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Does our Bengali or Punjabi or Tamil or Marathi New Year’s Day mean anything to you — America, or the West?
Do our cultures matter, outside of the feel-good, diversity vocabulary belt? Heck, do they matter to the new, MTV-generation Indians? Does our history matter? Does our religion matter? Just the same way a neoliberal economic terror is killing us the 99% poor and middle class physically, a neoliberal cultural terror is killing the 99% us emotionally, and we are desperately clinging to our values, our ethics, our traditions, our lifestyle, food, and our languages.
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This is our spirituality. This is God for us the less-religious, dwelling half-way between atheism and agnosticism. Or, dwelling half-way between believing in God and questioning religious schools’ force-feeding of a benevolent supernatural. We do not see any Divine Intervention when it comes to saving the poor, and we are brave to challenge the Church, any church. But we still believe in our heritage, and that includes our socio-religious traditions including, for example, our music, poetry, paintings, sculptures, dance, and thousands of years of unthinkably-rich cultural riches — those West ignores, undermines, or ridicules.
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New Year’s Day is not just 1st of January, as you the Western capitalist world forces us to follow. Don’t do it. Because, by doing it, you’re pushing us hard against the wall. Don’t push it no more. You’re calling for upheaval. Believe me, this upheaval might actually create fascist or other violent forces (and we won’t be a part of that violence) — the Tea Party way here in USA, or perhaps, a Khomeini way in Iran. It will destroy you the neoliberal 1%.
If you do not want your own destruction through that kind of violent, nasty upheaval, embrace a true diversity, and not the phony one you practice through business management texts.
Give us our long-overdue dignity, respect, and rights.
We do not beg for them. We own them.
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Greetings. I just made a short video on my personal time and using my personal resources out of my home in New York City. This is my urgent, sincere appeal to voters in India who are making their critically important decision to elect 543 members of the parliament. Each of these members will represent about one million people each.

In this globalized, neoliberal economic and political model, I strongly believe that the 1% elite people in power are using a precious democratic system only to validate their reign of the economy and politics of India, the largest democracy in the world with 1.2 billion people.

The big-media-driven election debate has become largely superficial, with little discussion on the lives and livelihoods of the vast majority of the ordinary, working people — men, woman and their families. A historic number of film star, cricket players, and other celebrities, as well as candidates with criminal background — belonging to most major parties including the ruling Congress and opposition BJP have made this election a matter of hypocrisy, and a terrible cruel joke played on the poor people.

I made this video to challenge you all to look at the real issues relevant to the 99% — the real people — and challenge the candidates on these subjects.

I hope you take a few minutes to watch it, and share it with your friends, family and coworkers. Bring democracy back to the direction of us — the ordinary, 99 percent.

Thank you for watching, commenting, and sharing.

Sincerely, as always,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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Video  —  Posted: April 8, 2014 in Congress and BJP, India elections, India politics
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FASCISM is coming to India (RSS-BJP-Shiv Sena). And fascism is coming to America (Tea Party-Americans For Prosperity-Koch Brothers). Not only because of fascists. It’s because of the privileged, upper-class left, liberals and libertarians who closed their eyes and let the 1% bleed the ordinary people dry, steal the treasury, escalate the rich-poor gap, and break down the society, in the name of democracy and free speech (Obama, Clinton and India’s Gandhi Dynasty and their elite supporters are examples of this class). In both India and America, quick and fake-debate elections have become largely synonymous with the 1% validating their power to be super rich: with corporate profit, land and technology grabbing, and black money (and MOST candidates get massive kickbacks: we have proofs.). The 1% have either directly bought the media, or bribed or silenced them with ad money. Nobody outside of the elite circle knows what goes on at corporate or government board meetings; there is ZERO participation of the people in decisions impacting their lives. Result: HUGE public anger. With absence of a pro-99% force engaging the vast majority of moderate left and right exploiting their many overlaps (which I now call the SECOND CIRCLE), and left-liberals’ arrogance and failure to shed their dogma and ego, and a weak, directionless organized labor, far right, violent fanatics, and Ayn-Rand-libertarians are gaining momentum. This happened at least once before in recent history, when Third Reich came to power in Germany. Now, no single man or woman needs to be like Hitler. Dictatorship will be collective, with the 1% pulling all the strings, to dance the elected governments. In fact, this dictatorship is already in power, but they will be more powerful in the coming days. They will crush domestic and global voices of dissent, using repression, spying and prison inside and war and economic terror outside. And even more young-generation men and women will become apolitical and ignorant of history (and “fun”-loving), and VOTING CYCLES will become even more hypocritical and inconsequential.

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WITH ABSOLUTE HONESTY AND TERRIBLE FEAR. — There was a time when elections were held, and media took a relatively neutral position. Not any more. Now media ACTIVELY work for the 1% elite and powerful. IN THE U.S., media take a completely biased position for the two big parties and promote their candidates who have EXPLICIT connections with war, prison, oil, bank, IT, retail, drug, casino, food, car or insurance corporations. These politicians such as Chuck Schumer (D) or Dick Cheney (R) work to safeguard and promote the interest of the 1%. In fact, many own big corporations, such as Cheney. So, Cheney OPENLY supports the Judith Miller lies that created the Iraq invasion and genocide. Others like Hillary Clinton sit on management boards of companies like Wal-Mart. So, Hillary could push Wal-Mart in India, the biggest open market with unchecked corruption. Media — either in USA or in India — do not tell these stories. They do not tell the Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders side of a pro-99% story. So, most people do not know, and fall for consent mass-manufactured with support from Koch Brothers and Heritage Foundation. New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and such major media do it cunningly, and privileged liberals buy their lies and half-truths (and what I now call Journalism of Exclusion). Meaningless newspapers and fascistic talk shows such as New York Post or Rush Limbaugh, take advantage of peoples’ general ignorance and lack of time to do any serious reading, and brainwash them with absolute lies and bigoted views of the world. IN INDIA, right now, a week before a very big, national election, media is OPENLY taking sides in favor of the 1%, and through countless articles, photos and TV shows are promoting film stars, singers, cricket players, womanizers and such wannabe leaders of at least one million poor people EACH — candidates that HAVE NO KNOWLEDGE or insight about the real issues and problems, such as poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, health and environmental crisis, water and food crisis, land grabbing, overpopulation, corruption, communal harmony, child labor, rampant VIOLENCE on women, sky-high prices, and domestic and international terror. Media do not challenge them on these issues, and by NOT doing it, WORK FOR THE 1% to keep the status quo and re-validate this absolutely dishonest and hypocritical system in the name of vote and democracy. HUGE SUMS OF MONEY — PEOPLES’ MONEY AND BLACK MONEY — are spent to carry out these elections — every four years in USA and five years in India. THE 1% SILENCE THE DISSENTING VOICES. A small news broke yesterday that FBI is hiding plots to KILL OCCUPY WALL STREET ORGANIZERS. Google it. I don’t know how long I can continue doing this honest, heart-felt storytelling. YOU DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT TO DO. Wherever you are.

Sincerely Sharing Heartfelt Thoughts,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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This is a very personal story.
My mother died on April 2 over thirty years ago. She was 42. I was 21. 
She died of a type of cancer that was not incurable. But because we were poor (i.e., we had no money), and father was a victim of tyranny of India’s 1%, where he was going through a lock-out and violence at the sewing machine factory he worked in, my mother decided not to tell him (or us) the incredible pain she suffered for months, until it was Stage 4 and metastasis set in.
With my mother’s traumatic death, not just our family, but the family of my maternal uncles and aunts broke down like a sand castle hit by a storm, because it was her who held them together through poverty, starvation and despair. Soon after, two uncles, one aunt, and my grandmother died, of which one death was an unsolved murder: somebody killed my youngest uncle who was like a big brother to me, and taught me oratory, recitation, and acting skills.
It took me many years to recover from that trauma, and it has damaged my mental health forever.
I have written in various places about those experiences, including the social and political situation that I believe was responsible for these untimely deaths. Plus, deaths and suicides and police killing of a number of my friends and relatives. Not easy to deal with. Not easy to forget.
Recently, a Bengali-language magazine from Calcutta published a long article I wrote on this subject.
The reason I’m writing about it today is to remind you that the same 1% are in power in India, and they have violated my rights to live a normal, healthy, safe and happy life, along with rights of those who fell victims of their economic and political terror. Finally, the situation has forced me to leave India, which I did not want to do. These are unpunished crimes.
Talking about it is also a major therapy for me, to come out of the lifelong trauma, slowly, one day at a time.
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The factory my father worked for many years was later demolished by the 1%, violently driving workers and families out of their homes, to build a U.S.-style shopping mall, which young people in Calcutta are now proud of. They don’t know the history.
They also don’t know how my mother was forced to live in a small, mezzanine room surrounded by coal-oven smoke, and acid fumes coming out of refurbished car batteries. They don’t know how the 1% locked father out of his work place, and their mafia punched him in the nose, making him bleed, and then they threatened to kill me — a teenager — because I was also into politics they didn’t like.
Not only my mother was a victim of their terror, but my entire young adulthood was. I cannot forgive them.
I hope you judge what kind of people you want to put in power: the same-old brand of 1%, or an honest, pro-99% brand of people who share your life’s experiences, and mine, and want to address them at the root, democratically and transparently.
There are many mothers like my mother, and many fathers like my father, who are silently asking for justice.
With You, Forever,
Partha
Brooklyn, New York
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Media and pundits are not talking about these very serious issues. So, I am.
Because people simply don’t have the time or energy to go through long texts, I’m posting some pictures here. I hope some of us look at them carefully, and put pressure on the Indian and international media and establishments to discuss these issues.

These are only some of the issues. I hope to add more in the coming weeks, before the April national elections.

Without discussing these issues, however, this so-called biggest democracy with its 1.2 billion people, and the so-called open and multi-party voting system is truly a farce.

You decide how important these problems are. You decide where India stands after over sixty-five years of its so-called independence, relative to other countries. You decide which powers are responsible for this situation.

You decide how to bring these issues to limelight, and how to address these issues.

To me, they are extremely, crucially urgent.

Thank you. Comments and feedback much welcome.

Sincerely,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

P.S. — BTW, there is no reason for anti-India elements to rejoice. I’d advise them to find very similar problems in their own countries.

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Problem 1. Overpopulation and Migration of the Poor to Cities

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Problem 2. Poverty, Hunger and Disease (and child labor)

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Problem 3. Rich-poor Disparity

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Problem 4. Violence on Women and of Human Rights, and Police Inaction

Illiteracy

Problem 5. Illiteracy and Lack of Schooling 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Problem 6. Environmental Pollution

India corruption

Problem 7. Corruption and Nepotism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Problem 8. Communal Tension and Fragmentation of Society

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Problem 9. Invasion of Multinational Corporations, IMF and WTO

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Problem 10. Land Grabbing and Real Estate Mafia

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Problem 11. Historic Amount of Black Money

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Problem 12. Separatist and Terrorist Violence

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Problem 13. Sky-high Prices and Inflation

 

[More to follow]

 

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“[My election campaign] is like getting raped … you can shout or you can enjoy”. — Dev, film-star candidate from India. March 24, 2014.

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Another Five-Year Fun Comes to India. Can we think democracy differently?

Every time I talk to someone about politics – whether in India or USA – I see strange apathy. I see fear and frustration about political leaders, candidates and ministers.

You talk to the ordinary Jo Blo or Jane Doe in the U.S., or Aam Aadmi or Kuppan Suppan in India, about elections. What response do you get?

“Oh, they’re all the same. All corrupt and crooks. Except for a few and far between.” This is the general consensus.

Yet, in just a month, millions of men and women will line up, in glee and glamour, to vote at their neighborhood polling booths. In big cities and small towns, in prosperous villages and remote countryside.

In this South Asian festival, unlike USA’s maximum thirty or forty percent, an unbelievably high number of ordinary folks will come out and vote. The election will decide the fate of 1.2 billion people.

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Monsanto Farmer Suicides

Five-Year Festivity

In party- and festival-full India, a national election is the biggest festival. It’s the biggest yajna that even Ram or Judhisthira could not have imagined. In this yajna, saints and rishis and imams and cardinals from various corners would declare their sermons. Old and new stars –film and cricket stars included – would show up in public and bless their voters with rich looks and gorgeous voices. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Assam to Gujarat, street microphones and TV screens would blare the vote call, amplify to glorify this five-year fun. Dinner tables and drawing rooms would spill vote storms over tea cups and beer mugs.

Never-ending promises and pledges would drop from the sky like the relentless showers in Cherapunji.

Then, even before the ink on your finger dries up, promises and pledges would dry up like magic. You and your family and children would find yourselves in exactly the same situation you were in before. Frustrated and annoyed. There is terrible inflation and sky-high prices of all essential items. Corrupt promoters and their mafia are ruling the streets, and polluting the Indian sky and rivers like crazy. Unemployment drives poor people out of their villages into the cities, to toil like slaves. Violence on women is out of control. Slow, sluggish work environment in offices and courts. Major crisis in health, education and transportation. And God forbid, unchecked, unstopped violence and terrorism.

Expert opinions would jam up your ears explaining away the reasons for administrative failures. One political party would slander the other, back and forth. Isn’t this what we’ve seen all our lives?

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One Percent vs. 99 Percent

Do we have any way to get out of this dead-end alley, in this life? I keep speaking about it at whatever forum I get anywhere in the world – left, right or center.

In fact, to me, left and right do not have any more meaning. The divide is artificial and purposeful. The real struggle, as Occupy Wall Street would point out, is the conflict between the one percent (people in political, social and economic power) and the 99 percent (ordinary people like us who do not have those powers). That is how the vote debate should be framed.

Of course, in this neoliberal, globalized era, debate itself has become outdated. In this era, nobody wants to be unhappy by debating. Acceptance makes us happy. Like, here in America, if you ask somebody, “Ha-ya doin’?” The immediate response would be, “Doin’ great, man!” In my three decades of living in the U.S., I’ve never heard anybody saying, “Honestly, I’m not doing so well, and here is why.” Nobody wants to admit any problems, mention anything unhappy.

The neoliberal social model works truly great for the one percent.

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Democracy or Plutocracy?

This is not democracy. This system keeps the one percent, the rich, mighty and powerful, happy. It keeps the status quo for them – to take advantage of our powerlessness, economic vulnerability and fears of losing the little we have. We keep satisfying the profit machines of the powerful, in return of small compensations. And we pretend we are happy with that small change compared to the billions they make, out of our lifelong labor.

But, we keep fighting among ourselves deciding who is left and who is right, which party is going to get how many seats in which state or city. We get sucked in with expert predictions and exit polls. We fight over religions and castes. Some of us even bet on our favorite candidates or fronts. Just like a football or cricket match where spectators are fighting over their team and players, when the players and team owners are eating the cream, only leaving the crumbs behind for us.

I don’t know about you. But I have seen it happening all my life.

One national alliance is riddled with extreme corruption, monarchy-like rule, and pathetic incompetency. The other national alliance is well-known for their feudalism, chauvinism, and communal politics. If one regional or state party is infamous for its idiosyncratic, autocratic leader with loose-cannon talks, the other party has been talking violence or of taking over neighboring countries. Many have their underground money, muscle and mafia – ones that keep us the 99 percent in perpetual fear. For them, there is elite police or protection. For you and me, there is none.

IMF, World Bank, Wall Street and Dalal Street keep putting more pressure on you, me and the 99 percent through their insider connections and policy changes. And we don’t even know it.

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New Movements

Yet, even in this dark, dismal, depressing environment, strong pro-99-percent movements are taking India by storm. We’ve seen Jay Prakash Narayan before. We’re now seeing Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, and some others who’re challenging the status quo from the grassroots level. In recent years, India has given rise to Medha Patkar, Arundhati Roy, Vandana Shiva and many other peoples’ leaders and organizations who have made remarkable progress to empower the ordinary. In Delhi and West Bengal, watershed grassroots movements to protest against rapes and barbarism on women happened. Minorities from Dalit and tribal communities have forged solidarity.

Future India: Collaborative Leadership

Indians, especially today’s young men and women, do not want corruption or inept dynastic “leaders” on one hand, or violent, misogynistic, communal politicians on the other. Young India is smart and informed. The new generation knows the difference between intelligence and idiosyncrasy, knowledge and naivete. Young people in India believe in gender, religion and caste equality, modernity, and equal distribution of prosperity.

Unless we elect candidates who would show their profound understanding about this new, aspiring India, and collaboratively lead to fulfill these aspirations, India through another five-year vote-festivity would spiral back into the same cycle of mediocrity, inequality, feudalism and violence.

It is time we must come out of our archaic, leftist-rightist boxes, find common values and goals, and forge a broad-based coalition of the 99 percent – a rainbow coalition of the ordinary and honest working men, women and families.

Only if we strengthen our commonalities and build bridges, India can usher in a new, modern era of progress and prosperity for all, and be a real, recognizable power in this global economy.

I challenge you on it.

 

With Absolutely Honesty, Sharing My Pains and Hopes With You,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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Rally

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If I had the time or political connections, I would start a high school for human rights.

One in India, perhaps in Calcutta. The other in the U.S., perhaps in New York. Because these are the two places I know. These are the two places I call home.

I’m sure many of us think this way. I’m sure many of us have done exemplary work to promote human rights across the world. The recent, Global Exchange Peoples’ Choice Award that some friends nominated me for, and some others voted, reaffirmed my belief that even in this dark, depressing time — full of war, terrorism and street violence — countless human rights soldiers are doing incredible work for the poor and powerless. I salute them for their commitment, courage and determination.

I also know that many schools, colleges and universities have programs and projects on human rights. Especially here in the United States, I know for the fact that young men and women take on assignments, and travel near and far to experience human rights situations, and with their limited capacity, work hard to instill some hope for the hopeless. I salute them too.

Then, religious organizations small and big such as Red Cross and Red Crescent, and secular organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam have been in the forefront to save millions of needy and destitute. These organizations may have various motives, but I never doubt their passion. I salute them too.

But I am not sure if especially in India and USA, we have high schools established solely to educate young women and men on the various aspects of human rights and justice.

So, I propose we have one.

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I don’t have the time, money or political power to do it. I wish I started on this dream long time ago, so that I could see some fruits of my labor before I died. But I never had the intellectual or organizational abilities either. Now that I’ve perhaps come to a point where I do, time is not on my side to build it myself, and see it grow.

Therefore, I’m leaving my ideas behind, for younger women and men who believe in this cause, and want to follow up.

I’d be more than willing to talk more about the idea, should I find opportunities. But right now, I’m leaving a brief outline of the plan. I hope people — my blog readers from all over the world — think about it, and let me know their thoughts. Help me flesh out the idea. Help me implement it, wherever you are.

This is an absolutely urgent cause that we must work on. In spite of the dark, depressing time — full of war, terrorism and street violence — we must strive to educate young minds about the justification of this cause.

Do not tell me it is not pragmatic. Do not tell me it is utopian. Do not tell me how vested interests, war and prison corporations, and big-party politicians and their media would create problems for it.

I would not take no for an answer.

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Right to food and environment!

Right to food and environment!

A high school for human rights would have a curriculum rooted in reality.

A high school for human rights would have a curriculum rooted in economics, society, values, traditions, and politics.

A high school for human rights would have curriculum rooted in modernity and science.

A high school for human rights would teach equality for women and men and mixed genders.

A high school for human rights would teach equality for religions, races, castes, colors and lifestyle.

A high school for human rights would put emphasis on the collective and organized 99%, without taking away the importance of individuality.

A high school for human rights would teach history of rights and justice movements around the world, with special reference to the place it is located.

A high school for human rights would teach young people how to create its own news and entertainment media — free of corporate and political powers.

A high school for human rights would show that equality and diversity is actually more sustainable and profitable, not just for employees, but also for employers.

A high school for human rights would envision a world free of war, terrorism and street violence. It would created curriculum to analyze reasons behind them.

A high school for human rights would propose proactive and reactive measures to deal with violation of rights and justice.

A high school for human rights would envision a world free of hunger and disease.

A high school for human rights would educate young people about their birthright to air, food, water and a clean environment.

A high school for human rights would work hard to build bridges across the moderate, nonviolent, ordinary men, women and families around the world.

A high school for human rights would put more emphasis on experience-based education vis-a-vis textbooks, and award degrees to working men and women for their life’s accumulated work experiences.

A high school for human rights would create a modern and futuristic, critical thinking education.

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Let me know what your thoughts are.

I do believe it is time we started it.

If I cannot do it in my lifetime, you do it.

But, for heaven’s sake, do it.

Please do it.

Sincerely Urging,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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READ THIS BLOG, ONLY IF YOU ARE A BELIEVER OF PEACE, RIGHTS, DIGNITY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL — ACROSS THE WORLD. 

Otherwise, don’t bother.
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I hope this is not an imposition. I do not ever write with such a request, and that too, on my blog. 

But I am doing it now, for the first time in my life. Because, I think I am eligible for it, and with your support, it can happen.
Some friends pointed out that I should be taking advantage of this honor to promote my life’s work on human rights, justice and peace, and three of them (two Americans and one Bengali-Indian) have nominated me online. See the link here to read the text of the nomination. Because Global Exchange does not have an option for multiple nomination, the one they received first went online.
I’m requesting your favor to nominate me for the Global Exchange Human Rights Award for 2014. You can nominate me online using this link, before March 21, 8 P.M. New York time. Or, you can just vote using the website.
ANYONE FROM ANY CORNER OF THE WORLD CAN VOTE. AND THERE IS NO CATCH. THERE ARE NO STRINGS ATTACHED.
If you experience problem using the link, you can also write Global Exchange’s Membership and Outreach Officer Corey Hill, at Corey@globalexchange.org.
I can send you more information, if you need any. But for now, below is a summary of my lifelong work on human rights. I hope I’m not bragging too much about myself.
VOTE ONLY IF YOU BELIEVE I AM AN ELIGIBLE CANDIDATE FOR IT. Otherwise, don’t bother.
Honestly, I feel a little strange, if not embarrassed, to make such a request. But I have two hidden agenda here: (1) if I ever get this recognition, it might create some opportunity for me to get a publishing agent for my memoir that deals with my life’s work on rights and justice both in the U.S. and India (as you perhaps know, I spent half of my here and half back there); and (2) I want to use the prize money to start an organization here in Brooklyn, New York (with an affiliate in India), an organization that will have a small publication on grassroots coalition-building on global human rights and peace issues. There is a huge vacuum in this area that needs to be filled. I’ve been thinking for a long time about using my writing experience and skills to promote these issues.
I need your help and support to realize this little dream. Let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you for your support,
 
Partha Banerjee 

Brooklyn, New York 

Post Script. — I do want to thank a few people without I could not ever do what I have done. This is only a short list of individuals.
1. Donna Lieberman and Udi Ofer, New York Civil Liberties Union
2. Bryan Pu-Folkes, Shirley Lin and Cheryl Wertz, New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE)
3. Analilia Mejia and Guy Antoine, New Jersey Immigration Policy Network (NJIPN)
4. Dr. Charlotte Phillips, Brooklyn For Peace
5. Adele Welty, 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
6. Father Jack Martin and Amy Gottlieb, board members at NJIPN
7. Amy Goodman and Nina Bernstein, reputed journalists
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Human rights — we all know. But what is Hans Dhun?

It is a beautiful Indian music based on a classical raga. Some people call it Hans Dhwani. Hans means swan. The swan is often associated with Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of learning. Hence, Hans Dhwani or Hans Dhun has a divine, sacred connotation.

For the non-religious, it’s simply beautiful.

Just a few days ago, I went to buy some small groceries at a neighborhood Pakistani store in our Brooklyn. The lonely storekeeper was half-asleep, watching Pakistani music video on his small TV hung from the wall. I got glued to it. Somebody was singing Hans Dhun.

Here’s the video. Watch it. Flute, strings, drums, voice…beautiful.

The music video talks about the plight of Afghanistan refugees who took shelter in Pakistan for three decades, before their makeshift huts were demolished, and they were sent back. Very touching — seen through the eyes of three Afghan men.

The video does not talk about how American powers created Frankensteins in post-Soviet Afghanistan, but truly, that’s a different story. At least, we see the devastation of war and terrorism.

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Watching the video and listening to the heart-wrenching Hans Dhun, following the original Amir Khan rendition, I thought about another Hans Dhun I heard on our watershed Bengali movie Meghe Dhaka Tara (the Cloud-capped Star).

That story also, amazingly, talked about the plight of refugees and their never-ending struggle. A young man, a genius musician who lived in a refugee colony after being evicted by rulers in a partitioned Bengal, went away and found his fame in Bombay. He is now coming back to see his sister who was his only supporter and admirer throughout this struggle. Now, the dear brother is rich and famous, but the sister is dying. She has worked too hard to keep the family survive. And then, her boyfriend has broken his pledge to her. She is dying broken-hearted.

You watch the movie. Here’s just a clip of the song the brother sang on his way back to the colony.

It was fortuitous on my part to have learned about the Pakistani-Afghani band. It gave me an opportunity to bring up the subjects of human rights and plight of the poor, neglected people (predictable subject for me, as one of my esteemed Columbia University professors would declare), as well as the horror or war, violence and partition.

Times have passed. But did the pain?

You decide.

Post Script. — On this International Women’s Day, 8th March of 2014, I dedicate this blog to the woman cricket players of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. They are not just playing cricket. They are fighting back against terrorizing-oppressing dark, medieval forces in their countries. You wouldn’t believe how brave these young women are. Sisters, my hats off to you.

Plain Thinking,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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How far back can you go down memory lane?

If you can do this fun exercise with me, you won’t be disappointed.

In fact, it works like therapy. At least, it does for me.

You close your eyes, relax in your couch or bed, turn down the lights, turn down the TV or other unnecessary noise of life, and just think.

It’s a wonderful meditation. It’s yoga in its purest form.

Think about your childhood.

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I have written about it before a number of times. Perhaps you have read it too. But I have more to share. I have more fun sharing it.

Slowly, I go down, go deep, very deep into my memories. Slowly, and gently, with softness and care, I unfold some of the most beautiful moments of life — one moment at a time.

Concentration is a prerequisite. Calmness is a prerequisite.

Doing it with love, you find concentration. You find calmness.

You become a yogi.

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hookah

Thoughts, memories resurface randomly. They have no pattern. They have no sequence. They follow no rules. They don’t have to.

They resurface, and rearrange, like a kaleidoscope.

And that’s magic.

I close my eyes, and see the first time I wrote the Bengali letter ঈ on a small slate board, with a piece of thin, white chalk. I see I’m doing it all by myself for the first time, and my grandmother and aunt are cheering for me :-)

I close my eyes, and see I’m visiting with Ma her friend Maya (মায়া মাসী) at their North Calcutta residence. It’s a large single room. On one side, we’re sitting and chatting. On another corner, Aunt Maya’s father — perhaps in his eighties then — is smoking his hookah. I can hear the deep rumbling coming out of his slow, peaceful puffs. I can see the long, snake-like pipe going from the base of the brass hookah all the way to his mouth. He closes his eyes and puffs again…brrrr…brrrr…brrrr… (গুড়ুক গুড়ুক গুড়ুক )

I close my eyes, and see I’m visiting with father his aunt (মেজো পিসীমা) at their dark, dingy house in a Benaras riverside alley named Bhelupura. His aunt, my grand-aunt, was already ninety-five at that time. I remember her sitting just outside of their kitchen, on a soft cane stool (মোড়া), and I remember her left eye covered with a black cloth patch. Perhaps she had just had a cataract surgery.black patch

Father’s aunt passed away long time ago. But I remembered her, and then called up one of her grandchildren, my cousin who is now sixty-five years old. He has always been like a dear old brother, but I haven’t seen him for eons.

But I called him, and he and his wife (whom I only met once or twice after their marriage) spoke with me from across the world, and we spoke for a very long time.

As if no memories were ever lost.

I thought that was magic.

What do you think?

Tell me.

Dipping into the deep, deep, absolute deep…

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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Varanasi. Peaceful childhood.

Varanasi. Peaceful childhood.