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Sunday, December 1, 2013

* Prof. Deirdre Coleman's Visit and Amita Dutt's Kathak!

Prof. Deirdre Coleman, Robert Wallace Chair of English and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts, School of Culture and Communication, The University of Melbourne, visited the English Department of Calcutta University on 25th-26th November, 2013. She delivered the lecture titled "Keats, India and the Vale of Soulmaking" and interacted with the faculty and researchers to explore avenues of collaboration between the universities of Melbourne and Calcutta. She informed the researchers about the availability of scholarships for study in Australia. She also released the latest books of Dr. Santanu Majumdar, Sumita Naskar and Satyabrata Dinda published by Dasgupta and Sons.

Prof. Coleman with Dr. Majumdar

Visit (The Statesman, Kolkata, Arts Supplement - "Kathak repertoire at its best") for Tapati Chowdhurie's review of Amita Dutt & Troupe's riveting performance of DURGA at Derozio Hall on 24th November, 2013.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

* Countering a Biased and Hostile Book Review!

In the November 2013 issue of the Bulletin of the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture (ISSN 09712755, Vol. LXIV, No. 11) I read a review of Dr. Santanu Majumdar’s book titled Dazzled by a Thousand Suns: The Impact of Western Philosophy on Indian Interpretations of The Gita. The reviewer, Swarup Puri, takes a biased view and a rather hostile tone towards the book. The reviewer starts by saying that this book is “neither a monograph on religion nor Indian philosophy” but the author does not claim it to be so. The monograph is on a specific and narrow area of research as defined by the title. The reviewer writes that the author has used “incoherent quotations and excerpts from different writings”, which raises the question whether the quotations and excerpts are themselves incoherent or are used incoherently. Then the reviewer goes on to claim that the author is trying to attribute that the “dazzling sun” is Occidental wisdom, whereas on the contrary, the author explicitly states in the book that the title is taken Chapter 11 of The Gita, where Krishna favours Arjuna with “biswaroop darshan”and it is more than apparent what the dazzling sun represents.

It seems that the reviewer has read a very different book than what I have read or if the same book then perhaps with a sinister motive. Moreover, he reads selectively. For example, he reads in the book that Western education opened the eyes of the Indian students but he does not read in that same book that sometimes Western education was beguiling and misleading. The title of the review, “Playing a colonial tune”, is ironical since the reviewer seems to suggest that instead of taking balanced view the author should have taken a prejudiced view against Western philosophy and thereby promote “colonialism” in the reverse. There is no justification that, since many colonial writers were biased against Indian texts, Indian writers should be biased against Western texts especially when the era of decolonisation and revanchism is over.

The reviewer states that the author “bravely puts forward a thesis that Swami Vivekananda was a ‘proselytizing missionary’ and a ‘ferocious propagandist of Hinduism’ (p. 65)”, which seems to suggest pejorative connotations to the words “proselytizing” and “propagandist” in the given context. Whereas when we read the full sentence from where these excerpts are taken then if appears just the opposite: "Disciple of the saint Ramakrishna, proselytizing missionary and founder of the Ramakrishna Mission, a fierce and perhaps even ferocious propagandist of Hinduism abroad, especially in the United States, where he took the Parliament of Religions in Chicago by storm in 1893, Vivekananda shows with the most ancient and most important Indian commentator of The Gita, Shankara, a genius for organization and founding of religious orders" (p. 65). This is how the reviewer has interpreted positive words into negative meanings by being selective and biased. It is perhaps his inferiority complex that he thinks that Swami Vivekananda’s co-religionists have to be apologetic about him being a Hindu missionary and hide the fact about this part of his life and work. I wonder now whose mind is beset with colonial hangover!

The reviewer also says that there is no distinction between interpretation and commentary in Indian philosophy and the author makes unnecessary fuss about it. The author states that the distinction is not about being profound or shallow but rather that the interpreter sees the text as a philosophical document and the commentator sees it as a religious document i.e. God’s words to man. It is in this sense only that Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhva and Sridhar Swami are categorized as commentators and Bankim Chandra, Sri Aurobindo, Gandhi, Tagore, Tilak, Swami Vivekananda and Radhakrishnan are categorized as interpreters. But the reviewer takes affront at this categorization according to approach and go on to say that the author’s understanding of The Gita and Indian thinkers is poor and the monograph is just an intellectual exercise without genuine desire to appreciate the importance of our great thinkers. If the reviewer was looking for a discussion on the impact of Indian philosophy on Indian interpretations of The Gita  in a book with the given title then he was certainly looking in the wrong place. Or perhaps no one cared to explain the title of the book to him.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Congratulations to Professor Chinmoy Guha, who received a second Knighthood from the French government. Here is the link to my blog post when he got his first Knighthood: And here is Prof. Guha's blog link:
The Telegraph (Kolkata)
Michelle Rao and Lisa, graduate students from Azusa Pacific University, California, who met me  during their Kolkata visit. And thanks to Dr. Richard Slimbach, Professor of Global Studies at APU, for recommending my name.
Lisa and Michelle
And finally my Wordweavers Certificate arrived.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

* HoD and The Lowland


 My PhD Supervisor, Dr. Santanu Majumdar, is now the Head of the Department of English at Calcutta University. Here he is in his office room with some researchers.

Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland is shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

* News: Amita Dutt, Anand Gandhi and Jhumpa Lahiri

Prof. Amita Dutt reminisces about Calcutta in Dainik Statesman  (25th August 2013 - Sunday) "Shanto Theke Kolahole Dakshin Kolkatar Palabodol"

Ship Of Theseus director Anand Gandhi recently visited Kolkata and was in conversation with Bedabrata Pain (Dir. of "Chittagong") and Q (Dir. of "Tasher Desh") on 16th August at Crossword. They talked about "Freedom, Independence and Independent Films." 

The film is still running in Delhi in its 6th week.


A view of Rome, a pristine computer screen, a photograph of Basquiat, an I.B.M. 196c typewriter, the ghost of another author. For these writers — each of whom releases a new book this fall — all they need to inspire is within these walls.


Monday, July 22, 2013

* Wordweavers, DESI: La Revue and Sunetra Gupta!

My short story, "The Story of Nan Phu", has been shortlisted in the Wordweavers Writing Contest 2013. Visit, read and review -

Conference paper, written in collaboration with Bhawana Jain of Nice Sophia-Antipolis University (France), published.

"Food in the Culture of India and the Indian Diaspora: An Analysis through the Selected Works of Anita Desai." DESI: La Revue No. 2 (Diasporas: Etudes Des Singularities Indiennes – Circulations). Eds. Jean-Francois Baillon and Anthony Goreau-Ponceaud. ISBN: 978-2-86781-870-7. BORDEAUX: Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux, 2013, Pp. 171-89.

Can be had from -

Sunetra Gupta included in Curie gallery -

Friday, June 28, 2013

* The Groove!

In its sesquicentennial year celebrations, St. Anthony's High School today hosted The Groove: The Inter-School Dance Competition in the newly refurbished auditorium rechristened after Fr. Camille Limbourg. The Chief Guest on the occasion was Prof. Amita Dutt, the renowned Kathak exponent and Uday Shankar Professor of Dance at Rabindra Bharati University. 

The winning school in the solo category was the host and my alma mater St. Anthony's High School and in the group category it was Meghmala Roy Education Centre. In the solo category Loyola High School came second and Meghmala Roy Education Centre came third. In the group category St. Anthony's School came second and Loyola High School came third. In the solo category the students could perform any dance form but to the music of A. R. Rahman. In the group category the students could perform any dance form but adhering to the theme of "Seasons".

Prof. Amita Dutt with the Headmaster and the Judges

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

* A Poem

The Swing

I see simmering forms in the void:
Two little boys with their mother -
That evening when the Nor-Westers came
And the raindrops kept splashing on the floor.
The electric bulb curdled the gloomy
Atmosphere that had enveloped the room.
They now approach the door and instantly
Again recede. My heart overcomes
With a sense of deja vu whenever
A room, a swing, a rain, a cloud I see.

Friday, April 26, 2013

* ORATIO 2013!

Today St. Anthony's High School held the first of its scheduled inter-school events to mark its sesquicentennial year of foundation. Oratio: the Inter-School Elocution Competition 2013 was a grand success. The topic of the contest was "Conserving our Heritage is as Important as Building our Future". Mr. Murli Punjabi was the sponsor of the event.

Mr. Sanjay Wadvani, OBE, the British Deputy High Commissioner was the Chief Guest. The judges of the event were Prof. Tapati Gupta (Former Head of the Dept. of English, Calcutta University), Prof. Sobha Chattopadhyay (former Head of the Dept. of English, Jadavpur University) and Prof. Shila Niyogi (Asso. Professor of English at Jogmaya Devi College).

A total of 19 schools participated in the contest (St. Anthony's, St. James, Don Bosco, Calcutta Boys,  La Martiniere Girls, Frank Anthony, Loreto Elliot Rd, Loreto Entally, Loreto Dharamtalla, St. Aloysius, St. Mary's, Birla High, Chowringhee High, St. Augustine, South City International, Meghmala Roy Edu, Ling Liang, Saifi Hall, St. Thomas Boys Khidderpore).

Ujaan Ganguly of St. James came 1st, Oishik Bandyopadhyay of Calcutta Boys came 2nd and Sparsh Agarwal of Don Bosco came 3rd (Sparsh was last year's winner). The Championship Prize went to St. James for having the best total of the two participants combined (last year's champion was Don Bosco). St. Anthony's Pradipta Dey came a commendable 4th.

Chief Guest

P.S. Here is a newspaper report on last year's Oratio. This year's newspaper reports are awaited.
THE TELEGRAPH (Metro) reports today on 150 years celebration of St. Anthony's High School-

Last week my school also had a gala inaugural function of its Sesquicentennial Year of Foundation where Dr. Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar, Minister in charge of Environmental Affairs, W. B. Govt., was the Chief Guest.
My school has also launched its website where ex-students can register -

Thursday, March 14, 2013

* Reprint and Chinmoy Guha!

 Prof. Chinmoy Guha delivers the inaugural lecture at the First World Book Fair in Mauritius.
For details visit here.
"The Spiritual Sense of Alienation in Diasporic Life: Reading Anita Desai, Bharati Mukherjee, Sunetra Gupta and Jhumpa Lahiri". Indian English Fiction: Postmodern Literary Sensibility. Ed. Vishwanath Bite. ISBN: 9788172736774. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2012, Pp.  129-38 (Re-print from The Criterion journal article)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

* Sesquicentennial of my Alma Mater!

My alma mater is celebrating the sesquicentennial year of its foundation. I was in the school when we celebrated the 125th year and now it's the 150th year! Here is the 150th year logo:

Like the Facebook page:

Join the Facebook group:

Visit the refurbished Anthonian Literary Club Blog:

Thursday, January 31, 2013

* KLM and Midnight's Children!

Prof. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak in conversation with Prof. Chinmoy Guha at the Kolkata Literary Meet

 Rahul Bose in conversation with Nilanjana S. Roy at the AfterWords session titled Midnight Magic at KLM