to time and survival. Time spent futilely searching for a female to pass on its genes. The earth beneath its short limbs is shaking as the coffee plantations approach nearer and it is slowly losing its will to look for a new place to hide, a safer home under the warm folds of the soil. It is confused because the rain comes now and then with no certainty that its million year old adaptation is failing to read these days.

Times are changing but its time is up. Dams are coming up, forests are vanishing and the great wheel of destiny is demanding more coffee, more cardamom, more ginger, more crops – development is here.

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Food Security Bill – Yet Another Bluff?

National Food Security Bill 2012 to be tabled in Indian Parliament would be a big global Inspiration according to researchers from Institute of Development Studies, UK.

“India stands at the threshold of potentially the largest step towards food justice the world has ever seen, as the National Food Security Bill works its way through parliament,” Lawrence Haddad, director of the Britain-based IDS, said.  The bill aims to give legal right to cheaper food grain to 63.5 per cent of the population. Around 180 million households — 65 million below poverty line (BPL) and 115 million above poverty line (APL) category families — get subsidized rations under the public distribution system through the fair price shops.

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‘The authorities in New York are discovering what Egypt also learned — that it’s not as easy to regulate or arrest journalists when everyone is a journalist. But while that may make our lives a little more complicated, it is fundamentally a good thing for society,’ writes Mathew Ingram in his post ‘ What happens when journalism is everywhere.

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Simple Elegance to Wonderful Complexity – A journey (Part 1)

Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line.
—Benoit Mandelbrot, The Fractal Geometry of Nature

When I was a 5 year old kid, there used to be a popular brand of barley sold under the name ‘Purity Indian Barley’. Though barley is a very useful and widely consumed cereal and known for its health benefits, my early memory of it is dreadful because the barley soup that my mother used to feed me tasted like high quality dish washing water.

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Kallenbach Letters – What if Gandhi was Gay?

MY DEAR FRIEND,

I feel like crying out to you ‘Do come  and  help  me!’  Mrs. Gandhi is again down with her swellings. She has lost all power of resistance. She weeps like a child, is ever angry with me as if I was the party responsible for her swellings. I am over head and ears in work. This  institution  costs  me  much  trouble.  I  wish  I  had  the  time  to describe to you the troubles I am passing through. I am not dejected but I feel lonely. You know what I mean. Heaven knows what will happen. There are so many sick people on the Farm. I want hours of solitude and have not a minute of it. Do ‘buck up’ and prepare for the struggle of the spirit when you are able to come here.

I know nothing about some honour  that has been  conferred upon me. I have just received a letter of congratulations. More in my next.

With love,

OLD FRIEND

From the original: Gandhi-Kallenbach Correspondence. Courtesy: National Archives of India

India Government has bought the whole collection of mementos, documents and letters between Hermann Kallenbach and M.K.Gandhi from Sotheby’s in a private deal at $ 1.28 Million fueling  speculation of an attempt to keep the private relationship of nation’s father-head secret, which some say, was homosexual or homoerotic.

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The Uncomfortable Truth

The time has come for you to see
That love is something else you practise it to be
The line is long
For you and me
That leads us to the very debt of our hearts
We’re still on the surface deceiving ourselves…

The Uncomfortable Truth  by NNEKA

This is a reworked old post. I hope that it did not lose it’s ‘punch’ in 15 months while it gathered 2657 page views in Think About It Water . I am inspired by Somnath’s comment in my last post ‘ Eradicate Excess Wealth alongside Poverty ‘ where he suspected my content as hard core communism, almost Pol Potish.

Any suggestion about examining limits of personal wealth is decidedly unlikable. Pol Pot is a fair measure of such distaste. Possibly communism as well. Read more >>

Eradicate Excess Wealth alongside Poverty

The world leaders will discuss sustainable development, the bedrock of 1992 Rio vision this June in Rio+20. A greater political convergence is urged by the UN for the matter because the ‘needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ has not gained much traction since the 1992 conference – largely because countries continued to equate development with economic growth, and sustainable development languished as a fringe environmental concern. Twenty years after Rio 1992, “sustainable development remains a generally agreed concept, rather than a day-to-day, on-the-ground, practical reality,” says a report by the UN High-level Panel on Global Sustainability.

May be Millennium Development Goals were set up prematurely, too? Read more >>

Why a Doughnut Now?

Kate Raworth Photo : IISD http://www.iisd.ca/

Kate Raworth is a Senior Researcher of Oxfam Great Britain. In a recent discussion paper she has proposed a metaphorical doughnut as a safe and just space for humanity to thrive (Full discussion paper can be downloaded here ). ‘Can we live within the doughnut?’ Kate asks, presenting a visual framework – shaped like a doughnut – which brings the concept of planetary boundaries together with the complementary concept of social boundaries, creating a safe and just space between the two, in which humanity can thrive.

​Kate argues primarily from the perspective of social equity and the foreword of her discussion paper says, ‘ Humanity’s challenge in the 21st century is to eradicate poverty and achieve a prosperity for all within the means of the planet’s limited natural resources. In the run-up to Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, this Discussion Paper is an exploration of what such a model of prosperity might look like.’ It also says, ‘ Moving into this safe and just space demands far greater equity – within and between countries – in the use of natural resources, and far greater efficiency in transforming those resources to meet human needs.’ Read more >>

Love the Country, Can’t Stand the Scene

I don’t really know why I am writing this.

I drove roughly two hours today seeking a tea stall where I can have a cup of sweet and hot tea, deshi style, to enjoy the drizzle and the much waited rains after a week of stifling heat of Kolkata April.

My city mates might be frowning by now. Driving two hours looking for a tea stall? Well, in Kolkata every block has two of them. Read more >>

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All opinions are solely those of the author. Reader's discretion necessary for using any of the contents of this website. (c) Pabitra Mukhopadhyay 2011
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